They say that illegal immigration is supposed to be such a big issue for Americans, but so far, our Congress has not done a real good job in finding a legislative solution to the problem. In fairness to our elected officials, though, this situation is going to take something beyond posturing, voting money, or creating another agency—and that’s about the extent of the Federal playbook.
Let’s take the politics out of the issue, and see what we can come up with…
Conservative estimates put the number of illegals at 11 million, and some peg it at more than twice this figure. Thus, the logistics of locating and extracting this many people is beyond comprehension, to say nothing of the disruption of countless enterprises that depend on low-cost labor. In theory, employment opportunities could be curtailed by requiring certain documents, but these are easily forged. And even if unassailable documents could somehow be developed, they would still not prevent employers from hiring these workers off the books, and paying them in cash.
Attempts to eliminate the cash economy would require draconian surveillance efforts that Heinrich Himmler could only have dreamed about. And even if Congress were to vote in a Gestapo to eliminate illegals, I doubt that Americans would have the stomach for the levels of brutality needed to accomplish its goals. Soon after, it would turn into another impotent bureaucracy like our current Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
OK. Enforcement won’t work. Can we curtail the supply side of the equation?
Fat chance. It’s no secret that despite our flirtations with socialism, no other country rivals the US in terms of economic opportunity. Add to that source countries like Mexico, that are only too willing to export their poor, and tax what money might be sent back, and we are guaranteed a steady stream of illegals.
As far as the demand side, the best approach would be cultural and philosophical change. It is true that the illegals do the jobs Americans won’t do. Some jobs don’t pay well enough for Americans, and others are considered beneath us. Instead of being taught to appreciate the dignity in all work, Americans have been indoctrinated, via a pernicious educational system, to look down their noses at all physical labor.
Attempts to glamorize physical labor by simply increasing its cost have clearly not worked, as production of everything from clothing to movies has left the country. A first step would be to stop the insanity of insisting that every child must go to college, and re-instill the Americanization of the workforce.
This would still leave us with the rapacious hospitality industry—currently the biggest user of illegal labor. One tack would be to sell these jobs to youth as the starting points that they are, that could lead to higher positions in hotels, restaurants, or simply serve as an introduction to working for a living.
Regarding the title of this essay, intellectualoids are always comparing the US to a declining Roman Empire, so let’s join in. In fact, the Romans did have a huge illegal alien problem with the Goths, who spent their time plundering in large sections of the Empire. These activities escalated into a sort of protection racket after the Goths defeated the Romans and killed emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. In 382, a peace treaty was signed, and the Goths became loyal Roman soldiers—for awhile, at least.
There were a few senators, who decried the loss of the leadership’s Italian character, but if Rome was anything, it was multi-cultural. After all, Septimius Severus, emperor from 193 to 211 (AD) came from North Africa, and he easily matched the Euros for ruthlessness, and other necessities for leadership.
Unfortunately, Rome would fall due mostly to abuses of power, corruption, bureaucratic incompetence, and willful denial on the part of those well-placed, who might have done something about it.
And that sounds way too familiar.