Sunday, April 09, 2006

How to stop illegal immigration

Latin Americans hoping to come to America face a high-stakes gamble. They have to raise and spend a fortune to hire a coyote to get them across the border, one who may be honest or may simply take the money and run. They have to cross a desert where they could die of hunger or thirst. At any time they can be caught and deported. Once they get here, they have to find under-the-table work, often from employers who don't speak their language, and if they find work, it will be at decidedly below the already-too-low minimum wage we guarantee our own citizens.

Why do they do it?

Unfortunately, it's because of economic choices made by the U.S. government. Two changes in policy would stop illegal immigration in its tracks.

1. Stop subsidizing U.S. agriculture. Thanks to our cheap exports to Mexico, the bottom has fallen out of Latin American agriculture. How can Mexican farmers compete with U.S. produce that is not only grown on highly efficient factory farms, but is subsidized by our taxpayer dollars to boot, so they're being sold in Mexico at below the cost of production. Displaced Mexican farmers are coming to America in order to raise money to feed their often starving families. The same is true for El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries.

2. We must bar imports from companies that don't pay their employees a living wage. Mexicans come to the U.S. because the factories they turn to after the farms fail don't pay enough to support their families--the same factories that are destroying U.S. jobs by providing cheap imports to compete with U.S. factories.

These changes will come with a price.

Expect to pay double for produce. Without cheap Mexican labor, our farmers will have to pay more for the backbreaking labor of harvesting the crop.

Expect the cost of construction to go up, as U.S. workers will replace the lower-paid illegal workers.

Expect higher prices at WalMart, as they will have trouble recruiting "sales associates" unless they raise wages and benefits, leading to higher prices for the cheap junk that WalMart sells. Naturally, WalMart doesn't want to see illegal immigration stopped.

Expect higher prices for restaurant meals, landscaping, roofing, and a host of other services. Anywhere you see a Mexican worker now, you will find higher prices after we enact these policy changes. That’s because once Latinos can make a living wage in their own countries, they'll no longer be interested in coming to America and working for $5 or $6 or $10 an hour.

You can help bring about these changes by buying only American-made goods and services, preferably union-made, since you will be assured that you're buying from American employers who are paying a living wage and not depending on cheap illegal labor.

Although you will experience a rise in the cost of living, you will make it possible for Mexicans to be prosperous in their own country, while increasing the job opportunities for American citizens.

For a less politely worded take on the issue, check out Bottle of Blog

...American employers don't want to hire citizens. If they hire citizens, they have to withhold tax, they have to make Social Security contributions, they have to pay unemployment tax, they have to pay for Workers Compensation, they have to follow all those rules and regulations regarding breaks and safety, and working hours.

Or for those who are not irony impaired, try this.


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