The Real Immigration Crisis: Inhumanity
Humanize Our Treatment of Undocumented People
The United States federal government should immediately end deportations, allow all undocumented immigrants to become citizens if they wish to do so, and permit undocumented immigrants to access the social safety net, regardless of status.
In the United States today, an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants reside within the nation’s borders. A common and harmful myth that permeates through American political discourse is the idea that these undocumented persons are a “drain” on public resources and the economy more generally. This myth has led to decades of policies that attempt to limit undocumented person’s access to high paying jobs, public schooling, and social programs. The reality is, however, that each year undocumented persons pay an estimated 11 billion dollars in state and local taxes, 13 billion dollars in social security taxes, and 3 billion dollars in Medicare taxes. Despite these immense contributions, undocumented persons are unable to access this social safety net that they help fund and maintain. Aside from the ethical concerns raised by this dynamic, research has shown that preventing undocumented persons from accessing the social safety net or acquiring legal status is the real “drain” on the economy. One major factor of this drain is a lack of health insurance. Because people without documentation cannot access government health programs or many employer-based programs, an estimated 45% of undocumented immigrants do not have health insurance, as it becomes prohibitively expensive without the aforementioned programs. As a result, undocumented persons often “choose” to avoid seeking need medical treatment unless it is seen as absolutely necessary, which in turn leads to greater long-term costs through decreased productivity and emergency room visits.
According to research compiled by the American Immigration council, allowing undocumented immigrants to become either lawful permanent residents or American citizens would further increase their economic contributions while simultaneously allowing them to finally access the social programs funded in part by their taxes. This is a solution that helps all people and parties involved. Any undocumented person who wishes to become a citizen could do so and therefore gain the rights granted to American citizens, such as the ability to vote and hold public office. On the other hand, any undocumented person who does not wish to become a citizen could still access social programs that benefit themselves and society as a whole. If every undocumented immigrant was granted lawful permanent resident status, their tax contributions would increase by approximately 2 billion dollars. This status would be a huge benefit for individual immigrants’ job security and prospects. According to a Pew research study in 2016, undocumented immigrants are most likely to be working in the service or construction industries and make up 26% of the farming labor force. This jobs are often extremely physically grueling, not well paid, and subject to wage theft and safety violations. By granting legal status, undocumented persons would have greater access to higher paying, more stable careers in sales and management.
Deportations should end immediately become they are immoral, expensive, and put lives at risk. According to reports by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it costs more than $10,000 to deport just one undocumented immigrant. This, of course, does not include the economic losses incurred by deporting workers who pay into state, local, and federal tax pools. Furthermore, when one member of a family is deported, they may leave behind family and relatives that rely on their income to survive. This is both morally and economically problematic. Separating families because someone may not have the proper status creates long lasting trauma within the family and community. Children may witness a parent being violently detained, held in a detention center, and sent to a far-away country, unsure of if and when they will be able to reunite. This certainly does not align with the so called “family values” which have been so adamantly espoused by social conservatives. On a more philosophical note, it is immoral to police who can and cannot live in this country, when the nation was founded by people who came from another continent and committed genocide against the indigenous people who inhabited the land. In light of this violent history, it is wrong for the government to then turn around and decide that people from other continents and nations may no longer live within its borders. Lastly, deportations put peoples’ lives at risk, both within the country and abroad. The deportations of violent criminals to El Salvador has destabilized the country and led to a surge of refugees fleeing the country. Undocumented immigrants may be deported to their country of birth, despite no longer having any meaningful connection to that place anymore. Deportations also leave the remaining families to scramble to find new sources of income in order to survive without a social safety net.
The treatment of undocumented immigrants through our government policies is unethical, economically inefficient, and needs to change. By ending deportations, families will remain united and the hypocrisy of deciding who deserves to live in this country will end. By granting legal status, undocumented immigrants will be able contribute more in taxes and finally access social programs that benefit all of society. By allowing anyone to become a citizen who wishes to do so, the country will be recognizing the importance of immigrants to our country’s past, present, and future. While these changes must be accompanied by a complete reformation of our immigration and border agencies, along with an end to the war on drugs and militarization of our police, these policies will be a step in the right direction towards creating the fair and equitable society that Americans claim to have.
 Nina Roberts, Undocumented Immigrants quietly pay billions into Social Security and receive no benefits. Minnesota Public Radio, 2019.
 Samantha Artiga and Maria Diaz, Health Coverage and Care of Undocumented Immigrants. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2019.
 American Immigration Council, Adding Up the Billions in Tax Dollars Paid by Undocumented Immigrants, 2016.
 Jeffrey S. Passel and D’vera Cohn, Occupations of unauthorized immigrant workers. Pew Research Center, 2016.
 Rafael Carranza, How much does it cost to deport someone? USA Today, 2017.