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The New Immigration Deal

May 19th, 2007

Here’s the deal that Congress seems to be talking about: 16 million immigrants will be eventually given green cards, including immediate acceptance for 4 million people coming into the U.S., mostly family members of legals, and an estimated 12 million illegal aliens, who would first become legalized through amnesty. Future acceptance through family affiliation would be curtailed. A point system which weighs education and job skills would be used for future immigrants. New border security and interior enforcement would be instituted, and a new employment verification system would be installed. A “huge” temporary worker program would be added.

A lot of the proposal deals with existing immigration pressures, and not with stemming future illegal immigration. The only parts which address that problem would be border security, interior enforcement, the employment verification system, and the temporary worker program.

Border security: don’t make me laugh. Won’t work, even if it could be done in anything more than a half-assed way, which it won’t be. Especially since many if not most illegals don’t cross the border like most people assume. Take the 70,000-plus illegal Polish immigrants in the U.S.; I don’t think it would help much to build a fence along our border with Poland.

Interior enforcement: as long as this focuses on the illegal aliens and not the employers, this will be little more than a futile attempt to sweep back the ocean.

Employment verification system: if this could be done effectively, it might help–but only in the context of holding employers responsible. If they’re not, then they’ll simply ignore the system. As far as it applies to catching illegal immigrants, see the prior point about sweeping back the ocean.

Temporary worker program: this only has a chance in hell of working if it is more attractive to employers than hiring illegals off the street. Otherwise, it’ll be less than useless.

It is obvious that while the deal now being worked out in Congress would relieve some immediate tensions, it would do nothing to stem future illegal immigration.

As I have explained here before, immigration is a symptom, not the illness. The real problem is employers who want to hire illegals because they’re cheaper. (Tim would accurately point out that an equal or greater problem is the economic culture of Central America, but I am addressing purely domestic causes and effects here.) And as long as employers are shielded, nothing–repeat, nothing–will stop the influx of illegal immigrants.

Illegal aliens, by definition, are not dissuaded by laws. Due to sheer numbers, we will not incarcerate, and for the illegal immigrant, being sent back home, even multiple times, is not a deterrent. These are not people who have better choices. We can’t fine them or punish them in any other meaningful way, nothing that will make a difference.

The actual cause and heart of the problem is the employers. The illegals would not come if there were no jobs being offered. It comes down to money: so long as employers have money to gain and are in no danger of fines or imprisonment, there is absolutely no deterrent to make them stop hiring illegals. And so long as they are hiring illegals, illegals will come. Period, end of sentence.

In 2004, a grand total of three–that’s right, three–employers were cited for hiring illegals. And I doubt that they hired four million illegal workers each.

Nothing else will work. We want to stop immigration, the answer is clear: stop spending billions on border control and rounding up workers; instead, spend that money policing employers, using that employment verification system to deny them the excuse of “I didn’t know” (which virtually all of them do anyway). Impose stiff fines and jail time for repeat offenders, and hold the heads of companies liable as well as the immediate hiring staff. At the same time, put that temporary worker program into place, making it as cheap and easy as possible.

Do that, and illegal immigration will slow to a trickle.

This is not even a question of whether the system would work–it would, without question. It’s a matter of us having the will to point the accusing finger at ourselves for this problem, as we should be, and deal with whatever rise in prices comes as a result.

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  1. SY
    May 19th, 2007 at 16:08 | #1

    I don’t see anything in this plan that would work. The granting of immediate visas would cost millions of dollars in printing costs alone, and that’s just the beginning of the spending. But more importantly, it would mean building a whole new bureaucracy to implement the plan, and that will be an unworkable horror show. The cumbersome process of granting residential and citizen status is already a nightmare as it is.

  2. Terry
    May 19th, 2007 at 17:25 | #2

    While I most often disagree with you on your political opinions, I do share a large degree of common ground here.

    Let me give you a bit of perspective….while illegals enter the US, committing a crime in the process, they are beneficiaries of many gov’t services (fire, police, edu, emerg med care). Of course, some of these are questionable at times, but nonetheless, they benefit from our taxpayers dollars to some degree.

    I on the other hand, who has adopted an infant who is related on my wife’s side, have had to leave the country to satisfy a 2 year co-residency requirement. In doing that I gave up a great job and relinquished all the perks of living in the US, which I still pay for as a tax payer.

    The process for us who choose the legal route is both expensive and lengthy. My adopted daughter is 5 yrs old, and has been officially adopted for almost 3 years. It also costs plenty. The bottom line is that I, who do things in the legal way, am getting screwed while illegals are getting an abundance of compassion along with a potential path to citizenship. It’s just not fair, and from my perspective is just not right.

  3. Luis
    May 20th, 2007 at 09:27 | #3

    Terry: we also have to remember that we are beneficiaries of their services as well: they work for lower wages than you and I would normally accept, allowing you to eat cheaper food, wear cheaper clothes, and get cheaper services. To what degree that is true is hard if not impossible to gauge, but we do benefit–which is why they’re called to work here in the first place. Remember, they come because we tell them to, we offer them the jobs. We’re the ones benefitting from their presence. If we also pay in terms of police, fire, education, and medical care (only the last two really cost us extra, the first two don’t really incur additional charges much), then it is a matter of balance–or, perhaps more accurately, some of us benefitting while the rest of us pay for it.

    My point is, if there is a culprit here, it’s the illegal employers. They’re the ones you should be upset at for causing all of this in the first place.

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