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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Immigration Debate

Immigration - a term which evokes emotions from bitter resentment to compassion. But any controversial subject has several myths associated with it. In this case, we will start with three, two of which are mythical in a least certain parts of the country.

The first is that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from American citizens. This may be true in certain parts of the country, but not in the Mid-Atlantic states. For example, John Livingston, a business developer for the Beltsville, Md.-based Manganaro MidAtlantic, a concrete and masonry company where immigrants comprise up to 75 percent of the work force said his firm has not been able to fill its staffing needs without immigrants for more than a decade. There is also evidence of this in Colorado, a state which has one if the toughest immigration laws in the country. There is such a shortage of labor there that there is talk of using prisoners to fill the gap

The second is that they sell their labor cheap. Once again, this is not true, at least in the Mid-Atlantic states.

The third myth has to do with drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants. Ex-Governor Elliott Spitzer of New York reasoned that these people, if not employed, would become a burden on the city, county and state in which they lived. Depriving them of a driver's license would, in most cases, make it impossible for them to support themselves and pay the taxes they should. The myth is that a driver's license would allow them to board airplanes in the United States. On the contrary, Governor Spitzer had the approval of the Office of Homeland Security, because it is a restricted license which clearly states the words "not for federal identification purposes."

"If illegal immigration came to a standstill, it would disrupt the economy," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "It would lead to higher prices for many goods and services, and some things literally would not get done. It would be a major adjustment for our economy, for sure."

Of course, the alternative to all of this is mass deportation of all the 12-14 million of them. This would suit the likes of Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan, who seem to favor mass deportation, but not before they were all given 15 lashes for their transgression.