The Truth About Illegal Immigration

Hi, I’m Michael Niren, immigration lawyer and founder of To continue on with our political series about immigration, a big question that all candidates and voters are asking is what to do about illegal immigration.

Now I’ve posted many videos and written many blogs about if you are illegal or undocumented in Canada or the United States, there are legal options to pursue. You should always consult a lawyer before taking any action because the consequences could be very severe. But the purpose of this video is to answer a larger question, a general question, about what should be done about illegal immigration.

If you have been following the news you’ve heard the political rhetoric going on, especially with respect to the Republican candidates, on what they consider a solution: the big word is “wall.” Build a wall, stop illegal immigration, that’s the highest priority started by Donald Trump and carried on by the other candidates who have followed his lead. Virtually every candidate advocates building a wall.

The other side is, well what do you do with the illegal immigrants, the undocumented workers who are already here? Well, there’s an array of solutions being offered. Generally speaking from the extreme to the more reasonable. The extreme side is obviously Donald Trump again, who advocates rounding up 10 million undocumented individuals and sending them packing. He does say that the “good ones” we’ll let them back in. He’s yet to define what a “good one” means. But anyway, he believes that not only should a wall be built, paid for by Mexico by the way, but that the illegals that are here shouldn’t be here and they should be rounded up and removed.

The other candidates on the Republican side take a more reasonable and practical approach, some of whom say there should be no amnesty, no path to citizenship, but yet there should be some form of legalization with respect to allowing them to stay in some status. They’re pretty vague about what that means.

There are other candidates who have at least in the past, given the impression that they do believe that there should be a path to citizenship, especially Marco Rubio. I know this has been a very contentious issue between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in the debates, whether or not Marco Rubio believes in a path to citizenship.

Ted Cruz apparently did sponsor a bill, but he said he did that only because he knew it wouldn’t pass. Anyway, they go back and forth on whether or not Marco is pro-amnesty or not, and whether or not Ted Cruz was. Regardless it’s pretty clear that the approach for the Republicans is really, generally speaking, not to give them a path…give illegals a path to citizenship.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats seem to be more open in terms of giving illegals a path to citizenship. At the end of the day; an amnesty solution. What hasn’t been discussed and what should be discussed, and this is the point of this video, is why. Why are there so many illegals? Why are there so many undocumented workers? And the other issue is are they a threat?

In the media we’ve heard about some terrible incidences committed by illegals who have committed the worst of crimes in some sanctuary cities where the federal government or the state or city is not going after them in the way they should. And I totally understand that concern. The other concern is, of course, well these illegals are taking jobs from American workers and that’s not fair.

So the two main objections is that the criminality issue, which is definitely a concern, and the other objection is more the economic, that America first, American workers should have the right to have their jobs secured and not being taken away by illegal immigrants. Well, let me respond this way. And I ask the question again: why are there so many undocumented workers? Why are there so many illegals? And I think the answer is pretty clear if you think about it. The regulations with respect to illegal immigration, are extremely restrictive.

It’s very hard, despite what you hear in the media, to get a visa, to get permanent residence, to get temporary residence, to get a work permit, to get a student visa, even a visitor visa in some cases. You have to go through a lot of hoops and hurdles. And I know this because my firm handles these kind of cases every day. That well-meaning, law-abiding people, who just want to come either to visit, to work, to study, to live, to contribute, they can’t. Or in some cases, they can, but it’s very, very difficult. There’s a long line up, sometimes years, to get legal immigration, to get approved for legal immigration.

And that’s not an excuse to break the law. That’s not an excuse for people who necessarily want to come and live the American dream, but can’t. But you know, let’s think of it from the other side. Some of these people come from very oppressive countries: economically, socially, politically. They want a future for themselves and their children. And they’re very motivated to come and make a life for themselves and their families. And they’re very frustrated because, you know, when they seek the legal path, the legal path, there’s — excuse the pun — there are walls, legislative walls, borders, stopping from getting through.

And to put this in a more historical perspective, imagine the laws that exist today. Imagine they existed 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago. Imagine all the industrialists, artists, teachers, scientists, musicians, who would never ever get legal immigration, never be approved for a visa, and would never benefit all the Americans who enjoy and benefit from their great work. Let alone these individuals who have done great things, they would have of course not been approved. America would lose out. And the point I always make is that if those laws were in place back then, these great people would never have gotten through. And imagine all of the millions, and I mean millions, millions of people who will never get a chance to come because of the very, very restrictive immigration laws that exist today.

So what I’m trying to say is that I think a lot, I would dare to say the vast majority of illegal immigrants, are good people trying to make lives for themselves and who are just desperate to come. They’re not here to break laws. They don’t want to, you know, they’ve broken an immigration law, I don’t think the next step for them is to go out and rob a bank. Yes, terrible things do happen. There are bad apples, absolutely. But the vast majority of illegal immigrants just want a chance. And the excuse is not to break the law, I’m not saying that.

But I think the spotlight should be on legal immigration, on the rules. And unfortunately, the Republican…especially the Republican candidates are calling for stricter laws. Not just stricter laws against illegals, but also stricter laws against laws with respect to work permits, H1B visas. So you know, individuals who want to come, and who want to thrive, just all the great individuals who could not get visas under the law will continue to struggle.

So I think when it comes to immigration reform, I think one of the solutions, ironically, is to open immigration up. You’re going to get a lot less influx of illegal immigration if you have a reasonable and fair legal immigration system. And I really believe that. And I think you’re not going to get…you’re always going to have illegal immigration, but you’re not going to get the level that we’ve seen over the decades and decades if the laws, the legal immigration rules, are reformed. So when I talk about immigration reform, I think the focus should be on legal immigration reform. Controversial subject; you may agree, you may not agree. Your comments are welcome.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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