Think about the current situation a little more carefully. Illegal aliens who come here do so primarily to work. I don’t deny that. They do a lot of crappy jobs that, frankly, few of the native born would do. And they do so for far less than it would cost to induce the native born to do such jobs. Moreover, aliens probably do a better job in many cases.
Furthermore, illegal aliens are much more willing to do jobs that need to be done for less than the minimum wage and for cash wages that saves their employers from paying a lot of taxes, such as the employer’s share of the payroll tax. Since these people will never qualify for Social Security benefits, why should they pay taxes for such benefits? Looks okay to me. I wish I had that option.
Finally, illegal aliens are not very likely to complain to the Labor Department or a union if they have some grievance. They are more worried about being deported than exploited, so they have no leverage. The result is that illegal aliens are willing to work cheap, which allows the native born to have inexpensive vegetables—which doctors keep telling us to eat more of—and other goods ands services that improve our real standard of living.
Meanwhile, as miserable as their lives are, for most illegal aliens this is a good deal, too. They wouldn’t come here—braving a lot of hardship in the process—if they didn’t think they were coming out ahead on the deal. In short, the status quo is really a win-win for everyone.
We don’t want to open the borders entirely, because that would let in a lot of riffraff. But we don’t want to close the borders entirely, either, because we need the cheap labor. So, in my opinion, the optimum is to allow some illegal immigration, but with enough enforcement to keep it under control.
It is precisely because of their illegal status that they are valuable and are willing to work cheaply. If they become legal, as the pending legislation would establish, the next thing you know they will be demanding the minimum wage, health benefits, and unions, at which point they may no longer be a net benefit to our economy, but a liability.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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