Whenever people exist in an underground culture, they are vulnerable to exploitation. We see this among teen runaways, the homeless, or those who participate in illegal industries, such as prostitution, drug trafficking, and pornography. Wherever the law cannot be brought in to hold people accountable, abusers, criminals and exploiters will flourish.
So why are so many people working so hard to perpetuate a situation in which illegal immigrants exist in just such an environment? Why do they claim that as they do so, they are working for the immigrants? What are illegals to do when their employer doesn't pay, they fall victim to domestic violence, their kids are molested, their landlord doesn't provide running water, or their home is burglarized? They can't risk exposure by calling in the appropriate authorities, and their exploiters know it.
My regular readers know that I don't get political very often on this site, but as we seek a Christian response to the recent debates about U.S. immigration, I find myself frustrated that this point is not being clearly made. The case has been well made that illegals are exploiting our system and our generosity, but little has been said about how they are themselves exploited by an underground culture we allow to exist by failing to prevent illegal entry into this country.
I keep hearing that immigrants are taking jobs Americans won't take. Is it that Americans won't do the work, or is it that they won't do it at wages below the minimum wage and under conditions that OSHA and labor unions would never allow? It seems to me that the same people who argue for minimum wage laws, claiming any less pay would be exploitative, are also arguing for letting undocumented workers work here for less than minimum wage. Where are the labor unions protesting the working conditions of migrant farm workers? Why is it okay with these folks that immigrants are coming here illegally and becoming a part of a permanent, exploited underclass they have little chance of escaping?
Those who want immigration reform or enforcement of current law are being accused of being anti-immigration, racist, and worse. Three of my four grandparents were immigrants to the United States. I think our ethnic richness is one of the strengths of America. But when my grandparents came here, poor as they were, they supported themselves, came here under the law, and they were protected by the law. Through honest hard work they bettered their lives and gave their children opportunities they never would have had in their homelands. I don't want less for immigrants coming here today. As long as we perpetuate an environment in which becoming a part of an underground immigrant culture is fairly easy, millions of people will come here and become vulnerable to exploiters and criminals.
Recently I heard someone making the argument that we need these undocumented workers because so many of them are paying social security taxes, that if we lost their contributions, the Social Security system would collapse. I am skeptical of that claim, but whatever the case, it is unlikely these people will ever be able to collect Social Security. So are we saying it is a good thing that we are taking this money from them and giving it to others, using it to prop up a failing Social Security system? Is this justice?
I have also heard it said that if migrant farm workers were paid legal wages and worked under lawful conditions, we would all have to pay more for food. So is the argument that it is okay for us rich folk to have artificially low food prices supported on the backs of exploited workers? Is this justice?
Some may say that these people are better off being exploited here than they were living in their homelands, and after all, they chose to come here. The same thing can be said of the fifteen year-old runaway that escapes an abusive home and ends up living with a forty-five year-old pedophile. Yet the guy's still a creep, isn't he? It would be better if the law protected her, wouldn't it? We should arrest the man if we can, shouldn't we? We should place the girl in state custody for her own protection if we can, shouldn't we?
Like the young girl, many immigrants leave home with visions of a better life. And many, like the young girl, find themselves trapped in a harsher reality. They labor here and pay taxes without a vote or representation. They are victims of abusers and criminals and have no protection. They grow old here and have no access to health care and no retirement or Social Security. Yet many claim it is justice to perpetuate this situation. It is kind to go on this way. Charitable, even. I say this "kindness" is cruel.
By not enforcing current laws, and not securing our borders, not only are we making Americans vulnerable to foreign enemies and to those who would exploit our system, we are also creating and perpetuating an environment in which the exploitation of illegal immigrants is rampant. If we decide we want foreign workers, let's set up a program that makes it legal. Let it be a program that assures that they will be fairly treated, and yet make fair contributions to the American economy from which they benefit. Until then, let's enforce the laws we have and stop the flood of illegals entering our country in pursuit of a false "American dream." What we have now benefits neither Americans nor her illegal immigrants.
For more information on the immigration debate:
'Answering 13 Frequently Asked Questions About Illegal Immigration' from Right Wing News.
(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)