I was struck during the Republican debate on MSNBC that all the candidates agreed they would not discuss immigration issues until there was a secure border. There is apparent agreement among the candidates that there is no winning issue for them in immigration.
The idea of amnesty is deeply unpopular with their base, but they also know that the specter of grabbing 11 million undocumented immigrants and sending them back to their home countries is also a losing proposition. They know that story after story of separated families, people being sent back to face oppression, and people seeking the American dream being snatched away from it, will eventually erode the popularity of a hard line against undocumented workers.
There was talk about making sure the undocumented workers are not provided health care, education, or any other benefit that would improve their condition, and that is consistent with the Republican position on helping anyone who is poor.
Only Mitt Romney suggested that we need to crack down on employers willing to hire undocumented workers. This will likely hurt his fundraising and perhaps his popularity in the party.
I submit that the reason America has not stopped illegal immigration is that, for the business community, the current system works very well. We have, as a result of a cap on the number of legal immigrants and the demand for many more laborers, a large number of workers, who will work for little money, bust unions, not file complaints or apply for worker’s compensation. They can be exploited to the degree that they will work for less than minimum wage and can even be denied wages earned. If they need health care the taxpayers, not employers, are stuck with the costs.
There is simply no incentive (save humane impulses) to correct the immigration problem because to meat packers, roofers, landscapers and others there is no problem. To discuss this problem with intensity would reveal this hypocrisy and that is why they concentrate on fence building rather than the consequences of our decades-long shadow policy of exploitation.
Thu, September 15, 2011
by Karl Schilling