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Undocumented Immigration: Is It What You Think It Is?

LA Times

LA Times

A few years ago while discussing illegal immigration in an English class, a girl spoke about her reasons on why she was against it. My initial reaction was to roll my eyes because I knew that what she was about to say was going to be ignorant considering her opinions on previous in-class debates. Regardless, I paid attention to what she was going to say so that I could express my counter-argument clearly.

Her opinions and the reasoning behind them were the same ones I have been hearing my entire life.

“Why don’t they just come legally?”

“Illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes and they are all on welfare.”

“There’s borders for a reason.”

There are a great amount of assumptions pertaining to undocumented immigrants, especially those from Mexico. Many who don’t necessarily understand this topic and other subjects relating to this topic are often mislead due to the ignorance of those who spread wrong information.

One of the main arguments against illegal immigration that I hear frequently asks why undocumented immigrants choose to come illegally instead of obtaining a visa or a green card. This argument portrays immigrants as being simply too “lazy” to apply for either as well as grossly oversimplifying the attainment process of these documents.

For those who are unaware of the outdated immigration system currently used in the U.S, there is a certain amount of visas and green cards given to every country. This number is the same throughout regardless of the country’s population therefore, countries with a smaller population in which not many green cards or visas are need get the same amount as those whose populations are much greater.

In 2012 the number of visas that were allotted to Mexico was 47,250 and the amount of Mexican applicants were 1,316,118. As you can see, simply applying for a visa definitely does not indicate that one will be given and most of those who submit a petition are denied.

Using this argument based on an assumption that undocumented immigrants are too indolent to apply for legal residency when it is the immigration system who isn’t allowing them to do so is contradictory.

Another argument that is often used by those who are against illegal immigration is that undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes and are all on welfare, which is predominately inaccurate.

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is issued by the IRS for those who are unable to obtain a Social Security Number and are required to file tax returns. Therefore, undocumented immigrants who are living in the U.S still pay taxes using this identification number.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture which administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, most of those receiving these benefits are white, 40.2% to be exact. The stereotype that implies undocumented immigrants come to the U.S simply to take advantage of the benefits is inaccurate and should be eliminated.

One of the main reasons why undocumented immigrants come to the U.S is to escape the poverty within their home countries by working here. Mexican culture is predominately founded on the concept of hard work and even before they arrive to the U.S they are determined to work in whatever kind of jobs they must to build their children’s future. 80% of field workers are undocumented immigrants despite agricultural work being rated one of the worst jobs in 2012.

California is one of the main food producers of the world due to its agricultural background and is known as the “bread basket of the world”. If 80% of those working in agriculture related jobs are illegal immigrants I can’t help but ask what politicians such as Donald Trump are planning to do if they deport the 11 million living in the U.S. I wonder if Trump has actually thought about the repercussions his decisions will bring or if he is just spewing hate masked in pseudo intelligence.

It angers me that the hard work and contributions that undocumented immigrants do every single day are disregarded. They are demonized for simply trying to escape the corruption and violence in their native countries to give their children a better home. They are labelled as criminals and suddenly that is all privileged white republicans see.

It is time to end the stereotypes that prevent undocumented immigrant from gaining sympathy from Americans. Mexicans are not all drug lords and rapists. We are much more than legal statuses and green cards. We are humans and deserve to be treated as so.

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