Pat Holt wrote:
"If all the illegal immigrants employed in the US were suddenly removed the American economy would crash."
The economy would not crash. Illegal immigrants are concentrated in four areas—corporate agriculture, hotel and restaurant services, construction, and day labor. While there would be some businesses, particularly in corporate agriculture, whose economics would change significantly, even that category would only be wounded and would continue operating.
At worst some businesses would trade hands-+but probably not as dramatically as the Midwest Farm Crisis of the 1980's. There are legal Americans capable of doing all these jobs, although it would raise the average wage of the lowest 10% of American workers, by at least 7.4% an hour according to Prof. Borjas of Harvard University.
Is it worth paying a few cents more for a Big Mac to end slave labor, and dramatically reduce America's underclass?
New technologies and investments are ultimately needed to move the US back to a high wage, high productivity economy.
Developing those will take time. But the clock for those technologies and investments won't start ticking until we reverse the current trend to indentured servitude in the form of guest workers and illegal alien employees.
Furthermore, there is little need to remove illegal immigrants from the US suddenly. These folks didn't arrive in the US suddenly. We don't have the structure in place to identify and deport them.
Given the decision to have an immigration policy, whatever it is, that is legally enforced, we as Americans would then need to and can easily create an orderly process whereby the flow of illegal immigrants is reversed, the flow of legal immigrants reduce and within 2 to 4 years there are no more illegal immigrants working in the US.
Helping the former illegal immigrants return to good jobs will be harder particularly for the majority who come from Mexico.
Whatever happens, existing laws should start being enforced. Illegal alien workers should routinely be deported when discovered. Employers should be arrested and convicted and made to pay the existing fines of $20,000 per illegal alien employed. The IRS and Social Security Administration should within a few weeks start notifying employers of employees using false identification—and crack down on employers paying employees under the table.
It will be a struggle to re-establish the border on a basis that doesn't generate hatred towards the American public from Mexico and Central America. New laws are obviously needed. Laws that can realistically be enforced and that include the resources needed to actually do the job.
We can even hope for a measure of justice. Those wealthy and powerful individuals and firms in the US and Mexico that have profited from illegal immigration have also passed enormous costs on to the public. Their wealth should be used to help set things right for both American and Hispanic workers. The politicians that have sold their office in the service of corporate greed should have their actions brought to the voters' attention and bear the full brunt of justice as well.