Research Paper On Critical Evaluation Of Immigration Amnesty

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Crime, Immigration, Law, Criminal Justice, Migration, United States, Amnesty, Social Issues

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/11/17


Illegal immigrant amnesty refers to the situation whereby illegal immigrants who fit certain criteria are allowed to apply and gain legal recognition in a given country. Thus, illegal immigrant amnesty encompasses the state of granting legal status to a certain class of illegal migrants living in a given country. The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate and analyze the merits and demerits of granting immigration amnesty to illegal immigrants in the United States. In order to achieve this end, the paper will review elements of the historical context and the contemporary statistics and factors that are necessary to take an objective decision on the matter.

Recent Historical Significance of Illegal Immigration Amnesty

Recent amnesties granted to illegal immigrants in America have come with numerous arguments and debates. Whilst most people identify that illegal immigrants are like any other American and must be admitted and given the right to live, others view it as a major problem. These people argue on the premise that illegal migrants have broken a law of the United States because they either entered the United States without going through inspections or have overstayed a non-immigration visa.
Thus, recent arguments against granting illegal immigrant amnesty has been that illegal immigrants are human beings but there should be no policy that will encourage them to break the laws of the United States. Those who counter this indicate that a policy the government makes has no relevance to people outside the United States. Hence, there is no basis to deny them immigration amnesty.
In spite of these arguments, there have been times where governments of the United States have granted mass immigration amnesties to different groups of people. Under President Ronald Reagan, Congress signed into law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act 1986 and this gave the right to anyone who had lived in America consistently between January 1, 1982 and 1986 the right to apply for temporary residency permits and then permanent residency. Over 2.7 million people applied for permits and out of this, 1.1 million of them went on to become American citizens. This perhaps marks the largest immigration amnesty program before recent changes were made. This was fundamentally because most of the immigration laws were tightened in the 1960s so other leaders did not have to deal with such situations.
George H. W. Bush (Bush Senior) took steps to formulate and expand the Family Fairness Program and this allowed 1.5 million illegal immigrants married in America to gain some kind of permit to remain in the US legally. This was about 35% of the approximately 3.5 million illegal immigrants living in the United States at that time.
Clinton on the other hand up an asylum-friendly immigration system that allowed people from conflict zones and areas to easily get the right to remain in the US legally. This included Section 245(i) Amnesty in 1994 and its extension in 1997. There were other amnesties that were granted to Nicaraguan and Haitian refugees between 1998 and 2000.
The Bush II administration of 2001 to 2009 did not grant any major amnesties. Recent arrangements of Obama seek to provide some kind of authorization for the over 11 million illegal immigrants in America to remain in the country.

Illegal Immigrant Population and Economic Statistics

There is was an estimated 11.4 million illegal immigrants in the United States in 2013. Out of this, more than half of the total is from Mexico (59%). This includes about 15% from Central and South America. Asians also make up about 10% whilst the rest are spread over the different countries of the planet.
However, it must be stated that the figures for illegal immigrants in America is not very accurate because some illegal immigrants are not known to relevant authorities that count them. This is because a sizeable number of them are in hiding. Thus, there are many different estimates which might be higher or lower than these numbers.
It is however apparent that most illegal immigrants are exploited by their employers who knowingly offer them jobs. Mexicans are likely to work for far less than the entry-level American doing the same job throughout the country. These illegal immigrants pay taxes of about $11 billion each year and this goes into social security benefits and other packages that are used to improve the United States.
However, it would cost the United States a lot more of money if they tend to give all illegal immigrants legal status in the country. The Heritage Foundation identifies that this will cost the US a total of $2.6 trillion to give all of them rights and equal footing as other Americans. Therefore, it is obvious that the illegal immigrants might be a burden if they are to get access to everything other American citizens get.
This shows a major complicated scenario and situation whereby there are numerous competing claims and competing demands for the regularization of the stay of these undocumented immigrants.

Crime Statistics & Financial Burden

Evidence shows that illegal immigrants come with some degree of concerns about crime. This is because in areas with high immigration populations, there are gang crimes and other drug-related crimes that are often linked to Hispanic migrants to the United States and towns that are on the US-Mexico border. There are high incarceration rates amongst illegal immigrants. The statistics indicate that the incarceration of the foreign-born Mexicans in the United States is just about 0.86% of the US prison population. This means there is a grounds to state that illegal immigrants in the US have some connections to the high crime rates in the country.
The argument against Amnesty for illegal immigrants is that they are most likely to build a criminal culture that will prove problematic for the country. In spite of this, there are 3.51% of the prison population who are US-born Hispanic migrants. This tends to indicate that the illegal Hispanic population in jails is just 25% of the US-born illegal immigrants in the US. This is often said to be a situation that has a linkage and a connection with the lifestyle of immigrants and their children.
In spite of this it can be argued that crime has no connection to the lives of illegal immigrants. This is because there are many Americans in US prisons who committed various kinds of crimes. These immigrants are often charged for being illegal, an offence that is due to the laws of the US, not because of the conducts of these people.
On the other hands, illegal immigrants are said to be more focused on working and making money to support their families back home. And others even go further to argue that illegal immigrants commit less crimes although they are targeted by their features by a racist police force.

Ethical Dilemma of Deportation

Deportation is a major problem and a major challenge in the US. First of all, it is a lot of money to process an illegal immigrant, document him properly and pay for a passage back home. This comes at a cost to the US government and it is always complicated and difficult. On the other hand, these illegal immigrants have broken the rules of the land and will have to be deported, hence, granting amnesty tends to provide some kind of complication and difficult.
There are also other limitations like the right to seek asylum and this is done by establishing a credible fear in one’s country of origin. Hence, there is a complication and difficulty in taking the harsh action of deporting a person who makes such a claim. Also, the sense of disappointment and non-accomplishment and the shame makes it difficult to deport a person.
Another argument put forward by people who do not support deportation is that the US constitution allows the president to deport only 400,000 illegal aliens each year. Therefore, it is not practical for the US president to deport people back to their homeland since there are 11 million of them and this will take at least 20 years or more.

Amnesty Solutions for an Equitable Immigration Policy

Examining all the competing claims under all the headings, it is apparent that there must be an amnesty system that will grant some of the illegal immigrants the right to remain in the US legally. This is because illegal immigrants contribute financially and they rely less on the US government’s resources and activities. They commit fewer crimes and many have a lot of potential.
The most appropriate method and approach for dealing with these illegal immigrants might be to implement and institute a system of selectively granting amnesty to people in the United States. One of the obvious options is to qualify the amnesty system and set criteria that are productive and positive. The first option is to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants who have family connections like those with close relatives and children. Another possibility is to institute a system of only providing amnesty to persons who are contributing significantly to the US economy. This will exclude persons with criminal records and those who are problematic in outlook.


Illegal immigrants have been given some kind of amnesty or the other over the years. This is because these undocumented persons are contributing significantly to the US economy and they are assisting in different capacities. They are underrepresented in the area of crime but they also rely on and enjoy a lot of benefits from the US taxpayer. Hence, there is the need to be somewhat selective in granting amnesty. Not granting amnesty is not a practical solution because there are limits on the number of people who can be deported. Therefore, there is the need to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants on the basis of their family commitments and their economic contributions to the US economy.


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Greene, H. T., & Gabbidon, H. L. (2013). Encyclopedia of Race and Crime. London: SAGE.
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Research Paper On Critical Evaluation Of Immigration Amnesty. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 17, 2020. Accessed March 03, 2024.

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