Upon the completion of the most recent presidential election, immigration has become an increasingly prominent issue that often prompts controversial discussion. President Donald Trump is notorious for his harsh beliefs on immigration and has the ability to drastically change the way the United States regulates entry into our country over the next few years. Despite the numerous laws and regulations currently in place to keep our country safe, there is no denying that illegal immigration can, and does, occur here in the U.S. In fact, it is estimated that there are approximately 11 million individuals currently residing within the United States illegally. Many of these immigrants eventually desire legal U.S. citizenship, but it is undecided whether this group of people should be granted amnesty and allowed to become citizens after initially breaking the law to enter the country.
Even though a small percentage of Americans are against amnesty, approximately 71% of US citizens agree that illegal immigrants should be allowed to become United States citizens. In a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, it was discovered that in the United States, the overall attitudes about immigrants are more positive than negative. Furthermore, it is estimated that around 49% of Americans believe immigrants, generally, strengthen the country with the contribution of their hard work and talents.
If you think back to the first inhabitants of the United States, every citizen was an immigrant. Elizabeth Cohen, a professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs explains how when people first began to come to the US, those who immigrated and spent years building lives in this country deserved citizenship. It was unfair for immigrants to spend years working and contributing to the country, to only be denied the right of becoming a citizen. Cohen has her readers think, if this method worked in the past, why would it not work now? The United States is meant to be a land of opportunity for everyone and denying people the right to live here takes away from the country's very goal.
Most politicians agree that if immigrants are trying to turn their illegal status into something legal we should not stop them from doing so. Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and recent presidential candidate stated that “in order to treat every person with dignity, uphold the rule of law, protect our borders and national security, and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy, it is completely necessary for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship”.
Obama demonstrated a similar belief but furthered his position by stating it is only fair to prioritize the people trying to come here legally, before those who have broken the law to come here. He proposed a path that “includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line, behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally.” This solution therefore ultimately allows for illegal immigrants to become citizens, but only after completing a complex and long process as a result of their initial decision to come to the United States illegally.
Surprisingly, even president Donald Trump supports amnesty for illegal immigrants. His promise to deport illegal immigrants living in the United States causes many people to assume Trump is completely anti-immigration. However, many people do not know that after these immigrants are deported, Trump plans to allow them to return as legal citizens and even encourages them to do so. In an interview in 2011, Trump explained that it is basic human compassion to allow illegal immigrants to become citizens and is quoted as saying:
"I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal…. A lot of these people are helping us … and sometimes it’s jobs a citizen of the United States doesn’t want to do. I want to move ’em out, and we’re going to move ’em back in and let them be legal." (Thiessen)
When it comes down to it, everyone living in the United States, illegally or legally, is here for a reason. Millions of people love this country and all that it represents and risk a lot to live here. It is hard not to feel compassionate towards those who are simply trying to provide for their families and create better lives here than in their home countries. Allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens demonstrates basic compassion and acceptance on our country's part and results in a more diverse population of hardworking, unique individuals.
Clark, Mary Pat. “Most Say Illegal Immigrants Should Be Allowed to Stay, But Citizenship is More Divisive.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Pew Research Center, 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2017.
Cohen, Elizabeth. “Should Illegal Immigrants Become Citizens? Let’s Ask the Founding Fathers.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 01 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2017
Garcia, Carlos. "Report: Trump Might Call for Amnesty for Illegal Aliens in Address to Congress." TheBlaze. TheBlaze, 28 Feb. 2017. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.
Thiessen, Marc. "Who Knew? Trump Favors Amnesty for Undocumented Immigrants." Newsweek. Newsweek LLC, 02 May 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.