Thoughts on Immigration, Part 3

The above link is to an article by the Pew Research Center, “5 Facts About Illegal Immigration.”  These five facts include:

“There were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the U. S. in 2014.”  This number is unchanged since 2009 and down some since 2007, when there were 12.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U. S.

My thoughts: Clearly, the U. S.. is not being over-run by an unprecedented wave of illegal immigrants in recent years.  In fact, the numbers have stabilized.  I suspect most Americans would be surprised by that, given the increased amount of attention illegal immigration has received in the news and political cycles in recent years.  I have to wonder, if the number of illegals has stabilized, are we justified in spending resources on building a wall across the U. S.-Mexican border when those resources could be used in more pressing areas of immigration control?

“The U. S. civilian workforce included 8 million unauthorized immigrants in 2014, accounting for 5% of those who were working or unemployed and looking for work.”  Again, this is unchanged since 2009, where illegal immigrants represented 5.2% of the workforce and down slightly from 2007, where there were 8.2 million representing 5.4% of the workforce.  Probably surprising no one, those areas where illegals represented their highest percentage of the workforce were in farming (26%) and in construction (15%).  But, there were no areas where illegal immigrants represented a higher percentage than American workers.

My thoughts: The notion that Mexicans (and, let’s face it, when people talk about illegal immigration, they’re talking Mexicans) are taking American jobs isn’t an unreasonable concern.  The 26% of illegals in farming and 15% of illegals in construction, would Americans be interested in those jobs?  It seems almost too convenient that illegal immigrants represent 5% of the workforce, while the new unemployment rate is 4.7%, but there it is.  Even still, while the numbers bear out that this is a legitimate concern, they don’t bear out the claim that it is a growing concern.

“Mexicans made up 52% of all unauthorized immigrants in 2014, though their numbers had been declining in recent years.” There are 5.8 million illegal immigrants from Mexico in the U. S. in 2014, down from 6.4 million in 2009.  “The number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico grew by 325,000 since 2009.”  There were about 5.3 million illegal immigrants in the U. S. from countries other than Mexico in 2014.

My thoughts: Again with the wall.  Given that the number of illegals from Mexico is declining, shouldn’t we boost our resources in those strategies that seem to be working rather than build a wall that will cost tens of billions of dollars to build and then maintain to solve a problem that is decreasing in size.  And, a wall across the U. S.-Mexican border isn’t going to stop illegals from other countries or regions, such as southeast Asia or eastern Europe, or stop those who come in legally, then overstay their visas.  I’m not saying a wall would be immoral.  Mexico has a wall across their southern border.  The U. S. has a right to control immigration into the country, as all countries do.  For me, it’s a question of where to invest resources best.  I’m not convinced that a wall is the answer.  Others would point out the example of San Diego, however, that had a massive illegal immigration problem and crime problem associated with illegal immigration until they built a wall.  Perhaps a wall concentrated on those areas where the problem is greatest, but across the entire border?

“Six states accounted for 59% of unauthorized immigrants in 2014: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois.”  As well, according to another Pew Research Center article, 61% of all illegals live in only 20 metropolitan areas, those surrounding New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, Chicago, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Riverside, CA, Phoenix, San Francisco-Oakland, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Seattle, Denver, San Jose, CA, Orlando and Austin.  Obviously, most of these metro areas are in those states that include the highest percentage of illegal immigrants.  These metro areas also include the highest percentages of legal immigrants and naturalized citizens.

My thoughts: It seems that illegal immigrants are like everyone else: they tend to go where there are others like them.  Efforts to control illegal immigration need to be concentrated in these areas, as they likely already are.

“A rising share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U. S. for at least a decade.”  

My thoughts: A way needs to be created for long-term illegal immigrants to gain citizenship.  Whether that’s amnesty or some other process, there’s no reason to go about kicking out millions of people who’ve been hear for years and have built lives for themselves and, not incidentally, are making positive and significant contributions to their communities.  Efforts also need to be made to acclimate these people fully into U. S. citizenship and culture.  I am a firm believer that immigrants, of any stripe, who intend to make their home in the U. S. learn to speak English.  It’s reasonable and charitable to accommodating people who don’t speak English until they learn, but to have no expectation of their learning English is unreasonable and divisive.  Also, curricula in our schools need to be focused on teaching young people the history of the U. S., benefits of U. S. citizenship and of acclimating to the culture of the U. S.  We don’t need to teach our young people that a balkanized America is a good thing.  Anyone intending to live here and, certainly, intending to gain citizenship, needs to think of themselves as Americans first, with a healthy appreciation of the history and culture of “the old country,” but as Americans first.  Finally, efforts to deport illegals need to focus on those who are criminals, especially those affiliated with the drug cartels and gangs.  It’s unconscionable that criminals, especially violent criminals and those who’ve benefited financially from their exploitation of others, are allowed to stay in our country.  Our deportation efforts need to focus on kicking these people out and keeping them out.

Finally, the U. S. Catholic bishops point out that immigration is a symptom of people being dis-satisfied or even feeling oppressed or unsafe in their home countries.  A good portion of our efforts to stem illegal immigration, especially from Mexico, would be to work with the Mexican government in making their own country far more habitable.  An astonishing number of Mexican citizens, as high as one in three if I recall correctly, say they want to leave Mexico.  Making Mexico itself a more economically stable and safe place to live will do more for stemming illegal immigration from Mexico than nearly all other efforts combined.

Be Christ for all.  Bring Christ to all.  See Christ in all.

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