Immigration Analytical Essay


Immigration has become a challenge in the U.S creating a political debate, as policy makers need to consider the competing economic, national security, and humanitarian concerns associated with it. The U.S currently accommodates about 10 million undocumented immigrants. Majority of these immigrants are Hispanics from Mexico who illegally cross the U.S-Mexican border. Other illegal immigrants are from Guatemala and other nations. Besides illegal border crossers, asylum seekers and visa overstays form the undocumented immigrant population. Visa overstays are visitors who continue to stay in the U.S after their visa expires.

The major immigration issue of concern in the U.S is how to deal with the 10 million undocumented immigrants. The recommendation is that reforms should be made to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants. A path to citizenship begins with legalization. The undocumented immigrants are living in the United States, enjoying some of its services illegally. Although they are living illegally, liberals and immigrant advocates believe that most of these undocumented immigrants are law abiding, hardworking, productive, are paying taxes among other things that American citizens do. The Obama administration reprioritized the deportation of undocumented immigrants who did not have any crime records, requiring them to check with the immigration agents annually but still the path for citizenship was not set.

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In the contrast, Trump’s administration has always pushed for deportation of these undocumented immigrants claiming that they cause economic and security threats by taking American jobs. Deportation of undocumented immigrants is not realistic. The number is too big and these people are living among other Americans in the communities. Some have families whom by birth, the children in the families are citizens of the United States. Some of them even own homes. According to the Migration Policy Institute, about 60 percent of the undocumented population has been in the United States for at least a decade (Vivian et al.). An indication that most of these people are used to the American life, they work in the US, and have established families here. Deporting these immigrants would mean separating them from their families which is a social injustice. Reports indicate that a very small percentage of these undocumented immigrants have committed felonies or serious crimes. Therefore, the undocumented immigrants are not a serious security threat and legalizing them would actually strengthen national security. 

Having stated, that deportation of undocumented immigrants is unrealistic, having them in the country without giving them the opportunity to work, access to social services and education is likely to make them do illegal things, such as criminal acts. On the contrary, legalizing these undocumented immigrants translates to a strong American economy and strengthened national security. Besides, legalization of the immigrants and granting them citizenship would create a rich, vibrant, and diverse culture.  

During the Obama administration many efforts were made towards the legalization of the 10 million undocumented immigrants. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) act was introduced in 2001 but was not passed by the congress. Since then it has been reintroduced several times but it has never been passed. The bill has reintroduced in 2017, termed as The DREAM Act 2017. This Act holds the fate of about 800,000 DREAMERS – undocumented immigrants who entered the USA as children, those who have temporary protected status, and the undocumented people. This Act provides a direct path to U.S citizenship for these individuals. After the DREAM act failed to pass in 2012, the Obama administration formed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 to protect DREAMERS by giving them a 2 year renewable periods of amnesty, temporary residency, and employment authorization (Schoichet and Kopan). The DACA program was discontinued by President Trump in September, 2017 leaving the fate of DREAMERS and other undocumented immigrants on the congress to pass a replacement law. The majority of American people strongly support the DREAM Act 2017 given that majority of these immigrants are working, schooling, and living with their families in the United States. Having them settle is the best thing to do. Therefore, the best way to respond to this issue of undocumented immigrants is legalizing them which then creates a path to citizenship upon meeting the necessary requirements. 

Legalizing and granting citizenship to the undocumented immigrants requires that background checks are conducted, ensuring that the immigrants are paying taxes, and ensuring that they learn English. Performing a background check on 10 million persons is challenging in terms of resources but it is necessary for the sake of the national security.  Another challenge with legalizing the undocumented immigrants is that it will encourage more immigrants to cross the borders into the U.S, which can be addressed by ensuring a tight border security. 

Another solution to the immigration issue is establishing a nationwide system that identifies all foreign persons present in the country and documents them. The legal migration system should ensure that all background checks are conducted properly to ensure national security. Visa overstays can be reduced by reduced by such a system. They enter the country using legal documents and continue to live unnoticed after their legal stay expires. Therefore solution to this immigration issue is the establishment of a biometric exit system by the Homeland Security to track people who overstay in the country and live illegally. The visa overstays cause a major national security threat compared to those who cross the border illegally. Two of the September 11 hijackers, Al Saqawi and Naswaq Ahazmj were visa overstays (Nixon). The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency mainly relies on unreliable data from travel manifests to provide an estimate of visa overstays but they cannot effectively track them down. According to Centre of Migration Studies, visa overstays have outnumbered the number of border crossers by a half a million since 2007 (Warren and Kerwin 127). In 2014 visa overstays accounted for 66 percent of people who joined the undocumented immigrant population in 2014 (Warren and Kerwin 128). This raises the question for the need of a wall in the US Mexican border as pushed by President Trump. 

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Lastly, tightening border security in the Southern border by increasing border patrols and proper verification of immigrants can reduce illegal border crossers. However, recent reports indicate that number of arrests at the Southern border has greatly reduced an indication that illegal border immigrations have reduced (Caldwell). Therefore, the federal and state governments should concentrate more on reducing visa overstays which is on the rise creating a national security threat. 

In conclusion, the major threat of undocumented immigrants in the United States is not an economic threat, but a national security threat. On determining the fate of 10 million undocumented immigrants among them families, children, students, and workers, lawmakers should consider the future of these people, especially the border crossers, for whom some have lived in the U.S for over a decade.

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  1. Caldwell, Alicia A. “The Number of People Trying to Cross the US-Mexico Border Illegally Has Hit a Historic Low.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 5 Apr. 2017,
  2. Nixon, R.  “629,000 Overstayed U.S. Visas Last Year, Homeland Security Says.” The New York Times, The New York Times.  22 May. 2017,
  3. Shoichet, E., and Kopan, T. “DACA, Dreamers explained.” CNN, CNN, 26 Oct. 2017,
  4. Vivian, Y, Kenan, D, and Jugal K. “Here’s the Reality About Illegal Immigrants in the United States.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 06 May. 2017,
  5. Warren, Robert, and Kerwin, Donald. “The 2,000 Mile Wall in Search of a Purpose: Since 2007 Visa Overstays Have Outnumbered Undocumented Border Crossers by a Half Million.” Journal on Migration and Human Security, vol. 5, no. 1, June 2017, doi:10.14240/jmhs.v5i1.77.
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