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Fundamental Shift Toward Illegal Immigrants In the Works?

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After years of divided, muted response to cries for decisive immigration reform in either direction — with the labyrinthine issues of law, economics, human rights, and culture further complicated by the horrors of 9/11 — there appears to be momentum building for actual legislative action regarding the fate of the U.S.’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

Yesterday, in response to intense pressure building from large public demonstrations — Monday, 100,000 marchers converged on the Arizona state Capitol to demand that Congress not criminalize illegal immigrants as part of a nationwide immigrant “Day of Action,” 350,000 had marched in Dallas Sunday — and mixed messages from within their own party, the two top Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, said, “It remains our intent to produce a strong border security bill that will not make unlawful presence in the United States a felony.”

A poll by the Washington Post and ABC News released yesterday found over 60 percent of respondents support the current leading Senate proposal addressing border security, a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for many in the country illegally, which calls for illegal immigrants to pay a fine and back taxes as part of a process of qualifying for eventual citizenship.

Only 20 percent of those polled favor legislation passed in the House late last year to build hundreds of miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, require that businesses verify the legality of all employees’ status, fortify border patrols, and, most contentiously, declare illegal immigrants and those who help them subject to felony prosecution.

As with other thorny issues — such as abortion rights and the War on Drugs, for example — it comes down for many to what is “right” vs. what is “possible” or at least practical. Social conservatives fear “rewarding” illegal or immoral behavior as a terrible societal precedent that is “wrong” and only encourages more of the same. They want to legislate what “should” be, rather than give in to what “is”; they want to prevent unwanted behavior through law and vigorous enforcement rather than to discourage (as opposed to prohibit) that behavior and mitigate the harm it causes: the prohibition vs. amelioration approach.

The bottom line with illegal immigration is that as long as economic, educational and social opportunity is notably better in the U.S. than in the immigrant’s home country (and/or is perceived to be better), especially when that country has a 2,000-mile border with the U.S. as does Mexico, they will come.

And as long as powerful forces in business — including the agriculture, hospitality, and domestic industries, among others — perceive that it is in their best interests to hire illegal immigrants, those immigrants will not be systematically prevented from coming nor ruthlessly rooted out once they are here.

A timely example of this manner of economic self-interest comes in the form of a speech delivered yesterday by chairman and chief executive officer of hotel chain Marriott International, J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr.

Speaking at a global tourism and travel conference in Washington, Marriott asked, “Do you industry executives think of yourselves as felons?” He continued, “We need to stand together to include everyone in our very diverse work force. It is the diversity of our workforce that makes us great, yet some in Congress want to criminalize the undocumented and their employers.”

Marriott said that the U.S. faces “long-term labor shortages, especially at the entry level,” and that hospitality industry employment was at “near-record highs.” Naturally, the industry needs workers from other nations to fill necessary jobs.

Marriott acknowledged that there might be some issues with unfettered immigration. “Every country will want to regulate immigration for the sake of its security and citizens,” he said, but then took to the moral high ground: “But we must pursue policies that allow people to seek the chance to build better lives for themselves and their families.”

“And allows us to keep our labor costs down,” he might have added but didn’t have to — it went without saying.

Add to this perspective the fact that a number of Americans have suddenly realized that illegal immigrants are, um, actual humans, and you have a situation that is on the verge of a fundamental shift. But I wouldn’t count on wage laws changing in favor of these shadow workers any time soon: “the chance to build better lives for themselves and their families” cannot be allowed to negatively impact Marriott’s bottom line, of course.

About Eric Olsen

  • Nancy

    Uh-hunh. Sooo…does this mean that if I decide not to file my taxes in future, the longer I get away with it, the more I’ll be pardoned & given carte blanche to do what I damn well please? I won’t be criminalized?

    There’s a really good political cartoon that sums it up: Uncle Sam to illegal lying on the sofa; broken window in background. US: So let me get this straight. You committed forcible entry & now you’re demanding one of the bedrooms?

    Illegals ARE felons, and so are those who aid & abet them, in ANY manner, whether thru misguided “humanitarian” efforts, or as employers trying to get around employment law.

  • RedTard

    Interesting perspective. As long as we allow unchecked immigration those low wage native born Americans will never see their wages increase again. The debate brings together strange bedfellows.

    The leftists who believe in absolute and forced equality, certainly a fine ideal until you realize that to be an equal world citizen you need to bring your wages down to about $2400/year.
    The wealthy businessmen who realize that they can still make billions even if the laborers are only making third world salaries. Their profits and greed are more important than the American middle class. The average person gets screwed again.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    It only comes down to ‘what is right vs. what is legal’ if your interpretation of what’s legal is extremely rigid. I find that the problem with the argument of those who want an all-enforcement and no tolerance policy is that it ignores the natural forces which bring immigrants to the US. The fact that we have so many illegals is not the fault of the illegals or the Mexican government, it is the fault of our society which demands the cheap labor and our government which has not provided a mechanism through which we can get that labor here legally. While technically this makes the immigrants illegal, that is because of bad law and bad management by our government more than any fault of theirs. That being the case, the law ought to be fixed, rather than the immigrants punished for doing what comes naturally.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    I still think the crux of the problem – and the true felons – are the employers, who are the ones who have the actual criminal intent, which is to avoid or circumvent US employment laws, both labor & tax. They don’t care who they screw as long as they can make an extra nickel. They’re the ones who should be felonized – and severely. Huge fines & hard labor jail time, no matter how big a corporate CEO (Scott Lee of Wallie’s would be nice) or how small. Vincente Fox & Co is another cog in this wheel that should be addressed severely.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    So you want to ciminalize efforts to reduce prices for consumers, make business more efficient and keep producing the products and services which the American people demand? Why not imprison the homeowner who buys a new home on which illegals were used as labor and the shoppers at WalMart and the person who buys vegetables picked by illegal farm labor? Imprison all the Americans who benefit from the labor of illegals, because they are as much at fault as the CEOs who are just doing their job essentially as agents of the consumers who shop at their companies.

    dave

  • Eric Olsen

    yes, all this severity against some of the backbones of the economy and top contributors to both parties will happen next week.

  • Nancy

    The consumer does not go out deliberately looking to buy anything made w/illegal labor. I know I sure as hell don’t, and if I DO find out, the person peddling whatever it is is going to catch merry hell from me, at the least. I’d go so far as to turn them over to the cops, if I thought the fucking courts would actually prosecute. The employer, on the other hand, IS deliberately, maliciously, & criminally looking to circumvent the laws – which certainly is a felony & ought to be enforced as such, no excuses, no exceptions. They’re no better in that respect than the Mafia – so why are you insisting they’re persons worthy of respect – or do you also admire & emulate the mob?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Actually, I do admire the mob as a model of organic business development, but that’s an entirely different issue.

    The fact is that whether you realize it or are willing to acknowledge it, you benefit from the labor of illegals every day. They build and maintain the roads you drive on, working as contractors for the companies which bid for those contracts. They DO pick produce which you are buying, even if you don’t acknowledge it. They also work in the meat packing businesses which produce the meat you buy at the store. They work in the restaurant where you get lunch, at the place you get your oil changed, and myriad other businesses you use either directly or indirectly.

    You can say you don’t buy anything produced by illegal labor, but if you were going to pursue your suggested policy of turning all the employers over to the cops and they were actually crazy enough to pay attention to you, there’d be no one left to provide any of the services we all need.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    Red in comment #2 sez…
    *The wealthy businessmen who realize that they can still make billions even if the laborers are only making third world salaries. Their profits and greed are more important than the American middle class. The average person gets screwed again.*

    Quoted for Truth

    Nancy in comment #4 sez…
    *I still think the crux of the problem – and the true felons – are the employers, who are the ones who have the actual criminal intent, which is to avoid or circumvent US employment laws, both labor & tax. They don’t care who they screw as long as they can make an extra nickel.*

    Quoted for Truth

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • Nancy

    Dave, just because you, congress, and most businessmen are amoral & willing to ignore or break the law does not mean everybody thinks that way. I don’t.

  • George

    I just cancelled my Marriott Rewards membership, sent them an email saying why, and am recommending to all my friends and family that they not patronize any Marriott company anymore.

  • RedTard

    Will hispanic immigrants be content with citizenship only or are these protest signs of things to come? With high dropout rates and a constant inflow of uneducated workers hispanics are likely to remain an underclass in US society as blacks have before them.

    In 10 or 15 years when those poor mexican immigrants band together for an increase in the minimum wage or more inclusion in affirmative action programs or other welfare benefits. When they bring their leftist ideologies and vote them here I suspect Mr. Nalle will be muttering something unintelligible about the border, and commies, and strangely enough pandora’s box.

  • Eric Olsen

    I am not saying anyone is worthy of anything – I am talking about practical reality; and the practical reality is that there will NOT be laws severely penalizing employers for employing illegals. The other reality is that, as Dave mentions, the entire economy of the West, Southwest, and border states would collapse if illegals were suddenly swept from the country. Those facts, combined with the fact that most illegals are hard-working and otherwise law-abiding has led to the changes we appear to be on the verge of.

    This same general scenario is why abortions are legal, and why I am hopeful the War on Drugs will finally give up the ghost at some point.

  • RedTard

    Ok, Eric, you want to talk reality. The reality is that Mexicans, because they come in poor and uneducated, speak a different language, and have a high US dropout rate they will become an underclass, like blacks. That WILL create conflict and problems for future generations.

    You’re selectively ignoring the reality that goes against your opinion. Another reality is that we can, without great cost, cut future illegal immigration down by 90% of what it is now.

    Sending current illegals away is impractical, cutting down 90% of new illegal immigration is quite possible. Importing an underclass that will ultimately result in racial and ethnic conflict is plain idiotic.

  • Eric Olsen

    I can see both sides, I understand the negatives of a large, uneducated, undocumented community/underclass.

    But I would ask two things: how are you going to cut future illegals by 90%?

    And how is it any different now than the last 100 years and more? You make it sound like illegal immigration, and Mexican immigration in general, is a new thing.

  • gonzo marx

    well Eric…illegals are NOT new…

    but the sheer scale of the numbers is

    and that is what makes this debate so crucial, for so many reasons

    a tighter border, and strict enforcement against hiring undocumented workers, along with criminal charges against those who knowingly hire illegal aliens would cut down at least 90% of the new arrivals by both removing the “demand” of promised employment/social benefits as well as shortening the “supply” by placing a much more difficult physical barrier in the way

    just a Thought, and yes,i am deliberately staying away from the 10-12 million already here

    but do we really want to make it 20 million or more in the next few years?

    Cause and Effect…whether in physics or social problems…remains pertinent

    Excelsior!

  • RedTard

    “how are you going to cut future illegals by 90%?”

    We probably won’t, but if I were dictator here is a start.

    Barriers do work, if not for the Pacific Ocean we’d have a few hundred million more people here. We can’t do that well, but we can build a barrier with electronic surveillance and adequate manpower that is effective. (For $100 or so per violation cities across the country will put up an armada of cams to surveille and punish legal citizens, I think we can afford to offer our Mexican friends the same respect)

    Catch’em once if they get here. Our revenue generation officers don’t pick up illegals because there is no money involved. Reimburse them for their expenses plus some and they’ll gladly enforce the law.

    Punish employers who hire them. Provide a reward for tips leading to pickups. Competitors and citizens will then be your eyes and ears on the street.

    Cut off funding for government agencies who refuse to check citizenship status or thumb their nose at the law.

    Work with Mexico to open their country for our businesses, or punish them with sanctions if they continue to allow and promote illegal immigration.

    Expand work opportunites and legal immigration for Mexicans with some education and English language standards.

    “And how is it any different now than the last 100 years and more?”

    Sheer numbers. In the 80′s we had an estimated 1 million illegals, now we have 11 million. It’s a cycle where the more illegals are here, the more acceptable it becomes which brings more immigrants.

    Either way something has to change. I seem to remember something in history about bringing another group here to pick our crops without treating them as equal citizens. One war, hundreds of thousands killed, seperate but equal, forced integration, civil rights, and 200 years later we still haven’t fully paid our debt for that one.

  • Dan

    What happens after illegals are made citizens and become elligible for affirmative action quotas, hiring and contract set-asides etc.?

    Who will pick the lettuce then?

  • Nancy

    According to Time, 1/3 of all high school students these days are dropouts. There’s our new labor source for drudge work, which will kill 2 birds with one stone: those kids who drop out end up picking lettuce; those that don’t want to pick lettuce have to stay in school. Mandating manual labor for dropouts would certainly serve as a powerful incentive to stay in school & get that degree.

  • Eric Olsen

    I have never understood why 16 is the age where kids can chose to drop out of school: why isn’t it 18 or graduation?

  • Joey

    18 or recruit training.

  • Bliffle

    “…100,000 marchers converged on the Arizona state Capitol to demand that Congress not criminalize illegal immigrants …”

    They are already criminals. that’s what happens when you commit illegal acts.

    The rest of the article is repitition of the whiney propaganda we’ve all become lamentably familiar with recently. All of it bogus, none of it provable, and not a single idea that will offer even a hope of stopping the tide of desparate people in Mexico (and some other countries) willing to break the law to better their conditions.

    The solution is obvious: improve Mexican economy to remove the economic incentive. We have in our possession the most powerful tool for doing that: the independent US businessman and capitalist. But archaic Mexcican protectionism of powerful families and confiscatory laws and corruption inhibit US investment in Mexico. Get rid of that with forceful diplomacy and military force, if necessary, and Mexico will blossom. But that would take the kind of personal courage and straight-shooting that this administration lacks.

  • Bliffle

    “…the entire economy of the West, Southwest, and border states would collapse if illegals were suddenly swept from the country.”

    Nonsense. The economy was just fine before they came, so it can’t have become dependent on the least effective economic sectors.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    “Before they came?” What monumental ignorance. This country has never been through any significant stretch of its history without having extremely porous borders.

    Whatever nostalgic past you may be pining for, it was one with plenty of immigrants, both legal and illegal, crossing into the United States from the south.

    And then of course there were the times we arranged for the border to move across the people instead of the other way around, but awareness of those is rather inconvenient for the xenophobic mindset.

  • RedTard

    Does it make you feel good to call people names like ignorant and xenophobic Victor?

    Name calling is the last resort of people with no argument. You bring up history, we’ve tried bringing people in to pick our crops before, it led to war and a violent racial conflict that lasts till this day. It’s you that wants that nostalgic past of racial and ethnic violence brought back. If you allow enough poor, uneducated Mexicans into this country it will return.

    I want to try something new, enforcing our border laws. Let’s try taking care of those in poverty here before we try and take care of Mexico’s poor. We already have enough oppressed minorities, why import more?

  • Eric Olsen

    I am baffled as to how a basically straight news story about the situation at hand, a poll, a speech by someone with vested interest, and a netutral attempt to explain why there appears to be a shift in the works could be described as “whiny propaganda,” but stranger things have happened

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    I called a statement ignorant and a mindset xenophobic. I carefully phrased my statements as critiques of the ideas, not of the person.

    Apparently, some readers are not so careful.

  • Paul

    Easy way to to make sure the economy is not affected by removing the illegals is to revamp the welfare system and have some of the people on public assitance take the jobs.

  • Los

    rhetoric vs reality.
    How exactly are you going to pay for a ‘wall’ across the border?
    You also have to remember that politicians are manipulated by the big shots… Unfortunately they thrive on paying low wages to illegals. Good luck getting rid of illegals.

  • Jesus Christ

    I have read every single comment, it sounds like its all from a high school student point of view, sadly its the young people of this new generation that come here illegally that are messing things up, NOT all of them but a good amount, “violence” comes from those damn movies we love so much, they grow up wanting to be gangsters, the ones already grown up coming from mexico, (“mature” ones) come to work, and since when working is a crime? “white people would not do jobs ALIENS do” Bullcrap, they sure would, but not for $5.50
    tell congress to raise the minimum wage, and you will start to see white people doing the dirty work, hell, your worried about Mexicans? wait and see in a few years when the chinese take over the world, then where the hell are you going kick them out to? the united states seems to not be so united after all. U.S.A is the most entertaining country in the world, the actions taken are a joke, but hey I love this country, specially on a system that makes it so easy to become rich.

  • Bliffle

    “Unfortunately they thrive on paying low wages to illegals.”

    Actually, the financial efficacy of low wages is vastly overrated. My observation in corporate America was that cutting the payroll was the mark of a poor manager or executive. Those characters lack imagination and experience to find new products, new markets and new merchandising techniques so they search around in desparation for a Big Target to shoot at, and payroll is obvious. But cutting payroll is often just a desparate prelude to financial collapse because it obscures the real problems of the company. An astute executive would better spend his time studying his inventory history and becoming a better buyer. When you see a guy cutting payroll (usually everybody elses pay but not his own) it smells like shifting the blame and trying to make up for his own past mistakes. Run for the hills.

  • Eric Olsen

    okay, but Marriott is still not going to want to pay the maids more than it has to

  • Bliffle

    Is Marriot doing well? Seems to me they’re sorta static. Overripe. Ready for the picking, either by new competitors or ready to be ransacked by pirate executives, in the modern style.

  • Eric Olsen

    could well be, but I don’t think any of the other hospitality companies want to pay more for domestic service either

  • http://www.richardbrodie.com/ Richard Brodie

    Judging from every American I talk to, with the exception of one fully tatooed radical, what is “In the Works” is a “Fundamental Shift AWAY FROM, not TOWARDS, Illegal Immigrants”.

    An overwhelming majority of Americans think illegal immigration is a very or somewhat serious problem for the country today, and over two-thirds favor using the United States military to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country, according to the latest FOX News Poll.

    Of course the one-third minority are in all probability blue-state, big city, mainstream media brainwashed, liberal democrats.

  • linda

    coursework4you.co.ukUsually in the experience of many coutries such as UK, when Immigration Laws get tougher, the economic and social factors get immediately affected. To be put in the other words, it is neccessary to make people work before trying to evade problems with immigration, imho. Anyways you can find a lot of academic and professional papers on immigration -There is a lot of relevant suff, such as “Immigration -attractions and government policy; Migration in Europe: motives and implications; International Migration and European Labour Markets”. Hope you find it worthy.

  • Amiga

    Most people don’t even understand, they just listen to what others have to say. How many of our politicians have been out in the fields to see what is really going on? I don’t necessarily agree with people being here illegal, but I do believe people have a right to make a living for their families. I’ve been told in the past what happened years ago does not matter today. Remember the American Indians. Well I think this is a thought of convience. As long as we continue to give in on any racial issues because of things that happened many years ago, then this issue should also be considered. Many of these illegals would gladly be in their home country if they could take care of their families. I think reform needs to happen. Somehow we need to figure away to speed the process and maybe more would be willing to wait.