Illegal Immigration Is Black-Market Labor

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Lamentations
over the horde of illegal immigrants into this country rarely take
notice of the fundamental cause. Even trained economists are guilty
of this particular oversight, leaving out the most significant term
in the immigrant supply and demand equation. While the immigrants
flaunt the virtually unenforceable U.S. entry laws, their employers
flaunt the unenforceable U.S. labor laws. This situation is a classic
example of the rule of law, economic over political.

There
is shortage of labor in this country. There always has been. In
a more primitive time, it was an excuse for chattel slavery. But
such a shortage is symptomatic of a growing economy usually considered
a boon to humanity.

Nowadays,
the national labor shortage is exacerbated by government price controls
on labor such as wage and hour standards and union shop statutes.
In addition, government subsidizes draconian birth control measures
including late-term abortion and other means of discouraging domestic
population growth. Thus, even if the United States was alone in
the world, its growing economy (as long as it lasts) will likely
produce shortages in the legal supply of labor. At the same time,
such shortages contrast with surpluses in the legal demand for labor
as evidenced by the government's unemployment statistics.

However,
the United States is not alone in the world. The labor shortage
in this country has come to the attention of people in other countries
where economic growth is unknown. Many of these people are attracted
by the opportunities for dignified and economically rewarding employment
that is out of their reach in their own country. This situation
is evidenced in part by rampant but illegal hiring of illegal residents
in this country.

Minimum
wage and labor standards laws have priced legal labor out of the
market for economically marginal jobs because of competition from
welfare and unemployment entitlements. This is a classical case
of price supports leading to surpluses, subsidies leading to indigence.
The labor surplus is evidenced by persistent unemployment of people
who can live as well or better on welfare handouts than on legal
wages for work they may not even qualify to perform economically.

Black-markets
exist wherever there are volitional demands for certain goods and
services that have been legally prohibited and are satisfied only
by methods and means condemned by law. Like moonshine during Prohibition,
there is now a black-market for labor in this country. It is illegal
for people to work for what many businesses are willing to pay to
remain viable. Meanwhile, even less pay may be attractive to many
non-natives who cannot find productive employment where they live
legally. While domestic labor contemplates the hypothetical question
"which
would you rather have, a job at $2/hr or no job at $10/hr?",
the immigrant scrambles to work for what he can get and hustles
to keep it up. Economic realities that elude urban labor union aficionados
are obvious to sojourners from rural Mexico accustomed to $2/day
when and if they can get anything at all.

It
may sound strange to a penthouse Bolshevik but many foreign nationals
consider this country’s legally minimum wage a king’s ransom. Never
mind fringe benefits and welfare and education entitlements. What
the stealth residents can get from the government is a minor lure
compared with honest wages. But, of course, they, like anyone else,
will take what they can get. This is also rule of law.

Only
the owner of a business is legally permitted to work for less than
the minimum wage and no fringe benefits. Businesses that depend
on more than the owner's labor may not be viable paying legally
mandated wages and fringe benefits to their workers. They may not
be competitive in a global economy (read Walmart) with a legal labor
force, let alone a unionized one. Not even Walmart can compete with
a union labor force.

Would
this country be better off without marginal businesses dependent
on low cost labor? One might think so from the look of public policy
on the subject. But I have doubts about it since I would not be
here now but for the struggles of a small entrepreneurial operation
that nurtured me as a child growing up in provincial Alabama during
the depths of the Hoover-Roosevelt depression years.

Illegal
immigration is commonly blamed for the country's perceived loss
of national security, whatever that means. However this much is
clear – illegal immigration was not a factor in the Wahabbis 9-11-01
Kamikaze attack on Americans. Those hijackers and murderers entered
this country in strict accordance with its laws regarding entry.
They were not looking for work at all. Had they come here with the
express purpose of finding gainful work, they would have been denied
entry by the first immigration officer they encountered. But they
were not looking for work, only workers to kill. Apparently, such
motives are not the concern of immigration law writers.

Curiously,
if to find work had been the avowed purpose of the al Qaeda hostiles’
visit to this country, the law would have denied them entry, not
because of their enemy affiliation but because the immigration laws
do not allow visitors from abroad to do honest work here. Indeed,
a young person cannot legally enter this country to work. So much
for the "Promised Land."

Nature
has ordained that labor is an economic commodity. It has its price
like anything else. The price of labor is a cost that must be covered
by the price of the goods and services it produces. Consumers accept
or reject these goods and services at the prices offered to the
delight or dismay of the producers who hire the labor.

Economists
attribute grave mischief to the popular misunderstanding of prices.
Especially egregious are the consequences of labor price ignorance.
Generations have been ideologically corrupted and economically injured
at the hands of so-called progressive labor politicians. Immigrant
life and death is daily testing labor price fallacies.

September
8, 2005

Al
Lowi [send him mail] has
been a professional engineer in private practice in Rancho Palos
Verdes, California, for the past 40 years.

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