LEGALIZING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS- A PROPOSED SOLUTION TO A GROWING PROBLEM? With a quick glance around any busy area in America today, one would notice the many different races of people. Almost everyone who now resides in the United States is a descendant of an immigrant from another country. During the 1900-1920s, people migrated to the states by the thousands. At that time, the major port of entrance was Ellis Island. Immigrants were made to take a 29 question test that included things like name, age, sex, and if they were literate or not (“Ellis Island” sec 2.). It is estimated that between 1892 and 1954, 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island. Today, more than 40 percent, or over 100 million, of all living Americans can trace their roots to an ancestor through Ellis Island ("Ellis Island" sec.1). The Ellis Island port was then closed due to heavy migration into America. Immigrants came to the United States for many of the same reasons they do today ;many want the chance to become wealthy, or to create a better life for their family then the one they had in their own country. Others seek freedom, freedom of speech and life. While the American government agrees that others should be allowed the chance to live in America and benefit from a free society, it is harder to support the economy with the number of immigrants growing larger each year (Schrader). Today, the United States government allows only a certain number of immigrants to apply for residency in the states. In order to receive a visa, an applicant may need to wait for years. While some immigrants apply for residency and abide by the laws of the United States, others illegally enter the states in many ways. In the process of legal immigration, one must apply for permission to either visit the states or to reside in America. Visas, green cards, or resident alien passes may be given to immigrants who apply. After the process, which includes a wait list, they are given a number of days in which they can stay in the United States. When the date expires, the visitor must either renew their visa or return home. There are many types of visa one may apply for. Some main ones include: visitors for business (B-1), visitors for pleasure (B-2), skilled and unskilled temporary workers (H-2B), students (F-1 and M-1), internationally recognized athletes and entertainment groups (P-1), and religious workers (R-1)(Chang and Boos, sec. 1). Each type of visa has specific requirements. With all of these types of visas, one would think that a person could attain access to America by one visa or another. Instead, many people migrate to the states illegally, which creates problems for both the citizens of America, and those who are legally immigrating to the states. In an effort to decrease the number of illegal residents, the Clinton administration just recently proposed to offer legal residency to more than 500,000 illegal immigrants that were already in the United States. By revising a law that once offered all immigrants who had lived in the United States continuously since 1972 to the year 1986, this would allow more immigrants to become legal residents. Even with this change in year dates, this would only effect about eight percent, or an estimated six million illegal immigrants in the United States. With more than a third of them believed to live in Southern California, this would affect all of the citizens of California. This would allow the immigrants affected by this new law to receive more welfare, driver’s licenses, financial aid for college, and more benefits (Schrader). In 1998, almost a million aliens settled in the United States (about 660,000 legally and an estimated 300,000 illegally). This number is bound to rise with each year, and there are many effects from the large number of immigrants. In the next fifty years, the population is projected to go from 260 million to 400 million people and 70 percent of that growth will be due to post-1995 immigration (“Illegal Immigrants”). An increase of immigrants affects the job market, welfare system, the public school system, as well as the crime rate. With more aliens in the labor market, it lowers wages and depresses working conditions for native low-skill workers (who are often the young, minorities, and other recent immigrants). It blocks our native poor from entry level opportunities, creating a larger gap between the rich and poor in our society. This also increases business dependency on cheap labor instead of innovation and modernization (Doyle). Having more immigrants in this country leads to a higher demand for work, and because aliens are generally willing to work for less money, natives to America are beat out of the race for a job. Have you ever wondered what your tax money is being spent on? The money taxpayers hand over to the government goes to many things: the building of public streets, paying for public services such as police and firemen, and paying for illegal immigrant’s welfare checks. Not only do illegal aliens displace over 659,000 American workers each year, at a cost of $3.5 billion a year, but they also cost the taxpayer. Under a legal device invented by the courts, many illegal aliens are allowed to receive welfare without fear of deportation. Other illegal aliens get welfare the say way they get jobs: document fraud. In many cities, false documents can be bought on the street for as little as $40. With false documents, an illegal alien’s "right" to work or welfare goes unquestioned. With the cost of displacing American workers, the cost of giving welfare to needy illegal aliens, and the cost of providing them general services, it is estimated that the annual cost of illegal immigrants is $19 billion (even after giving credit for their tax contributions). Despite the attempted ban on welfare to new immigrant and illegal aliens, immigrants are nearly twice as likely to be on welfare as natives. Furthermore, welfare use rises when native Americans are underemployed or are displaced from their jobs by immigration (“Illegal Immigrants”).