We all agree that people should not be here illegally and that we should document everyone entering and leaving our country. Legalizing these illegal residents will benefit the whole country; the military, Social Security, our economy, education, even our national security.
The most immediate benefit will be to business. Our unemployment rate is below 5%. With so few people out of work now, there will not be enough available workers to replace undocumented workers if they were suddenly deported. Our birthrate is low, our population is aging and the workforce is shrinking.
If farmers can't hire enough workers to plant or harvest, they will close and more of our food will be imported, along with increased safety concerns and higher prices. Hotels, restaurants and landscape companies will have to close. Even with the recent housing slowdown, there won't be enough workers left to build and repair houses. Factories that can outsource their work overseas will do that, rather than close. The companies that close will then leave all their legal workers unemployed too. Besides these obvious problems, there would be a smaller tax base for those towns and the country.
Another major benefit will be to Social Security. Fifty years ago, it took 20 workers to keep a retiree on Social Security. By 2030 there will be two workers to cover each retiree and the baby boomers will also be retired then. The young immigrant workers here now (and their children) are the partial answer to the Social Security funding problems of the future.
Our military will benefit: there are almost 30,000 non citizens on active duty in our military. Active duty immigrants now can apply for citizenship in less time than usual without having to return home before applying. Many immigrants place a high value on the training and education available through the military. When citizenship requirements are eased, more immigrants will sign up, which will help enlistment numbers.
All immigrants know they should speak and understand English, but since they could be deported at any moment, there is little incentive to learn. If the undocumented people were required to learn English in order to stay here, they will all learn it. It is not that they don't want to learn it now, but it is difficult, it takes a lot of time and study and they don't have to do it. Of course, more classes will have to be available, there are long waiting lists for most classes now.
If all legal residents have to know English, the lines in the grocery store and bank will move faster, neighbors can discuss problems and we'll have safer traffic when everyone can read the signs. Women can report domestic violence, parents and teachers can discuss a child’s progress, problems can be discussed with a doctor and contracts and agreements will be understood when people can all speak and read a common language.
The high school dropout rate for immigrant children is very high. They know that even if they qualify, they won’t be able to attend college at an affordable price. If they manage to get a college degree, they can’t get a good job because they are here illegally and can't be hired. This defeats the purpose of their education and our country loses the benefits of these young people educated in our schools.
If undocumented people are offered legal status, they will have to register with the government, be finger printed and have a background check before receiving an I.D. card. People who do not pass these tests will be deported. We will all be safer when all residents have been identified and investigated. And more drug smugglers will be caught when border guards don’t have to chase poor men, women and children trying to come in to work and live.
There are many reasons why we need immigration reform and why we all should be happy when we get it. Everyone will benefit from a comprehensive immigration reform package passed. Hopefully, the next administration will solve this problem.
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