Illegal Immigration is a Crime
Each year the Border Patrol apprehends hundreds of thousands of aliens who flagrantly violate our nation’s laws by unlawfully crossing U.S. borders. Such illegal entry is a misdemeanor, and, if repeated after being deported, becomes punishable as a felony.
The illegal alien population is composed of those who illegally enter the country (referred to as “entry without inspection — EWI”) in violation of the immigration law, and others enter legally and then sty illegally (referred to as overstayers). The immigration authorities currently estimate that two-thirds to three-fifths of all illegal immigrants are EWIs and the remainder is overstayers. Both types of illegal immigrants are deportable under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 237 (a)(1)(B) which says: “Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this Act or any other law of the United States is deportable.”
Illegal Immigration Is Not A Victimless Crime
Apologists for illegal immigration try to paint it as a victimless crime, but the fact is that illegal immigration causes substantial harm to American citizens and legal immigrants, particularly those in the most vulnerable sectors of our population — the poor, minorities, and children.
Illegal immigration causes an enormous drain on public funds. The seminal study of the costs of immigration by the National Academy of Sciences found that the taxes paid by immigrants do not begin to cover the cost of services received by them.1 The quality of education, health care and other services for Americans are undermined by the needs of endless numbers of poor, unskilled illegal entrants.
Additionally, job competition by waves of illegal immigrants desperate for any job unfairly depresses the wages and working conditions offered to American workers, hitting hardest at minority workers and those without high school degrees.
Illegal Immigration And Population Growth
Illegal immigration also contributes to the dramatic population growth overwhelming communities across America — crowding school classrooms, consuming already limited affordable housing, and increasing the strain on precious natural resources like water, energy, and forestland. Until the recent economic recession and high unemployment, the immigration authorities estimated that the population of illegal aliens was increasing by an estimated half million people annually.
Illegal Immigration Undermines National Security
While most illegal immigrants may come only to seek work and a better economic opportunity, their presence outside the law furnishes an opportunity for terrorists to blend into the same shadows while they target the American public for their terrorist crimes. Some people advocate giving illegal aliens legal status to bring them out of the shadows, but, if we accommodate illegal immigration by offering legal status, this will be seen abroad as a message that we condone illegal immigration, and we will forever be faced with the problem.
Border Patrol: Necessary But Not Sufficient
The Border Patrol plays a crucial role in combating illegal immigration, but illegal immigration cannot be controlled solely at the border. The overstayers as well as the EWIs who get past the Border Patrol must be identified and removed by the interior immigration inspectors of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Today, the policies of the Obama administration are working at cross purposes to this objective. ICE is constrained from detaining and deporting most illegal aliens they encounter with the exception of those with criminal convictions or threats to the national security.
What Can Be Done?
There must be a comprehensive effort to end illegal immigration. That requires ensuring that illegal aliens will not be able to obtain employment, public assistance benefits, public education, public housing, or any other taxpayer-funded benefit without detection.
The three major components of immigration control — deterrence, apprehension and removal — need to be strengthened by Congress and the Executive Branch if effective control is ever to be reestablished. Controlling illegal immigration requires a balanced approach with a full range of enforcement improvements that go far beyond the border. These include many procedural reforms, beefed up investigation capacity, asylum reform, documents improvements, major improvements in detention and deportation procedures, limitations on judicial review, improved intelligence capacity, greatly improved state/federal cooperation, and added resources.
What About The Costs?
Effective control and management of the laws against illegal immigration require adequate resources. But those costs will be more than offset by savings to states, counties, communities, and school districts across the nation.
Footnotes and endnotes
1 “The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration,” National Research Council, 1997