Policies drive immigrants here
July 3, 2008 · Updated 10:48 PM
Its nice to see someone point blame for the immigration mess away from the immigrants, but Julian Taber (Letters, June 7) is still directionally challenged. The blame lies north of the border, where the real power to make policy lies.
Protectionism makes U.S. products cheaper to export to Mexico than Mexicans can produce them at home. Also, remember the maquiladoras that U.S. companies set up to manufacture goods in Mexico? When those were in vogue, the U.S. imposed duties on goods from Asia that said, in effect, we wont buy your goods unless you pay your workers a living wage.
Greed trumps altruism every time. Americas free trade policy now ignores the sweatshops. Nike and Wal-Mart say bring em on and fatten our bottom line, and imports from China now undercut even those from Mexico. If Mexicans cant satisfy the cheap-o Americans domestically, their only option is to go where the work is.
This is not so bad, really. Those who say to hell with waiting 16 years for legal entry and just sneak into the country exhibit courage, perseverance, tenacity, initiative, and above all, a willingness to work their tails off when they get here. Succeeding generations will also embrace education and other opportunities for advancement, as millions have done before, which is good for everybody.
Do they take jobs others want? No, unemployment is practically nil.
Do they drive down wages? No, the federal minimum wage has been at $5.15 an hour for a decade, and U.S. companies go offshore if that is still too much.
Do they avoid taxes? Everyone pays sales taxes, which are higher in Washington than in most states, and Social Security taxes on all workers, legal or not, can provide additional services.
Do they send too much money back home? Not as much as if they lived there and exported goods to us. Maybe not even as much as Americans spend on trips to Mexico.
Immigrants are here. Get over it. The challenge is to make a homeland for them that will benefit everyone.