Monday, May 21, 2007

The WRONG Focus on Illegal Immigration

There are two major problems with the way discussions about ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION are framed, the first is that they’re framed as part of the overall “immigration debate,” and the second is that it’s framed as “an illegal immigrant,” or “migrating worker” problem rather than what it really is “an ILLICIT EMPLOYER problem.”

This has led to two primarily wrong “solutions” to this problem and with illegal immigration costing EVERY American $19,000 over the cost of their lives, it IS definitely a major problem!

The first wrong-headed “solution” is putting the focus on the illegal aliens themselves, as though they were immigrants who somehow have a right, or even a profound desire to be here. This kind of “solution” is the dumbest, in that seeks some form of Amnesty (pathway to citizenship) for the illegal aliens already here.

It’s dumb because, (1) it defeats the primary purpose over which such people support illegal immigration – CHEAP LABOR, as once they’re made citizens, they’ll be subject to the Minimum Wage laws, that ILLICIT EMPLOYERS subvert by hiring illegal aliens. They’ll also be eligible for a host of social services that are a disincentive to work. In fact, those social services are one of the things that makes so many American citizens “unwilling to do all those menial, low paying jobs,” AND (2) the vast majority of the illegal alien workforce here migrate back and forth between here and Latin America. They come here for the work and leave to be with their family and friends at HOME.

The second and by far, the most disastrously wrong focus is considering the problem to be a trespassing problem or “illegal alien” or “migrating worker” problem.

The overwhelming bulk of the illegal aliens here come for jobs that are unavailable in their homelands. The problems for America are (1) this veritable human trafficking serves to deliberately subvert American laws on minimum wage, withholding income and FICA taxes from employees and (2) serves to lower the American “wage floor” – the wage rate paid to all unskilled labor in America and all other wage rates are tethered to that “wage floor.”

The bulk of the problem really is "an illegal employer" problem, rather than an "illegal immigration" problem.
So, in that vein, fining employers is a "win-win!" It's good for the government coffers and good for the American people. OK, it's very bad for a very few Americans who are making illicit profits off human exploitation, but it's to the greater good of the vast majority of Americans.Fine an employer $10,000 for hiring an "undocumented worker," and $10,000 for hiring a worker "off-the-books." Those fines must be levied per offense, so if a Slaughterhouse or a Meat Packing plant, for instance, has hired 300 illegals, the total fines will equal $20,000 X 300 workers or $6 Million for that plant. For second offenses, the fines would double and a federal prison sentence should be required of BOTH the plant manager AND the company's CEO at the time the infractions were discovered.
Yes, those fines and second offense jail terms would have to be applied to small businesses (landscapers) and even homeowners who deliberately use illegal immigrant workers.Under those conditions, the jobs would dry up.
Once the jobs dried up, the draw would dry up and the illegal immigrants here for work, would then self-deport.The 10-15% or so who are here for nefarious purposes will be caught up in various criminal procedures. We must then draw up some agreements whereby we pay for the incarceration of Americans abroad and those countries pay for their citizens incarcerated here.
The canard that “cheap labor = cheaper goods and services,” is proven false every day. One such example is the Nike’s Air Jordans saga. Air Jordans were mass produced in Indonesia for pennies and with transportation and distribution costs factored in, their total cost was around $3 per unit, and yet they sold for $150 and up.

The reason is that market prices are determined by demand and what the market will pay and NOT the mere cost of production. Ergo, cheaper illegal immigrant labor does NOT always translate into cheaper goods and services for Americans.
As far as the overall “immigration debate” goes, I don't see the need for anything more than changing legal immigration to a more "merit based" approach (ending family reunification AND the “anchor baby” system and moving to a system that allows people in based on skills America needs) and bolstering our porous borders (fences and more border guards).
I have to say I don't now, nor have I ever had much sympathy for illicit employers who seek to use illegal immigrant labor to bolster profits and deliver cheaper goods & services to their customers and the latter is certainly a very lofty goal, perhaps the most lofty there is, but it's still no excuse for breaking the law.

Employers who use illegal immigrant labor are (1) reducing the wage floor - the price paid to unskilled labor in this country and reducing the wage floor puts a persistent downward pressure on all other wage rates, (2) they don't withhold taxes from these workers, increasing the tax burden on the rest of us, (3) their illicit activity and their lobbying for continuing it maintain a porous border that post-9/11 has become a major security risk and (4) they're involved in human exploitation, very close in its depravity to that engaged in by all the other human traffickers - illegals are paid a sub-standard wage, often dozens of them live huddled together in cramped apartments, with barley enough to live on.
It seems hideously wrong for a select few (unscrupulous "businessmen") to profit at the expense of EVERYone else. These white collar thugs (because they're far worse then mere white-collar criminals - embezzlers and such) don't care that every illegal alien here costs EVERY American $19,000 over the course of their time here. They don't care that they've depressed wages or that they've weakened our national security.Fine them, jail them (if necessary)...then the illegal jobs dry up...and then the overwhelming bulk of the illegal immigrants self-deport.

Some have argued that hiring illegal aliens “hurts no one, increases profitability and makes millions of jobless illegal alien/migrant workers “happy.” Well, hiring illegal aliens is against the law.

There's really no way to rationalize that....well, short of changing the law and moving to an "open border policy, but that would be suicide! A nation without borders quickly becomes a nation without a common language and a common culture, which is to say, "not a nation at all."

We don't allow people to do illegal things simply because those things benefit them or make them happy. Many people like to speed. The fines (now many are over $200 for significant speeding) are very good thing.

They both generate revenue for government AND they serve as a deterrent for offenders.

Owning a business in ANY nation (and God, I really hate to admit this) is a privilege. The fact that you need a myriad of licenses and must go through a gauntlet of government inspections to open most businesses proves that.

Illegal aliens will work for below subsistence wages because they're willing to live at below subsistence levels (ten and more illegals sharing a one BR apt).

The bottom-line is that there’s really no downside to going after America’s white collar THUGS hard.

After all, what are they going to do, shut down their businesses?

And even if heavy fines and jail time puts some businesses out of business, the void left, will draw ten new entrepreneurs looking to fill that niche and take advantage of that opportunity.

There’s no question that America is better off without illegal immigrant labor and the best way of dealing with this is as an “ILLICIT EMPLOYER” problem.


BillT said...

No question this bill is a mess. It addresses the problems by creating a complicated maze of triggers and enforcement provisions. Bad idea, bad approach.

JMK said...


And part of the reason is that they deliberately (I believe) mis-stated the problem.

It is NOT an "illegal immigration" (trespassing) problem, so much as an "illegal employment" problem.

Fine and then jail (for second offenses) those rogue white collar thugs who insist on hiring illegals and the illicit jobs will dry up. Once those jobs dry up, the magnet that draws illegal here will also dry up and those here for those illicit jobs will soon self-deport.

That's really the only rational solution.

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