illegal-immigrationBeen thinking this morning about the immigration reform debate and I’ve got a few questions. It seems to me that the debate is often framed in ways that distort and distract from the root problems. I’m not trying to claim I’ve got the answers, but I think I have some pretty good questions about the whole debate.

Why are we concerned about cheap labor?

Consider this for a moment. If an employer and a potential employee agree on a wage for a job, at any price point, why do we feel the need to interfere if that wage is “too low”? Consider what would happen if we were to abolish the minimum wage. Costs for producing goods and services would drop. Cost of living would drop. People could live better lives while making less money. The standard of living would increase and be more accessible for more people. Requiring employers to pay a minimum wage decreases the number of employees an employer is able to hire when they have limited resources for payroll.

Abolishing the minimum wage doesn’t necessarily imply that we will all suddenly be working for $1.25/hr (pretty sure my parents both had jobs at or near this rate). It does mean that the market will determine what a given job is truly worth and hopeful employees will be able to accept or reject a job offer based on their needs and job availability. It does mean that future minimum wage increases would no longer force businesses to get by with fewer employees or worse close their doors, which in itself results in increased customer satisfaction and increased employee satisfaction.

Why is it so hard to become a citizen?

Though I was born here, I’m told that America is one of the most difficult places to become a naturalized citizen. It’s not exactly cheap. It requires learning a language that isn’t even our official one. And it takes a very long time. We have a lot of complex laws for becoming a citizen. Perhaps if we simplified the process more people would want to come here legally.

What about unemployment for American citizens?

Often people against illegal immigration cite high unemployment for American citizens. I believe if we abolished the minimum wage more jobs would become available and unemployment would plummet. Minimum wage laws prohibit many employers from hiring the employees they need because they cannot afford to pay minimum wage.

We are a long way from abolishing the minimum wage because most people see the increase in wages, but don’t see the increase in costs and the elimination or non-creation of jobs as a result. It influences the immigration reform debate. I think it’s a problem we could solve by letting people be more free.