Illegal immigration refers to “the migration of people across national borders in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destined country,” (ProCon.org, 2008). Barry Chiswick explains that illegal immigration occurs because of a discrepancy “between whom the United States will accept as an immigrant and the desire of some foreign nationals to live and work in this country,” (Chiswick, 1988). There are several forms of illegal immigration. Four of the most common include: undocumented/unauthorized entrants, immigrants who use fraudulent documents to gain entry, violation of the duration of a visa, and violations of the terms and conditions of a visa, (ProCon.org, 2008). The first form, undocumented or unauthorized entrants, involves people from one state who enter another state secretively in order to avoid inspection. These people may enter by sea, air, or land. In the second form, people present fraudulent documents at the time of inspection. The document may falsify a person’s identity, or otherwise support admission into the state. The third form of illegal immigration, violation of the duration of a visa, involves individuals who enter another state lawfully but intentionally overstay their period of legal stay. This causes their status to change to “irregular”. Finally, visa holders can violate the terms of their visa. Such violations include accepting employment, not attending school (if the visa is permitted for schooling), or committing crimes, (ProCon.org, 2008).
As with any social issue, there are many different ideas about the impact of illegal immigration. “While some groups favor increased border enforcement and decreased immigration, others favor more humane immigration policies that take into account the rights of families to avoid separation, and the acknowledgement of the presence and need for immigrant labor in the United States,” (Gonzales, 2010). Some factors that influence public opinion on immigration include geographic region and proximity, demographic factors (including race, gender, age, education, income level), the influence of media, racial and ethnic stereotypes, the U.S. economy, political ideology, and the influence of organized interest groups, (Gonzales, 2010).
The illegal immigrant population of the United States in 2008 was estimated to be about 11 million people, down from 12.5 million in 2007, (Preston, 2008). According to a Pew Hispanic Center report, in 2005, 56% of illegal immigrants were from Mexico, 22% from other Latin American countries, 13% from Asia, 6% from Europe and Canada, and 3% from Africa and the rest of the world, (Passel, 2005). Passel also stated that almost two thirds of the undocumented population lives in eight states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Description of the central conflict:
The central conflict regarding illegal immigration into the United States is how it should be handled. When this question is asked, all of the other issues surrounding illegal immigration are raised. According to the Pew Research Center, 40% of Americans believe that the biggest concern about illegal immigration is the burden on government services, 27% are concerned with the effect on American jobs, 9% believe it contributes to crime, 6% believe it hurts American customs and the way of life, and 11% have other or no concern, (Pew Research Center, 2011). The deep division between political parties is revealed when debating how to deal with illegal immigration and how important it is. The Pew Research Center states that 61% of Republicans view dealing with illegal immigration as a top policy priority, compared to 47% of independents and 33% of Democrats. 55% of Republicans believe that better border security and stricter enforcement of laws against illegal immigration should be priority; only 34% of independents and 22% of Democrats agree. In contrast, 49% of Democrats and...
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