The root cause of our illegal immigration dilemma stems from the
overwhelming availability of illegal employment in the U.S.
Landscapers, construction companies, manufacturers and other
businesses related to agriculture and hospitality far too often take
advantage of undocumented workers who, out of economic desperation,
will work for far less pay than legal residents.
Employers have many economic incentives to brazenly thumb their
collective nose at the rule of law. Perhaps chief of these
incentives is the fact that they have, for far too long, been able
to readily get away with it. Other incentives include avoiding
health care costs, workers' compensation and additional benefits
Americans have come to expect. Further, employers enjoy zero
accountability and all too often wield the threat of deportation as
they demand longer hours and require harder work for less pay. All
of this combined creates a second class of citizen, which in today's
America is both shameful and unacceptable.
By hiring illegal immigrants, employers also create the incentive
for otherwise law-abiding foreign nationals to become lawbreakers.
It provides an irresistible attraction for many to withstand
potentially life-threatening circumstances, such as crossing the
desert or attempting to negotiate a dangerous river to get to
Unfortunately, such hiring practices also have the added economic
disadvantage of lowering wages and benefits for American workers. I
am a huge proponent of free markets, but there has to be a level
playing field. Having an economic climate wherein some employers
have to comply with the rule of law, and others do not, creates
neither a fair nor a free market.
So what is the answer? First and foremost, and for starters, it's
time we crack down hard on employers who knowingly and willingly
hire illegal immigrants. At the same time, it's crucial that we
reform the INS to streamline and expand legal immigration, thereby
providing U.S. employers with the labor pool they desire, and legal
immigrants with the jobs they need.
Fear not, America -- our economy can take it. As an employer, I
have experienced tough times filling jobs in the past. I realize
there are some areas in our country with unemployment issues and
other areas with fewer workers than needed. It is very important
that we view this problem through a prism of equality; however, a
free market is designed to create equality of opportunity, not
equality of outcome. By enforcing laws against illegal immigration
and providing fair, streamlined and expanded legal immigration, we
will find that we have more workers at every level of the skills
spectrum. Furthermore, our nation's fine history of legal
immigration will no longer be tainted by the misuse and shameful
abuse of foreign nationals for corporate economic gain, which, in a
vicious cycle, only serves to foster continued illegal immigration,
thus feeding the beast.
What effect will the crackdown have? Once employers get the
message loud and clear and jobs for illegal immigrants dry up, the
specter of mass deportation will no longer be an issue, nor will
so-called unfairness and discrimination, because we will have
effectively expanded legal immigration. Those who have been in the
U.S. illegally for an extended period will then have an incentive to
return to their homeland and apply for legal immigrant status.
Let's not forget, these are people who broke the law to get here,
remain here illegally and again, are treated as second-class
citizens through quasi-indentured servitude. The only ethical and
moral thing to do is to provide them with an opportunity to exchange
their status of lawbreaker for that of legal immigrant.
[to top of second column]
Let's consider: If someone robbed a bank and became accustomed to
living on stolen money, once caught, would we allow them to keep
that money simply because they had become accustomed to it? Of
course not -- they would have to return the money and make amends
for their illegal behavior. Now, I'm not suggesting that illegal
immigrants are thieves. Clearly, the vast majority of them are good,
hardworking, God-fearing people; however, the fact remains that they
have knowingly and willingly broken the law and continue to do so by
remaining here illegally. They should not, cannot and must not be
rewarded for that illegal behavior -- no matter how their family
dynamics might have changed during their illegal stay.
So what about a so-called guest worker plan? Will that work?
In a word, no. Guest worker plans both ignore and reward illegal
behavior, and perhaps most egregiously, codify into law the
aforementioned second class of citizenry. As I recall, we fought a
war over a century ago to ensure that all men and women were treated
equally. Why would we now turn back the clock in such a
discriminatory fashion? From a practical standpoint, despite any
guest worker plan, until we actually enforce the law, employers who
want to hire illegal immigrants will simply ignore our second class
of "guest workers" and fill their jobs with the newest wave of what
would now be "third-class" illegal immigrants.
I love this country and am so very proud that we welcome
immigrants from around the world with open arms. But we are a nation
of laws, and we should only welcome those immigrants who are going
to respect and obey those laws. If we allow people to ignore
immigration laws, then where does it stop?
Like most Americans, I am a descendant of immigrants -- legal
immigrants. America truly is a melting pot. We want people from
around the world to come here and to feel welcome. I thank God that
ours is the greatest nation on earth and that so many people seek
the opportunity America provides. But I want to keep it that way,
while at the same time encouraging other countries, like Mexico, to
repair their own economies from within. Foreign governments should
make every effort to ensure that their citizens will be proud to
stay and contribute to their own economic growth.
Plainly stated -- it's time we stop importing the disastrous
economic consequences of corrupt foreign governments by continuing
to turn a blind eye to the illegal immigration disaster we find
thrust upon us.
Admittedly, many will say that what I propose is very tough
medicine; however, at this time in history, tough medicine is what
true leadership demands. A principled stand, well-crafted and
well-communicated -- that is what I was hoping for in last night's
presidential address. Unfortunately, despite my support of President
Bush on so many issues, on this one, I'm not so sure that's what I
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