Senate Misses the Boat on Illegal Immigration
There are two bills moving through the Houses of Congress to address the now critical illegal immigration problem. There's the House bill which seems to be taking an incremental approach. The first step is enforcement. We stop the flow of illegals and prosecute those who prospectively choose to violate our laws. Guest workers, paths to citizenship, and other things which are indeed important, still come second. Our laws are our laws.
The Senate bill is a little different. And if it could only be cast as amnesty, it wouldn't be so bad. But the Senate bill tries to please everyone--presuming that "everyone" means all illegal immigrants and every liberal group who believes that these people need to be rewarded for being lawbreakers. And while initially well-intentioned, it promises to be a windfall of welfare to people because they of their status as lawbreakers. But if you don't believe me, listen to the words of the bill's biggest sponsor, Ted Kennedy:
"We can build miles of fences, but the fact remains that immigrants will still come because employers need workers and immigrants want jobs," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who fought for a guest-worker program. "It's far better for American jobs and wages to have a practical, common-sense policy of legal immigration, than to continue leaving millions of immigrants underground and underpaid."Besides the willing misunderstanding of illegal immigration that this comment reflects, it also should signal to all Americans that the Senate really has no clue as to how to solve this problem. By Kennedy's reckoning, we'll ignore enforcement because they're going to break the law anyway. But more to the point, the guest worker plan that Kennedy is promoting is a new welfare program in disguise.
But this immigration dilemma will not be resolved by the standard Democrat answer of creating yet another wasteful spending program that does nothing more than promote state dependence for subsistence. In such a way, we would be worsening the lot of those who came here for a better life, not improving it and we would be worsening things for Americans by shackling them to the problems of foreigners, simply because those foreigners have the ability to bring their problems to our doorstep.
First, it creates a need for larger government and thereby government spending to administer the program. Then, it requires more in the way of direct federal handouts that are certain to go across the border, rather than being spent here. Third, it creates the obvious disincentive to work which is why a guest worker program is under consideration in the first place. But most obviously and ominously, it is a handout for foreign nationals whose government is and has historically been too incompetent, corrupt, and lazy to care for them. And if anyone thinks that we can abolish such a misbegotten entitlement program once its failure becomes apparent, they are foolish. There has never yet been any entitlement program which has been enacted that has ever been repealed.
The point of furthering a guest worker program is not that it benefits others. It's because it promises to ultimately benefit Americans. These workers really do confer a nice benefit to our economy. They are willing to accept lower wages for certain jobs because the economies of scale between the U.S. and Mexico make the wage worthwhile. And those low wages keep producer costs and thereby consumer prices down. Everybody wins.
But Kennedy's offering, rather than addressing guest workers, promises to worsen the very problem which sparked the immigration debate in the first place. Because for every hard working illegal, there are just as many who cross the border to have babies and live off of welfare and to traffic in drugs. It feeds the thing we are trying to stop
Somewhere along the way, the Senate bill, in trying to create a guest worker program, got lost among tried-and-failed socialist policies of the 1960s. And it needs to be shredded in the conference committee. It doesn't solve the problem of illegal immigration--it promises to reward it and create an even bigger burden to Americans, conferring them no benefit in return.
The House bill, however, solves the problem that most concerns Americans--that of stemming the tide of the illegal immigration. And while it doesn't address the guest worker issue, it limits the problem of border access, allowing us then to deal with the illegals we have. And perhaps it is better to view the problem in that way. Because while we do not want to create a new entitlement program and give out favors to illegals who are in this nation and contributing, we don't want to clobber them either.
But that issue is for tomorrow, and perhaps the House is on to something. They may be holding the belief that if we don't get serious about border security now, we won't in the future, and we will tend towards the same harmful feel-good efforts into which the Senate has bought. And so in an effort to avoid a mediocre omnibus immigration package, perhaps it is best if we focus on the details one at a time.
Once we can prevent new crossings, we can address these other issues in a meaningful and logical way.
But it's never a bad place to start with the respect of our own laws, as our prosperity does not translate into a duty to fix Mexico's unwillingness to take care of its own people. And we should not be so obtuse as to think that the easy answer of throwing money at the problem will work for this most serious of matters.