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Updated 3:10pm - Apr 16, 2014
Updated 3:46pm - Apr 15, 2014

Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Coastal voices: Consider reasons for illegal immigrants

Coastal voices: Consider reasons for illegal immigrants

In response to Jill Bausch’s July 1 letter (“We need fresh blood, new ideas to tackle illegal immigration”), some relevant facts must be considered.

Although border security is a crucial concern for any nation, the truth is that 33-50 percent (depending on which study you cite) of all illegal immigrants in the U.S. are those who overstay work visas. Employers use the H1-B visa to legally import skilled workers to fill white-collar jobs in the U.S., particularly engineering and technical jobs.

One might say that not enough Americans possess the skills necessary to do these jobs, but another part of the problem is that foreign workers (especially from countries like China and India) will do the same job for less money and fewer benefits. Illegal workers have the added disadvantage of being unable to appeal to authorities in case of any worker mistreatment.

“So what?”you might say, “They’re here illegally and are stressing our schools and hospitals, so why should they get the same treatment and rights as do real Americans?”

First, if they live here they buy stuff. They buy groceries and clothes, they pay rent, and they eat out and go to movies —€just like Americans. Some towns would shrivel up and die if all the illegal immigrants in their community were expelled all at once.

Second, if all illegal workers left tomorrow, who would do their work? You can suggest the 10 percent or so of us who are now unemployed, but if employers were forced to hire workers legally (paying Social Security taxes and unemployment insurance, following OSHA requirements, treating workers fairly —€“ you know, like real Americans) then not only would employers offer fewer jobs, but the costs of their products would skyrocket.

Vegetables, hotel rooms and new homes are cheaper than they should be because illegal immigrants are more cost-efficient for employers.

Finally, how about those employers? Isn’t it illegal to hire illegal workers? Someone is offering jobs to all these undocumented people! You can argue that fake IDs and identity theft are an issue (and you would be right) but employers know how to game the system too.

A community in Nebraska recently refined the local code to punish landlords and employers who rent to or hire illegal immigrants. Who got exemptions from the new law? The two meat-packing plants in town whose workforce is sorely lacking in legitimate documentation.

If “businesses” are now considered “people”€(according to the Supreme Court, anyway) they should follow the rules like real Americans.

I don’t know the solution to this problem —€I’m not advocating for amnesty, taller fences or ICE round-ups. And I’m not really that concerned about terrorists sneaking across the border. I just don’t see much sense in luring people here with jobs and then punishing them when they try to actually live here.

I’m sick of seeing one group of people scapegoated for a bad situation created, in part, by someone else. Yes, it’s a problem that we have so many illegal immigrants in this country, but its causes are myriad and we risk a misdiagnosis if our energy is not directed properly.

My concern is that American people, legal or not, have a real interest in addressing all sides of the problem while desperate and unscrupulous employers have a vested interest in keeping things just the way they are.

Carla Critz is a Crescent City resident.

 

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