While illegal immigration continues to be a “hot issue” in the United States, other countries around the world are also being affected. They may enter a country illegally or they may initially enter legally but violate their terms of stay. Examples include an individual who overstayed on their visa or violated the terms of their permanent residency or refugee permit. They are certain terms that are used to refer to these individuals. The terminology includes illegals, undocumented immigrant, undocumented alien, unauthorized migrant, illegal migrant, illegal alien, migrant or undocumented worker. Some terms are perceived as giving negative connotations such as “criminal” or “aliens.” Regardless of where the illegal immigrants are from, what they have in common is that they are seeking a better life. Some leave due to the politics and/or the economic situation back at home. The countries they tend to choose are usually more technologically advanced, have greater resources and offer more opportunities. However, there are some individuals that leave for personal reasons. Children of illegal immigrants born in the foreign country may automatically gain citizenship in countries like the United States. However in countries like France, the children are not automatically granted citizenship. At age 18 they are allowed to obtain French citizenship if they request it. If for whatever reason they fail to request French citizenship, they are considered to be residing in the country illegally and could be asked to leave.
There are various ways to cross the border of a country illegally. For example, one method that Cubans trying to reach Florida resort to is making small homemade boats or even on tubes to make their sea voyage. Other Cubans and South Americans may fly into Mexico. Here with the assistance of a “coyote” or smuggler they attempt to illegally cross the border into the United States. Other illegal immigrants may try to cram into shipping containers, trucks and boxcars among others. They may be able to pay off corrupt authority figures to gain entry into a specific country. Most will find a way to get to their destination whether that may involve risking their life. The illegal immigrants understand the risks that they may have to undertake. Ask many of them and they will say that it is a risk worth taking. They usually leave behind everything that they have or sell their belongings for the opportunity to start all over again. Due to increased security measures and better technology, it is more difficult to cross the border. Some lose their lives while attempting to cross the border illegally. For those who are successful it may initially take numerous attempts. Some countries like France have made it a crime to assist illegal immigrants but even then this does not deter them from providing assistance. Illegal immigrants tend to have family or friends in the foreign country who have gone through a similar experience and can relate to them. As a result, it is difficult for them to not provide some assistance like shelter.
Once in the country, illegal immigrants tend to take on low skilled jobs. They may bring with them certain skills but they usually lack the country’s language. Work regulations tend to prohibit employers from hiring illegal immigrants, but this does not deter some. By law employers are required to pay employees minimum wage but because they are illegal immigrants employers sometimes pay them less than minimum wage. Penalties exist for employers who hire illegal immigrants but they are not always enforced. However, this has started to change in countries like the United States. Companies have found themselves facing harsh penalties and getting negative publicity for hiring illegal workers. Examples of jobs that illegal immigrants usually end up doing are restaurants, hospitality, construction, prostitution, agriculture and domestic service. Some argue that illegal immigrants tend to take on the jobs that residents or citizens refuse while others argue that they take away jobs in general.
Not all individuals may be voluntarily entering the country illegally. During the 19th century many were brought into Europe and the United States during the slave trade. Over time, the importing of slaves was significantly reduced and it has become nearly nonexistent. A more common trend today is the smuggling of women. Young females are deceived into thinking that they will be offered a good job in a foreign country. Due to their economic situation back home this proposal seems highly attractive. For many of them, it is a way of getting out of poverty. After arriving in the foreign country, they shortly discover that they were brought into the country for the purpose of prostitution. Thousands of miles away from home and with nowhere else to go, they are forced into prostitution. This problem more persistently shows up in the Middle East and Europe and on a smaller scale in the United States. However, most illegal immigrants are in the country by choice. Illegal immigrants regardless of how many regulations are in place will continue to take risks for the opportunity of a new beginning.