Illegal Immigration: Let the Distortion and Spin Commence

Sunday, April 30, 2006 at 06:34 PM

The issue of illegal immigration (how big a problem, how to stop it in the future, what to do about the illegals here now) deserves some serious discussion.  It impacts everything from the American wage structure to the prices of many goods to the conscience and morals of the country.

What the issue doesn't need?  Nonsense like this from the Associated Press.

Homeowners Top Employers of Day Laborers, by Peter Prengaman, Associated Press Writer
Apr 29
The No. 1 employers of day laborers, many of whom are illegal immigrants, are homeowners _ not construction contractors, not professional landscapers.

"Day labor is not a niche market," said Abel Valenzuela, a UCLA professor and one of three authors of the first national day labor study, which was released in January. "It's now entering different aspects of the national mainstream economy."

Forty-nine percent of day labor employers are homeowners, according to 2,660 laborers interviewed for the study. Contractors were second, at 43 percent. The study also found that three quarters of day laborers were illegal immigrants and most were from Latin America.

Good grief!  Are we talking about day laborers or illegal immigrants?  Sounds like day laborers, but the author expands out to illegal immigrants whenever he wants.  So you really can't tell anything about illegal immigrants from this, even though that group is the one causing all the public controversy.

And "49% of day labor employers are homeowners" compared to " 43 percent."  Useful?  I don't think so.  The ratio of categories of employers is meaningless.  What you need to know for this piece to be at all useful is how many day laborers are employed by homeowners, how many by contractors.  If one contractor employs an average of 10 day laborers, and homeowners employ an average of one day laborer, then the percentages above would mean that contractors hire 430 day laborers for every 49 hired by homeowners.

Why in the hell is it even noteworthy that "day laborers" are hired by "homeowners?"  What is the value of this story?  It seems geared simply to relieving some of the pressure to start holding businesses accountable for hiring illegal aliens.  Someone wants you to start thinking, hey, don't be imposing penalties on employers; many of those employers are just plain folks, you know, "just like you and me."  Well, they may be like you, depending on who "you" are, but they sure aren't like me.

Exactly how hard would it be to require that all employers, including homeowners, obtain a social security number form anyone they hire, and make one phone call to check that number against a central database (which we probably don't have, but certainly could get)?

There's as much hooey floating around about illegal immigration as there is about Iraq WMD and the Valerie Plame outing.