Experts on illegal immigration in the United States argue that this double-edged sword has become a key issue for campaign platforms and debates.
According to Earl Morgan, director of graduate studies for political science at USF, the nation has a divided opinion on immigration.
“I have been studying political behavior for over 10 years now and it’s proven that when the people have a problem, the political candidates are expected to address it,” Morgan explained.
“It’s no secret that our economy is suffering, and many Americans blame this on illegal immigrants because they hold an increasing number of jobs in our country,” he said.
Morgan explained that some occupations, such as farming, hire illegal immigrants because they can pay the workers well below minimum wage.
According to a graduate study conducted by the Government and International Affairs Department, the average yearly income for an illegal immigrant is $8,992 with an hourly pay rate of $5.45.
“Americans are in fear of losing their livelihoods to these immigrants,” he said.
However, Morgan argued that immigration is not completely negative on society.
“Granted, some jobs have been lost to immigrants but tons of jobs have also been created in areas of Homeland Security and border patrol,” Morgan said.
Kiki Caruson, assistant vice president for Research, Innovation and Global Affairs at USF, has traveled all around the world studying people and different systems of government. She said getting into the United States as a new citizen is challenging.
“The test for citizenship in America is tougher than anywhere else,” Caruson said.
Caruson had to take a shortened version of the citizenship test to receive her master’s degree.
“I will never forget the question that I failed: ‘What is the square footage of Washington, D.C.?’” Caruson said. “I don’t think the people who live there even know that answer.”
Susan MacManus, a USF political science professor and professional political analyst, has 20 years of experience studying major political issues like immigration.
“The recent Republican debate on September 8 was a perfect example of how divided politics is on immigration,” MacManus said.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the Dream Act, which gives financial help to students of illegal immigrants attending college.
MacManus quoted Perry saying, “I support this act to show young people that regardless of what your last name is, we believe in you.”
“On the other hand, there was Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, who criticized Perry for supporting illegal’s and then made promises to strengthen border control,” she said.
According to MacManus, Americans are still uncertain about immigration.
“Half of us want to lock the immigrants out and the other half wants to invite them over for dinner,” she joked.
“Any way that you look at the issue the facts are still there,” said MacManus. “America is immigration.”