This early 20th Century cartoon depicts Uncle Sam holding his nose as he contemplates the entrance into the country of The Immigrant (who looks rather Jewish), bearing on his back bundles labeled Sabbath Desecration, Anarchy, and Intemperance, carrying luggage labeled Poverty and Disease, and wearing around his neck Superstition.
Peter D. Salins, in the New York Post, makes a conservative case for Amnesty.
[N]o matter who is the House majority leader. Most illegal immigrants will not be leaving the country, either voluntarily through â€œself-deportationâ€ as suggested by Mitt Romney, or involuntarily through actual deportation, notwithstanding the current administrationâ€™s aggressive efforts in this direction.
So, we have only two options in dealing with these 11 million American residents: We can keep them in their current marginal status with all the negative effects that entails for them and their communities or acknowledge their ongoing presence among us and legalize it.
Both they and the country will be much better off if we pursue the latter course.
For the opponents of immigration reform, there appear to be three major concerns. Illegal immigrants: 1) broke the law, and thus shouldnâ€™t be rewarded with â€œamnestyâ€; 2) are harming the American economy by displacing American workers and burdening American taxpayers; and 3) are a threat to American culture and values.
Let me offer a rebuttal to each.
On law-breaking: The uncomfortable truth is that our illegal immigrants are not the only law breakers. We would never have had so many of them if it were not for the thousands of employers who broke the law by hiring them and were never penalized because federal authorities â€” quite intentionally â€” turned a blind eye to the issue until it became too politically visible to ignore. Perversely, employers have escaped not only legal penalties for their behavior but any blame from those most exercised about illegal immigration.
Regarding their impact on the economy: For starters, for many American industries â€” and most American consumers â€” all immigrants, including illegal ones, have been a huge economic asset; countless studies show they not only donâ€™t take jobs away from American workers, they eagerly tackle ones that the native-born shun. Contrary to the popular canards, they save American taxpayers money because the payroll, sales and other taxes they pay far exceed the cost of government services or payments they receive.
Nevertheless, the economic contribution of currently illegal immigrants could be vastly greater. If their status were legalized, the country would realize a human capital bonanza as millions of young illegal immigrants would have the motivation and means to go to college and millions of their parents would be free to further their education and training and become more productive in their careers.
Finally, regarding their impact on American culture and values: It is the assimilation of immigrants that preserves American culture and values, something we have been successful at for centuries.
In that spirit, we should be doing everything in our power to assimilate all of our current immigrants â€” legal and illegal alike. Yet, keeping our illegal immigrants in a state of perpetual economic insecurity and fear of deportation makes their assimilation well-nigh impossible and, incidentally, also casts a shadow over the assimilation of their legal relatives and friends.