Proponents of the immigration reform bill have been touting its benefits to the economy. We’re told that creating a “path to citizenship” will allow illegal aliens to come out of the “shadows”. That’s true, but whether that will produce the effects business hopes for is open to question.
After all, the main benefit of illegal immigration is that it keeps labour costs down. Illegal immigration produces a wealth transfer from workers to employers. The fact that the workers are illegal makes it difficult for them to complain about their wages or treatment. Thus employers like restaurants, hotels, construction companies, landscapers, etc., don`t really face pressure for increased wages from the workforce. After all, if the workers get uppity, they can simply be replaced by more illegals. Today, if necessary.
Bringing illegals “out of the shadows” will likely remove some of the employers’ leverage. If the bill functions as promised (a very big if, of course), shouldn’t we expect to see wages rise once the now-legalised immigrants begin to demand better pay and benefits? Won’t the low-wage economy disappear? In other words, legalising the workforce has to produce upward pressure on wages. The only way wages could remain the same is by having more illegal immigration.
The cycle would begin all over again. As wages rise, employers will look for cheaper illegal aliens to fill the gap, and a whole new group of low-skilled, economically powerless workers will arrive on America’s shores.
In other words, as large numbers of upper middle class people begin to pay more to have their lawns mown, their children cared-for, or their basements refinished, they’ll start to look for lower costs elsewhere. Sadly, they’ll find those savings in the labour of a whole new underclass.
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