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This House would grant an amnesty to illegal immigrants
This House would grant an amnesty to illegal immigrants
An Amnesty can be defined as ‘a general pardon, esp for offences against a government’. In the case of illegal immigrants this would be for the offence of entering and remaining in a country illegally and would in most cases not apply to those who have committed other crimes so there is usually an emphasis that an amnesty would only be for those who are law abiding – except for being in the country illegally. Amnesties may be granted by the executive or the legislature for a country, in the case of a general amnesty for migrants this would probably need both and would likely be a highly controversial move in any country. Politics about illegal immigrants are likely to be more highly charged in countries that already have a lot of migrants (whether legal or illegal) which means that migration is considered an social and economic issue that affects much of the electorate.
Despite their potential for controversy amnesties for illegal immigrants are not uncommon. Poland granted an amnesty for illegal immigrants in 2011, Newt Gingrich has made some kind of amnesty part of his campaign for the republican nomination for the Presidency in the United States and it was also a campaign pledge in the in the UK general election by the Liberal Democrats in 2010. While the UK has never granted a general amnesty and the United States has only had one in some countries they are quite common; France and Portugal have offered two each, Italy five and Spain six amnesties.
The proposition in the debate would have to give some idea of what conditions they are attaching to the amnesty and whether there are any limitations on it. Often more there are proposals for more limited amnesties rather than a general amnesty in order to reduce the political backlash that could result from a more indiscriminate policy.
 Bronowicka, Joanna, ‘Poland announces amnesty for illegal immigrants’, Reuters, 29 December 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/29/us-poland-immigrants-idUSTRE7B...
 Geiger, Kim, ‘Gingrich ‘prepared to take the heat’ with talk of amnesty’, Los Angeles Times, 22 November 2011, http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/22/news/la-pn-gingrich-amnesty-20111122
 Standford Daniel, ‘Illegal immigration: Is an amnesty the answer’, BBC News, 19 April 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/parties_and_issues/...
 ‘An amnesty for illegal immigrants?’, Migration Watch UK, 21 May 2006, http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/Briefingpaper/document/131
|Points For||Points Against|
|Amnesties are the only long term solution||An amnesty rewards law breakers|
|Migrants benefit the economy||Amnesties are unpopular; governments need to get tougher if they want to be reelected.|
|Immigrants are needed to make up for aging populations||An amnesty would encourage rather than reduce immigration|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
Amnesties are the only long term solution
Amnesty is the only way to deal with the fundamental problem behind immigration; the developed world much richer and has more jobs available than the developing world. For example the USA has a per capita GDP of $48,100 by comparison Mexico’s is only $15,100 using PPP the gap with the Central American countries to the south of Mexico is even starker with Guatemalan GDP/capita at $5,000. Not surprisingly the USA far outstrips the Central American countries in the Human development index; the US is 4th, Mexico 57th and Guatemala 131st. So long as there is such diversity of income and opportunity immigrants will keep coming, and this will continue no matter what the state that is receiving migrants does in an attempt to deter them.
Amnesties will help allow labour to get to where it is needed, through NAFTA the US is integrating North America but it is specifically excluding labour from this integration while tightening border controls at the Mexican border. Amnesties would help to counter-act the problems caused by leaving labour as the resource that is not allowed to cross borders and so provide benefits to both the host economy and the country of origin for the migrants. This is because the migrants will send back remittances that will help to develop their home nation and they themselves may well return after developing new skills that can then be put to use at home.
 The World Factbook, ‘Mexico’, Central Intelligence Agency, 21 February 2012, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mx.html
 The World Factbook, ‘Guatemala’, Central Intelligence Agency, 21 February 2012, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gt.html
An amnesty will not solve this problem either; all it will do is move poor people from one country to another. Those granted an amnesty might be slightly higher paid than they would be if they had stayed at home but without skills they will remain at the bottom of the pile while having to adapt to a new nation. Instead what is needed is economic growth in the poorer countries that are the origin of the migrants. This is something the rich world can encourage through numerous different methods. For example the USA allowed Mexico to join the North American Free Trade Agreement and so the US is Mexico's biggest export partner with 80% of Mexican exports being to America. Secondly rich countries can provide investment and the skills necessary to develop industries in these developing countries. For example Mexico has "structural inefficiencies" in its farming industry, something which the United States as the world's most efficient agricultural producer could help with.
Migrants benefit the economy
Migrants, including illegal migrants, are necessary for the economies of rich countries. There are schemes run by these countries that allow the migration of skilled workers for jobs where there is a skills shortage in the native population, for example the United Kingdom takes in a lot of migrants to work as doctors and migrants. However these schemes fail to acknowledge that migrants are also vital for unskilled jobs which native workers are often unwilling to take; for example jobs in catering, picking crops and cleaning. Approximately 6.3 million illegal immigrants are working in the USA, and these are benefiting the economy. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says “The pace of recent U.S. economic growth would have been impossible without immigration. Since 1990, immigrants have contributed to job growth in three main ways: They fill an increasing share of jobs overall, they take jobs in labor-scarce regions, and they fill the types of jobs native workers often shun.” Amnesties are necessary to ensure the economy keeps benefiting from these workers.
 Goyle, Rajeev, and Jaeger, David A., ‘Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment’, Center for American Progress, July 2005, p.9. http://www.americanprogress.org/kf/deporting_the_undocumented.pdf
 Orrenius, Pia M., ‘U.S. Immigration and Economic Growth: Putting Policy on Hold’, Southwest Economy, Issue 6, Nov./Dec. 2003, http://www.dallasfed.org/research/swe/2003/swe0306a.html
There are thousands of citizens who have been made unemployed during the economic crisis of the last few years who would be happy to have a paying job again. In 2010 unemployment across the OECD ranged from 3.7% of the labour force in Norway to 20.2% in Spain with an OECD average of 8.5%. These unemployed could fill the jobs left by migrants in no time at all, as a result migrants do not benefit the economy rather provide drag to it as they mean that some natives who would otherwise be in employment are unemployed.
 Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, ‘How do OECD labour markets perform?’, OECD Employment Outlook, 27 September 2011, http://www.oecd.org/document/22/0,3746,en_2649_33927_43221014_1_1_1_1,00...
Immigrants are needed to make up for aging populations
Much of the rich world is aging, and in a few cases is close to having a declining population. As a result the size of the available workforce will decrease. For example in Germany by 2050 a third of the population will be over 60, and over the next 15 years will as a result loose five million workers from the current workforce of 41 million. While increasing retirement age can mean that these reductions in the size of the workforce come later to maintain the size of the workforce immigration or a rapid increase in birth rate is necessary. These countries in order to maintain the size of their economies will therefore either have to rapidly increase productivity, which itself may not be easy as they are already the most productive nations, or else allow migrants to fill the gaps in the labour force. At the same time there will be an increase in some jobs that rely on migrants such as care workers to help look after the increasing number of elderly.
 Elliott, Larry, and Kollewe, Julia, ‘Germany faces up to problem of ageing workforce’, guardian.co.uk, 17 March 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/17/new-europe-germany-retiremen...
 Martin, Susan, et al., ‘The Role of Migrant Care Workers in Aging Societies: Report on Research Findings in the United States’, Institute for the Study of International Migration, December 2009, p.vii, http://www12.georgetown.edu/sfs/docs/20101201_Elder_Care_Report.pdf
Far from being necessary immigrants are a drain on the economy. The vast majority of immigrants have few skills. These low skill migrants pay few taxes and take a lot of government benefits. For example in the United States each immigrant without a high school diploma costs the US taxpayers $89,000 over their lifetime. Since there are six million illegals without a high school diploma living in the US this adds up to half a trillion dollars. This increases further if they are given an amnesty so are able to claim citizenship and more money and the costs spiral yet further when the cost of educating their children is included with the possible cost rising to $2 trillion. Some migrants may be necessary as a country ages, but the state should pick the migrants it wants - if a state wants migrants with skills to work in care homes it should let in those who have those skills or are applying to colleges to learn the relevant skills rather than granting an amnesty to those who are already here regardless of their worth to the economy.
 Rector, Robert, ‘Importing Poverty: Immigration and Poverty in the United States: A Book of Charts’, The Heritage Foundation, 25th October 2006, http://www.heritage.org/research/immigration/sr9.cfm#_ftn3
An amnesty rewards law breakers
An amnesty by its very definition is letting someone who has engaged in an illegal act off the hook. It is letting criminal activity pay. It is also an admission of government defeat; other options have failed and there are still lawbreakers who are not being deported as they should be so there is a need for an amnesty. These people who have entered the country illegally, and have worked illegally are then being forgiven for their having broken the law. This is not something that rich countries should be encouraging.Improve this
An amnesty is not a reward for breaking the law, and any illegal immigrant who has committed crimes other than entering the country illegally could be excluded. Instead amnesty should be seen as acknowledging those who live and work in a country but are nonetheless ignored. An amnesty would mean the state would get to collect more money in taxes from immigrants and they would be subject to all the requirements that all citizens are expected to abide by. They could also be expected to pay a processing fee to cover town or government expenditure for the amnesty amongst other things. So an amnesty wouldn't be a reward in its entirety as much as an acknowledgment and a way to balance the books. The government would also be free to impose strict restrictions on any amnesty. For example the one proposed by the liberal democrats in 2010 was only to allow those who had been in the UK for ten years, spoke English and wished to work towards earning citizenship. There would also have been a probationary period and some form of voluntary service.
 Barney, Katherine, ‘Mayor Wants Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants’, London Evening Standard, 9 March 2009, http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23659506-details/Mayor+wa...
 Standford, Daniel, ‘Illegal immigration: Is an amnesty the answer’, BBC News, 19 April 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/parties_and_issues/...
Amnesties are unpopular; governments need to get tougher if they want to be reelected.
Amnesties are unpopular, in the UK for example 65% of the population wants tougher immigration laws, and so most governments are unlikely to resort to them except as a last resort. Instead of granting an amnesty governments need to get tougher on illegal immigrants in order to find, deport and deter them. This would be a much more popular policy and could be achieved using better monitoring and communications between departments. For example in the United States the Inland Revenue Service knows where millions of illegals live and are employed as they know 600,000 people work under the Social Security number 000-00-0000, presumably many more were used different made up numbers. This would therefore not only catch illegal immigrants but would help end misuse of Social Security and IRS identification numbers. There are also other tactics that can make illegal immigration more difficult and less likely to pay such as preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers licences or, as in Tennessee, employers that knowingly employ illegal immigrants can have their business licence suspended.
 Standford, Daniel, ‘Illegal immigration: Is an amnesty the answer’, BBC News, 19 April 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/parties_and_issues/...
 Sensenbrenner, James F., et al., ‘Social Security Better Coordination among Federal Agencies Could Reduce Unidentified Earnings Reports’, United States Government Accountability Office, February 2005, p.3. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05154.pdf
The question is what happens then? Do we immediately deport all these newly found immigrants despite the large cost? Would the occupation they are engaged in or having made a family make a difference? Finding or knowing where illegal immigrants are is not the same as getting them out of the country, in the UK in 2006/7 20,700 people were recorded as failing in asylum requests but the UK only managed to deport 18,280. Finding more illegal immigrants would mean the deportation systems could not cope.
 Johnston, Philip, ‘Number of failed asylum seeker removals falls’, The Telegraph, 21st August 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560854/Number-of-failed-asylum-s...
An amnesty would encourage rather than reduce immigration
An amnesty would simply mean more immigration resulting in new illegal immigrants. First, it would quickly become known that a country is offering an amnesty resulting in a rush to gain entry in time. An increase would continue even after the amnesty because migrants would believe that country would be more likely to grant another amnesty in the future.
Second, Once there is an amnesty those who have been granted amnesty and are able to work legally so have gained a measure of security will bring family to live with them.
This is exactly what has occurred with previous amnesties. After the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act in the United States which 2.7 million immigrants took advantage of to become legal residents the number of illegal immigrants arriving in the USA rose to 800,000 before falling back down to a more normal level of 500,000 per year. Spain has granted numerous amnesties since 1985 as a response to increasing immigration, particularly from South America. There has as a result been an ever increasing number of applications for these amnesties from 43,815 in 1985 to 350,000 in 2001. A general amnesty in 2005 that had 700,000 applicants. If the result is simply increased immigration an amnesty will have achieved nothing except pushing up immigration; there will still be illegal immigrants, there will be more anger against them, and ultimately there will need to be more deportations or another amnesty.
 Camarota, Steven A, ‘New INS Report: 1986 Amnesty Increased Illegal Immigration’, Center for Immigration Studies, 12th October 2000, http://www.cis.org/articles/2000/ins1986amnesty.html
 Maas, Willem. "The Politics of Immigration, Employment, and Amnesty in Spain" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA, Mar 22, 2006. http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/0/9/9/6/1/pages99612/p99612-1.php pp.10, 14
 Tremlett, Giles, ‘Spain grants amnesty to 700,000 migrants’, The Guardian, 9th May 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/may/09/spain.gilestremlett
Amnesties do not increase immigration. For examples it is not the case that the Immigration Reform and Control Act encouraged immigration. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas concluded “it appears that amnesty programs do not encourage illegal immigration. If anything, IRCA reduced the number of illegal immigrants in the short run, perhaps because potential migrants thought that it would be more difficult to cross the border or to get a job in the United States after the law was passed.” And also over the long term illegal immigration did not increase. “apprehensions [at the Mexico-US border] were about 11 percent lower during the pre-filing period than prior to IRCA’s passage, controlling for other factors.” While there was little change overall between the periods before and after the amnesty.
 Orrenius, Pia M., and Zavodny, Madeline, ‘Do Amnesty Programs Encourage Illegal Immigration? Evidence from IRCA’, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Oct. 2001, pp.11, 14. http://www.dallasfed.org/research/papers/2001/wp0103.pdf
Barney, Katherine, ‘Mayor Wants Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants’, London Evening Standard, 9 March 2009, http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23659506-details/Mayor+wants+amnesty+for+illegal+immigrants/article.do
Bronowicka, Joanna, ‘Poland announces amnesty for illegal immigrants’, Reuters, 29 December 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/29/us-poland-immigrants-idUSTRE7B...
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, ‘Background Note: Mexico’, U.S. Department of State, 16 November 2011, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749.htm
Camarota, Steven A, ‘New INS Report: 1986 Amnesty Increased Illegal Immigration’, Center for Immigration Studies, 12th October 2000, http://www.cis.org/articles/2000/ins1986amnesty.html
Collins Free Dictionary, ‘amnesty’, thefreedictionary.com, 2003, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/amnesty
Department of Labor and Workforce Development, ‘Illegal Alien Employment Act Frequently Asked Questions’, Tn.gov, http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/faq_illegal_alien.htm
Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, ‘How do OECD labour markets perform?’, OECD Employment Outlook, 27 September 2011, http://www.oecd.org/document/22/0,3746,en_2649_33927_43221014_1_1_1_1,00...
Elliott, Larry, and Kollewe, Julia, ‘Germany faces up to problem of ageing workforce’, guardian.co.uk, 17 March 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/17/new-europe-germany-retirement-pensions-exports
Goyle, Rajeev, and Jaeger, David A., ‘Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment’, Center for American Progress, July 2005, p.9. http://www.americanprogress.org/kf/deporting_the_undocumented.pdf
Geiger, Kim, ‘Gingrich ‘prepared to take the heat’ with talk of amnesty’, Los Angeles Times, 22 November 2011, http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/22/news/la-pn-gingrich-amnesty-20111122
Johnston, Philip, ‘Number of failed asylum seeker removals falls’, The Telegraph, 21st August 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560854/Number-of-failed-asylum-s...
Maas, Willem. "The Politics of Immigration, Employment, and Amnesty in Spain" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA, Mar 22, 2006. http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/0/9/9/6/1/pages99612/p99612-1.php pp.10, 14
Martin, Susan, et al., ‘The Role of Migrant Care Workers in Aging Societies: Report on Research Findings in the United States’, Institute for the Study of International Migration, December 2009, p.vii, http://www12.georgetown.edu/sfs/docs/20101201_Elder_Care_Report.pdf
‘An amnesty for illegal immigrants?’, Migration Watch UK, 21 May 2006, http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/Briefingpaper/document/131
Orrenius, Pia M., and Zavodny, Madeline, ‘Do Amnesty Programs Encourage Illegal Immigration? Evidence from IRCA’, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Oct. 2001, pp.11, 14. http://www.dallasfed.org/research/papers/2001/wp0103.pdf
Rector, Robert, ‘Importing Poverty: Immigration and Poverty in the United States: A Book of Charts’, The Heritage Foundation, 25th October 2006, http://www.heritage.org/research/immigration/sr9.cfm#_ftn3
Ripperger, Sabine, ‘The Challenge of Demographic Change in Old, Shrivelling Europe’, Deutche-Welle, http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,1865419,00.html
Sensenbrenner, James F., et al., ‘Social Security Better Coordination among Federal Agencies Could Reduce Unidentified Earnings Reports’, United States Government Accountability Office, February 2005, p.3. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05154.pdf
Standford, Daniel, ‘Illegal immigration: Is an amnesty the answer’, BBC News, 19 April 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/parties_and_issues/8629354.stm
The World Factbook, ‘Guatemala’, Central Intelligence Agency, 21 February 2012, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gt.html
The World Factbook, ‘Mexico’, Central Intelligence Agency, 21 February 2012, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mx.html
Tremlett, Giles, ‘Spain grants amnesty to 700,000 migrants’, The Guardian, 9th May 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/may/09/spain.gilestremlett
United Nations Development Programme, ‘Human Development Index’, 2011, http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/
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