Immigration is a difficult issue and I understand both sides of this complex topic: with the exception of Native Americans, we are all from immigrant ancestors. How can we discriminate against something that we so clearly have benefitted from? On the other side, amnesty of current illegal immigrants could cost an estimated $6.3 trillion which would trickle down for taxpayers to cover. Among all of the underlying factors that make up this heated debate, small business owners will also be impacted with what President Obama has dictated in his plan for an immigration overhaul.
One major point in the President’s plan is to expand a program known as “deferred action.” When this is signed, undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children will be allowed to stay. This would extend to anyone who entered before they were 16 and before January 2010 (that’s about 300,000 people). In addition, this policy would widen the program to some illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents (that’s another 4.5 million people).
With almost 5 million people affected, this change in the status quo will surely impact the job market, affordable health care, and other social services. Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action said, “it will have a ripple effect on jobs” – because they likely would be handed a Social Security card and have the ability to work in more varied occupations.
Fox News reporter Kelley Beaucar Vlahos also shares that “according to the most recent statistics by the Department of Homeland Security, there were 11.4 million people in the U.S. illegally in 2011. State Census figures in 2010 showed that 2.5 million lived in California and 1.6 million in Texas, representing 6.8 percent and 6.7 percent of their total populations, respectively. Many of those, particularly in California, may be eligible for new benefits under any new deferred action policy. (Currently, however, 23 states already offer illegal immigrants a host of health care and other welfare services, with eligibility varying.)”
On the opposing side, Wendy Feliz of the American Immigration Council said that these newly legalized workers will contribute by paying taxes. “They will get work permits now and that will ensure that 100 percent of them will be paying income taxes. The states would benefit. Really, it would make them more accountable, it would make them pay more and they will be able to participate more.”
However, the President’s decision will be an injustice to one side or the other. Are illegal immigrants taking jobs that other Americans want or are they providing a workforce for jobs that no one wants to have? Will legalizing immigrants cost the tax payer too much or is it insuring that those who are desperate have protection against being taken advantage of? By allowing illegal family members to stay in our country, are we keeping family ties strong, or are we showing that you can break the law and get away with it?
What about the small business owner? Will hiring immigrants lower your payroll costs since many will work at a lower wage or will you have to pay more in taxes? If you hire illegal immigrants, will you be accused of being un-American for not giving a citizen that job? What if the best person for the job is an illegal immigrant; should you still hire him?
I don’t have the answers, but I do know this:
Mr. President, you may not have to pay rent for that huge white house you live in, you have a private jet at your beck and call, a personal chef to prepare your meals, and an awesome allowance that would make the most privileged kid jealous. However, I still don’t want your job.