August 25, 2006 [LINK]

Senate immigration bill: $$$!!!

A study by the Congressional Budget Office earlier this week estimates that the Senate's immigration bill -- the "comprehensive" approach favored by President Bush -- will cost $126 billion over the next ten years, as the number of people "entitled" to Federal benefits skyrockets. Details are in the Washington Post. Thank goodness someone is doing some serious scrutiny of the Senate's "Open Doors" proposal. Hopefully it will shock some complacent people into realizing the very dangerous path this nation is on right now. There is a big irony here: Granting legal status to undocumented workers who are currently here would negate the very reason businesses hire them in the first place: to avoid paying the full costs (including fringe benefits) to which legal employees are entitled. So why would our esteemed senators bother to do that? Because they are under political heat to "do something," so they "punt" (letting somebody else worry about it) by pushing a policy that shifts entitlement costs to future years while allowing the labor-cheating status quo to continue.

As for as that $126 billion figure, I pay scant attention to such long-range forecasts, which are full of dubious assumption. It would be much more meaningful (and accurate!) to express the costs of alternative policy proposals in one-year increments.

The Heritage Foundation has a survey on immigration reform. Since they are associated with the Big Business wing of the conservative movement, however, I would refrain from endorsing their position in toto.

If you think about it, cracking down on illegal immigrants might have the effect of giving businesses even greater power over their illegal work force, making them cower in fear rather than speaking out about any abuses they suffer. It would be the perfect (disingenuous) strategy for ensuring a large supply of docile laborers. I sure hope that is not a significant part of what is going on. This simply serves to remind us that sincere respect and concern for the welfare of workers in this country, and in other countries, is an absolute necessity if a meaningful reform of immigration laws and practices is to be accomplished. Any political leader who makes a big deal about the threat of illegal immigration and then turns around to either rationalize lapses in enforcement or denigrates the immigrants as second-class human beings deserves contempt.

New local blogger

Lynn Mitchell, a home schooling activist who handles communication duties for the Republican Party in this area, now voices her opinions on politics at SWAC Girl -- as in Staunton-Waynesboro-Augusta County, as in Welcome to the blogosphere, Lynn!