In what will be one of many pre-election clashes, the Tribune had an article highlighting the differences between Mike Lee and Sam Granato on the subject of immigration. Officially, Sam Granato supports a proposal by President Obama that requires illegal immigrants to do the following before being granted a path to legal residency and citizenship:
1.) Pay Back Taxes -- This might be simple or quite expensive for some illegals depending on how they have been treated by employers and how the actual legislation is drafted.
2.) Learn English.
3.) Pay a fine.
Given Mike Lee's own interpretation of the criminal seriousness of illegal border crossing, this is the most logical approach for illegals -- speeders don't face exile, and neither should undocumented workers.
However, Mike Lee doesn't support this approach. Mike Lee instead believes that the government needs to step in with a heavy hand and crack down on American businesses that choose to hire undocumented workers. By so doing, he believes that illegals will simply go home because they will be unable to find work. He wants every illegal in the country (I'm not sure if he means by compulsion or "agency") to return home and to come back through existing legal channels.
My question to Mike Lee supporting right-wingers is this: Can Mike Lee represent conservative values when he is opting for increased government intrusion into businesses who are making decisions based on the economic laws that conservatives claim to embrace?
Taking Mike Lee's own beliefs and statements on immigration, the only reason Mexicans cross the border illegally is because they can find better paying jobs in the United States. The US demands cheaper labor than is available from US citizens due to things like minimum wage, Social Security taxes and many other (usually government caused) issues that cause the price for legal American labor to be high. The Mexican laborers supply cheaper labor and see a benefit in more money than they could make in Mexico. Businesses like farmers, manufacturers, and service businesses (many of which have high overhead without even counting labor costs) benefit by having workers at a price they can afford. These businesses demand the cheaper labor because their profit margins are usually low enough that they cannot afford, let alone find, good American labor at imposed American minimum wage price floors.
To me, it seems like Mike Lee is playing into the liberal hands that first passed the minimum wage and American unions -- all of which have decimated American's competitive edge in the global market place. Although impossible at this point, the "one true conservative" Mike Lee should pursue an end to minimum wages so that the laws of supply and demand, the invisible hand, can work to allow American laborers and businesses to reach market equilibrium. By Mike Lee's own arguments he should be fighting government intervention rather than pursuing more government intrusions into the marketplace -- historically bad governmental market interventions are one issue that makes illegal labor attractive to American employers.
The approach of amnesty and legal residency is a far more business friendly path. Undocumented workers who are usually highly valued by those that employ them can keep farmers and smaller less affluent businesses running. Undocumented workers can be put on a path to legally staying in this country. More importantly, illegals (who in many cases have been taxed for social security and medicare without credit) can begin to be legal voters, can openly file taxes, and can contribute to our society in ways that they can't while they are hiding from ICE.
Otherwise law abiding (no drug smugglers, or felons) illegal immigrants should be granted a path to legal residency and (if desired) citizenship. Our current system is founded on the racism and xenophobia of the 19th century. The time has come for us to return to the original intent of the founders and to, once again, embrace the poor and huddled masses that yearn for the prosperity and freedom our nation provides.
True Conservative? Exactly!