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Published: Thursday 31st of October 2013
Illegal immigration refers to the entry of a person or a group of people across a nation’s border with the intention of remaining in that particular nation so that it violates the immigration laws of the host nation. Illegal immigration is overwhelmingly from a poorer to a richer nation or from economically undeveloped areas to more developed ones. Usually, unlawful immigration is the result of the desire to improve social mobility or avoid persecution. It is termed as illegal because the immigrant does not have a right to be in that country at a particular time. If people are illegally immigrating, they can often be detained or deported against their will by the host nation, posing danger to them.
Illegal immigration can be a controversial issue and there are many factors to consider in any decisions to be made, whether they are from the level of an individual or the level of government. It’s important to be able to understand illegal immigration and the effects it can have both on the society and the immigrants. Who benefits the most from illegal immigration? Questions like this are fundamental to understand the issue and live in a free society.
There have been many attempts to reform the definition of illegal immigration, mainly, because the term is seen by some as to belittle the people involved. People have tried to discourage the term “illegal immigrant” as it suggests that a person is creating wrongdoing and that they are illegal people themselves, when in fact all they are trying to do it better for themselves or avoid persecution. As borders are largely social constructions, do we have the right as a free society to impose rules about who comes in and who should stay out, purely based on arbitrary border lines? This is why many people often refer to illegitimate immigrants as undocumented or unauthorized migrants.
There are a vast number of advantages of illegal immigrants for the host country that they move into. One of the first examples is the case with tax increases. The United States, housing over 10 million illegal migrant workers, is one of the best examples. You can find that within the United States most of them have to pay taxes just like any other citizen that resides there. These people are also the subject of higher taxation compared to native citizens. This proves immigration to be greatly advantageous for the host country as it can benefit from higher revenues through tax. The tax can be used in all sorts of ways to benefit the host country and boosts its economic prosperity resulting in even further economic growth, so illegal immigrants can help boost the tax revenue of a host nation for the better. Illegal immigrants, of course, also have to abide by the usual tax rules with consumer spending, so they can lead to greater sales tax purely as a result of more people in a country. Just because they’re illegal it doesn’t mean they can pay for goods and services without tax – that would be absurd! Taxes paid by immigrants can vastly prosper the host country’s health facilities, living standards, and overall well-being. The majority of those that have property in the host country is also obliged to pay real estate tax just like everybody else. These taxes, however, are higher than native citizens have to pay, once again benefiting the host country even more as a result.
Just think about the kind of journey that illegal immigrants have to make in order to reach the host country. Do you really think that they will put in all that effort just to lie around and not do anything? This could, of course, be a possibility but most of them, moving to industrialized countries or more prosperous countries, come in search of work. They are often keen on improving their standards of living by gaining higher wages in the host country, meaning that they often tend to work harder in general or take lower wage jobs. As a result, illegal immigrants are mostly casual workers in the low paid sector.
It is often the case that host countries have got a high amount of skilled labor force, so citizens are trying to avoid low paid jobs if they can. Illegal immigrants face discrimination towards them that essentially subjects them to low wage jobs, so they will enter the host country to pick up the pieces so to speak, and take the jobs that many citizens will refuse outright for being badly paid. This is an advantage of the immigrants because even though these wages may be significantly lower than native people expect, the earnings will often be much higher than they can get at home. But what is the advantage to the host nation? What if unlawful immigrants take all the jobs, leaving nothing for country citizens? This, in fact, is not likely to be true. Taking the low-skill positions freezes up a lot of labor force in higher skilled sectors that can be done by native citizens. Of course, native citizens that are uneducated suffer to some degree, but in countries, such as the United States, this only comprises around 10% of native labor force loss. Because of the sheer distance and the hardships that illegal immigrants have put themselves through, they are likely to be hard workers as a result. This leads to a native country having a strong labor force of low skilled work, which has enormous benefits to companies. Unfortunately, this may cause the exploitation of illegal immigrant labor, because a lot of employers can hire and fire these workers as they have fewer rights purely on the basis that they are illegal. However, if we are talking about benefits to the native economy then it is certainly an advantage.
Illegal immigrants will offer industries the cheaper labor, so what advantages does this pose? As a result, costs can be cut and this will be reflected in the products available for consumers. If a company can cut a cost of their product, this will mean that they pass it to consumers at a lower price, so consumers benefit from lower-priced goods overall. This can also make exports to other nations more competitive thus bringing in even more revenue for businesses and putting the host country at a competitive advantage by means of economy. With immigrant labor, it is entirely more possible for a country to compete with others around the world and sell their products at lower prices. This brings substantial benefits towards the host country’s economy.
You will find that many illegal immigrants moving to other countries, actually, create growing markets for products which are produced there. Since there are more people in a country, they can buy more goods and services, and economic demand will generally increase, thus stimulating economic growth as a result. Because of this a lot of industries will grow and people within industries will enjoy higher profits and, perhaps, higher need to innovate and invest in new technologies. Illegal immigrants will buy things and keep the economy moving, sometimes even more actively than native people, because they open up new markets for goods that aren’t bought by native citizens.
As previously mentioned, the journey of an illegal immigrant is a tough one. So what does this say about the motivation of an illegal immigrant? Social mobility is an underlying factor here. Why would a person start a dangerous and unlawful journey into a country where you do not know anybody in order not to make the most of your opportunity? These people are often moving to other countries because they want to make their lives better. Of course, there may be a lot of immigrants that wish to do people harm, but the majority of cases do not reflect this.
Developed countries provide better opportunities in terms of jobs, education, livelihood, and healthcare which are readily unavailable for a lot of immigrant’s countries. So they are moving to countries where can have a good life, but this needn’t be done at the expense of the native population. Upon moving they work harder and proceed with their education in order to benefit the native population. A lot of anti-immigration campaigners cite that unlawful immigrants cause a lot of problems for the native population, but trying to make the most of your life is not going to cause that much harm. Of course, immigrants may come from countries where it is natural to engage in fraudulent activities or illegal practices. Less economically developed countries have a worse state of affairs than developing countries, yet it is often the sheer determination to advance up the social ladder, not the one to ruin a country. In the end, why can’t everybody have the right to improve their standards of living? Some may say “not in my country”, whereas others may be more sympathetic to the needs of society in general.
So what about an emergency improvement for the living standards of individuals? Unfortunately, in this day and age, many people are fleeing other nations because of persecution and fear of death. Unauthorized arrival may come as the result of someone needing to escape serious oppression. Immigrants that are refused some protection status or asylum will have to leave the nation and become labeled as illegal immigrants. It is unsurprising, therefore, that a lot of people are entering countries so that they will not have to fear for their lives. The 1951 refugee convention was established to exempt refugees from immigration laws if they were to enter a country, but it is often up to the particular country, they entered, to decide if this person is a valid refugee or whether they should be subject to immigration forces and controls. Countries that did not sign this refugee convention are unlikely to follow these guidelines and this can pose a problem for many refugees around the world.
Is it not surprising that floods of immigrants can cross borders if those people come from countries that are war-torn? Take the recent humanitarian crisis in Syria – this poses an extreme threat to the people of Syria and so they have no choice but to cross illegally into other countries to avoid possible death. Elsewhere in the world in Myanmar, thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing their homelands because their houses are literally being burnt to the ground, ending up in neighboring Bangladesh as illegal immigrants. What choice would these people otherwise have if they had stayed in their country of origin? Sadly, such immigration is the result of extreme persecution. It is up to debate whether everybody can enter a country or not, but compassion must prevail to some degree.
It is often the case that many people overlook the fact that illegal immigrants have bank accounts in the places, where they migrate to. Such bank accounts, when opened, can yield interests and banking dividends. The majority of illegal immigrants are business savvy or at the very least, aware of how to manage their money. It is unsurprising that a lot of them make investments in their host countries and these can play a pivotal role in economic development. There are even examples of highly successful immigrants that have established their own companies in the United States, a country which would not let this happen. Just like any other company, people that have founded these organizations, will pay their share of tax and work to grow their business which will fundamentally have a good impact on the economy. Any business can have an enormous opportunity – new products, new jobs, and new investments.
It depends on the nation and its political structure, but it can be seen as an advantage that illegal immigrants boost multiculturalism within the host country. An increase of ethnic diversity can benefit greatly both to native citizens and to communication between immigrants and other cultures. It is that through the process of circulation, people are in a better position to understand other cultures. Think about the implication of understanding other cultures to society – a multitude of advantages exist, from the dying away of negative stereotypes, the evasion of prejudices and increased equality for all. People like variety, for instance, having different kind of food to eat or different music to listen to. Greater multiculturalism or cultural appreciation can bring benefits in numerous ways. Of course, there are many people that do not welcome new cultures but on the whole, studies have shown that multiculturalism has the big positive impact.
Often illegal immigrants are experts in many economic activities. When a one enters a host country, he can improve economic growth. You can find that such people, once they have been given the chance to settle and work in the country, can result in new businesses practices. It is possible that immigrants, as they know a different language, can work to help businesses in their host countries adapt to different markets and sell their goods all over the world in different markets.
Besides the possibility of deportation, illegal immigrants are facing many other issues. This can frequently provide powerful arguments against letting them into countries. These people, by their very nature, have surprisingly poor access to public health, education, housing, and banking systems in their host country. This may lead to additional crime due to immigrants forging documents and papers in order to gain access to these systems. Obviously, this disrupts public services and requires additional costs in policing.
Even after the 19th century spanning the end of the Western slave trade, the illegal importation of slaves still continues today. Of course, the levels are a lot smaller; nonetheless, reports estimate that there are over 2 million victims of Mexican immigrants with human trafficking in the United States alone. There are worldwide reports that document smuggling people into the United States and plus other prosperous regions, such as Canada. Unfortunately with a lot of smuggling operations comes a lot of trickery and corruption. Many unlawful immigrants that are smuggled into a country can be trafficked, tricked into slave labor and forced to do work against their will. This poses a significant counter-argument against relaxing laws on illegal immigration. If the livelihoods of illegal immigrants themselves are at stake, this poses many issues for them.
The slavery is not only about with making things in factories or sweatshops; a lot of girls can be trafficked into sexual slavery, after being promised that they will be smuggled into a country to work and live a good life. This has been well documented in the number of prosperous nations, such as the United States and Thailand, which have seen an influx of illegal sex workers forced to perform against their will.
The issue with unlawful immigrants is that they don’t have proper documentation thus they don’t have same rights as a lot of other workers. The unlawful nature of their work allows a serious exploitation of labor to be enforced by employers. Often employers won’t really care and will hire aliens paying them with minimum wages that are several times lower than the actual minimum pay rate over the country. The employers can easily get away with such exploitation because immigrants are being reluctant to report such practices to local authorities for fear of having to leave the country. Unfortunately, injury and illness result from this exploitation; not only in the workplace but their journeys are often highly dangerous, resulting in injury and death as they travel to get to their host country of choice.
So what can be concluded about illegal immigration in general? Unquestionably, there are numerous pro’s and con’s for host countries to take on board. Certain disadvantages exist, however, there are certain advantages as well, making it hardly surprising that a lot of native citizens are campaigning to relax foreign policy as to make it easier for immigrants to enter a nation. It’s also important to take into consideration the safety of the immigrants, including their likelihood of exploitation and their difficult journey into a foreign country.
These people provide cheap labor that fills a labor market and can put businesses at a comparative advantage, bringing advantages to the host nation. The immigrants themselves can benefit greatly from wages, albeit low wages, because they would be much more than could be offered in their native country. Such aliens can also leave from persecution, putting them at an obvious advantage as they can flee from enormous suffering; however, it is up to the host nation’s government to be compassionate or more withdrawn from these issues.
There are numerous humanitarian, economic and cultural impacts for both illegal immigrants and their host Nations: some positive, some negative. Everything is open for debate, so most important is to keep an open mind about the issues surrounding this theme when making any political or economic decisions.