Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Whirlwind

When the Key Market off El Camino in Redwood City closed the other day much of the story revolved around day workers loitering in the parking lot as the reason for the closure. Customers were put off by large groups of men hoping to pick up work from passing contractors or even super market shoppers. Today's news points out the markets high labor costs. Invariably, fewer customers or higher costs will at some point be bad for business. When both happen the process accelerates.

Of course, day laborers are a function of illegal immigration and the willingness of contractors to pad profits with cheap labor. Residents benefit with a ready supply of inexpensive manual labor while also complaining about increases in the cost of government services to illegals. Unionized workers attempt to hold economic realities at bay--ultimately to lose.

San Mateo County Sheriff Don Horsley realizes that his hands are tied. The great number of illegals makes it impractical to make arrests and policies at the state and federal level have made such laborers defacto legal. He calls for the establishment of a day labor center but the history of such centers is decidedly mixed. Meanwhile, citizens complain about the mixed message official support to illegals gives.

Despite the popularity of state proposition 187 mandating the denial of medical and educational services, it was ruled illegal. Elected state representatives count on the support of a large Hispanic population that doesn't want to tackle illegal immigration; So they do nothing.

At the federal level relations between the United States and Mexico are testy when it comes to immigration. Mexico needs the pressure valve of turning a blind eye to sneaking across the border, while US officials talk about fixing the problem and get hammered from both political parties over any course of action.

The Key Market closure is merely a local manifestation of a much larger, more contentious national issue. It touches on compassion, labor market forces, globalization, taxation, law enforcement and national security. No consensus exists at any level of government. The Mexican/US border wealth differential operates much like a weather front with extreme temperature differences on either side. It is a force of nature ready for destruction and incapable of being stopped.


Post a Comment

<< Home