Wednesday, April 05, 2006

On Immigration Laws

The presence of an estimated eleven or twelve million undocumented foreigners in the United States is seen as a problem by many. Under the present governmental practices of stealing money from companies via the payroll tax, and from individuals via the fraudulent Social Security, Income, and Medicare taxes, it does present several problems. It is unfair to those who are employed legally, who have gone through the proper bureaucracy. For others to just sneak in without paying taxes, and without assimilating into American Society. It is criminal for some employers to get away with not paying minimum laws or taxes, while others dutifully comply with these laws, as unfair as they may be. It causes problems in that those who pay taxes and support educational, medical, and social programs have to foot the bill for those who don’t.

There have been several proposed remedies to these problems. The most popular, and, under the circumstances, the most practical, is the proposed legislation from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would allow guest workers who meet several criteria: that the person has committed no crimes, that the person pays back taxes on wages earned (how can that be done, if wages earned are undocumented?), that the person hold a job for six years, that the person pays a fine for illegally entering the country in the first place (this eliminates claims of “amnesty”), and that the person learn English.

The funniest, and also practical, solution comes from comedian Carlos Mencia, who said, “If you deport the (illegals) first, who is going to build the wall (along the border)? What you should do is build the wall, first. ‘It looks good from this side, why don’t you guys go and see what the other side looks like?’ Then lock the gate.”

Actually, Mencia does have a valid point; that it wouldn’t do any good to deal with the illegals within our borders if we don’t do anything to rectify the problems at the borders.

Philosophically, I am personally against the idea of closed borders. Practically, however, there are many reasons to want a less porous border. First of all, there is the concern about security. There are people belonging to organizations that want to destroy us, who have entered our country, not only across the southern border, but across the northern border, as well. To defend against another attack on our soil, we are allowed by the Constitution to protect our territory by strengthening the borders. We are at war against an army of human weapons, and we should have the ability to defend ourselves in this war.

We should also consider the economy. On one hand, those who employ the undocumented don’t have to worry about paying any payroll taxes or other benefit taxes on these employees, nor do they have to pay minimum wage. This is unskilled labor we are talking about--the undocumented are largely employed in hospitality, service, agricultural, and construction industries. The benefits garnered by these industries, in being able to avoid government mandated overhead, benefit the general public by keeping the cost of products, services, and home and office facilities down.

I will sidetrack briefly here. As a youngster, I could find work doing yard work for neighbors, earning about $10 or $15 for two or three hours of work. I am sure that there are still young adults doing such work today. That is just as illegal as hiring an undocumented immigrant to do the same job. My question is, how far would enforcement of tax and minimum wage laws go?

The other side of the economic effect of undocumented workers also carries credence. If some employers can avoid the financial penalties required by law, those which abide by the laws are put at a serious competitive disadvantage. All businesses in the U.S. are required to keep on record, for each of their employees, a document called INS Form 9. This is a record that documents the existence and witness of proof that an employee is legally eligible to work in the United States either by citizenship, natural or naturalized, or by registration. Presently, the INS does not inspect and verify these records.

It should also be mentioned that, in 2005, according to Fox News Channel, undocumented workers who sent money to family members in Mexico drained nineteen billion dollars, untaxed, from the United States’ economy. I would suggest that this has a negative effect on our economy, but, to be fair, get us closer to a balanced world economy and quality of life.

Now I will present my solution to the problem: First of all, enforce the borders, both northern and southern, at least until there is no longer a security threat. Secondly, enforce the existing laws. I understand that this is against the Libertarian “Ivory Tower” ideology, but, at least, it will prevent the enactment of additional laws. Thirdly, and, I hope, most effectively, repeal the payroll tax, and exempt industries that utilize the low end of the unskilled labor pool from minimum wage laws, or require a lower minimum wage for those jobs. This is actually simple and obvious. It would lessen or eliminate the need to hire undocumented workers. As the jobs for immigrants dry up, so should the presence of illegal immigrants be reduced? Part time and casual employment opportunities for impovershed Americans would increase, and demand for undocumented workers would decrease, perhaps even be nullified. It would even out the competition, without adding burden to the employers. It would also prevent the drastic increases in the cost of living that would result from enforcement of current employment laws.

Of course, there would be many who would shout “you can’t do this,” but I believe it should, at least, be given some thought.

1 comment:

Clance' McClannahan said...

I agree with you on this.
If minimum wage was a decent amount, there would be more people that wanted to take those jobs. Heck, I would pick apples all day in the sun too. Not for 5 bucks an hour tho. Or if you are in Idaho $3.75 min wage for farm or
restaurant related jobs. No wonder people need assistance. They are forced into poverty.
Something got mixed up in our Govt henhouse when priorities were set. It isn't about the average citizen.
If the laws now in effect had been enforced in the first would solve a lot of issues. Tom Delay would probably agree with that statement now. **lol** now.