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The ease of finding illegal employment in the United States is the single biggest pull factor behind illegal immigration. This was true when the so-called “Hesburgh Commission” issued its final report in 1981…

“All studies indicate that undocumented/illegal aliens are attracted to this country by U.S. employment opportunities.”

– Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, ”U.S. Immigration Policy and the National Interest.”

…true when Barbara Jordan issued her commission’s findings in 1994…

…true in 2009 when Senator Chuck Schumer said “tough enforcement and auditing is necessary to significantly diminish the job magnet that attracts illegal aliens to the United States”; and it is true today. 

One of the truly universally-accepted realities of migration is that the lure of jobs is the principle pull factor that leads to illegal immigration. How absurd then that multiple congresses and administrations have responded to failures to contain illegal immigration by…granting illegal aliens American jobs.

The Passive Jobs Reward

Every recent congress and administration has passively granted the jobs benefit by not requiring employers to use E-Verify, thus rewarding both the illegal worker and illegal employer by turning a blind eye to their bad behavior.

The Active Jobs Reward

Sometimes the government doesn’t just turn a blind eye to illegal employment; it issues work permits to inadmissible aliens, and releases them into the interior with a request to come back years later for their day in court. This form of parole abuse and “catch-and-release” has become so prevalent that most people entering the country illegally turn themselves into border agents with the expectation of working (legally or illegally) inside the country within a few days.

The Ultimate Jobs Reward

Timeline of 7 Amnesties Passed by Congress

These amnesties granted permanent work permits and a path to U.S. citizenship. 

As if to say “we’ll mean it tomorrow, we don’t mean it now,” each of these were sold as a way to “wipe the slate clean,” only to yield bigger problems. The more often the government rewards law-breaking, the less credible the law. The world notices.

There are other benefits to illegal immigration that serve as important pull factors, including healthcare, education, driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, and other public benefits.

As any parent can bear witness, rewarding or incentivizing bad behavior results in…more bad behavior. Institutions that reward illegal actions undermine the public’s faith in the law and in the institutions themselves; they lure millions of people around the world to put their lives and treasure into the hands of human smugglers; they signal to the law-abiding public that they are suckers for playing by the rules.