Thursday, October 27, 2005


What is the correct approach to deal with illegal immigration?

Monday's New York Post had a piece by Tamar Jacoby, "Border Battles", concerning President Bush's plans to reform immigration law. Tamar Jacoby is a senior fellow at the excellent Manhattan Institute and she is known for advocating immigration policy that endorses a guest-worker program. While Jacoby made a good point that "enforcement only" policies won't work she failed to recognize that Americans are more concerned about a perceived lawlessness than are motivated by "prejudice and xenophobia." Instead of just looking at our market's requirement for more workers we should also examine the inequitable societies of Latin America that are accelerating the pace of immigration.

Jacoby's argument is that our current immigration enforcement structure is "hypocritical and ineffective." Jacoby did say most Americans "aren't anti-immigrant" but failed to say whether or not there are too many illegal aliens are in this country. Nobody should deny the entry of workers who want to work here and are willing to become productive and exemplary residents. But is there such thing as too much, I don't know.

Jacoby argued that immigration law must be changed in order to reflect market forces. She criticized Republican leaders in Congress for "swagger and sound bytes" by arguing that current immigration laws must be enforced before guest worker programs are implemented.

However, while there is a market force that is pulling workers into the United States there is also a stronger market force in Latin America that is pushing workers to enter our country. Latin America is rife with countries that operate in a morally reprehensible manner. Government corruption is the biggest reason why many of our hemispheric neighbors are unable to advance their economies and serve to protec their poorest citizens. Billions of American dollars have gone towards Latin American aid only to end up in the private coffers of elite businessmen and politicians who are already fabulously wealthy.

The lax enforcement of our immigration laws are a gift for the corrupt robber barons of Latin America. Instead of being forced to deal with the plight of their constituents the elites are content in knowing that USA is pressed with taking their most needy citizens. The people who want to work and are desperate to feed their family are seen as "undesirables" and "untouchables" by those who steal from America's foreign aid.

Jacoby made very good points about how we must rethink the way we carry out immigration policy. But, not enough is being said about what is being done to take care of the people who become desperate enough to risk their lives to live in the United States. Many Americans are mistaken in believing that Latin America is one large impoverished mass of land. In fact, there is plenty of money in Latin America but it is concentrated among the very, very few. There are plenty of liberals who love to bash this country as they decry the way that wealth is concentrated among the very rich. The United States has an enormous middles class but its liberal detractors should look further south when it comes to see what happens when truly inequitable societies ignore and imperil their poor and uneducated.

See: Border Battles by Tamar Jacoby


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