Column: Business Enjoys Profit from Illegal Immigrants While Taxpayers Foot the Bills
Last Sunday, The New York Times published a front-page article about the heartfelt need of California farmers for more illegal aliens.
The first tip-off that heinous public policy ideas were coming was that the Times introduced farmer Chuck Herrin, owner of a farm-labor contracting company, as a "lifelong Republican." That's Times-speak for "liberal."
Herrin admitted that he employs a lot of illegal aliens and bitterly complained that they lived in fear of "Border Patrol and deportations." (But, apparently, he doesn't live in fear of admitting he's violating our immigration laws.)
Sorry that running a country inconveniences you, Chuck.
He said his illegal alien employees deserved amnesty because if "we keep them here and not do anything for them once they get old, that's really extortion."
As the punch line goes, "What's this 'we,' paleface?"
Taxpayers have been subsidizing Chuck Herrin's underpayment of his illegal labor force for decades, with skyrocketing taxes to pay for schools, roads, bridges, food stamps, health care and so on. Now Herrin thinks "we" are supposed to support his illegal employees in their old age, too.
Here's another idea: How about a federal law mandating that employers of illegal aliens take responsibility for the people they hire? Why is the taxpayer on the hook for illegal aliens' food, housing and medical care, when Chuck Herrin got 100 percent of the profit from their cheap labor?
We don't allow chemical companies to dump pollutants in rivers, walk away and then say, "If we dump chemicals in rivers and we don't clean them once the plant is gone, that's really criminal."
No, you dumped the chemicals -- not "we." And you, Chuck Herrin, got the cheap labor -- not "we."
"We" got hospital emergency rooms jammed with illegal aliens when we came in with heart attacks. "We" got the crime, drunk-driving and drug trafficking associated with illegal aliens. "We" got the overcrowded schools filled with kids whose illegal alien parents don't pay property taxes. "We" got to press "one" for English.
This is even worse than the Wall Street bailouts -- another example of fat cats pocketing 100 percent of the profits when business is good, but demanding a taxpayer handout when their investments go south. At least the Wall Street bailouts didn't alter the country forever by giving the Democrats 30 million new voters.
According to the California Hospital Association, health care for illegal aliens is costing state taxpayers well over $1 billion a year. Eighty-four hospitals across California have already been forced to close because of unpaid bills by illegal aliens.
Last year alone, California taxpayers paid $32 million for indigents' health care at hospitals located in Fresno County -- which happens to be where Chuck Herrin's company is based. How about submitting a portion of that cost to Herrin?
Here's your bill for $13 million.
What's this for?
The county hospital. You've been paying your employees $20 an hour, and that's just not enough to pay for their measles and tuberculosis treatments, not to mention delivery of their premature babies. No one's saying it's your fault, but it's not the county hospital's fault either.
Luckily, you've got deep pockets, Chuck -- several hundred million dollars a year, we understand -- thanks in part to how little you pay your workers, who are burdening our local services.
Not only should employers of illegal aliens be responsible for their employees' becoming public charges, but they ought to be legally responsible for any crimes their illegal workers commit, just as parents can be for the crimes of their minor children, and bars can be for the behavior of their over-served customers.
Why should employers of illegal aliens be allowed to externalize their costs, while keeping 100 percent of the profits?
The very fact that the American taxpayer is required to subsidize illegal alien farm labor -- to say nothing of anti-competitive marketing orders, tariffs and subsidies given to farmers -- proves that we're propping up an industry the country doesn't need.
If Mexican farm labor is so much cheaper, maybe we should be growing our fruits and vegetables in Mexico. There's absolutely no reason to import Mexicans to do something they could do at home and then sell to us. I believe this is what economists call "competitive advantage."
The Times quotes a report by two pro-amnesty farmers groups, Partnership for a New American Economy and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, complaining that American consumption of foreign-grown produce has increased by 80 percent since the late 1990s.
I see why rich farmers are alarmed by that, but why should Americans care? If food can be grown cheaper in other countries, isn't it the very essence of libertarian free trade principles to buy it from them?
No. Apparently, we're required to wreck the country by bringing in millions upon millions more poor people so we can save the buggy whip industry.
We didn't do that with oil. We didn't do it with steel. We must be "Fortress America" only when it comes to asparagus!
Hey! Where's the Cato Institute on this? Busy drafting another philippic against our drug laws?
I care more about my fellow Americans who can't get well-paying jobs than I do about multimillionaire farmers, demanding that the rest of us pay to support an industry that claims it can't compete without taxpayer-subsidized illegal alien labor.