Sunday, December 17, 2006

Immigration Policy

There’s a very good Washington Post Op-Ed by Tamar Jacoby, who recently wrote a Foreign Affairs article on immigration. Her argument is that immigration laws are so dysfunctional that companies are even being punished for trying to comply. It focuses on Swift, a meat processor. So, for example:

When job applicants started showing up with what the company suspected were false papers, it tried inquiring into their backgrounds -- only to be sued for discrimination by the Justice Department.

Later, Swift complained about problems with the process of verifying social security numbers, and then was promptly raided. Complaining just brings you to the attention of the federal government, and makes you a target.

Our nudge-nudge, wink-wink immigration system -- unrealistic laws, all but ignored on the ground -- must be replaced by a law enforcement regime that works: more honest quotas, enforced to the letter, including in the workplace. Raids such as those that took place this week would be justified in the context of an immigration overhaul of the kind proposed by the president and passed by the Senate last spring.

I think this is well stated. When you look at phenomena as disparate as local governments targeting immigrants, groups like the Minute Men, illegal immigrants dying in the Arizona desert, English-only movements, or even huge pro-immigrant rallies, they all have one common denominator: the utter failure of the U.S. Congress to craft a credible policy on immigration. A Republican controlled Congress (or at least House) wouldn’t do so, and so far there is no sign that a Democratic controlled Congress will either. I will be happy to say I’m wrong if the leadership actually rolls up its sleeves and works on it.


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