I've been thinking about immigration recently since its been in the news a lot. It occurs to me that many entities that benefit from illegal immigration sit silently watching the debate along with us as if they're mere observers. They are silent in the public debate because their lobbyists will continue to influence and make deals with our congressional representatives behind the scenes.
They are the companies that provide the incentive for illegal immigrants to cross the border in the first place by rewarding them with jobs after they get here. These companies do not act out of generosity. They want an illegal, non-citizen, workforce they can exploit by paying less than the legal minimum wage, offer little or no benefits, and avoid providing safe and sanitary working conditions. If the illegal immigrants ever organize or speak up for legal wages or better conditions, the company they work for can have them deported.
Companies want an illegal workforce to increase their profits and competitiveness in the global economy (have you noticed how buzzwords make arguments more compelling). Are we so afraid of not making a profit, we feel compelled to sacrifice our principles to do so? Historically, the answer has often been "yes." Some sacrificed their principles to defend slavery and some sacrificed their principles to defend child labor. Now, here is another way to increase profits by exploiting the poor, desperate, and vulnerable and businesses are lining up to cash in.
They argue, "But they want jobs Americans aren't willing to perform." Would you be willing to take a job paying less than minimum wage? That's an insult. You wouldn't think too highly of the person who offered you the job. We shouldn't think too highly of the CEOs who endorse these policies either. "We have to pay below the minimum wage in some jobs to remain competitive." Let's set up fair rules and then make every company compete by those rules. Industry continued after slavery and child labor. Industry will continue after companies stop exploiting illegal immigrants. "Illegal immigrants provide cheap labor that keeps prices down. Consumers don't want to pay prices that reflect the minimum wage." I would if it meant I wouldn't have to live in a country that authorized exploiting the vulnerable.
These companies and businesses have lobbyists before congress incessantly persuading them to favor their agenda. In this case, exploiting illegal immigrants. Consequently, the federal government isn't rigorous in enforcing it's immigration laws already on the books. The influence of business on congress is so strong, congress even continued its policy of lax and economical (on-the-cheap) border management after 9/11. See Editorial - Forced Labor - NYTimes.com
Am I a conspiracy theorist? I'm not paranoid but I think "conspiracy" might be a good description here. "Conspiracy" is the very goal of business lobbyists. They are seeking agreements with our representatives in congress that we know nothing about that may defraud third parties of their constitutional rights or deprive that representative's constituency fair representation in congress. This is pretty close to the common law's description of a civil conspiracy. Although this cause of action is normally applied to business litigation, it might be appropriately applied here. See Conspiracy (civil).
You know Mexico is going to encourage the United States to continue our policy of not adequately protecting our border because illegal immigrants send billions of dollars to Mexico every year.
Another thing I find troubling about having an illegal workforce is it adds a tier to our class system of privileged verses not-privileged classes except this new class distinction is sickeningly clear. If they start speaking up for safe working conditions or fair wages, we can ship them back home. It reminds me of India's caste system except less religious. I think the rich elite already think in terms of classes, whether they openly discuss it or not, and are conditioned to easily accept the benefits of a vulnerable and exploitable workforce.
Wherever our federal immigration policy comes from, it has resulted in a massive illegal work force in America. This illegal work force is comprised of people with families and children we allowed to sneak in because we wanted them here. We can't morally use them and ship them off when they're politically inconvenient.
We need to find a path for allowing those we have permitted to come here to stay as U.S. Citizens. If they don't want to become citizens, then, they should leave. At the same time, we need to start enforcing our immigration laws to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.
The government has a moral role to play here. After all, the government is not a corporation that is only accountable to shareholders who only care about the bottom line. It's not a person either. It's something in between that helps us stay civilized and it's accountable to the citizenry. I still wish we had our own lobbyists so our representatives wouldn't forget us after they get elected and run off to college [sic], oops, I mean Washington.
For a good overview on the recent discussion on immigration see Select Editorials on Immigration - The New York Times.