28 February 2006

The Los Angeles immigration debate

I just read a TruthOut article regarding immigration - particularly the impact of low-wage illegals and the high black unemployment rate.

Immigration policies must reflect the supply and demand of the labor market. If skilled workers are unavailable due to the American education system's inability to crank out its own skilled worker pool, then immigrants must be brought in to fill the gap. On the other hand, if there is a high unemployment rate due to an oversupply of workers, bringing in immigrants will only exacerbate the problem and cause wages to crash.

For the working-class native-born blacks and Latinos, immigration has proven to be a disaster, because many illegal migrants are willing to work for slave wages and no benefits. Here in Los Angeles, instead of being paid $30/hour plus benefits and the ability to organize, the construction workers, for example, now must live on $10/hour and no benefits, because if they won't, illegal aliens will.

The approaches to solving the current immigration problems vary. There are labor unions who see a new opportunity - by organizing with immigrant labor. In fact, Los Angeles's hotel janitors have made impressive gains that way. But native-born working class citizens still want to have the jobs first, instead of offering guest worker programs that will give away more jobs to foreign workers at slave wages.

I think the real issue comes down to education, and the system's failure to produce a well-educated workforce. This forces Americans into lower-end jobs, where they face stronger competition from slave-wage illegal aliens. And if employers are favoring more immigration just so that the immigrants can work at slave wages and crash wage levels for everybody, nothing could be more evil than that - everyone loses, natives and immigrants alike. There must also be mechanisms where employers are severely punished for hiring illegals, and where labor laws are strictly enforced on legals and natives. And last, but not the least, special-interest immigration programs, such as automatic asylum offered to Cubans and Koreans, shall never, ever have a place in American immigration policy again.