Friday, June 08, 2007

Immigration in the U.S.A.

I don't normally do this, but a friend of mine posted a impassioned comment on immigration reform and I thought I'd reproduce it here:

The thumbnail version is: Nothing effective will be done on this issue.

Powerful forces that are not traditionally aligned with each other share a common desire for a free flow of Latin American immigrants (illegal or otherwise), albeit for different reasons.

Businesses like it because they get very cheap, replaceable labor. If a Mexican drops dead while picking lettuce s/he is easily replaced with another one. Some industries have actually been able to lower their hourly labor rate (even before adjusting for inflation) over the past decade. This tends to appeal to Republicans. These business interests make massive political contributions.

Lax immigration enforcement has created a flood of Latin American immigrants which has in turn created a vast Latino demographic in this country that politicians will do anything to court. If you want the Latino vote you have to be soft on illegal immigration. This is especially true in the Democratic party (but in the GOP as well). Latino political action groups are not concerned with the social or fiscal impact of illegal immigration, they simply want to increase their power base.

The net result is that no matter what comes out of Washington it will do little to stem the tide of illegal immigration to this country.

Lines such as "we can't possibly deport all of them" and "they do the jobs Americans won't" are used to justify inaction. But these are coming from groups that don't want illegal immigration to stop. In reality random raids/deportation have been shown to reduce illegal immigration rates. Try telling a cop that he should stop doing his job because he doesn't catch every criminal. For many industries the second statement is more accurately rendered "they do the jobs Americans used to before businesses were able to artificially reduce wages by exploiting illegal labor".

Before the Civil War one of the concerns raised was that getting rid of slavery would cause economic havoc in the South. It did. But things got a lot better over time and the Southern economy is healthier now than it ever was before, or ever could have been.

The USA was built on immigration and always will be. We are all the descendants of immigrants. Immigrants have an important role in a healthy economy. But uncontrolled immigration brings economic weakness and social decay. Those in power are not motivated by those issues.

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