The Difference Between Legal and Illegal Immigration

The Difference Between Legal and Illegal Immigration

( – Always a hot topic, immigration is likely to feature heavily in this year’s election debates. President Trump has taken a consistently hard line on this issue, the most obvious example being the now-famous wall under construction along America’s border with Mexico. Democrats have consistently ridiculed the wall during Trump’s time in office, campaigning for more liberal attitudes toward immigration in general.

Attempts by Democrats to portray the Trump administration as anti-immigration are overly simplistic. Something that often gets lost in debates about foreign policy is the difference between legal and illegal immigration; this is a key detail and one which requires closer examination.

Legal immigration is highly complex. The ease with which foreign nationals might gain the right to residence in America depends on several factors, including:

  • Their family status. Immigration policy prioritizes the reunification of families.
  • Their country of origin. Diversity is an important consideration, so there are limits on the number of immigrants that can come from one country in a given year.
  • Their skillset. Policymakers prioritize immigrants with skills that are useful for the American economy.

Of course, with illegal immigration, none of these factors come into play. Those entering the country unlawfully are not subject to vetting processes or background checks; they often have criminal records in their home countries. Additionally, authorities can’t manage the dispersal of undocumented immigrants, which means they settle in disproportionately large numbers in border states like Texas and California.

Left-leaning commentators often point out the fact that the America we live in today was built, in large part, by immigrants, and they’re correct. The wealth of happy and productive African, Latinx, Italian, Irish, and Asian communities around America are living proof of the importance of immigration. It is also true to say that many of the founders of these communities may have entered the country without the knowledge of authorities.

While America is undoubtedly better off for this, it doesn’t make a case for a laissez-faire attitude to immigration in 2020. The world is a very different place nowadays, and there are critical security and economic differences between legal and illegal immigration. For those coming into America legally, it means a lot of preparation, education, and a waiting period that could take years. For Americans, however, this system is the only means we have of protecting our borders. Unless we elect leaders who maintain it, the ramifications over the coming years and decades could be disastrous.

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