NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 12, 2006

Colorado leads the nation in the growth of illegal residents, now more than 250,000. In fact, half of all foreign-born residents in Colorado are there in violation of the law, and they are no longer confined to the farms. Fewer than 3 percent work in agriculture, according to the best research. These illegal residents are a colossal drain on state and local resources, especially in education, health care and corrections, says Gov. Bill Owens (R).

The Colorado-based V.K. Krieble Foundation has a simple plan to resolve this issue:

  • It begins with absolute border control. It creates a new legal guest worker program to supply badly needed workers whose labor fuels our economy. But unlike other pending proposals, this new guest worker program actually has more than a ghost of a chance to work, because it relies on the free market.
  • The plan would allow private employment agencies (licensed by the government for security reasons) to open offices in Mexico and elsewhere, and empower them to issue the new guest worker permits, following instant background checks of all applicants, and most importantly, linking specific workers to specific jobs for specified time periods.
  • A credit card-type permit would include security and personal information in a magnetic stripe on the card, making employer checks and law enforcement easy and instant in any state in the country.

Most illegal workers would rather be legal, but two all-powerful incentives keep them illegal and underground: a bureaucratic system they know doesn't work and an artificial limit on their number. The answer to both has been in front of us all along, says Owens.

Source: Bill Owens, "The Huge Immigrant Tide -- I Have a Plan," Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2006.

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