The issue of undocumented immigrants

by Yui Matsushita

It is a big issue of the world that the number of undocumented immigrants is increasing today. In the election for the U.S. President in November 2012, immigration was one of points at issue. It is said that there are about twelve million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and most of them have to suffer from many hardships because they don’t have legal status. The way that they become undocumented can be roughly divided into two kinds; illegal entry by a fake passport or crossing a border, and visa overstay which immigrants enter a country by the proper procedures but lose residence status and still stay there. In Japan, the number of the latter case (especially immigration from Asian countries) is decreasing in recent years, but still, it is a problem.

Especially, children of those undocumented immigrants have to go through afflictions more. At least their parents or relatives are conscious of having committed a crime, but children do not intend to do so at all. They immigrate into a new country with their parents, settle down there, get educated and spend their life as a normal resident. They grow up in a new country’s culture, so they adapt its customs and language and foster their identity as one of members of the society where they live now. However, they are still undocumented immigrants. It becomes very hard for them to get higher education, get driver’s license, go to the hospital and leave the country in a proper way. They always have to be scared of being arrested and deported because of a crime which they do not know about. It is unreasonable to deport them from the viewpoint of human rights because this situation divests them of their present life and their future. In the U.S., President Obama started a new policy in 2012 which allows young undocumented immigrants to get resident status. It was executed according to failure of the DREAM Act which allowed them conditional permanent residency. However, it can be only temporary treatment.

Of course the problem is that those immigrants do not have legal status, however, the focus also should be placed on the cause that they became undocumented immigrants. They immigrate for various purposes such as getting a job and escaping from inferior living environment, so if no measure is taken for this matter, the number of undocumented immigrants will do nothing but increase. While taking measures for them domestically, the fundamental cause has to be examined internationally. In addition, society should not stick to only the fact of ‘illegality’. By focusing on their backgrounds as well, it needs to consider the issue of undocumented immigrants.

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