Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Not Amnesty? You Bet Your Sweet A## It's Amnesty!

Once again, the Philosophical and the Pragmatic Libertarian sides of me are at odds with each other, and, once again, the issue is the immigration reform legislation.
If a person has to pay a fine for entering the country illegally, and has to pay back taxes, and has to go back to the country of origin to apply legally for a work permit, then I agree that it is not a "get out of deportation free" card, which is what amnesty would be. However, there is, in the currently pending Senate legislation an item called the "Employer Protection Clause," which exempts employers who have, knowingly or unknowingly, employed illegal immigrants from fines and penalties. This is what is known as amnesty.
An employer who has accepted the required documentation, such as a work visa, social security card, and a valid driver's license or ID card, may not know if the documentaion is valid or forged, and so could have unknowingly hired an illegal immigrant. This type of employment, of course, would be at minimum wage or better, and all payroll and social security taxes would be paid according to law. Such an employer should not be held culpable for employing illegals.
An employer who knowingly hires an illegal immigrant, without asking for the necessary documentation, doesn't keep employment records, pays less than minimum wage, and avoids paying taxes is clearly committing a crime, and would greatly benefit from the proposed amnesty.
The Philosophical Libertarian side of me reasons that, if there is a useful job to be filled, the employer should be able to hire whomever fills the need. Philosophical side also questions, "why stop there? Why not grant amnesty from the IRS, the DEA, the FTC and all other Federal organizations which enforce victimless crimes?"
My Pragmatic Libertarian side wins this argument, though. Such amnesty seriously tilts the playing field, and is much closer to Socialistic favoritism than to Free Market Capitalism. It gives an advantage to those who have broken the law over those who have abided by the law. Moreover, it does nothing to solve the immigration problem. It does not dry up the incentive for more non-citizens to sneak across the border in order to find jobs, nor does it add any incentive for employers to hire employees legally.
This legislation needs to go back to the drawing board. While I dream of the day that personal responsibility and practicality take precedence over creating more victimless crimes, I could never support legislation which interferes with the free market in such a way to create favoritism.

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