A stay-at-home solution

Posted: Mar 17, 2006 1:05 PM
They’re not legally binding, but the words of the Declaration of Independence are certainly inspiring. They insist that every man has the right to “the pursuit of happiness.” It’s a right that’s well established in the United States. But we’d be better off if we also exported it to our southern neighbors.

In fact, that just might be the only solution to our immigration problem.

Of course, there are stopgaps. Many favor building a wall along our border with Mexico, and that certainly would make it more difficult for immigrants to come here illegally.

But in the long-term supply side economics always wins out. Undocumented workers can make $500 a week or more tax-free in the U.S., and that’s more than they can make at home in a month. Ironically, even if the wall worked and fewer illegals were coming across, those already here would be able to earn even more.

So, with or without a wall, they’ll keep coming. For our immigration policy to be successful, we’ll also need to crack down on those who hire illegal immigrants. That’s not happening now.

The March 12 Washington Post Magazine profiled Daniel Rodriguez, an illegal immigrant in the D.C. area. What stands out in the article is not how difficult life is for an illegal; it’s how easy it is for an illegal to get work. A man named Derek McIntosh hires Rodriguez and another man. He never asks their immigration status. “I don’t care,” McIntosh told the magazine. “They’re just helpers. They’re not employees.”

Rodriguez also works for an in-law, Cruz Sosa, who pays him $500 a week tax-free. “Cruz, a legal resident, says no one at the development company that hired him asked whether his assistants had work permits,” the magazine reports.

That doesn’t bother Rodriguez. “He says his illegal residency is not a crime but ‘a violation.’ While he acknowledges his untaxed work, he says he pays taxes on his purchases and does not use public services, anyway,” the story adds.

Ah, but he may soon need services. The magazine describes Rodriguez cutting a 2-by-4 with a circular saw and no protective gear. “He pushes the saw across the wood, its blade spinning inches from his foot,” the story reports. One miscalculation and he’ll be in the hospital. Illegals tend to gravitate toward dangerous jobs, and if they fall off a roof or saw off a toe, it’s taxpayers who get stuck with the medical bill.

Also, as TIME magazine wrote on Feb. 6, “The East Hampton school system now has a population that is 25 percent Hispanic, including legal and illegal kids. At East Hampton High School, new students who don’t speak a word of English drop in so frequently that the school has developed a two-week crash course in basic phrases and American culture.” Taxpayers are, thus, footing the bill to educate illegals.

Possibly the saddest thing about illegal immigration is that plenty of anecdotal evidence shows many illegals would rather stay home, if they could afford to.