Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Immigration overhaul 

For the first time in a while, I am in complete agreement with Atrios.

At first pass this sounds good:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 — President Bush will propose a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration laws on Wednesday that could give legal status to millions of undocumented workers in the United States, senior administration officials said Tuesday night.

And his comment farther down is spot on:

I understand why some object to an amnestyish program which rewards those who "broke the law" while punishing those who obeyed the rules by putting them at the back of the line. Fine - put them at the front of the line!

Of course those who have worked legally within the system should be rewarded first. But Bush's overhaul of the laws isn't going to change much on the ground. The people in question have already been in the U.S. for a long time, they are (mostly) contributing members of society, and all this law will do is to make that situation permanent.

Heck, getting these workers documented will mean their wages will be taxed, if nothing else...

Some people are afraid of the impact on wages of all this "cheap labor," as if undocumented low-wage workers are better for the labor market than documented, tax-paying minimum-wage workers. Please.

If I lived in a border state, I might feel differently because the "problem" would be closer at hand and more likely to affect me personally. But it does not. (Well, I live in a Canadian border state, but illegal Canadians aren't flooding Maine.)
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