Both sides are missing the only significant point in the immigration debate: Mexico would collapse without the money sent home from its emigrants to America.
A collapsed Mexico would be bad for the United States. Very bad. (Pretty bad for Mexicans, too.)
In economics there is the concept of a “multiplier”. Money paid as wages or salary is spent at the grocery store, whose employees are paid and spend the money at the gas station, whose employees buy groceries. Money circulates several times through an economy. The generally-accepted multiplier in America is 6.
The $43B sent annually to Mexico removes 6 X $43B from our economy, or $258B; 2% of GDP. Can we afford that? We have been for some time.
Assuming a multiplier in Mexico of 4 (a less-industrialized economy), that $43B becomes $172B; 15% of Mexico’s GDP. Could Mexico absorb losing that? No. Its loss would cause social disruption that would spill over the border for decades, and an unknown, but large (catastrophic), economic impact on America.
We are a nation of laws; we must start enforcing them. A secure border has always been the law; it seems a fence is necessary now to enforce it.
Once done, there is no realistic alternative to legalizing everyone here.
“Amnesty”? Yes. Are there alternatives? No. Regardless of what the GOP right wing says.
Penalizing immigrants because for decades we chose not to enforce our laws is childish. It is time to accept this reality and move forward.
Will this result in more illegal immigration? Yes – until we build a real wall and begin enforcing existing law. This is why the border must be fixed first.
Once we have accepted that millions are here and that neither affordable nor humane methods exist to remove them, and that removing them would create a failed state on our southern border, we must ensure they can be as successful as they want to be, becoming, and raising successful taxpayers, adding to the prosperity of the country.
This requires assimilation.
The Left feels “assimilation” is a four-letter word. The Far Right feels similarly about “amnesty.” Both are wrong. There is little point, however, in arguing with those who feel rather than think; it just isn’t useful.
What are the political ramifications? It could swing the fastest-growing portion of the population to the GOP if the GOP recognizes reality and acts on it.
It could do more.
Drastically curtailing illegal immigration will decrease supply and increase demand for low-skill workers, increasing their wages.
African-Americans hold a large portion of low-skill jobs; the more illegal immigration, the more competition for these jobs. Wages stagnate or decline as the rest of the economy moves forward, a bad thing no amount of minimum-wage tinkering will fix.
Historically it has been Democrats resisting limits on illegal immigration.
If Hispanics moved to the GOP because Republicans recognized the reality of immigration and acted accordingly – by building a wall and accepting those already here, and if African-Americans moved to the GOP because they realized that Democrat immigration policies were depressing their wages, the GOP could become the party of choice for Hispanics and African-Americans. African-Americans and Hispanics already are conservative on social issues.
There are yet more upsides for the GOP.
When African-Americans and Hispanics begin to compete for jobs head-on, legally, both groups will begin to value the two primary markers of success in America: Education and English proficiency.
Education will rise across the board, wealth will increase and crime will decrease. These are things Conservatives desire.
It is difficult to see a downside for the GOP in understanding and acting on the immigration reality. It is equally difficult to see an upside for the Democrats should the GOP become smart enough to act.
Democrats simply cannot argue against legalization of immigrants. Once the effect of unchecked immigration on wages became clear to all (through decent GOP Public Relations, perhaps the most difficult thing to imagine of all), Democrats no longer could argue that they are the “Party of the working class.”
Democrats would be in a real bind with nowhere to go.
Similarly, should the GOP continue to bury its immigration head in the sands of the Rio Grande, the party will be in a death spiral, perhaps rightly so.
What would happen in Mexico? Legal immigrants could send home far more than $43B. Perhaps those remaining in Mexico would use that money to improve their government so they didn’t have to emigrate to be governed by the rule of law.
If not, America allows legal immigration.
If those immigrating assimilate as immigrants to America historically have, we will remain a wealthy enough country to absorb large numbers of legal immigrants, as we successfully have in the past.