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  • 20

    Importing Poverty
    Immigration; Posted on: 2007-06-20 21:38:10 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    "Cheap labor" will have long-term dire costs

    William Hawkins
    June 20, 2007

    The argument that illegal aliens have been needed to fill a labor shortage in the U.S. economy is not supported by the facts.

    According to the Census Bureau, 14.3 percent of illegals work in manufacturing. Yet, manufacturing has lost more than 2 million jobs since 2000, with more jobs lost every month.

    Hordes of American citizens would love to regain factory employment, as they have not been able to find comparably rewarding jobs elsewhere; but illegals have been hired in their place. Most illegals are in the low-end of the labor pool, where unemployment is higher than average and wages are declining, the opposite of what would happen in a market with a shortage. Even in the economy as a whole, real wages for 93 million nonsupervisory, private sector workers fell again in April.

    Those in the business community who support immigration "reform" do so to further swell the number of available workers to generate a labor surplus that will keep wages in check. But such a course is not in the long-term best interests of most business owners any more than it is for Americans in general.

    Firms that hire "cheap" illegal workers do so to gain a competitive advantage against firms that obey the law. Honest business owners are placed in the difficult position of having to choose between emulating the unlawful behavior of rivals or risking the loss of contracts to them. A system that creates this kind of ethical dilemma should not be "regularized" into law.

    There is, however, no such thing as "cheap" labor in an advanced society like ours. The higher costs for health, education and welfare, not to mention crime control, from a large increase in the number of people living in poverty is substantial. This financial pressure is already undermining state and local governments, school systems and hospitals.

    Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation concluded that the Senate amnesty bill "would be the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years." His research shows "the U.S. has imported poverty through immigration policies that permitted and encouraged the entry and residence of millions of low-skill immigrants." He puts the annual cost to taxpayers at $89 billion, which will increase sharply if more illegal aliens become eligible for aid under an amnesty.

    Taxpayers end up subsidizing employers who hire low wage workers. While it is sometimes useful to subsidize programs such as scientific research, defense capabilities or public works, it is hard to see how restaurants, janitorial services or landscapers qualify as strategic industries. If people want extra services for their private enjoyment, from blueberries to theme parks, they should be willing to pay the full cost and not dump part of the burden on others.

    Full Article
    News Source: Washington Times

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