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Dear Editor:
Mr. Endelman claims it is necessary to free the "essential", i.e. unskilled, uneducated worker, from wage bondage to an unscrupulous employer. To this end, he proposes not only a program to legalize illegal workers, but to facilitate the legal importation of such workers. Mr. Endelman ignores the obvious implications of a virtually unlimited supply of such labor for (1) wage levels and living conditions of such workers, and (2) the social costs for the US taxpayer. Employers are able to take advantage of unskilled and uneducated illegal immigrants not only because of their illegal status but because there are so many of them ready, willing and able to bid down the price of the work. If one illegal worker displeases, there are thousands more to replace him or her, at a lower wage. Legal or not, an essentially endless supply of fungible labor can only drive down the employee’s bargaining position with the employer. It is employers only who benefit. It would also be employers who benefit when the burden of caring for the working poor immigrant becomes the responsibility of the State and Federal governments. Already, even with limitations on the importation of unskilled workers, we find that large numbers of legal immigrants are qualifying for welfare programs, when, historically, we have required that immigrants be self-supporting. Two years or so ago, when Congress was considering welfare reform, there was discussion of decreasing the number of years an immigrant had to be here to collect welfare from 10 to 5. President Bush (who supported the move) and his team offered data that that one change would place 360,000 more immigrants on the welfare roles. And that was before the economy dipped. Not to mention the additional medical and educational costs of importing low-wage workers and their families. And of course, Mr. Endelman wants to focus only on the economic, not the social implications of importing large numbers of workers from primarily Third World countries, many of whom will retain "traditional" ideas such as female circumcision, bride buying, female subjugation to man, slavery, and religious intolerance. "Legalization" of any type, be it a blanket amnesty or a "points system", is simply a bad idea. It encourages more illegal immigration by offering an alternative route to legal status in the US—a route which penalizes immigrants who follow the rules and attempt to immigrate legally from the start. Then, there’s the little matter of fraud. Fraud was rampant in the much smaller 1986 amnesty program. The GAO has also found that the H1-B program for importing skilled immigrants had high levels of fraud by both employers and employees. There is no reason to believe that authorities could any better administer a legalization program, especially without detracting from the processing of applications for legal immigrants. "Legalization" will only hinder security efforts, by diverting resources, and by having to deal with even more people who try to immigrate illegally.

Ali Alexander