I haven’t followed the current immigration debate all that closely. But as I understand it, the basic issue is that there are a lot of people here illegally, and those people are perceived to be (depending on your point of view) (a) taking jobs from legal residents and simultaneously driving down wages for everyone, or (b) doing jobs that are necessary to the economy but that legal residents don’t want because they are too low-paying.
Seems to me there’s an obvious strategy that the Republicans who want to be “tough on immigration” could adopt, and they’d draw a lot of Democratic support in doing it: raise the minimum wage – a lot. Like to ten bucks an hour. And enforce it across the board – to farm jobs, restaurant jobs, the whole nine yards. That should make those jobs a whole lot more attractive to legal residents, which should make it much easier for businesses to hire legal residents to do them, which should in turn greatly decrease the attractiveness of coming to the U.S. illegally. Problem solved!
Of course, it will never happen. Some of the very same Republicans who decry the minimum wage as a disastrous interference with the operation of the free market are the ones now banging the drum about the supposed threat of illegal immigration. Well, guess what, the market’s a bitch, and it doesn’t take sides on ideological battles. The job market in the U.S. is a big part of why there are so many illegal immigrants here. Silly bills proposing building a thousand-mile fence will do a lot less to solve this “problem” than cranking up the minimum wage.