Monday, March 27, 2006

Immigration Pt. 4

(Check out Pt. 1 HERE, Pt. 2 HERE, and Pt. 3 HERE)

Illegal immigration to the United States will not be solved by any easy solutions such as a wall. The topic needs to be looked at from a different angle. Instead of asking how to stop people from illegally crossing the boarders, we need to step back and ask ‘why’ people illegally immigrate to the United States. The short answer is of course economic reasons. People emigrate to this country every day, legally and illegally, in order to start a better life and to make better money.

So then what can we do? Lower the quality of life in this country or help to raise the quality of life in other countries? In this age of globalization, many countries in South and Central America are floating in debt from both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Now, don’t worry I’m not going to launch into an unhinged anti-globalization argument. I am however going to question the efficiency of the programs run by these new economy global organizations. While their intentions are good, the outcome is harming our neighbors.

First things first, we need to rethink our economic interests in the southern hemisphere. Instead of sending factories south of the border in search of low-cost labor, we should ensure that CAFTA is implemented fully. That’s right, I’m coming out in favor of a trade agreement. The reason I’m doing so is because CAFTA actually has an entire section on labor standards. We as a country, with labor laws and the freedom to create unions, need to ensure that those countries we do business with follow our example. By raising safety standards, by raising the living wage in these countries we will be able to slow the illegal immigration into the United States. The downside to this, obviously, is that in return we will have to pay more that $8 for a garbage can. Are Americans willing to pay more at the big box stores in order to solve the problem of illegal immigration? I’m not sure.

In the mean time, if we as a society are unwilling to spend more on products, we need to protect those immigrants that are already living and working in the United States. One of the basic arguments against illegal immigration is the loss of jobs. As I stated before the reason these jobs go to illegal immigrants is the low wages. Instead of fining employers who employ illegal immigrants, we should be fining employers who are paying below an industry standard. This will be hard to prosecute, I understand, but some of the proposals on the table right now would be just as hard, if not harder to investigate and prosecute (See the WP article in my Immigration In The News post). Raising the wages for jobs traditionally taken by illegal immigrants will accomplish two things. First, higher wages will raise the amount of money that immigrants are paid, thereby eliminating the need for them to have 2-3 jobs. Second, it will make these jobs more attractive to people who would usually not take them.

Finally, I have a question. Does anyone have a real example (something that has happened to them, or a documented case) where illegal immigration has harmed the country or yourself? Since 2 people visit this site daily, I don’t expect an answer, but it’s something to think about.

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