Shutting Down Illegal Immigration

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Mark Kleiman has some good thoughts on immigration that are all well worth reading. In particular, he’s probably right that severe penalties on employers that hire and exploit undocumented immigrants, along with verifiable national ID cards for all citizens and non-duplicable electronic worker identification documents, would probably do much to halt the flow of illegal immigration by reducing demand. (Robert Reich lays out a similar proposal in the American Prospect.) This will never happen in practice—businesses will oppose it, because it would mean paying more in wages—but it would certainly work better than current policies at stemming illegal immigration.

On the other hand, the downsides to this sort of regime are easy to see: Both the government and businesses would have an increased ability to gather information about individuals, and undocumented workers would have increasingly fewer job opportunities—which would, in turn, reduce remittances to sending countries. (Remittances from immigrants in the United States to developing countries totaled $90 billion last year.) In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to pit the interests of low-wage American workers against the interests of even lower-wage workers in developing countries, but that’s what the current debate often boils down to.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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