Raising the Minimum Wage for Working Men and Women in California and the Rest of America

Why Liberals Should Oppose the Immigration Bill

It's about low-wage American workers

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The consensus among decent people in favor of the immigration bill making its way through Congress is so firm that expressing dissent feels a bit like taking the floor to suggest we chop down the Redwood National Park. People don’t want to hear it, and they also think you’re a nut. That makes this article one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write. It’s not that I’m afraid people will get angry; it’s that I can’t imagine anyone on my side (liberal) is open to persuasion. And, despite the vastness and complexity of the issue, I have to be brief: the Senate hopes to be done with things this week.

Sometimes, though, you just have to embrace futility.

The country I want for myself and future Americans is one that’s prosperous, cohesive, harmonious, wealthy in land and resources per capita, nurturing of its skilled citizens, and, most important, protective of its unskilled citizens, who deserve as much any other Americans to live in dignity. This bill threatens to put all of that out of reach, because it fails to control illegal immigration. The problem is not that it provides 11 million people eventual amnesty (I don’t object to that, in theory); the problem is that it sets in motion the next waves of millions.

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Enforcement of immigration law is not all that hard. Illegal immigration can never be reduced to zero, of course, but it can be brought down to levels that we had in the 1950s and 1960s, and with very little outright force. There are plenty of means: enhanced fencing and patrolling at the southern border, E-Verify for all hiring, strict penalties for employers who hire illegally, a biometric entry/exit system, and punishment (and deportation) for entering the country illegally. Ron Unz of The American Conservative has proposed that a $12-an-hour minimum wage plus strict sanctions would greatly reduce the magnet of sweatshop employment. None of these methods could work singly, but used in concert they would bring illegal immigration down to negligible levels. An analogy might be made to crime in Manhattan: it will never go to zero, but the rate has become so low as to cease to be alarming.
• Category: National • Tags: Immigration, T.A. Frank