The biggest problem with this very sensible (in lots of ways) idea would be the danger of encouraging more illegal immigration into the United States because of the hope of gaining citizenship if such an amnesty were to be declared. It is so important above all to recognise that whilst giving citizenship would be sensible for so many reasons, the US cannot endlessly keep on accepting illegal immigrants because it has a finite amount of resources.
There are realities to face in enforcing immigration law, and establishing some pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants seems the only pragmatic, sensible solution to me. I do not see the relevance of Mexican immigration law to our own, nor do I agree with the assumption that immigrants are necessarily "non-producers." However, I also agree with those who argue that these pathways should be accompanied by comprehensive immigration reform, i.e. the types of reforms that discourage future illegal immigrants. "Universal amnesty" also makes little sense. If this seems a bit contradictory, it's because I view this as a remarkably complex problem that ideology and rigid positions can't address.
Rewarding criminal behavior is the best way to ensure that there is no decrease in criminal behavior. Although I understand and sympathize with people who want to come to the U.S., escape their horrible countries, and have better lives, I cannot excuse illegal entry. It's called ILLEGAL ENTRY for a reason, after all, and you might be interested to know that Mexico's immigration laws are much more strict than our own. If universal amnesty were declared, I foresee the creation of a new, unsustainable welfare nation, where a few producers labor to support millions of non-producers, a nation that will collapse under its own weight, debt, and poverty. No amount of "spreading the wealth" will help when there is no wealth to spread.
If all "illegals" were made citizens, it may cause two unintended problems. First, it may encourage to come to America illegally to get citizenship. This would exaccerbate the problem. Second, this action may cheapen what it means to be a citizen. There is due process of law, which should be followed. Without this, lawful procedure would mean very little. In addition, as someone mentioned before, this act would not be fair for those who became citizens legally, or not at all due to the difficult process.
Those who oppose granting citizenship to illegal immigrants argue that doing so would be a huge slap in the face to the millions of people who try to enter the country legally. According to these opponents, granting citizenship to illegal aliens would simply encourage more illegal aliens to enter the country, on the assumption that if they waited long enough they, too, would be granted citizenship. Needless to say, this is an incredibly difficult issue, since many people naturally feel compassion toward illegal aliens who are already here in the U. S.
Assuming that the original post suggests allowing ALL unauthorized immigrants to receive immediate citizenship, I think this is a terrible idea. The last thing the U. S. needs is to have waves of possible terrorists enter the country and then be granted citizenship because they are able to sneak into our borders successfully. I don't understand the belief by some people that the U. S. should feel sorry for immigrants who did not bother to take the lawful steps to be granted citizenship and forgive them for their illegal presence. As another post mentioned, this is simply rewarding someone for performing an illegal act. I have no problem with people from other countries deciding to live in the U. S., but there is a legal process to follow, and until the law changes, it should be followed. Forgiving illegal aliens just because they have been living here is akin to forgiving fugitives who are wanted for other crimes just because they have been able to live without detection.
Economics will determine how many immigrants will come to the United States, and no fence, policy or border will keep them out when there is such poverty on the other side of the border. As of right now, with no change in policy, border crossings from Mexico have dropped off dramatically, due to the recession and the lack of available jobs in the US.
So rather than blanket citizenship, let's first make them legal workers, and then after a period, legal residents, and then after 6 or 7 years of legal residency, the chance for citizenship. This puts them at the back of the line from those who went through the legal process, but still admits to the reality that we need the labor force, and that most of them are here permanently regardless of the law.
I agree with what pohnpei states. I think that it would not be a problem as others would not look at illegally entering the US as a way to immediately gain citizenship. I think that those who have been here for a while should be given citizenship but, their time in the US needs to be (somehow) documented. Pohnpei is right that we, the US, cannot continue to absorb huge numbers of illegal immigrants coming into the US. It would simply be too much of a drain on our resources.
I think this would be a good thing so long as it also came with a real effort to keep further illegals from coming to the US. WE can't keep absorbing huge numbers of illegals.
If we just give it to the ones who are here already, particularly those who have been here a while, this would be a good thing. It would allow them to do more in the way of participating in our economy and our society. They could work openly and pay taxes rather than getting paid under the table. Some of them could start their own businesses and work their way up in society. They would not be a permanent underclass in our society any longer.
Of course, this would reward them for illegal behavior. But we need to do what's best for the country. If we can bail out the banks because it was best for the country, we can do this too.