02 Dec 2009  What Do YOU Think?

Should Immigration Policies Be More Welcoming to Low-Skilled Workers?

Immigration is a topic that stirs passions globally, judging from the responses to this month's column, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Readers suggested ways to bring immigration policy into alignment with the reality of what is happening at borders and in workplaces around the world. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins January 6.)

 

Summing Up

Low-skilled immigrants: burden or opportunity? Immigration is apparently a topic that stirs passions globally, judging from the responses to this month's column. As Nauman Lodhi pointed out, "Tough times give rise more than ever to tough thoughts powered by emotions." Kamal Gupta commented that responses to the question of whether immigration policies should be more welcoming to low-skilled workers assumed that the issue was limited to the United States. Gupta reminds us that it could just as well have applied to India. But Gupta concludes that "the world has dismantled a lot of trade barriers, which has led to global prosperity. The only big barrier remaining is movement of humankind to regions which offer better prospects."

A number of respondents took issue with this. Some equated low-skilled workers to illegal immigration. Phillippe Gouamba put it this way: "We currently have 12 million undocumented Mexicans inside the US and we do not know what to do with them …." Other arguments included those of Tony Eckel that "economic benefits of any worker immigration … is limited exclusively to the labor consuming entity … (it is) a classic form of cost shifting." J. Boxer points out that "there's a high cost to cheap labor, and that cost (free education, free health care, etc.) is passed on to the state and the taxpayer, generally." Eloton Fowler said, "Our history has been to use technology to replace high cost labor, and importing unskilled workers to keep costs low takes away the initiative for technological advances …." And Sam Heffner, invoking the noted economist, Milton Friedman, pointed out that "before he died, the great Dr. Friedman acknowledged that in a (more or less) welfare state the economic arguments for open borders do not pertain."

Those who claim to have worked with immigrants appeared to have different views. C. J. Cullinane commented that "most seem to have one thing in common, they educate their children." K. B. Ackerman describes low-skilled workers in the warehousing industry in the Southwestern U.S. as "by and large … dependable and hard working, and their children will probably have better jobs than they have." As Irv Williamson put it: "Why would anybody consider limiting access to the best employees …? (They) produce the best values for their employers." Joanna suggested, as an alternative, that "major corporations have solved the problem by going to where the cheap labor lives …."

Phil Clark, reminding us that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, asked, "Why do immigrants, legal or illegal, come to America? To work." He would address the issue by: (1) (greeting) "all immigrants with a social security card" (implying payment of taxes, Medicare, etc.) and (2) requiring employers to "pay immigrants with check or automatic bank payments," with fines or worse for non-compliance.

Do these suggestions address the basic issues? How do we bring immigration policy into alignment with the reality of what is happening at borders and in work places globally? Are low-skilled workers a burden or an opportunity? What do you think?

Original Article

In spite of, or perhaps because of, the world's economic woes, debates regarding immigration policies continue. It has been nearly ten years since the topic of immigration was last addressed in this column. At that time booming economies such as that in the United States were experiencing increasing numbers of illegal immigrants. European countries were pondering policies regarding a flood of guest workers, some legal and some illegal.

These issues tend to arise at times of economic growth or stress. The differing rates at which countries emerge from the recent global economic crisis will determine future immigration "hot spots" attractive to potential immigrants. In the U.S., a country with an estimated 9 to 11 million undocumented immigrants, the issue promises to resurface in the coming months. And who knows? Given China's growth, aging population, and potential shortages of labor, it may even become one of those hot spots.

Responses to an oversupply of potential immigrants have favored the talented over the low-skilled. Favored destination countries have been able to choose the "best" immigrants, whatever that means, and such practices have generally been condoned politically. But recent studies suggest that both legal and illegal immigration of low-skilled workers to the U.S. have effects that have been overlooked. They raise questions as to whether much the same is true elsewhere in the world and whether some countries have been pursuing immigration policies contrary to the interests of their citizens.

A study by Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute of several pieces of research concludes, for example, that in the U.S. immigration has not expanded the size of the "underclass," which he defines as people living "in households earning less than $25,000 a year or without a high school diploma." Instead: (1) new waves of immigrants populate the "underclass," enabling others to move up the income scale, (2) Hispanic immigrants play this role at present, enabling (or encouraging through education) all groups (including other minorities) to move out of poverty, (3) the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that male illegal immigrants aged 18 to 64 had a very high 92 percent labor force participation rate in 2004, (4) rates of incarceration for immigrants are lower than for native-born Americans, and (5) crime rates have declined in cities and regions of high immigrant concentrations, reflecting national trends since the early 1990s.

The Cato study concludes that there are "strong, positive arguments… for pursuing a policy of expanding legal immigration for low-skilled workers." Such a policy could, it is claimed, free up resources currently employed along borders to deter illegal immigration. According to a second Cato Institute study produced in Australia, such a strategy could even benefit from a "visa tax" that otherwise illegal immigrants would be able to pay in lieu of much higher "smugglers' fees" for illegal entry.

Note that these findings are cited by an organization that advocates strongly for free trade and generally less government. But do the hypotheses they advance deserve closer examination? Are the findings peculiar to the United States, or do they have relevance for other parts of the world? Should immigration policies be more welcoming to low-skilled workers? What do you think?

To read more:

Peter B. Dixon and Maureen T. Rimmer, "Restriction or Legalization? Measuring the Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform," Centre of Policy Studies at Monash University, Australia, published as Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies Free Trade Bulletin No. 40, August 13, 2009.

Daniel T. Griswold, "As Immigrants Move In, Americans Move Up," Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies Free Trade Bulletin No. 38," July 21, 2009. (The quote is from page two of a print-out of this document.)

Jeffrey S. Passel, "Unauthorized Migrants: Numbers and Characteristics," Pew Hispanic Center, June 14, 2005, p. 25.

Comments

    • Anonymous

    I believe the U.S. doesn't have a shortage of low-skilled workers. The average unemployment rate of this country is approximately 10.2%. The job losses are mostly in the construction, manufacturing, and retail sectors. Since the unemployment rate is significantly high these low-skilled job sectors, it would suggest that the U.S.'s need for low-skilled workers isn't that great. Therefore promoting policies that welcome low-skilled workers would only exacerbate the problems that low-skilled U.S. citizens are facing at this time. If one is interested in helping low-skilled U.S. citizens, then promoting such policies would be counter productive.

     
     
     
    • CJ Cullinane

    Immigration has always been an emotional issue to most Americans, but the reality is most of our family backgrounds/history is made up of immigrants. Over the years I have seen immigrants from all levels of the economic scale assimilate into the 'melting pot' called America.

    I have also noticed that most of the tough menial jobs are done by immigrants (and illegal aliens) and if they are not available these jobs seem not to be filled. The service level and availability of certain services seems to depend on this type of work force.

    Over the years I have known and worked with many immigrants from many nations and areas of the world and most seem to have one thing in common, they educate their children.

    I believe that the Cato study is correct and probably essential to support our standard of living and future growth.

    Charlie Cullinane

     
     
     
    • Jack Kendrick
    • Business Owner

    It is hard to take this article seriously. As one looks around the country with only the exception of Texas, the States that are in the worst trouble in terms of budget deficits and unemployment are also the states with large immigration populations. Low skilled immigration is decidely bad for the people in these States.

    The only reason that future growth is an issue is to support the various ponzi schemes the government has set-up. The answer is not to import more immigrants to expand the base of the pyramid because this only begs the question of how many will we need to import to support this next generation. Instead the answer is to fix (end) the Ponzi schemes and I'll bet Cato is in favor of that too.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    To the anonymous poster. Construction, manufacturing, and retail jobs are not low skill professions! You need a license to be a contractor, you need skills to be working in manufacturing and in retail, you need to speak good English and you have to know your products. McDonald has SOME low skill jobs, but you should know that. We also cannot cherry-pick people. And who cares about this? Without WIDE OPEN BORDERS the USA simply will lose the race with India and China. They have TEN TIMES more workers than the US and they are younger and more educated.

     
     
     
    • bork

    A view from your Northern neighbours:

    "Why does Canada impose a surcharge on those who enter the national community via migration rather than by birth? After all, both sets of newcomers impose front-end costs on the system. My guess is that the government simply behaves like any other opportunistic rent-seeker: It does because it can....

    "The problem [with the head tax imposed on Chinese migrants by Canada in the early 20th century] is not just that the Chinese were taxed, but rather that taxing migrants for the 'privilege' of entering Canada was (and is) presumed to constitute a legitimate exercise of state power. In my view, the only way in which a head tax on admission would be genuinely non-discriminatory is if each child born in Canada were also taxed upon delivery. I do not suggest that taxing all entrants (whether they arrive by plane, overland, or via birth canal) would suffice to make it a wise law, but at least it would not be discriminatory."

    -- Audrey Macklin, "Can We Do Wrong to Strangers?", in David Dyzenhaus and Mayo Moran's 2005 edited volume, "Calling Power to Account: Law, Reparations, and the Canadian Head Tax Case." Page 60. Available through University of Toronto Press.

     
     
     
    • J. Boxer
    • Attorney

    The CATO institute is a radical, open-border organization which shares an agenda with La Raza and AILA, at least as far as immigration is concerned.

    If one thinks we need more cheap labor, more unskilled workers, and more low-wage earners, one hasn't visited Southern California lately. Once a region of wealth, it has descended into a very sad, poverty-filled place. There are reasons the state is billions in the red, and the importation of mass, low-skilled labor is one major reason.

    There's a high cost to cheap labor, and that cost (free education, free health care, etc.) is passed on to the state and the taxpayer, generally.

    The Center for Immigration Studies has done a lot of research in this area.

     
     
     
    • Deece

    The vast majority of illegals are low skilled workers. They also tend to have large families that need to be educated & therefore pose a huge burden on our taxpayers & education system. Legalizing low skilled workers & requiring that they pay income tax is not going to have the positive affect some would think. Their tax contribution will not be sufficient to offset the cost of the public services they'll use & even more of them will now feel entitled to come forward & apply for public assistance such as welfare, WIC, Medicare, food stamps, section 8 housing, Earned Income Tax Credit etc.

    Once they are legal, employers will be forced to pay a higher wage & provide benefits & workers comp insurance. All of this means the price of goods & services will increase and we'll lose the value of their cheap labor.

    Consumers and taxpayers will be negatively impacted and our society and culture will run amok with a new "legal" under-class with a huge sense of entitlement that refuses to assimilate or speak English.

    To address concerns about a shortage of low skilled workers, it seems it would be more prudent to reform our welfare system and get the abusers of the government payroll. Welfare is meant to be a temporary form of aid, much like unemployment assistance yet we have many perfectly healthy folks who remain on the system for decades - even their entire lives.

     
     
     
    • Siva Subramaniam, Cleveland, OH

    In uncertain economic climates like ours now, it is understandable that rage and prejudice get the better of the average Joe and blinds our enshrined greatness as a country of immigrants who continuously strengthen and perfect our nation. A large and vast country like ours can cherry pick skilled immigrants based on labor shortages and availability to complement what our higher education provides to the system, but the educational and skilled trades system do not provide the necessary structure for the type of jobs that illegals are doing because it is in no one's interest to alleviate career advancement options for the bottom rungs.

    Also, the cumulative effect of illegals on safe neighborhoods, more prudent and thrifty lifestyles, an inculcation of personal responsibilities and educational empowerment all contribute to a further enrichment of the American melting pot. As a recently naturalized American who came through the legal route 14 years back, I have seen firsthand the remarkable transformations of legions of legal and illegal folks, who with their ability to harness talent, upgrade skills, leverage potential and carefully manage finances have leapfrogged their future hopefulness both in US and in their native lands all by what historians called the nurtured Protestant ethic.

    This has been a mighty communicator and harbinger of goodness about American hope and capacity for successful assimilation of diverse individuals. So, it is a true two way street, but the larger question of choosing lower skilled immigrants cannot be answered in terms of what that may trigger for the next generation's low skilled from poor countries. There are at least for another hundred years into the future 5 low skilled workers for every skilled worker in the developing world because of demography, corruptive governance and parental need to hedge for their aging needs (mortality, diseases, etc) from dear ones.

    It is not an easy open and shut case, but Australia and Canada along with USA can on the bargain take 5 low skilled for one skilled worker for another twenty years and it may be demographically productive during a time of changing work patterns due to technology, global agricultural demand and retiring natives.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Of course not. Otherwise how to compete in the global biz war in the 21st century? USA should open more positions to high-skilled and intelligent people such as me. Your immigration policy should be modified now.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    The Cato Institute study has serious flaws in the assumptions made. Flaws that predestine the report to the point where any conclusion other than support of the legalization of Illegal Immigrants would be surprise. But in fact, scientific method often says the simplest analysis is usually the best.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Unemployment Report released December 4, 2009:

    Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations - Unemployment Rate = 12.1% Construction and extraction occupations - Unemployment Rate = 20.2% Production occupations - Unemployment Rate = 14.0% Transportation, material moving occupations - Unemployment Rate = 11.7% Service occupations - Unemployment Rate = 9.7%

    Total Unemployed Citizens and Legal Residents of the USA = 15,375,000 Persons who currently want a job but are not included in the unemployment figures for various reasons = 6,011,000 Total Number of Americans Looking For Work = 21,386,000

    Pew Study estimate of the number of Illegal Immigrants working in the USA = 7,500,000 The majority work in agriculture, office and house cleaning, construction, and food preparation per Mr. Passel.

    Meanwhile Management, professional, and related occupations - Unemployment Rate = 4.6%

    The truth is that Illegal Immigrants compete directly with U.S. Citizens and Legal Residents for jobs. There are no jobs that Americans won't do because they are doing them. Unless they are one of the 7.5 million Citizens and Legal Residents who could be working but are not thanks to Illegal Immigration. One good estimate of the cost to the Taxpayer for unemployment and welfare paid to these unemployed Americans is $100 billion per year.

    Even when unemployment was at the lowest point of this decade in 2007 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the following:

    Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations - Unemployment Rate = 8.5% Construction and extraction occupations - Unemployment Rate = 7.6% Production occupations - Unemployment Rate = 5.7% Transportation, material moving occupations - Unemployment Rate = 6.0% Service occupations - Unemployment Rate = 5.9%

    Meanwhile Management, professional, and related occupations - Unemployment Rate = 2.1%

    During 2007 we only reached full employment in the Management, professional, and related occupations. Occupations that attracted Illegal Immigrant workers suffered unemployment rates that never left recession levels for the entire decade thanks to Illegal Immigration. And in 2007 we has seven million Illegal Immigrants working while twelve million Americans were looking for work and not finding it. At the same time Americans earning below poverty line wages rose above 12%. Mexico's rate is 13%. Proof positive of how badly Illegal Immigration has hurt low income Americans. And a very simple and elegant proof of how the convoluted models of the Cato Study tell a story that does not fit reality.

     
     
     
    • Richard A. "Tony" Eckel
    • President, Systems Synergy, Inc.

    I cannot believe that any socially responsible business entity would entertain this notion.

    The first assumption is that there is demand for low-skill workers that cannot be filled. The second assumption is that this Great Society produces no low skilled workers. The third assumption is that there is some benefit to legalizing economic emigration.

    First: It is not the supply of workers - it is the price. There are many discouraged workers who would be happy to fill low-skill positions if the price/wage was high enough to live a dignified life in the US. Foreign workers are lower price receptive by the alternative socioeconomic conditions in their native country.

    Second: While Americans have great opportunity, there is still a very large proportion who do not have the ambition, capability, or opportunity to be MBA's. In FACT, only 27% of Americans have a college degree. Non grads can be very happy being labors or assembly line, or operators as long as they can have a decent wage and a dignified life.

    Third: Economic benefits of any worker immigration (unskilled, low-skilled, or skilled) is limited exclusively to the labor consuming entity; the farmer, the manufacturer, the service operator. Society has to pay a social price for non-productive working age citizens economically displaced by the immigrants; a classic form of cost shifting.

    Such policies have a global economic cost as well. Given a choice, the ambitious worker will choose to emigrate to a higher standard of living, draining talent and ambition from the source country, reducing the ability of the source country to develop socially or economically. Immigrant earnings are not typically spent locally, instead being exported to the home country as remittances resulting in a lower domestic GDP per capita as spending shifts out of the host country. If the CATO goal is to improve the economic condition of every nation and people in the world, why would the policy be crippling foreign economic development by attracting high quality (ambitions) human resources to the US?

    Keep in sharp focus the hypocrisy of the cliche, "A rising Tide Floats all Boats". A tide doesn't add water to the Ocean, it only displaces it. CATO's brand of free-trade (people, products, or money) is a shell game that enables international merchants and industrialists to consume America's, and other consumer based economy's, standard of living as a structural cost saving using foreign labor in the domestic market; each unit of labor consumed in the US is unbalance by the loss of labor income that helped to drive consumption. While lower prices are produced by the practice of leveraging foreign labor (migratory or otherwise), it is a short term and false "benefit" to the economy that does not offset the loss of domestic wages.

    CATO's figures are also out of context as most immigrants are "under the radar" avoiding all manner of statistical counting. These statistics paint a false color picture that does not adequately contrast the vast differences in the two comparative communities, the new immigrant and the American underclass. When this country provides a reliable path out of poverty for the American underclass, only then should the absurdity of underclass re-population be considered.

    The ONLY time that it makes economic sense to import workers is when the nation has such an abundance of wealth that labor supply is fully consumed by a leisure based welfare-state-like condition, e.g. Saudi-Arabia, Bahrain, UAE. When employment goes below 4% and specific skills are unavailable, then we can discuss guest labor. However, guest labor applied to drive down the value of domestic (US) labor is a subtle and malicious form of theft; theft of our national economic wealth.

    It seems that too often we neglect the indirect (social) costs of these economic schemes that claim to enrich all, but usually benefit a very few who are able to directly exploit the opportunity; those promoting the scheme. A disadvantaged minority seems to always pay the price in lost opportunity, lower wages, and reduced prospects. As long as society condones these exploitative tactics, we will continue to have charlatans for business leadership because legal theft is more personally profitable than moral wealth creation.

     
     
     
    • A Native Californian

    Without WIDE OPEN BORDERS the USA simply will lose the race with India and China. They have TEN TIMES more workers than the US and they are younger and more educated. Yes, because that's what most Americans want -- to live like your average Indian or Chinese on five dollars a day in an overcrowded Third World hellhole. And it can happen too, courtesy of the mass Third World immigration mindlessly promoted by the open borders crowd. Just see my home state for a shining example of what's to come for the whole country.

     
     
     
    • Irv Williamson
    • Executive, Growth Guidance Solutions

    Of course! Our economy benefits from both low and highly skilled employees emigrating here to work. The best employees produce the best values for their employers. Why would anybody consider limiting access to the best employees could be a good idea?

     
     
     
    • Krishna Palagummi

    Before we address "welcoming" part of low-skilled immigrant workers, we would need to address the "amnesty" part of currently several million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. People on both sides of the debate of legalizing the undocumented immigrants have their arguments. If you look around, there are very few non-immigrant laborers mowing your lawns, landscaping, picking fruits in many states, undertaking janitorial work at offices and homes, taking low-end jobs at hospitals, and the list goes on. Those lining up at unemployment offices are hardly from these backgrounds. Several Wall Street folks were claiming unemployment benefits for losing jobs. What do we have to say about that?

    There should be legislation to legalize the current undocumented workers so they can actually file taxes, apply for loans, buy homes, get health insurance, and in turn boost the economy. Not doing so is certainly detrimental in many ways. Along with legalizing the current undocumented immigrants, a legislation creating a temporary "guest worker visa" program to assist the U.S. businesses whenever needed so U.S. manufacturing and farming businesses don't go across the border. If they do, it is called "low-end outsourcing" which results in loss of revenues to the U.S.

     
     
     
    • Saurabh Dwivedy

    The United States, and the world in general, have arguably come a long way from the days when I used to live (as an immigrant) in the state of Connecticut between the years 2001 to 2004.

    I was perhaps a bit immature and naive not to see through the sheen of what appeared to be a "lucrative job" in one of the best professions in the world in decisively the very best country that exists on the face of the earth. Little could I understand back in the year 2000 - fresh as I was out of college and into a newly minted software career - what MY working in the US meant FOR the people whom I had REPLACED. Jobs were lost, heads rolled, families suffered etc.

    The current topic relates to the proposition of importing low-skilled workers specifically - but the over arching issue remains the same - and has been verily touched upon by the rest of the commenters too - the issue being what impacts does Immigration have - low skilled, semi skilled, highly skilled notwithstanding on the natives?

    India and China will soon start facing the same situation that the US has been facing all this while. As the economy emerges from the darkness - a lot of positive movements will happen - jobs will be created and more money will be pumped into the system. More and more people will move up the ladder. But a good 90% of the world population will still remain hungry and starving, unable even to attend to the most basic of human needs. It is inevitably this radical chasm that provides the basic impetus for humans to engage in the never-ending fight for survival. Back then when I was a kid freshly passed out of college - I used to think mainly about myself. That the world had "other" issues was not of my immediate concern. Like most of my peers - I too wanted to "See America" and feel "great and important". Yes, not until many years ago - and indeed even today - visiting America is still considered a big deal for most people. So it was for me too.

    Now having graduated up the social ladder - having been there and done that, as they say - all of a sudden my worldview has changed. But there is no reason why the new kids on the block wouldn't continue to feel the same way as I used to do. And even assuming India does become like America over the next 20 years, in which case the Indian kids may not feel obliged to feel the way I did, there would be kids in other less privileged countries who would begin to feel that way - only the dynamics may have possibly changed and it would be an India instead of an America.

    The objective of the foregoing is simply to stress one simple fact - that the eternal divide separating the haves from the have-nots is the prime mover behind this movement called immigration. Somebody did remark that America is a melting pot of civilizations. So it shall continue to be - is what I sincerely hope and pray. I loved America and had many a passionate discussion over drinks with my colleagues who would tell stories about how their fathers and forefathers had made it to America. In fact, some of them personally encouraged me to stay back - only I was too motivated to come back to my own country and preferred not to.

    America is a modern country and in my own view I don't think it needs a lot of manual labor (low-skilled work) given the amount of automation one sees there compared with other countries such as India where on the contrary, tremendous amounts of low skilled labor is needed. So I was not immediately sure as to the relevance of low-skilled labor in the US and the immigration issues pertaining to it.

    But assuming it's required - I tend to think that legalizing it would be a great choice - simply because it would help the authorities (hopefully) to keep a check on numbers. I strongly believe that the interests of the local public must necessarily be upheld. Only surpluses or lack of required skill sets alone should impel a country to import workers. People should try and find avenues in their own country first. At the same time, the immigration issue needs to be addressed at the grassroots level.

    People immigrate because they see a better quality of life elsewhere than in their own backyard. If rich, prosperous countries want to stop aliens from ruining their lives, they would do well to empathize with the people of less fortunate countries by helping the latter to grow. Whatever money is spent in curbing illegal immigration and other related malpractices could perhaps be utilized more effectively in helping poor nations build their own infrastructure.

    As these poor nations become stronger, their people would not feel the need to go out. This is not to say that rich countries like America are not already helping poor nations - they indeed are. But perhaps a lot more needs to be done and in a lot more effective manner. Only providing billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan to fight the Taliban - while overtly not entirely wrong insofar as it is to protect the sovereignty of America from the terrorists - is not the best way to arrest the problems of a troubled state like Pakistan let alone address the issue of Immigration.

    The exact mechanics of how this problem can be tackled will perhaps be the subject for an entire book; but suffice to say prosperous nations should start giving this notion a deep think-over. Perhaps, sooner or later, a day will come when no one will be forced to dump his own backyard for somebody else's.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    We currently have an abundance of low skilled people in this country, and we are paying many of them for not working. We keep spending more money to train these people every year. Why would we wnat to import more low skilled people?

     
     
     
    • Phil Clark
    • Clark & Associates

    Why do immigrants, legal or illegal, come to America? To work. If we do not need them, how come they are getting jobs? Who is employing them? Not the government. Do not blame the government for this. It is the businesses that hire them, often at minimal wages and without benefits. No welfare, no jobs, no immigrants.

    1. My suggestion would be greet all immigrants with a social security card. They have to pay taxes and Medicare like everyone else. If the account receives no credits after 6 months, they are deported.

    2. Then I would address the business misuse of this labor force. Employers must pay immigrants with check or automatic bank payments. (No under the table cash payments that are not traceble or taxable.)

    3. Any employer that does not follow number 2 pays a fine and at minimum spends six months in jail. (If it is a major corporation, CEO and Board of Directors go to jail.)

    Immigration is a fact of American life. Check your family tree. Let's get everyone contributing economically to the country. As to those Americans not working ... the jobs the immigrants are taking are there. Why doesn't an American apply? That is not an immigration problem. That is a motivation, education, and social problem all our own. Don't blame others.

     
     
     
    • Philippe Gouamba
    • Vice President of Human Resources, Skyline Windows, LLC

    "Note that these findings are cited by an organization that advocates strongly for free trade and generally less government. But do the hypotheses they advance deserve closer examination? Are the findings peculiar to the United States, or do they have relevance for other parts of the world? Should immigration policies be more welcoming to low-skilled workers?"

    Immigration has always been a very delicate issue, especially for the United States. We need to do more to combat illegal immigration and we need to do more to speed-up lawful immigration. The hypotheses of the Cato Institute do not deserve closer examination and their findings are peculiar to the United States. The US is the country with the longest waiting line for lawful entry.

    As an individual who came to this country at the tender age of 9 (with a G-4, D/S, Multiple Diplomatic Visa) and who later had to change status to "Green Card" holder then finally to Citizen, I have experienced our immigration system first hand. It is cumbersome and quite inefficient. Should immigration policies be more welcoming of low-skilled workers? Absolutely not!

    We currently have 12 million undocumented Mexicans inside the US and we do not know what to do with them; they thumb their noses at us as they sing the Star Spangled Banner in Mexican.

    When I last checked with a BICS Officer and an Immigration attorney that I use, I was informed that if an individual wants to immigrate to the US from Mexico, the wait is 15 years, from India it is 16 years and from the Philippines it is 18 years. We need not make it easier for low-skilled workers to enter the US and the US economy. The other more pressing reason for holding back the immigration floodgate is based on the current structure of the US economy. In the past 15 to 20 years the US economy has steadily moved away from Manufacturing. US Manufacturing is all but dead. We are now a Service based economy.

    To add to the death of the US manufacturing sector, the US Automobile Industry has recently taken a very hard hit resulting in thousands of lay-offs. As the structure of our economy has changed, and as a result of these massive lay-offs, we now have thousands of formerly highly paid auto workers who are now essentially low-skilled workers that desperately need to be retrained so that they may have a chance at rejoining our service based economy. I think we have all the low-skilled workers we can handle. We do have an acute shortage of healthcare professionals; nurses in particular.

    We need an immigration policy that is up-to-date and relevant. Any new US immigration policy will need to answer to the evolving structure and the new needs of the US economy.

     
     
     
    • Ronald

    Current times are trying and difficult for everyone. It is easy to blame the poor financial condition of our municipalities, our states and our country on immigrants. We should not forget that current sorry state of government finances is due to unchecked spending and budgeting based on the assumption of ever raising incomes and property values.

    The current system penalizes those choosing the legal route. The process is costly and worse of all takes an inordinate period of time. The opportunity costs must add into the hundreds of billions. Many times illegal immigration is the only reasonable route open.

    Illegal immigrants arrive at this country after enduring tremendous hardship and many times risking their lives. They do it in hope of a better future for themselves and the families most leave behind. Those hopes are so enticing that they pay seven to ten thousand dollars to "coyotes" to transport and guide them across the border. They are willing to spend their life savings, go into debt and risk their lives crossing inhospitable terrain. They place their life in the hands of unscrupulous quasi criminals who often use the same routes to smuggle for the drug cartels.

    Once in the country those same people, due to their status, are willing to work for very low wages and suffer other types of exploitation. In spite of all, the great majority forges ahead and achieves their economic dreams.

    It would make more sense to grant these immigrants work permits after charging a hefty fee, the same fee currently paid to "coyotes". Once legally in this country, they would command regular wages, pay taxes and compete on the same level ground as everyone else.

    The excuses to oppose immigration using economic arguments don't stand up to close scrutiny and creative economic alternatives.

     
     
     
    • Sanford Evans
    • President, Evans Strategic Communication

    Much of what I think has already been said.

    One thing that continues to amuse me is that most of us are from fairly recent immigrant stock; yet I get the feeling that no sooner do we unpack our bags, declare that we too are "real Americans," then we want to slam the door on anyone else who wants to follow in our footsteps. Those who come, as the Cato shows, come to work and make life better for themselves and their families. If that isn't the epitome of the American dream and work ethic I don't know what is. Keep the borders wide open and welcome all who want to come. It was what helped build our country. And it will help build our future.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    I believe that American interest will be better served by allowing all foreign natives who have passed through US impressive and superior educational system and willing to become citizens to have the opportunity to work in this country and contribute to its development through payment of tax, impactful innovative ideas gained from college and be part of the remarkable american dream. Preventing these home bred professionals from legal integration process into country, in my view is injurious to the country in the long run.

     
     
     
    • Kamal Gupta
    • CEO, EdSeva Software

    Your question is America-centric. One of the responders has expressed fear that US may lose the race to India and China if it does not open up its borders to immigration.

    Are you aware in America about immigration IN to India FROM neighboring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, and to a lesser extent, Sri Lanka & Pakistan?

    Why does this happen? Because India offers better opportunities than the source countries, and it is easy for these immigrants to merge - they look the same, talk almost the same language, there is not much of cultural difference since India too is a pluralistic society.

    The world has dismantled a lot of trade barriers, which has led to global prosperity. The only big barrier remaining is movement of humankind to regions which offer better prospects. If we can dismantle this, the world would be a better place.

    Why should a person be condemned to live in poverty in a Least Developed Country, just because she was born there? Isn't it a basic human right to discover better prospects, and if it needs moving to another place, so be it.

    There are divisionists, not only based on nationality but also state/ provinces. We have politicians in one western state who threaten people coming (immigrating?) from other states within India. These thoughts have to pass away for humankind to integrate.

    That will lead not only to economic prosperity but also much better understanding and appreciation of the world's cultures.

    The choice is as tough as changing one's faith or lack thereof - one is born into it, brought up in it, it becomes basic to our thinking process.

     
     
     
    • Paul T. Jackson
    • Consultant, Trescott Research
    1. I am always suspicious of conclusion of organizations such as PEW and Cato and any of the other think tanks. Many times, the conclusions they write and are picked up by media are wrong. Looking at the data will often reveal the conclusions are not supported by the data they use. So without seeing the data, I wouldn't necessarily agree with the conclusions above.

    2. America already has some of the lowest skilled workers around ... people who can't make change...I run into them every day...and perhaps why we have such large unemployment rate. There are plenty of jobs, just not the ones that people in the U. S. are capable of handling; not the skill or experience required, or the willingness to take on because of the low pay. So why in the world would anyone suggest we need more low skilled people?

    3. The problem with Americans who are low skilled is that they apparently feel they can't or won't humble themselves to the low skilled jobs in agriculture and such. It used to be students would be let out of class to go help the farmers bring in the crops...in some cases for two weeks. I don't see that happening any more. de-tasseling the corn crop used to be a sought after job for high school students, but the timing and wage and effort are no longer wanted by students, so the corporations running such seed farms are at a loss of how to manage the crops. Thus, farmers need to rely on more expensive machinery to do what manual labor used to do.

    And when machinery can't do it, we perhaps do need some immigration policy that would let these people in to do that kind of work, meanwhile supporting the low skilled American worker with entitlements...except we need controls so we are assured that they go back from whence they came and not be a drain on our health and other entitlement systems. And the low skilled American worker who won't work, should be mandated to work at something like community service, bringing in crops, or as in the 30s, the CCC. Basically make them work instead of giving them something for not working.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Immigration policy in Western countries especially the US favours unskilled and usually illegal migrants. It discriminates against educated immigrants with very limited visa availability. The US H-1 category is restricted and has been exhausted. Since 1964 US Immigration policy has tilted against Western Europe and the farcical notion of a Geen Card Lotterybiased towards Ireland and against Britain is ludicrous.

    There is no coherence to Western immigration policy - it is slow and long-winded unless an actor or a politically-favoured category when rules are bent. In economic terms the bias is against educated personnel with ridiculous labour certification procedures and bureaucratic inertia making it irrelevant to many people when the illegal route is faster and an amnesty is always in prospect.

    This is not just a US lunacy but exists in Canada, Britain and other Anglo-Saxon countries which exhibit a distinct bias against those whose backgrounds are most compatible with the host society.

    Western countries have education systems turning out unskilled people in large numbers but with elevated senses of self-worth making them unwilling to work for a living but reliant upon taxpayer-funded incomes. That Great Britain imports net 300,000 low-skilled immigrants each year - 500,000 gross of outflows; and aborts 250,000 babies each year whilst having 26% economic inactivity in core city wards is perhaps indicative of the problem in the USA also so similar are the economic predispositions to unskilled immigrant labour to sustain a marginal and contingent workforce.

     
     
     
    • Gokul
    • Chief (Project) Manager, Sutherland

    I think there is a huge gap between the government that is deciding on immigration policies, while corporates out there that hire people have a different view. They both don't work in tandem; unless they both work hand in hand, be it low/high skilled, there will be always gaps. Government should get to the ground reality of what skills corporates really need and of how these immigrants can be productively integrated into the workforce.

     
     
     
    • Kapil Kumar Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC (India) Private Limited

    Generally, there is no dearth of low-skilled workers in any country and the locals can themselves be utilized. However, there are countries where the availability of such employables far exceeds the local opportunities and this leads to their looking for pastures in other countries. They are prepared to undertake menial jobs at rates far below those demanded by locals in the other countries.

    Logically, it would be prudent for employers to save funds by using cheaper labour while ignoring their nationality. But, if the rate of local unemployment in their country is high, sacrificing by paying more to locals would be a better option in the interest of their own people. If this is not done, the result would be strife between locals and outsiders, many of whom would have landed illegally.

    To summarize, while legal provisions must be strictly applied, immigration policies do not need to be more welcoming particularly to low-skilled workers. Even no external high-skilled workers would be preferred over a similar local.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Seventy percent (70%) of US agricultural workers are illegal immigrants. At 10% unemployment, there has been no mad rush of American citizens to take over the toil of unskilled low wage farm work, labor that must be accomplished if we are to eat. The few that do venture into farm field work tend to be far less productive - try by half - than their illegal co-workers and don't last long at their new farm job. Food prices are rising, and global demand for food will soon shoot off the charts. Yes, America needs their illegal ag workers to sustain an economic sector that is our most basically important. We might think about treating them more kindly. Or, better yet, pass sensible legislation to provide for low skilled worker visas so they don't have to be illegal and can pay their taxes. (Please, don't talk to me about the bureaucratic impossible maze of the useless H-2A visa.)

     
     
     
    • Eloton Fowler
    • Unemployed

    Our history has been to use technology to replace high cost labor, and importing unskilled workers to keep costs low takes away the initiative for technological advances...and although illegal immigrant labor may keep the price of lettuce low, it also places a burden on our schools and hospitals. I'd rather pay more for lettuce! Remember "illegal" means "not legal".

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Oh. This is an easy one. It will cause a small percentage of the current lower wage earners to take higher paying jobs, but the rest of them won't go up.

     
     
     
    • Jay Somasundaram
    • Systems Analyst

    Isn't low-skilled a misnomer? Immigrants usually are ambitious, hard-working, willing to grasp opportunities and take risks. Aren't these valuable skills?

    On the other hand, they will often accept sub-standard work conditions and pay....

     
     
     
    • David Wittenberg
    • CEO, The Innovation Workgroup

    As long as there is a minimum wage in America, an influx of low-skilled workers amid a weak economy is a recipe for higher unemployment and growing welfare rolls. For a counter-example, consider India, where I live, where only 15% of workers participate in the formal economy. Surplus laborers survive only because $1/day, subsistence-level, informal-sector jobs are available.

    The immigrant labor question is no different from the unemployment rate question. Whenever labor supply exceeds demand, the disequilibrium can be corrected 1) by growth in demand due to a) overall economic growth or b) reducing the cost of labor below the value of the laborer's production, or by 2) reduction in supply, usually through migration. We've seen the latter effect recently in immigration/emigration trends. The minimum wage prevents 1-b.

    High-skill workers can more often create sufficient value to justify their salaries. Low-skill workers can do so only in a growing economy where division of labor provides for increased demand.

    As for the positive externalities of immigration, I agree with the studies. To address problems in my hometown, Detroit, I dream of 200,000 entrepreneurial and industrious Iraqi, Mexican and Indian immigrants settling, establishing a culture that values intact families and education, and building economically sustainable institutions.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Again, we waste time, money, and resources doing elaborate studies to contradict what is obvious to anyone willing to look at the overall picture.

    Whatever small iota of good you dig up about illegal aliens can not overcome the negative aspects of illegal and criminal activity, drugs, crime, identity theft, and loss of jobs for Americans to name a few.

    Illegals are transient, they are here to get something and move on. They do not care about the culture, the communities they live in, or the impact they leave. They drain resources and money.

    There are (or were) millions of people around the world who try to come here legally. They pay enormous fees, endure hundreds of hours of paperwork and interviews by arrogant, disrespectful Govt employees at U.S. Embassies and DHS offices, and wait years for interviews in the hopes of getting a visa and maybe seeing family for the first time in years, or finding a (legal) job to support their families.

    For every illegal alien that sneaks in, that's another honest person who cannot get a visa legally to come in.

    We tell them what, don't bother just sneak in?

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    In the interest of fairness and accuracy it should be noted that a Pew Center study by Jeffrey S. Passel "estimated that illegal immigrants fill a quarter of all agricultural jobs". That means that about 75% of all agricultural jobs are filled by US Citizens, Legal Residents, and Legal Temporary Workers. And since that industry is currently experiencing a 12.6% unemployment rate per US Bureau of Labor Statistics it is quite clear that Americans are lining up for agricultural jobs and not finding them and that agriculture in general is far less dependant on Illegal Immigration than is being claimed above. And finally it is clear that remediation of Illegal Immigration in the Agricultural Industry would not be the disaster that some would claim. Rather it would be an exercise in ensuring that the minority of businesses that choose to break the law be encouraged to abide by the law and hire legal workers.

     
     
     
    • Joanna

    With contradictory data being presented this is a hard question to answer. Do we have objective data weighing the net benefits or liabilities of immigrants performing low-skilled labor? CATO cites no liabilities. However, as someone already pointed out, labor flows to where the jobs are. From my observations, immigrants tend to those jobs that go unfilled; whether it is restaurant busboys in Chicago or lawn maintenance in Phoenix.

    Major corporations have solved the problem by going to where the cheap labor lives, excuse me I mean, low cost regions. Unfortunately agriculture, service and construction industries cannot do the same. If labor in these industries were done by US citizens our food and shelter would be much more expensive and would make food and shelter less accessible to the already impoverish citizens in this country.

     
     
     
    • K B Ackerman
    • President, Ackerman Company

    In the warehousing industry in many parts of the Southwest, a high percentage of the freight handlers are Hispanic, and nearly all are temporary workers hired from a staffing service. Management feel that using a staffing service controls the risk of hiring undocumented workers. Many become "permanent temps" because it is cheaper to hire them through an agency than to move them onto the payroll.

    When we study a warehouse operation, I spend most of my time on the floor talking with the workers, usually in their language. By and large, they are dependable and hard working, and their children will probably have better jobs than they have.

    That is how immigrants have worked in America for the last four centuries, and generally it has worked out quite well.

     
     
     
    • Noaman AlSaleh
    • CSR & Media Relations Manager, ENOC

    Most jobs do require some sort of skill. Obtaining a number of skilled worker brings some degree of expertise and guides the performance of any job. Migration of workers mainly is driven by the availability of materialistic rewards. However, conditions such as lack of security, opportunity, and suitable rewards in the homeland primarily contribute to this enormous relocation of people whether they are skilled or just have slight knowledge for any sort of job, going from places of lesser development to prosperous societies.

    Making it possible for them to learn and grow does have its advantages. In fact, skilled labors have been growing into wealthy highly paid labors, in which to obtain their services does require a huge cut of the personal account to obtain a simple service which at the end slows down the spending power of any person. On the other hand, availing low and under trained workers provides the justice in wages to the worth of the conducted service. On the contrary, there is always the fear of obtaining a large number of unskilled workers in small cities. As the number grows and traders seek them for their low wages, the delivered quality gets compromised and the benchmark of quality drops down.

    Thus, there should be a minimum point on the assessment sheet for low skill workers to pass prior to granting them acceptance of entry, to maintain service and the quality. Or, each worker should have a Skill Development Program (SDP) that is prepared and delivered by the company that wishes to offer any low skilled worker a job.

     
     
     
    • Sam Heffner HBS MBA'70
    • Retired Executive

    If the overall quality of the 36 comments prior to this one are any indication, Professor Heskett succeeded in stimilating thoughtful discussion of illegal/unskilled immigration.

    But to what end? All three studies that Professor Heskett cites are from organizations strongly alligned on one side of the argument. If I have learned anything, it is to be most wary of any points of view preceded by "Recent studies suggest..." To his credit, Dr. Heskett identifies Cato for what it is.

    I have also learned to be wary of articles such as Cato/ Mr. Griswald's that surround an important assertion with heaps of data that appear to, but in fact do not, support said assertion. You bet I wish that the presence of illegal/low skilled immigrants in our country would cause drop-outs to re-think their disastrous decision to leave school! But talk about wishful thinking!

    Folks such as Cato's Mr. Griswald used to cite Milton Friedman when pushing for wide open borders. But no more. I suspect that is because, in an interview shortly before he died, the great Dr. Friedman acknowledged that in a (more or less) welfare state the economic arguments for open borders do not pertain.

    p.s. Most of the time I agree with Cato.

     
     
     
    • Nauman Lodhi
    • Marketing Manager, SORCIM Technologies

    The issue of immigration will continue to haunt not just the U.S. It is a phenomenon rapidly increasing around the world. Global inequality, and political and social insecurity in the third world are the major reasons that propel immigrants toward prospering economies.

    It is wise to collaborate with governments around the world including the Mexican government and to encourage people to stay in their own country.

    This is only possible when developed countries support the developing ones from which immigrants sweep into the U.S. and European nations.

    Why should they bother with poor folks?

    In a global world where multinationals profit by milking any cow, be it in any poor country, gives reason to unemployed and frustrated people to leave their homelands in search of better futures. Also in a world where big players set the rules of the game by waging controversial wars, they prove themselves a stakeholder in global governance.

    If people had opportunities in their own countries, the immigration flow would slow down.

    Now what to do with the present ones? Building fences, imposing taxes, deporting those staying illegally for many months and years, will also need huge financing and administrative work. It will result in many injustices as well. Not all Americans would like that, nor would businesses that benefit from low-cost labor that don't demand workers rights. America, which finds in immigrants a shared culture and an economy supported by them, will need to be careful in resolving this issue.

    Is the present economic crisis a result of these petty workers or the soaring annual budget deficits, war costs, unethical financial gurus and the unequal distribution of wealth?

    Temporary legal status may be granted to illegal aliens with the condition that they go back to their countries of origin after some time.

    Should policies be more welcoming for the low-skilled workers? Workers with multiple skills may be allowed to come for a temporary time.

    Tough times give rise more than ever to tough thoughts powered by emotions. A global world is a reality and humanity shares a common destiny. An individualized approach will not benefit any single country. Problems like this have to be taken in their entirety.

     
     
     
    • Ajay Kumar Gupta
    • Faculty, IBSAR, Belapur, Navi Mumbai, India

    Should the immigration policies be more welcoming to low skilled workers, depends upon several factors. It varies from country to country, and whether the country is labor intensive or capital intensive, government policy, opportunities available, stage of development, facilities available, type of skills required, attitude of local residents.

    Immigration can be divided into two categories- local and global. Within local category it could be rural to urban, urban to metro, metro to metro or vice versa depending upon the opportunities available to fulfill needs. Global immigration could be migration to any countries where opportunities and other conditions are favorable to low skilled workers. Immigration again can be of two types: legal and illegal.

    Before addressing the issue, let us find out root cause of migration whether it is legal or illegal. As per Abraham Harold Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, physiological needs are the most dominant one. And these unsatisfied needs are the major causes of low skilled migration. If the needs can be fulfilled locally, local migration may be minimized. And similarly if local migration is unable to solve the needs, global immigration starts to other countries where opportunities are available. While immigrating to other countries, workers make cost benefit analysis in terms of immigration fees, opportunities available, employment contract, wages and other facilities in the particular country.

    To make immigration policies for low skilled workers needs careful analysis and its impact on economy of the county. In case of U.S., it may have positive impact but the same thing can not be replicated to other countries. For examples, immigration to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri lanka, Bangladesh may not attract to workers. On the other hand, relaxing immigration policies to western countries and gulf countries will be tremendous positive response. Since opportunities available are huge.

    But at the same time, skills required for low skilled workers for U.S. will be different from skills required for Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi, Oman, and Qatar etc. where workers in gulf countries are employed in activities like sheep rearing, farming, labor jobs, construction work etc where wages are too low and living conditions are unhygienic. They stay in barracks or tents outside the city since they can't afford to live in good house. The quality of life is horrible. In fact they can earn more in their country provided they are willing to work same hours in our country.

    These masses create demand for food and services and economy get benefit out of this but this trend may not last long. They normally work as long as to meet their financial liability. Their retention is usually short. They share their experience to their family, friends, relatives, colleagues, community and society which creates a negative image about the country. Therefore it creates a negative long term impact. So, immigration policies to gulf countries should not be welcoming. [...]

    So, in my opinion, immigration policies should be more welcoming in terms of transparency to check illegal immigrations and to discourage agents/smugglers, check and balance system to have minimum standard/qualification and over and above, its long term impact on economy and people should be studied keeping national interest on top priority rather that focusing on short term economic development.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    San Antonio, Houston, & other parts of TX do benefit from new willing workers - construction, fast food & more. Most appear to be family & work oriented. The CAUTION is that those with criminal intent can hide in the pack. We have tools - EB5 Visa & more - that allow some to fast track families to safety. We have other 'work' visas that at least let us track who is here, limiting rape & robbery. Why should we risk allowing those who don't at least "register" to live among us?

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Too many of the studies of the economic impact of illegal or un-restrained immigration fail to look at the second and third level impacts.

    Perhaps the first myth is that the guys hanging out in the Home Depot parking lot are willing to work for less than "American" workers. At $15/ hour cash this may appear to be true. However, it discounts the gap between hourly pay and takehome pay. The cash worker is probably taking home about the same amount as the $20/hour "on the books" worker.

    For the cash worker our society picks up the costs that would have been borne by the employer including workmens comp, unemployment and a plethora of national, state and local levies that raise the cost of the $20 per hour worker to perhaps $35 per hour, excluding any profit to the contractor. If the worker brings a truck it's not likely to be insured and thus all of the insured drivers pay a significant amount for uninsured motorist coverage.

    The process accelerates as groups of people working for cash get together to bid construction, maintenance and other work. Increasingly, small construction contractors are caught in a vice between the cost of being a legimitate employer and economics of competing with those who are not.

    How serious is the problem, estimates are that 40% of the people working in the City of LA are working for cash. Certainly 'undocumented" workers are not the only ones working for cash and the cause of all of the financial problems at the CA state and local govts and schools. However, immigramt cash workers are a significant direct and indirect contributor to the problems.

    As a national policy our immigration policy should include goals of ethnic and social diversity among the immigrants. It shoujld also recognize that we need to provide entry level job opportunities for our citizens.

    The people who believe that they benefit from immigration in the availability of a housekeeper, gardener, landscape contractor, painter, carpenter, plumber etc fail to realize that their is a connection between that benefit and the fiscal problems of the state, local governments, hospitals and schools.

     
     
     
    • Vanitha Rangganathan
    • Malaysia

    Jim,

    HBSWK truly needs to start exploring discussions on a more universal perspective.

    It's rather limiting when your citations are mostly American when the ill effects of illegal presence of low-skilled labour are increasingly evident in 'Third World hellhole' nations --- as so choicely defined by an ignorant American contributor.

    Malaysia has been experiencing burgeoning criminal decay because of this illegal presence and I believe that the very Government policies -- whilst addressing the shortage of low-skilled labour in our country -- has completely forgotten (or conveniently ignored) the eventualities of increased crime rates and reduced job opportunities for the less educated and less economically sound citizens.

    These policies have become a downfall and are increasingly a nuisance because of the Government's lack of foresight. Ours and yours, both.

     
     
     
    • Glen Wilson
    • Finance

    It seems difficult, maybe impossible, to address this issue given the current environment for immigration. We are either not able or willing to control the flow of illegal immigrants into our country. The political interests of businesses that want cheap labor via lack of enforcement of immigration laws, combined with the political posturing from some members of the liberal establishment have resulted in gridlock for this issue.

    I suspect that our economy needs many of the illegal immigrants that are in this country. We need a solution that stops the flow of illegal immigrants to this country and that reasonabley facilitates the legal entry of needed workers. This can only be accomplished by establishing a process that allows these workers to enter our country legally in a manner that is timely and cost effective. Our current immigration infrastructure and laws do not facilitate these objectives.

    It seems reasonable that having most guest workers in this country here legally would be beneficial to our economy. Proper taxes would be paid. Health insurance would be funded. Schools would be funded. Workers would only come when jobs were available. Employers that hire illegally would lose the unfair advantage they have in terms of labor costs.

    Fix our immigration system and then you can have a productive discussion about this issue.