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Why do we have 11 million illegal immigrants and what do we do with them?

My sixth open letter to Mr. Mitt Romney on immigration

Dear Mr. Romney,

Why do we have as many illegal immigrants as we have, not five times less or five times more? Our borders are so porous that almost anybody who wants to come, could come. Why have only 11 million immigrants (or whatever the real number is) arrived and stayed illegally? Why was it not 1 million or 21 million? We have as many illegal immigrants as we have because this is the number of workers that the economy needs. If we had no quotas limiting legal immigration, if we just registered and ran a background check on every foreigner who found employment in the U.S., we would have the same number of foreigners working here as we have now, but all of them would be here legally. We would be in control; we would know who they are and what they are doing.

Americans have passed immigration laws that are in clear conflict with the rules of the free market and are against the basic economic interests of all parties concerned. In their spirit, our immigration laws are un-American. No wonder, then, that Americans have not enforced these laws methodically. Americans are the only ones responsible for illegal immigration and all the mess it has caused. However, Americans blame illegal immigrants, Mexico, globalization, politicians, and the greed of big corporations – but not themselves.

Illegal immigration is not the problem. Our current policy of government-controlled limited legal immigration is the problem. We have to recognize that our immigration laws are flawed in their very concept of Washington bureaucrats managing a big section of the labor market. Politicians in Washington need to acknowledge that they caused illegal immigration by voting in ridiculous laws. The solution should not be in adding more regulations, in militarizing the border, in chasing illegal immigrants or punishing their employers. The solution is in repealing our immigration laws. We need to repeal laws that infringe upon basic human activities, violate basic individual freedoms, and disregard basic economic rules. In particular, we need to repeal those provisions of our immigration laws that require government permission to come and work in the U.S.  By doing so, we would resolve the problem of amnesty, as we would not need to grant amnesty to people breaking laws that should have been declared invalid from their very creation. The only amnesty we might consider should be for our lawmakers who created the laws that brought this immigration havoc on us.

Illegal immigrants arrived because economy needed them. Ironically, deporting them deepens the recession. According to data from 2008, about one-third of illegal immigrant households already own a house; that means about two million houses. Historically speaking, immigrant family members will often combine their income to make a down payment and pay their mortgage. If one of them is deported or forced to relocate, this is often enough to default on the mortgage. Hence, deporting illegal immigrants shrinks the housing market, lowers house prices, and eventually causes more Americans to lose their homes as well. On the other hand, about two-thirds of legal immigrants own a house according to the same data from 2008. If we legalize all of our illegal immigrants, we may expect that a third of them, again about two million households, will aspire to buy a house. Some of them will pull savings from the mattress and buy a house right the way; others may need more time. No one can question, however, that legalizing illegal immigrants would result in an uptick of the housing market. This single political decision can almost immediately help many Americans facing foreclosure.

Mr. Romney, listening to your statements about immigration, I am under the impression that you are not aware about the issues I brought up. Did you actually never hear about the facts I discussed? Or, are trying to get elected by avoiding an open discussion of real issues?

Huffington Post refused to publish this text. Henryk A. Kowalczyk is a long-term blogger at Huffington Post, and letters to Mr. Romey are the only texts that editors of HP ever rejected.

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