WSJ: New Federal “No Match” Immigration Enforcement Will Work Too Well, So We Should Stop It By SeeDubya

by John Hawkins | August 14, 2007 1:25 am

Time for another open-borders editorial[1] tucked behind the WSJ subscriber firewall. They’re getting better; this time they’re not complaining about their unmowed suburban lawns.[2] They’ve dialed back the condescension[3] a bit, too.

Which leaves Federal Reserve economist Pia Orennius to lay it out clearly. She’s concerned about the government’s new “No Match” regulations. Right now, if a business submits more than 10 SSN’s that match up to bogus names or other people’s names, that business gets a “No Match” letter and…nothing else. What’s changing is that

…the new rules will change that by offering a “safe harbor” from prosecution only to employers who act on no-match letters by firing workers who cannot present valid Social Security numbers. This is striking fear into the hearts of many employers and their workers.

And Wall Street, apparently. Why? Because, she says, it will work:

The new no-match program may not catch everybody, but it has the potential to impact the employment of three to four million undocumented workers. With such workers concentrated in just a few big states — California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona and Illinois — the regional impact of the program could be substantial.

Border enforcement keeps some immigrants out, but since it does nothing to remove the jobs magnet pulling workers here, it actually raises the rewards for those who make it in, encouraging more illegal immigration. Fears of no-match letters reflect a simple reality — this could work.

Can’t have that, now can we?

Interior enforcement strikes at the heart of why immigrants come to the U.S. — jobs. This approach can be effective without harming the U.S. economy when used to deter illegal inflows. When directed at the current stock of illegal immigrant workers, however, interior enforcement may do more harm than good.

The main effects will be to drive undocumented workers underground where they will work off the books for lower wages, under worse conditions and subject to more abuses. In recent work, Madeline Zavodny of Agnes Scott College and I found that the no-match letters and other post-9/11 enforcement measures, such as the Real ID Act, have eroded the demand for undocumented labor relative to other low-skilled workers, causing the relative wages and employment rates of undocumented workers to decline.

Subject to more abuses. Illegals are already nearly in indentured servitude, subject to extortion by the threat of informing La Migra about them. But this unsavory status quo doesn’t seem to be a big concern to the amnesty advocates. Given that, they need to explain why these lower wages (which would increase overall efficiency, fight inflation, and lower the price of those all-important heads of lettuce we keep hearing about) would be such a bad thing. If cheap labor is OK, why isn’t even cheaper labor better?

She’s also concerned that as they get fired, illegals will default on their mortgages. I can only conclude that any bank that lends money to an illegal alien to buy a house was either abysmally incompetent in its due diligence background check, or just plain knew it was loaning money to an illegal. And I say, that sucks to be that bank. However, I might be willing to loan them a small amount to help them out–say, 25 cents[4].

Now there is a certain amount of sense being made here; the people with regular jobs and fake SSN’s are at least paying in some revenue to the federal treasury. If I were looking for a way to figure out who to deport first, that might not be the place I’d start. But as it’s not the only thing being done[5], I can’t say I have a huge problem with it.

It’s not a fence, and it’s not going to shut people like me up, but as a part of a broader strategy it makes sense. And the WSJ is scared of it, so there might be something to it.

This content was used with the permission of JunkYardBlog[6].

  1. open-borders editorial:
  2. unmowed suburban lawns.:
  3. condescension:
  4. 25 cents:
  5. not the only thing being done:
  6. JunkYardBlog:

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