Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fortress Amerika - Day 212!

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton "One Tough Grandma who HATES Rick Perry" Strayhorn recently released a study that is the first attempt to show the effects of illegal immigration on the Texas economy. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that Texas has as many as two million of the eleven million illegal immigrants in the United States. They contributed $18 billion to the gross state product last year, or about 2% of the total. "Undocumented immigrants produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received. However, local governments bore the burden of $1.44 billion in uncompensated health care costs and local law enforcement costs not paid for by the state," Strayhorn added. The net increase to state revenues came from payments such as sales taxes and user fees. Moreover, illegal immigrants make up 6.3% of the Texas workforce, and the study concludes by saying that the illegal immigrants contribute to keeping the value of Texas' exports high.

We have allowed illegals to work on farms and in restaurants for generations, and their hard work has contributed to the economy. It's a little simplistic to demand that it stop all at once.

But the problem can be solved without resort to a Great Wall of the United States. First, give everyone who wants to work and live in the US a guest worker card. Second, make it a law that you must have either a US passport or guest worker card to get a job. (The government is going to require passports for anyone returning from Canada or Mexico anyway. Might as well make everyone get one. Can you say, "May I see your papers?") Third, make it a real crime to hire someone without the card or proof of citizenship. $50,000 fine and 5 years in jail. Now, it's just a slap on the wrist fine. Fourth, end contract labor laws and make all workers in the United States pay into Social Security and, if they have children, make contributions to the local school districts. And Fifth, make guest workers and their employers make payments to MedicAid. Guest workers, by the way, would be excluded from minimum wage laws and would have to work 10 years before applying for citizenship.

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