Hasty Call for Amnesty

New York Times, February 22, 2000

The A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s call for the government to grant amnesty to an estimated six million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States and to eliminate most sanctions on employers who hire them in the future was a surprising turnabout. Until now, organized labor has fought hard to keep illegal workers from taking jobs from higher-paid union workers.

The A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s proposal is attractive to many groups. Unions welcome the chance to go after a huge new pool of unorganized workers. Employers welcome the chance to hire cheap labor without fear of criminal liability. And illegal immigrants who have worked hard for years and raised families under harrowing circumstances would welcome access to medical care and other services denied to illegal aliens.

But the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s proposal should be rejected. Amnesty would undermine the integrity of the country’s immigration laws and would depress the wages of its lowest-paid native-born workers.

Back in 1986, Congress granted amnesty to an estimated three million illegal immigrants as part of a law that also promised to crack down on further illegal immigration by imposing sanctions on employers who knowingly violated the law. At that time, this page endorsed amnesty because it was tied to measures that promised to keep further rounds of illegal immigration in check. But 14 years later there are twice as many illegal workers, and employer sanctions are widely deemed a joke. {snip}

The primary problem with amnesties is that they beget more illegal immigration. {snip}

It is also unfair to unskilled workers already in the United States.{snip} The better course of action is to honor America’s proud tradition by continuing to welcome legal immigrants and find ways to punish employers who refuse to obey the law.

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.