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Give Newcomers Real Rights 

The culprit of illegal immigration is American greed, not immigrants

The problem isn't complex. Neither is the solution. We could put an end to our biggest homeland security vulnerability and solve the immigration problem in 12 months flat if we really wanted to -- with a fence that stretches from one end of our southern border to the other.

The National Capital Immigration Coalition and the US Chamber of Commerce, groups backed by businesses that exploit illegal workers, have invested a lot of money spreading the myth that there is little we can do to secure our borders. That's a lie. All it would take are two to three rows of fences and heavy patrols. If we placed mines between the fences, and warnings for miles, it would be even more effective. And we could do all of this for about what we spend in six months defending the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan and training others to do so.

Then we could decide how many immigrant workers we need, retinal-scan them, fingerprint them, ID them and let them in the front door. Most social conservatives, the chief force blocking immigration reform right now, would go for that. Illegal immigrant women wouldn't be raped anymore in the Mexican desert on their way to serve their American exploiters. Families wouldn't have to risk their lives or live in fear once they arrived. They'd have rights.

And that's the problem. The rights. That's why border security -- be it a fence or the heavy patrols the Minute-Man project proved would work -- is the key issue to watch here. The president and many in Congress brush off the fence idea and promise increased border patrols to be slowly implemented over the next three to four years, a period during which politicians know another 2 to 6 million illegal aliens will cross our borders. It's the same promise they've been making for the last six years, and you see where that has gotten us.

Politicians know that the main problem with the fence scenario is that it would work. If all the immigrant laborers who crossed our borders came through the front door legally, they'd be entitled to most of the labor protections Americans enjoy. And that would make them much less useful to American businesses, which would have to pay employment taxes and taxes on the fruits of their labor.

Political leaders want to offer amnesty to those already here because they know it will induce more illegals to cross our borders, not because they want to bring all immigrant workers out of the shadows. They talk about a guest-worker program, but only for those who have job offers here. But if you own a paint company with competitors who can beat your price by 20 percent using illegal labor, are you going to import a guest worker with rights whom you'll have to pay taxes on and employ legally, or the guy with no papers who showed up in your parking lot looking for work? As long as the borders are open, guest-worker programs are doomed to fail and politicians know it. Just watch. Even if politicos put together a guest-worker program that passes, like those implemented in the past, it won't allow enough workers in to stop the illegal flow across our borders, or there will be other flaws that hamstring it in favor of illegal labor.

That's because without illegal labor, American businesses can't keep people like Patricia Morena down. She's the Mexican maid the Los Angeles Times recently interviewed who became an American citizen. Not that it did her much good. She still makes $7.50 an hour. She's legally entitled to overtime pay for the extra hours her employers make her work, but she doesn't dare ask for it because she knows she'll be replaced with an illegal worker. So she works off the clock in order to feed her three kids. Stop the flow of illegals, and businesses will have to pay people like Morena more money.

So far, the Latino/business lobby has done a remarkable spin job on this. They've slyly managed to define the debate in terms of racism and labor supply when the true debate should be over what businesses should be allowed to gain from immigrant labor, illegal or otherwise.

When it comes to oil and oil prices, we obsess over company profits and how much Exxon CEOs make. But the business spin machine has been so effective that when it comes to immigrant labor, the debate is over the immigrants not what their greedy employers are getting away with.

A Lexis-Nexis search of articles on the business benefits of illegal labor showed that just one paper in this country, the Los Angeles Times, has taken an in-depth look at the situation. What the paper found was astounding. According to the California State Department of Industrial Relations, illegal immigration and the tax fraud and labor-law violations it allows have pushed 20 percent of that state's economy underground. The state loses $40 billion in taxes from payroll deductions alone, a massive defacto tax break for businesses that politicians don't have the guts to push through Congress or state legislatures. The debate shouldn't be about whether illegal aliens pay enough taxes to cover the government services they consume. The question we should be asking is what their employers are paying in taxes.

The real culprit here is American business, not illegal immigrants.

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