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Aliens - A U.S. Resource Underutilized

by Sardar N. Durrani, Esq. and Andrea Love Sumpter


The United States' inhibitive immigration laws suppress its potential economic progress by not permitting qualified [illegal] aliens to work in the United States. These laws, mostly adopted as a matter of policy and not necessity, came about as a direct result of public opinion about aliens. Emotions surrounding the issue of illegal aliens in the United States range from empathetic to xenophobic. These emotions exacerbate the already complex issue of the presence of illegal aliens within the United States. Persons empathetic to the alien plight portray the illegal alien in the United States based on an historical view of the United States being a nation of immigrants. Empathizers portray illegal aliens as hard working, border-crossers who simply want to feed their families.

Most xenophobes, who hold the prevailing view, characterize illegal aliens as pariahs. Xenophobes are concerned about illegal aliens placing extensive burdens on the already limited public resources in health and education, placing economic burdens on United States citizens and legal aliens by being working at below market rates, increase poverty rates, in turn bringing down property values and interfering with commerce. Neither of these extreme views alone is accurate in describing the plight of the illegal alien. Not all illegal aliens have parasitic relationships with the United States. The United States needs to change laws so that the country may benefit from a nearly endless potential of many highly qualified illegal aliens. Before the country can fix the flawed immigration system, the country needs to first recognize the problems with the immigration laws.


The flaws in the United States immigration system are that (I) contradictory laws in the United States increase the burden on health and education systems while simultaneously decreasing the likelihood of system independence of illegal aliens, and (II) the United States does not tap into the pool of professional resources of immigrants.

I. Increase Burden on system, and decrease likelihood of independence:

The United States laws concerning undocumented aliens are contradictory. There is (A) a body of law that mandates that states use Tax Dollars to educate undocumented aliens throughout primary and secondary school, however, (B) there are no laws in place to protect the educational investment the United States has made in these undocumented aliens.

A. Education of Undocumented aliens:

The 1982 Supreme Court decision Pyler v. Doe 1 allowed illegal immigrants to have public education from kindergarten through high school. The court came to this decision by rejecting Texas' claim that illegal aliens were not "within the jurisdiction" of the state, therefore not protected under the fourteenth amendment.2 The court majority rejected this claim, finding instead that "no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment 'jurisdiction' can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful."3 The court majority found that the Texas law was "directed against children, and impose[d] its discriminatory burden on the basis of a legal characteristic over which children can have little control namely, the fact of their having been brought illegally into the United States by their parents. The majority also observed that denying the children in question a proper education would likely contribute to the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime."4

B. No protection of educational investment:

However, there has been no comparable guarantee for post-secondary education, and undocumented aliens are not allowed to hold employment in the United States.5 Even for those who have degrees, and do well in school, they are still removable. 6 Daniel Padilla Peralta, a Princeton University Salutatorian who received a Master's Degree from Oxford University, was deported based on his illegal status. He is only allowed in the country during summer months, and only to do research for Princeton University.7 There are scores of other undocumented aliens in the United States who attend American Ivy League Universities, like Brown and Yale, that have financial aid for exceptional illegal aliens.8

But regardless of how much education these students receive, they will not be able to make adequate economic contributions to American Society, because they will likely end up unemployed, or performing unskilled labor because of their illegal statuses. Legally, the States are required to use tax dollars to provide education and other services for undocumented aliens. The country spends an unprecedented amount of money educating and caring for undocumented aliens, and the undocumented aliens are not allowed to give back or contribute to society. It is unreasonable for the United States to have contradictory laws that on the one hand, provide education for undocumented aliens so to avoid the undocumented aliens "surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime," but in all other circumstances, deny undocumented aliens funding for post-secondary education opportunities and employment opportunities. Having uneducated, and unemployed undocumented aliens will surely cause unemployment, welfare, and crime. These undocumented aliens are accomplishing the types of tasks that are the foundation for citizens to be productive members of society, yet they are legally prohibited from giving back to the system. If the United States Government is not going to take eminent action to remove undocumented aliens from the country, the government needs to develop a pathway to citizenship for these aliens of extraordinary ability, so that they may pay taxes, and contribute socially and economically to our society.

II. Professional immigrant pool:

While there is a peculiarly large population of well educated undocumented aliens of extraordinary ability that are legally prohibited from contributing to the United States, there is another population of immigrants who are equally as inhibited, although not legally. A recent study showed that one out of every five college-educated immigrants in the United States is either unemployed or working in an unskilled job such as a dishwasher, fast food restaurant cashier or security guard, depriving the U.S. economy of the full potential of more than 1.3 million documented aliens.9

This scenario is especially true for highly skilled Latin-American and African immigrants.10 While part of this discrepancy in unemployment or underemployment of Latin-Americans and Africans can be attributed to discrimination, major factors are likely (A) limited or no English proficiency and (B) lack of proper networks.11

A. Limited or no English Proficiency:

Highly skilled immigrants who can speak only limited English are twice as likely to work in an unskilled job as those who are proficient in English; and 44% of Latin Americans educated at foreign colleges speak English poorly or not at all compared with 32% of Europeans and 23% of Asians.12

B. Lack of Proper Networks:

While Africans, with only 15% of immigrants having limited or no English proficiency, have the highest rate of English speakers, their problem is that only 10% are sponsored for entry into the United States by employers.13 Only 6% of Latin-Americans are sponsored by employers, as compared to 16% of Europeans and 35% of Asians. 14Immigrants not sponsored by employers likely lack professional networks needed to obtain adequate employment.15 Networking is very important, as a study showed that 80% of Americans acquire jobs through University networks or previous employment.16 Most immigrants who come to the United States have little time to find professional jobs, and end up having to take the first job that comes along that allows them to pay their bills.17

As with well-educated undocumented aliens who have proper social and professional networks but are not legally permitted to work in the United States, having almost limitless talent and exceptional abilities go unused is also a waste. It is unreasonable to allow foreign residents to come to our country, and not give immigrants any assistance in contributing to the economy at their full potential. The United States needs to improve immigration methods so do benefit most from immigrants. Development of special immigrant programs that assist in English proficiency and connect immigrants of extraordinary ability with professional networks would assist in improving the economy and society as a whole. If the country had more tax-paying engineers, medical and other professionals, that would increase the tax base among immigrants. In addition, such a program would improve the social outlook on immigrants in the United States. Americans would see immigrants, not as unskilled laborers who suppress the economy, but as viable contributors to society who help the economy flourish.


If the United States will not take adequate measures to remove undocumented aliens, they need to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented aliens of extraordinary ability in our society. For the same reason the United States Supreme Court decided undocumented alien children are allowed a public education, the Legislature should allow these same undocumented alien children, as adults, to have equal opportunity and access to education and employment. To refuse to do so will surely exacerbate unemployment, crime and poverty. Failing to allow these undocumented aliens of extraordinary ability access to education and employment will also deny them access to contribute to our society.

In addition to providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented aliens of extraordinary ability, the United States should also make provisions to increase the level of contribution professional documented aliens have. To allow professional aliens into our country only to perform unskilled labor, or be unemployed, denies the United States the economic and social benefit of the skills and abilities of these immigrants. To improve the United State economy, the country needs to allow undocumented aliens of extraordinary ability the chance to contribute to society, while at the same time ensuring that documented aliens of extraordinary ability are connected with the proper social and professional networks so that they may be of economic benefit.

End Notes

1 Pyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982)

2 Id.

3 Id.

4 Id.

5 Holland, Gale. "Undocumented Students Have a Degree of Anxiety." Los Angeles Times. July 8, 2008.

6 Id.

7 Id.

8 Id.

9 Aizenmen, N.C. "One out of five college-educated immigrants jobless or in unskilled jobs." The Washington Post. October 22, 2008.

10 Id.

11 Id.


13 Id.

14 Id.

15 Id.

16 Id.

17 Id.

About The Author

Sardar N. Durrani, Esq. practices exclusively in immigration law. He provides strategic counseling to corporations health care institutions, and individuals from a wide array of professions. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Mr. Durrani is married, has four beautifu