Sunday, July 27, 2008

Illegality of Immigrants

Story in the Times says that the illegal immigrants who worked at the kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa and who were arrested in a recent raid are spilling the beans on their employers--claiming extensive abuses. The bottom line is illegal immigrants aren't in a good position to protest ill treatment.

One of the insights of the Founders, as explained in the Federalist, and as expounded upon by the great Scotch-Irish Canadian, John Kenneth Galbraith, is the need to checks and balances, for countervailing power. That's absent with illegal immigrants.

As a knee-jerk bleeding heart liberal my heart is wrung by stories of the hardships of immigrants. And as someone who sometimes is swayed by the blandishments of free-market economists, I like to believe immigration is good for the nation and doesn't really exaggerate inequalities or hurt low-income workers. So I'm tempted to react--let them all in.

But, there's two lines of argument against an open-door policy which seem weighty: the danger of abuse of illegals, as exemplified in the Times story, and the unfairness to those who wait in line for legal entry.

That's why I'd prefer a policy of universal identification--everyone physically within the U.S. needs to be IDed and legalization by history. Once we have identification, then people who wish to work must agree for their history to be tracked: keep your nose clean and you can move up the ladder to citizenship; screw up and be sent back.

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