Saturday, July 19, 2003

Illegal immigration

From tomorrow's LA Times Magazine: "Undermining American workers: Record Numbers of Illegal Immigrants Are Pulling Wages Down for the Poor and Pushing Taxes Higher," by Fred Dickey.
  • No bargaining position for unskilled laborers to demand increased wages because of ready supply of illegal immigrants who will work for low wages.

  • Businesses cutting (tax) corners to compete.

  • Tax shortfall due, in part, to underground economy.

  • Lack of tax revenue leads to lack of services (e.g., hospitals) needed by illegal immigrants, who generally don't have health insurance, who therefore sometimes end up requiring the most expensive care (e.g., emergency room).

  • "There is no question that illegal immigration greatly troubles Americans. The polls show it, both before and after 9/11. They want them to go home. One poll even showed that almost two-thirds want the military to patrol the border. Of course, they never gripe about the cheap hamburgers or the low-cost gardening that migrants make possible."

  • Our current approach to border patrol is not working: "Operation Gatekeeper started in 1994 to stem the flow of illegal immigration north by clamping down on the main ports of entry in the Southwest. In addition to forcing many border crossers to attempt a dangerous trip across the desert, it has had the unintended consequence of transforming a fluid population that used to go back and forth into one that simply stays here.

    "An unauthorized worker probably would prefer to work in this country and return home as often as possible, preserving his Mexican roots. Gatekeeper, however, has cemented that worker's feet in the U.S. It's not hard to understand his hesitancy to go home for a holiday or family event if he knows there's a good chance he'll be caught on his return. So, he does the obvious thing: He hires a coyote (outlaw immigrant trafficker) to bring his whole family north, often one member at a time."

  • An answer? Stronger enforcement of ID verification for employment. But, according to one INS official, "Congress refuses to make the program mandatory so as not to offend big agribusiness and other industries that freely employ illegal workers. These industries then take some of those profits and give generously to members of Congress.
Read the article for many more points and statistics. It is bound to generate letters to the editor.

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