More than Numbers: The Human Side of “Illegal” Immigration

by rcm916 on October 3, 2016 - 2:59pm

The article that I choose to focus on and critique is an opinion article that was published in the conservative newsmagazine “The National Review,” in February 2016. The article was written by Kevin D. Williamson and is entitled “How to Fix Illegal Immigration in Five Steps without Building a Wall.” Let me start out by saying that I completely disagree with his ideas and the very concept of “illegal” immigration. In the words of Holocaust survivor and humanitarian Ellie Wiesel, “No human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms.” I find it amazing how certain politicians speak about the topic as if they understand what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant. With that being said I’m going to briefly analyze each point of Williamson’s argument:

The first step of Williamson’s plan is to prohibit anyone who has entered the country “illegally” from being granted citizenship- even if they currently have legal status. Throughout this article he seems to be indifferent to people who came to this country “illegally” receiving some legal status. However, he then says that these same people shouldn’t be granted citizenship. To me, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. That’s like saying a student is allowed into this class but isn’t allowed to go to any of the lectures. How will they be able to survive in American society? The second point is like the first- preventing undocumented immigrants with legal status from getting work permits. This, in my own opinion, doesn’t make any sense. If you prevent a person from obtaining a work permit then how are they supposed to get by in this country? Preventing someone from getting a job is undemocratic and un-American. What if that person has a child to take care of? Is it morally right to deny them a job and leave them on the streets? In my mind the answer is no.

Williamson’s third point is sort of convoluted and loses the base of its argument- but I think what he’s saying is instead of just the federal government being responsible for identifying undocumented immigrants, the individual workplaces and local governments should be able to do the same. If they don’t, then they should face criminal and civil penalties. However, the states already have to follow federal laws regarding the use of undocumented immigration. Is it really necessary to have every state make a replica of the federal law? The only thing that would change is that instead of answering to the federal government, the businesses that hired undocumented workers would also have to answer to the state governments. Finally, his last point is slightly disturbing to me. He believes that people should walk around with a special identification on their license to show that they are either a citizen or not- which certainly will affect where that person can be hired. He then later contradicts this point by suggesting that Republicans at the state level should try to block all undocumented immigrants from getting IDs.

In closing, I lay out my argument that this type of plan for “solving” our “illegal” immigration problem is ineffective, immoral, and economically poor. Instead, we should create a system where people can freely move across our borders and apply for an easy, quick path to citizenship- provided that they can pass a reasonable vetting procedure. Human beings are not numbers in a spreadsheet, they have basic human rights to survive. Turning them away is undemocratic, un-American and goes against the values we were founded upon.


Williamson, K. D. (2016, February 9). How to Fix Illegal Immigration in Five Steps without Building a Wall. Retrieved September 26, 2016.



To begin, I’d like to state that before I read this article summary, I was extremely hesitant on whether or not I should respond to it mainly due to the fact that I had a feeling it was going to be somewhat repetitive. The concept of “illegal” immigration is a very well-known issue in America that is spoken a lot about in the media therefore I felt as though it might be boring to read. However, the title was very well written and original which is what convinced me to read further ahead. I was automatically hooked on this article summary right after I read the first paragraph. I enjoy the fact that you incorporated your own personal opinion and that you had a confident tone in your voice. Moreover, I believe that you decided to structure your post in an exceptionally organized way by analyzing the author’s arguments into five different points which gives the readers a clear understanding of the way Williamson wants to try and “fix” illegal immigration in America. I believe that you support your opinion with valid arguments. For example, when you respond to Williamson’s second point and you state that these immigrants will not be able to survive if they are refused a work permit. I absolutely agree with this statement. In this case, there will be thousands of individuals without a job and will not be able to provide for their children or themselves which will cause an even bigger problem than “illegal” immigration. Furthermore, the content of this post strongly relates to the topic of stereotypes that I have learned in my own anthropology class. The reason why this topic corresponds to stereotypes is due to the fact that society influences humans in believing that most “illegal” immigrants are Mexicans, Arabs, Asians and Africans. Society has attributed a false and generalized conception of these groups of people without taking into account individual differences. This post reminded me of a video clip I watched in class entitled “Une Femme de Tête” which focuses on a Moroccan woman named Bouchra who has been living in Quebec for two years and is still having trouble finding employment even though she has several diplomas, due to the fact that she is an immigrant. After reading the entire article summary, I was very interested in reading the original article.

This post drew me because it was about a topic that I can personally relate to. It was interesting to see someone else’s opinion on the debate about illegal immigration. The part that pulled me the most was actually the title. I think that the use of “more than numbers” is clever and captivating. It made me want to find out what you meant and how you were going to elaborate. Although I agree with your arguments, the fact that a politician can have the audacity to speak of such a topic in such a degrading tone; it worries me. It is terrifying to think that someone in power would have the ideas of labeling human beings as “citizens” or not, and restricting the non-citizens of a natural life. These people are immigrating to different countries to build better lives and by taking the options away from them, it would simply be standing in their way; all the while criticizing them. When you mentioned WIlliamson’s point of using ID badges on the immigrants to identify them as so, it reminded me of the definition of Slavery that we discussed in class. Slavery is said to be “domination” and to force these people to broadcast that they are not citizens would only harm their chances of success and thus, giving citizens the upper-hand when it comes to employment, and a better general quality of life.

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