Immigration Myopia in the Land of the Free

By Randy Alcorn
August 2007

In the Los Angeles Times lead editorial published 8/11/07, the Bush administration is castigated for measures it has taken to actually enforce the nation’s immigration laws. The Time’s editorial echoes the myopic economic arguments typically made by those special interests that benefit from the continuing invasion of illegal immigrants, and warns that serious enforcement of immigration laws may “prove disastrous for workers, employers and swaths of the economy.”

Unregulated immigration has already proven disastrous for workers whose wage scales have been driven down and whose jobs have been lost to waves of desperately poor illegal aliens willing to work for far less money and tolerate abuses of labor law that American workers will not. Unregulated immigration has already proven disastrous for America’s taxpayers, as the nation’s public schools and welfare agencies have been deluged by the perennial tidal wave of illegal aliens. Unregulated immigration has proven disastrous for the nation’s prisons and law enforcement agencies contending with growing Hispanic gang violence spreading now even into small towns around the nation.

When the price of a head of lettuce or the cost of construction includes all these costs, the economics of illegal immigration come into sharper focus. Weaning the American economy of the semi-slave army of illegal workers will no doubt involve some painful economic adjustment, but America will no doubt recover, and, in the long run, will benefit from it.

Farmers will find that there is tested technology available that has mechanized the harvesting of many crops currently being harvested by human labor. The construction industry will have to adjust its wage scales upward and, if really needed, petition for regulated, limited, use of foreign workers.

Thirty years ago crops were harvested, structures built, and poultry packed without massive numbers of foreign workers. A nation that consistently sustains unemployment levels of 5% or more does not need to import workers. It needs to require that its own citizens work. The social safety net should not allow the unemployed to be so persnickety about the work they will do.

In one of the more lame objections against enforcement of immigration laws, the Times argues that requiring employers to verify the authenticity of workers’ social security numbers will result in “hurting longtime citizens” who have had a name change that causes a discrepancy with their Social Security number. The confusion and process involved in clearing up such name/number discrepancies might result in a legal citizen losing his or her job the Times warns.

Few of us are fond of bureaucracy, but any of us who are active participants in American society must often deal with the bureaucratic processes of establishing and proving identification—voting registration, driver’s licenses, passports, credit applications, bank accounts, etc. Such process requirements are necessary inconveniences in our socio-economic system. Sometimes there are glitches, but why should that irritating reality exempt immigration from regulation?

The Times ends its criticism of stricter immigration law enforcement measures by saying that although the majority of Americans will welcome effective enforcement, the measures will “move the U.S. further away from being the land of the free.” The Times does not make a cogent case for how keeping trespassers out of the country will make us less free, but, with a discernable bit of didactic arrogance, it implies that the desire of the majority of Americans to restrict immigration by enforcing our laws is misguided.

While the majority opinion is not always correct, on this issue it is more correct than is the opinion of the Los Angeles Times. Americans are rightfully uncomfortable with massive unregulated immigration. They experience its negative impact.

Illegal immigration’s greatest impact on America is population growth. America is the only advanced nation whose population is growing at a third world pace.  Already doubled to 300 million since 1950, America’s population is headed for half a billion by mid century unless growth rates are reduced. The sole cause for this alarming growth is immigration. This growth is alarming because, given the inevitable limits of resources, the numbers themselves are unsustainable, and the rapid and significant change in the composition of American society is not beneficial for “the great American melting pot.”

Unrelenting, uncontrolled foreign immigration inhibits assimilation and integration. Already, many parts of the nation have essentially become bilingual. The speed and size of population increase does not allow time or resources for a sufficient increase in public infrastructure and services to accommodate the numbers of newcomers and their prolific procreation.

The real threat to the land of the free and to our representative democracy is not the bureaucratic inconvenience that may result from enforcing immigration laws, but rather the massive increases in population resulting by not enforcing them. In America only legal citizens can vote, and legal citizens must be proficient in English. Why then are ballots printed in both Spanish and English? Who is voting in our elections?

As the population increases, more Congressional seats must be created. At the projected rate of growth, the Capitol building will be too small to accommodate the additional Congressional seats required to represent a half a billion Americans. The partisan discord, gridlock, and corruption that already make Congress so ineffectual will only get worse as population increases. Democracy, even representative democracy, is a fragile flower that grows best in small gardens. 

The land of the free is not the land of a free-for-all when it comes to immigration. Restricting the growth of its population is essential to the health of this nation and to its representative democracy.

Randy Alcorn is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), www.capsweb.org, and can be reached at randyalcorn@verizon.net or info@capsweb.org.

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