Illegal immigrants should follow United States’ laws

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The discussion about illegal immigration in the United States — and what to do about it — has taken a new turn with the Obama administration. This week, American Apparel’s Los Angeles factory was forced to fire nearly 2000 workers, all of whom were illegal immigrants. In the past, the workers would have been deported back to their home countries, but now they are just being told that they are not allowed to work in the United States.

Supposedly, this is being done in order to preserve families and cause the least amount of trouble. While this may be true, it still is not right. If a person breaks the law, in this country or anywhere else, and they are caught, they must face the consequences. If the consequences of people coming into and living in the United States illegally are only that they lose their jobs, what kind of message are we sending?

People who are in this country illegally should not be permitted to stay, regardless of whether they are working for American businesses or whether they are unemployed. It isn’t about whether they are paying taxes or whether they are taking jobs that Americans should have, because, let’s face it: Most of the jobs illegal immigrants have are jobs that the majority of Americans wouldn’t want to work.

Rather, it is about respect for the law. Immigration laws are in place for a reason, and even if people disagree with them, until they are changed, they should be respected. It is incredibly frustrating that people who seem to want to be in this country are disobeying its laws from the very start.

I understand that it is often difficult to get into this country legally, but that does not justify breaking the law. Anything worth doing is worth waiting for, and if someone really wants to be an American citizen, they will wait as long as necessary to do it through legal means.

In many cases, illegal immigrants in the United States are looking for ways to earn money, not citizenship. They are here to work, and they then send the money back to their families. If this is what they want, they should apply for work visas and come legally; this will be better not only for the United States, but also for the immigrants. Work conditions will be better monitored and minimum pay will be enforced — benefits that illegal immigrants generally do not currently receive.

A common argument in favor of changing immigration laws and granting amnesty to those illegal immigrants already in this country is that people are unable to afford to immigrate legally, emphasizing that it is expensive and time consuming to become a legal citizen of the United States. Perhaps this argument comes from a growing need to have instant gratification. Throughout history, when immigrants came to this country in great surges, they saved their money, often for years and years, to be able to afford to do so. For the most part, people came legally. They went through the appropriate steps to become citizens, even if that was a long and painful process. Today’s immigrants should be no different; they should also have to follow the legal guidelines for immigration.

Everyone should have the opportunity to make a better life, but this opportunity should be seized through legal means and not through breaking the laws of the country to which one desires entry.