In a NY Times editorial dated August 14, David Brooks looks at some of the immigration problems now facing the nation. He begins the piece by correctly identifying two key problems, both economic. In his words (emphasis added):
"What do you say to the working-class guy from the south side of San Antonio? He feels his wages are stagnating because he has to compete against illegal immigrants. He watches thousands of people streaming across the border, bankrupting his schools and health care system, while he plays by the rules."Brooks goes on to observe that the current government policy in this regard is to try to reduce the number of illegal immigrants by protecting the border and by hunting down illegal aliens who do make it into the country. He notes that in this on-going effort, the number of Border Patrol agents has increased threefold since 1986, while the enforcement budget has ballooned to 10X what it was in that same year, yet the results are unencouraging.
So, rather than protecting the border, he endorses two bills floating around in the Senate, which he says will help mitigate the problem and “re-establish order by opening up legal, controllable channels through which labor can flow in an aboveground, orderly way.”
On a cursory glance, both of the bills he mentions seem to have some merit as compared to the status quo, and if the only choices possible were to keep things as they are, or to adopt one of these bills (or some amalgamation of the two) I would choose to enact the bills into law.
But these aren’t the only two options available. Much better would be to take a step back and look at our overall domestic policy, especially in light of the excellent observations Brooks makes at the outset of his editorial. The real problem is not that people enter the country illegally instead of legally, but that we as a nation think it proper to offer “free” or subsidized services to any and all comers — services which ultimately are paid for by forcefully transferring wealth from one group of individuals to another (via taxes). This is the root problem which has to be solved, yet neither of the two senate bills address it in any form whatsoever. In fact, both bills will allow in more people who will put more stress on free services, particularly on education and healthcare.
So why not address these directly? Why not privatize health care and education, such that everyone pays as they go, regardless of their immigration status? At that point there would be no conflicts of interest between established citizens and recent immigrants, and we as a nation could stop pursuing and punishing those whose sole crime is striving for a better life -- a “crime” which I remind you that every American or his forefathers committed, a “crime” which is responsible for making the country the great nation that it is.