Monday, April 10, 2006

Illegal Immigration (2)

Illegal immigrants only take jobs off US workers if they undercut them - in pay or working conditions or both. The Feds and States should enforce their labor laws, before considering an amnesty - who can possibly object to all workers in the US being given the same protection?

Here's an example of labor pricing (my ellipsis):

An Alabama employment agency that sent 70 laborers and construction workers to job sites in that state in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina says the men were sent home after just two weeks on the job by employers who told them "the Mexicans had arrived" and were willing to work for less.

"The men we sent to jobs in Alabama were local fellows looking for work, men who needed jobs," (the agency) said. "After driving 50 miles to the work sites where they had been promised $10 an hour, they discovered the employers had found substitutes who were willing to work for less."

The minimum wage is currently $5.15 per hour, so the Mexicans could be paid that and still undercut the US citizens seeking a $10 rate. But the Mexicans could be obliged to break other US labor laws:

After Hurricane Andrew hit southeastern Florida in 1992, the association said, the construction boom attracted large numbers of Hispanic immigrants to several areas, including Homestead, Fla., where the Latino population doubled during the 1990s.

Some of the migrants who did get jobs in the Gulf states also were mistreated, records show. Two class-action lawsuits are pending in federal court in New Orleans in which thousands of migrant workers said they never were paid, although many worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week and were required to remove toxic contamination from hurricane-ravaged buildings.

So here's a suggestion:

1. Secure the borders, Israeli style.

2. Review and - if necessary increase - the number of work visas available to Mexicans and allow illegal immigrants to apply for them.

3. Make the failure to pay minimum wage or to meet employment regulations a felony - for the employers. And enforce that.

4. Wait five years for these measures to mature before considering an amnesty - by then illegal immigrants unable to compete on the now-level playing field will have gone home. And the border will be properly defended - so granting an amnesty to those that stay and contribute to the US economy won't trigger another wave of illegal immigration.