“What do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?”
“A good start!”
I’ve said repeatedly that the problem with illegal immigration, like so many situations, is a simple matter of supply and demand. As long as there’s a demand for something, there’s going to be a supply. The demand for illegal aliens comes mostly from employers who want workers who both work cheap and won’t complain to the government if they’re treated unfairly. Essentially, they see the economic benefits in having workers who are just one or two steps above slaves and serfs.
As it’s simple economics that drives the matter, it should be an economic solution that solves it. Simply make it more expensive to hire illegal aliens than any benefits it might win the employer And it seems to be working, as the Boston Globe publishes not one, but two stories about the situation.
The first is out of Arizona, where the state legislature got into the act when Washington wouldn’t get off its ass and passed its own laws cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens. The penalties are harsh — perhaps even draconian — but they’re working. Illegal aliens are packing up and moving out of Arizona, and they are specifically citing the lack of jobs. And those jobs are drying up because the businesses have weighed the benefits of hiring illegal aliens against the costs of being caught violating the new laws — and have decided that it’s simply not worth the risk.
Meanwhile, the Globe also publishes an article that indicates that at the national level, the focus remains on the illegal aliens themselves. The much-publicized raids and other enforcement measures tends to round up the workers for deportation, while the employer gets away with a fine.
It’s not the best solution, but I think it’s a workable one. The courts have repeatedly ruled that the handling of immigration law is a federal concern, and not the prerogative of the states. And while I disagree with that, it is the law of the land. So the states really can’t do much about the workers themselves.
But the states can go after the employers. Let’s face it — a large number of employers of illegal aliens are small businesses. The states, with their tighter focus and smaller area of jurisdiction, are better equipped to handle some employers (such as, for example, the company that used to tend Mitt Romney’s lawn) who simply don’t rise to the level of being considered worthy of the attention of a federal prosecutor. They tend to reserve their resources for the really big cases, and ignore the smaller ones.
If enough states — especially those with a significant illegal alien population — start cracking down on some of the economic underpinnings of the illegal alien system, we will find we don’t need to deport 12 million/15 million/20 million/2.7 kajillion illegal aliens. The vast majority of them will simply deport themselves.
Couple that with cutting or eliminating public benefits afforded to illegal aliens (welfare, housing assistance, food stamps, etc.) and resisting measures that will make it easier for them to assimilate into society (no drivers’ licenses, etc.), and we’ll find that the number of illegal aliens left behind will be minimal.
Once that is rolling along nicely, then we can look at loosening the restrictions on LEGAL immigration. As has been noted repeatedly, we are largely a nation of immigrants (I can only verify my ancestry as American back about four generations), and we ought to welcome with open arms those people who are looking to leave their ancestral homes and come here to make a new life, to take part in the American dream. Some of the most ferocious patriotism can be found not in those who, like me, have known nothing else, but among those who have lived elsewhere — and rejected it in hopes of becoming Americans. They, unlike me and others like me, prize their citizenship and don’t take it for granted.
I am very much in favor of a fairly open-door policy on immigration. But a door standing by itself is pretty meaningless — whether it’s open or closed is largely irrelevant if one can choose to simply walk around it. An open door, attached to a strong wall and closed windows, is an invitation to come in — but on our terms.
And that is what our immigration model should be.