The United States remains the most attractive country in the world for immigrants leaving their country for economic, political, or social reasons. Since the country gained independence in 1776, it has been attracting immigrants from all over the world because of government policies and growth opportunities. The Immigrant Act of 1990 that created the Diversity Immigrant Visa (Green Card) was enacted to help people migrate legally into the country as permanent residents (Huo, Yuen, et al. 720). However, this program only allows a limited number of people to migrate into the country. As such, many people are forced to illegally cross the United States border into the country.
People from neighboring countries, especially Mexico, regularly come to the United States as illegal immigrants because they lack the opportunity to do so legally. As Pineo explains, these immigrants are playing critical roles in enhancing the country’s economy (22). The majority are hardworking and law-abiding individuals who are keen on earning a living for their families. However, the United States Immigrant and Customers Enforcement (ICE) has been ruthless when dealing with these illegal immigrants (Alper and Altinöz 16). Cases, where children are separated from their parents and people, are treated inhumanely have been reported along the country’s borders. Most of those who are arrested would be deported back to their home country without a fair assessment of the reasons why they had to leave their country.
ICE needs to change its approach to handling illegal immigrants, especially those who are arrested along the country’s border. Instead of using punitive strategies such as separating children from their parents, detaining the immigrants in inhumane ways, and deporting them immediately, they should focus on determining their reason for coming to the country and how they can be assisted. Immigrants in the United States have continued to play a critical role in the United States’ socio-economic and political development.
Pineo argues that a significant number of people who come to the United States are skilled personnel who have advanced academic qualifications but lack employment opportunities in their home country (32). As such, the government needs to redefine its immigration laws to ensure that the deportation of illegal immigrants is based on fair criteria.
In the interview that the researcher conducted, the respondent noted that there is a need to redefine the approach to handling immigrants in the country. He narrated the ordeal that she went through when they were crossing the border with his mother. He was just a child at that time, but the memory of the events at the border at the hands of ICE officers remains vivid in his mind. Many Americans may disagree with the idea of creating better platforms for people to come to the United States. However, studies have shown that the use of excessive force does not help in addressing the problem (Alper and Altinöz 21). It is only fair for the federal government to find an alternative approach to solving the problem,
Managing immigration remains one of the most emotive topics in the United States and it is a major challenge for every administration. The number of those who support immigration and are keen on protecting immigrants is just as many as those who reject it and want strict laws to limit it. One of the proponents of stricter immigration laws is the immediate former President Donald Trump (Pineo 9). Those who agree with him argue that the majority of those who come to the United States are semi-illiterate individuals who are always involved in criminal activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and armed robberies. They believe that having a huge number of undocumented individuals has numerous challenges that outweigh the benefits that immigrants bring.
Undocumented immigrants are often unaccounted for in annual planning. It means that when setting aside the annual budget for public services such as healthcare, education, transport, and security, they are not taken into consideration (Gutiérrez para. 4). The problem is that although they are not factored in, they use these services. The outcome is that these services become overstretched. Many healthcare centers find it difficult to meet the needs of an increasing number of patients because they have to provide services to a larger population than what is in their budget. It means that American citizens and legal residents of the country cannot get the quality services that they deserve.
Managing security in major urban centers with a large population of illegal immigrants is a major challenge. These individuals are not in government records (Huo et al. 728). As such, they can easily commit a crime and it may not be easy to trace them. Their fingerprints or DNA cannot be matched with government records. Unless they are arrested in the act, conducting investigations when they commit a crime may not be easy. As such, law enforcement agencies and security experts have emphasized the need to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants. Bray also observes that these individuals do not pay income tax, which means that they are not paying for public services that they use (para. 7). They believe that ICE should remain more vigilant in fighting illegal immigration into the country.
The opponents of the current strategies of ICE believe that there is a need to redefine the approach that this federal agency uses to address the problem. As shown in figure 1 above, despite the harsh and inhuman treatments that the government has been using, there was a consistent increase in the number of unauthorized immigrants from 1990 to 2010. The number plateaued from 2010 to 2017, but it remains a significant problem. According to Goodman, ICE officers often treat illegal immigrants that they arrest in inhumane ways (78). This argument is supported by the report obtained from the interview the researcher conducted with one of the victims. The immigrant provided a detailed encounter that they had with ICE officers:
“What happened to me was, when I was crossing the border with my mother and sister in the desert, an ICE police enforcement team saw and detained us. What I can remember is that there were other immigrants locked up in the cages as if they were animals. My mother and I got separated by the officers. Children and adults were in separate cages. I was scared to death. It was a traumatizing experience. It took hours for the police to release us and we had to go back to Mexico. A couple of months passed and we made another attempt to cross the border, and this time it was a success. We are currently living in America.”
The account given by the individual who experienced the brutality of ICE reaffirms the need to redefine laws governing immigration in the country. They were traumatized by the experience at the hands of ICE officers, but they eventually succeeded in illegally immigrating into the country in their second attempt. It means that although ICE may succeed in arresting and deporting illegal immigrants, those who are committed to coming to America will eventually do so.
As shown in figure 2 below, the government has been deporting an increasingly high number of people out of the country. However, these statistics are misleading, as Goodman observes (112). Those who are deported eventually find their way back into the country. This claim is supported by the account given by the participant who was interviewed. A high number of those classified as having been deported are already residing in the country. It means that the current system is failing. The country needs better legislation to help in solving the immigration challenge.
Illegal immigration remains one of the major challenges that law enforcement agencies in the United States have to address. ICE has been using harsh strategies in ensuring that illegal immigrants are arrested and deported back to their home countries. Although there is a legitimate concern about having a high number of illegal immigrants in the country, especially in terms of economic planning and security management, the current immigration laws are not effective.
The study shows that the majority of those who are deported eventually find their way into the country. Instead of wasting public resources and using inhuman strategies, it is necessary to repeal some of these laws to enhance legal migration into the country. Immigrants play a critical role in the socio-economic and political development of the country, hence they deserve humane treatment when coming to and staying in the country.
Alper, Aslan, and Buket Altinöz. “The Relationship between Unemployment and Immigration with Linear and Nonlinear Causality Tests: Evidence from the United States.” Economic Journal of Emerging Markets, vol. 12, no. 1, 2020, pp. 13-24.
Bray, Ilona. “Legal Reasons a U.S. Immigrant May Be Deported.” All Law. Web.
Goodman, Adam. The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants. Princeton University Press, 2020.
Gutiérrez, Ramón. “Mexican Immigration to the United States.” American History. Web.
Huo, Yuen, et al. “Not Just a National Issue: Effect of State‐Level Reception of Immigrants and Population Changes on Intergroup Attitudes of Whites, Latinos, and Asians in the United States.” Journal of Social Issues, vol. 74, no. 4, 2018, pp. 716-736.
Pineo, Ronn. “Immigration Crisis: The United States under President Donald J. Trump.” Journal of Developing Societies, vol. 36, no. 1, 2020, pp. 7-40.