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A Path to Legalization for Illegal Immigrants

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Should the United States provide a path to legalization for illegal immigrants? The issue has been at the forefront of American politics for several years but the debate continues. What does a nation do with an estimated 10 to 20 million people residing in its country illegally?

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When elections are on the horizon, one would expect immigration reform to be a hot topic on the campaign trail. However, topics like illegal immigration are usually put on the back burner. It’s hard to win the hearts and minds of certain demographics when you’re discussing stricter enforcement and harsher penalties. You might just anger the very people whose votes you’re trying to gain.

In the absence of any new federal policies, state officials are trying to do what they can to deal the illegal immigrants showing up on their doorsteps. But their good intentions only serve to increase the problems. If states have varying policies on illegal immigrants, a state that starts to enforce its strict policies will force its immigrants to pack up and move to a neighboring state with more lenient policies.

Background

Illegal immigrants are foreign nationals who come to the United States without following the legal immigration process to enter and remain in the country. The reasons for immigrating vary, but generally people are looking for better opportunities and a higher quality of life than they would have in their native countries.

While the illegal population is concentrated in California and Texas, illegal immigrants may be found in every state. More than half of today's illegal aliens were born in Mexico, although other Latin America countries, Asia and other nations contribute to the population.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provided amnesty to 2.7 illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and established sanctions for employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens. Additional laws were passed in the '90s to help curb the growing number of illegal aliens, but they were largely ineffective. Another bill was introduced in 2007, but ultimately failed. It would have provided legal status to approximately 12 million illegal immigrants.

On one side of the debate are the people who believe that illegal immigrants do not pose a threat to our nation, and that we should provide them with a path to legalization. Others do not approve of amnesty in any form, and support increased security of our borders to deny illegal aliens entry in the first place. They wish to deny illegal aliens of all rights and privileges afforded to legal U.S. citizens and residents, and support deportation of anyone in the country illegally.

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