Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Immigration: Larsen v. Souder

Congress has recently been wrestling with the issue of immigration reform. What should the U.S. do to properly balance open borders with cracking down on illegal immigration?

"Larsen: The perception is we are in need of less-educated workers, which is not true. Steven Camarota, research director for the Center of Immigration Studies, says our infrastructure suffers from illegal immigration and we pay for it in our schools and health care. Data clearly shows immigrants do not perform jobs that Americans won't, but displace the least-educated Americans. Unemployment among less-educated Americans (high school only) is up 11 percent, while 13 percent for dropouts.

In 2005, there were 4 million Americans unemployed and 19 million who stopped looking for work. The share of unemployed with less education is way up. They already have the highest unemployment rate, lowest wage rate and employment participation among less educated has declined dramatically. They took the poorest workers and made them poorer. Less-educated immigrants and less-educated Americans do the same kinds of work.

Allowing legal status to illegals has enormous implications for America's poorest workers. America is not short of less-educated workers given the high unemployment rate and the high number of less-educated workers who have stopped looking. Immigration is not bad; uncontrolled/illegal immigration is. We need to know who is entering our country to deal with terrorism. We need tighter border security."

"Souder: As a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee and as the author of the first comprehensive congressional report on border security, I know that first and foremost we need to do more to enhance our protections along the border. In addition, we need to adopt a guest worker program (which would likely include a path to a Green Card and citizenship for some workers) and then ensure that our immigration laws are enforced.

Morally speaking, I do not believe that we can make use of illegal workers when times are good and then cast them aside when things aren't going as well. Moreover, it isn't realistic to deport 12 million people. America is a land of immigrants and we need a fair way to accommodate those whom we need to keep our economy functioning and growing. But we must have a secure, enforceable border, which in the past Congress has refused to mandate. At the same time, we must be fair to those who are waiting patiently to immigrate -- sometimes for decades."


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