Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is Illegal Immigration A Problem?

I do not believe that bringing in or allowing in unlimited, cheap, unskilled labor from Mexico is good for the US. It may be good for business. It may help the US economy in the short term, but I don't think it is good in the long term. Certainly, allowing unlimited, illegal immigration is not good for us.

I am not against immigration. We are a country of immigrants. We have a history of welcoming people, educated and uneducated, who are willing to work hard to make a better life for themselves and their families, but we are a country that faces a population problem and unlimited immigration is a big part of that problem. Also, as globalization forces our least educated (and some of our best educated) to compete against workers in other countries who will work for much less pay, we do not need to import more undereducated people. I respect that most of these people are hard working, good people, but we cannot save the world by building a third-world underclass in the US. We are really hurting ourselves by severely limiting the number of educated immigrants and students who are allowed to enter the US and allowing unrestricted immigration of unskilled workers.

I believe we can solve this problem, but I suppose we first have to agree that we have a problem and what it is.

Is the problem that illegal immigrants flouted our laws and entered illegally? Is the problem that these people are undocumented? What should happen to illegal immigrants and their families who are already here? Should they receive amnesty?

Would the problem be solved if we drastically increased the number of people who are allowed to enter the US to take a job so that illegal entry declines just because it isn't necessary?

Is the problem a porous border that not only allows good people just looking for a job to enter, but also allows easy entry for drug runners, terrorists, etc.

Is the problem the public service costs of illegal laborers? Is it the additional family members they bring who also need services?

Is the problem our law which gives US citizenship to any child born in this country even if the mother entered illegally?

Is our current population level over-stressing our environment and natural resources? The US Census Bureau says that most of the US population growth over the next 100 years will be the result of immigration, not births to current US citizens.

Do illegal immigrants depress wages? We always hear that illegals take jobs that no one else wants. If cleaning hotel rooms paid $20 an hour do you think more US citizens would apply?

Is the problem our dependence on cheap labor. How many people benefit because some people are willing to work for less than a living wage? How much would the average person's cost of living go up if all the illegal immigrants were somehow forced to leave?

Is the problem that a large number of people who only speak Spanish are creating a separate society inside the US? Are we looking forward to a bilingual society and problems like the Canadians face? There is always a tension between English and French speaking Canadian citizens. More than once there have been national referendums asking if Canada should be broken up into two countries. One speaking English, the other French. Is that our future?

Is our porous border the conscious choice of politicians who understand that without cheap labor we would face other problems for which they have no solutions? Is it just easier to let this problem fester than take the political heat for really facing the issues?

Do we need to develop an economic system that does not depend on cheap labor and continued population growth?

Obviously immigration, legal and illegal, raises many issues. These are tough problems and we do not respond to tough problems until we have no choice. Even then we tend to take the path of least resistance. While we may not yet agree on the key issues of the illegal immigration problem, we can all agree that there is a lack of clear thinking and leadership in this area.

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