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Friday, November 23, 2007

Michigan House Democrats to Crack Down on Employers Hiring Illegal Immigrants

The House Democrats in my home state of Michigan are looking to penalize the state's private employers who hire illegal immigrants. Their aim is to make it a felony for private sector employers who knowingly hire "undocumented workers" (a politically correct term for illegal aliens) in the state.

Today's online edition of the Detroit Free Press reports:

LANSING – House Democrats want to make it a felony for employers to knowingly hire illegal or undocumented immigrants in Michigan.

A four-bill package would require employers to verify documents for new hires under federal rules, such as driver's licenses, passports or Social Security cards.

Businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants could be jailed and fined – up to five years and $250,000 for repeat offenders.

Also, legitimate state residents who lose their jobs to illegal workers could sue their employers for restitution, under one of the bills.

'Every job that goes to an illegal worker is one more job that is stolen from our own hard workers here in Michigan,' said Rep. Mike Simpson, D-Jackson, a sponsor of one of the bills.

Simpson said he’s heard many complaints from many construction companies that they are underbid for jobs by others who use cheaper illegal laborers, some of them from out of state.

Excuse me, but by what right does the state have to dictate to private employers who they can and cannot hire? Private employers have every moral and ethical right to hire whoever is qualified for the jobs in the state. It's called freedom of association, and private property rights also have a hand in this as well. Their call for "tough sanctions" or even "criminal penalties" for employers, whether they "knowingly" hire "illegal" immigrants (I prefer to call them "independent migrants," a term coined by prominent libertarian commentator Sheldon Richman) or not, is an assault on free enterprise. Moreover, the Democrats, who are just as imperalist and statist as the Republicans, are employing Republicanese on the illegal immigration issue, simply to buy special interest votes. This pretty much showcases the fact that immigration policy reveals much about who we are.

Considering the fact that independent migrants have rights as much as nativist Americans do, the sad fact is that government operation and control of the borders have proved to be nothing less than disastrous. When the Democrats decided to adopt the xenophobic rhetoric of the Republicans, they became, by default, very much like the Republicans, and in most cases, even worse than the GOP on the issue.

The fact of the matter is this: this is a country, not a country club. The attitude that independent migrants have "broken the law" by coming into the country, especially when they weren't even aware of our laws beforehand, is just plain ridiculous. As convoluted and vague as our immigration controls are, how any migrant would be expected to know every provision of U.S. immigration law is perplexing. When you hear xenophobic conservatives make arguments against immigration (legal and/or illegal), their chief complaints are that such migrants are here in the U.S. for the cardinal purpose of sucking the welfare teat. Other objections to their presence here are that they are taking away jobs, filling up our schools at taxpayers' expense, and receiving free medical care and getting drivers licenses at taxpayers' expense as well.

The fact of the matter is that hardly any immigrants that do come into the U.S. (whether legal or illegal) are going on the dole (anyone who claims otherwise is being intellectually dishonest and disingenuous). Migrants actually subsidize the U.S. economy more so than we subsidize them, a fact that is often obscured by the xenophobes in both major parties (although the xenophobes have dominant control of the GOP). They even pay taxes into the system (sales taxes, property taxes, rent taxes, and even Social Security), a fact that is also concealed from the public by the xenophobes and their Neo-Con allies. In a nutshell, the "employers-are-hiring-illegals" racket is a red herring that's served to ignore the real issue, which is government control of immigration.

The second part of the nonsense -- that the migrants are taking away their jobs -- is just putrid to the core. Migrants are mostly taking agricultural jobs, jobs that most Americans will not take, considering they pay way below minimum wage. Plus, the working conditions are a big factor as to why most Americans will not accept them. How many Americans (show of hands, please!) are more than willing and excited to take those very low-paying jobs, when it's cheaper to offer them to the migrants, thus lowering their labor costs?

Finally, the third part of their arguments -- the migrants putting their kids into our public "government" school system and seeking medical treatment at our hospitals -- is just another red herring. Those issues are government school and government health care issues. They must be separated from each other and from the "illegal" immigration issue, even though xenophobes like to smear migrants by implying that so-called "illegals" are at fault for causing the implosion of the welfare state, when it's actually the xenophobic conservatives and their statist allies on both the Left and the Right who are responsible for this, considering they refuse to abolish the welfare state and eliminate government management, central planning, and operation of immigration.

One more thing: the reason that most immigrants come into the country "illegally" is that it's too expensive for them to arrive here in the U.S. via the legal channels. It costs hundred, if not thousands, of dollars just to apply for a green card or a work VISA. Plus, waiting in line at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) is a nightmare, considering you can be standing there for hours. Moreover, if you lose your legal paperwork to come into the country legally, the bureaucrats wouldn't give a hoot about it; in fact, they would tell you to fill out the forms again and possibly pay thousands of more in application fees (something that most poor immigrants can't afford to do). Those who do pay those fees are either wealthy immigrants or immigrants who have loved ones living in the U.S. and willing to sponsor them. All others are either unlucky or fair game.

I suspect that most of the anti-immigration arguments are mostly racist and xenophobic in origin. I realize that some conservative commentators object to the migrants being here, but I suspect that a lot of their thinking is rooted in inherent bigotry.

The solution is to get the government out of the immigration business and allow individuals cross freely, while establishing real free trade. While we're at it, let's abolish the state, legalize freedom, and restore a true free market domestically and abroad.