Should the US Offer a Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants?

More than 11 million illegal immigrants are currently living in the United States (Sandoval-Strausz, 2021). This number comprises those who have extended their non-immigrant visas and eventually settled in the country as well as those who illegally entered the country through its porous borders. The latter forms the majority. However, there is also the DREAMers group, who are young undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them into the country inadvertently. The term is derived from Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act. The issue of undocumented immigrants has always dominated public debates and formed successive presidential campaigns. The US Congress has even formulated legislation over the same. Many have argued that undocumented immigrants have since become part of US citizenship and should thus be given legal citizenship. However, if the situation is allowed to continue, citizens of other countries will flock to the US in the hope that they will be issued legal residency. Therefore, the US should not offer citizenship or legal residency to illegal immigrants.

It must first be clear that other than the DREAMers, most illegal immigrants are lawbreakers. They broke the US immigration laws and entered the country illegally. Others overstayed their visas, contrary to what the law stipulates. A pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the United States refers to a blanket amnesty that will pardon and reward such lawbreakers. It would be ridiculous to reward lawbreakers by offering them citizenship since such an act will encourage many more people to seek to break the law (Narea, 2021). It is like handing a car thief a new car. Many people would be inspired to steal cars in order to be given new cars.

Offering a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants is not a sustainable way of dealing with the immigration crisis in the US. On the contrary, it will only generate opposite results. It must be noted that this is not a new thing. There are several instances in history where such an approach has been used, but the results have been evidently disastrous. President Ronal Reagan used this approach in the year 1986. As a result, more than 3 million illegal immigrants were granted amnesty and legal residency in the United States (Contreras, 2021). President Reagan, however, stated that his action was a one-time offer that was never to be repeated in the future. He stated that the immigration laws of the country would then be studiously enforced to prevent large populations of illegal immigrants living in the US. It is, however, apparent that President Reagan’s prophecy did not see the light of the day. Since then, the US has seen an influx of immigrants from countries all over the world into its territories (Narea, 2021). It, therefore, beats purpose why the same approach that was tried and failed three decades ago should be reintroduced now.

The Reagan approach failed to solve the illegal immigration crisis in the US in 1986. Instead, it cultivated fertile ground for its growth. There are other more pragmatic ways that the US can use to deal with its illegal immigration crisis. Although former US President Donald Trump initiated the building of a boundary wall between the US and Mexico, there is no denying that the same area is responsible for the highest number of illegal immigrants. There are also fears that the wall will not comprehensively deter them from crossing into the US. This is especially true if there will be no sufficient patrols along the border. Indeed, over the last three decades, the U.S-Mexico border has not been adequately policed. As a result, millions of immigrants from South America have crossed into the US (Sandoval-Strausz, 2021). This problem can simply be solved by increasing police patrols at the border to arrest the situation at its root.

The influx of illegal immigrants into the United States should also be looked into in terms of the impacts that they have on the American economy. Whereas it has been argued that they help boost the economy because they add to the consumer pool, there is no denying that they take up jobs meant for Americans (Sandoval-Strausz, 2021). Illegal immigrants are willing to work for meager wages and hence suppress the pay that ordinary Americans could have been paid. At a time when the country is debating the increase of minimum wages, an illegal immigrant is contented with the exploitative wages that many corporations offer their employees. This implies that they cannot join forces to call or agitate for better pay (Sandoval-Strausz, 2021). They are the weakest link in the clamor for favorable pay for the American workforce.

It beats logic why America should welcome and embrace any character that sneaks through its borders by providing him or her with legal residency when the population of its own citizens keeps on increasing. By the year 2050, it is projected that the American population will drastically increase (Sandoval-Strausz, 2021). If the status quo remains, then the country will be populated with illegal immigrants leading to a struggle for the finite resources available. It is not entirely bad to have immigrants in the country. Their contributions to building the American economy cannot be overemphasized. However, this is a sensitive issue that must be looked at with a lot of diligence. The country must postulate the number of immigrants that it wants in one year, for instance. Such immigrants must possess the education and some special skills that are absent or inadequate within the local populations. In every election cycle, the country is treated to a series of immigration reform proposals. However, not many of them are anchored on the long-term socioeconomic goals of the American people.

There should not be a shortcut to this, and if immigrants want to enter the United States, they should be made to follow the laid down legal processes and abide by them. Therefore, offering illegal immigrants a pathway to legal citizenship is akin to rewarding them for breaking the law in addition to providing the would-be illegal immigrants with the same incentives. It is simple logic that a behavior that is rewarded will continue to be witnessed while that which has been punished will be experienced in lesser proportions. Immigration is a crisis that America must confront head-on. This should begin by first punishing those who break the immigration laws. All illegal immigrants, who are currently living in the United States, should be systematically rounded up and deported to their respective countries. This will be the only way to restore the rule of law and prove to the world that the United States is serious about its immigration policies and reforms.


Contreras, O. (2021). Biden’s immigration plan would offer path to citizenship for millions. The New York Times. Web.

Narea, N. (2021). Poll: Most Americans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Vox. Web.

Sandoval-Strausz, J. K. (2021). A path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants is a no-brainer. The Washington Post. Web.

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