Tuesday, May 02, 2006

La Vita Loca

Yesterday, millions of illegal immigrants walked off of their illegal jobs and out of their illegal schools to prove that they are willing and able to work in America, improve themselves, and chase the American dream.

It was hoped that, with all of the workers leaving their lawn mowing, roofing and house cleaning jobs, the economy would grind to a screeching halt. Unfortunately, according to the AP, the only major businesses harmed were Mexican food restaurants.
The rallies shut down 29 branches of Chipotle Mexican Grill, a Denver-based fast-casual dining chain. Goya Foods, which bills itself as the nation's largest Hispanic-owned food chain, suspended delivery everywhere except Florida in what the company called a gesture of solidarity.
As you may have guessed, I'm not a supporter of illegal immigrants ditching school and their jobs. I think it sends the wrong message. It doesn't really say they want to be American citizens, it says they want to be illegal immigrants with benefits.

Of course, I can't really put all the blame for these demonstrations on the illegal immigrants themselves. They are being led by people of questionable motive.

And, the proposal itself was stupid. The reaction among illegal immigrant groups was predictable, and I suspect that the authors of the proposed legislation hoped it would cause a nice little media diversion. When was the last time campaign finance corruption made front page news?

But now we are in a position where neither side can back down. Obviously, you can't just make 11 million people felons with the stroke of a pen. We just don't have the resources to round up and incarcerate/deport 11 million people. And even if we did, these workers are integral to our economy. I don't think we really want to face the economic consequences of removing 11 million or so workers.

On the other hand, we don't have the resources to absorb the 11 million illegal immigrants as American citizens. Our strained social welfare programs, such as they are, just couldn't handle the added demand.

Some people view this as a racial, anti-Hispanic issue. That's ridiculous.

Calling me racist against Latinos because I don't approve of illegal immigration is like calling me racist against Italians because I don't condone organized crime.

It's simply a matter of integration. One need only look at the recent riots in France and its 20 percent unemployment among some groups to get a taste of the affects of mass immigration without a system for integration.

The illegal immigration question comes down to this proposition: We can't deport 11 million people because our economy is dependent on these workers, and we can't grant citizenship to everyone because we simply don't have the resources.

The unpopular answer, unfortunately, is to look the other way and move forward with the status quo.

But that doesn't score any political points for anyone and it's not much fun to blog about.

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  1. First off - I agree that the bill has been badly handled and that neither side can now back down.

    BUT aren't you missing something on the stretched welfare programs thing...

    Illegal immigration is only a burden as the workers are not properly paid and so are not contributing income tax! It is best thought of as a tax dodge by proxy for their employers.

    If undocumented workers are incorporated into the system then they would start paying taxes like everybody else.

    At the moment the employers simply pay them at a gross rate that is equal to a normal workers net rate.

    So let's assume the average tax contribution would be $10000 dollars per newly legal immigrant. If there are 11 million workers that's 110 billion dollars per year they can pay toward your stretched welfare programmes. And concerned administration could even earmark the money for this purpose. (You do also need to account for the tax lost on fallen profits of the employers currently employing them - however they would probably just pass this on to the consumer. And some businesses may go under - but not a huge amount.)

    Workers are an important fuel for a mixed economy. That has been an enlightened consensus for years in America. What changed? There really can only be one answer, although it must be painful for you to come to terms with. America's blind spot is race race race.

    It may not be a race issue for you but believe me it is for others.

  2. roldy, thanks for stoping by and commenting.

    yes, race is an issue for people who want to make it an issue. I think a lot of people use race as a way to incite discontent to drum up political support. If you can convince a group that they are somehow dissaffected and then tell them you can help them "get what's due them," then you've suddenly got a nice little political power base.

    Americans are already becoming very "entitlement" minded in all aspects of the culture.

    Regarding your other point about increasing taxes, my concern is that a significant portion of the illegal immigrants won't want to work once they are eligible for social wellfare benefits. This isn't a race issue, since the majority of current wellfare recipients are white.

    But a major part of the argument in favor of illegal immigration is that "they take jobs that nobody else wants."

    Well, if you can get the same or better benefits from government wellfare programs than from a crapy job that no legal citizen wants, wouldn't you take it?

    It appears that this, in part, is what's happening in France.


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