Over the past two years, immigration has been a very hot button topic for people from all walks of life. Illegal immigration, especially, is something that is debated in the news and by legislators. Some states, including Alabama, have passed tough new laws that make it easier for law enforcement and immigration officials to find and crack down on undocumented workers. Others support the Federal Dream Act, which would give more rights to the children of illegal immigrants.
In many cases, there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to the debate about illegal immigration. For example, while President Obama supports the Dream Act, his admiration has also seen the highest number of deportations when compared with all other presidents. As well, in many cases the states passing the toughest immigration laws are those that rely the most heavily on undocumented workers for agricultural and other industries.
For undocumented workers themselves, illegal immigration is not just a political issue open for debate. It is a very challenging reality in their lives.
In many cases, illegal immigrants choose to immigrate illegally to the US for economic reasons. According to articles in The Nation and The Huffington Post, one reason that these individuals choose to overstay a visa or cross the US border illegally has to do with larger economic issues. According to these two publications, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and policies created by multinational companies devastate local economies in Mexico and in other countries. These policies create cheap labor sources for multinational companies but compromise local wages and economics, forcing families to move or starve.
Most undocumented workers do not make the decision to overstay a visa or cross a border illegally lightly. In many cases, great sacrifices are made to come to the US. Families need to be broken apart in many cases, and those who live undocumented in the US do so with few protections under the law, few social resources, and constant fear of being caught and removed. In many cases, undocumented workers risk all this while working for less than minimum wage at jobs that most US workers do not want.
In many cases, the debate about illegal immigration becomes a debate about laws. Those who oppose the amnesty claim that undocumented workers deserve no help because they broke the law by remaining in the US illegally. However, others argue that this claim ignores the fact that many US laws – including many laws before the civil rights movement – were patently unfair and are only now recognized as unjust. Some experts argue that current immigration laws are equally unfair and need to change.
Wherever one stands on the issue, it is obvious that the issue of illegal immigration is not simply a legislative issue with one easy solution. It is something that affects the lives of millions of undocumented workers every day.