Voice of the White House April 2, 2006
TBR News.org – April 2, 2006
There would be considerable political and business oriented consequences of rounding up and deporting over 12 million people.
Those consequences - for U.S. businesses and consumers and the illegal workers who provide a consistent source of cheap, dependable labor - are impossible to deny.
That point has been largely overlooked as congressional lawmakers clash over proposals to step up enforcement and legalize foreign workers. But, regardless of the measures they devise, the economic forces underpinning illegal immigration will be exceedingly difficult to alter, experts say.
‘If we enact a law that makes clear we're going to dramatically increase enforcement without allowing greater legal flows, employers and illegal immigrants will find ways around it,’ said Gordon Hanson, an economist at the University of California at San Diego.
The last time Congress overhauled immigration laws in 1986, the rhetoric was at least as heated and sentiments were largely the same. Illegal immigration was alleged to pose a threat to national security. Critics said unauthorized workers were taking good-paying American jobs. Foreign workers were accused of taking advantage of the nation's generosity by soaking up public benefits.
In the end, lawmakers passed a bill that granted amnesty to workers already here, while promising to clamp down on the flow of new arrivals. Congress ordered employers to require documents from their workers, and said there would be consequences if they didn't.
Illegal workers, though, kept coming.
In the twenty since, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has grown from about 4 million to between 11.5 million and 12 million, according to the Pew Hispanic Center or twenty to twenty-two million according to other sources. More than 40 percent - about 4.4 million people - have arrived within the past five years.
They account for about one in every four farm workers, hold 17 percent of all jobs in cleaning and building maintenance, 14 percent of all construction jobs and 12 percent of food preparation jobs, the center says.
Would tough new laws change that? The 1986 reforms failed because border and workplace enforcement were both weak, experts say.
Some lawmakers are calling for all employers to screen workers through a national computer system designed to catch those with fraudulent documents. A bill already passed by the House would require much more aggressive border enforcement, including an extensive fence along the frontier with Mexico.
Unlike the enforcement-focused House measure, a bill from the Senate Judiciary Committee calls for offering workers who are already here a chance at amnesty and citizenship over an extended timetable. At the same time, it would create a guest worker program to allow a continued flow of temporary workers, a response to intense lobbying by business groups.
But experts say that while the provisions in some of the bills might slow the steady stream of arrivals, that would only be temporary.
‘When all the dust clears, we're going to have higher levels of legal immigration and lower levels of illegal immigration, but within a few years we'll return to the levels that we've seen,’ said Peter Schuck, a Yale University professor specializing in immigration law and policy. "Immigrants will figure it out. The zeal of enforcement will wane."
The problem is that enforcement is no match for potent underlying economics, experts say.
More than half the illegal workers in the United States are from Mexico, where the past decade's currency devaluation and debt crisis have created tremendous economic volatility. At the same time, the Mexican labor market has been fed by a baby boom a generation behind the one in the United States. The combination has created tremendous economic pressure, pushing a surplus of workers to seek out opportunities better than those offered at home.
Illegals are quite willing to work at almost any wage: one couple both in this country illegally, who work at a restaurant in nearby Belvidere, Ill., for $3.50 an hour - well below the federal minimum wage of $5.15 and Illinois' $6.50 hourly minimum. This means that young Americans, coming out of high school, find it impossible to earn any kind of a living wage because they could not survive on such low wages. Especially hard hit are American blacks, already disadvantaged. Illegals have driven this group of American citizens completely out of the entrance level jobs, forcing them onto the welfare rolls and producing a huge, indigestible, and unemployable mass in the body politic
Even as overseas economics have pushed workers to leave their home countries, the rapid growth in the U.S. economy during the 1990s fueled huge new demand. It took a while for the boom to reach California, long home to the nation's largest immigrant population, where post-Cold War cuts in defense spending prolonged a downturn. But robust economic growth elsewhere drew large numbers of new immigrants to states that had previously seen relatively few, and into new industries, too.
Illegal workers flocked to factory jobs in Illinois, to clean hotel rooms and work in restaurants in Georgia, and to build homes in North Carolina and Colorado.
.While illegal immigrants currently play a crucial role in the economy, their importance is sometimes overstated. Foreign workers account for less than 5 percent of the nation's labor force. They are concentrated by industry and geography in ways that would cushion the larger economy should they removed from it. While their labor affects the prices consumers pay for some goods, it is but one component.
Proponents of tougher immigration laws argue that the country has workers capable of doing the jobs done by immigrants, but that businesses must pay more.
‘At what point in the last 20 years did Americans wake up and say `I no longer want to work in construction for $17 an hour?'’ said John Keeley of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates stricter controls.
But business groups make the specious excuse that growth in the number of workers in the United States is slowing, that most young workers do not want jobs that are often seasonal and temporary and involve tough manual labor.
That having been said, given the motivations of the businesses and workers at its center, regulating the flow of workers at the periphery of the economy will be very difficult, whether or not immigration is legal, experts say.
The major hurdle to Congress legislating a working solution to the enormous mass of illegal aliens now in the United States is the tremendous economic demand for illegal immigrants as cheap, off-the-books workers in the American business community. Frustrated by union-mandated high wages, American business eagerly welcomes illegal immigrants who will work for a small fraction of American union wages, not protest dangerous working conditions and increase corporate profits. Even now, corporate America is doing its level best, through the ever-active lobbyists, to arm twist Congress into permitting both increased immigration and the continued use of existing illegal workers.
And , finally, there is a very easy way in which this devastating problem can be legally and ethically addressed and implemented. That would be for the individual states to address this issue at the economic levels. More and more, the States are defying a useless President and thoroughly corrupt Congress. In one instance, the Bush administration, catering shamelessly to the Christian Right, declined to support any but the least objectionable stem cell research. There would be, he mandated, no Federal financial assistance to these programs, so detested by the right-wing Christians. A number of states, recognizing the vital importance of stem cell research, passed their own laws permitting such research in their own states. The Federal government cannot interfere with these new laws and therein lies the solution to the mass of illegal immigrants that Congress will do nothing about.
States most heavily impacted by these millions of immigrants should consider:
· Banning any state welfare payments of any kind to illegal non-citizens. This prohibition ought not to impact any legal immigrants.
· No citizen of that state should be permitted to operate a motor vehicle on the roads of that state without a valid state driver’s license and proof of insurance.
· A state driver’s license can only be obtained by the presentation to the motor vehicle department in charge of driver’s licenses of proof of citizenship that must be verified by said agency prior to issuance of any license.
· No citizen of that state should be permitted to vote unless they are able to produce a valid and legal state driver’s license at the voting stations
· No medical facility should be compelled to treat indigent and illegal persons without their possessing a valid state driver’s license.
· No person should be permitted to attend any public school in the state without their parents being able to produce valid state driver’s licenses.
· No business in the state should be permitted to hire, either as temporary or permanent employees, any person who is not in possession of photo ID, or a valid Social Security number and that businesses that do hire persons without such identification, shall be subject to an immediate heavy fine on the first instance and the jailing of their CEO on the second.
· Contractors of any kind who persistently hire such illegals should have their state contractor’s licenses permanently revoked.
· Any illegal operating a motor vehicle on public roads, if apprehended by law enforcement, should have said vehicle impounded and held until proper identification can be produced. If such identification should not be forthcoming, the said vehicle should be auctioned off to the public and the proceeds placed in a special educational fund for state residents in need of public aid.
In summation, if you keep your food in sealed containers and the floors and counters in your kitchen cleaned, the cockroaches will go elsewhere to feed. The enforced rounding up and deportation of millions of people is simply not possible, much to the joy of the mass of illegals now in the United States. They are well aware of this logistical nightmare and bask in the realization that they are hopefully untouchable. If, on the other hand, economic freeloading becomes impossible, they will voluntarily go elsewhere to feed in another public hog trough.”
My next article in this series will cover La Raza, its foreign connections and its growing militancy.http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a2238.htm
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A Complete Copy of the Voice of the White House from TBR News April 18, 2004- December 29, 2005
Last updated 08/04/2006