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A Position Paper on Immigration

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Immigration is a topic that is discussed in coffeehouses, at the break room water fountain, in the boardrooms, and at the highest level of government. Why, we ask is this, such a widely discussed topic? I believe the answer will vary from person to person. I believe the primary reason is centered on cost. There are those who argue, that the cost of supporting immigrants, is burdening our state budget. The cost of supporting their health care needs, public schooling, and public assistance needs, far out weigh the benefit of there being here. Then there are those who point to Ellis Island and a statue, at the base of that statue is inscribed, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. They believe that America was founded on the sweat and toil of immigrants.

The Alien Payoff, a reading by Paul Glastris, touches on all of the controversial arguments that have been highlighted in all of the places mentioned in my first sentence. Glastris starts the reading by depicting the life of Francisco Castro, a Mexican immigrant. Castro works in the Los Angeles Produce Market, eleven hours a day, six days a week. I believe that Glastris selected Castro because he may represent our perception of a Mexican immigrant. That image is “laborer”, physical toil, long hours doing what a native-born worker would not. I agree with Glastris’ assessment of cheap labor translating to lower food cost to consumers. Glastris highlights a landmark report by the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, this report concludes, the actual effect of immigrations’ impact on our economy is “not that great”, “The cost to native-born workers are small, and so are the benefits,” (Richard Freeman – Economist, Harvard University).

The report acknowledges the substantial cost imposed upon taxpayers, in the short run however, believes that the longer immigrants are here (paying taxes) the better off we will be, at retirement time. Glastris also sites another immigrant family, a migrant Mexican worker who took a job in a Chicago candy factory. This gentleman, goes on to raise a family, who generation after generation, improves their economic situation through higher education. They represent the “American Dream”.

I agree with the article, in principle, I believe that Glastris did a good job in illustrating the benefits of immigration. He touched on the controversy of the financial burden many states are facing, directly attributed to immigration. He touched on the benefits of lower food cost due to cheap labor. He talked about the “good immigrants”. There are several important areas that he did not address. One being the “bad immigrants”, the ones who attempt (with success) to come into the country illegally. While some may only want to find gainful employment, when they do, the money does not stay here nor are taxes paid on their earnings. There is also the issue of illegal activity. The immigrants coming over illegally are free to perpetrate criminal acts or traffic narcotics and escape across the border.

I believe that immigrants, who want to establish a better way of life, and provide an opportunity for their families, must do it under the provision/supervision of state government. I believe that tax-paying immigrants will assist my being able to retire with funds in my social security account. I believe that the strength of our nation is due in part to the diversity that we all bring to this country. Legal immigration with standards and values that are understood by those coming in would get America back on track.


Glastris, Paul (1997, May 26). The alien payoff. U.S. News & World Report, 20-22.

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