Friday, May 18, 2007

Immigration Reform

The big thing in the news these last couple of days are the new "comprehensive immigration reform" bill just passed. Lots to look at--the text of the actual bill runs to 1000+ pages (wonder if any actual congressman has really read the whole thing? That would be like knocking out Harry Potter #2 & 3 in a weekend, only without all the interesting parts--and there's no shorter movie version). Still, I think the whole reform thing misses the main point. We are all so concerned with what to do about the 12 (some say 20) million illegals currently here... we keep on saying "what are you going to do, deport them all? Break up families?" But let's pretend that we could wave a magic wand and make all those multiple millions disappear--whether amnesty, they all go home voluntarily, or any other solution you want to imagine. The first question I want answered is, "what do you do about the NEXT one (or million, or 20 million)?" Nothing I have seen so far indicates to me that even if we give all of our current illegals amnesty (sure, it's a "Z Visa"), without genuine border enforcement, we just have the same problem again pretty soon (as we learned with the almost identical 1986 deal). And I don't want to be mean to the illegal aliens themselves--let's stick it to the people who exploit them. Plain and simple, many businesses hire illegals so they can pay them less, and on top of that, they will quite often not even withhold taxes and issue a 1099 form at the end of the year. Bull-hokum, I say. If those employers are so sure their workers are legal, let them withhold taxes, pay half their FICA, and then suddenly hiring an American looks a lot more attractive. If they are not sure, don't hire 'em. Let's hammer those who knowingly hire, rent to, school, or otherwise provide non life-saving medical services to illegals. If this were to happen, the services would dry up, and simple supply and demand would take care of a significant portion of the problem. But so long as the substantial benefits of sneaking into this country so significantly outweigh the almost non-existent potential negative consequences, we deserve whatever we get.

But wait, you may say... what about the "jobs Americans won't do?" Simple. They'll do 'em if they pay enough. That, of course, means that houses, fruit, and many other items will cost more as those labor costs are passed on to consumers. So what? Wal-Mart could charge me less if they didn't have to pay minimum wage, but we won't let them do it--it wouldn't be FAIR and LEGAL. What's the doggone difference? The current business climate reminds me of an old joke about SEC football from years ago--"if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'." Our system cannot reward law-breaking and expect the laws to mean anything.

Or, there's an option number two: open the borders and not have these silly laws. Of course, there are consequences there, too. I would expect my lawmakers to vote against such a proposal. But there is no courage in saying, "let's pass a law and then ignore it."

1 comment:

bekster said...

I think one thing that makes enforcing these rules tricky is that we're dealing people who, though technically "criminals," are pretty much nice people. It's hard to feel good about throwing them in jail (if you could even catch them all--which, of course, like you said, is our own fault that there are so many of them here now) because it's not like they're murderers or rapists or something. They are mostly just hard-working, kind people who are trying to better themselves and their families. If we had been really strict with the rules to begin with, they wouldn't have been enticed to come here, and those who did decide to come here anyway would know what they were risking. However, going back now and trying to crank down really isn't fair (even though it may be legal). That's like telling your kids for years that they can't stay up past 8:00 when you really let them get away with staying up until 10:00, and then years later grounding them for staying up to 8:05. At that point, they have no reason to take you seriously when you say they have to go to bed at 8:00, so it's your own dang fault that they expect to get to watch the 9:00 shows. Even if you do get more strict and another kid comes into the situation, the first kids will teach the new kid how to play you, and it will just be a mess. Now, if these Mexicans were going around hurting people or robbing banks, I would say it was pretty important to punish them. However, since the worst they usually do is avoid paying taxes (which, I guess, you could call stealing, but whatever), I personally don't mind them so much. I mean, the government wastes our money all the time anyway, so what does it matter? Liberals are always going to want us to pay more taxes, and Conservatives are going to want us to pay less taxes, but either way no one has figured out how to best use the money there is. In one sense, I respect the Mexicans for going out there and working hard for what they get. They remind me of the original American Pioneers. I mean, (and I'm sure you can correct me on this if I am wrong) wasn't the whole American Revolution about not wanting to pay taxes? Even though they are from Mexico, I would say they have the true American spirit, although it would be nice if they weren't going about it outside of the law.