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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Learning to tell the truth about immigration reform.

Did anyone notice who brought that case to have one of the Arizona immigration enforcement statutes declared unconstitutional?  It was the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.  The case name is Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting.  In that case the Chamber of Commerce is allied with various civil rights organizations in seeking to have that statute overturned. The alliances in that case reveal some truths about illegal immigration that a lot of people don't want to face.  It is time that we start to explore those truths.  First, is the truth that certain employers like illegal immigration.  It gives them a ready and willing labor force that tends not to cause trouble and is willing to accept substandard conditions. Civil Rights organizations like them because they eventually vote for Democrats and they form a large client base for the government funded programs that liberals love-- WIC, foodstamps, welfare and so on.  While the illegal immigrants can't legally vote, their children born here eventually can. And they will tend to vote Democrat.  They provide children who keep school teachers, social workers and endless numbers of bureaucrats employed in jobs that pay well.

 The second ugly truth has to do with the state of the American labor force.  Employers argue that immigrants do jobs that American workers refuse to do.  When you look at unemployment statistics that seems like an absurd argument.  Unemployment is at record high rates throughout the country.  Surely, some well meaning people argue, Americans would rather do these jobs than be unemployed.  But if you naively think that, you are wrong.  In California, for example, a person may receive unemployment insurance benefits even if he or she limits herself or himself to looking for jobs in his or her usual occupation.  Take a look at precedent benefits decision 173 in which an Executive Secretary refused to look for or accept jobs that were not on the executive secretary level.  It is an old decision but still good law.  Unemployed workers can continue to receive benefits even if they refuse to change their occupation to one in which there are jobs available and even if they refuse to move to where the jobs are.  Now the truth is that most unemployed American workers were earning more than minimum wage in jobs other than chicken packing plants, field agricultural labor and other types of jobs most often filled by illegal immigrants.  A kind of snobbery has developed where it is more acceptable to be receiving unemployment insurance than it is to work at a low level job.  Almost by definition when illegal immigrants make up the majority of people doing a job, American citizens don't want to do it anymore.  I challenge you to find American citizens in Los Angeles who are willing to clean your house, though it pays 10-12 dollars per hour or mow your lawn, which also pays 10-12 dollars per hour.  So long as people can receive up to two years of benefits while refusing to even investigate such opportunities we will have both a high unemployment rate and hundreds of thousands of people trying to sneak into this country and take those jobs.  Our unemployment insurance system fails to recognize economic reality-- markets, including labor markets are constantly changing.  8 track tapes have disappeared and CD's seem to be heading in that direction.  So the people who specialize in such technologies, as an example, will be permanently unemployed unless they are willing to change their occupations.  But we have a system that pays them not to be willing.