Monday, June 4, 2007

Illegal Immigration Only an Economic Question?

I have to agree with much of what Stephen says below. The influx of cheap labor, in and of itself, should not be a large concern. Federal statistics indicate that 81% of migrant farm workers (jobs Americans won't do, even though they comprise the remainder) are foreign-born. I also agree that the U.S.-Mexican border poses a minimal (although not zero) security threat (most Islamic terrorists come to the U.S. from Canada). The larger problem is the drain on the ever-growing, ever-more-unwieldy U.S. welfare state. Forget about the several million illegal immigrants for a moment and think about the tens of millions of actual U.S. citizens currently "entitled" to wreck our country. There are plenty of plain, old American folks who take more than they give. Illegal immigrants represent only the tip of the welfare iceberg.

However, I do not agree that the illegal immigration crisis is only economic. This ignores more fundamental issues such as the rule of law and basic fairness. Even if we somehow figure out how to extract the taxes and fees necessary to offset the burden of illegal immigration (something we can't even do for many of our own citizens), this does nothing to help those immigrants (many of them highly skilled) who are pursuing the legal path to citizenship. Any form of amnesty will deny law-abiding immigrants a fair shot at citizenship. And only a program that incorporates enhanced border enforcement and encourages the rule of law will qualify as non-amnesty. The price tag may seem high in the short-term, but it is the only way to avoid an even more difficult and costly situation in the future.

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