Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May 2: A day for common sense.

Regarding illegal immigration, Robert J. Samuelson, as is his wont, had an excellent column in the Washington Post. Samuelson takes both liberals and conservatives to task.

He writes:

From liberals, we need more common sense. Their main position is to perpetuate a policy that guarantees rising U.S. poverty. Consider: From 1990 to 2005, the increase in the number of people living beneath the government's poverty line (now about $20,000 for a family of four) was 3,365,000; the increase in the number of Hispanics living below the poverty line over the same period was 3,362,000. Does anyone doubt that this coincidence stems mostly from immigration?

He points out that the argument that we "need" illegals to remedy a shortage of unskilled labor (i.e., to do those jobs that Americans will not do) is belied by the facts. "In March," he observes, " the unemployment rate for college graduates was 1.8 percent; for the 13 million workers without a high school diploma, it was 7 percent."

He notes that increasing the supply of low-skilled labor depresses the wages earned by these workers. It stresses social service systems which incur extra costs that are not covered by the taxes paid by the illegal immigrants who require these services.

That the left either doesn't get this or doesn't care is another example of an outdated paradigm. Those who want to get in have brown skin so, therefore, we must support them. The problem is that the price is paid by poor folks (many who are "of color") who are citizens of this country.

Samuelson also attacks the right for the insistence of many conservatives that there may be "no amnesty." This is both impractical and harsh.

He suggests that we "should control our borders and create a reliable worker verification system for businesses. Violators should be punished severely. Long-standing illegal immigrants who meet legislated standards of good behavior and community ties should receive legal status -- "amnesty," though by a less provocative label. There should be no major "guest worker" program. Instead, permanent-residency visas -- leading to citizenship -- should favor skilled over low-skilled workers."

Sounds about right to me.


Anonymous said...

With no major guest worker program, who would pick our produce?
Does anyone seriously believe our documented workers would do it, even for more money?

Anonymous said...

In my 6:03 post, I intended to type documented unworkers.

Dad29 said...

Well, JP, it certainly seems to be the case that "documented un-workers" WILL do distasteful jobs, for the right money.

See the Colorado meatpacker case. After the ICE raid, hundreds of folks showed up for applications and interviews with the meatpacker (which is headed by a former Wisconsin CEO, by the way...)

Samuelson is right, although the Pence variant (requiring "step-out" then "step-in-and-register" adds a level of security) is also interesting. The Pence plan also adds a layer of cost, but he proposes that it should be executed by contractors such as Manpower and/or Adia, who are certainly capable.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the "hundreds of folks" apply for the jobs when the jobs were available before the raid?