Immigration is a topic currently on the mind of many Americans and our representatives. With demonstrations in the streets of many cities because of the controversy surrounding the subject, and with Congress considering new legislation on the subject, we asked readers their views on the subject.
Not surprisingly, there was a vigorous response from about 1500 readers. A number of readers sent in lengthy, carefully considered comments.
Many readers see a distinction between legal immigration and illegal immigration. Many readers are also concerned about the overall cost to the country of having many immigrants coming to America. The vast majority of those responding are in favor of making English the official language of the United States.
Here is a quick summary of the results:
In general, do you think immigrants who come to the United States today help the country and make it a better place to live or hurt the country and make it a worse place to live?
50% say immigrants hurt the country
31% say immigrants help the country
13% are undecided
6% selected "other"
19% say it is a somewhat serious problem.
6% think immigration is not a problem
1% of survey respondents were undecided
1% selected "other"
Do you support or oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens?
15% support making it easier
Do you support or oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become legal workers?
32% support making it easier
Do you think illegal immigrants provide benefits to the nation by doing work many U.S. citizens don’t want to do, or do they cost the country more because they use public services?
14% say immigrants provide more benefits
Should English be the official language of the United States?
93% say "yes"
A manager from the Treasury Department in Ogden, Utah wrote: "Middle class citizens cannot afford to keep paying for illegal immigrant’s health care and housing costs. If they are in this country they should be here legally or not at all. I don’t understand what about the word ‘illegal’ politicians don’t understand."
A program assistant from the Department of Education in Washington, DC has strong feelings about the overall topic: "The United States is getting worse instead of better where immigration is concerned. Immigrants should not have the right to come here and change our language, religion or laws. Once they are here, then they end up finding ways to bring many more of their family members here and before you know it, they have bought properties everywhere and will soon take over and own the United States. Stop Allowing Them to Come Here Now!!!"
A senior special agent with DHS has considerable experience in the field and passed along these observations: "I have been doing criminal investigations and enforcing the Immigration & Nationality Act for over 32 years. I can assure you that any ‘temporary’ worker bill with or without an amnesty component will NOT solve the immigration problem. Twenty years ago our Congress promised us that the amnesty passed then would be a one-time amnesty. Here we are again. The best we can hope for at this juncture is no bill whatsoever from Congress. Let’s enforce those already on the books!"
A supervisory HR specialist from the Navy in San Diego said: "Immigrants of all varieties have made this country what it is. However, the large number of unchecked, undocumented, illegal aliens that have been allowed to flood our border in the past decade have taxed our medical, education, employment and justice systems to the breaking point and American citizens are the losers."
An employee relations specialist with the Air Force in Valpariso, FL summarized his beliefs this way: "How many languages should a teacher, policeman, federal employee need to know to do their job? Other countries don’t force their people learn English and print specialty forms for me. For immigrants to be successful, they need to learn English to advance. If they are not citizens of our country, then they should not receive the benefits of the social programs."
A compliance officer with the Dept. of Labor in Nashville, TN wants more taxes on illegal immigrants: "If anyone wants to come to America through the proper legal channels to have a better life, more power to them. After all, that’s how all of us got here anyway. However, if you are not a legal or naturalized citizen in my opinion you have no civil rights in this country and should not be asking for special treatment here considering that there is probably no reciprocity from the home country. No other country handles illegal immigration the way the U.S. does and I feel we are making a huge mistake to even consider relaxing the laws on immigration. Here’s a thought: if you want to come here as a non-citizen and work you should be taxed at a higher rate than those of us who are citizens for the privilege of working here."
A human resources specialist from the Dept. of Labor in Chicago sees a racial motive behind the wave of immigration: "I believe that we have enough American citizens to do the jobs that immigrants are currently doing. The reason non-Americans are doing these jobs is because the people who hire them would rather have an immigrant rather than an African-American working in their company."
A security specialist with DoD in California said "We demand our country back": "They do not come here to work even when they say they do, they come for the free benefits without working. English started out as the national language why shouldn’t now be the official national language? One language, one nation. We demand our country back."
A manager in Miramar Beach, FL said: "I for one don’t like the thought of my tax money going to pay for people who should not be here in the first place. We have a big enough federal deficit as it is and this seems to just be another unnecessary burden which further fuels the runaway federal spending. Having immigrants in the country is fine and certainly has some benefits, but they need to come here legally."
An HR specialist with the Forest Service in Vallejo, CA is disappinted in government: "I was born and raised in N. CA for over 30 yrs and then went to work in D.C.–the melting pot of all nationalities. Everyone there spoke English and had a job, business. Here in CA the majority of people are Hispanic (which isn’t a bad thing at all) but they have been here for years and still don’t speak the language or work. I am very disappointed with the government in my home state."
A program specialist with IHS in Santa Fe, NM wrote: "While not ALL immigrants are immoral;,it has been my experience that most milk the taxpayers, commit crimes and/or support the commission of crimes, be it fraud or drug trafficking."
A software engineer with DoD in Ogden, Utah opined: "Illegal immigrants cost everybody money in many ways. Your rising health care costs is a perfect example. Because of their inability to pay, health care is free for them. The rest of us are paying for it. That’s full B.S. that they do the work nobody else will do. The businesses that hire them, pay them less but charge you the same"
An employee of the Forest Service in John Day, OR expressed these sentiments similar to numerous others we received: "…English is the official language of the United States and as immigrants in the past have so should immigrants today and in the future respect realize and understand that this is the language that this country uses. My grandma when she immigrated from Norway understood this, my great grandfather when he immigrated from Germany understood this and neither ethnic group tried to impose their will of language on the rest of this country for their convenience. If you’re coming to the USA and plan to become a citizen and work and live here you will be expected to speak english!
Not all readers were opposed to the current or proposed immigration situation.
This program manager from the Dept. of Health and Human Services in Dallas said: "To consider deporting 11 million people , in the face of the inability of Government to assit 350,000 Katrina evacuees, is not only idiotic but mean spirited. Making it a felony to assist undocumented (immigrants) would have the effect of making crimninals out of priests, social workers and school teachers."
An analyst with DoD in Jacksonville, FL sees a different racial angle: "Where are the 11 million from other countries than Mexico? Why be prejudiced toward Mexicans?"
A supervisory HR specialist with Veterans Affairs in Arizona commented: "This country seems to be heading more towards an isolationist view point, much like Japan centuries back, and it wasn’t successful for them. This is a country of immigrants and while I don’t support illegal activities, we need to review our immigration program and create one that is more supportive of various options for legal immigration and guest worker programs. Having lived in a border state for 50+ years, I absolutely detest the building of our own ‘Berlin or Chinese wall’ between us and Mexico. It certainly doesn’t support my viewpoint about what this country was founded for. Openness, equal opportunity, and opportunities for a better life."
And an IT specialist from Petersburg, VA has this point of view: "We are a nation of immigrants, we need to recognize that the majority of people that came here did not have a visa as one was not required. The folks that are coming in need to be supported as they are doing what our parents and grandparents did … working very hard to support their families and make things better for everyone."
Thanks to all readers who took the time to send in their opinions and comments on this important issue.