Unauthorized Aliens in the United States
The unauthorized alien (illegal alien) population in the United States is a key and controversial immigration issue. In recent years, competing views on how to address this population have proved to be a major obstacle to enacting comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Over the years, a range of options has been offered for addressing the unauthorized resident alien population. In most cases, the ultimate goal is to reduce the number of aliens in the United States who lack legal status. One set of options centers on requiring or encouraging illegal aliens to depart the country. Those who support this approach argue that these aliens are in the United States in violation of the law and that their presence variously threatens social order, national security, and economic prosperity. One of the basic tenets of the departure approach is that unauthorized aliens in the United States should not be granted benefits. An opposing strategy would grant qualifying unauthorized aliens various benefits, including an opportunity to obtain legal status. Supporters of this type of approach do not characterize unauthorized aliens in the United States as lawbreakers, but rather as contributors to the economy and society at large.
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