Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Illegal Immigrants Are Leaving Arizona

An article in this previous Sunday's Arizona Republic talks about how the illegal immigrants in this state are beginning to leave Arizona, in anticipation of the crackdown on businesses that hire illegals that goes into effect on January 1st.

Although the law doesn't go into effect until January 1st, many small items of business have to be taken care of between now and then, which is why people are leaving now rather than waiting. Businesses are not supposed to knowingly employ illegal immigrants after this date, which means that if they know someone is here illegally, they have to let them go prior to that date. The immigrants themselves know that their jobs may be in jeopardy, so they are getting ready to leave now. Especially if they happen to own housing... the time to get the house on the market is now. It's not the best time to be selling because of the current housing slump, but the alternative of foreclosure is probably worse.

The article seems to have a somewhat pessimistic, the sky is falling attitude. Did anybody say that the short term consequences of this law were going to be easy? No. Sure some things are going to be tough. It's likely that there will be vacancies in the job market. All the immigrants leaving will also make the current housing slump a little worse. This is short term loss for a long outlook of gain.

The article almost makes me wonder why don't we let them stay? But then I started to ponder why they should go... and how if they were here legally things would be much different.

  • If all these people were here legally, we would know who was here. Seems like a no-brainer. We want to know who is here because of the big terrorism question. While the majority of our illegal immigrants are from Mexico and they're not a big terrorism threat, if Mexicans can sneak in the border, that means someone of any nationality that can get into Mexico, including terrorists from the Middle East, can get here.
  • If these people were here legally, they wouldn't be suppressing the wages of ordinary Americans. People always make the excuse that illegal immigrants are here "doing the jobs that Americans won't do" but that's not true. They do many jobs that Americans don't want to do under the working conditions that are imposed upon them. Many of these jobs are unsafe, unsanitary, or don't pay a decent wage. The employers know that they can get away with subjecting these employees to those working conditions, because illegals have nowhere to turn to complain. If they were here legally, that would change out of necessity.
  • They would pay the correct taxes if they were here legally. My husband used to work in a human resource company that did the payroll for many small companies, including many that hired illegals. While it is true that anybody that was employed and didn't work under the table had taxes taken out of their paychecks, the illegal immigrants would often claim a very high number of dependents so that very little money would be taken out.

If we need more workers here in this country, we need to increase the quotas and get more people here legally. If our country increases its quota of immigrants, then we can more evenly dole out the work visas to the people applying for them. Right now, if you are from Russia or Italy or Greece or Zimbabwe and want to come to this country, you get in line with all the other people applying to be given permission to live and work in this country, and you wait. If there were fewer people coming into this country illegally, we could allow more of these people that are waiting to come. Our country could choose the best candidates for work Visas, rather than have people barging in that may not be the best match for the job skills that we need.

Since Arizona is going to see some depopulation in the next few months, at least among the immigrant community, there will be some adjustments that need to be made, and some difficulties. But as the law of supply and demand work, eventually the market will work itself out.

Some advantages that we will see include less crowded schools, less crowded emergency rooms, and to some degree, less of a burden on social services. I do realize that illegal immigrants are not allowed to receive social services (as many realized this fall when they tried to return to the University system and realized that they were not eligible for in-state tuition), but many have children that are American citizens and can receive these services. While the government never likes to reduce taxes, with fewer people attending the schools, it might mean that it takes longer for the schools to ask for a new bond to build new buildings.

So while there might be some rough times in store for Arizonans, in the end it will be okay. Probably better even, IMO.

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