Wednesday, May 03, 2006

RANDOM NOTES ON IMMIGRATION

I happened to notice lot of the people at this week’s immigration rallies holding up signs that read: “We are not criminals.”

That may be true in the traditional bank robber sense, but isn’t trespassing a crime?

I actually have a good friend from college who was arrested for “Criminal Trespassing,” so I’m pretty sure being somewhere you’re not supposed to be is a crime. That would make 11 million illegal immigrants, technically speaking, criminals…despite all those handmade signs reporting the contrary. Come to think of it, my law-breaking friend is actually half-Mexican, but I don’t think that had anything to do with his arrest. He just had too much to drink and wandered off at an outdoor concert to pee. I can’t say I haven’t done that myself a few times.

So – yeah, if you’re in America and you don’t belong here, you’re a criminal. That established, I do not think it is a good idea to try and round up and expel 11 million people, regardless of their status as “undocumented.” The majority of reasonable people agree that such a task would be harder to pull off than Jon Bon Jovi’s pants. Removing them all would be logistically impractical, and incarcerating them all would cost even more.

Honestly, let’s think about the problem rationally for a nanosecond. If we didn’t have the resources to prevent 11 fucking MILLION people from sneaking in – how the hell are we going to hunt them all down, lock them all up, and/or send them all back? Isn’t it time we quit throwing around this option like it’s a candidate for serious consideration? If there’s a hole in the dike, you don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about the water that’s already leaked through – you figure out a way to plug the damn leak so more water doesn’t come through. All these people calling for deportation and incarceration need to refocus their energy on the source of the problem. The solution, I suspect, may require a very long, very deep moat filled with piranhas and crocodiles. Now where on earth would we round up a workforce capable of pulling off something like that on the government’s dime?

The point I am trying to make is that we need to get over the fact that there are a lot of people in this country who shouldn’t be if we ever expect to move forward in addressing the real problem, which is how the hell so many people managed to get here in the first place. The more time and energy we spend spinning our wheels trying to figure out how to punish illegal aliens, the more time and energy we’ll have to devote to preventing more of them from getting in.

That doesn’t settle the problem of what to do with the people who are here – WORKING, I should note, not raiding town centers like the Mongolian Horde. I say forgive them their trespasses, as we wish to be forgiven for ours. As for citizenship, however, that’s a different story. I think they need to put their names on the list behind all of the people year after year who’ve gone through the process legally. Since they’re already here, let them keep working (and paying taxes) as American Guest Workers. They can earn a living and contribute to the economy, but won’t be guaranteed all the rights of actual American citizens. That’s the penalty for breaking and entering. There’s got to be a price to pay or there won’t be any incentive to do things the right way.

I also think American citizens should be able to understand the official language of the country of which they are a citizen. I’m not suggesting people abandon their heritage or be forced to speak English at home, but why can’t basic communication be a prerequisite for citizenship? Is it really so horrible that a diverse “people” comes together and agrees to communicate as one? I think such a requirement would foster a little unity in a culture celebrated for its differences. We’re all different enough – can’t we at least speak the same fucking language? Perdon mi ingles. I would personally find it comforting to know there are a few things left that unite us as American besides reality television and Osama Bin Laden. If becoming an American citizen is really that important to people, they will take the classes and learn the language.

One final thing I’d like to point out regarding the jobs these illegal immigrants are holding. There is a popular myth circulating that illegal immigrants aren’t technically stealing jobs from American workers because they’re taking jobs that American citizens won’t take. This is not true. They’re taking jobs that American citizens won’t take AT THE LEVEL OF COMPENSATION THAT IS BEING OFFERED. This is a free market system. Cheap labor wouldn’t be so cheap if we had to pay people what they’re worth. The reason Americans don’t want to clean toilets, pick grapes, and mow lawns, is not because the jobs suck. It’s because the jobs don’t pay very well for how much they suck. I know a lot of folks who would consider scrubbing out toilets for a living if it paid $75,000 a year. The flow of illegal immigrants from over the border injects a source of cheap labor into the free market system that drives wages lower. This enables businesses to cut corners and pad their profits while American workers who would normally command a higher wage to perform the same work must compete for jobs elsewhere. I am not sympathetic to those who argue these people are not competing with Americans for jobs because that’s simply untrue. If there’s a job to be done and no one wants to do it, the compensation scale slides up until the supply of willing workers meets the demand for work to be done. It’s basic free market economics.

Anyhow, I feel a shit coming on and wanted to get all this out. You can go back to whatever it was you were doing before I so rudely interrupted your life.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

now, hold on a minute, you silly monkey! your point of compensation levels rising is correct - wages would increase. What you've completely omitted, however, is the fact that SO WOULD COSTS OF GOODS AND SERVICES! Sure, we'd make more, but we'd turn right around & pay it out - $100 to get your lawn mowed, $500K for a 1500SF home...in Elgin. $75 for a single meal at Chili's. You get the point. It's misleading to point out the ups without simultaneouslya ddressing the downs.

AYNtK said...

That's not necessarily true. In business, as in life, it's survival of the fittest. Those businesses best able to adapt to changes are the ones that survive over time, and usually end up providing consumers with better end products and services (at prices consumers are willing to pay). The free market, remember, drives the cost of goods and services, not businesses. So we can't assume prices would go up just because wages go up. Some businesses will certainly try to pass on these costs to consumers, but if consumers decide that $75 for a single meal at Chili's is a tad rich, they'll eat at Applebees for $56!

:)

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