Should the US Federal Government Provide a Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants?

Supporters of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants generally highlight the human suffering involved in separating families and the expensive process that deporting masses of immigrants requires. Opponents of an easy citizenship path generally highlight the unfairness of such a system to immigrants who had arrived in the US legally. Opponents often call attention to the need to follow the rule of law.

On both sides of the controversy, there are people who say that a fair citizenship path would be acceptable. Opinions differ, however, on what “fair” would look like.


Path to Citizenship — Economic Security Undocumented immigrants would add more than a trillion dollars to the economy within ten years and greatly increase tax revenue. A special path to citizenship for illegal immigrants would be unfair to those who came legally.
Path to Citizenship — Fair Process The path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants should not be quick, but it should be clear and fair. In order to achieve a fair path to citizenship, undocumented immigrants should be sent back to their home countries and apply in the usual way.
Border Fence or Wall Any nation must have boundaries in order to prevent being taken advantage of. Mexico should pay for a border wall. An anti-immigrant policy would be an economic disaster for the US. A border wall would be useless. There is no reason Mexico should pay for it.
Driver’s Licenses Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses would increase traffic safety for all Americans and reduce the number of uninsured drivers. Drivers’ licenses would legitimize the presence of undocumented immigrants in the US, increase lines at DMV offices, and possibly be used in voter fraud.
Mass Deportations Arresting and deporting families is unpleasant but may be necessary in some circumstances, such as when a judge has already ordered deportation. Locating and transporting masses of immigrants would be difficult. Mistakes would occur, and courts would be overwhelmed. The loss of workers would harm the economy.
Economic Burden Undocumented workers are often underpaid, which lowers wages for citizens as well. Large immigrant families can place an economic burden on school systems and law enforcement. Undocumented immigrants pay significant amounts of state and local taxes, estimated at 8% of their income.
Terrorist Threat Unsecured borders have allowed potential terrorists and drug-selling gangs into the US. Foreign terrorists have entered the US legally, such as on work, study, or tourist visas.
Disadvantage American Workers Increasing the number of low-skilled undocumented immigrant workers in the US would reduce wages for all low-skilled workers. Undocumented immigrants don’t just increase the supply of workers. They also contribute to the economy by spending money, which increases the demand for workers.
Higher Crime High percentages of the most wanted criminals and of convicted criminals in several Western states are undocumented immigrants. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of undocumented immigrants in the US more than tripled, while at the same time, the violent crime rate declined 48%.

Source: Should the US Federal Government Provide a Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants?
Copyright © ProCon.org

Back to top