Big business employers know that illegal immigrants and guest-workers are willing to work long hours for pay below the minimum wage. Employers know that U.S. taxpayers will supplement those low wages by the handout called the Earned Income Tax Credit and to pay the costs of medical care, public schooling, school lunches, housing subsidies, and dozens of other tax-paid benefits that flow to low-income workers.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy research institute based in Washington, D.C., estimates that U.S. taxpayers pay about $20,000 per year to every household headed by a high school dropout. That's even before retirement age enables the high school dropouts and their imported relatives to cash in on Social Security and Medicare.
Spellings' solution is to pour more taxpayers' money into the schools. But that could only address the problem of children still in school; it does nothing for the dropouts who have given up on schooling and gone out to the streets where they often get into all sorts of mischief.
What our own high school dropouts need is a job so they can get started building a life. Instead of rewarding illegal immigrants with a "Z visa" to enable them to hold a job legally, Spellings should ask the Senate to authorize a "Z diploma" to encourage U.S. businesses to hire our own high school dropouts.
The primary result of the Senate immigration bill will be to provide corporations with more high school dropouts, and that's exactly what the United States does not need. Secretary Spellings, when you phone President Bush, maybe he will answer if you press 2 for Spanish.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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