Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Solution for Illegal Immigration

Throughout the history of the United States we have had groups of people immigrate, some legal and some not, who were not welcomed or were looked upon with disdain by some of those who were already here. At one time they were the Irish and at another time they were the Chinese. Now they are the Hispanics.

As we know, one of the reason the Hispanics are now a target of disdain is because many of those that come here, enter the country illegally. However, they come as the "tired," the "poor," the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free". Some may say they are just looking for a free ride or to improve themselves economically. Well who does not desire to improve their financial situation?

There is not easy solution to the illegal immigration problem. On one extreme, the throw them all out solution destroys families, causes fear, shows no compassion and is really not achievable. On the other extreme the grant them all amnesty solution has been tried before but without some type of real reform it just encourages more illegal immigration.

Can there be a solution in the middle that shows compassion to those who are here, encourages respect for the law, reduces the underground economy while helping cover the cost of those who immigrate. I think there is.

The solution lies in the system our government often uses to control things. The tax system.

Legal immigrants are inclined to become part of the system and work within the law to improve themselves and also the economy. Illegal immigrants are more inclined to become part of an underground economy out of fear of being deported. Since the government still has to support the cost of them living here without taxes coming in, the illegal immigrants become a drain on the economy. Also, the businesses that are paying them under the table become a drain since the business share of Social Security and other taxes are not being paid.

So how do we use the tax system to fix this? The solution is simple. Tax illegal aliens instead of deporting them. If they don't pay their taxes then you have a reason to consider deporting them if that's what it takes. Now it's not fair for someone to go through all the time and expense to come here legally and end up paying the same taxes as those who come here illegally. There could be a tax for being here illegally.

I propose that an illegal alien pay an additional 5% to 10% tax on his or her income. Also, the businesses that hire them can pay a matching 5% to 10% tax on them just like they do for Social Security taxes. This is in addition to all the regular taxes a legal resident would pay including Social Security. However, they would not be eligible for Social Security until they became legal. If they don't pay their taxes then the government could go after them like anybody else. Non payment of taxes could include a threat of deportation if necessary.

So why should a business hire illegal aliens if they have to pay an extra tax for them? For the same reason they do now. Either because it cost less or the illegal aliens will do work that the business can't get anyone else to do. It can cost less by setting the minimum wage for illegal aliens to be lower than it is for everyone else. Even if it were set just low enough to cover the 10% tax that would still be more than many illegal aliens make and they earn it above the table.

This accomplishes a few worthwhile things in my view.

First - It shows some compassion to those who are looking for a better life. How many of us are descendants of immigrants - most legal and some not.

Second - It establishes a penalty for operating outside the law – being an illegal alien. And the penalty stays until they begin operating within the law - become a legal resident or citizen.

Third - It puts part of the monitoring responsibility on the businesses that hire illegal aliens. If the business does not pay their share of the taxes they are on the hook for tax evasion.

Forth - It eliminates a large portion of the underground economy since they lose much of their incentive to hide. There will always be those who join the underground economy – legal resident or not.

Fifth - It allows illegal aliens to move out of the world of fear into a quasi legal world where they can have self respect and work on becoming legal.