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Managing Illegal Immigration: One Option

Everyone agrees there is a need for the United States government to manage immigration. Our southern border is nearly 2,000 miles long; its sheer length invites many to cross looking for a better life. Those who make it illegally are often willing to work for lower wages than residents.

There are many in the US who would like us to simply adopt those here illegally offering them citizenship. Others say offer a migrant worker program for those who wish to remain residents of their homeland and find a way to put the others in the country onto a citizenship track. Still others want to send those here illegally back. After all, just by skipping the immigration lines that others are in they are cheating the system.

The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have a problem with illegal immigrant workers and they have high unemployment, especially with young, unskilled men. Like the United States companies have hired undocumented workers at low wages with hope that they can avoid a government inspection. Unlike the United States, the governments of the UAE and Saudis have a plan and they’re not messing around.

This week the UAE issued a two-month amnesty to illegal residents who leave the country voluntarily. Those without passports can obtain out-passes and leave the country without penalties and those with passports and an airline ticket with a scheduled departure will have fines dismissed.

The UAE is increasingly tackling the issue of undocumented immigrants in the country and launched a ‘No to Violators’ campaign to educate UAE residents about illegal immigration. Anyone who hires or houses an illegal immigrant could face two months in prison or a $27,777 fine, and employing a foreigner who is not in their sponsorship part-time carries a $13,888 penalty.

The UAE’s Ministry of Interior spokesman warned that if a person is arrested after the expiration of the amnesty deadline, he will face tough legal action.

In a similar effort Saudi Arabia is stepping up efforts to lower unemployment among its citizens by fining private sector firms that employ more foreigners than Saudis.

The policy, which will be implemented at the start of the new Islamic year on Nov. 15, will require private companies with majorities of foreign workers to pay a fee for each excess foreigner. “The aim of this decision is to increase the competitive advantage of local workers by reducing the gap between the cost of expatriate labor and local labor,” it said.

Roughly nine in ten employees of private companies in Saudi Arabia are from other countries; firms prefer to hire foreigners, many from South or Southeast Asia, because they will work for lower wages than locals.

There is no doubt that these countries are smaller than the United States. They also may be more able or willing to enforce these laws than we would. Still, would these plans work in the United States? Which one would be most effective? Our current administration has no willingness to jail or deport those here illegally so would fining the companies, the employers, be an option to which they might be open?

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Comments (2)

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  1. John Clinton says:

    The problem with fining the employers is that such an approach only reduces the demand for illegal immigrant labor. This may well slow the in-flow of NEW illegal immigrants (which the poor economy has already accomplished: http://www.cis.org/IllegalImmigration-ShiftingTide), but…what happens to the ones already here? Too broke to “self-deport”, many could be pushed to even less scrupulous means of earning a living. People ARE responsible for their own choices, but it doesn’t seem wise to PUSH them into lives of crime, does it?

    • Teresa Wendt says:

      Thanks for your comments John. I’m not arguing your points at all just showing what a couple other countries are going to try.