Driving illegal immigrants to crime is not a solution

There are a lot of things I don’t get about policy making, especially when it comes to the shock-and-awe variety that seems to dominate the immigration debate these days. After all, if the crux of the issue is to decide whether or not to normalize the status of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the country, why have headline-grabbing moves focused on systematically dehumanizing immigrants, given that such instances proffer little benefit to national security in the first place?

Consider a measure that was approved by a popular vote this past Saturday in Farmers Branch, Texas. The law will penalize property owners $500 per day per illegal immigrant if they rent their property to illegal immigrants. I find it a bit curious that a law seeking to revitalize a city by curtailing the influx of immigrants would target a voluntary arrangement between landlord and tenant that provides mutual benefit to both parties – housing and income, respectively – as well as demonstrates illegal immigrants’ financial responsibility.

But I digress. What is most striking and disheartening about such punitive politicking is that it’s not unique to Farmers Branch. According to the Washington Post, “almost 90 cities or counties nationwide have proposed, passed or rejected laws with similar landlord prohibitions or penalties for businesses that employ undocumented workers.” Property owners and immigrant rights groups are rightfully protesting this measure.

Similar to the boneheaded Photo Identification Act – also known as “No Visa without a Visa,” that would have made banking more difficult for illegal aliens – the proliferation of such laws merely denies illegal aliens from lawfully obtaining goods and services they need, thus providing incentive for illegal activity.

The case of rental property is particularly problematic, as prohibiting any rental to illegal immigrants eliminates the protections afforded by rental laws, making both tenant and landlord more likely to partake in illegal activity.

Even if you maintain a hard stance on illegal immigrants, look at the issue from the property owners’