The first reason in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants is that it would help them escape poverty in their home country and improve the overall quality of life. As Rector and Hall (2016) put it, amnesty “amnesty would give current illegal immigrants access to the same government benefits as those for which current legal immigrants are eligible” (p. 3). Immigrants, for example, from Mexico who illegally crosses the border of the US, are fleeing Mexico not because of a good life there. Instead, they suffer from poverty, low wages, unfavorable working conditions, or fear of becoming a victim of criminals. In other words, they decide on illegal immigration because they have nothing to lose. In this context, the amnesty will give them a chance to advance themselves economically and increase their standard of living.
The second reason why illegal immigrants should be granted amnesty is that it is beneficial for the economy and businesses of the recipient country. If illegal immigrants are amnestied, they could be officially employed and receive wages legally. This, in turn, means that the government will receive more tax revenues because official employees are obliged to pay income taxes. Besides, illegal immigrants could be employed in positions that do not attract locals, including, for example, the agricultural and service sectors. This is beneficial for the businesses of a recipient country because this helps companies escape the issue of lack of a working force and expand production.
However, the view that amnesty for illegal immigrants is harmful to the economy of a recipient country is more prevalent in academic literature. For instance, Orozco-Aleman and Gonzalez-Lozano (2018) claim that the major reason why illegal immigrants should be deported is that amnesty will increase the number of people who strive to get not a job but unemployment benefits. Indeed, the US is famous for its high unemployment allowances and, therefore, it is impossible to deny that these allowances are not a tidbit for immigrants from developing countries. Furthermore, the study conducted by Orozco-Aleman and Gonzalez-Lozano (2018) emphasizes that the fewer illegal workers there are, the smaller the wages of legal workers will be. At the same time, the total number of workers who pay income taxes will remain the same for the reason outlined above. From this, it could be inferred that even though amnesty will improve the living and working conditions of illegal immigrants, it will also turn into an additional strain on the national budget, health care, and social security systems.
The second reason why illegal immigrants should be deported is that the idea of amnesty for an unlawful action per se is harmful and devalues the time and efforts spent by legal migrants on receiving permission to live and work in the US. In other words, amnesty could be interpreted as encouragement of violation of laws. The government does not grant amnesty to all the people who were charged for rapes, murders, and robberies. Hence, it seems illogical to support people who violate laws of immigration but punish people who violate other laws. Furthermore, it is necessary not to forget that illegal immigrants harm official residents’ economic and social well-being for the reasons described in the preceding paragraph. This way, amnesty means that the government neglects the safety of legal residents for the sake of people who broke the law.
Orozco-Aleman, S., & Gonzalez-Lozano, H. (2018). Labor market effects of immigration policies border enforcement and amnesty. Journal of Labor Research, 39(2), 150-177. DOI: 10.1007/s12122-018-9266-y
Rector, R., & Hall, J. (2016). National Academy of Sciences report indicates amnesty for unlawful immigrants would cost trillions of dollars. The Heritage Foundation, 3175, 1-7.