Much of what happens in politics can easily be explained by the story of the old woman and the snake. Kansas would do well to remember the story. Public officials and business owners who defy reason and law by giving a helping hand to illegal immigrants risk suffering the fate of the old woman, shocked and amazed that their good intentions could turn on them so swiftly. Like the snake in the fable, the question of what to do with illegals eventually sinks its fangs into anyone who evades the commonsense answer to the problem: follow the law and deport them. They can get in line with everyone else. Coming to the U.S. illegally does not make anyone special.
Immigration activists need to dream up some new ideas. From the fairness argument, to the DREAM Act’s flawed no fault of their own reasoning, to the better life in America and nation of immigrants rationales, to the Obama administration’s inextricably linked ethnic favoritism, to the jobs no one else will do routine, we have heard it all and none of it stands up to scrutiny.
Kansas has become the newest state prepared to embarrass itself on behalf of its illegal population, in part because it enjoys a low unemployment rate and business owners need more workers. Last week HB 2603, the Business, Workers and Community Partnership Act, was introduced in the state’s legislature. Kansas’ unemployment rate was 6.3% in December 2011. Supporters of the bill maintain that illegals are required to perform jobs that cannot be filled with the available workforce. The proposal calls for five years of residence, but fails to answer the questions that befall all measures giving illegals a pass based on the length of time they have evaded law enforcement. If they are unable to work here legally, how do illegal immigrants manage to support themselves long enough to qualify for a pass on our immigration laws, and how do you perform a background check on someone who has no legal history?
The Federal Government has raised another unanswered question. Why do we need HB 2603, Utah’s guest worker plan, or similar proposals given that the president and Homeland Security have declared illegals who behave themselves to be off of the enforcement radar? The Department of Labor protects migrant workers regardless of their immigration status. We have signed agreements with Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the countries that supply the majority of our illegals,¹ assuring them that the U.S. will look out for their citizens on the job whether or not they have a right to be here. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis made it clear that immigration status is not a factor when it comes to migrants:
Unfortunately, due to language barriers and immigration status, migrant workers can be vulnerable to abuse.²
No matter how they came to this country, these workers have certain rights.³
It all boils down to the right to work that comes with legal status. HB 2603 relies on the Federal Government to supply work permits for its illegal immigrant workforce. Proponents need to explain how these individuals managed to live here for five years without breaking any laws. New federal policies that entitle illegals to remain in the U.S. threaten employers who hire them, and force illegals to engage in fraud, identity theft, tax evasion, and other crimes to maintain their lives on the lam. They also put America on shaky ethical turf, forcing our illegal residents to take jobs their supporters claim citizens will not accept without ever questioning the morality of letting foreigners remain here to perform tasks that are deemed to be beneath us.
The president, Homeland Security, the Labor Department, and other arms of our federal bureaucracy are not doing illegals any favors by letting them stay within our borders while denying them a legal means of support. Illegals would be better off if we took the responsible route, followed the law, and forced them to take the legislated path to legal status. If it is possible for authorities to scrutinize the backgrounds of illegal immigrants with any success, many will likely be removed anyway (see: New Immigration Policy Could Force Us to Overlook Fraud). This does not justify granting special favors, or giving a pass to a select few so they can help us achieve our economic goals while we dangle the possibility of legal status or citizenship. Instead, we should reward immigrants who follow the law and come here legally. Business owners need to find other ways to perform difficult or unpleasant tasks, or to supply a legal workforce for positions that are difficult to fill.
Stopgap measures that meet temporary needs or massive federal initiatives that follow through on campaign promises will only make the immigration problem worse. If more politicians and bureaucrats would get this through their heads we would not be wasting our time hearing about bill after bill to fix a problem that has no solution outside of applying the laws we already have on the books. The first rule of dealing with illegal immigrants will never change: permissiveness based on political or economic self-interest always creates more problems than it solves.