Latino Immigrants and Social Welfare Policy Essay - 2099 Words



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Latino Immigrants and Social Welfare Policy

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Latino Immigrants and Social Welfare Policy

Overview of the Issue
This essay will examine the plight of Latino immigrants; review the opposing opinions concerning providing social welfare for Latino immigrants; and explain and justify the authors’ opinion concerning this urgent national concern.

Immigration is an increasingly divisive issue in the U.S. Significant numbers of immigrants working and living in the U.S., combined with mounting negative public opinion concerning immigration and the lack of Congressional progress toward immigration reform has escalated the vitriolic debate on both sides of the issue. Media attention about the recent surge of unattended, undocumented children entering the U.S. from Central America has further escalated the rhetoric.

The number of immigrants to the U.S. has steadily increased. In the 1930’s a total of 250,000 people legally immigrated into the U.S., that increased to 2.5 million per in the 1950’s, 7.3 million in the 1970’s, 10 million in the 1990’s, and currently about 1 million people legally immigrate to the U.S. each year (2014, Wikipedia). Current estimates place the total legal immigrant U.S. population to be in excess of 40 million. In addition there approximately 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S. (Furman et al., 2008). Latino immigration to the U.S. is a particularly heated issue. Immigration to the U.S. from Latin American countries has a disturbing history. Because of the labor shortages resulting from World War I 700,000 Mexicans entered the U.S. in the 1910’s. An additional 500,000 immigrated in the 1920’s due to new technology and markets. The Great Depression ushered in an era of massive deportation, over 500,000 people were deported. World War II saw a reversal of deportation and an estimated 5 million Mexicans immigrated into the U.S. during and after the

Latino Immigrants and Social Welfare Policy

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war. Yet another reversal due to a program with the derogatory name “Operation Wetback” resulted in mass deportations in the 1950's. In spite of tightening of immigration policies in the late 1960’s and 1970’s the U.S. experienced an increase of illegal immigrants. The “lost decade” of the 1980’s in Mexico, so named because of the poor economic conditions in Mexico during that decade, resulted in another surge of illegal immigration (Organista, 2008). Currently the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) encourages free trade with Mexico, however increasingly constrictive immigration policies and increased immigration enforcement creates a paradoxical restriction to immigrant labor entering the U.S. (Segal, 2010). Imbedded in Latino immigration history are problems associated with social welfare support of immigrants. Opinions Against Providing Social Welfare for Immigrants

There remains strong opposition to providing social welfare to immigrants. Xenophobic and nationalistic sentiments are currently highly prevalent attitudes in the U.S. The recent economic difficulties exacerbated anti-immigrant opinions based on financial justifications. The states with the most immigrant families and children are California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas (“Immigrant Children and Their Families: Issues for Research and Policy,” n.d.).

These destination states bear the most cost when it comes to caring for

immigrants. The U.S. federal government has left it up to these states to determine how they will care for immigrants social welfare needs (Earner, 2007). The dilemma states are put in is nearly two-thirds to three-fourths of the taxes immigrants pay goes to the federal government, and yet, states bear nearly two-thirds to three-fourths of the costs to care for immigrants (“Immigrant Children and Their Families: Issues for Research and Policy,” n.d.). Citizens of the destination states feel immigrants are benefitting from social services at their... Show More

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