With bids for the upcoming presidential primary rolling in, the topic of comprehensive immigration reform is again gaining media attention. The thanks for this surge in coverage goes to no other than Donald Trump, whose blunt remarks about unauthorized immigration have caused somewhat of an international uproar. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, before you cast your vote, it is important to recap the facts about unauthorized immigration and its impact.
“Illegal aliens” vs. “undocumented aliens”
The term “illegal aliens” is sometimes used when referring to those who are present in the United States without authorization. That term, however, is somewhat of a misnomer. After all, the law does not mark people as “illegal.” It is only people’s actions, such as crossing a U.S. border without proper inspection, which constitute violations of the law. Moreover, to the extent that the term illegal implies a criminal violation, it is pertinent to point out that not all of those to whom we sometimes refer to as “illegal aliens” committed any crimes.
So, what term should you use? Replacing the word “illegal” with either “unauthorized” or “undocumented” is probably your best bet. In the end, no matter what side of the debate you take, you probably won’t lose a heated political discussion by avoiding the phrase “illegal aliens.”
How many undocumented aliens are there?
Truth be told, there is no way to arrive at an exact count of those present in the U.S. without authorization. This does not mean that every figure is a mere guess. The U.S. census tells us how many foreign-born persons there are in the United States, whether documented or undocumented. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) keeps count of how many legally authorized aliens there currently are. By subtracting the number of authorized aliens from the total number of foreign-born persons and accounting for statistical errors, we can make an educated estimate of the number of undocumented aliens.
Again, this is a tough question. Surely, like the rest of us, undocumented aliens would have a hard time avoiding sales or property taxes, which provide for a majority of state and local tax revenues. When it comes to income and social security taxes, undocumented aliens are in a different position because they are not legally authorized to work.
Aliens who pose danger to national security or are engaged in terrorism or espionage
Aliens apprehended at ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States
Aliens engaging in gang activity
Aliens convicted of a felony or an aggravated felony
Aliens convicted of three or more misdemeanor offenses
Aliens convicted of a significant misdemeanor, such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, drug distribution or trafficking, driving under the influence, or offenses for which the individual was sentenced to 90 days or more in custody
Aliens apprehended after unlawfully entering or re-entering the United States who were not physically present in the United States continuously since January 1, 2014
Aliens who have significantly abused the visa or visa waiver programs
Aliens who have been issued a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014
How much would it cost to deport all undocumented aliens?
Wherever you lean left, right, or awkwardly balance in the middle, let these facts guide you in your future debates on comprehensive immigration reform. If you are in need of immigration law advice, contact 844-HOLBORN to schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys.
Disclaimer: This post is meant for general informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as legal advice. Holborn Law APC does not endorse any linked content. As with any laws, the information in this blog post may change at any time and may apply differently in different jurisdictions. The post may constitute Attorney Advertising as defined by the rules of professional responsibility of some jurisdictions. Holborn Law is based in Orange County and Riverside.The attorneys of Holborn Law APC are active members of the State Bar of California and licensed to practice law in California. All services relating to immigration and naturalization provided by Holborn Law APC are provided by active members of the State Bar of California or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California.