Sunday, April 16, 2006

Immigrants Should Be Seen As Assets

The immigration debate has sputtered on for a number of weeks here in the public and on the blogosphere. Many bloggers have been denouncing illegal immigration as "criminal" and leading to American unemployment. Could the right UW blogosphere be trending upon excessive legalism and anti-capitalist sentiment here? While I want to see the laws in our country enforced (even though I disagree with a number of them) and I want to see labor force participation of the native and immigrant population at high numbers, there are more important underlying issues that need to be discussed further in this debate.

1. Immigrants and world workers should be seen as equal players in the US and global labor markets. Why is someone that was born in Wausau, WI entitled to a job more than a person that was born in Monterrey, Mexico? If a computer programmer is willing to work for $20,000 in Delhi versus $50,000 in San Jose, where should an entrepreneur further his web design business? In America, in some circles there is still this disposition towards entitlement in that we all deserve good jobs. We've seen this through the anxiety and xenophobia connected with the outsourcing of jobs to India and China. We've seen this through anti-Latino sentiment when this segment of people our chosen for jobs in construction and agriculture because they work harder for the same or less pay. In our country of luxury, we must realize that in order to continue to be successful we must increase our productivity, education, and work ethic. We also must be willing to see the vast majority of immigrants as people who simply want to share in our dream of hard work and success, not as outsiders or inferiors.

2. There is a main argument that immigrants come to America to leach off of our government social services and health care. Yes, illegal immigrants have posed a burden on some local governments, especially in the southwest US. The way I look at it though is that this problem is simply a symptom of the problems of our large and expanding government. In reality, no one should be receiving free lunches in the way of health care, welfare, and other entitlements from the state. America has welcomed this problem because it is sucumbing to the socialist tendencies of Europe. Let's put all people on equal ground by making them pay for their food, health care, and services thus we won't have to worry about these individuals being dependent.

3. For possible national security reasons, let's create some type of ID system at border checkpoints, so that we can track previous criminal records of individuals (from their former countries) and have numbers on immigration in to our country. I know that civil libertarians shutter at this type of proposition. The government would have limited information on particular individuals and could only do further background checks with warranted suspicion. In reality, this system would be easy to implement, fairly inexpensive, and hopefully would help the US get rid of possible terrorist or other trouble makers that would be more of liability than an asset. I also believe that far fewer people would try to cross the border illegally and simply would go through the checkpoints.

Looking at basic wage rates in countries like Mexico, Cuba, and other less developed nations, it's extremely logical to why people want to move to the US and why the US simply hasn't moved their immigration quotas to fit demand. When people are making about $1 per hour across the Rio Grande River in the factories in Mexico and they could be making $7-8 flipping burgers in Texas, what will people naturally do. They will move to where the better jobs are. Why we as Americans think we are entitled to certain jobs and entitled to keeping people out of our country who want to work is outside my values and logic? Illegal and legal immigrants continue to help our country flourish economically by performing essential research and occupying the physically hard and grueling jobs. These people should be seen as assets to our economy and country, not criminals or invaders.