How Not To Enforce Immigration Laws

The government is reporting a huge uptick in the number of arrests in their efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. In 2004, there were only 845 arrests. In 2007, there were 4,940 arrests. Only 8 million more to go.



This is a farce, except for the families who are arbitrarily chosen to be made an example. It is telling that of the almost five thousand arrests last year, only 93 of them were of supervisors or managers in the companies that were knowingly hiring illegal workers. So, it is alright to arrest and deport Mexicans, but stay away from the employers who entice the Mexicans here in the first place.


The sad truth of the matter is that in our free market economy, there are some jobs that would never get filled if we did not hire undocumented workers. The agricultural sector and the construction industry are two areas where undocumented workers are disproportionately represented. The work is hard and/or sporadic. Undocumented workers will undertake it. Try hiring a full-time dishwasher in downtown D.C. or New York: Most of your applicants will not have proper papers.


High profile raids on Midwestern plants, raids that have netted several hundred arrests at one time, have not stemmed the flow of undocumented workers. These raids have succeeded only in disrupting the local communities, the schools and churches, the Little League teams. Sometimes the plants re-open quickly, other times not. The laws of supply and demand argue that the undocumented workforce will move, and move quickly, to some other line of work. Maybe the administration feels it is accomplishing something with these raids. But, it isn’t.


Securing America’s borders is an important task. Our nation should know who is here and who isn’t, and it should make it more difficult for criminal elements and terrorists to make it into America. But, half-hearted enforcement of immigration laws will not do the trick. As far as we know, there were no terrorists working at the meat packing plant in Iowa or the poultry plant in Arkansas when the government descended upon the workforce there. Nor will the much-discussed fence between Mexico and the United States stem the tide. Many undocumented workers enter the country legally, on a tourist visa, and then simply stay. The fence won’t stop that practice.


America has to come up with a sane immigration policy with both short-term and long-term goals. In the long-term, we need to bolster the economies of our neighbors to the south: People with good job prospects in their native lands will not feel the need to trek northward. In the short-term, we need to embrace a path to citizenship that does not so threaten the livelihood of the undocumented workers that they fail to come forward. This is not brain surgery. It just requires courage. And, what it does not require is 4,940 arbitrary arrests of people who are merely trying to provide for their families. Our government should be ashamed of itself, and so should the rest of us.


Michael Sean Winters



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10 years 8 months ago
I've been bothered for a long time not only by the severe illegal immigration problem, but by the utter unwillingness of our elected officials to do anything about it for fear of angering some part of the electorate. My proposed plan for solving the problem (which I have shared to no effect with the President, my senators, and my representative, can be found here: Anyone who wants to recommend it to their elected officials is welcome to it.
10 years 8 months ago
Let's say I break into your house. Let's say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, 'No! I like it here. It's better than my house. I've made all the beds and washed th e dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors. I've done all the things you don't like to do. I'm hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house). According to the protesters: You are Required to let me stay in your house You are Required to feed me You are Required to add me to your family's insurance plan You are Required to Educate my kids You are Required to Provide other benefits to me & to my family (my husband will do all of your yard work because he is also hard working and honest, except for that breaking in part). If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my RIGHT to be there. It's only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I'm just trying to better myself. I'm a hard-working and honest, person, except for well, you know, I did break into your house and what a deal it is for me! I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of cold,uncaring, selfish, prejudiced , and bigoted behavior. Oh yeah, I DEMAND that you learn MY LANGUAGE so you can communicate with me
10 years 8 months ago
Regarding the second comment, comparing immigrants to house breakers, I sympathize to some extent. Our country really can't take in all the needy people who might want to come here. But as Christians, we probably should keep in mind the story of Dives and Lazarus. We are not told that Dives had come by his wealth through dishonest means, and yet his ultimate fate should disconcert those of us who think we are entitled to our nice homes and our right to shut others out.


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