The GOP Are Ridiculously Clueless When It Comes To Immigration Reform
At the end of July, House Speaker, John Boehner made clear, the GOP would not allow passage of any comprehensive immigration legislation, focusing instead entirely on an increase in border security and on prosecuting immigrants already in this country illegally. Boehner said:
“So let me be as clear as I can be with Senator Reid: the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion,” he said. “Nor will we accept any attempt to add any other comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act, to the House’s targeted legislation, which is meant to fix the actual problems causing the border crisis. Such measures have no place in the effort to solve this crisis, and any attempt to exploit this crisis by adding such measures will run into a brick wall in the People’s House.”
Let me get that straight: efforts “to fix the actual problems” “have no place in the effort to solve this crisis.” Wow. Two days later, GOP Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama came out in favor of deportation for half a million Dreamers and at least 8 million others who are working illegally in the US. This is nothing new of course. He joins a long line of GOP spokesmen who have been repeating it. It is, after all, red meat to the xenophobes in the Tea Party. My first thought on hearing this is that no one repeating this line should be allowed to go on record without also being asked if they will approve the hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost. One estimate in 2012 pegged it at $285 Billion. This included $13,368/immigrant for apprehension but nothing for the massive intelligence budget that would be needed to come even close to completing the job. More importantly, though, deportation by itself would do nothing to halt the problem. It would be like trying to halt the flow of a river by pumping the water upstream. Without a comprehensive program that not only addresses those already here, but halts the flood of immigrants before they set out to come here, the 300 billion spent would be wasted. It would take years to deport those already here and new immigrants would take their places before the current ones have gone. There is no point in spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to rid ourselves of the immigrants we have until stem the flood, or at least, divert it elsewhere.
First we must address the root causes that brought them here. For each immigrant, there is a decision involving two questions: why leave home and why come here?
The first question is far too complex to solve in an immigration bill here and encompasses many things over which we have no control. It part at least, it is a product of American foreign policy which for an immigration policy to be truly robust, we must address at some point. That leaves the reason they come here. We are already spending more than ever before on border security and a fence that no one truly believes will ever be effective. No matter how much this is increased, the flow of human traffic will not be stopped. Some have suggested that they come here for the freebies we give them like heath care, education and food stamps. This is ridiculous. Mexico has national health care, so for those people, our system even after the ACA, is a step backwards. Education is even more so. To uproot a child, take them thousands of miles away and put them in an underfunded school to be educated in a language they do not speak is an enormous hardship. That leaves living on $4/day worth of food stamps. Really? There is one reason that millions of immigrants have come here and millions more will surely follow; jobs. It is also the reason most Americans see immigration as a problem. It is already illegal for an undocumented worker to take a job in the US. It has been for more than 25 years. What more can we do? We can increase a fine they already cannot pay. We can add more jail time and house and feed them at our expense, or we can go on deporting them at a cost of over $23,000 apiece.
What is overlooked is the component over which we can do something: the employer.
This is where it gets sticky for the GOP. You see, employers like what adding 10 million immigrants does to the labor pool. Even those who don’t hire them benefit from lower overall wages. And they don’t like the idea of going after those whose business models are predicated on preying on a workforce that lives in fear. For every immigrant who breaks the law by taking a job, there is an employer breaking the law as well, many of those, multiple offenders. If the worker does not contribute to American taxes, it is only because that employer has broken the law again by failing to withhold or to report those taxes. Often, they’ve done the withholding, just not the reporting, thus stealing the money from the employee and cheating the government at the same time. If we are going to get serious about immigration, this is where we must begin. We must provide a data base for employers to confirm eligibility so there can be no excuse due to questionable ID. We must increase the penalties for each offense to the point where it is never cheaper to break the law than to obey it. And we must include the prospect of prison for those employers who so flaunt the law with repeat offenses as to make a mockery of it. If we do these things, the magnet drawing illegal immigrants will be reversed to the point where we’ll need to open the fences on the border to let them all out.
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