A hot button topic among the 2016 presidential candidates is one that has been the center of debate since the invention of borders: illegal immigration.
Most of the conversation is based on emotion and political rhetoric; but if you break down the facts, you’ll find some simple solutions to the crisis.
Let’s talk numbers. According to Pew Research, there are roughly 11 million illegal immigrants living in the US today—about 3.5 percent of the total population. They take up 5.1 percent of the workforce.
A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies says that a little over half of the immigrant (legal and illegal) population is on some form of welfare. BUT the crux here is that those immigrants, even if they are on welfare, are more likely to be working than native born people on welfare. (87 percent to 76 percent) You can check out more stats here.
Using that as a key point, one can deduct a simple solution: Streamline the process for illegal immigrants to become citizens. It’s reasonable to suggest that illegal immigrants, working in the US, without violent felonies should be able to become citizens without sacrificing their first born child. A simple application, a quick citizenship test, and you’re in.
According to immigration-focused Litwin and Smith Law Firm; with the current laws, migrating to the US is a difficult and arduous process. Unless an immigrant is married to a US citizen, a child of US citizens, or parents of US citizens, he or she is going to be on a waiting list due to limits on how many people in certain groups are allowed in the US each year. They’ve got a great breakdown on those groups here.
Why? Is the United States overpopulated? According to the US Census Bureau, the US sits at 318 million people, with a population density of 88.6 people per square mile. We’re not as sparsely populated as Greenland, but we’re not busting at the seams either. In fact, we’re on the bottom half of the Population Density list.
It’s time for lawmakers to take a good long look at what’s on the books already—then fix it. Get rid of waiting lists and priority groups. Make the application simple and common-sense, and let the immigrants become established in the US as they learn English and citizenship. Set a time period for the applicant to take the English and citizenship tests. As soon as they pass let them take the Oath of Allegiance at the local police department.
I think we’ll find ourselves with fewer undocumented people, making the situation safer for immigrants and natural-born citizens alike.
A family coming to the US in search of a better life is not committing a crime. When 11 million people have done it, it’s not the people who are the problem, it’s the law. Let’s slim down bulky immigration laws. It will save expenditure on border patrols and investigations into illegal immigration cases, all while increasing our tax-paying base.