-{So yeah, this is a post about immigration. Feel free to voice opinions on the immigration topic. It’s a relatively wide – but not unlimited – berth here.}-

Bryan Caplan reluctantly points out a possible solution to unauthorized immigrant labor enforcement:

Still, there is a way to make Unz’s proposal even more diabolical. I hesitate to reveal it, but I seriously doubt the nativists will listen. The heart of darkness: Give a green card to any illegal immigrant who testifies against his employer for labor law violations. You solve for the tragic equilibrium.

This may sound familiar, as it’s something I have proposed before. To clarify, my “proposal” being less of something we should do, but something that we can do if we ever want to get serious about it. The response I have historically gotten is that it’s something conservatives would never sign on with because they want it to be all about the immigrants and not the employers. Which I actually find to be a misunderstanding of the border hawks by the border doves. Border hawks strongly dislike employers who illegally hire people who aren’t here legally.

The “green card” aspect may be a tougher sell. But not nearly as tough a sell as it is to the people who say that there is just nothing we can do to stem the tide.

Ultimately, the big problem with illegal immigration (or at least the workforce component) is that it’s a win-win situation for those most involved in the situation. Employers get cheap labor. Immigrants get jobs. Those that are (at least theoretically) being hurt are not in sufficient proximity to the situation to do anything about it.

The key, then, is to turn employer and employee against one another. Sew mistrust. Make the employers scared of the employees, who will have the ability to get above the table simply by diming out the employer. You might not even have to, but if you threaten to deport everyone else who works for the company, you turn the employees against one another, too. It would make it much, much more difficult to keep these arrangements going.

There are some downsides. It would, likely, result in some anti-Hispanic and anti-Asian discrimination (including against those here legally). Just as any effort to come down on employers would. Verification schemes tend to penalize everybody equally. With this, employers would simply be more wary of demographic profiles that are perceived to be disproportionately likely to be here illegally. On the other hand, if an employer has a degree of indemnity by following verification protocols, it could work. You could possibly mitigate the racism problem by offering indemnity only in the event that you verify everybody’s identification.

The other downside, though, is just that. The result would probably be at least a mild uptick in identity theft as getting paperwork in order becomes more important. The result of this could be green cards for assisting in the prosecution of those assisting in the identity theft. Or tighter identity monitoring more generally, though that’s obviously going to have its opponents.

This would primarily affect those who come here to work. It would do little for border-hoppers who are explicitly here to further criminal enterprises. However, I suspect that if we didn’t have so many people trying to cross over to work, it would be considerably easier to work on those who come over here for other reasons. Right now, the weeds can hide in some pretty tall grass. The less border enforcement focused on migrant workers, the more that can be focused on drugs.

I strongly believe that after all this, the need for migrant workers likely would become more apparent. At that point we would be able to talk more about how many migrants we need rather than how many can find their way across. Others, of course, will disagree with this strongly.

Ultimately, of course, this problem does have a self-regulating aspect. Illegal immigration has never been a priority issue of mine, though a combination of factors lead me to start asking the question “What would work?” And I started taking a turn against illegal immigration when the economy hit the skids. But that’s when the self-regulation did start to kick in and the pace abated. I know that I have a higher tolerance for immigration than the readers at Hit Coffee, and a lower tolerance than those at Ordinary Times, so there’s at least something in here for everyone to believe that I am an inhuman monster or an unpatriotic American.

Back in the land of reality, though, as nice as it might be to have control over our borders (regardless of how many people we let through them), there are some significant problems. It’s not simply a matter of opportunistic Democrats seeing future voters or weak Republicans shuddering in fear of being called racist or permanently losing the Hispanic vote. It’s mostly that the nation as a whole seems to feel about immigration as I do about other issues. The steps and laws required to enforce the prohibition are further than a lot of people are willing to go. Polling tends to vary, but as immigrants are loaded onto buses en masse the optics would shift points of view that are already tepid on the matter. Leaning heavily on employers is extremely popular, but it was one of the hallmarks of Romney’s “Self-deportation” plan that went over like a lead balloon.

Or put another way, the biggest problem in all of this is an inability of the American people to decide what we actually want.


Category: Statehouse

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

6 Responses to My “Diabolical” Immigrant Expulsion Plan

  1. Peter says:

    For the last few years net immigration from Mexico has been negative.

    • trumwill says:

      I know that it’s abated, though my impression was that we were edging back to the positive. Either way, we’re not looking at the same situation that we were a decade ago.

  2. You know, this actually sounds like a sensible idea that could work…

  3. Φ says:

    I was ultimately surprised that your post didn’t draw any parallels between this policy and the recent (German or Swedish?) policy of decriminalizing the practice but not the patronization of prostitution.

    In any case, your idea is intriguing, but it presupposes the will on the part of our ruling elites to do anything about illegal immigration, let alone anything effective. And this we don’t actually have.

    • trumwill says:

      I honestly didn’t see the parallel, but I do now that you mention it. They’re both cases of going after the person with the most to lose.

      Yeah, my plan has very little chance of ever coming to fruition. If I had any optimism about the political palatability of it, that evaporated when the response to Romney’s “self-deportation” plan was that it was to be considered grotesque and inhumane.

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