Legal or illegal?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 1, 2006

The debate over illegal immigration dominated the news this week.

The United States Senate continues to debate legislation concerning the estimated 11 n 20 million illegal aliens in the country. The debate centers around a proposed guest-worker provision in a Senate bill that would allow illegal foreign workers legal access to the U.S. labor market each year.

Thousands of people demonstrated in several major U.S. cities earlier this week against legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December that would impose criminal sanctions on illegal immigrants and those who employ them.

Illegal immigration allows consumers to dine at restaurants, stay at hotels and pay people to landscape their lawns for far less than they would without illegal immigration.

However, these gains come at the expense of low-wage workers. Competition from illegal immigrants has reduced the wages of native low-wage workers by as much as eight percent, according to Harvard Economist George Borjas.

That eight percent drop is substantial for anyone, especially anyone earning $20,000 a year or less. Many of the jobs that once provided year-round employment have become temporary due to the influx of illegal immigrants.

Borjas has studied the overall contribution illegal aliens make to the economy for years and has concluded that they are a net drain to the economy.

The argument from the pro-illegal crowd claims the “undocumented workers” perform jobs Americans won’t do. That argument is wrong.

American workers may not do a particular job for the same pay as an illegal, but if you pay someone enough, they will do just about anything.

The pro-illegal crowd also uses the race card when debating the issue, claiming those who ask for enforcement of immigration laws are racists. The argument against illegal immigrants has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with “race” (whatever that is).

There are illegal immigrants in the U.S. from every corner of the globe. I acknowledge that the majority of immigrants are from Mexico and Central America, but that is irrelevant, just like it would be irrelevant if they were from Sweden or Eritrea. What is relevant is if they are here legally or illegally.

Are there racists involved in the debate, of course, but you can find them on both sides.

Does anyone really believe the mostly Hispanic protesters from earlier this week would be demonstrating if the majority of illegal immigrants were from Belgium or Malaysia?

Some politicians and others love to use the phrase “undocumented worker”, but anyone who uses that phrase should be immediately ignored. There is no such thing as an “undocumented worker”. Either you are in the United States legally or illegally. The phrase “undocumented worker” is nothing more than a sly attempt to change the terminology.

No one is advocating ending immigration and it is important to remember that poverty exists everywhere, not just in Mexico. How is it fair to make someone from Thailand or the Ukraine wait to receive citizenship, but not someone from Central America?

Many of the politicians in Washington have decided they are going to enforce certain laws, but ignore others.

If you sneak across the border you get amnesty. If you break the law and hire an illegal immigrant, you get cheap labor. Last year, the Federal government sent a total of three notices of intent to fine employers for hiring illegal immigrants.

Faced with these facts, of course immigrants question what are the benefits of immigrating legally?

The corrupt Mexican government continues to lobby for amnesty for its citizens who illegally cross the border. This is no surprise. Illegal immigrants send billions of dollars back to their families and home countries and the massive migration saves the Mexican government from facing millions of frustrated underemployed and unemployed Mexican workers demanding jobs.

The United States of America is a great place, but it is far from utopia. Poverty and a wealth of other economic problems dominate the lives of millions of Americans.

Unfortunately, widespread illegal immigration only exacerbates these problems.