The topic of illegal immigrant workers has recently become a high-profile topic in American politics and news. Characterizing this issue as having only two sides may not give a full picture of the situation. This is a very complex topic that spans several areas. People from around the world today that wish to visit America for work, studies and/or travel might become confused by the diverse news stories currently being published.
First, one should realize that 2006 is an election year in the United States. Many politicians will try to use immigration and foreign workers as issues for their publicity campaigns. People from all sides of these issues will present data and personal interpretations in ways that they feel will provide opportunities for election or re-election of politicians favorable to a particular viewpoint. Sometimes this "news" is little more than an opinion and may well cross the line into overt propaganda.
It is perceived by some in the US that foreign workers are taking jobs that Americans should have, creating hardship for Americans that are finding difficulty finding jobs. Also, it is felt that people illegally in the country create a burden upon legal residents and citizens who pay substantial taxes. Undocumented residents do not pay taxes for government services, yet many receive these services while tax-paying citizens sometimes cannot qualify. At the same time many Americans would say that the US as a nation of immigrants depends on immigration for its continued success as an economic superpower.
It is estimated that approximately 12 million people are illegally residing and working in the United States. Many of them are Mexicans. Due to such a large number, Mexicans have become highly visible in recent news, and thus are the focus of many discussions. Further, people of Mexican heritage take pride in their origins and celebrate their culture and language, something that enhances the visibility of such a large population.
People who are not Mexican are indirectly affected by the current news and campaigning. Laws are being considered to address some aspects of these issues, both real and imagined.
One of the more controversial was a recent amendment to legislation making it a felony offense to be on U.S. soil without legal permission. Currently it is a misdemeanor offense, with very light penalties, although it may be (and usually is) used as basis to deport people who are caught. A felony offense carries substantial monetary penalties and can result in jail time; also, a felony conviction can ban a person from future attempts to enter the U.S.
At this time, the legislation has not been approved. It does not look likely to be approved in the near future, although the interests that created the legislation have indicated they will continue in their attempts to make it a felony offense.
Persons who wish to immigrate to America for work have one of the most difficult challenges of all countries in the world today. The process is complex and can be expensive and time-consuming. When applying for work in the U.S., a person should be very careful to ascertain that they are negotiating with a fully legitimate company and job opportunity. Once on American soil, a worker will be judged illegal or legal based upon their permissions from the government, not promises from an employer. So long as you are legally attempting to enter the country and the work force, you have little to fear from law enforcement agencies.