by Amy Bennett, November 8, 2016
The issue of U.S. citizenship for migrant farm workers from Mexico who have entered the United States illegally is quite complex and there are widely differing views on how it should be handled. I believe that the benefits outweigh the negative factors when it comes to providing a path to legal citizenship for these individuals. This includes benefits to the migrant farm workers as well as benefits to our nation as a whole.
When discussing the matter of agricultural workers who have entered the U.S. from Mexico illegally, it is important to consider the views of those opposing their presence. The most common concerns are related to financial support of the workers and increased crime rates among illegal immigrant workers. The following link provides a detailed list of reasons given by those who favor deportation of agricultural workers in the United States who entered illegally. http://www.usmessageboard.com/threads/61-reasons-to-deport-illegal-aliens.137362/ Although concerns about increased crime rate due to unauthorized immigrants are common (the majority of U.S. citizens share this concern to some extent), they are not statistically valid. Professor Aaron Chalfin states in his Oxford University Press article that his research does not support a correlation between increasing rates of unauthorized immigration and increased rates of crime.http://blog.oup.com/2013/11/does-mexican-immigration-lead-to-more-crime-in-us-cities/
As far as the financial impact of undocumented migrants on U.S. taxpayers, the answer lies in providing a path to legal citizenship for these individuals. That would allow for them to have official jobs and paychecks instead of being paid under the table by bosses who would be likely to take advantage of their unauthorized status to pay them less than minimum wage, not offer health insurance, and offer only substandard housing. If they were allowed to become U.S. citizens, they would pay taxes themselves instead of needing to rely on the tax dollars of others. Their living situations would be more stable and their income would be more secure, which would lead to less poverty and therefore less crime. They would be able to legally enroll their children in school, which would naturally lead to a higher education level for the next generation and even less reliance on welfare, government housing, and government funded health care.
Of course, it does not make good sense to simply grant automatic citizenship to every person that has entered the U.S. There may have to be quotas limiting the program to a certain specified number of people per year. The main qualifiers should be ability to provide for oneself, lack of a criminal record, and a verifiable source of employment, sponsorship by someone who is already a law abiding and financially stable U.S. citizen, a plan for learning English, and a housing plan. Those that are able to meet those basic requirements should be strongly considered for U.S. citizenship.
There are benefits to our nation to providing a path to legal citizenship to foreign born agricultural workers. These include availability of high quality farm products at an affordable cost to U.S. consumers as well as improved wages and working conditions for all farm workers, including those born in the United States who are already citizens. This is well documented in the following article: http://www.farmworkerjustice.org/advocacy-and-programs/agjobs.
Working on this team blog project has helped me to expand my viewpoint on this topic due to the necessity of hearing and considering the viewpoints of other members of my group. This healthy discussion about an important and complicated issue that affects us all was a valuable opportunity to sharpen my thinking, to research a topic, and to sharpen my communication skills.
In conclusion, after considering opposing viewpoints, I support a limited path to legal citizenship for undocumented agricultural workers who have entered the U.S. from Mexico. The exact details of that program are far beyond the scope of this post, but I feel that the benefits of such a program to all involved warrant attention and action from our government officials.
Here are some additional sources that I consulted while preparing this blog post:
About The Blogger:
Amy Bennett is a friend and neighbor to many hard-working Mexican Americans in her community north of Dallas, Texas. She’s an enthusiastic consumer of fresh produce, much of which is harvested by migrant farm workers. She has been on staff at a school where many of her students and/or their parents were natives of Mexico. She considers herself a citizen of the world first and foremost. She loves her country, and believes it’s possible to keep it safe and secure without building a wall to keep people out. She’s passionate about freedom, equal rights, and opportunity for all.