Libertarian blogger J.D. Tuccille has posted a compelling op-ed on the important role migrant workers play in the Arizona economy. Money quote:
... [I]n the small area in which I live, illegal immigrants are largely seen by employers as a vital boon to the economy--they're high-quality imported labor for a region that is no longer so good at producing decent labor on its own. They come to an area where the jobs are ripe for the plucking, leaving behind a country that may produce good laborers and tradespeople, but which fails to produce a sufficient stock of well-paying jobs.This sentiment was recently echoed by Mississippi Republican governor Haley Barbour, who is running for reelection this November. In a year where many downticket races have focused, inexcusably, on broad "American culture" rhetoric that seems to target all first-generation Mexican immigrants (both legal and undocumented), Governor Barbour may very well earn my vote with his refusal to play along. From a recent interview:
It seems to me that both Mexico and Arizona are benefiting from a cross-border flow that wouldn't exist if the two places didn't have complementary assets--and deficits ...
I wish more Americans were fully appreciative of the willingness of some people to risk arrest and even death to sneak into a foreign country, just so they can work.
As Barbour said at the Mississippi Press Association’s convention at the Beau Rivage Casino on June 22, 2007, before Katrina there were hardly any illegal immigrants. "Since Katrina there’s been a gigantic influx and, candidly… I hate to think where the coast would be if they weren’t here."Free market capitalism may not be the best reason to oppose the radical nativist movement, but it's good enough for government work. And lest anyone think that the only two options are vicious xenophobia and amnesty, former Bush 41 speechwriter Mark Lange supports employer sanctions in a New York Times op-ed that embodies what a humane argument for conservative immigration reform looks like:
Imagine we wanted to create a huge Latino underclass in this country. We would induce more than 500,000 illegal immigrants to enter annually. We would see Latinos account for half of America’s population growth. We would turn a hardened eye toward all 44 million Latinos, because 12 million jumped our borders to meet our labor demand.Whatever your views on immigration reform, we need to join together in rejecting the inflammatory rhetoric that surrounds the anti-immigrant movement. We're no longer the kind of country where "[X] Go Home" is a viable political slogan; we've evolved beyond that kind of bigotry. Now let's prove it.
We would financially motivate but morally deplore illegal immigrants’ determination to break our laws and risk their lives to work for us. We would let nativist, xenophobic amnesiacs pillory the roughly 25 percent of Latinos who were here illegally, at the expense of the 75 percent who were legal. CNN and Fox News would reduce Latinos to fodder for fear-mongering, and the documentariat would make them objects of pity, when they wanted and warranted neither.
We would know that if we paid them, they would come, but we would offer no legitimate employment. We would adopt a let’s-pretend labor policy in our fields, yards, factories and restaurants, and for child care, construction and cleaning, with a wage fakery worthy of the Soviet Union ...