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Undocumented Immigrants in

the United States

Written by Joshua Vega-

No human being is illegal (Haque-Hausrath). By
using the term illegal alien you are dehumanizing that
individual. There is illegal immigration but the correct
term to identify someone with no lawful status would be
to refer to them as an undocumented immigrant. This
term comes at the height when immigration is a hotbed
for debate. One could refer to the executive order given
by Trump to temporarily ban muslim refugees from
entering the country or the construction of the big and
beautiful wall. The ones who come without the approval
of an immigration officer do not come simply for their
own enjoyment. Many have made sacrifices just to cross
the border while others have risked everything to pursue
the American Dream, that many have longed for. They
search for a better life elsewhere when one cannot make
Hood, John . Warning sign for immigrants. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. N.p., 15 June 2015. a living in their homeland. Various reasons push people to
Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
immigrate to another country and many do it by any
means necessary. There are those who are fortunate
enough to come to the U.S. with proper documentation,
but then there those who do not have the same luck and
resort to their next best option.
What causes undocumented immigration?
There are many factors that play in the migration
of undocumented immigrants into the United States.
Whether it be gang violence, drug trade, or the
economy these all contribute to the migration of
unauthorized immigrants. The need for employment
seems to be what influences migrants the most.
When NAFTA initiated the U.S. saw an increase of
undocumented immigration from Mexico due to the
economic crisis in 1994 (Illegal Immigration). NAFTA
prohibited government subsidies of both corn and
beans in Mexicothis meant that US-subsidized corn
could flood the Mexican marketMexicans couldnt
compete [and] 1.3 million farmers were driven out of
business (Jayapal, 2011). Mexican farmers could no
longer provide for their families and were forced to
risk crossing the border. This gives one example of
undocumented immigration from Mexico but there
are many more people from other parts of the world.
Greenwood, Bille. NAFTA Kills jobs across borders. 2012. Flickr,
El Paso.
Why dont they come legally?
When it comes to the topic of undocumented immigration and the complications that derive from it, many
people wonder why they just dont come into the U.S. legally? Those who are born in the U.S. are privileged to the
opportunities this country has to offer. They do not need to worry about their legal status unless migrating to another
country. For someone to migrate to the United States, with proper documentation, they must be eligible for
employment, seeking humanitarian protection or have close family who are U.S. citizens or residents. Most
unauthorized immigrants do not have the necessary family or employment relationships and often cannot access
humanitarian protection, such as refugee or asylum status (Why Dont They Just Get In Line?). Visas are limited
each year and No country can receive more than seven percent of the visas available for the year. This results in
significant backlogs for most family members and some workers hoping to enter the United States legally, with some
immigrants from certain countries waiting decades, additionally, People from countries with high levels of
immigration to the United StatesMexico, China, India, and the Philippinesgenerally have longer waiting times
(Why Dont They Just Get In Line?). For many, their economic situation may not allow them to pay for fees
associated with the legal process of migrating. According to an interview done by Patt Morrison, Emily Ryo, a USC
professor, says that :...people's personal values, and what people believe to be right morally, shape their decisions to
violate U.S. immigration laws, to see these violations as moral
This country that we live in today was built
by the hands of immigrants. Those that came
before and after the U.S. was colonized, are no
different than the ones who come into this
country today. They come to this land to pursue
opportunities that they may not have in their own
country. Given the situation of each individual,
there are numerous reasons why immigrants
from Latin America make the decision to cross
the border without prior approval from the U.S.
Whether it be the poor economic situation or the
drug trade that continues to plague many
countries, each individual uses these reasons to
justify their actions. Its not until you have lived it
or until you learn sympathy.