Illegal Immigration and Minimum Wage

A couple of years ago I started hearing the phrase, "Illegal immigrants are doing the jobs that Americans won't do." At the time, I didn't realize it would become such a dogmatic statement that forms a foundation for action. Lies often work that way.

Over time a lie is slipped into the public consciousness and because it has a soundbite quality and appeals to all the right emotional chords, people don't realize that it is a conditioning statement. It is conditioning them for later concessions that haven't yet reared their ugly heads.

I remember thinking at the time, "hmmm, that doesn't sound quite right." But, it wasn't being said every day from every pundit so I didn't pay it much attention. Now, on the other hand, its being used to defend amnesty for illegal immigration - so we better deal with it.

First of all, I don't blame the illegal immigrants. They obviously want to improve their lives and the opportunities this country affords are their best hope for that. I don't have any problem with someone wanting to come to America to work and participate legally in our system as long as they contribute to the system rather than taking from it. Here is what I have a problem with - politicians who see an opportunity to cash in on a group of people who can swing elections. That is the real risk in this debate - that rather than enforcing the law or passing laws that protect America and its resources - politicians try to give our country away to get elected and gain favor. Sick!

So back to the question - Are illegal immigrants doing the work Americans won't do?

No - illegal immigrants are doing the work that Americans are not allowed to do. We have passed laws in this nation that make certain jobs illegal for Americans. I'm not talking about prostitution or gambling either. We have told American employers, you are not allowed to hire someone to do a job that earns less than the minimum wage.

There are certain tasks that are not worth the minimum wage and certain workers who do not produce enough value to earn the minimum wage. Simply requiring employers to pay more doesn't suddenly remove the economic realities. A business owner cannot pay someone $6 an hour when they only produce $3 an hour of value. To do so is asking the business owner to become a charity, which may be commendable, but won't keep the guy in business.

When we make it illegal for a business owner to pay an American what they and the job they do are worth, we create a market. The owner still has a job he needs done and he is willing to pay someone to do it. In steps the illegal immigrant. He is undocumented, so he doesn't have a social security number, won't be paying witholdings, and no one will be checking to make sure he makes the minimum wage. Perfect solution. Pay the illegal immigrant less than minimum wage and get the job you need completed by someone who won't complain.

Unfortunately, there are lots of Americans who would have loved to have that job, but we made it illegal for them to have it and at the same time created a market for the illegal immigrant. Another example of political pandering and the law of unintended consequences.

1 comment:

Conlonicus said...

There are unrealized costs with illegal immigrants. When they collect welfare, involoved in car accidents as uninsured motorists, or they have children born in this country and are now US citizens who pays these costs? They don't. We do. So factor in these costs and what is their hourly wage?