La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Something I've been saying for a while

Trying to enforce border security to stop immigration while not enforcing domestic labor laws makes little sense.

Trying to "seal" the border will only make coyotes and smugglers take more risk with immigrant lives. It also reduces the likelihood that undocumented workers will return to their home countries because it raises the stakes to get back in.

In contrast, employers have fixed places of business, taxpayer id numbers, and should be easier to police. However, doing so would require the Bush administration to crack down on key constituents, including many small-business owners.

So, instead, the administration has taken a contradictory stance in order to placate anti-immigrant voters under the guise of homeland security while quietly ignoring illegal behavior by employers.

posted by Michelle @ 11:09 AM,


At 3/06/2006 5:59 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I thought the administration's position was to try to get an "amnesty" though they do not call it that for illegal aliens, particularly from Mexico in order to get their tax revenue and begin settling their status. It is something Republicans accross the board cannot stomach and hence the reason why there's been so little traction.

I agree with you though, that if they were to enforce the law against the hiring of illegal aliens that would have a larger impact on immigration overall; no demand for workers, supply goes elsewhere, or so the theory goes.

At 3/06/2006 7:14 PM, Blogger Chris Lawrence said...

Wouldn't stepped up enforcement raise the ire of minority watchdog groups, though? My understanding is that employers can get in trouble (i.e. sued for racial profiling) for doing anything but the most basic screening of documents to fulfill an I-9... bars on Bourbon Street probably do a better job of screening IDs than most employers do.

Not to mention a net positive for the government: the fake SSNs mean social security and Medicare is running less of a deficit than it would be if the bogusly-documented (I hesitate to refer to anyone who has fake IDs as "undocumented") were legally able to claim those benefits.

Between minority rights advocates, the folks who want to prop up social security as we know it, and the business community, nobody at the table has an interest in strong immigration enforcement in the workplace.

Then again, I'm one of those wacky libertarian open-borders types who thinks this is all nonsense anyway.

At 3/07/2006 7:55 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Before 9/11, the administration did have a visiting worker program that was tabled due to homeland security concerns and a growing anti-immigrant backlash. Unfortunately, that proposal was not perfect. There has been more discussion of late of another amnesty/worker program, but I'm not optimistic.

If someone had proposed immigration reform 10 years, I suspect many states wouldn't have opposed it; they didn't have a dog in that fight. But unfortunately, the recent upsurge in immigration to parts of the country that have not previously had large latino communities (NC, GA, etc) has created a backlash among those that resent immigrants who are different from them. They don't like the way latino immigrants are changing the 'face' of their communities. And those are the voters that state legislators and the Bush administration have courted. And those voters will make real reform more difficult.

You're right, Chris, that not many people would want immigration reform for the reasons you mention. However, there are ways to better check documents without being discriminatory--just expand the government's SSN verification system. And of course, if undocumented workers are denied employment that would stem the demand for workers. Your SS point is a good one, but one that most people don't mention when they complain about the millions [really??] in taxpayer dollars going to undocumented workers in our education and health system.

At 3/07/2006 7:57 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

...proposed immigration reform 10 years *ago*...


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