Monday, May 9, 2011

Illegal Immigration

A sparring match on immigration and border policy between Mark Krikorian and Angelo Codevilla is underway on the Corner at National Review, here and here.

In his response to Krikorian's critique, Codevilla makes this point...

"Whereas within living memory Americans did their own society’s rough, dirty work, the social changes that began in the 1960s created an underclass that is basically unemployable — and, more important, made physical labor seem dishonorable to the middle class. I pointed out that even John C. Calhoun, slavery’s most eloquent defender, was proud to do the plowing on his plantation. Today, swarms of youths in malls and campuses are no more physically or psychologically able to help with the harvest than they are of helping to care for their grandmothers. And so, yes, what would we do without Mexicans?"

Codevilla dusts off the old canard that illegal aliens do jobs that Americans won’t do ...  Actually, he goes further than that, implying that these are jobs that Americans *can't* do, rather than won't, but let's ignore that detail for a moment.

A corrupt business owner can pay an illegal 50 cents on the dollar that he'd have to pay for a legal American worker. If Codevilla's point is that an American won't work for the same wage that an illegal alien works for, then he's probably right.  A legal worker is not willing to work for illegal wages.  Codevilla is comparing apples to oranges.

Take away the supply of illegal labor, and you'll increase the demand for legal labor. Force the business to pay a legal wage, and you'll find the American workers willing to do it.

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