December 20, 2009

IF ONLY THOSE FRUIT PICKING JOBS PAID MORE...:

Immigration debate no one is ready for (Ruben Navarrette, December 20, 2009, San Diego Union-Tribune)

As President Barack Obama himself has suggested, one way to level the playing field for beleaguered U.S. workers is to make undocumented immigrants legal and take away the incentive for unscrupulous employers to hire them because they can pay them less than U.S. workers. The best way to stop pitting one group of workers against another is to legalize the undocumented workers so they’re on par with U.S. workers. To the degree that there is a competition, such a change would make it a fair one and eliminate any advantage that illegal immigrants might now enjoy. Once this happens, employers won’t have an incentive to hire illegal workers. Problem solved. On the other hand, by keeping illegal workers in the shadows, we keep wages low and U.S. workers at a disadvantage. That’s not smart or beneficial to the same American labor force the opponents of comprehensive immigration reform claim to care so much about. [...]

These days, everyone is a victim – even whole countries. The fearmongers, nativists and alarmists like to say that the United States is experiencing an “invasion.” This convenient narrative implies that Americans haven’t been willing actors in this drama and excuses them of any responsibility.

Illegal immigration is not something that was done to Americans while they were minding their own business. It’s something that Americans did to themselves over the last few decades by raising children who see the worst and dirtiest jobs as beneath them, and then hiring hardworking illegal immigrants who don’t have the luxury of doing the same.

If we’re going to have this debate again, let’s start from there and work our way forward.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 20, 2009 9:46 AM
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