While visiting Cape Cod last year, we were approached by an independent painting contractor. He asked if we had many illegal immigrants near Pittsburgh, PA where we live. I told him that we had very few and asked him “Why?” He said, “I am losing all my bids on house painting here because I charge a fair price, but I pay Social Security and Workman’s Comp for all my employees. But I’m losing all my bids to people who hire illegal immigrants and pay them under the table. I can’t make a decent living here… ”
That one instance explodes several myths about illegal immigration:
Myth#1 – Illegal immigrants only take the jobs that no one else wants.
Truth: The hiring of illegal immigrants by business allows them to pay lower wages to undocumented workers, who cannot complain, and to pay wages that no US citizen can live with, especially when the US worker has to pay taxes, Social Security, Medicare tax, and workman’s comp. In truth, illegal immigrants lower the wages for all Americans by allowing businesses to hire under the table. There are plenty of workers who would be willing to paint houses and do other jobs for legitimate wages, but those jobs are lost to illegal workers. So, US jobs are lost and the whole economy suffers by the influx of illegal immigration. US businesses are forced to shut down and taxes are lost to the government.
Myth#2 – Those who want to stem illegal immigration are racists, since it is really about Mexican and Spanish speaking immigrants.
Truth: The painting contractor informed us that in New England the majority of the illegal workers were from Ireland, Russia, and Brazil: White, White, and Portuguese, not Spanish or Hispanic.
So, one painting contractor, representative of hundreds of thousands of small business owners, cannot compete and is driven out of business by unfair competition, what are the implications:
- Decent, paying jobs to US Citizens are lost to under the table workers.
- Tax revenues and Social Security revenues are lost to States and the Feds by payments to undocumented workers who pay no tax nor SS.
- Small businesses who try to operate honestly and pay taxes are undercut, if not destroyed, but those who use illegal immigrants.
A Possible Solution for the problem of Illegal Immigration:
Temporary Worker Visas: Give everyone who wants to come to the US for the “low wage” jobs that “Americans don’t want to do” a Temporary Worker Visa, allowing a legal stay of 6 months, after which time they have to return home for a period of at least 3 months. They can apply for an extension if they are actually hired and if the business applies with them for the extension. All illegal residents currently in the US could immediately apply for and receive a 6 month worker visa, but failure to do so would result in the strictest of penalties if caught. While in the US, workers would be required to pay a portion of their income on catastrophic healthcare insurance.
Violations of the 6 month stay would be met with severe penalties, including the revocation of any future visas or citizenship. If the person does not return to their home country within 1 week after their visa expiration, if they do not or did not pay taxes and SS on their incomes, or if they fail to register for a visa and are here illegally, they would not be eligible for new visas or citizenship.
A temporary worker program, similar to the one in Canada, would solve several problems:
- Illegal immigration would no longer be necessary. Visas would be readily available.
- Temporary workers would not and could not be hired under the table, or they could not stay and they would be prevented from receiving new visas if they did not pay taxes and SS on their incomes.
- Incomes and revenues to the States and the US would not be lost to unpaid taxes, undeclared wages, etc.
- Businesses would be forced to pay decent wages and declare wages for all employees, thereby insuring a level playing field for all businesses and secure their contributions to State, Local and US taxes, SS, etc.
- The hospitals would be protected against overuse and abuse by uninsured illegal immigrants.
- The problem of undocumented aliens would be greatly decreased since there would be a legitimate motivation for all illegal aliens to register and the threat of immediate deportation would not be an issue.
- Previously undocumented workers would have to declare and pay back taxes as would the businesses that hired them.
I think this solution would work. What do you think?