El otro lado.
That is how most poor Mexicans refer to America: the other side. In our last piece on this theme I addressed the apathy
with which the government of Mexico (GOM) views illegal immigration- as long as
that immigration is from Mexico and into America. Mexico received $17 billion
in remittances from the U.S. last year- making remittances the second largest contributor to the Mexican economy, ahead of tourism, behind only oil revenue. I realize that 100% of that income does not come from illegal aliens, but if 75% or even 50% of that total is from illegal aliens it is a huge sum of money. Mexico is so dependent on these remittances they like to say things like "when the United States sneezes Mexico gets a cold" in reference to our economy.
Anyone who has spent any period of time in Mexico can tell you just how shaky the economy
is there; closing the valve on these remittances would be devastating to the Mexican economy, and that is not in our national interest. The issue is putting "willing workers" together with "willing employers" in such a manner that American law is respected
and the Mexican economy stands a chance of being boosted for the long term. There has been much talk about what it would take to implement such a strategy- mostly centered on what to do with the millions already in America illegally. Many pundits and thinkers have addressed the need for this labor pool in America, and I'll stipulate that need- we are basically addicted to illegal workers and quitting cold turkey is not an option.
To this end, then, I propose the following five-step plan. This is a necessarily simplified version to fit the blog, but you'll get the idea. Like any plan to conquer an addiction some of the steps may be tough to swallow at first- especially when it comes to admitting that the problem lies with us to begin with. Here are the Big 5 steps, with details following:
1. Establish a more secure employment document- the Social Security card does not work.
2. Punish American firms that hire illegal workers- this is the most important step.
3. Revise and expand the H2 visa category- not just for Mexicans, but for all, and require that issuance only occur in the country of origin of the alien.
4. Require legal workers to pay into Medicaid, and deny public benefits to illegal aliens found in America.
5. Reduce the amount of foreign aid granted to any country by a set or variable amount based on the costs associated with each illegal immigrant detained/treated/deported.
1. Social Security- the current social security card and usage of it as a labor control is a joke. I think the signature on mine is from when I was about age 10. You can buy a card on almost any corner of any big city. Coupled with a decent photo ID any employer can hire you- and he or she is off the hook. How is a well-meaning employer to know that the person who is presenting the card and is willing to pick lemons for $2 an hour is not really Justin Timberlake? This card should at a minimum have a photo and be linked to a verifiable database for employers. I don't want hear anyone complaining that it would be a national ID card, either. I am not saying you have to carry it all the time- just present it when you apply for a job.
Anyone who thinks illegal aliens are not presenting false Social Security cards in order to obtain work is in denial. No one wants to pick crops forever, and if an illegal alien has the wherewithal to learn a bit of English and scrape together the funds for decent fake documents he or she will readily do so. In addition countless illegals present real social security cards with falsified supporting documents, one of the main reasons that the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends you an annual summary of benefits.
2. Punish American firms that hire illegal workers. Laws against hiring illegal aliens are on the books. They must be enforced. Once a process is in place by which employers can be held accountable we need to enforce the laws on the books. If American employers realize that there is a penalty involved for breaking the law they will be less likely to hire illegal workers. Supply and demand takes over from there- fewer jobs, fewer illegal immigrants.
3. Revise and expand the H2 visa category. I would wager that most Americans have no idea that a guest worker program already exists in America- it is the H2 visa program. The H2 program as it exists today, however, is clearly broken. There are two H2 categories: H-2A applies to temporary or seasonal agricultural workers and H-2B, which applies to temporary or seasonal nonagricultural workers. This classification requires a temporary labor certification issued by the Secretary of Labor and is limited to 66,000 per year. The process is convoluted (employers have to petition in advance, and prove that American labor is not available, applicants for the visa have to have a job offer before they apply) and much more expensive than hiring from the pool of available workers- almost no employer petitions without a lawyer involved.
I would revise this program not just for Mexicans, but for all nationalities, national limits can be adjusted as necessary to replace global limits, and the national market economy would dictate these totals. Issuance of this new H2 visa should occur solely in the country of origin of the alien, no Chinese applying in London, please, and no exceptions for people already in the US illegally. The visa would include a taxpayer ID number tied into the same SSA system for verification of employability, providing for collection of taxes from these workers as well. When the initial term of the visa is up the holder will have to return to his or her home country for a set period of time before being eligible to apply again.
4. Require legal workers to pay into Medicaid, and deny public benefits to illegal aliens found in America, combined with deportation. Clearly most of these workers will not be in jobs with top-notch insurance programs. As it stands illegal aliens in America cost the nation hundreds of millions of dollars a year in medical care, almost none of which can be recuperated by the communities and states most affected. Of course we must supply basic aid to all who need it, I am simply saying stabilize the injured and transport them home. This brings us to step five.
5. Reduce the amount of foreign aid granted to any country by a set or variable amount based on the costs associated with each illegal immigrant detained/treated/deported who is a national of that country. Where applicable, such as in medical care cases that often are in the tens of thousands of dollars, this money would be paid directly to the hospital or organization providing the care. In cases of simple enforcement it remains in the treasury to fund the operation of the law enforcement agencies. This will have the direct effect of placing some of the burden on the host countries by pinching their pockets. In addition, should the nationals of any country be egregious in breaking immigration laws the total number of work visas available in the country could be reduced as well.
Obviously immigration reform is much more complicated than I've made it appear here. We need to move beyond the rhetoric and examine the possibilities that the current system offers. To use a popular buzzword, illegal aliens represent an insurgency into America. Mexicans will joke that the real Montezuma's revenge is the influx of people slowly reclaiming Texas, California and Arizona. Except that it is no laughing matter.