I know that most people do not support allowing undocumented people to utilize our social systems, however, I think the issue is extremely complex.
Most of us only extend a moderate degree of compassion toward others, especially in the U.S. where self-reliance is valued so highly. But, when those "others" are from another country, speak a different language, or have a different skin color, they do not make the cut. They end up in a category that we unconsciously label "non-human" or "undeserving of compassion." However, I do believe that if you are face to face with an individual who is suffering gravely, facing death, giving birth, or otherwise vulnerable, suddenly you realize that they ARE human, and your compassion expands to encompass them in the category of "deserving of help."
When the U.S. allows undocumented people to avail themselves to our services, compassion is the mechanism in play. Someone with authority, has decided that the situation is about human beings, not money, not power, not government.
Because my job often brings me into close contact with such people, let me outline one situation to illustrate the point:
- In my city there lives a family of Mexican people who have a daughter that suddenly became very ill due to a rare kidney disorder. The other family members have been working for years to acquire legal residency in the U.S. so that they can be here legally, but this one daughter was too ill to return to Mexico for her paperwork. As a result, she remains undocumented. Our state government has allowed her to be on kidney dialysis for the past several years while her family works out the necessary forms and fees that will eventually make her a legal resident. She is 20 years old, she would die without dialysis. Ask yourself this: Are you willing to go stand by her hospital bed, look into here eyes and pull the plug? Are you willing to face her parents and tell them she must die simply because she was born in Mexico? Is that a death sentence you are willing to deliver? If you voted YES to the above question, that is exactly what you are doing.
This is only one example, but you can multiply it and magnify a million times over. Each and every person who is hurt, stuck, trapped, or otherwise in need, is an actual human being; and to deny them life saving healthcare, or basic education is to hand them a death sentence, or force them to criminal acts in order to survive.
The system is broken, and I realize that. Yet, there are many things that could be done.
1. The government could set up an accessible program for guest workers, and then collect taxes from them to pay for their services and needs while here.
2. They could seek reimbursement from foreign governments for the care we provide to their people.
3. Regarding Education: Allowing the children of immigrants to attend our schools isn't actually a bad deal...it keeps them off the streets, teaches them English, helps them assimilate, and reduces the chance that they will end up as violent gang members.
In any case, the question as it is posed above is too broad. Paying out subsistence welfare to non-citizens is much more difficult to justify than say, giving people life saving medical care.
Each service needs to be evaluated separately. For example, I don't think we need to allow undocumented families access to permanent subsidized housing. But, I wouldn't turn away a pregnant woman or a sick child in the emergency room.
These are just things to consider because the issue is not as clear as it may seem to someone who lacks firsthand experience.