Thursday, August 18, 2005

This is Leadership?

Kilgore said in a press release issued today, titled "Herndon's Decision to Fund Day Labor Centers":

"As Governor, I would support legislation that clarifies Virginia law to say that those who are illegally present are not eligible for public benefits, including the expenditure of taxpayer money for services such as the day labor centers in Fairfax County."
Of course, Kilgore misses a number of facts in his release, in addition to accusing people of flaunting the law rather than flouting it.

The first fact his statement seems to be missing is that there already are federal and state laws that bar persons illegally present in the US from receiving public benefits.

The federal law (on the books since 1996) even bans some legal immigrants, including permanent residents, from getting federally funded benefits like TANF, food stamps, etc. causing "devolution" of the responsibility to meet the needs of these legal residents to local governments with no funding.

The new state law (effective 01/01/06), which is largely redundant of the federal law, also requires persons to show that they are legally present in the US to get Medicaid, welfare (TANF) and other kinds of cash relief.

The second error in the release is that it says that Herndon voted to fund the day labor center. Actually, the town council only voted on a land use matter, allowing the center to be located in the Town.

The taxpayer money being spent here is being spent by Fairfax County (in which the independent town of Herndon is located). And the money being spent is for a contract with a nonprofit that won't actually be providing services to prospective workers (legal and illegal) other than a safe place to stand.

The real services being provided here are to:
1)Herndon residents and business owners whose lives/businesses have been disrupted by nuisances caused by the unorganized, free market driven efforts of contractors and home owners to find needed temporary workers and those who wish to meet this need; and
2) the contractors/home owners looking for workers.

As with all economic/market issues, the way to affect supply is to depress demand.

If Kilgore really wanted to stop those who "reward and encourage illegal behavior," and not just beat up on immigrants because doing so polls well, he would:

1) say he would support state legislation to criminalize the homeowners and businesses who hire the workers/independent contractors at these sites or elsewhere (85% of VA farmers say that they'll go out of business without these workers, see also home building, toursim/hotels/restaurants, etc). A JLARC Report documents this.

2) go to our Congressmen/women and Senators and his President, and demand immigration reform that would decriminalize behavior (hiring and working) that has been the engine of Virginia's economy since the 90's, see below:

A recent analysis of the labor market statistics in the 2000 Census data that was prepared for the National Business Roundtable in Washington, DC, estimated that 44% of male workers entering Virginia’s workforce in the 1990s were immigrants and that the "[t]he national jobs boom of the 1990s clearly would not have been ossible in the absence of these new record waves of immigrant workers, especially men. The Great American Job Machine was largely fueled by new immigrant labor, a finding that has received insufficient attention from most economic and labor market analysts." The Business Roundtable analysis also showed that "[I]mmigrant workers, especially new immigrants, are over-represented in blue-collar ccupations, service occupations, and farm/forestry/fishing jobs." The full Business Roundtable eport may be downloaded at

UCLA's North American Integration and Development Center reported in 2001 that undocumented workers contribute more than $300 billion to the economy annually. These workers make substantial contributions in the agriculture, building and construction and hospitality industries -- all of which are important sectors of Virginia’s economy.

But to attack demand would require taking on Virginia's business community.

And to attack members of Congress and the President for inaction on immigration would be to attack fellow Republicans.

And, both of those would require leadership and courage ....

And, attacking the voiceless does not.

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