Home Social Justice Immigrants’ Effect on Ohio, U.S.

Immigrants’ Effect on Ohio, U.S.

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America has long been hailed as “the land of opportunity.” For some, this phrase may conjure up images of a picturesque suburban house, surrounded by a white picket fence, with expensive cars parked in the driveway and occupied by a smiling upper-middle-class family – all the components of the so-called “American dream.”

But for others, such as the millions of immigrants who enter the country each year – both legally and illegally – America is about so much more than the bright, sunny image so often pictured in people’s minds, which tends to be closer in resemblance to a Norman Rockwell painting than to any kind of reality.

To these people, America is a place where they can begin again. It is a place for them to find better jobs, education and healthcare, and seek out a wealth of other opportunities that may not be available in their homelands.

There are two sides to this story. On one, there are the immigrants who enter the country illegally, often through dangerous and potentially life-threatening measures.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the illegal immigrant population in the United States in 2010 was about 12 million people. Data and maps on the organization’s website show that the majority of illegal immigrants live in the Southwest as well as the Northeast.

In Ohio, FAIR’s data shows that the approximately 110,000 undocumented immigrants living here cost taxpayers around $879 million each year. Most of that money is paid toward the education of the children of these immigrants.

“The majority [of costs in Ohio] are associated with the education of children of illegal aliens. The majority of these children are US-born. We consider this to be a cost of illegal immigration because public education is a cost to the taxpayers,” said Jack Martin, director of special projects at FAIR.

Another cost of illegal immigration to Ohioans, according to Martin, is the dollar amount involved in the arrests and imprisonment of illegals.

“Justice costs include court costs, police costs and incarceration. These costs are based upon the Department of Justice’s estimate of state costs and … based upon data that’s available regarding the number of deportable aliens held in state prison facilities,” Martin said. “[Illegal immigrants] in Ohio constitute 5.2 percent of the entire prison population.”

With all this being said, it is no wonder why the issue of illegal immigration is so controversial. However, illegal immigrants are not the only type of immigrants that exist in the United States.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are the immigrants who have worked hard and completed the lengthy legal process involved in entering the country legally.

Ramón Mendez Sr. knows firsthand what this process is like. He, along with his family, legally emigrated from Mexico to Texas.

The family has been living in the United States for about two years, but according to Mendez, the process took much longer than that.

“The process took about three years and one month, more or less,” said Mendez, whose son, Ramón Mendez Jr., is a Spanish education major at Ohio University. “We [first] had to obtain passports and visas.”

The legal process took a long time, but Mendez said it was well worth the time and effort that it took to complete. It has made his family’s lives here in the United States much easier.

“In reality it hasn’t been too difficult to adjust to life in America. I found work very quickly,” he said.

Every immigrant has a different story – a different reason why he or she decided to leave their home country and come here to the United States. It is no secret that the lives they lead once they arrive here are different from those that American-born inhabitants of the United States lead.

It may be difficult for a native-born American to comprehend what it is like for those who leave everything behind and come here. There are many misconceptions that the American people often associate with immigrants, often unfairly.

When asked what he wished the American people knew about Latino immigrants, Mendez said, “The Latin American people truly work and study hard. We always work for a better future.”

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