Top Pro & Con Arguments


Undocumented immigrants have broken the law that legal immigrants have followed and should not be rewarded for their crimes with the benefits of citizenship. Such actions incentivize lawbreaking.

If immigrants can skip the citizenship (or legalization) line by crossing the border without permission or over-staying legal entry, why would they bother with the appropriately lengthy legal process? Amnesty effectively incentivizes immigrants to break the law with a large reward. [49] [50] [51]

Calling amnesty “the worst approach to illegal immigration,” Matt O’Brien, Director of Research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), says “amnesty for illegal aliens is a slippery slope. As any parent, school teacher or police officer knows, rewarding bad behavior only encourages more bad behavior. And much of our current immigration situation is directly attributable to the series of amnesties that began with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Rather than pushing the reset button, and allowing the United States to regain control of its borders, IRCA sent a clear message to would-be illegal aliens: ‘If you violate our immigration laws long enough, you will be rewarded for your troubles and granted legal status.’” [49]

Not only does a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants reward the immigrants who broke the law by entering the country illegally, but any amnesty rewards the coyotes and traffickers who extort people in return for smuggling them into the United States. Coyotes sell the idea of “permiso” (that the US grants citizenship to people within the country) to desperate, ill-informed Mexicans, as well as Central and South Americans, enticing them to spend outrageous sums and undertake an arduous and potentially fatal journey to be smuggled over the US border.” [50] [51] [52]

Amnesty also emboldens sex and labor traffickers, among other criminals, bringing more crime, drugs, and entrapped people into the United States. “The failed policies of this [Biden] administration encourage and facilitate Mexican drug cartels, transnational criminal organizations and other malevolent actors to engage in human trafficking and smuggling across our southwestern border,” argues Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ). [53]

Adds David Inserra, a policy analyst for Homeland Security and Cyber Security at the Heritage Foundation, “Beyond incentivizing additional illegal immigration, amnesty is unfair to all law-abiding Americans, legal immigrants, and those waiting to come legally to the U.S. Instead of jettisoning the rule of law with amnesty, Congress should ensure that immigration best serves the U.S.’s interests and that the immigration system is easier to use and navigate by those seeking legal entry. Ultimately, amnesty unfairly favors those who have broken U.S. laws at the expense of those who obey them.” [54]

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