How Both Parties Ignore the Problem Underlying Illegal Immigration
Since Obama’s constitutionally suspect immigration executive order on Friday, the old arguments have been trotted out in favor or against different reforms advocated by either side. One of the more annoying aspects of the debate is how most people ignore the main problem propelling illegal immigration because it’s deceptively simple: over-regulation.
Those who argue that we should seek a bipartisan moderate immigration reform either willfully or stupidly ignore the main reason that we have illegal immigration in the first place. The clearest pull factor that beckons illegals to fill our jobs is completely market-driven.
The regulations that I’m referring to are all the onerous and befuddling laws regulating the employment of Americans, especially with low-wage, entry-level work. Anyone who has hired an employee for any length of time will know what I mean. Just look at Social Security benefits for instance – if I hire someone, I have to pay 10% above what I pay the employee into their Social Security. Now, because of the way it’s structured and how government keeps “borrowing” from the coffers, no one knows if that money is ever actually going to get paid back. So it’s basically tossing another 10% tax into the ever gaping maw of government.
Throw in unemployment tax, healthcare, and everything else, as well as the minimum wage requirement, and it’s easy to see how all this regulation keeps employers from the headache of looking for help.
Now, in no way am I excusing the fact that employers cheat the government and bring down market value of wages by doing this, but it cannot be overlooked that much of the problem could be solved if there were less regulation preventing them from hiring Americans.
Much in the same way, I had hoped when the recession hit that there would be calls for some deregulation of the insanely labyrinthine building codes to help the building sector recover. No such luck.
As someone who has experience in the construction sector in California, I do think there is some truth to the argument (too often used as a taunt) that illegals do some of the hardest, least-paying work that Americans won’t do. However this ignores the free market cause of such conditions – part of the reason these jobs have such low wages is precisely because there’s an overabundance of poor illegals willing to do the work for any wage because we pay at nearly middle-class levels compared to Mexico and other countries.
I remember asking an illegal immigrant from Tijuana just what the wage exchange rate was. He said that he could earn in America in an hour what it would take him an entire day to earn in Mexico – if he could even find employment.
So the way that both parties ignore the free market problem is this – any attempt to provide any path to legalization or citizenship (if you don’t know the difference, you need to) without closing down the borders simply won’t solve the problem and will pull more illegals over our borders.
The simple reason for this is that once you legalize the immigrants who are here, they immediately become just as onerous to hire as American citizens – much of the appeal of hiring them is lost. They jump up a rung on the employment ladder, compete with Americans, drive those wages down, and leave a gulf of unfilled jobs they previously occupied. What happens to those jobs?
Well, unless the source of illegal labor is absolutely shut off, the word will go out that there are tons of new jobs in Los Estados, and all you have to is make it across that border.