Gladys Kravitz would love this debate

I don’t have much more to add to the immigration debate right now. I didn’t watch President Bush’s speech last night because my grass needed to be cut. From what I know of it, I’m not optimistic that’s it will end up being more than pandering to xenophobes. I hope I’m wrong. This essay at TCS Daily offers hope for learning how economic reality works, even if it implies we’ll learn the hard way. Consider:

Recently, Georgia has passed what has been called the nation’s toughest laws against the hiring of illegal immigrants. But if Georgia was unwilling or unable to enforce a law that applied to the relatively few window tinting shops in its state, what prospect is there that it will be willing or able to enforce a law that applies to the vast multitude of small businesses that hire illegals: restaurants, construction firms, landscaping companies, just to name a few? Yes, examples can be made of a few big companies, but it defies credibility to suppose that the law will be rigorously applied to the thousand smaller businesses that hire illegal aliens — and these businesses are perfectly aware of this fact. Their very smallness protects them.

Herein lies the drawback to laws that are passed by legislative bodies solely to prove to their constituents that they, the legislators, are really doing something. “See,” the legislators can tell the voters back home, “we are really cracking down on illegal immigrants by making tougher laws.” …

I agree, it defies credibility that the law will be rigorously applied to all. Unfortunately, this is a significantly more inflammatory issue than window-tinting. While no government could ever fully enforce such a law as our enforcement strategies exist today, I suspect they’ll try. Hello larger, more intrusive government.

National IDs? We need to keep them out, which means we need to know who should be here, so check. National employment database? We need “real-time” access to employment eligibility, so check that one, too. How long before we require business customers to become non-deputized snitches enforce the laws through “voluntary” reporting to the government? Remember, these same “do something” legislators will need to do something to appease the constituency when Joe Citizen still sees brown people doing the jobs Americans won’t do.

Again, I agree it defies credible logic. I remain pessimistic that we’ll learn our lesson before we see harm to our economy and/or an increase in government.