Anti-immigration is a Deadly Policy


Rissa Liu

Biden announced the new border control plan on February 21th, 2023, demonstrating the intention to restrict and deport illegal immigration. Common methods of immigration include family-based immigration, refugee admissions, employment-based green cards, H-1B visas and diversity visas.

Jan Krawczyk, Staff Writer

*The opinions expressed within the content are solely the author’s and do not reflect the website’s or its affiliates’ opinions and beliefs.*

If we look at borders without any preconceived notions, we find that our ideas of a “nation-state,” governments with military power separated by borders, are just social constructions rather than necessary parts of our lives. Borders are simply arbitrary lines put in the ground by governments who have the power to do so. “Every border implies the violence of its maintenance” is an adage that has rung true for centuries. People have always wanted to travel from place to place without anything preventing them, we started as hunter-gatherer nomads and many around the world still are. The freedom of travel has been so essential to humanity we could even consider it intrinsic to the human condition.

Currently, around 45 million Americans are foreign-born and considered immigrants. Some legally, some illegally. Throughout history, we have taken in tens of millions of immigrants. Ellis Island alone let in around 12 million immigrants into the US from 1892 to 1924. Many of them arrived unannounced and poor, similar to the people we reject today. However, unlike today, only two percent of them were denied, mainly due to medical reasons following a quick inspection that are not necessary today. 

These immigrants contributed largely to the boom of America in the early 20th century. However, just as today, hatred toward immigrants was common. Fears of an “Italian Invasion” or the “Dirty Irish” wreaking criminal havoc were often spread. These prejudices against immigrants of all kinds pushed them into worse economic positions, not to mention the fact that they came to the US because they were already poor, which pushed them into crime. Thus, while in many cases these fears had a material basis, they were immensely misguided. In fact, today, illegal immigrants commit less violent crimes than legal citizens or immigrants. Nowadays, the problem of crime with illegal immigrants is nearly non-existent. The higher rates of crime and disease in immigrant communities come primarily from the fact that they were kept poor by an economic system that failed to uplift them. In order to counter this poverty within immigrant communities we need to help them economically through further social programs and make sure they have as many legal pathways to wealth as anyone else. 

Historically, we have had laws on the books preventing specific racial and national groups from entering the country. The primary concern currently is that immigration causes unemployment and takes jobs away from “real” Americans because there aren’t enough jobs for everyone. However, this claim fails to consider the important contributions of these groups. Immigrants, just like any other workers, produce value for the economy and create demand for products and services. This indirectly creates jobs, although much less visible than when jobs are taken away. Most economists never strongly oppose this fact, but this doesn’t stop right-wing, bourgeois candidates from promoting this false narrative. Immigrants actually contribute far more to the economy than they take out in social services. Another common fear is the lowering of wages, because of immigrants who were willing to take lower-paying jobs. This concern is misguided because immigrants create jobs in the long run due to their aforementioned contributions to the economy, and supply and demand for labor. Low-skill immigrants, which are the majority, will have to take low-wage jobs anyway, which are kept at their wage rate by the minimum wage. If we really want to give everyone an equal ability to gain high wages we should be giving illegal immigrants citizenship so they can increase their bargaining power and give them minimum wage pay. Other fears such as drugs “flowing into the country” due to immigration are also unfounded, as most come in through regular ports of entry rather than with immigrants through the border.

Before the passing of many 1990s laws, migration into the US was largely seasonal with Mexican workers coming in to work undocumented for some time, then returning home to Mexico. Then, the 1994 and 1996 immigration laws added heavy criminalization and enforcement to illegal immigration policies in the US. Instead of preventing immigrants from coming in, these laws ended the seasonal employment of the pre-90s. The workers stayed in the US instead of leaving, which is a large reason why we have so many illegal immigrants in the US. 

The US would be unable to survive if we did deport illegal immigrants. They serve a fundamental part in many of our most important industries. Our immigration laws simply allow businesses to easily exploit immigrant workers. As a result, illegal immigrants are kept poor for the fear of getting deported at any time by their employers. These laws keeping immigrants illegal in our country gives them essentially no rights when it comes to bargaining with their employer for wages. They cannot unionize or easily quit, so they must work for low wages. Any bargaining can be reported to ICE by their employers, a frighteningly common practice. Supposed “fears” of immigrants taking jobs or other nonsense are just propaganda used by business owners to maintain their coercive and exploitative position over workers who have no rights and no power. 

To spark the needed change in the immigration process we simply need to take a humanitarian approach and realize the capital interests that try to prevent us from implementing it. The negative effects of criminalizing immigration from refugees are obvious. Not only is the US breaking international law when it refuses refugees from entering the country, but it also directly hurts the lives of millions of people. The desperate conditions that push a person to leave their home behind in pursuit of a better life have already shown us that these people need help. The immense pain that people go through to come to the US in the first place is numerous, and turning them back at that point is disastrous for them. If we want to create a better world for all of us, we should welcome the immigrants whose contributions we rely on.