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Dominic Gradozzi

Dr. Michelle DeRose


Inquiry and Expression
October 23, 2011

Immigration Opportunities in America
In modern society, immigrants are depicted by the general public as a negative inIluence
in America. This is in part due to television programs such as National Geographic`s 'Border
Wars which depict merely the negative stereotypes associated with primarily illegal immigrants
Irom Mexico entering the United States. Other reasons Ior coming to these conclusions are due
merely to common misconception and a lack oI understanding oI the 'Iine print associated with
immigrants. Such social generalization and discrimination has carried over into the lives oI many
hard-working, strong-hearted immigrants, both illegal and legal. Legal and illegal immigrants are
at a vast disadvantage when it comes to attaining simple aspects oI American liIe such as gaining
citizenship, the availability and quality oI jobs, and acquiring a proper education.
The road Ior an immigrant becoming a citizen oI the United States is an exhausting and
straining process. Many people are under the common misconception that acquiring United
States citizenship is as simple as Iilling out a Iew Iorms Ior Iree and receiving a stamp oI
approval. In more recent years, the number oI illegal immigrants in the United States has been a
common topic oI various Iorms oI media. These misleading reports and statistics push many
Americans into believing that since that is a large number oI illegal immigrants, that surely it is a
simple process. UnIortunately, this is quite untrue.
The costs oI becoming a citizen oI the United States can be an extremely expensive price
Ior many low wage Mexican workers. In Mexico, the minimum wage (converted Irom pesos to
U.S. dollars) ranges Irom roughly $4.15-$4.37 per hour depending on the geographical area in
which you work ('2011 Labor and Wage Report Ior Mexico). Keeping in mind that the
minimum wage in Mexico is more than three dollars less than it is Ior Americans, we must also
Iactor in the costs oI simply Iilling out an application. The cost oI a naturalization application is
$595 and receiving a green card will cost $930 (Foley). For most, aIter saving Ior an extended
period oI time to attain these applications, it is still not guaranteed that it will be accepted, in
which case the process must start over. The same is true Ior iI a mistake is made on the
application. All oI these miscellaneous and necessary costs to becoming a citizen oI the United
States are in many cases what drives individuals to attempt to enter our country illegally.
In addition to the cost oI going through the process oI becoming a citizen, time is also a
highly inIluential Iactor. As mentioned in an inIormational citizenship website, when taking into
consideration where you choose to Iile your application, when you can be scheduled Ior an
interview, how long it takes Ior your application to be reviewed, how many applications are
received total, and even iI you make a simple mistake on the application can result in the process
being extended to up to Iour years ('Naturalization). II a mistake is made on the application or
it is not approved just once, the process must start over Irom the beginning. That would mean
that one simple Iailure could result in a loss oI eight years oI hope, time, and money. Some oI the
simple requirements that must be met to even be considered include, but are not limited to: Being
18 years oI age and a lawIul permanent resident, being a person oI good moral character, have
that ability to read, write, speak, and understand simple words and phrases in English, and many
more (Campbell).
In addition to the struggles oI attaining citizenship, Iinding a respectable job in America
has its own struggles as well. With the amount oI time it takes to legally become a citizen being
so consuming and tedious, many opportunities in the work Iorce are oIten missed. Although
many Americans preIer to use the scapegoat that 'migrant workers are taking jobs away Irom
Americans, study aIter study shows that this is simply not the case. Aside Irom immigrants
accounting Ior over $90 billion in taxes every year, they are also only responsible Ior using
roughly $5 million in welIare and beneIits. By these workers being in our country, 'they are
creating new jobs by Iorming new businesses, spending their incomes on American goods and
services, paying taxes and raising the productivity oI U.S. businesses. ('Immigrants and the
Economy). According to the Pew Hispanic Center, as stated by Kim Hart, 'In the 10 states with
the top employment rates Irom 2000 to 2004, Ior example, Iive states showed a high inIlux oI
immigrants while the other Iive showed little growth in the Ioreign-born population. (Hart) This
Iact represents no direct correlation with high employment rates in states that have a high
number oI immigrants, which Iurther strengthens that immigrants are not 'taking jobs away
Irom Americans. In many cases these immigrant workers are taking the jobs that Americans
simply will not, Ior reasons unknown to me, take advantage oI. For example, when the United
Farm Workers union started a campaign that was to assist unemployed people to Iind Iarm jobs,
only three people out oI thousands who were approached accepted (Baragona). It is not that the
immigrant work Iorce is taking away jobs Irom Americans or that they are a burden to our
economy when in Iact is the complete opposite. These workers essentially create jobs that
Americans will take and occupy the ones which they wont take.
While many immigrant workers are occupied at these jobs, there are also rising concerns
about how their children will succeed in the U.S. education system. This is one oI the most
important aspects Ior Ioreign parents to consider when coming to a new country with children oI
any age. In the case oI illegal immigrants, many students have been denied in-state tuition prices
when attempting to enroll in college due to their parents` decision to bring them into the country
unlawIully. For many illegal alien students, their parents do not tell them oI the immigration
status until well into their teenage years when plans oI post-high school plans are brought up.
('College Doors Open). Without being able to receive Iinancial aid, many oI these students are
unable to attend any sort oI education Iollowing high school. This sad Iate prevents these
students, who were given no choice oI coming to this country or not, Irom achieving any dreams
which require post-high school education. Although the opposition to such a claim may protest
that it is not Iair to legal native-born citizens oI the United States to be put in line behind students
who technically are not citizens, it is morally the right thing to do to give every person a chance
to succeed. II the Development, RelieI, and Education Ior Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) is to
go through in the near Iuture, students who meet a laundry list oI criteria will be eligible Ior
temporary citizenship in which they may use to attain an education, or serve a minimum oI two
years in active military service. II one oI these two items is completed by the student, they would
be granted permanent legal citizenship in the United States (Hinojosa). This act, iI it were to
pass, would drastically increase the number oI legal citizens, but only those with what would
have to be nothing but good intentions. This act would also help give some hope to and persuade
more middle school and high school students to work harder towards going to college and
receiving a degree. According to Iindings by College Board, as noted by USA Today, 'Only a
Iraction oI the 65,000 illegal immigrants who graduate Irom high school each year go to college.
Their ability to receive a higher education and move into better-paying jobs would help the U.S.
economy in the Iorm oI increased tax revenue and consumer spending. ('College Board Wants
More Help Ior Illegal Immigrants). Given the previous statistics, I believe that assisting illegal
immigrants in attending college will overall help both the economy, but also the overall state oI
the country in the sense that there will be a higher educated migrant community walking among
us in society.
I believe that every person should have a chance to succeed in America. It is
called the 'Land oI Opportunity Ior that speciIic reason. It should not matter iI that person is
American or Ioreign, legal or illegal, or even under the age oI 18. In the battle Ior equal
opportunities, immigrants are at a vast disadvantage when it comes to attaining simple aspects oI
American liIe such as gaining citizenship, the availability and quality oI jobs, and acquiring a
proper education.

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