No one is served by having workers here who are undocumented or illegal, other than a few employers who benefit from the power they wield to threaten workers with deportation. But that is a small minority of employers.
By and large, no one wants a large percentage of the work force and populace living in the shadows: certainly not immigrants, who cannot stand up to abusive bosses or landlords for fear of being exposed, and certainly not the rest of us, who are sharing the roads with people with false drivers' licenses and no insurance.
Research suggests that if anyone is hurt by illegal immigration, it is workers without high school diplomas — those who often lack the skills needed to move up the economic ladder. That's not a failure of our immigration policy; it's a failure of our education policy.
Federal immigration policy is fundamentally out of sync with the economy. Our laws say "stay out," while our economy says "come on in." Until we correct that inconsistency, no amount of enforcement will truly solve the problem.
That's why the answer must start with getting the numbers right. We create 700,000 low skilled jobs each year but allow only 100,000 low-skilled workers to enter the country legally each year. Either we believe there are 600,000 more Americans each year ready to take those jobs, or we have to admit the first step in rationalizing the system is to let more people in legally.
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