Monday, October 15, 2007

trying to stop illegal immigration

From Emma Schwartz in U.S. News and World Report, a report on the difficulties on enforcing the laws against businesses which hire illegal immigrants.

Immigration reform may be dead in Washington. But across the country, employers like the Zimmermans are bearing the brunt of Congress's failure. The burden is likely to increase as the Department of Homeland Security dramatically steps up raids against employers who hire illegal aliens. Although employers have always been liable for knowingly engaging illegals, enforcement has been limited. Last year, though, the number of arrests from such raids increased 239 percent, and in the coming months, because of renewed attention by law enforcement, it's likely to rise even further.

But from there, Schwartz details the practical difficulties of this effort...

Illegal immigration is a complex and difficult issue. A serious approach to the problem must entail both border security and penalties against businesses that hire illegals-- both the external and the internal. (In fact, the internal would seem to be the larger issue, since it is the primary motivation for immigration!) By contrast, imagine a War on Drugs that only focused on the border and ignored what people bought/sold/used within those borders. We'd laugh at a politician who proposed such a "War".

That said, neither border fences nor internal enforcement will "fix" the problem. In fact, those policies may do relatively little to alter the issue. This is the potential plight of any government activity that tries to stop "mutually beneficial trade". Both parties benefit, so good luck in trying to stop them within a largely free society. Those who promise that either or both policies will solve our problems are naive or engaged in political pandering.


At October 17, 2007 at 12:24 PM , Blogger Darrell said...


I think that the realistic needs supplied by immigrant labor are completely overwhelmed by our inability to control the border. In short, we cannot have a sensible, sane, moral, and national-interest-driven immigration policy until the border is controlled.

Moreover there really is no need to deport large numbers of illegals By punishing (hard) a few large employers, the well of jobs would begin to dry up, and eventually many, if not most, of the illegals will leave on their own. The enforcement model hasn't really been tried. Arrests were up 239%, what's that, from 29 to 70? Enforcement generally has waned during the "law and order" administration of George Bush.

The other serious matters that need to be addressed are 1) ensuring that the 14th Amendment is properly interpreted so that citizenship is not merely a prize for being born somewhere in the U.S., 2) and a national version of PROP 187, denying state benefits to those here illegally.

Again, if you turn off the water, you won't have people coming for a drink.

At October 17, 2007 at 3:43 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Sure, I agree with enforcement-- and enforcement first. But many fans of enforcement seem to think that will solve the problem. That is quite unlikely.

Your point about the 14th Amendment is spot-on and too often ignored.


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