About 25 years ago, I did a study with a friend to determine how cash was sent from the U.S. to foreign destinations (the mechanisms and volumes) for Bank of America. When completed, I understood that the reason for the research was to learn ways for the bank to participate in money transfers without having “undesirables” (field hands and illegal aliens) actually walk into their bank.

This article is an extension of that topic, a look at industrial labor supply that continues to evolve, an exploration of the U.S. immigrant population and demographics (legal and illegal), and what industry should expect.

In 1790, Congress first established rules for naturalized citizenship as allowed in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. It was not until 1875 that the first immigration restrictions were applied (no lunatics or those likely to become public charges), and in 1906 standard procedures were defined (requiring knowledge of English language and U.S. history and government). The Immigration Act of 1924 froze then-current ethnic distribution of the population. In 1952 and 1954, it established powers and processes and then implemented the first deportations of illegal immigrants.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 granted amnesty to illegals who were in the U.S. prior to 1982 and made it a crime to hire illegals. Minor changes were made in accepting refugee and asylum cases in 1996.

In the newly seated 2011 Congress, Congressmen Steve King (R-IA) leads the House subcommittee on immigration matters and Lamar Smith (R-TX) is chairman of the Judiciary Committee that sets related agendas. These issues cover: 1.) clarifying the Constitution’s 14th Amendment to prevent U.S.-born children of illegals from automatically becoming citizens; 2.) affirming a state’s right to enact immigration laws; 3.) denying tax deductions to employers who hire illegals; and 4.) preventing local governments from refusing cooperation with federal enforcement of “illegal immigration” laws.

For background, about 175,000 Englishmen migrated to colonial America, and over half of immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries came as indentured servants due to work skills. The number of Americans in 1700 was 1 million. That figure grew to 5.2 million in 1800, 76 million in 1900 and 281 million in 2000, and it is expected to reach 1 billion in 2100.

Most people do not know that money for completing the naturalization process is paid by the candidate citizen. In 1985, the filing fee was $35. However, it rose to $90 by 1991, to $390 by 2004 and to $680 today. The residency requirement before application is five years, but the waiting time to get residence approval is often 6 to 12 years due, in my experience, to bureaucratic ineptitude.

This has not deterred the tide of legal immigration. In 2008, 1,046,539 people became U.S. citizens. America has accepted more immigrants for citizenship than all world nations combined and currently counts 37 million legal immigrants among the population.

Americans welcome those who bring competence and character to their new country. After all, 40% of Ph.D.s working in the U.S. are immigrants, and public opinion is not biased against the foreign born, even in industries experiencing hard economic times or covering all income levels. Concurrently, however, there are between 12 and 20 million illegal-immigrant residents among us, with 56% from Mexico, 22% from other Latin American nations, 13% from Asia, 6% from Europe and Canada, and 3% from Africa and the rest of the world. Studies show it is illegal workers, primarily without skills, who bias and distort industrial activity and which reduce work prospects for the U.S. lower class, employed or not.

An overlooked factor in recent immigration debates is the result of Latin American government’s (especially Mexico) failure to make infrastructure investments at home, thereby driving their own industry away, deterring employment at home and encouraging escape of the labor force via immigration (primarily illegal). One state government (Yucatan) counsels and assists illegal immigration to the U.S. Mexico is inundated with corruption, which has led 79% of companies in recent polls to believe that “illegal transactions” are a serious obstacle to business development for the country.

The bottom line is that you should ask your members of Congress to support trade sanctions and law-enforcement methods that coerce Mexico to gain control of itself so its population is not forced to escape poverty by becoming an immigrant problem for America. Another course of action is to insist that federal, state and local law enforcement do what they exist to do – enforce existing laws that prohibit and expel illegal immigrants in the U.S. To do otherwise puts U.S. industry on a road to failure. IH