Illegal Immigration and its Effects on Society

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Illegal immigration is a growing problem in the United States which causes many issues for citizens, such as job loss and higher taxes. It is undoubtedly an issue that needs to be addressed[1]. Illegal immigration leads to the drug trade in the United States and takes away many jobs from legal citizens[2]. Welfare is also something to consider when discussing illegal immigrants, considering that they can’t legally be paid, so they are granted welfare, which also costs taxpayers more money[3].

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Due to these factors, many states are beginning to take action against illegal immigration.

Moreover, illegal immigration damages the economy, as the immigrants take jobs from legal citizens. Illegal immigrants take many “low-skill” jobs from legal citizens in the United States, such as assisting on farms, construction, manufacturing, cooking, and other jobs that could generally be taken by children looking for a Summer job or such. These jobs are very convenient for illegal workers since a company does not generally run them, and most of their wages can just be paid in untraceable cash. Not only is it convenient for illegal immigrants to take these jobs, but it is convenient to hire these workers, as they generally work for lower wages than many other potential workers[4]. On top of all this, they also can’t be taxed on their income because they aren’t legal citizens. While convenient for employers, illegal aliens taking jobs is very bad for everyone involved.

Also, illegal migration makes it much easier for illegal drugs to enter the country. According to the New York Times, the Treasury Department estimates drug trafficking to accumulate $64 billion yearly. A large majority of that is assumed to come from illegal immigration[5]. Illegal immigration provides an effortless way to transport such drugs as cocaine and heroin. It is a natural fit for drug cartels to use illegal immigrants as carriers for these substances since their objective is to stay undetected. This problem also makes drug cartels a real problem in cities near borders. Cities near borders are riddled with crime and drugs[6]. This affects towns on both sides of the border as well.

Many illegal immigrants are responsible for the rise in crime in the United States. The Texas Department of Public Safety has statistics on illegal immigrant crimes in the state of Texas in many different areas, such as over 32,000 assault charges, over 5,600 burglary charges, over 15,600 theft charges, and more than 500 homicide charges. Of these charges, more than 13,300 assault convictions, more than 3,100 burglary convictions, 6,900 theft convictions, and more than 230 homicide convictions were made.

Illegal immigration also costs all legal citizens money through taxes from welfare. Illegal immigrants have an easy way of abusing the usage of tax money in their favor. This happens in many forms, like medical assistance, schooling, and general financial aid. The most volatile and widespread of these is medical assistance. According to the Cato Institute, health care companies are given funds specifically to give to illegal immigrants who can’t afford their medical bills in the emergency room. According to Forbes, the total funds spent on Medicaid for undocumented immigrants is about $18.5 billion annually. Illegal immigrants also have an effortless time getting money for education. Public education can’t be denied in the United States, so anyone can get access to public schooling, which is paid for via taxes[7]. The AJC reports that in 2008, the US Census Bureau said the total amount of money spent on undocumented immigrants’ education was about $44.5 billion in the United States, and in 2013 FAIR estimated the cost of illegal immigrants education to be about $113 billion[8]. While no state permits undocumented citizens to receive government-funded scholarships, some states allow undocumented students who pay in-state tuition to receive financial support.

The total amount of illegal immigrants is stabilizing after many years of migration. The number of illegal immigrants has been very slowly dropping over many years. The Pew Research Center estimated that from 1990 to 2008, the estimated amount of undocumented citizens has consistently risen from about 3.5 million to over 12 million, then quickly dropped back to about 11 million in 2010[9]. Also, says the total number of apprehensions at the Mexican border has been consistently declining since 2008[10].

Recently, border patrol has stopped many more illegal immigrants from entering the US. The Council on Foreign Relations reports that between 1990 and 2005, the amount of time officers patrolling the border has gone up almost threefold. This has resulted in millions more apprehensions on the Mexican border, which the Council on Foreign Relations also says is where 95 percent of all concerns come from[11].

Many illegal immigrants enter the country with a work visa and never leave once it has expired. Many companies give out work visas to specific people to come into the country and temporarily work in the United States with said company. This means that the temporary immigrant is locked with the employer and can’t leave the country. These are very commonly used in construction in Southern states. Work visas can be very useful for all parties involved, but many foreign people use this as an easy way to stay in the United States. Many illegal immigrants legally obtain a work visa, leave the employer that gave them their visa, and continue to live in the United States, working elsewhere. There is not much enforcement against this behavior. While there is no statistic on how many former visa-holding undocumented citizens are in the United States, it is challenging to locate the people who do this.

Many people are hesitant to apply heavy pressure on those trying to illegally enter the country because they believe illegal immigrants truly buff the economy. Illegal aliens are convenient to hire for employers and fill many jobs that many Americans do not want to do. The concern that it might cost too much to enforce border patrol is also a topic to be discussed. The Center for Immigration Studies says that about $4.2 billion has been spent on border enforcement since 2002. That number has been rising since 2002, considering the big step up in 2008 and later. While this number sounds very high and nearly impossible to stop all illegal immigration, given the amount of money spent on illegal immigrants’ education alone, the money spent on border enforcement is justifiable.

Recently, there has been a big push to enforce illegal immigrants being arrested in the United States, not at the border. This is primarily from President Donald Trump’s support of ICE, or the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. According to BBC News, arrests of illegal immigrants have been up 42% since Donald Trump became president. In terms of deportations, BBC also says Donald Trump’s first year in office had more than 81,000 deportations, and the year before this had about 65,000 total deportations.

The president has also discussed building a wall on the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. The barrier has been heavily debated regarding its effectiveness and whether or not it is a good idea of how much it would cost. The wall is estimated to cost somewhere between $12-40 billion. The wall has started construction as of February 2018. The wall’s construction is starting in Calexico, California, and consists of seven miles of 30-foot high walls; and is currently 37 miles long, with a long way to go. The president also promised the wall to be paid for by Mexico, which is currently not the case. So far, the wall has costed the government $5 billion. AZCentral states there has also been constructed in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley.

Another problem with illegal immigration is the cost of teaching many languages. Most illegal immigrants don’t know English, so they can’t learn English when they go to school. Because of this, schools need to hire many more teachers, splitting the school into those who speak English and Spanish. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates it costs nearly $60 billion annually to fix the problem of bilingualism in schools. This means that money can’t go toward improving education for any other students, hiring more teachers for diverse classes, and extracurricular activities.

While illegal immigration provides some benefits, it also comes with many downsides. Illegal immigration benefits business owners looking to hire cheap workers and gives the United States more cultural diversity. However, illegal immigration is also a big contributor to issues like the drug trade, other violent crimes, higher taxes to pay for education, and higher taxes to deal with the issue of illegal immigration itself. While there has been much more enforcement against illegal immigration over time, it is an issue that can never be fixed completely and will always exist.


  1. Verney, Kevern. “Bad hombres: The Trump administration, Mexican immigration and the border wall.” In The Trump Presidency, pp. 137-158. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019.
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Illegal Immigration and its Effects on Society. (2019, Sep 17). Retrieved from