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Untangling the Illegal Immigration Knot
By Mike Cronin
Let’s wrap our head around the multi-faceted illegal immigration problem.
- If you are an elected Democrat, the problem is that there are millions potential voters out there who cannot legally vote for you or your pals. How to solve that problem? Adopt narratives that simultaneously paint the illegal immigrants as victims who need rescuing and those who see things differently as racists. Then legalize the immigrants (or some portion of them) somehow, and/or prevent the passing of laws that require voters to produce a photo ID proving their eligibility.
- If you are an elected Republican, there are millions of potential Democratic voters out there who might vote illegally or who might become legal voters at the stroke of a pen. How to solve that problem? Adopt narratives that illegal immigrants are by definition criminals just for being here, and who steal jobs from American citizens, who vote illegally, and who cost us a lot of money in “stolen” benefits and entitlements.
- If you run a manual- labor intensive business that can’t afford to pay the minimum wage, paying an illegal immigrant in cash under the table is an attractive option.
- If you are a desperate person from Mexico or an impoverished country to our south, getting to America for the opportunities and freebies is an attractive option.
- If you are a cunning and morally flexible person, exploiting the stream of immigrants headed north is an attractive option.
So how do we solve a multi-faceted problem? With a multi-pronged strategy that is also consistent with smaller government :
- Economics is the driving factor. As long as immigrants perceive things as better here than wherever they are from, they will come here. Immigration has always been one of America’s strengths. We can’t stop it and we shouldn’t but we need to do a much better job of managing it. Currently, unless one can claim one of the “Three R’s” (Relative, Rich, or Remarkable), it is next to impossible to attain a green card or citizenship. It should be easy for anyone to come here and start a new life…except for those who would do us harm (i.e. real criminals, terrorists, non-producers, etc.), so we need to secure the border. Immigration policy should be positive (you can immigrate here unless…) not negative (you can’t immigrate here unless…).
- We need to wind down the rhetorical panic. “Illegal immigrant” is no more a racist term than “speeder” or “shoplifter.” “Illegal immigrant” isn’t a race, it’s a status. “Mexican” isn’t a race, it’s a nationality. “Latino” isn’t a race, it’s an ethnic identification. Yes, illegal immigrants broke a law. That doesn’t make them hardened criminals. Also, “Illegal immigrants” can’t “steal” jobs from Americans, because jobs don’t belong to employees, they belong to employers.
- Lastly, as with most big-government problems, illegal immigration is an overlapping symptom, (along with unemployment), caused by another problem: Minimum wage laws. More on that can of worms in a future post.