By Katherine N Segovia, Opinion Writer
In 2014, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that there were 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States. Their top countries of origin included Mexico and El Salvador, among others, according to CNN. Deportations reached a record high in 2013 with 438,421 people deported, according to the Pew Research Center. However, the problems with illegal immigration are not limited to statistics: things go much deeper.
The struggles faced by those who immigrate illegally to the United States often go unnoticed. Amid the financial and familial problems these immigrants face, they also deal with racism and discrimination on a daily basis. Making the decision to illegally enter a country is a hard one and often times, individuals do it to better the lives of themselves and their family.
Immigration reform is necessary, but there needs to be a solid plan in place to grant amnesty to those who need it most. Similar to how some politicians emphasize the importance of the U.S. taking in women and children refugees from countries where mass violence is occurring, it should also be a concern to keep immigrant families together. Undocumented immigrants often come to the U.S. for similar reasons.
The Pew Research Center reported that Mexico faces a plethora of troubles including crime, drugs, corruption and problems facing their economy. This is a huge factor as to why many Mexicans come to the US. In the long term, immigration reform will save families from being torn apart as well as ensure trouble makers are deported.
One of the main reasons people are hesitant to advocate for immigration reform is because they believe illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans. This statement is faulty for various reasons. Firstly, the jobs held by these immigrants are not the types of jobs that most Americans are lining up for. Although the number of undocumented immigrants working in white-collar jobs has increased over the years, the majority remain in blue-collar jobs, according to the Pew Research Center.
For the most part, they do not work as big shot Wall Street Executives or CEO’s. The majority work in manual labor. In a study conducted between 2007 and 2012, the Pew Research Center reported that in 2012, 62 percent of undocumented immigrant workers held jobs in construction, service and production, which is two times greater than the number of U.S-born workers in those fields.
As for white-collar jobs, only 13 percent of undocumented workers held jobs in a management or professional field – less than half the amount of U.S.-born workers within those occupations, according to the Pew Research Center. Besides the strenuous manual labor, these workers are often underpaid and cannot protest their low wages because if they do, their time in the country may be cut short. Employers are well aware of this, and some use it to their own advantage.
Immigration reform has played a big role in the 2016 presidential election and the candidates have extremely opposing views on the issue. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s nominee, outlines her plan for immigration reform on her website. Her plan includes enforcing immigration laws humanely while protecting families and providing a path to full and equal citizenship.
Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee, plans on building a wall on the southern border of the U.S. and conducting mass deportations beginning on day one. He has gone on to bully those of Latino heritage: specifically those of Mexican descent, calling them “rapists, drug dealers and criminals.”
Trump often states that he wants to “make America great again” but what he often forgets is that America is a country of immigrants. That is the basis on which this country was founded. People immigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life, which is still the case today. Crossing the border and subjecting yourself to the dangers of what lies ahead is a hard decision to make, but in many cases, people do it for the sake of their families.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 8th print edition.
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