The number of Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal, in California today is quite staggering. Amidst the terrorist threat issues and various biological scares, these immigrants have changed the economy of California completely.
The state of California once boasted a healthy employment market for immigrants, as well as natives. Now, the economy of California is in recession, along with the rest of the United States. According to the California Employment Development Department, unemployment numbers rose to 4.5 percent in October, which is a rise from the 2.1 percent a year ago. Of the thousands of jobs lost in September and October, over half were in hospitality, service, and construction.(The Waiting Game, 2006)
As a result of the drop in employment, Mexican immigrants are struggling to survive. Most immigrants are in the United States to make a better life for their families, who are often still in Mexico. They work and earn wages to pay their living expenses here, and the rest is sent back to their families. Most have now taken to the streets to stand and wait for a job opportunity. Undocumented seasonal workers are the most vulnerable. They make up 8.5 percent of the total number of immigrants, and they have to resort to sleeping in parks and under bridges.
According to Martha Sanchez-Gomez, a specialist from the Social Research Institute of the Nacional Autonomous University of Mexico, said that immigrants suffer discrimination and social vulnerabilities. She also states that permanent immigrants make up 61.6 percent of the total, while those who travel back and forth between here and Mexico represent 28.8 percent. The latter are those who work with the high seasons, when the demand for workers is higher. (Mexidata.Info-July 2005)
The adult immigrants are not the only ones who suffer. The numbers of children that have had no formal education before immigration is outrageous. These children fall far behind the children of other California residents. Tied in with the uneducated parents, they struggle just to get through day to day life. Ms. Sanchez-Gomez states that statistically, 3.2 percent of adult immigrants have had no schooling, whereas 66.6 percent have a maximum of six year of education. The majority of the farm workers are young men with very low levels of education. About 10 percent are women, who prefer jobs as hotel chambermaids or as domestic workers, or to do cleaning work in nearby restaurants.
It is widely believed that Mexican immigrants should be allowed to become United States citizens on the conditions that they pass the citizenship tests and that they cooperate with local government. While this is an opportunity for them, it leaves a gapping whole in local economies as well as the nation’s economy.
There are several views, both pros and cons, to letting Mexican immigrants stay in the United States. There is a heated debate taking place now that, if solved, will provide some general laws that are more defined than what they are now.
Think about the pros to illegal immigrants become permanent citizens. These immigrants will contribute more money to economies. Some will continue their education, and go one to open more businesses, thereby providing more employment. Because they have an unspoken assumption that they should earn their own way, the immigrants tend to struggle in silence, never asking for governmental financial services such as Food Stamps. This reduces the liability to tax payers.
The cons to illegal immigrants staying in the United States far outweigh the pros. Immigrants have caused the homeless population to rise. The available employment, as stated before, has dropped severely, largely due to the fact that the immigrants are satisfied with working for minimum wage. The available housing has dropped as well, and will continue to drop due to the large numbers of illegal immigrants that manage to sneak across the border.
Mexican immigrants increase the poverty levels. Although they are making as much as 10 times what they would in Mexico, the standard of living in the United States is much higher. These immigrants do not generally take this information into account when they make their plans to immigrate. About 47 percent of undocumented Mexicans believe that improving their quality of life can only be improved by coming to the United States.
One common myth about illegal Mexican immigrants is that they are all criminals deserving to be severely punished. However, the typical immigrant is an honest person, struggling to give a better life to himself and his family. A large percentage of these immigrants mind their own business, and are far from being violent criminals. Can we say that much about the United States population?
Another quite racist myth about the immigrants is that they are just here as parasites that are feeding off our tax dollars and not contributing in return. As stated earlier, they know that they have to pay their own way, and thus always offer something in return for what they may need. Mexican workers pay sales taxes on their purchases, the same as everyone else, but illegal immigrants are often taken advantage of and paid below minimum wage. This gives the employer a higher profit margin. They are simply pocketing the taxes they withhold from payrolls.
Right now, with the nation being in the condition that it is, the Mexican immigrants are hurting us more and more the longer that they stay here. Most of these immigrants can not read or write, let alone speak English. They are taking up valuable space and employment that is severely needed to raise our national economy. We have enough problems with Americans. We have a growing number of homeless. We have a growing number of unemployed mothers and fathers, who struggle to feed their children. The dependency of government social services by Americans grows as each day passes.
There needs to be a set decision made as to the fate of the Mexican immigrants. Either we give them the opportunity to become citizens, or we deport them. There should be no in between. Those that cannot become legal immigrants, even if they have a temporary work visa, should be deported as well. There are other ways for the United States to help the Mexicans.
One way that the United States can offer assistance to Mexicans, without the fear of it being solely a charity effort, is to open more businesses in Mexico. We have all these huge corporations and ridiculously large multi-million dollar companies. If we start opening more businesses in Mexico, with pay standards the same as ours, Mexico’s economy will benefit. Why should the drug dealers and slum lords be the only ones that are happy and have a good quality of life?
1. Hue, Vanessa (September 9, 2005) Mexican Immigrants’ Kids Falter in School http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/09/BAGL1EKTDM1.DTL
2. Notimex News Service Of Mexico City (July 25, 2006) Mexican Immigrants in California Lack Basic Services for Mexidata.Info www.mexidata.info/id555.html
3. Schefler, Chris (2006) writing for the University of Dayton Racist Myths about Mexican Immigrants http://academic.udayton.edu/race/02rights/guadalu4.htm