When I get online while I'm at work, I have a widget that gets me the local headlines in the papers of whatever city I happen to be working near (or heading for). Yesterday was a busy one for me, so I didn't get to look over the New Jersey headlines before sailing for Baltimore.
It seems that New Jersey is being compared to Arizona in the news, because one of the larger cities has begin denying business licenses for food vendors who can't provide a social security number. Arizona being the principal boogeyman for all things related to criticism of illegal immigration into the US, I think it's safe to say that we've got some new hyperbole to work with here in the Northeast. It seems to me that everything vaguely critical or providing a form of restraint on unimpeded immigration is now being compared to the way things are in Arizona.
I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing in NJ. I'm very ambivalent right now on the subject.
One thing I do know is that I've long said that the best way to restrain and limit illegal immigration is to deny legitimacy to illegitimate workers- which is to say, punish the living hell out of employers who knowingly employ illegals to save money. This reduces the incentive to provide cut-rate wages to illegals... and, although no one likes to say it, if an employer can't remain competitive by hiring workers legally, then the rest of us are creating a subsidy for that person by giving competitive advantage via the savings on salary and the nonpayment of taxes and benefits.
Anyhow, my own opinion is that if one were to prosecute the employers, the casual labor pool would dry up, both legal and illegal... this is a real mixed blessing, as everyone likes a little cash earned by sweat when they're first entering the labor force. I survived my 20's purely by working and earning a mix of reported and unreported income from labor.
As I said, I'm ambivalent. The truth is, even under pressure from a crackdown on illegal labor, many illegal immigrants are still living under better conditions than they'd have in their home country. At that point, then, there's a moral quagmire; it's no longer possible to say that we've got ours and everyone else can go pound sand.
Still, it ain't easy. I live with one foot in a community made up of a mix of illegals and legitimate immigrants. The Brazilian pool in Massachusetts is interesting to me, from a social standpoint; there's enormous societal pressure to stay under the radar. Any interaction with government or civil bodies is viewed prejudically- if one member gets a talking-to by a cop for having jaywalked, there's sure to be a conflict after church the next Sunday... same thing with medical care- while there are still far too many people who use the Emergency Room as a free clinic, there is an increasing awareness of 'American' discontent at the practice, and the resultant backlash is causing a sea change there, as well.
Classism is rampant. As an example, Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife is viewed with both envy and criticism for having married me. In coming here, my wife went from upper class to immigrant upper class- she came here legally, which made people envious, of course. Then she went and married a stolidly middle class gringo marinero, apparently denying illegals of both genders the opportunity for a green card by taking us both out of the dating pool.
My reaction is that tragically I was never aware that hundreds of hot foreign women with dark eyes were eyeballing me like the parish bull. My wife denies this, of course. Seeing as she was the very first Brazilian woman I ever spoke to or was aware of, I suppose she has a point.
Anyhow, for obvious reasons I'm biased regarding the illegal immigrant issue. Regardless, it still seems to me that the most efficient way to handle this is to enforce our existing laws before we draft new ones that principally act to create public discussion rather than actually accomplish anything.