Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Illegals And The Minimum Wage

Democrats promise a minimum wage hike to $7.25 immediately after they take over Congress. They also want an amnesty for twenty million illegal aliens, though they won’t call it that. They might even use President Bush’s “guest worker program” jargon but we know what it is. So, just what kind of situation would the passage of two initiatives like this create? Likely an even worse fix than we’re in already.

How can we see this forced increase in minimum wage as anything but Democrat demagoguery? Many illegals work completely under the table and for less than the existing minimum wage. When employers can hire workers at such a low wage and without other costs like workmen’s compensation insurance, medical benefits, sick pay, or vacation pay, where’s the incentive to increase the wages for legal workers? It doesn’t exist.

Twenty million illegals working under the table at low-level jobs are driving down wages for American citizens and that’s the real problem here. Whenever employers are busted for hiring illegals - which isn’t nearly often enough - they claim they didn’t know. Yeah, right. They couldn’t speak English and they didn’t have drivers’ licenses, but employers had no reason to suspect anything? Come on.

It’s bad enough that so many legal workers in the trades hide a lot of their earnings. On paper, they can show very little income to be taxed on, qualifying them for bonuses like the earned income tax credit and also free medical care in many states. It’s much worse of course when illegals pay almost zero taxes unless they buy something and pay a sales tax. They send their kids to be educated in public schools at $10,000 a year each - or much higher even if they require special education, bilingual or ESL (English as a Second Language) services which most do. Then it will be $15,000 per year and up.

If illegals get sick or injured, they go to emergency rooms and those costs are passed on to the rest of us in the form of increased medical insurance premiums and increased taxes when they don’t pay. They qualify for free food, rent, medical and dental care in many states like Maine even though they’re not supposed to be here at all. They even qualify for instate tuition rates when legal students do not. All this drives up costs for all Americans while depressing their wages at the same time. If another amnesty passes and we all-of-a-sudden have 20,000,000 new citizens, small businesses will be forced to pay them the increased minimum wage Democrats insist on as well as all the other expenses. How many small businesses will fold due to resulting increases in the cost of labor and benefits? How many larger businesses will increase out-sourcing of jobs?

All this is bad enough, but if our borders were sealed off to prevent any more illegals from sneaking in we would eventually adjust. However, nobody really expects that to happen. The new border fence bill passed last October to much pre-election fanfare looks like it will never be built. The imminent amnesty will only encourage more illegals to sneak in, hide, and wait for the next one, just as they’ve been doing for decades.

Congressional Democrats support amnesty because the vast majority of new citizens will likely vote Democrat. Our Republican president supports amnesty too but for different reasons. Many large businesses that are Republican constituents increase profits by hiring illegals and don’t want President Bush to enforce immigration laws. Instead, we’ll have a few highly-publicized crackdowns like the one at Swift & Co meat-processing plants in Colorado last month, but they amount to little more than eyewash for Americans disgusted with our federal government’s refusal to really do anything about illegal immigration.

Meanwhile, the ACLU is doing everything it can to hamper local governments from trying to handle the problem. When cities pass ordinances prohibiting landlords from renting to illegals or paying to educate their children, they face ACLU lawsuits claiming only the federal government is empowered to do anything about immigration. It’s a frustrating Catch 22 for local governments all over the United States.

Our federal government should enforce immigration laws and leave our economy to take care of itself. If the president and the Congress did what they’re supposed to do and deported the millions here illegally, there would be no need for a minimum wage increase. Businesses would be forced to pay a decent wage to hire American citizens, and it would likely be more than the Democrat-proposed $7.25 an hour.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think going the deportation route alone would do little to lessen the problems you outline in the longterm and serve as fuel/justification fora costly increase in enforcement budget, the creation of new agencies, etc.

I'd prefer to see a simultaneous focus on new legislation and enforcement on businesses to ensure they're not employing illegal immigrants. I know there's a national theater chain that does this as a matter of policy already (National Amusements, perhaps?) My impression is that most of these folks are coming here for jobs - custodial to carpentry and everything in between. Going after the ants without addressing the issue of the bait seems like a recipe for expensive futility.