When I listen to the debate about undocumented immigrants, and especially the debate about the new law in Arizona, it is clear to me that most Americans don’t know what they are talking about. I am a legal immigrant and have first hand experience how difficult it is to get legal immigrant status here in the U.S. It took me seven years to get my permanent papers (Green Card) even though I had been paying high taxes for that whole period. In fact I was contributing more every year to the U.S. economy than 95% of all American citizens.
When it comes to Arizona’s S.B. 1070 it is also very clear to me that very few people have actually read the legislation. If they did, they might be shocked. There are two main parts to the legislation (which is actually an amendment to an existing law adopted in 2007) firstly the undocumented immigrants and secondly the employers who hire them.
The new law is going to cost the Arizona taxpayer a pretty penny. Currently, if the authorities “capture” an undocumented immigrant they are immediately deported back to their country of origin (normally a prison bus back to Mexico). Under the new law they will be put in prison and given their day in court. If they have no money they will probably be given a public defender and if found guilty will be ordered to pay a fine of $500. They will probably not pay this, as they will be deported anyway. This could turn out to be a costly process, which will have to be covered by the legal resident Arizona taxpayers.
On the other hand, the employers, who are really the cause of this whole problem, will probably get off totally unscathed. Yes, the legislation does permit the court to suspend their business license for 10 working days, but there are all sorts of “judgment calls” that can be made by the court to let the off and they are totally exempt if they hired undocumented immigrants before January 1, 2008. This is not the case for the people they hired.
What some of these very vocal, conservative supporters of this new bill don’t realize is they could very easily be dragged of to court themselves. The employer section also includes everyone who subcontracts to a firm knowing they use this cheap source of labor. So if you have a landscaper, a pool guy or someone cleaning your home, beware! The law enforcement officer could pick them up and, if they are undocumented, they could drag you into court too.
The solution to this difficult issue is to go after the employers, not the “so-called” illegal immigrants. Fine the employers $10,000 for every illegal on their books. That will solve the problem in a hurry. Create a work visa program that pulls these people from a place of darkness to the tax-paying light of day. There is no visa for a fruit pickers or landscapers. There is obviously, a need so create one. This will create revenue from the visa charge but also from taxes as these people will gladly be here legally and want to integrate into society openly. I have not heard of any undocumented immigrant that wants to be here illegally. It is the US government, which creates their “illegal” status.
It is reported there are about 450,000 undocumented workers here in Arizona.. About 100,000 have already left. If they all leave it will devastate the economy. We will all have to pay more for services we use every day as well as products we buy. These workers also spend money here and we are already seeing the negative impact of them leaving. Certain businesses and shopping plazas have had to shut down as their client base leaves for Mexico (or California). The irony of the situation is I have seen undocumented immigrants who have started their own businesses here now lay off their American, taxpaying employees as they leave Arizona! The same applies to shopping plaza operators that have had to pack up and go home.
I just wish that some of these other impacts and aspects of this new law would be aired in the media. What is quite disturbing is to see John McCain supporting this new legislation and calling for a fence to be built at the border and the sending of troops to the border. He criticizes the federal government for not doing enough on this issue. So where has he been for the past 28 years? Oh – in the federal government!
I have never seen him criticize all the employers who make insane profits by hiring this cheap labor and paying them half the minimum wage. They are the true criminals. They are U.S. citizens who are breaking the law. The undocumented workers they take advantage of are just ordinary people trying to make a living to support their families. They are not all drug runners that the majority of conservatives here would like you to believe. These same critics should get their overweight children, who play video games all day long, out on the street with a leave blower in 115 F temperatures for $4/hour. Then we wouldn’t need the illegals and the kids would learn some real life values.