A federal judge has dismissed charges by a group of illegal aliens who claimed that state-sponsored colleges in Virginia were violating the Constitution by refusing to enroll them.
As a conservative, it probably won't surprise you that I applaud this decision and think illegal aliens should be denied access to any tax-supported services. What may surprise you though is that I think the problem can only be solved by liberalizing our immigration laws to make it easier for people to achieve legal status.
Personally, I find it outrageous that people who are not paying taxes are getting access to things like free education, legal representation, and medical care. These are benefits of citizens, people who through birth or effort belong in a very real sense to the United States. They are extended to legal aliens because those legals are paying at least some taxes, and are therefore entitled to the same access. I also think it's a good idea, because it makes it more likely that people who work hard and are productive will become citizens of this country, making it a better place for us all.
But again, in no uncertain terms, I do not think illegal immigrants should have access to any of these services. In fact, I think these services should be actively denied to them.
However, as a dynamic progressive, I think it's current immigration and minimum-wage law that are in fact creating the problem of illegal immigration. I strongly believe we need to liberalize current laws and make it easier for people to legally immigrate to this country. For related reasons, I support initiatives to roll back minimum wage laws.
As any illegal (or employer thereof) will tell you, this would simply legitimize what's already a fact on the ground. If federal officials found every single illegal immigrant in this country and deported them tomorrow, the results would be disastrous. Entire chunks of our economy would simply evaporate, or slowly grind to a halt. We're talking a full-blown collapse here. Anyone who believes otherwise doesn't live in even a medium-sized city or major agricultural area.
Illegals are in such high demand because our minimum wage laws set an artificial lower boundary on labor costs, making it too expensive to hire citizens or legal immigrants for most, if not all, entry-level and/or low-skill jobs. Not just because they don't want to do the work, but because employing them at an illegal, albeit realistic, wage would be an unacceptable risk to the employer. An illegal's status also creates incentives for them to under value the cost of their labor, because the threat of deportation is so high, making them even cheaper to employ (and, by definition, exploit).
Common citizens oppose the liberalization of immigration law because they think "they'll take our jobs", not understanding that the jobs illegals "take" are nearly always those that nobody else wants. Organized labor opposes it because it represents the last bastion of their anti-market, protectionist power. Powerful business interests oppose it because it would in fact increase their costs, since now-legal immigrants could demand a market-set price for their labor, as well as humane working conditions that the threat of deportation keeps them from demanding.
Unfortunately, just reforming immigration law won't be enough. Even if we were to suddenly grant everyone who stepped into the country legal status, the results would still be a disaster. At the very best, prices would spike upward on pretty much everything as now-legal immigrants could demand unrealistically high wages for their unskilled, entry-level labor. At worst the immigration problem would continue unchanged, as legal status would rightly be seen as only useful for the very skilled (as it pretty much is today). Ending our immigration problem will require not only liberalization of immigration law, it will require the repeal (either dejure or defacto) of the minimum wage laws that make hiring any unskilled or entry-level labor unrealistically expensive.
Note I do not say "repeal immigration laws"... I still think the ability to deport those who cause trouble or try to find some sort of free ride is important. But by making it easier for immigrants who come to this country to work to achieve legal status, we'll gain far more than we'll lose:
The Bush administration's relatively enlightened policies on immigration are one of the reasons I support his re-election. Inflation is slowly repealing the now set-in-stone minimum wage laws, and I support a Republican congress in part because they have an "over my dead body" stamp to use every time a Democrat tries to push legislation through that attempts to raise it.
Providing tax-supported services to illegal immigrants who pay nothing into the system is not only unfair, it creates the counter-productive pressures of dependency and exploitation. Only by reforming and liberalizing immigration and wage laws will we break this vicious cycle. By doing so, we will not only be recognizing the facts on the ground, we will be setting the stage for millions of people to become productive members of our society. In a nation in which every single member is an immigrant of some sort (even if they were just hunting mammoth, they moved from somewhere else), how can we do otherwise?