Economics Are The Key To Immigration Reform

Immigration reform has been heating up for a while- though it is currently taking a backseat to health care and energy- and has already garnered much attention with regards to President Obama’s policies on illegal immigration raids, protectionist allegations?regarding Mexican trucking and putting National Guard troops on the border . Furthermore, President Obama?recently held a meeting to discuss how such? reform would take place, and?Senator Chuck Schumer, chair of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, said last week he plans to have an immigration reform bill completed by Labor Day and on the president’s desk later this year or early next year. Given the president’s margin of victory with Hispanics over Senator McCain (R-AZ) last November-he won 67% of the demographic- and his efforts to appease that base with the?nomination of Judge Sotomayor, Republicans are in a lot of trouble. If President Obama can pass legislation that pleases that base,?Republicans will be hard-pressed to even close to the 40%-or-so of the?Hispanic vote then-President Bush got in 2004??for many years to come. Too, Hispanics are a massive part of the country now , and are expected to continue being the fastest-growing minority in?America.

Immigration reform is likely to come to a head sometime in the next?twelve months, as it did in 2007. However, I think Republicans can pre-empt the Democratic initiatives if they tackle the issue head-on, with?a comprehensive look at its various and disparate parts, and not from?a solely ideological view. While we certainly cannot ignore the millions of illegal immigrants in the country, as the left wants to?do, nor do we have the financial or other resources to kick 20 million?people out of the country, as many conservatives want to do.

The first- and most important- step in immigration reform is to stop?or reform the economic incentives to come to America. We need to?punish the businesses that hire illegal immigrants through fines, and we need to punish sanctuary cities through fines and the rescinding of?federal funds. We also should create a reformed welfare policy that?does not give monies of any kind to illegal immigrants. Finally, we?need to create the proper economic incentives to bring the kind of?immigrants we want here- hard-working, highly educated, technical?people who will create jobs.

Some conservatives would argue against the above point- they say building a wall is the vitally important first step to protecting?America from illegal immigrants. There are two reasons why this is a?bad idea: first, why do illegal immigrants come to America? According?to both libertarian?Ken Schoolland in 2005 and conservative Dinesh D’Souza in “Letters to a Young?Conservative,” they come for economic reasons. They also send BACK at?least $10 billion to Mexico and at least $20 billion more to other?countries, as seen here? and?here. Lastly, many immigrants are going back to their native countries because of the recession. There is no doubt?that they are coming to America for economic reasons, and so it makes?sense to shut down those resources and incentives that encourage the numbers of illegal immigrants entering the country we have seen for so?many years.

A second reason we should not push for building a wall is that it is a?waste of resources?for?the country?(immigrants will find a way through, around, over,?etc.), and thirdly it is a terrible public relations move for Republicans (who tend to support a border wall the most). Only the most hardened conservative won’t be moved by stories of families?looking for a better life, and trying to achieve the American Dream.?By creating economic disincentives to come illegally, and creating?economic (and legal, though that is a discussion for another day)?incentives that encourage immigrants with the skills and mindsets we?want in America (including this suggestion by The Heritage Foundation), we would find ourselves with a very?much diminished illegal immigration issue.

Other supported reforms include putting troops and agents on the?border which, given our current laws, will not do much- see here? and here?to see how two border agents were railroaded for doing their job,?and even the National Guard cannot shoot if attacked while patrolling the border. However, like a wall,?people can find ways around even a good border security policy, and?therefore the impact is limited. Economics are the reason illegal?immigrants come to America, and good border economic policy is why?they will either leave or not enter in the first place. (However, by?
the same token, it would not hurt to allow our immigration protection?officials to shoot at drug smugglers, gang members and others who?intend to harm this country and/or its citizens.)

-dustin

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