There are currently between ten and twenty million illegal immigrants in the United States. Illegal immigration has become greater than legal immigration over the last several years (700,000 per year vs. 600,000 per year). Seventy-five percent of illegal immigrants arrive across the U.S. southern border with Mexico. The following factors contribute to illegal immigration in the United States:
1. Poverty in Mexico:
Fifty-three percent of Mexico’s population of one hundred four million residents live in poverty (defined as less than two dollars a day). Twenty-four percent live in extreme poverty (defined as less than one dollar a day). There is an abundant amount of people looking for jobs to be able to eat and raise their families. The unemployment rate in Mexico is approaching forty percent and there is little healthcare.
2. U.S. Companies Looking for Increasing Profit:
U.S. companies are looking for cheap, exploitable labor to increase their profit margin. Illegal workers hired by these companies generally receive poor working conditions, very low pay and no benefits. U.S. companies only need to accept identification that appears authentic from these workers. Fake identification cards are readily available in every major city for about one hundred and fifty dollars.
3. Hispanic Vote is Crucial in Future Elections:
The Hispanic population is dramatically increasing and is now the largest ethnic group in the United States. Politicians are aware of the changing demographics and are not adequately enforcing laws that they perceive will not be popular with Hispanics.
4. Lack of Law Enforcement by the U.S. Government of Existing Immigration Laws and Border Security:
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provided for penalties against companies that hire undocumented workers. In 1999, under the Clinton Administration, the U.S. government collected a meager 3.69 million from 890 companies in fines. In 2004, under George Bush, the amount collected in fines from companies hiring undocumented workers was zero. It is estimated that, in 2004, three million illegal immigrants entered the United States. In January 2005, a bill overhauling the U.S. Intelligence Agency was passed into law. This bill recognized that an eight thousand mile border patrolled by 9,500 border agents was badly inadequate. The bill required the hiring of 10,000 more agents at an immediate rate of 2,000 per year. The Bush Administration ignored the law and submitted a budget to hire 200.
In summary, Mexican people living across the border in poverty see opportunity in the United States to put food on the table for their families. There are willing employers in the United States ready to offer them work, with low wages, poor working conditions and without benefits. For illegal immigrants, these conditions are still far better than the poverty of Mexico. Illegal immigrants enter the country through porous borders. They acquire fake identification on the streets of our cities and work for companies which exploit them. The career politicians in charge of government fail to enforce the immigration laws in place and adequately patrol the southern borders for fear of offending Hispanic voters.
Finally, illegal immigrants and the American people are both victims here. The U.S. government needs to enforce the laws in place and the country needs a coherent immigration policy. Selective enforcement of laws is divisive and confusing. Perhaps, Pastor Robin Hoover of Humane Borders put it best when he said: “Our nation virtually puts two signs on its borders: “Help Wanted: Inquire Within” and “Do Not Trespass.”