Immigrationand immigration reforms are some of the most debated social, economicand political issues in the modern society. Public administrators aswell as politicians are overwhelmed by the intensity of illegalimmigration in the last two decades. Globalization is an importantsocial and economic phenomenon in the modern world. It has emphasizedregional and national disparities, which is one of the main factorsthat contribute to illegal immigration. However, this is not the onlycause of illegal immigration in the modern world. There are severalbenefits as well as cost of illegal immigration (Chomsky, 2014). Inthe post September 11 attack, which was perpetrated by illegalimmigrant, there are numerous concerns about illegal immigration.However, some economic school of thought has argued that there aresome positive economic impacts of illegal migration (Farnam, 2005).
Immigrationrefers to permanent movement of persons from one place to another. Itcan be legal immigration or illegal immigration. Immigration iscontrolled and regulated by national policies which vary from onenation to another. It is estimated that there are over 200 millionimmigrants in the world. Ten percent of these immigrants are illegalimmigrants. According to the United States immigration services,illegal immigration involves any cross border immigration thatinfringes the established immigration laws. Thus, an immigrant in theUnited States can be illegal if he or she crosses the internationalborder illegally or stays in the United States after the expiry ofhis or her visa. Illegal immigration in Europe and across theMediterranean Sea can be traced back to 1950s and 1960s. However, inthe last two decades, there has been a far-fetched expansion ofillegal immigration, especially in more developed nations such as theUnited States and Western Europe (Farnam, 2005).
Causesof illegal immigration
Attemptsto fix the problem of illegal immigration have focused on what arethe causes of illegal immigration. However, it is practicallyimpossible to fix the problem due to a combination of factors thatpromote illegal immigration. For example, for the United States todeal with the problem of illegal immigration, strict immigrationcontrol is not an ultimate solution. There are factors that arebeyond the immigration control (Farnam, 2005). The main causes ofillegal immigration can grouped into two categories, pull factors andpush factors. The push factors are found in the origin country andtend to encourage emigration out of the country. Pull factors arefound in the destination country which motivates the masses to moveinto the country. In the modern global environment which ischaracterized by globalization, divergent immigration policies andartificial boundaries, illegal immigration is on the rise (Anderson,2010).
Themost important push factors are the political environment in theorigin nation. It has been observed that individuals tend to run awayfrom their mother nations if they are politically unstable. As aresult, authoritarian regimes and the consequent economic and socialimpacts are considered to be the primary causes of illegalimmigration. For example, policies adopted by authoritarian regimesare not welcomed by the opponents and neighboring nations. Thedomestic policies are unlikely to favor the domestic population orresult into conflicts which forces individuals out of theircountries. A good example is the overwhelming number of Cubans whoentered the United States illegally in 1994 due to politicalinstability in the region. Additionally, intrastate conflicts areanother major push factor that contributes to illegal immigration.Inadequate of security and instability results into displacement ofpopulations, resulting into illegal entry into the neighboringcountries. As a result, over twenty percent of illegal immigrant inthe world escaped from their countries, although legally, they arenot refugees or asylum seekers. It is also important to note thatmajority of sources countries have a large number of economically,socially and politically disadvantaged individuals. Due to politicalinstability, together with other social and economic factors, thereare limited opportunities in these countries (Rezouni, 2010).
Whilethese factors push individuals out of their home countries, thedestination countries have adopted immigration laws that allow only afew “qualified and certified” immigrants to enter the country.The immigration laws are aimed at reducing the number of legalimmigrants in the country by setting legal requirements. For example,majority of destination countries only allow expertise and highlyskilled individuals into the country. However, the bulk of peoplerunning away from the source countries are semi or unskilled workersin the agricultural and constructor sectors. These laws tend toincrease the number of illegal immigrants in the destinationcountries (Anderson, 2010). Conversely, economic systems in both thedestination and source countries favor illegal immigration byencouraging immigrant and discouraging emigration of highly skilledprofessionals. Selective immigration laws give the government toolsfor selecting who enters the country legally. Due to the recentfinancial crisis which has slowed down the economy in manydestination nations, attempts to cut legal immigration or newimmigration restrictions have resulted into an increased number ofillegal immigrants. Due to the push factors, the immigrant isdetermined to enter the destination country at all cost, whetherlegally or illegally. Therefore, when more people are denied legalimmigration status, there are an increased number of illegalimmigrants (Anderson, 2010).
Asa result, some of them are more likely to be pushed out of theirnations by economic challenges such as unemployment. However,majority of individuals moving from their nation to another countrypurely for economic reasons, without the influence of other pushfactors, tend to follow the legal immigration procedures. Therefore,another important push factor is economic disparities between thesource nation and the destination country. Economic disparities,which have become worse in the modern globalised world is both a pushfactor and a pull factor. Immigrants are pushed out of theircountries by economic challenges, and pulled to the destinationcountry by between economic potentials (Rezouni, 2010). For example,thousands of illegal immigrants have died in the Mediterranean Seaattempting to illegally cross to the countries north of the sea dueto better wages. Where they are unemployed or poorly paid in NorthAfrica, they can access employment and better pay in Europeirrespective of their immigration status. Similarly, unemployedyouths from Mexico and other Central America and Caribbean countrieswill always enter the United States territories illegally in searchof better economic opportunities. The huge economic disparitiesbetween neighboring countries are one of the major causes of illegalimmigrant influx from the poorer countries to the more developedcountries. Although majority of the destination countries have triedto implement strict laws to deter illegal immigrant employers, lackof political will and overwhelming labor needs have made these lawsfutile. Collapse of economic systems under the pressure ofglobalization which makes some economies less competitive has hugeimpacts on illegal immigration (Chomsky, 2014). A good example is themass influx illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe to South Africa as aresult of collapse of economic systems in the source country.
Effectsof illegal immigration
Illegalimmigration has numerous consequences on both the source anddestination countries. These impacts are critical in the modernworld, especially when new security challenges and threats in themodern world are put into consideration. Therefore the most debatedand most important consequences of illegal immigration are economicand security implications. The involvement of illegal immigrants inorganized crimes and terrorism activities in the destinationcountries is an important concern. Although their economic impactsare not entirely negative, illegal immigration may result intoincreased rate of unemployment, especially during economicstagnation. Social impacts such anti immigrant sentiments which canhave significant impacts on their integration in the host society andspread of diseases are a major concern (Rezouni, 2010).
Illegalimmigration is considered an important security threat due toemerging cases of organized crimes and terrorism. Statistics from lawenforcement agencies suggest that a significant number of illegalimmigrants are involved in illegal activities such as drugtrafficking, human trafficking and organized crimes. Obviously, notall illegal immigrants are involved in international crimes, but thefact that they are not vetted at the point of entry results intosecurity risks. For example, in the United States, the events ofSeptember 11 changed the perception about illegal immigrants. The9/11 commission noted that individual who enter and stay in theunited states undetected pose a huge threat to national security.Universally, the potential security risks associated with illegalimmigration are negative (Rezouni, 2010). However, economically, theconsequences of illegal immigration can be positive or negative.Through transfer of currency, illegal immigration, just like legalimmigration have positive impact on the source nation. Additionally,it reduces the rate of unemployment in the source nation. On theother hand, there are both positive and negative impacts on thedestination nation. In many destination countries, workers withlimited school are scarce, which are filled by illegal immigrants.Illegal immigrants are able to do job that the local population orlegal immigrants are unable to do. Nonetheless, social services inthe host economy are overburdened by the high number of illegalimmigrant. Additionally, illegal immigrants negatively affects meanwage among unskilled and semiskilled workers in the host nation(Anderson, 2010).
Illegalimmigration remains in important phenomenon in modern political andeconomic system. Despite numerous attempts to fix the problem ofillegal immigrants, there are an increased number of undocumentedimmigrants, especially in the United States and other developedcountries. Immigration reforms and strict border control have beenintroduced to fix the problem with little success. The little successcan be attributed by the ‘pull’ and ‘push’ factors thatmotive illegal immigration and are not addressed by immigrationreforms. The need to deal with illegal immigrant is motivated by thepotential threat posed by illegal immigration in the host nation.Since illegal immigrants are not vetted, criminals and terrorists arelikely to enter the country as illegal immigrant. Additionally, thecommon perception in the general society has been that illegalimmigration is harmful to the economy, compared to legal immigration.Depending on the unique characteristics of the host nation, this maynot be necessarily true.
Anderson,O. (2010). Illegal immigration: causes, methods, and effects, NewYork: Nova Science Publishers.
Chomsky,A. (2014). Undocumented: how immigration became illegal, Boston,Mass.: Beacon Press.
Farnam,J. (2005). US immigration laws under the threat of terrorism, NewYork: Algora Publ.
Rezouni,S. (2010). Illegal immigration: causes, consequences, and nationalsecurity implications? Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College.