Essay on Illegal Immigration. Professional Workplace Dilemma

The ethical issue that I experienced was related to the illegal immigrants and employment. I’m in charge of a prepaid phone cards company where 20 people work. Some time ago I had to fire three of my employees because I discovered that they are illegal immigrants. It was difficult for me to make this decision about firing them because I’m an immigrant myself but I came to the United States legally. I went through the whole process of obtaining citizenship card and I thought that these three people should go through the same procedure to legalize their work status in the United States.

Help with Essay on Illegal Immigration. Professional Workplace Dilemma
Help with Essay on Illegal Immigration. Professional Workplace Dilemma

On the other hand, I felt sorry for these three employees because I could only imagine how difficult their life was in their home countries that they decided to come to the United States illegally and earn some money for their families that they left at home. Therefore, I could look at this issue from the legal and moral point of view. According to legal rules, I was supposed to fire illegal immigrants. However, morally I felt guilty because I believe that all people are equal and should be given equal chances to improve their lives financially, especially in the United States which is considered to be the country of freedom and equal opportunities. Besides, those three people that I had to fire worked very well and were very responsible and nice to me.

The difference in power and authority in my case is obvious. Illegal immigrants would agree with every rule established for them by their employer. I had undeniable power and authority to fire them whenever I want.

The moral validity of firing illegal immigrants is drawn into question if we believe in the moral equality of all human beings. If all people are equally valuable, however, a policy that favours one group at the expense of another seems on its face to be invalid (Abbott, 1988, p. 88). For the most part, though, those of us who believe in equality treat it as an assumption, an axiom, not something to be proved. The axiom of equality is at the core of the two most important statements of political philosophy in American history, the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address (Abbott, 1988, p. 128).

People are equally valuable and therefore have equal rights. It does not follow from this that they have unlimited rights. Rights often conflict with one another, and when they do, the employer could be justified in restricting some rights in order to protect others (Hancock, 1974, p. 88). Whenever the company restricts rights of its employees, however, it must be able to give morally justifiable reasons why it has done so.

My decision to fire illegal immigrants may result in restriction of free movement by establishing groups that have unequal rights (Aleinikoff and Martin, 1991, p. 80). Among those people in the world who wish to live in the United States, the favored are allowed to, and others are not. Can one successfully argue that firing illegal immigrants and restriction of some people’s liberties are justified because they protect more important rights and liberties? Or does their allocation of unequal rights to people who are of equal worth make them morally impermissible?

The consequences of the decision about firing illegal immigrants are based not just on the fact that such decision conveys unequal rights to morally equal people but that it does so in a particularly damaging way, so as to protect advantage and deepen disadvantage. To understand the importance of this, one can consider the argument that some types of unequal treatment are morally justified. For example, a system of preferential hiring in which race is taken into account treats different groups of people unequally, but it may be fair if it is designed to benefit people who have been exploited or to dismantle a system of racial injustice. Unequal treatment is clearly unjust, however, when it is used to perpetuate rather than break down a system of privilege and disadvantage (Aleinikoff and Martin, 1991, p. 18). This is just what firing illegal immigrants does. It violates the equal rights of people in an egregious way, sheltering already advantaged Americans or legal immigrants at the expense of relatively disadvantaged illegal immigrants.

I can argue that my prepaid phone cards company, with all its wealth, is my property and I can treat it as I wish. Those three employees who are considered to be illegal immigrants want to share in my company’s wealth and earn some profits while doing their job, but they have no right to it unless I willingly offer it to them. Since I’m the owner of the company, I have the legal and moral right to protect my property against theft. Besides, I’m not only the owner of the company but also the citizen of the United States; therefore, I should follow all legal procedures and rules and stick to the laws. On the other hand, legal controls will never eliminate the group of illegal immigrants, as long as foreigners see some advantage in being in the country. Illegal immigrants are part of American society; they work, pay taxes, contribute to their communities and have personal relationships with American citizens and legal residents.

The main values which were involved in my professional workplace dilemma include equal moral worth, democracy, equal access and adherence to the law.

The outcome of this professional dilemma was that three of my employees were fired and I had to spend a lot of time and efforts for finding new people to replace them. Those three illegal immigrants who were fired could not find the other job and I have no information where they are at this point of time. Maybe, I should not fire them; however, let’s consider a parallel case that is clearer. A middle-class couple has enough savings to provide either a basic education for a poor orphan or supplementary educational enrichment for their own child. The orphan has the greater disadvantage and the greater need, but few would criticize the parents for deciding that their priority was to provide the best possible education for their own child. Our greatest obligation is to our county, then to our family, then perhaps to our friends and then to some other people. Therefore, now I would handle the situation in the same way.

References

Aleinikoff, Thomas A., and David A. Martin. (1991) Immigration, Process and Policy. 2d. ed. St. Paul: West Publishing.

Abbott, Ann A. (1988) Professional Choices: Values at Work. Silver Spring, Md.: National Association of Social Workers.

Hancock, R. N. (1974) Twentieth Century Ethics. New York: Columbia University Press.

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