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July 15, 2006

Yeah! What he said!

A lesson from history -- today in the Washington Post.

...the only way to gain control of the border -- is through reform of the kind championed by President Bush and the Senate that liberalizes our immigration law.

Liberalize to get control? No, it doesn't make sense at first blush. But this is the paradox at the heart of immigration reform. Yes, our existing law is inadequately enforced, both on the border and in the workplace. But one of the main reasons for this endemic failure is that the law itself is so unrealistically strict, so out of sync with our labor needs as to be -- like all unrealistic law -- practically unenforceable.

The best analogy is Prohibition: No matter what enforcement resources we threw at that unrealistic ban, we couldn't make it stick(emphasis mine). But realistic regulation of alcohol use is another matter entirely -- easily achieved with modest means, such as liquor licenses and import duties.

So, too, with immigration. As the law stands now, we admit only about two-thirds of the labor we need to keep our economy growing, and the additional third -- some 400,000 to 500,000 workers a year -- must get here some other way, illegally. No wonder the Border Patrol is overwhelmed.

The logic behind reform is that if you create a legal way for these now-illegal workers to come into the country you'll take the pressure off the border. After all, once we've filled every available job -- every job for which an employer can't find an American worker -- with an authorized immigrant, there should be little incentive for other foreigners to risk their lives making the trip. The bulk of those now coming illegally would enter lawfully and be processed on the way in, while the illegal traffic would slow to a trickle, far more easily turned back by the Border Patrol.

Posted by almamia at July 15, 2006 10:59 PM


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