Illegal Immigration in California
The United States of America is known for its wealth, freedom, and the “American Dream,” the ability to achieve success through hard work. Many impoverished people living in other countries are of the belief that the U.S. is a land of opportunity—a place in which to escape their own poverty and hopelessness. As a result, many choose to immigrate illegally. An example of this mindset is illustrated in the novel Monstress, by Lysley Tenorio. Flora Ramirez, a character in the short story “Felix Starro,” who aids illegal immigrants in America states, “These were risky, secret dealings, but in times of doubt, Charma would tell me, ‘if my homosexual priest cousin and his Mexican boxer boyfriend can make it in America, why can’t we?’ We were no different from them she said, or any other person in search of a good and honest life” (Tenorio 59). Surprisingly, many are willing to risk their lives and deportation, rather than staying in their own poverty-stricken communities. While the Golden State has clearly benefitted from illegal immigration in various ways, the associated costs and negative side effects can’t be overlooked. The political climate on this topic is hotly controversial with many questions being posed: Should this unlawful activity continue to be condoned? Should law-abiding, tax-paying Californians continue to pay for the rising costs of immigration and be required to tolerate its negative implications on their society? More importantly, are we effectively and most humanely helping the impoverished immigrants? Is attracting them to our state and removing them from their loved ones, lifestyle and culture, genuinely in their best interest? No state has seen the boom and felt the effects of illegal immigration quite like California. In the 1980s, almost half the nation’s illegal immigrants lived in California. (http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/atissue/AI_711HJAI.pdf) Today, the state has just 25% of the overall population but still has more than any other state, at an estimated 2.6 million (http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/atissue/AI_711HJAI.pdf). The demographics of immigration have also changed over the years in California. For example, an earlier PPIC study showed that California experienced a substantial increase in family-based illegal immigration. In the late 1980’s, as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, more than one million illegal immigrant workers in the state were allowed to apply for legal permanent residence. (http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/atissue/AI_711HJAI.pdf). A similar proposition has been brought up recently, regarding granting amnesty for illegal immigrants. However, due to the extraordinary large number of illegals (2.6 million), simply granting amnesty is a more complex conundrum. The main benefits of illegal immigration in California center around the development of the agribusiness which has over the decades become a booming industry. The labor for this sector largely comes from illegal aliens and it cannot be denied that this resource has been key to its success. In addition, the undocumented worker population contributes to the overall California economic landscape. It has been estimated that if this entire group in California were removed, the state would lose $301.6 billion in economic activity, decrease total employment by 17.4%, and eliminate 3.6 million jobs. (http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/new-americans-california). Given these statistics it is vital that no drastic action is taken to compromise the farming industry and economic indicators of our state. While the benefits are significant, the costs and negative implications can’t be ignored. There are complex fiscal problems and moral and societal implications associated with illegal immigration. California, facing a budget deficit of $14.4 billion in 2010-2011, is hit with an estimated $21.8 billion in annual expenditures on illegal aliens....
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