The State of Arizona this week passed new laws designed to prevent illegals--mostly Mexicans and Central Americans present in this country without papers--from openly soliciting employment, in defiance of Federal and State laws.
As anyone who lives in any major Southwestern state knows, the growing trend toward unofficial "labor" solicitation on our street corners has grown into an epidemic. These scofflaws sneak across the border, melt into the immigrant subculture network of ghettos and support groups. Since they can't legally be employed by respectable businesses, they hire out as cheap day-laborers, to contractors in the building and allied trades, loitering around building-supply outfits, or near highway intersections. This has in turn spawned a whole new corrupt system of exploitation by unscrupulous trades-contractors, who willingly and aggressively leverage this cheap, illegal labor, charging customers "American" rates while paying their "employee" (scab) laborers dirt-cheap daily cash rates. Most of these "day laborers" have some experience, but few are qualified to do skilled work, and none of them has been certified.
Despite the hardships which these illegals suffer here, they still regard these as necessary inconveniences in the quest for higher income, and the chance to live in the U.S. In other words, unless they are vigorously prevented from pursuing the scab labor market, they are perfectly willing to risk embarrassment, even capture and temporary detention, as long as they know that the system of tolerance which allows this shadow employment market to exist continues to turn a blind eye to its effects.
Estimates are that, on average, illegal labor now accounts for something like 25% of all the jobs in America in agriculture, manufacturing, contracting (construction), and service industries. These are not jobs "Americans won't do" but jobs which illegals find the easiest to steal from their American counterparts.
Perhaps the most offensive part of the immigration situation, is the evident indignation of the Mexican government, and of the illegals living in America, towards attempts to address the problems they cause. "How dare you treat our people this way!" the Mexican government struts. "Legalize all foreign nationals immediately!" the illegals demand. But these people aren't Americans. They don't share in the privileges of American life and governance. They steal and plunder the American bounty, then complain when they're caught or scolded for doing so. "Human rights!" they scream. "We want justice!"
But true justice--American justice--has declared them illegal, and there are penalties for breaking immigration laws. The Federal government's failure to adequately control the immigration of Central (most Mexican) immigrants into this country has put an intolerable burden on many of the states in the Union. Finally, after decades of abuse of our residence and employment laws, and wave after wave of Mexicans have sneaked into our country, state governments have taken matters into their own hands. Who can blame them?
Immigration policy has traditionally prefered law-abiding, educated, reasonably secure, healthy applicants. We have quotas for individual countries, based on estimates of how much population can be comfortably absorbed into our society, without disturbing the rights and privileges of our own citizenry and its institutions. But this policy has been ignored by Mexico. It's perfectly happy to encourage hundreds of thousands of its poor and dispossessed, sick, uneducated, and criminal fringe to emigrate illegally into America. And why wouldn't it be? Are these really the kind of people we want to encourage to come here?
We're told that what America needs is a highly trained, highly educated population, able to compete in the world-wide high-tech market. But how can we provide education to illegals, especially those who can't even speak English? We're told that our medical system is falling apart, overburdened by the under-insured and uninsurable. But if that's true, how can we afford to entertain hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals who traipse into our emergency rooms demanding free treatment, and birthing children to gain a foothold on residency?
The immigrant lobby wants to eliminate all controls on the movement of people across our mutual border. They want immediate and unrestricted amnesty--immediate citizenship, immediate entitlement to all benefits of citizenship, and uncontrolled movement of goods and services back and forth across borders. In effect, they want our two countries to share in the burdens of support and responsibility which Mexico's hoards of poor and forsaken populace need.
But Mexico isn't America. It has its own government, and its people are its own responsibility. If it refuses to shoulder that responsibility, America has no natural obligation to assume it for them. Refugee populations represent one of the world's great real problems. But moving people from one place to another, without systems, without order, is a recipe for every kind of corruption, and suffering on a grand scale.
As long as America allows Mexico to fob off its refugee population to the North, we will have big problems, and Mexico will simply be encouraged to pursue its misguided, corrupt policies a little longer. Arizona's attempt to stop the street solicitation of scab employment will go a long way towards frustrating Mexicans from stealing jobs from American workers--particularly in the building trades. If these scabs find out the game's up, they may think twice about jumping the fence again, the next time they're deported. It's legislation I wouldn't mind seeing here in California.