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Thread: Immigration and legalisation (in the USA)

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Default Immigration and legalisation (in the USA)

    I'm trying to get a handle on this immigration issue for my American Foreign Policy class. I don't know if this the right thread to ask this but it seems to me that the worst thing that could happen to the illegal immigrants living in this country for the purpose of working, as opposed to escaping political oppression for instance, would be legalization. The common argument made by proponents of legalization is that, "They do jobs that Americans won't do." This strikes me as an incomplete statement. It should be, "They do jobs that Americans won't do, at the wages and/or working conditions under which illegal immigrants are forced to work." It is also a fundamentally flawed statement in that, if the illegal immigrants were to suddenly be legalized then they would not do those jobs at those wages and under those working conditions any longer either. Employers are then faced with two choices. They must either increase wages to federally mandated levels, pay taxes and improve working conditions or they must move on to the next crop of illegals. Neither option seems particularly good for the current illegal immigrant population. The first option will force many, or even most, employers to hire fewer employees and may even force many out of business altogether. Furthermore, by becoming legal, these newly legal immigrants lose their competitive advantage over other legal immigrants or citizens. If they must be paid the same wages with the same taxes as anyone else then why hire them in preference to anyone else? The second option would simply increase the number of underemployed unskilled laborers in an already tight labor market. Plus, it recreates the same problem we face now, albeit with a new group of illegal immigrants.

    Am I way off here or am I reading this close to correctly? It can be hard to filter through all the partisan screed on both sides of the issue to make sense of it.
    Last edited by Uboat509; 10-03-2010 at 07:12 PM.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Immigration and legalisation (in the USA)

    Created to enable UBoat's quest for help.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Yep, you are reading it pretty well.

    Adam L

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Am I way off here or am I reading this close to correctly? It can be hard to filter through all the partisan screed on both sides of the issue to make sense of it.
    I think you are presuming that all illegal immigrants have the same level of education and similar interests. They are not all day laborers waiting for a truck in a Home Depot parking lot.

    For instance, over 40% of illegals are people who come to the U.S. on a visa of whatever type and overstay their time. They often are of quite diverse education levels. Legalization for them may mean that they can utilize their skill set for something besides low-level labor and service jobs.

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Undocumented Immigrants

    I recall an article this year on immigrants actually paying more taxes (via falsified SSNs among other things) on their wages than the average American, despite the fact that they are not entitled to education and health care to name a few.

    In sum they are doing the jobs Americans won't (for even less wages) and being taxed too
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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    It is also a fundamentally flawed statement in that, if the illegal immigrants were to suddenly be legalized then they would not do those jobs at those wages and under those working conditions any longer either.
    I suppose that statement would be true if they were all working for unreported cash. I don't believe that is true. Most of the ones I ran into worked for established companies and got a paycheck. Some had been working those jobs for years, especially construction jobs. If they were legalized, why would they suddenly refuse to do jobs that they had been making an adequate living at, especially in an uncertain economy?

    A more powerful argument in favor of some kind of change from illegal to legal status is that you aren't going to move 12 million or so people out of the country short or resurrecting the SS. They are here, they are going to stay here so why not recognize the situation and make it easier for all involved? One of the perverse benefits of a legal status that has been commented upon is that a number of those people might go home. Right now they are in and they stay because they don't want to take the chance of not getting back in if they go home. Who knows what will happen in the future so they stay. If they have a legal status they can go home without worry because they can come back if they have to.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I suppose that statement would be true if they were all working for unreported cash. I don't believe that is true. Most of the ones I ran into worked for established companies and got a paycheck. Some had been working those jobs for years, especially construction jobs. If they were legalized, why would they suddenly refuse to do jobs that they had been making an adequate living at, especially in an uncertain economy?
    I'm not saying that they won't do those jobs. I'm saying that they won't do them for the same low wages and under the same working conditions that they did when they had no legal recourse. Maybe nine out of ten might be willing to continue working for the same wages in order to keep the job but that tenth guy is going to demand his federally mandated minimum wage and compliance with OSHA standards and so on and so forth. Either that or "do gooders" will do it for them, either way the result will be the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    A more powerful argument in favor of some kind of change from illegal to legal status is that you aren't going to move 12 million or so people out of the country short or resurrecting the SS. They are here, they are going to stay here so why not recognize the situation and make it easier for all involved? One of the perverse benefits of a legal status that has been commented upon is that a number of those people might go home. Right now they are in and they stay because they don't want to take the chance of not getting back in if they go home. Who knows what will happen in the future so they stay. If they have a legal status they can go home without worry because they can come back if they have to.
    I would tend to see that as a better argument for the status quo than legalization. I agree that simply removing 12 million people is a daunting task and probably not even reallistically possible but I don't think that legalization is the answer either. Somebody correct me if I am wrong but the main reason that employers hire illegal workers is because they are cheaper hire than legal workers. You can pay them sub-minimal wage, no benefits and don't have to worry about OHSA standards and the like. If you legalize them then they are no longer cheaper to hire.
    “Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    I'm not saying that they won't do those jobs. I'm saying that they won't do them for the same low wages and under the same working conditions that they did when they had no legal recourse. Maybe nine out of ten might be willing to continue working for the same wages in order to keep the job but that tenth guy is going to demand his federally mandated minimum wage and compliance with OSHA standards and so on and so forth. Either that or "do gooders" will do it for them, either way the result will be the same.
    That would be true if most of them were working for less than the legal minimum. I don't know, but I suspect that most are working for the legal minimum or more. That would something to investigate I suppose.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    I would tend to see that as a better argument for the status quo than legalization. I agree that simply removing 12 million people is a daunting task and probably not even reallistically possible but I don't think that legalization is the answer either. Somebody correct me if I am wrong but the main reason that employers hire illegal workers is because they are cheaper hire than legal workers. You can pay them sub-minimal wage, no benefits and don't have to worry about OHSA standards and the like. If you legalize them then they are no longer cheaper to hire.
    They are hired because they will do work Americans will not or cannot do and because they are less expensive for the employer. Some types of farm work are not something many Americans will do or know how to do. The state of Colorado had a program whereby they would connect local American unemployed with farmers who needed labor. I forget the exact number in the story I read but in one case about 50 expressed interest, 5 or 8 showed up and 1 lasted more than 2 weeks. The work was not only hard but required some skill. The farmer in this case had no recourse but to use Mexicans (legal temps I think).

    They take the jobs of course because they do better than they do back home. Legal or illegal those jobs will still be better than anything they can get back home. Legal, they are better able to move back home when they want and come back if they need to.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default Miscelaneous Data

    1. Farm Work: This is specifically exempted from the Federal Wage & Hour protections.

    Remember the contaminated eggs last summer? There have been multiple stories about the abuse of (Mostly ilegal/undocumented) farm labor in the Liberal Press. Even the minimal legal requirements are often not met.

    2. All of a sudden I heard a LOT more english when my local Fast Food Franchises started using the eVerify system. It isn't that the illegals using false or stolen Social Security numbers pay more, it's that those taxes are a free lunch for the Social Security Trust Fund, because no benefits willever be claimed based on those contributions.

    3. The current unemployment is overwhelmingly among what "management" MBA types have defined as "Low Skilled" workers, those with a high school or less eductation. Who have to directly compete with the illegals for what work there is, over or under the table.

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