Saturday, December 10, 2011

The "I" Word

In the run-up to almost every election year, one of the main topics (especially when the economy is not very strong or when people don't have anything else to complain about) is illegal immigrants, and how they're "stealing our jobs!"

Now, as a point of reference, I believe the complaints brought by those against illegal immigration do have some merit.  I think that because of illegal immigrants, the wages (within the industries which hire illegal immigrants - see Federal Reserve Working Paper) are down significantly from what they could be (why hire someone at full price when you can get someone who will do the same job, with the same quality, at half the price?), and that because of the lower wages, workers who want to obtain a living wage must work more than one job at a time, which means less family time (which increases the probability of delinquent children, btw), and lessens the availability of jobs (if most Americans have to have more than one job to make ends meet, there must be millions more jobs than there are now to accomplish that).

On the flip side, however, there are some benefits we enjoy through illegal immigration.  Lowered food prices is a big one.  When businesses have higher costs (wages are typically the biggest cost that businesses have), they have to charge more to sell their goods (to make a profit, which if a business cannot do, they go out of business).  If they can lower their costs, they can sell their goods at a lower price than their competitors.

Their thoughts on wages tend to be: Why hire someone at full price when you can get someone who will do the same job, with the same quality, at half price?  Isn't that what most Americans do anyway?  When they go to the stores, most Americans will purchase the lower price goods as long as they do the same job with the same quality.

Another benefit is that many Americans either do not want to work in or refuse to work in industries where there is a high concentration of illegal immigrants.  They tend to work in low-skilled, manual positions within the agriculture, restaurant, landscape, construction, and manufacturing fields.

That is not to say that Americans are completely unwilling to work in those fields, but since we have been pampered for the past 50 years with unmeasured prosperity, technological advances, and unrivaled marketing (marketing has focused on getting everything for nothing, and getting it NOW), we have become more accustomed to having others do the menial work while we have the fun.  We are not used to performing the manual labor, so we tend not to last very long when doing it.

Am I saying that illegal immigration is good?  No.  I firmly believe that being in a country illegally is still illegal.  What illegal immigrants have done, although done with good intentions, is still wrong.

Breaking the law is not only a civil violation, but more importantly, it shows a lack of respect toward our country.

I understand that this is a land of liberty, where all the world's masses can come and seek a better life.  But there is an appropriate method to achieve it.  Trying to get around it shows a severe lack of respect.

Immigrants may say that the laws and requirements are time-consuming and costly.  I agree completely.  It should not take tens of thousands of dollars and years (if not decades) to get a green card.  If immigrants truly respected our country which gives them so many opportunities, they need to put pressure on their respective governments to encourage the US to make significant changes to our immigration policy.

That is the best way to achieve true freedom and show respect to the country which grants you opportunities.

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