Newly arrived immigrants are often afraid they must hide their foreign origins to be accepted. Aside from outright racism, much of the hostility they encounter arises from a failure to distinguish legal immigrants from illegal ones. Legal immigrants have passed thorough government scrutiny and been found to have a sponsor who will support them. 

They pay taxes, obey the law and contribute positively to society, but they are disrespected because of false assumptions about people who sneak into this country without permission or documents. 

In the past few years, there has been a lot of discussion about how immigrants are changing America and what that means for our future as a people and as a nation. Presently, in his fervor for eradicating immigrants from the state of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has been rounding up legal immigrants as well and ruining their lives.  

While there is plenty of hostility towards the immigrant community, there has been an increase in pro-immigrant sentiment as well — particularly among the young and educated. In addition to explaining how Governor DeSantis has ruined the lives of legal immigrants and residents throughout the state of Florida, you’ll also learn more about why legal immigrants deserve our respect.

Legal Immigrants Are not the Same as Illegal Immigrants

Legal and illegal immigrants are not the same. The distinction between the two groups is important because it clarifies whether an immigrant has or has not followed the correct procedures for entering the country. 

One important distinction is the fact that legal immigrants are admitted to the country after passing through a long and careful process. They are screened for disease and criminality, interviewed and fingerprinted, and typically must wait for long periods of time before being allowed to enter. Immigrants who overstay their visas or cross the border illegally do not go through such an extensive process. 

These are two very different paths to a new life in America and it is important to appreciate the differences between those two paths in order to understand the issues surrounding immigration today. 

For example, legal immigrants pay taxes to make up for the costs of the services illegal immigrants use such as hospitals, schools, etc. Conversely, most illegal immigrants don’t pay any taxes which means the legal immigrants are pulling their own weight plus the weight of those who have neglected to go through the immigration process legally.  

Legal Immigrants Pay Taxes and Contribute to Society

As you discovered above, legal immigrants are taxpayers and contribute positively to society in many ways. Legal immigrants will have paid taxes before being granted permanent residency and will continue to pay taxes for the rest of their lives. 

Immigrants also contribute positively to society in many other ways. For example, they may volunteer at a local school or help out the homeless. Legal immigrants also have children who will grow up to become educated, contributing members of society. 

On top of all this, many legal immigrants drive on roads built with their taxes, use the same public services everyone else does, and pay for their education and healthcare. So why are legal immigrants perceived as a burden to society? In most cases, it comes down to a matter of immaturity. 

Legal Immigrants Contribute to the Economy

Legal immigrants have spent years contributing to the economy and have earned the right to stay in the country. Immigrants who have spent years working and paying taxes in America (legally) often fear they will be forced to leave the country when the political climate turns sour. Immigrants are a huge part of the U.S. economy and culture, and there is no good reason to expel them. 

Many sectors of the economy rely on immigrants, who comprise a sizeable portion of the workforce in many industries. Immigrants also start businesses meaning they are also likely to be investors and future employers. Immigrants are also likely to be consumers — something that is just as important as being an employee or employer as our entire economy is built on the concept of consumption. 

Governor Ron DeSantis Boasts About Removing Illegal Immigrants While Arresting Legal Residents

Like most Republicans, Governor DeSantis takes a decidedly hostile stance when it comes to illegal immigrants. While that sounds like pretty standard behavior for a Republican statesman, going around and arresting legal residents is not. 

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s been happening during the recent crusade against illegal immigrants in Florida. A significant number of the people who were arrested during the hunt for illegals were actually legal residents. Some were arrested for possession of drugs, however, the fact that they were legal residents stands out as it changes the whole rhetoric. 

Meanwhile, a Federal complaint has been filed highlighting the inhumane conditions at the ICE detention center in Baker County, Florida where countless immigrants languish in squalor. The complaint cites instances of harassment, medical neglect, and violence in the detention center. 

While some people tend to be particularly hostile on the issue of illegal immigration, it’s important to remember that immigrants, whether legal or illegal are people. To think of someone as an “illegal alien” is dehumanizing in many respects and leads to an unsavory way of thinking that we should all be beyond at this point in history. 

Immigrants Are People, We Should Respect Them

Legal immigrants are just people trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Some of them grew up in poverty and have spent years working hard to make something of themselves.

Others have spent years studying, investing in their education, building skills, and experience. Regardless of their background, legal immigrants are people we should respect. Instead of fighting over who gets to stay in the country and who does not, we could be trying to understand why people want to leave their countries in the first place. 

What drives people to leave the place where they were born, in hopes of finding a better life in another country? There are many reasons why people migrate, and most of them are rooted in survival. 

To assume that someone who is not American wants to steal your job, benefits and life is ignorant and very problematic. Most legal immigrants are a part of the country’s fabric and have no intention of disrupting anyone’s life.

Conclusion

Legal immigrants are people who have followed the rules and earned the right to stay in America. They have been screened and vetted by the government, and as such, they should be respected. 

As well-meaning people who pay taxes and contribute positively to society, legal immigrants are people who work hard to make a better life for themselves, their families, and the people in their lives. 

While the Governor of Florida is cracking down on legal and illegal immigrants alike, it’s important to understand that we can all make a difference by treating people with the dignity and respect that every human being deserves.