There appears to be a fair amount of hostility in the south towards Hispanic immigrants. In many ways Hispanic has become synonymous with Mexican illegal immigrant. The issue of illegal Hispanic immigration has resurrected some very traditional American values – racism, intolerance and damning disdain for other people. The anger and scorn towards Hispanic immigrants is centered among conservatives hoping to conserve an older version of
Illegal immigrant workers do have an impact on the low skilled labor market. The grand claim that they are stealing jobs from American workers, however, is less clear. There is nothing new to the idea that the illegal immigrant workforce has a very limited impact on the labor market for which there is domestic competition. American born workers are not interested in those kinds of jobs – picking fruit in the Central Valley of California, cleaning toilets and bedrooms in hotels, cutting the heads off chickens, cleaning up trash and dumping it in the back of restaurants. I would speculate that none of the ultra-patriots who argue that the country ought to purge itself of these immigrant workers would ever themselves or allow their children to perform those functions for the society.
Another claim regarding illegal immigrant workers is that they are taking advantage of “the system.” The argument goes that they do not pay taxes but they want to partake of the public trust; they want public education for their children and public health services when they are sick. In essence, they want to take without giving. This argument is incomplete. The hole in this argument is that we can see the work that they do and the contributions that they make. The claim that they are not contributing to the society is undermined by the fact that everyone can literally see, touch and benefit from the work that they do. The stereotypes of Hispanics even corroborate their disciplined and responsible work ethic. It would be quite a different story if the majority of illegal immigrants were coming into the country and loafing and still expecting public goods.
Paying taxes is not the only way to contribute to the system. Indeed, it may be the most difficult way to contribute if you are here and working illegally. In
Having said that, there are problems with unchecked illegal immigration. The cities and states that are burdened with the problem simply cannot continue to support an unending stream of new people. Hospitals and schools, for example, are being forced into a more and more difficult moral conundrum. Those services that are supported by the public trust cannot support people who do not contribute to their upkeep. Building the buildings and taking care of the doctors’ children is ultimately insufficient.
I do not know what fraction of illegal immigrants that work, pay taxes. I would guess not many. Indeed there is little incentive to do so. If they pay their taxes now, some of their own money might be going to build the wall to keep others like themselves out. A conundrum if ever there was one. Fundamentally, an unending flow of people that is not balanced by an increasing tax stream stretches the capacity of a society to sustain itself beyond its social and structural limits. Ultimately, the problem boxes sympathetic morality into a practical corner.