Immigration Follies

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Mrs.
Chavez,

In
a recent column, you
argue for granting amnesty to illegal aliens in this country.

I'm taking you to task specifically, because your argument for amnesty
appears in a conservative newsletter, and you betray nominally conservative
principles. No, I don't mean racial WASP principles, but fairness,
equality of opportunity, and equality before the law. That said,
your reasoning is flawed, and here's why.

First,
you argue that illegal immigrants should be granted legal status
based on their utility as cheap domestic labor, and our need to
overcome our (American) racism and hypocrisy. This is the worst
way to start off. Applying utilitarian "principles" quickly
has you deporting, say, Elbonians, because most of them are uneducated
criminals. How does your argument work when considering Indian and
Chinese computer programmers? They are highly skilled, highly paid,
speak English, and are not usually discriminated against, but they
"steal our jobs". Why not grant amnesty to them as well?
Second, you completely ignore the classical liberal tradition of
equality before the law. Why grant amnesty to Mexicans, but not
Columbians? Talk about racism. Granting amnesty to a specific group
smacks of the worst kind: politically motivated, vote buying racism.
Not that anyone notices real racism anymore. Third, you claim that
amnesty is the "moral" thing to do. Illegal immigrants
break our nations laws to get here, then trespass, trash private
property, and steal (albeit second hand) when they enroll children
in "public" education and other social services. How is
it "moral" to fleece me when illegal immigrants aren't
paying income tax?

Aspects
of the central part of your essay are correct. The IRCA is a failed
law. Illegal immigrants come here looking for better jobs. Lower
wages paid to immigrants are beneficial to those who buy their services:
lawn-care, nannies, wait-staff, construction, and maid service.
Then, you miss the core of the real problem. You are close when
you state:

"But
the fact is, the demand for labor in this country exceeds the
supply of U.S.-born and legal immigrants, which is why so many
illegal aliens come here to fill the gap."

The
"gap" you refer to is the artificial wage gap created
by the government mandated minimum wage. Businesses get in serious
trouble paying Social Security card carrying Americans less than
the minimum wage. It literally can't be done on the books. It's
cash under the table, but this is risky since an ex-employee can
turn in the business owner. Illegal immigrants are the perfect solution,
since squealing to the government over minimum wage will get you
deported. It's a mutual blackmail situation. Now, what do you suppose
will happen when 3 million workers suddenly find they can demand
"minimum" wage and full benefits without threat of deportation?
They will.

Now,
let's imagine an Amnesty Bill actually gets passed. Since the folks
are illegal aliens to begin with, they have no proof of when they
got here. They'll have to show up at some "Amnesty Office"
to grant "Amnesty Cards", probably setup at the already
overburdened Immigration and Naturalization Service offices, by
some date several months in the future. Folks in other countries
who never considered coming to the United States will be encouraged
to come here in the hopes of faking their way into the first round,
or waiting for the inevitable second round of amnesty. It will literally
be an invasion as people pour over the border to show up at the
INS office by whatever amnesty card deadline is set. Thousands will
die on the way. The black market in people smuggling will be immense.
The schemes, multiple amnesty cards, amnesty selling, and identity
stealing will be something out of Germany, 1940.

I
digress; let me get back to the original point: the supply and demand
of labor. On the demand side, government curbs demand for legal
labor and thereby encourages illegal immigration by artificially
driving up the price with the minimum
wage
. When governments create a minimum price for labor, we
get the worst of both worlds: higher prices, and unemployment. It's
interesting to note that minimum wage laws were created by pressure
from the labor unions to keep recent legal immigrants from “stealing”
their jobs.
The Law of Unintended Consequences is not without
a sense of irony, it seems. On the supply side of the equation,
we have two more labor union full employment schemes. These were
aided and abetted by their idiotic, Wilson Democrat, League of Nations,
world-builder masters: Compulsory Public Education and Retirement.
The labor unions have an understanding of supply and demand. Cut
off the supply of labor using the law to snip the young and the
old out of the market, and poof, you just voted yourself a raise
as the new supply and demand curves intersect at a higher price.
The final government stranglehold on the labor supply is the 1.3
million mostly young, able-bodied military personnel stationed around
the world
, in addition to the millions
of overpaid, incompetent government bureaucrats.

Mrs.
Chavez, you are correct in your understanding of the illegal immigration
problem as part of the larger demand for inexpensive labor. The
market is nothing if not efficient. Create an artificially high
price for labor, and the market supplies a substitute. I'll present
the solution in small steps, so as not to scare you with my radical
libertarian agenda.

First,
repeal all minimum wage, maximum hour, retirement, child labor,
and compulsory education laws. Some will argue that 6 year old children
will be working 80 hours a week in sweatshop factories while hooked
to electrodes to keep them hopping. Please. Nike can't even employ
kids in Indonesia (at great rates for poor Indonesians, no less)
without private groups hounding them. Let watchdogs do their job.
Consumer Reports, Ralph Nader, Underwriters Laboratories, and Clark
Howard are better than all the government alphabet soup agencies.

Second,
bring home our military, and reduce force size. World War II is
over, but we're still in Okinawa and Japan. North Korea and South
Korea are warming, but we're still in South Korea. The Soviet Union
is no more, and the Reich collapsed long ago, but we still occupy
Germany with 60,000 Americans. Let's collect on that peace dividend
we've been waiting on since the end of the Cold War.

Third,
privatize, privatize, privatize. What are all these government functionaries,
potentates, and apparatchiks doing in the land of the free? It's
time to scrape the barnacles off our ship of state.

I
could go on, but I'd just end up parroting most of the libertarian
arguments for what a Constitutional government looks like
, and
this essay is about illegal immigration.

So,
now that we've gotten the government out of the labor union full
employment scam, the new supply of legal, inexpensive labor will
displace some illegal immigrants. If it's legal to hire a young,
willing, English-speaking American for $3.00 an hour, why risk hiring
an illegal immigrant. With an oversupply of inexpensive labor, many
illegals will be incented to take their money, and go home. With
a new political party in office, and a sudden influx of cash carrying,
entrepreneurial, English-speaking laborers who have seen how it's
done in the land-of-the-relatively-free, might the repatriation
of a few million Mexicans and other illegal aliens be the medicine
needed for those countries to improve? That is the flip side of
the immigration coin. People in other countries want to live the
American Dream. Let's help redefine the American Dream to cover
all of North and South America.

There
will always be immigrants trying to come to the United States, yearning
to breath free. The solution above is not perfect. Contrasted with
the massive influx sure to accompany an Amnesty Bill, this solution
heads all of America in the right direction.

July
18, 2001

John Keller
[send
him mail]
owns a Technology
Consulting
and a Real
Estate
business in Atlanta, GA.

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