Saturday, March 25, 2006

Protesters, Right and Wrong

Critics will have a field day with the inanities associated with the nationwide protests organized in opposition to congressional action against illegal immigration, and there is, in fact, a great deal of inanity involved. The protesters are concerned that legislation that has passed in the House of Representatives would make illegal immigration a felony. As illegal immigration is already, well, illegal, I can only assume that making it a felony will amount to an upgrade.

Even so, it should be acknowledged that the real problem with regard to this issue continues to be the failure of the United States to adopt a reasonable and sensible immigration policy. This is exemplified by the above referenced legislation. Those who are particularly concerned about illegal immigration frequently cite concerns over national security: terrorists can enter through our porous borders. Partly in response to that concern, the legislation would build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. However, for someone wanting to enter the country in order to commit criminal acts, the Canadian border is far less secure than the one along the Rio Grande. No one is proposing to build thousands of miles of wall between the U.S. and Canada; nor are they suggesting walling us off from the oceans.

Some of the opposition to immigration is pure jingoism, and those on both the hard right and the far left who cater to it should be ashamed of themselves. That being said, there is no doubt that the flood of illegals does pose a security risk and creates a myriad of other social problems. These problems are compounded by the fact that legal immigration into the United States is made difficult by floods of red tape and other forms of ineptitude. The U.S. labor market needs large numbers of immigrants to come into the country. U.S. policy and practice needs to accommodate that need. It currently does not.

The House bill will not pass in the Senate, and if it did it might force the President to finally wield his veto pen. Democrats, who have already shown with regard to the ports deal that they are not beyond appeals to bigotry in order to gain a political advantage, will make hay over his doing so. Even so, leadership on both sides of the aisle have an obligation to develop a sound and reasonable immigration policy.


Kleinheider said...

The U.S. labor market needs large numbers of immigrants to come into the country.

We do? Are you sure? It seems like we have quite a few people in this country? Do we have TOO many jobs that pay far TOO much? Nobody unemployed or underemployed?

Immigration shrinks the job market and drives down wages. Why would we want to do that?

U.S. policy and practice needs to accommodate that need. It currently does not.

Well, the need is false but U.S. practice and (defacto) policy accomadates this assumption far too much really.

Tired Immigrant said...

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, open immigration is the only way to secure the border.

Today, many american citizens ignore the undocumented status of aliens, becase they assume that those aliens are honest folk who simply want to make a living. If the US lets such folk in legally, with proper documentation, people would know that any other undocumented people are not kosher.

Imagine that no honest person would want to cross into the US illegally. As a consequence, citizens would readily report the few crooks who do. The only way to make the border safe is to allow for a large amounts of well-controlled, legal immigration. The only other way I can think of is to make Mexico the 51st state, and then patrol their -- much shorter -- southern border.

To my mind, the main change should be to grant amnesty to the 11 million Mexicans who are here, and then allow about 2 million to come over legally every year. The consequence of this will be to make the U.S. a safer place.

HJ said...

A.C., the current unemployment rate is under 5%, which most economists consider to be full employment. There are many employers in multiple sectors who would support my contention that workers would not be available to them if not for the influx of immigrants.

Tired, while I would favor a rather generous immigration policy, I would not go as far as you are suggesting.