Illegal immigration: More at stake than you think

Ask most Americans about “illegal immigration” and they are likely to conjure an image of someone of Hispanic origin swimming across the Rio Grande or evading border patrolmen in the desert. The reality is that just who is “illegal,” how they got here and their impact on our society is much more complex than the visual impression we get from television news.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune

Published January 22, 2012

Ask most Americans about “illegal immigration” and they are likely to conjure an image of someone of Hispanic origin swimming across the Rio Grande or evading border patrolmen in the desert. The reality is that just who is “illegal,” how they got here and their impact on our society is much more complex than the visual impression we get from television news.

Farmers say that if they were restricted to hiring only domestic workers, crops wouldn't get picked.


The Department of Homeland Security estimates that between 27 and 57 percent of the country’s 12 million to 14 million “illegals” are visa overstays — people who arrived legally with temporary, non-immigrant status and didn’t leave the country when their visas expired. Government policies perpetuate the problem because those who overstay their visa, once they leave, can’t ever come back legally due to their overstay violation.

The bumper sticker solution

I’m generally a law-and-order type, and I used to believe that if the first thing you do when you come to this country is break the law by entering it illegally, you ought to be rounded up and sent home.

But I’ve evolved. Illegal immigration is far too complicated an issue, with wide-ranging social, economic and emotional considerations; we shouldn’t expect a solution to be found on a bumper sticker.

So far, the federal government has yet to get the solution right. This is due in part to splintered factions of labor unions, business and agricultural groups, and “human rights” activists with divergent interests. As a result of federal inaction, several states have attempted to solve the illegal immigration problem within their borders with quick-fixes that are long on rhetoric, short on solutions and with devastating economic impacts — particularly on the farm economy, which relies heavily on immigrant labor.

The Georgia model

Last year Georgia enacted a tough law to rid the state of illegal immigrants, including a provision for employers to use the federal E-Verify program to check workers’ citizenship. It worked; and the result was Georgia farmers lost an estimated $150 million due to crops that sat in the field unpicked because the labor pool fled the state, according to the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

Click here to read the full column in today’s Tampa Tribune.

Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him

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8 thoughts on “Illegal immigration: More at stake than you think”

  1. Chris:

    There is a bumper sticker solution:

    Triple E-VERIFY + H2A Visas

    The triple gives you protection from illegal workers, illegal welfare collectors and illegal voters.
    The visas give you a legal, dignified workforce, at a higher cost than the illegals we have today.


  2. So basically you are saying that the solution to our labor problems are paying slave wages for agricultural work, forever? This is what we do now. I doubt most workers make the $12 to $14 an hour you mention. If that were true, why do we have to have taxpayer subsidized housing for farmworkers, & why do they need subsidized health care, food, clothing, toys for their children, Title I education subsidies, etc, provided through a combo of private charity (read, you and me) and the government (ditto)? We need to look at how wages are paid in this industry. We all pay to subsidize it, in some way. With the VISA program, we just pay slave wages and send them home. I guess that works!! But how do we keep the cheap labor VISA programs from spreading to ALL other industries, under the rationale you put forward?


  3. Reply to LD:

    Did I say that paying “slave labor” was the solution? I don’t think so.

    As for the $12-$14, Mr.Wishnatzki told me his BEST pickers can make that much.

    Doubt it all you want, but I have no reason not to believe it is true. It certainly isn’t a “slave labor” wage. All the pickers I saw on his farm seemed happy to be there and they all seemed to be treated very well.

    What I didn’t see is a single white or black person out there picking. But I do know a lot of white and black people on welfare programs including food stamps, section 8 subsidized housing, Medicaid, and unemployment benefits.

    To your last point, these people aren’t a threat to other industries because they are largely unskilled and can’t compete. But if you don’t teach your kids to work hard, study, and put the damned video games down, the children of these immigrants are going to get the better jobs because these people are teaching their kids the value of a dollar, education, and an honest day’s work. Parents of people on all this assistance are teaching their kids to let the government take care of them — which last I checked wasn’t a highly sought-after job skill.

    Chris Ingram


  4. We’re losing our country. By saying immigration is more complicated than we think
    implies most Americans haven’t thought about it and are really not intellectual enough
    even if they did. A lot have and more and more are becoming aware of the ‘elite’ trying
    their darndest to rob us of our sovereignty. Why are you pushing the ‘elite’ agenda?
    According to Lindsey Williams, the very last freedom to go will be freedom of the press.

    Think about that the next time you get on a plane for an assignment, when they don’t
    need you anymore. It’s thanks Chris, but goodbye.


  5. My compliments on a well written and well thought out opinion / view in the “Views, Opinions, Analysis and Letters” section of today’s paper. You succinctly cover the challenges on a difficult subjection: Immigration.
    I could find no issues with any specific points and it seemed written from an apolitical orientation. Just a good job. Concur with your conclusion.


  6. The kneejerk responses to illegal immigration are generally wrong. It seems counter intuitive that getting rid of illegals will solve the problem but it just makes other problems worse.

    Generally, my thought about illegals is that they are victims as we all are of Adam Smith’s invisible hand, and it is laughable that most both Republican and Democratic positions in 30 second sound bites ignore the fact that it is economic forces that drive the problem.

    It is not easy as you suggest. Let’s hope that yours adds to discussions to truly find solutions.


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