Illegal Immigration, Undocumented Workers, and Immigration Reform illegal immigration, immigration reform, lou dobbs, amnesty for immigrants, undocumented workers An overview of the issue of undocumented workers in the United States Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration refers to the immigration of people across national borders in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destined country. In politics, the term may imply a larger set of social issues and time constraints with disputed consequences in areas such as economy, social welfare, education, health care, slavery, prostitution, crime, legal protections, public services, and human rights. Illegal emigration would be leaving a country in a manner which violates the laws of the country being left.

War and repression

One driver of illegal immigration is an attempt to escape civil war or repression in their native country.

After 40 years of armed conflict, roughly one of every 10 Colombians now live abroad. Figures from the US Department of Homeland Security indicate that Colombia is the fourth-leading source country of unauthorized immigration to the United States; The estimated number of unauthorized Colombian residents in the US has almost tripled from 51,000 in 1990 to 141,000 in 2000.

The largest per-capita source of immigrants to the US comes from El Salvador, for which up to a third of the population lives outside the country, mostly in the US. According to the Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations,

Family reunion

Some undocumented immigrants seek to live with loved ones, such as a spouse or other family members. This is particularly true for the families of binational same sex couples. The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force (LGIRTF) warns binational same sex couples in the US that marriage may actually increase the likelihood of becoming undocumented, rather than decreasing it.


Another reason for immigration is to escape poverty. According to CBS 60 Minutes, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, one of the first U.S. servicemen to die in combat in Iraq, a former street child in Guatamala having been orphaned at age 8, first entered the US as an undocumented immigrant in 1997 to escape poverty, and dreamed of being an architect.. Sometimes the person moves over the border because the wage-labor ratio is much higher in the neighboring country, as is the case with the US illegal immigration.


Border crossing

Immigrants from nations that do not have an automatic visa agreements, or who would not otherwise qualify for a visa, often cross the borders illegally in some areas like the U.S.-Mexico border, the Strait of Gibraltar, Fuerteventura and the Strait of Otranto. Because these methods must be extralegal, they are often dangerous. Would-be immigrants suffocate in shipping containers, boxcars, and trucks, sink in unseaworthy vessels, die of dehydration or exposure during long walks without water. For example, across the US-Mexican border, the official estimate is that between 1998 and 2004 there were 1,954 people who died in illegal crossings.

The Snakeheads gang of Fujian, China, has been smuggling laborers into Pacific Rim nations for over a century, making Chinatowns frequent centers of illegal immigration.

Smugglers, known in the US as "coyotes", often charge a hefty fee, and have been known to abuse or even kill their customers in attempts to have the debt repaid.Sometimes immigrants are abandoned by their human traffickers if there are difficulties, often dying in the process. Others may be victims of intentional killing.

Smuggling of people may also be involuntary on the immigrant's part. Following the close of the legal international slave trade by the European nations and the United States in the early 19th century, the illegal importation of slaves into America has continued, albeit at much reduced levels. The so-called "white slave trade" referred to the smuggling of women, almost always under duress or fraud, for the purposes of forced prostitution. Now more generically called "sexual slavery" it continues to be a problem, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, though there have been increasing cases in the U.S. People may also be kidnapped or tricked into slavery to work as laborers, for example in factories. Those trafficked in this manner often face additional barriers to escaping slavery, since their status as illegal immigrants makes it difficult for them to gain access to help or services. For example Burmese women trafficked into Thailand and forced to work in factories or as prostitutes may not speak the language and may be vulnerable to abuse by police due to their illegal immigrant status.


Some illegal immigrants enter a country legally and then overstay or violate their visa. For example, most of the estimated 200,000 illegal immigrants in Canada are refugee claimants whose refugee applications were rejected but who have not yet been ejected from the country.

A related way of becoming an illegal immigrant is through bureaucratic means. For example, a person can be allowed to remain in a country - or be protected from expulsion - because he/she needs special treatment for a medical condition, etc., without being able to regularize his/her situation and obtain a work and/or residency permit, let alone naturalization. Hence, categories of people being neither illegal immigrants nor legal citizens are created, living in a judicial "no man's land". Another example is formed by children of foreigners born in countries observing jus soli ("right of territory"), such as France. In that country, one may obtain French nationality if he was born in France - but, due to recent legislative changes, it is only granted at the age of eighteen, and only upon request.

Legal and political status

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Many countries have had or currently have laws restricting immigration for economic or nationalistic political reasons. Whether a person is permitted to stay in a country legally may be decided by quotas or point systems or may be based on considerations such as family ties (marriage, elderly mother, etc.). Exceptions relative to political refugees or to sick people are also common. Immigrants who do not participate in these legal proceedings or who are denied permission under them and still enter or stay in the country are considered illegal immigrants.

Most countries have laws requiring workers to have proper documentation, often intended to prevent or minimize the employment of unauthorized immigrants. However the penalties against employers are often small and the acceptable identification requirements vague and ill-defined as well as being seldom checked or enforced, making it easy for employers to hire unauthorized labor. Unauthorized immigrants are especially popular with many employers because they can pay less than the legal minimum wage or have unsafe working conditions, secure in the knowledge that few unauthorized workers will report the abuse to the authorities. Often the minimum wages in one country can be several times the prevailing wage in the unauthorized immigrant's country, making even these jobs attractive to the unauthorized worker. However, most unauthorized workers are paid well above minimum wage

In response to the outcry following popular knowledge of the Holocaust, the newly-established United Nations held an international conference on refugees, where it was decided that refugees (legally defined to be people who are persecuted in their original country and then enter another country seeking safety) should be exempted from immigration laws. It is, however, up to the countries involved to decide if a particular immigrant is a refugee or not, and hence whether they are subject to the immigration controls.

The right to freedom of movement of an individual within National borders is often contained within the constitution or in a country's human rights legislation but these rights are restricted to citizens and exclude all others. Some argue that the freedom of movement both within and between countries is a basic human right and that nationalism and immigration policies of state governments violate this human right that those same governments recognise within their own borders. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, fundamental human rights are violated when citizens are forbidden to leave their country. (Article 13). This, however, only assists immigrants with the first part of their immigration process and does not assist with the second, finding a new home.

Since immigrants without proper legal status have no valid identification documents such as identity cards, they may have reduced or no access to public health systems, proper housing, education and banks. This lack of access may result in the creation or expansion of an illegal underground forgery to provide this documentation. .

When the authorities are overwhelmed in their efforts to stop illegal immigration, they have historically provided amnesty. Amnesties, which are becoming less tolerated by the citizenry, waive the "subject to deportation" clause associated with illegal aliens.


The public may be sharply divided on the issue of illegal immigration.

Advocates for illegal immigration accuse much of the anti-illegal immigration sentiment on racism and/or xenophobia.

European Union

The European Union is developing a common system for immigration and asylum and a single external border control strategy.

In France, helping an illegal immigrant (providing shelter, for example) is prohibited by a law passed on December 27, 1994 under the cohabitation between socialist President François Mitterrand and right-wing Premier ministre Edouard Balladur . The law was heavily criticized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the CIMADE or the GISTI, left-wing political parties such as the Greens or the French Communist Party, and trade-unions such as the magistrates' Syndicat de la magistrature.

Once in July 2004 and a second time in May 2006, Hellenic Coast Guard ships were caught on film cruising as near as a few hundred meters off the Turkish coast and abandoning clandestine immigrants to the sea. This practice resulted in the drowning of six people between Chios and Karaburun on 26 September 2006 while three others disappeared and 31 could be saved by Turkish gendarmes and fishermen .

United States

Illegal immigration has been a longstanding issue in the United States, creating immense controversy.

The Pew Hispanic Center state that 57% of illegal aliens are of Mexican origin and about 75% are of Latin American origin . They also report that while the number of legal immigrants (including LPRs, refugees, and asylees) arriving has not varied substantially since the 1980s, the number of illegal aliens has increased dramatically and, since the mid 1990s, has surpassed the number of legal immigrants.

Research by the National Science Foundation advances the position that the costs of social services for illegal aliens are greater than the taxes they pay, while some advocates of illegal immigration claim illegal aliens pay enough to cover these costs.

Some economists have argued that whether the impact on the US economy has been good or bad depends on which section of the US population you are concerned about the most. The cost of labor has cheapened and this has benefited business owners, but had a detrimental effect on American poor.

A growing issue is gangs which are made of and support illegal aliens such as Mara Salvatrucha. According to a Maldon Institute report, MS 13 “appears to be in control of much of the Mexican border and, in addition to its smuggling and contraband rackets, the gang collects money from illegal immigrants that it helps [move] across the border into the United States.” Its members have committed murder, severed limbs, assaulted, robbed, and raped and are protected by international law with El Salvador. .

Issues related to illegal immigration to the US include research that such immigration has hidden medical consequences, such as the importation of diseases (such as polio, plague, dengue fever, drug-resistant tuberculosis, the chagas disease, and leprosy), which some sources describe as serious. Many people don't believe that and there's no proof.


Mexico has very strict immigration laws pertaining to both illegal and legal immigrants. The Mexican constitution restricts non-citizens or foreign-born persons from participating in politics, holding office, acting as members of the clergy, or serving on the crews of Mexican-flagged ships or airplanes. Certain legal rights are waived in the case of foreigners, such as the right to a deportation hearing or other legal motions. In cases of flagrante delicto, any person may make a citizen's arrest on the offender and any accomplices, turning them over without delay to the nearest authorities.

In the first eight months of 2005 alone, more than 120,000 people from Central America have been deported to their countries of origin. This is a significantly higher percentage than in 2002, when for the entire year, only 130,000 people were deported . Another important group of people are those of Chinese origin, who pay about $5,500 to smugglers to be taken to Mexico from Hong Kong. It is estimated that 2.4% of rejections for work permits in Mexico correspond to Chinese citizens . Many women from Eastern Europe, Asia, the United States, and Central and South America are also offered jobs at table dance establishments in large cities throughout the country causing the National Institute of Migration (INM) in Mexico to raid strip clubs and deport foreigners who work without the proper documentation . Many illegally immigrated Argentines are currently working in the country with the proper documentation, including some who work also in table dance establishments. In 2004, the INM deported 188,000 people at a cost of $10 million .

Despite maintaining its own aggressive stance on immigration Mexico condemns the United States for its efforts at building a fence to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Public attitudes on contemporary immigration

Public attitudes about immigration in the U.S. have been heavily influenced by the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The number of Americans who told the Gallup poll they wanted immigration restricted increased 20 percentage points after the attacks. Half of Americans say tighter controls on immigration would do "a great deal" to enhance U.S. national security, according to a Public Agenda survey.

Public opinion surveys suggest that Americans see both the good and bad sides of immigration at the same time. A June 2006 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found the public evenly divided on the fundamental question of whether immigration helps or hurts the country, with 44 percent saying it helps and 45 percent saying it hurts the U.S. Surveys do show that the U.S. public has a far more positive outlook about legal immigration than illegal immigration. The public is less willing to provide government services or legal protections to illegal immigrants. When survey data is examined by race, African Americans are both more willing to extend government services to illegal immigrants and more worried about competition for jobs, according to the Pew Research Center.

Three-quarters of immigrants surveyed by Public Agenda said they intend to make the U.S. their permanent home. If they had it to do over again, 80 percent of immigrants say they would still come to the U.S. But half of immigrants say the government has become tougher on enforcing immigration laws since 9/11 and three in 10 report they have personally experienced discrimination.

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