Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Fight On Immigration

The fight on Immigration Reform is about to get very intense in Washington. With the Senate and the President agreeing on a framework for the bill that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, expect the fireworks to erupt. This is about the only issue that the President and the Democratic controlled Senate can agree on. Is it the right framework to start the debate?

Many are opposed to what they see as amnesty for those already here. In some ways I agree that you do not reward unlawful behavior but as a practical issue you simply can not detain and deport 12 million people. Those that are so adamant against amnesty often come off looking like bigots and do not present any reasonable solution to the problem.

One thing is certain, if companies stopped hiring illegal immigrants they would leave. That needs to be a main priority of any pending legislation. How hard could it be to check a social security number against the statistics for that number? What about companies that pay the workers "off the books" and thereby avoid all payroll taxes? This issue is about so much more than just amnesty. It is about illegal workers driving down the wages of all people in similar types of employment, but whose fault is that? Is it really the illegal immigrant or the employer that is looking to increase profit?

Banks are lending to illegal immigrants using tax identification numbers which are easy to procure directly from the IRS. Am I the only one who is shocked when I meet an illegal immigrant driving a new car purchased with a loan that they received from the local bank? I think most Americans would be shocked how easy we have made it for people to live illegally within the United Sates. What we really need to ask is who makes money from these policies. In the end American businesses want cheap labor and until we can lessen the influence of corporate donations on our political system, this will never change. We need to turn our anger against these very companies who are destroying the middle class. They make some believe that the Mexican day laborer we see mowing the neighbors lawn is a greater threat to our standard of living then the company hiring high tech workers from India at 70% of the wage they would need to pay the average American in the same job.

We all need to take a step back and realize the problem is not only illegal immigration but the immigration statutes as a whole. We have so much more to fear from our jobs being outsourced then from the poor illegal immigrant picking up your dinner dishes at the local restaurant.

Comprehensive reform is needed, but we must do it with compassion. We must engage the other countries in the region who need basic economic reform. We must make the companies that hire illegal immigrants subject to criminal prosecution and huge civil penalties. Those that are so against a path to citizenship should not patronize businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

We should all use reason and compassion in this debate and try to remember that the vast majority of those here illegally want the same things out of life that you do. They want to give their children a better life than they had. Who can argue with that?

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