Should Undocumented Immigrants be Allowed in America?

By Duaa K.

A young man’s heart has been racing. His hands are sweaty. During the day, he has flashbacks of the world he fled in Venezuela: gang members threatening murder, crippling poverty, and a corrupt, cruel government. Nightmares interrupt his sleep. This “man” is just a high schooler, a boy, living in constant fear of deportation. Unfortunately, he is not alone. He stands with almost 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in this country.

Undocumented immigrants of America should be allowed to live here. Immigrants are what make this country great. They are the lifeblood of the American economy, they represent the future of this nation, and as such, they are essential for its survival. 

To begin with, unregistered immigrants in this country should not be deported because they are essential to the U.S. economy as author Donald Kerwin states, “Gross domestic product (GDP) would be reduced by 1.4 percent in the first year, and cumulative GDP would be reduced by $4.7 trillion over 10 years.” According to Kerwin’s estimate, this lost GDP would result in the eradication of thousands of jobs causing the American economy to collapse. The ramifications of such a detriment would reverberate for decades afterward. 

Furthermore, the ACLU found that “immigrants actually generate significantly more in taxes paid than they cost in services.” Undocumented workers, despite their ineligibility for most federal benefits, frequently have Social Security and income taxes withheld from their paychecks. In fact, immigrants pay substantially more in taxes every year than they receive in welfare benefits. If we were to let immigrants live freely in the U.S., they would be able to provide America with additional taxes that can be spent on improving education, health, and infrastructure.

Another reason why people living in this country should not be deported is that their children who are now left parentless in a new country will be impacted, leaving the next generation of new Americans vulnerable to a variety of obstacles. The Center for Migration Studies reports that “if just one-third of the US-born children of undocumented residents remained in the United States following a mass deportation program, which is a very low estimate, the cost of raising those children would total $118 billion.” Now parentless, children would be sent to American foster homes in a system that has been documented as notoriously neglectful, grim, and abusive towards kids. This can cause unstable adulthood for these children and subsequent generations. All for the steep price of 118 billion dollars. 

The Washington Post reports that “children who are undocumented or who have parents or caretakers who are undocumented can be vulnerable to the mental health challenges of family separation. This can produce a state of persistent stress which has both physical, as well as psychological and emotional consequences.” These negative effects on development can hinder crucial learning and education that may ultimately make getting a job very difficult, impeding a whole generation of the country. All in all, deporting undocumented immigrants can take a major toll on their children, who have citizenship here, and cost the U.S. a hefty amount of money.

The hardline approach to removing undocumented immigrants is not just needlessly cruel, it is completely misguided and makes all of us less safe. America is a country of immigrants– They were here when the nation was conceived, and they continue to be the reason why it perseveres. It is in moments like these when we, as a nation, must collectively remind ourselves of the words etched on the statue of liberty, a physical manifestation of American exceptionalism,

 “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

We are ALL immigrants and it is this fact that makes America great.