How can Americans break the impasse over immigration policy? My new column for Fortune proposes a solution that’s as outside-the-box as it should be obvious: Make the wealthiest Americans foot the bill for the expanded government services that will surely be needed by the influx of new arrivals bound to result from comprehensive immigration reform proposals.
After all, as the article documents, the affluent have been the major domestic beneficiaries of the dramatically increased flows of both legal and illegal immigrants into the United States recently. And they’ll surely be the major beneficiaries if the leading comprehensive reform programs create a path to citizenship for the current illegal population and thereby encourage many more low-income foreigners to seek entry.
Incidentally, the article was inspired by news reports that the bottom lines of WalMart and other big retailers have been hurt lately by cuts in food stamp spending and other government programs aimed at the poorest Americans. The reason? These folks make up a big portion of these stores’ customer bases. Even worse, it turns out that many retail workers are paid so poorly that they’re eligible for government transfer payments – meaning that U.S. taxpayers are providing the WalMarts of the world with a handsome subsidy.
I hope you agree that permissive immigration policies that greatly expand food stamp and other welfare rolls result in a similarly outrageous subsidy, and that the wealthiest Americans should no longer be able to profit so greatly from mass immigration while escaping most of the costs.