Immigration Reform - Supply and Demand Plus The American Dream

Immigration Reform - Supply and Demand Plus The American Dream

The immigration reform debate in the United States has included many proposals over the past few years. It has also included a troublesome amount of histrionics from all quarters. Unfortunately most of the solutions offered to date have been for the purpose of ameliorating the symptoms of this problem and not the source. What actually is the cause of this illegal immigration influx? Too often we choose to focus on solutions before we actually understand the problem.

I will begin this article by identifying and defining the true cause of this current illegal immigration wave. Then I will detail the simple solution that I feel will solve this problem. Next I will propose the steps we should take in dealing with the illegal immigrants already in the U.S. Finally I will reveal an underlying issue that I believe drives all of the over the top controversy surrounding this situation. Hopefully I will be able to shed a clearer light on this dilemma by the end of my Hub.

Why is this wave of Mexican and other Latin American immigrants coming to the United States? It is for better paying and more plentiful jobs . Businessmen are always looking to optimize their profits by cutting costs. Their largest cost is usually labor. The normal hourly wage in their countries is significantly below the U.S. minimum wage. Jobs are also not as numerous in their native countries as they are in the United States. Therefore many of the citizens of these countries come here for more lucrative employment. Employers in the U.S. are often willing to employ these workers at below minimum wage without benefits. They pay them in cash and look the other way as far as asking them for proof of citizenship or legal status. These conditions make the illegal immigrant dilemma simply one of supply and demand.

So how best to address this problem? There are basically two ways. You can attempt to cut off the supply of illegal workers by a few means. The most prominent of these is beefing up security along the border or building a very long and very high fence. These processes never work to any great degree. They can make it harder to cross the border and easier to catch those attempting to cross illegally. But these methods will never fully work when there are more lucrative jobs to be found in the U.S. The same argument is used for illegal drug control and we know how successful that fight has been.

I believe that the only solution that has a chance of success is controlling the demand for illegal immigrant workers. The best way to do this is by making the oversight and penalties for hiring them so onerous that continuing the practice would be impractical and more importantly uneconomical. The minimum wage is already a wage that is below the poverty line. Why do these employers feel the need to seek out these illegal workers to work for a lower wage? The answer is pure greed. Government authorities should impose punitive economic penalties for first time offending companies that visibly hurt their business. This will send a clear message that this business practice will not be tolerated. A second offense should provide for a stiffer fine and probationary time. Finally, a third offense will be considered three strikes and your out. A mandatory jail sentence for the owners should be imposed along with the company being shut down.

Now what if these employers play by the rules but cannot find enough U.S. citizens to perform their jobs. I believe that we should dramatically revamp and expand our work visa program or adopt President George W. Bush's proposed guest worker program. These programs should be designed in a way where employers could prove a business hardship and be allowed to obtain legal work visas for the foreign workers they require. They would need to rigorously prove this hardship with extensive documentation in regards to their employee search in the U.S. This way employers would be able to obtain the workers they need legally and employ them at a working minimum wage with benefits where legally required. The American government would have the advantage of knowing what foreign workers were in the U.S. and where. Public health as well as national and local security would be protected much more easily. These foreign workers would also now be on the tax rolls easing the strain on municipal resources by expanding the tax base. These workers would also have much greater personal security living above board and out in the open. This new and expanded work visa program would be a win win for all involved.

Now I would like to turn to the subject of what to do with the many millions of illegal immigrants already living in the United States. Hard liners would have federal and local authorities hunt down, arrest, and deport all of these immigrants. This is highly impractical, expensive, and probably impossible. Simply legalizing these immigrants through a blanket amnesty would be unfair to those who went through the naturalization process legally. It would also be a dead on arrival proposal politically. Ignoring the problem and just allowing these immigrants to remain living in the shadows of our society is unjust and dangerous.

So what should we do? My plan would be quite similar to the bill introduced in April of 2006 by Sen. Arlen Specter and sponsored by several other Republican senators. Their plan would have increased work visas from 65,000 to 115,000 a year with an annual 20% increase. Increased border security and a path to citizenship was also included in this bill.

I would instead increase the level of work visas to whatever levels employers could document as needed by them. The workers who would get these visas would have to prove they were in the U.S. and working for the prior three years. They would also have to be sponsored by an employer who has documented his need for the immigrant's services. A criminal record would automatically invalidate their application. This way these illegal immigrants with employment and roots in the community would be able to stay and live here without fear and continue to be productive.

Employers would be ensured of the stable workforce they need. The 2006 Senate plan would have given these workers a 6 year work visa. I would limit this to 3 years after which the employer would be required to renew the visas and again prove the need for them. These guest workers would now be allowed to apply for citizenship if they wish but would be placed at the back of the waiting list. This application could only occur after paying a fine and back taxes. All of these provisions would be contingent upon the guest worker remaining gainfully employed without any criminal convictions. Criminal convictions would result in deportation after serving their prescribed prison sentence.

This new Immigration Reform system would be beneficial to the United States. Only productive foreign workers would remain. Our tax base would be expanded and only truly hard working people would remain here. All sides win in this scenario.

The final issue I would like to discuss is the proverbial elephant in the room. An underlying issue that most everyone denies but one I believe is clearly fueling this argument. This issue is ethnic bigotry. The current public outcry for immigration reform did not take off until after the 9/11 terror attacks. There had been complaining about the situation prior to this but there was no great public or political thrust for dealing with it. The fear and loathing that followed those attacks was understandably large and made securing our borders to protect our security an imperative. Now don't get me wrong. Solidifying our security in all areas including our borders was long overdue. The concentration placed on illegal immigration across the Mexican border became hysterical. None of the terrorists came across the Mexican border. Why then did this hysteria develop?

The crux of the matter is that the citizens of the United States have always had fears and suspicions of newly arrived minority ethnic immigrants. This is nothing new. The more the new immigrant is different looking and sounding as compared to the majority of our citizenry, the larger the inner fears will be for the majority. Discrimination was rampant against the Chinese in the 19th century. This was also true of Hispanic immigrants from the 19th century onward. It is true that this also occurred to European immigrants through the course of U.S. history. But never to the same extent. European immigrants have usually been able to assimilate into American society much easier and quicker.

Native Americans who were already here have still not fully blended into our society. African Americans who were brought here as slaves needed a war, constitutional amendments, and landmark legislation just to get them into the game. The common denominator for these groups was that they looked much different than the majority of the U.S. population. There are currently many illegal immigrants from Russia and eastern European countries that were formerly under Soviet control. Illegal Irish immigrants were prevalent in the U.S. in the 1970's and 1980's due to northern Ireland violence and a depressed economy. In both of these cases no public outcry was and is heard.

I argue that this is because they look like the majority of Americans in the U.S. The Immigration Reform bills offered since 2006 have had substantial bipartisan support. But each time the far right wing of the Republican party has blocked these bills because their supporters were very outspoken and animated in their opposition to said bills. Political pandering and cowardice ruled the day. My belief is that these common sense plans have been ultimately defeated because of ethnic xenophobia disguised as outrage over illegality.

The outlines to a successful Immigration Reform Bill are already in place. The only things missing are strict enforcement mechanisms that would ensure that employers comply along with enough work visas to satisfy employers' work requirements. What then is missing? It is political courage by elected representatives who are willing to do what is right for the United States. Our political climate has been toxic since the presidential election of 1992 when Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. Political initiatives by either party are now usually met with intense almost irrational opposition. This is true even when the proposed legislation is positive and makes sense to all. This is what we are facing here. The new START treaty with Russia is being held up by Sen. Jon Kyl because he supposedly wants more money for nuclear weapons modernization. The Obama administration has agreed with this but still Sen. Kyl blocks the treaty.

The bottom line is that the Republicans want to block any President Obama initiative regardless of its merit. This is why the Republicans are now opposing immigration reform. Also because it panders to their far right which is in the ascendancy right now. I believe this is disgraceful and unstatesmanlike. The opposition believes this plan is an amnesty. What is wrong with that? These workers must pay substantial fines and taxes to work legally here and they must go to the back of the waiting line for citizenship. This plan is only for those working hard and obeying our laws. Besides there is no way to find and deport all of the illegal immigrants in the U.S. today.

The plan is practical, compassionate, and purely American. Part of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 reads "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free". It does not read huddled white masses of European descent. These newest immigrants are seeking that same dream and are working very hard to achieve it at great personal risk. They want to work at very difficult low paying jobs that very few Americans want to work at. I for one believe in this American dream and wish to see them given a path to achieve it. Anyone willing to sacrifice so much for so little is my kind of American.

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Comments 49 comments

Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

This is the first honorable hub I have read about the problem with illegal immigrants that has been addressed many times before from a bias perspective and without offering any solutions.

In the other hand you are analyzing the causes with refreshing common sense (not in great supply on HP or in any politic views of the many politicians who are promising action), but most importantly, you are offering reasonable solutions.

I am sick of the hypocrisy associated with this subject and I am tired of the double standards of politicians that know well the disastrous effects of losing the cheap and much needed work of illegal immigrants and the few advantages that will come with it. I thank you for your decency and courage of touching this very hot potato and for reminding others about the Lady, still proud, but disappointed, wathcing over the American shors.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

A well-reasoned, sensible approach to immigration reform,HSchneider. However, the right wing and their corporate gods are far more interested in maintaining their cheap source of labor than any true reform. These are the same people who outsource our jobs and spend billions of dollars on unjustified foreign wars in an attempt to destroy our Social Security, Medicare and health care programs. They won't even agree to pay American workers a livable wage or allow laid off workers to receive the unemployment benefits they deserve.

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you Petra for your kind praise and fan mail. I fervently wish people would look at this issue much more clear-headedly. They focus so much on the illegality and ignore the causes and avoid seeking true solutions. Unfortunately this is how many of our problems are handled today. There was a bipartisan plan on the docket in 2008 that should have been a slam dunk. The politicians lost their nerve due to loud protesting and refused to even vote on it. Political courage once again took a holiday.

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

I completely agree with you William. Corporate America loves this cheap labor and would love to have this gravy train continue. They also infused this past election with an incredible amount of campaign money. This of course was due to the Supreme Court ruling allowing it. They now will have a much larger influence on who gets elected and thus on who will serve their interests. This is evident now in Congress with Republicans allowing extended unemployment benefits to expire while trying to preserve Bush tax cuts for the rich. Unemployment benefits are virtually 100% stimulative. Tax cuts for the rich are only marginally stimulative. I don't think the GOP can argue that they are doing this to stimulate the economy. Maybe it's to stimulate their campaign coffers. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.

scoello profile image

scoello 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

Great Hub! I like the way you went into this hot button topic with a very clear head. A lot of times people's posts about this topic can get very heated or focus more on complaints rather than trying to look for solutions. I like your ideas, and I am glad you mentioned the border wall. I live on the Texas/Mexico border and grew up there my whole life. The border wall is a constant eyesore for us and I know that many people continue to cross just as easily as before the wall was put up. It literally is a perfect example of so much government money going into something that doesn't solve the problem.

Thanks for your fresh outlook.

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you Scoello. I hate the idea of a border wall or fence. It is just the opposite symbol to the Statue of Liberty. It says stay away from here. We have ours, keep your hands off it. Our employers have jobs here that go unfilled. Foreign workers are willing to do them. We need for our employers to hire them legally for everyone's benefit. Those who have been here for years working hard are simply doing what Americans do every day. My Hub instead shows a path to live here legally and join our American dream.

Jeremey profile image

Jeremey 6 years ago from Arizona

Greed is Killing the American Dream, greed is as greed does and greed is ruling our country.

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

You are quite right Jeremey. Whatever happened to the feeling of togetherness after 9/11? We need to come together as a nation to help those not as fortunate as us. Instead the rich and corporate America get theirs. We all need to find some compassion and empathy to help others around us.

DTR0005 profile image

DTR0005 6 years ago from Midwest

Impressive and common sense-based. I have often asked people, "how much do you want to pay for a pound of tomatos? $8.00" Our agricultural and building trades industries are heavily "subsidized" by cheap, Hispanic labor. And let's not forget who is creating the demand filled by Hispanic labor....

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

It is certainly we the American people who are creating that demand. In turn our companies have the demand for these workers. I feel we should give the workers who are doing the right thing and have roots in our communities a path to legality and after a time, citizenship. I've always felt it's the American way. Thanks for your kind comments.

Abecedarian profile image

Abecedarian 6 years ago from These United States, Texas

As always a level headed debate. Great job. Too bad more people don't think this way.

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you Abecedarian. I wish everyone would address this issue and others more rationally. Our country has too many serious problems not to. Instead our politicians pander for votes and grandstand on their chamber's floor. This looked like a done deal in 2008 when the leaders of both sides agreed in principle. If it succumbed to politics then, I don't know how much hope exists for it now.

gregas profile image

gregas 6 years ago from Corona, California.

Hi H., I agree with you 100%. The thing is, we need politicians and resources that will pass AND enforce the laws. We already have some laws that would help but everyone is afraid they will be criticized and ridiculed if they do. We need more like Jan Brewer. There is an add on your hub by Google to vote on immigration reform. I voted on that. There was a surprising result on one of them. It asked who voted for Obama and who voted for McCain. The results were interesting. 9% for Obama and 78% for McCain. That tells me one of two things. Either we have a president in office that shouldn't be there OR the ones that voted for Obama don't give a damn about immigration. OR, that is the gutless majority we have in this country. Very good hub and to the point. Greg

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Hi Gregas. Basically we need employers to be cracked down upon while greatly expanding work visas. I don't agree about Gov. Brewer. I think she changes her views to pander to the side that will get her elected. I do agree about the gutlessness of politicians on all sides. Also not just with this issue. Start talking to one another and dealing with immigration and other issues honestly. They need to solve this country's problems and stop campaigning for re-election. Thanks for your comments.

gregas profile image

gregas 6 years ago from Corona, California.

What our politicians really need to do is solve the problems in this country and quit worrying about the problems in all of the other countries. Greg

HSchneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

I agree more needs to be done addressing the myriad of problems in this country. We also need to wind down our 2 wars and stop being so quick to resort to military actions. But we must keep strong diplomacy operating throughout the world. There are just too many dangers in the world. We cannot ignore them.

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

The Dream Act failed in the Senate on 12/18/2010 when the cloture vote failed 55-41 to break the Republican filibuster. 60 votes were needed. These Senators should be ashamed of themselves. This was a small common sense bill that would have simply put children who go to college or enter the military onto a path to citizenship. These children who have lived here their whole lives and acted like exemplary citizens have been denied due to paranoid and opportunistic Senators. I hope Hispanic Americans remember this in upcoming elections. This was hateful politics.

FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) web-site at has an article that indicates "Members of the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for citizenship by qualifying for naturalization through military service under Section 328 or 329 of the INA". Google search on 'military citizenship' to find the article. Also, a google search on 'college citizenship' shows a number of colleges working with USCIS to educate current students on citizenship.

My question is (help me to understand) what does the DREAM Act provide that is not already available?

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

The Dream Act gives these youths a formalized mechanism to apply for a path to citizenship. Colleges can attempt to help the student but it is far from effective. The military has more clout of course but even they have limitations. I believe the DREAM Act will encourage children to stay on a straight path and strive to be good citizens. We need more military conscripts. We need more and better educated students. This is a different and surer way to enable them. Most of them have been here all or the majority of their lives. I believe they deserve the chance to succeed in this country as long as they do not have a criminal record. Thanks for your comments.

Fay Paxton 5 years ago

In my recent post, I called all the furor over immigration a political dog and pony show. If they wanted to address and solve the problem they would. It's that simple. One group wants the votes, the other wants the cheap labor.

You should run for the Senate!

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

You are right that both sides play their political cards. My view is to legalize the good citizens and stop employers from hiring illegal immigrants by punishing and then shutting them down. As for the Senate, I want a real job! Thank for your kind comments and your vote.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Hi HSchneider,

I like the way you covered this topic so well. There will probably never be a satisfiable solution to immigration. Our country was built on immigrants. Today, as in the past, they come here for better opportunities, but I have seen U.S. citizens get angry at immigrants, when non citizens get better health care because they have no health care. Immigration, the security of our country, jobs and labor, are all big entanglements in this situation. The whole immigration reform, I think needs greater minds than who are political leaders are to solve this mess. Thanks for a well done hub. You have a lot of good information, and I thank you for sharing it. Rated up and awesome.

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Toknowinfo, You are right that the immigration problem is complicated and entangled with many other issues. That is why I tried to come up with a comprehensive plan that actually gets at the problem. Too many people simply go around yelling their talking points and prejudicial views. Immigrants will stop coming when employers stop hiring. Also there is no way to deport all illegal immigrants. We and politicians need to face these truths and come together for practical solutions. Thanks for commenting.

francisid 5 years ago

Cut the roots that support the tree of illegal immigration.They wouldn't flood in if nobody's helping them.

Everybody has a right to defend what is rightfully theirs,I mean, if it's really their own. So it's but perfectly natural for them to do everything to defend their walls. It's just pathetic to note that there are many people who has the strength and courage to demand for things which are not really theirs!

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Francisid, I agree with you about cutting the roots of illegal immigration by heavily penalizing the businesses that hire them. Those that have been here for years, working hard, and obeying our laws should be given a stringent path to citizenship. The Dream Act should have been passed also.

SealBeach profile image

SealBeach 5 years ago

Excellent hub! Unfortunately, it's a little too late. America has done what the Romans did; overwhelmed the population with cheap labor with subsidized social benefits with less contribution to the treasury.

Unions built American states, cities, and counties.

If unions are destroyed--democracies are destroyed!

I do not know of any third world country with unions.

America's wars the last 60 years has been with dictators--not unions!

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you SealBeach. I believe that the unions have been hurt badly by the cheap labor in developing nations in South America and Asia. Unfortunately the Republicans are trying to finish that job in state legislatures. I believe these new Republican Governors along with their corporate benefactors are the biggest villains.

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

One other thing. The Dream Act, at least, should be passed. These people are brought here illegally as children but have been productive in the U.S. their whole life. Some are even soldiers. They are as American as you and I and they should be made legal.

SealBeach 5 years ago

HSchneider, I totally agree with you on The Dream Act--even though the parents are still at the mercy of ICE.

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Seal Beach, Unfortunately you are absolutely correct. Even when they are contributing members to our society for many years.

hazelickes profile image

hazelickes 5 years ago

Legislation in states such as Alabama and Georgia is moving toward treating not just illegal immigrants, but also those who employ them, as criminals.

HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Yes they are but that is a federal function not a state function. Thank you for your comments Hazelickes.

francis5k 4 years ago

thank you and goodjob hub!

HSchneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you for your kind compliments, Francis5K.

francis5k 4 years ago

very informative.keep it coming! Welcome HSchneider!

HSchneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you very much, Francis5K.

entropyartist profile image

entropyartist 3 years ago

I just stumbled onto this article and found it to be incredibly well thought-out, and down right sensible. Cheers!

HSchneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you very much for your kind comments, Entropyartist.

CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

I enjoyed reading this Hub very much. I can hear through your words your passion for this subject. Very well-written and stated. I watched a movie once called Fast Food Nation. It touched on the topic of immigrants coming over illegally to work for miniscule pay, but dangerous work. It was primarily about fast food chains, but the immigration part of the movie is really eye opening.

HSchneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

I am glad you liked my Hub, CraftytotheCore. These immigrants certainly work very hard, in rough conditions, and for very low pay. I believe that they should be legalized and given a path to citizenship if they are law abiding and working here for years. Thank you for your comments.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

I read your article with interest on this highly divisive topic in Texas. You said, "I believe that the only solution that has a chance of success is controlling the demand for illegal immigrant workers."

News agencies report, "At least 60,000 Central Americans have entered the country illegally this year, though some news reports say the figure is as high as 170,000. An effort is under way to place children in foster homes or with relatives." What about these children? Is this about demand for low paying jobs? I'm not sure about that.

HSchneider 2 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

This newest round of immigrants are children fleeing violence in their countries seeking political asylum. It is an immigration problem but it is also a much different type. These children are looking to be picked up by authorities. Previous immigrants were looking to come in and take up jobs Americans, for the most part, refuse to do at very low wages. This round of children immigrants will need new ideas on how to curtail it and handle it. The President is trying to work with the countries they are coming from to hear their asylum pleas there. He also wants increased funds to speed up proceedings. We will see how this goes. This Hub was dealing with the earlier and more usual flow of immigrants. Thank you very much for your comments and update on this problem, Peg.

HSchneider 2 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

President Obama has now given his executive order for immigration reform. It is only a first step and Congress now needs to act to cement their own version. The status quo could not persist. The Republicans have been reacting after the first day in a muted and sensible manner. Maybe, just maybe, they will truly act and send the President their immigration reform bill. We will see.

Ladainian 22 months ago

Times are chnnigag for the better if I can get this online!

Makoto 22 months ago

You definitely sulhod have put some bait in your most recent media-related post, maybe something like: like noble immigrants struggling to evade the INS, bloggers struggle to get acceptance from bigger media sources.

Seal Beach 22 months ago

Actually, importing cheap labor; is for politicians who needs votes and Corporate America! No degree from MIT (rhymes) needed to figure this one out!

HSchneider 22 months ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you for your comments, Ladainian.

HSchneider 22 months ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Thank you for your comments and suggestion, Makoto. I prefer to write my Hubs in a straight forward and fair manner without resorting to throwing bait out to attract readers.

HSchneider 22 months ago from Parsippany, New Jersey Author

Corporate America definitely loves cheap labor and probably wishes everyone would look the other way. Thank you for your comments, Seal Beach.

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