Here is something I wrote a couple of months ago. At the time, I didn't know that illegal immigration would be the hot-button issue it is now. But my experience with this family has a lot to do with why I support immigration.
I know of some former illegal immigrants. A family came from Taiwan in 1986 on tourist visas and overstayed. They thought that the husband and father in the family had been promised a job by a friend, but that person took the advance money for the business and disappeared. So the family traveled to North Carolina and found a friend formerly from Taiwan who helped them.
The two children went to public school. Their parents worked in a Chinese restaurant, and later bought out the Chinese restaurant. They saved money, paid taxes, and later sent their kids to a private college because they didn't qualify for in-state tuition even though they had lived in that state for over 9 years.
When they finally applied for green cards after being in the US for 10 years, the oldest son was too old to be included on his parents' application. That son married and obtained his green card through his wife. The daughter and the parents got their green cards in 1999--13 years after coming to America.
The son was sworn in as an US citizen in the summer of 2002. The daughter was sworn in as a citizen in January 2005. The father in summer of 2005, and the mother was sworn in on February 8, 2006.
I have asked the father if it was worth it to come to America and live in fear of being discovered and deported. I know that if he had remained in Taiwan, he would have made more money--possibly even been an executive in his uncle's business. He would not be a cook in a Chinese restaurant and work 15-hour days as he does now. That man told me that it was worth it. There is freedom of speech in America that did not exist in the Taiwan he left in the mid-80s. There are opportunities for his children. I guess it must be that American dream that so many immigrants seek.
I can tell you that his family values their US citizenship probably more than I will ever understand or value mine. This father saw his grandchildren become US citizens before he was sworn in. And now, they are all part of the American dream.