Immigration Policy is an Economic Meltdown Trifecta

Three seemingly unrelated news stories have converged to create a disturbing picture.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently unleashed another wave of intimidation against companies that hire illegal immigrants, notifying another 500 businesses to turn over I-9 eligibility forms as a first step toward prosecution. Note that it’s not the Labor Department leading the charge, but DHS. And it is not the illegal immigrants themselves that are being targeted for deportation, as this would create a backlash in the Hispanic community that might hurt certain politicians’ reelection chances. Rather, it is employers that are being pressured to turn these willing workers onto the streets.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “Since January 2009, the Obama administration has audited at least 7,533 employers suspected of hiring illegal labor and imposed about $100 million in administrative and criminal fines – more audits and penalties than were imposed during the entire George W. Bush administration.”

One would think that an employed illegal immigrant would be less of a security threat than an unemployed illegal immigrant. Apparently, that is not how the Obama administration sees it.

The second piece of news is that the IRS has ramped child care tax credit “refunds” to illegal immigrants up to the astonishing figure of $4 billion dollars a year. How is this possible?

Ever since the Clinton administration, illegal immigrants have been able to obtain an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) that allows them to file a federal tax return even though they don’t have a legal right to work in the United States. Worth up to $1,000 per dependent child living at home, the credit is not merely a deduction that reduces a filer’s tax liability. In an increasing number of cases, Uncle Sam cuts a check, as part of a highly successful effort to turn the bottom end of the income tax code into another welfare program.

Illegal immigrants have learned to list the names of dozens of dependents, including nieces and nephews living outside the U.S., on their tax returns, collectively reaping billions in fraudulent payouts. Five thousand dollars here and five thousand there doesn’t sound like much, but the numbers add up. In 2001, illegal immigrants filed over 3 million tax returns, with over 70% of them claiming the additional child tax credit.

Has the federal government asked for any documentation supporting these claims? Nope. It is too busy hounding employers who want to give people jobs that might help keep them off the welfare rolls.

Finally, leftist activists have ginned up a tremendous backlash against state-level efforts to reduce voter fraud by requiring a government issued ID at the polls. Opponents of voter ID laws are pulling out all the stops to make it more difficult for states to keep illegal immigrants, the deceased, and other ineligible parties from voting. This comes in the wake of allegations of massive voter fraud by community organizers such as the disgraced Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

Put the three to together and you have a federal policy that throws illegal immigrants out of work but not out of the country, rewards the ones who stay with welfare checks, and then makes it easy for them to illegally vote for politicians who promise to keep the checks flowing. What Machiavellian genius designed this scheme?

Mexican immigrants have traditionally come to the U.S. to work. These are precisely the people we want. An immigration policy that, instead, incentivizes immigrants to sit at home and collect government checks can only lead to a situation like that in Europe, where immigrants are not assimilating, and many are not working. No wonder, then, that the most popular sport in the banlieues of Paris is torching cars. Is this what we want?

That is the way we’re headed if we don’t figure out a way to make legal immigration a feasible option and reward hard work. It is an absolute disgrace that this country does not have a guest worker program, including a clear and legal path to citizenship for those who wish to earn it. Our nation was built by immigrants. They are our life’s blood, refreshing us culturally, spiritually, and economically. Every wave of immigrants, from the Irish to the Italians to the Chinese, have started out taking jobs that established citizens didn’t want, moving up the economic ladder as they passed through the proverbial melting pot on their way to being re-minted as Americans.

We destroy the greatest immigrant culture that civilization has ever known at our peril. Doing it surreptitiously by corrupting our employment, tax, and electoral policies compounds the crime.