Columns / Discourse / May 8, 2013

Debating columnists: Immigration reform should look to the taxpayers

Washington is duking it out. Both parties are struggling to come up with a reasonable bill to update immigration statutes. Both sides want to legalize illegal immigrants, but with many caveats.

Republicans demand border security while Democrats want more venues for legalization allowing new immigrants to enter the country. There is one much omitted issue, the economics in amnesty. Legislators need to evaluate the taxpayers’ cost for legalizing 11 million people.

Some conservatives suggest that government spending will increase due to more welfare spending. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office, projected back in 2006 the cost for an immigration bill similar to the one considered in the Senate.

They concluded that welfare spending will increase by $54 billion; however, revenues would increase by $66 billion. There would be a $12 billion addition to public revenue.

Conservative President of the Heritage Foundation Jim DeMint disagrees. He contends that the amnesty of 11 million illegal immigrants will cost about $2.6 trillion. He calls the bill “unfair.”
While DeMint may be right on the premise of higher entitlement spending, he’s missing an important part of the puzzle. Illegal immigrants are already costing the country billions of dollars. They are not fully incorporated in our society. Some states, like New Mexico, want to prohibit illegal immigrants from acquiring driver’s licenses. Governor Susana Martinez embraced a bipartisan bill that promotes this idea. This viewpoint prevents the expansion of public revenue.

Amnesty would create more revenue by allowing new employment and new forms of revenue such as driver’s license fees. More individuals will be able to work and thus pay more income taxes. That’s a good thing. There are many jobs out there that demand very little skill or education. Many college students are currently forced into low-skilled labor or unemployment because of their lack of opportunities in their fields of study. That’s why the cost issue is important. However, it is also shortsighted and needs a more nuanced approach. Companies need unskilled labor and they would benefit by legalizing illegal immigrants.

The Senate should construct a comprehensive approach granting amnesty.

The Gang of Eight (four Democratic and four Republican senators) must secure the borders first. Instead of having troops in distant countries, we should have soldiers at the borders. The American Southwest is a mess. People are getting, literally, their heads chopped off from drug cartels. Take Martin Alejandro Cota-Monroy.

Cota-Monroy, 18, got beheaded by a drug cartel. The cartel charged that Cota-Monroy stole drugs. There are many examples like this and some even include the deaths of policemen and sheriffs. The bill should deport felons and criminals and grant amnesty to law-abiding illegal immigrants.

The package should also promote skilled labor. Many immigrants that graduate from American colleges leave the country due to stringent student visas. They simply leave because they feel ostracized and find opportunities elsewhere. The U.S. should welcome such immigrants to foster innovation.

Last but not least, the package should promote the program E-Verify. The government program allows employers to check the legal status of their employees.

Companies should not employ illegal labor. They should follow labor regulations that mandate fair pay and complimentary benefits.

The bottom line is that deportation is impossible. Amnesty is the only viable solution. Deporting 11 million people would require a lot of money and manpower that the government simply cannot afford. It costs $164 to detain an inmate per day and $12,500 to fully deport an individual. Multiply that by 11 million — you can do the math.

Congress needs to pass a bill that legalizes law-abiding illegal immigrants and welcomes labor demanded by the markets. A country founded by immigrants must embrace immigration. It must conserve its tradition.

Alex Uzarowicz
Alex Uzarowicz has been a weekly conservative political columnist for The Knox Student for three years. He also writes for The College Conservative. Alex will graduate in June 2013 with a degree in political science, after which he will head abroad to begin his Peace Corps service.

Tags:  amnesty bipartisan economy gang of eight illegal immigration immigration reform Rick Perry tax

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