The author also points out that increased spending on immigration enforcement does not decrease the number of immigrants who come to this country. Read the whole article if you have time. It's an eye opener.
The often-overheated immigration debate is a distraction that draws attention from far-reaching problems facing American workers, particularly those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
Many immigrants' rights advocates argue that newly arrived workers take jobs that Americans won't do. That's only partially true; many unauthorized immigrants fill non-union jobs that are impossibly crappy, pay poverty wages and are rife with workplace violations, and they work those jobs side-by-side with millions of natives and legal residents. The reality is that there are not enough Americans who are willing or able to tolerate poverty wages and other workplace abuses.
Understanding that dynamic can lead to a radically different approach to the issue -- to different methods of decreasing the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States and of regulating the flow of new immigration in the future.
While spending on immigration enforcement has gone through the roof, the resources allocated to enforcing overtime, minimum wage, workplace safety and other protections for workers have been cut and cut again.
[M]ost of the focus of the immigration debate in this country has been on the immigrants themselves -- especially unauthorized immigrants. One could easily conclude from watching a typical screaming heads segment about immigration policy on CNN that "illegal immigrants" exist in a vacuum. Very little attention is paid to the other side of the transaction -- the incentives that American companies and households have to hire an unauthorized worker over a citizen.
UPDATE: Oh my. Please look at a comment I just read to the above article:
"We" stole half of Mexico by armed force -- the nice parts with rich deposits of gold and silver (and, as it turned out, oil -- though "we" didn't actually recognize that at the time.)
"We" made sure that "our" influence over Latin America was such that wealth would be steadily transferred from their countries to ours. "We" sent the Marines to Nicaragua, Haiti, & Guatemala often enough to insure that life in those countries would be a permanent living hell for most of the inhabitants. "We" imposed military dictatorships in almost every Central & South American country, stunting the aspirations of their people, & imposing conditions from which some of those countries will never recover. (So if some of the people want to escape from the living conditions in those countries, "we" had very much to do with creating those conditions.)
Interestingly, "we" started doing all this at the same time that "we" were exterminating the indigenous people here, AND using black slaves from Africa. What a loveable, righteous people "we" are, here in the "Land of the Free"!!
To read between the lines of today's American media treatment of the issue, the real "controversy" today is not between decent humane treatment for immigrants; and harassment by racists, vigilantes, and police. It's between two factions of rightwing opinion: should immigrants be exploited for their cheap labor (and their delightful inability to defend themselves), or should racism and xenophobia be pandered to, by encouraging nutcases like the Minutemen, and other "red blooded Amurrikans" who think it's exciting to organize mobs to defend white supremacy? This is a serious "issue" for people like Bush, who is doubtless torn, & genuinely sympathetic to both sides.
"We" came here somewhere in the early 1600s. "We" found this Promised Land, rich beyond imagination with fresh water and fertile earth and abundant game and timber for the felling. And to "our" further delight, it was largely uninhabited--if "we" didn't count the Red Ones.
"We" didn't see too many of them at first; they avoided our noise and the smoke from our fires, which were always too big. But soon enough, "we" were here in such numbers that they couldn't go around us anymore.
"We" were shocked--SHOCKED, I tell ya--that there were Savages in "our" Promised Land! So "we" set about exterminating them. "We" killed them whenever "we" saw them, "we" drove them from their land and their homes, "we" slaughtered their food supply and left the buffalo bodies to rot in the sun by the hundreds of acres. "We" gave them blankets full of smallpox, murdered their children and raped their women before "we" murdered them as well. "We" rounded them up into concentration camps and ate their food while they starved. "We" made them cut their hair, wear britches and beat them to death if they wouldn't speak "our" language.
"We" stole a whole fucking continent from them and paid them in Genocide.
And now "we're" worried about Illegal Immigration?