This article sets forth the terms incorporated and the issues cited when dealing with childhood arrivals and immigration reform in its introduction. The article then proposes a solution and devotes the body to enumerating the economic and educational benefits of thorough reform.
Childhood Arrivals, or those brought into the country, unknowingly, by their parents or sent over the border by themselves; who range from just a few months old to 17 years of age account for 36% of the 12.9 million Hispanic and Latino Immigrants in the country (Teranishi 6). A few of the issues have been remedied by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which provides millions of young adults the opportunity to continue their schooling and legally join the workforce. This, however, is not enough. DACA should be seen as a stepping stone to an all-encompassing immigration reform. Many immigrants are left unprotected from deportation, including the parents of childhood arrivals. Immigration reform has been one of the most divisive issues facing our nation and has been shaped by domestic and international events (Soergel) creating a pendulum effect oscillating between periods of acceptance and fearful rejection. Recent stagnation on the issue has lead President Obama to take matters into his own hands in order to protect one of the most vulnerable subgroups within the immigrant community. Lawmakers should grant all of these children amnesty from deportation and a path to lawful permanent residence and possibly full citizenship.
This section of the article is devoted to the challenges faced by Childhood Arrivals in the educational system and the positive impact immigrants bring when given the opportunity to enroll in higher education.
Many Childhood Arrivals have lived in this country exclusively from an average age of 6.6 years (Teranishi 6) and recognize no other home. When given the opportunity, these students excel at school, many earning bachelor’s degrees or higher. In fact, “immigrants represent 29 percent of scientists…50 percent of PhDs working in math and computer science occupations and 57 percent of PhDs working in engineering occupations.” (Immigration and the Economy). This success is not easy, as the pursuit of higher education is one of the biggest obstacles faced by immigrants, especially those who do not qualify for DACA. While most states allow undocumented immigrants to enter college (Eusebio 2), the difficulty lies in funding said education. Many do not qualify for federal, state or institutional financial aid, leaving them to rely on other means, such as loans, to cover the cost. This becomes unrealistically burdensome, as 31 states force undocumented immigrants to pay out of state tuition, which costs an average of, $33,000/year, or 1.4 times as much as in state tuition (Eusebio 2). A lack of a work permit is also a strong deterrent as it makes it almost impossible for them to find employment after graduation and thus justify the cost of college. Since the passage of DACA, there has been an influx in the number of immigrants entering higher education institutions, leading to a more educated population and a richer campus experience for all students (Teranishi 2) while decreasing crime and increasing tax revenues for public institutions and savings in public health programs (Vernez et. al). The benefits of immigration continue past the collegiate level, and are even more pronounced in the workforce.
In this section, the broad view that immigration is beneficial to a country’s economy is substantiate through specific evidence. Immigrants are hardworking and comprehensive immigration reform would bring about clear and substantial economic benefits.
As immigrants enter the workforce, an economic growth of 0.4 to 0.9 percent by 2024 is projected (Immigration and the Economy). A rise in the legally employed immigrant population would stimulate state economies as well, generating as much as $5.3 billion in California and $1.68 billion in Arizona (Hinojosa-Ojeda 2). Contrary to the evidence, Arizona passed SB-1070 in 2010; one of the harshest anti-immigration bills passed in modern history. This bill led to, “2,761 lost jobs, $86.5 million in lost earnings, $253 million in lost economic output, and $9.4 million in lost tax revenues.” (The Economic Impact). Within the population, immigrant workers established 28% of all new businesses started in 2011 (Immigrants and the Economy), including, “about 25 percent of successful high tech startups” (Eusebio 7).
The conclusion restates the importance of widespread and comprehensive Immigration reform while providing a specific solution in regards to Childhood Arrivals.
It is clear to see that the arguments against comprehensive immigration reform are either not based in fact, or do not balance out the benefits. Lawmakers need to understand the importance of decisive and far reaching legislation. If nothing else, we must build on the successes of DACA to provide law abiding Childhood Arrivals a fair and simple way for them to gain permanent residence and full-fledged citizenship if they are law abiding. Depriving them the opportunity to continue their education and stay in the country that many consider their only home is unethical and benefits no one. It is time to stop the inhumane practice of detaining them for deportation on their way to school (The Dark Side) and create environments within the school and the community where undocumented immigrants can discuss their perils without fear of judgement. It is important for everyone to understand that these children are not serial killers and should not be pursued as such. They are nothing more than students looking to make the best of the opportunity their parents afforded them by uprooting their lives in their home countries and making the journey to these shores. President Obama needs to continue fighting for the undocumented community. His actions may be under scrutiny, but that is not stopping him from taking action to slow the current deportation rates and raise awareness about the harm deportations cause. Immigration reform bills have been proposed, and it is imperative that lawmakers pass these legislations into law and block those that are based on prejudice and ignorance.
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