Editor’s Note: This story is one of many submitted by Union City eighth graders as part of a gifted and talented program assignment. The stories are presented with very little editing.
Controversy, discrimination, and the degradation of American principles. These are the words used by numerous people to describe the recent controversy of illegal immigration over the past couple years in the United States. There is also a debate in the nation’s capital over the effects illegal immigration has on the United States. Some say that the migration of undocumented workers harms the economy. I, on the other hand, am of the opinion that, in a sort of paradox, illegal immigration actually aids the economy.
Thus, I decided to use this topic as the basis of my research for my ROGATE project. ROGATE is a program offered by The Education Information and Resource Center (EIRC). Students in this program take the SAT and have to create a research project in which they have to present at Montclair State University, and receive an award based on the quality of their presentation.
My hypothesis for my research project was “Illegal immigration is beneficial to the economic welfare of the United States.” One primary resource I used was an interview I conducted on an economist, who chose to remain anonymous. I asked multiple questions that included “Do undocumented workers take jobs away from U.S. citizens?” and “What effect does illegal immigration have on the United State’s economy? Why?” From the interview I garnered that undocumented workers take jobs away from U.S. citizens, especially those without a high school diploma. In addition, even though hiring illegal immigrants would cost an employer less money, it is highly ineffective, as well as illegal. Finally, undocumented migrant workers generally have low wages and do not earn as much as native-born citizens. As you can see, this data I gathered is very contradictive.
The other primary resource I used was a survey where the seventh graders in my middle school, Woodrow Wilson, were asked a series of question. This gave me insight in what the youth in Union City thought about the issue. Half of the seventh graders thought that they do take jobs away from citizens and about 60 percent thought that the economy was being harmed by illegal immigration. This led me to the conclusion that seventh graders thought illegal immigrants hinder the economy.
I had multiple secondary resources as well. These included an article by Aiyana Baida from highlands.com titled, “Does Illegal immigration hurt the U.S. economy?” Another was from CNN.com titled, “Illegal Workers: Good for U.S. Economy.” From these, as well as other secondary resources, I gathered that over half of the 2,000,000 crop workers in the U.S. are illegal workers. The article from highlands.com states that the positive impact on the nation’s economy is minimal, and that there is also a negative impact as well.
With all this information at hand, I had begun to formulate a conclusion. In my opinion, there are both positive, as well as negative effects, on the country’s economy to varying degrees. They do provide a form of cheap labor, but they also cost taxpayers’ money, billions of dollars worth in fact. I decided that my hypothesis is inconclusive, as it is far from definitive how much the economy is affected by illegal immigration. And thus, I have no ultimate answer to the controversy over illegal immigration.