Ira Mehlman

Earlier this month Congress and President Bush committed $700 billion of our children’s and grandchildren’s money in a desperate effort to stave off a financial meltdown. Judging from the reaction of the markets, that sum may only be a small down payment on the real cost of decades of criminally irresponsible policies promulgated in Washington and on Wall Street.

Even from our vantage point in the midst of an unfolding catastrophe, its causes are easily identifiable: Greed and reckless expediency on Wall Street and greed and reckless irresponsibility in Washington. On Wall Street, the masters of this nation’s financial system enriched themselves by dreaming up ever more complex schemes to buy and sell debt, knowing all the while that the sustainability of these schemes depended on perpetually rising real estate values. In Washington, the people who were supposed to be the public’s watchdogs were greedily feeding at corporate troughs and, in many cases, pressuring financial markets to act even more irresponsibly to satisfy certain constituencies.

At the intersection of Greed and Recklessness & Greed and Recklessness stands U.S. immigration policy. Immigrants are not to blame for the nation’s economic crisis, but immigration policy as it has been implemented (or ignored) over the past several decades is both emblematic of and a major contributing factor to the circumstances that landed our nation in the current mess.

Immigration policies have flooded the American labor market with tens of millions of workers we neither need, nor could really afford. The net effect of decades of mass immigration was a heavily subsidized labor force that was sustainable only as long as the industries that employed them could pass the costs off to the public sector, and government could get away with borrowing vast sums of money.

As the number of immigrants grew, they, and self-anointed ethnic advocacy networks, became a political force to be reckoned with. Under extreme pressure from groups like the National Council of La Raza to increase minority home “ownership,” politicians from both parties leaned on the financial industry to make irresponsible mortgage loans, even if it meant waiving sound lending practices.

Given the mess we’re in, continued mass immigration and a massive amnesty for current illegal aliens (which both Barack Obama and John McCain support) are special interest perks that this nation can no longer afford.

An illegal alien amnesty must be taken off the table.

Ira Mehlman

Ira Mehlman is the Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.