The Millionaire Next Door

Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

In Georgia the recent passage of House Bill 87 has prompted illegal immigrant workers to leave the state.   Many of these people were among the very most productive farm workers.  These workers are now helping to harvest crops in adjoining states which don’t have such stringent anti-immigrant statutes.  A lot of the farmers in Georgia complained that their products were rotting in the fields and on the trees. 

In response to this dilemma, state officials proposed a solution.  They initiated a program where those recently paroled from prision (most of whom cannot find jobs) would pick the crops that used to be harvested by illegal immigrants.  However, farmers have reported that the typical illegal alien worker harvested six times more than the recent parolee during the same time period.  

Some critics may say that ex prisoners are just lazy and unmotivated. In contrast, most migrant farm workers are highly motivated even though their compensation is modest at best.  There is another factor that is overlooked in this discussion.  In reality, most of these migrant workers have a conditioned athlete’s stamina and endurance.  There are very few people in our society who could match these qualities without going through a rigorous physical training program.   

Some immigrants are much more productive than others.   It’s foolish and counterproductive to ask the most productive ones to leave the country. We have to provide a system to reward those who enhance the well being of our economy.  It was not the intent of the law to damage the economy,  but once again the government has made decisions which have had repercussions that it did not anticipate. 

I am a proponent of population growth as well as having a coherent immigration policy.  According to one of my most important mentors, Dr. David Schwartz, author of the perennial best seller The Magic of Thinking Big, population growth is the most important factor in the growth of our economy. 

7 thoughts on “Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater”

  1. Well, it was foolish from the start to think that a bunch of ex-cons would have the work ethic of farm workers. But spare me this nonsense of “jobs Americans won’t do”. Consider a reductio ad absurdum – if the farms were paying $50/hr, do you think there would be Americans applying for the job? Of course.

    So what we establish by that is that there is a wage level somewhere between the illegal immigrant wage level and $50/hr that will induce non-illegals to do the work. What needs to happen is for farmers to pay a little more to attract workers, charge a little more at market, and for people to pay a little more for produce. This is the cost of having a secure border.

    And are legally emigrated Mexicans genetic supermen as well, or do they achieve their superpowers by merit of their illegality? Please take that with a jocular and not a snarky tone. 🙂

  2. I agree with Chris.

    Illegal is illegal. Obviously there are serious flaws with our immigration system but I don’t believe the answer is to grant amnesty to hard-working illegal immigrants.

  3. i agree illegal is illegal, but sending everyone back where they came from isn’t the answer either. they could keep some and set standards for those that should stay: ie, those that have worked or are working and those that have NOT taken subsidies. my husband is an immigrant, but we did it the right way. paid over $5K in fees to go through the entire process to citizenship. and during that time he was an engineer with a masters degree out of work. nothing burns me more than to see people come over here and get subsidized housing, daycare, insurance, WIC, food stamps and the EITC just because they birthed a child here.

  4. What you left out, Mr. Stanley is that if these admittedly very hard working illegal immigrants can’t possibly be net contributers to the tax base, especially if they have children. Their wages are simply too low. So the taxpayers are subsidizing their absurly low wages with education, food stamps, welfare, etc. I’d have less of a problem with illegal immigration if they weren’t subsidized by the taxpayers. I have a feeling the farmers would have to pay them a living wage if the taxpayers weren’t forced to subsidize them.

  5. Years ago, my father immigrated to this country from Mexico, legally I might add, strictly for economic reasons. He and my mother raised us in a small Texas town on his wages as a railroad section hand laborer. They called him “el segundo,” because after the foreman, the crew looked to him for guidance and direction on how best to do their job. He retired after 40 years, never returning to the place of his birth. Although he and mom missed their parents and relatives in Mexico, they were grateful for the opportunity they had in this country.

    Mr. Brown above made the point that illegal is illegal. I agree. However, it seems to me that we are closing the door on millions of productive individuals to aid in the growth and productivity of our economy by constantly resorting to cliches about the undocumented. Instead, I believe that we should sit down and come to some sensible solution to what seems to be a perennial problem. I don’t believe the democrats have the answer because they are too liberal in their policies. I believe, ultimately, that the republicans could provide an answer because they are more sensible and sympathetic in the real world. A solution to working through this problem remains to be seen. Finally, I think we should all frame this in the words of scripture where Moses taught the Israelites as God’s spokesman, ‘do not mistreat the aliens among you; for remember you were once aliens yourselves.’

  6. Illegals are a net drain on the economy. A handful of employers profit from the cheap labor but the rest of society is stuck with depressed wages and an increased burden on government services.

  7. Illegal workers may not significantly contribute to the tax base, but they are the reason why produce and grocery prices aren’t sky high. So the money we may or may not be paying in taxes is more than made up for when we shop at the supermarket every week.

    With regards to the idea that better pay will induce legal residents/Americans to work these jobs: you’re talking about picking produce in a field. It is not a highly skilled job, do you really think people should be compensated highly for menial/mindless work?

    As for those who immigrate here legally, I would say that they are not as physically well built as those who have to cross rivers and hike in severe heat to cross the border. Remember, people who can come here legally can usually afford it, and don’t have to bust their butts everyday doing manual labor.

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