Illegal immigration is defined as the act of crossing a national border without permission with the purpose of living full-time in a new nation. When discussing the topic of illegal immigration, every country deals with these border crossings to some extent.
In North America, however, the primary topic involving illegal immigration involves unauthorized border crossings from Mexico into the United States.
There is a benefit to illegal immigration from an ethical standpoint. Opening one’s borders to allow people to have the chance to start a new life for themselves is a morally correct position. Although some will always take advantage of an open borders policy, the benefits to society by having welcoming arms will outweigh the negatives that come from bad actors.
The disadvantage of illegal immigration is that, by definition, it is a legally incorrect course of action to take. There are legal methods of immigration available in most nations today. Skipping that legal process de-emphasizes the costs and sacrifices that many households make to start a new life for themselves that does follow the law.
Here are some more of the key pros and cons of illegal immigration to discuss.
List of the Pros of Illegal Immigration
1. It provides local economies with a boost.
Illegal immigrants might cross the border without permission, but they can still contribute to local society. Many of these immigrants find work in cash-under-the-table positions that are needed, but not often worked, by those with citizenship or a legal immigration status. Increases in production create improvements in living standards and that eventually helps everyone find more success.
2. It creates more diversity within the culture.
Diversity can provide a number of positive impacts to a society. It allows the society to grow because there are new ideas, perspectives, and cultures contributing to it. It offers everyone the chance to experience higher levels of growth because there is more access to information. Illegal immigrants combine their knowledge and skills to that of everyone else to create a stronger, responsive, and more productive outlook.
3. It reduces the costs of deportation.
The vast majority of illegal immigrants break no other laws beyond their initial unpermitted border crossing. Deporting illegal immigrants is a costly venture. In FY 2016, ICE spent $3.2 billion to identity illegal immigrants, arrest them, detain them, and then remove them from the United States. They handled 240,000 of the 450,000 deportations which took place that year. Each deportation conducted by ICE cost an average of $10,854 per illegal immigrant deported. Stopping just 100 deportations could save $1 million.
4. Most illegal immigrants have established residency.
In the United States, as of 2012, about 60% of the population that immigrated to the country illegally has been present for at least 10 years. At the same time, the illegal population that has been in the U.S. for less than five years has dropped from about 40% to less than 20% in the from 2004-2012. One in three undocumented immigrants above the age of 15 lives with a child that is a U.S. citizen. About one in three undocumented immigrants even own their own homes and pay property taxes.
5. It eliminates the cost of child care for legal children, but illegal parents.
About 4 million children in the United States have citizenship, but their parents do not. If the government deports these parents, then it falls onto the government to care for them if there are no legal family members involved. Children who have their parents deported become withdrawn, anxious, and may suffer from depression. The cost of foster care per child averages about $160 per day. Multiply that figure by 4 million and that’s a cost that can be eliminated if illegal immigration was transitioned to legal immigration.
List of the Cons of Illegal Immigration
1. Many illegal immigrants fit into a less-educated, lower-income demographic.
The fiscal impact of illegal immigration is generally based on the taxes they pay minus the costs they create. A net increase in the economy can occur when immigrants are more-educated and have a higher income level. Many illegal immigrants do not fit into that category, which means they create a net fiscal drain for many communities.
2. Illegal immigration creates an ongoing security threat.
Illegal immigration provides the means and opportunity for terrorism to exist. It presents opportunities for crime. A vast majority of illegal immigrants may follow all the laws, but not all of the do. Yet criminal aliens make up 27% of the total population of federal prisoners, despite the fact that they are an estimated 9% of the total adult population in the United States. In 2003, more than 55,000 illegal immigrants had been arrested nearly 460,000 times, while committing nearly 700,000 criminal offenses.
3. It changes employment dynamics.
A free market economy relies on supply and demand for pricing and wages. If there is a lack of skilled labor available to a market, then wages go up. If there is a lot of the same product, then the price for that product goes down. When illegal immigration is present, the job market is suddenly given more workers than it would normally have if those who crossed illegally were not present. More workers correlate to depressed wages, which ultimately means the value of work is priced lower.
4. Illegal immigration can lead to overcrowding.
Illegal immigration can change the population dynamics of a community very rapidly. In California, about 50% of the students starting school are either immigrants or a child of immigrants. With the added capacity of these students, nearly 15% of schools in the U.S. exceed their capacity by at least 6%, and sometimes as much as 25%.
The pros and cons of illegal immigration are variable based on each community. Some can take on more illegal immigrants without issue, while others struggle with those who are already present. Without a meaningful dialogue, this issue will remain unresolved. That is the purpose of these key points – to start the conversation.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.