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To solve the immigration problem, should we go after employers who hire unauthorized workers?

by Greg Krehbiel on 25 January 2018

I heard a brief discussion on CSPAN radio this morning about immigration.

The CSPAN call-in show is a mixed bag. Often you get a bunch of people who just finished sniffing glue before they dialed, but sometimes there are some interesting comments. It’s enlightening to hear why people believe what they believe. (Or at least what they say about it.)

One guy said that Congress keeps trying to fight the symptom but doesn’t address the disease. I don’t think Congress is even trying to fight the symptom, but he raises a good point about the disease.

The reason people come here, this caller said, is for jobs. (I agree that’s a major reason, but not the only reason.) And the reason these folk can get the jobs is because we’re not aggressive enough with the employers who hire them. Go after the employers who give jobs to people who shouldn’t be working here and the problem would go away.

It’s a good point, and I think that’s why some people want to make e-verify mandatory. But I suspect a lot of these employers also contribute to campaigns, so ….

2018-01-25  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 11

  1. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    25 January 2018 @ 11:15 am

    My personal preference is to incentivize rather than penalize.

    If a corporation hires a contractor to do a job, the corporation pays for the work with pretax money. I would suggest a program where private individuals can also buy services with pretax money, provided that the company or person providing service reports. The revenues to the IRS and pays the worker with some sort of control, such as E-Verify.

    I think this would have a number of benefits. It would increase the “trickle-down”. It would substantially reduce the benefits of Buying services through the underground economy. It could encourage private individuals to provide some sort of specialized service on the side (e.g. paintings, carpentry, whatever) helping the economy operate at a higher level of employment without too much inflation.

  2. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    25 January 2018 @ 3:06 pm

    I don’t understand how your proposed system stops illegals from coming here to make money.

  3. Robin R.
    25 January 2018 @ 3:48 pm

    No problem at all. If they come from shitholes, you can smell them a mile away.

  4. pentamom
    25 January 2018 @ 4:00 pm

    The problem I see with Dave’s plan is that it doesn’t work if you can get illegal help at a rate of discount equal to your effective tax rate. And you surely can.

  5. William
    25 January 2018 @ 7:10 pm

    I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around why some view amnesty in some circumstances as an anathema but highly supportive of it in other situations. For the most part, the “dreamers”, through no fault of their own, have found themselves illegally in this country. Generally speaking, they have lived as productive people in their communities. They work, pay taxes, seek higher education, participate in the military and are law-abiding. Yet, just the mere “mention” of finding a way to legally help them and some start frothing at the mouth and won’t entertain ANY reasonable discussion on the matter. For them, it’s amnesty pure and simple and it’s not to be tolerated.

    Amnesty is basically a pardon. But, many of the people, who have an issue with pardoning dreamers, didn’t voice opposition when Sheriff Arpaio was pardoned. Interestingly enough, unlike many of the dreamers, this man was convicted of breaking the law (which he swore to uphold in his role as sheriff). Some argued that the law was unjust in its administration concerning him. Yet, with the next breath, these people consider the law quite just as it applies to dreamers and feel justified in deporting them.

    Why would some want to use the law to punish people, who through no fault of their own, find themselves in a precarious situation like the dreamers? If we are a country that’s guided by the rule of law and pardoning a law-breaker like Sheriff Arpaio is considered reasonable, wouldn’t it be just as reasonable to consider a legal remedy to fix the plight of these youth, who are productive, contributing, law-abiding members of our society?

  6. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    25 January 2018 @ 9:20 pm

    @Greg: Imagine that you have Two bids on some Work around the house. In today’s Legal environment, A person who plays illegal aliens cash under the table can offer you a lower bid.

    But if we follow my suggestion, and homeowners are able to deduct the labor portion of a job from their taxable income, that information will flow to the IRS, similar to the way a 1099 provides information to the IRS. This would reduce the underground economy (people making money. “Under the table”, sometimes while collecting unemployment benefits). It could also help enforce employment laws, such as the use of E-Verify, since there is a paper trail.

    I think that, given the choice, most owners will want the tax deduction. It will create an incentive for homeowners to work with contractors who are operating legally, and that should decrease the use of illegal alien workers.

  7. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    26 January 2018 @ 10:48 am

    @William, children regularly bear the consequences of the illegal actions of their parents. If the parents go to jail, or are fined, or whatever, the children suffer. Why doesn’t the question go the other way? Why should it be different in this particular case?

    @Dave, it might, but I think Pentamom raises a good point about effective tax breaks, and I think a lot of people don’t want yet another thing to file with the IRS.

  8. William
    26 January 2018 @ 3:03 pm

    @Greg, that’s not my point. What’s befuddling to me is that amenstry/pardoning is considered an anathema, by some…so much so they are not even willing to consider it for humanitarian reasons. Yet, many of these same people have justified it for someone who was an actual law-breaker…no questions asked.

    As for consequences for children of law-breakers, in many cases society seeks to minimize the impact and identify remedies for such (e.g. foster homes, shelters, parental rehabilitation programs, financial aid programs, educational assistance, etc.). So, what makes this situation exempt from identifying interventions that may help?

  9. RR
    26 January 2018 @ 11:47 pm


    I agree that if we really want to do something about illegal immigration, the government should go after the employers who knowingly hire them. We’ve largely turned a blind eye to them. Yet that is the root of the problem. In addition, I think this is part of a huge problem in our society, namely that we almost never punish white collar crimes. One of the worse failures of the Obama administration in my view was that his attorney general Eric Holder (who was beyond horrible) didn’t prosecute any white collar criminals for all of the criminal activity that took place on Wall Street and the big banks in the lead up to the 2008 economic crash. Fining companies doesn’t count as they simply see it as the cost of doing business and still make big bucks anyway. Until we see CEOs go to prison and fined into bankruptcy, nothing is going to change, whether it is illegal immigration or shenanigans in the financial sector.

  10. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    29 January 2018 @ 8:43 am

    @RR, I think that contradicts the whole purpose of having a corporation — which is (in part) to keep individuals from being personally liable for what the corporation does.

  11. RR
    29 January 2018 @ 9:40 pm


    No, the purpose of the concept of limited liability is to keep individuals from going bankrupt if a company goes bankrupt. So for example, if a company goes bankrupt, its creditors can’t go after the personal assets (homes, etc.) of the executives or the stockholders. Thus, the term limited liability.

    That’s not the same thing as corporate executives committing crimes, and felons at that, for instance all of the fraud behind the 2008 crash and executives of companies that hire illegal immigrants. Prison time and heavy fines is appropriate in those cases.

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