It turns out labor shortages in Colorado have become severe and the state is turning to prison labor to fill the shortages (This solution was once proposed by California Representative Dana Rohrabacher as well). So where are all the native born Americans, desperately hurting for jobs stolen by illegal immigrants?
A new study by the Public Policy Institute of California found that immigrants (both legal and illegal combined) and actually boost pay for native workers. A separate study found they’re less likely to end up in prison to boot.
So, in the interest of offering solutions as well as pointing out problems (or failed attempts at solutions), I’ll make a suggestion: A temporary guest worker permit program. The main advantage of such a program is that by making the solution temporary, if it turns out to be a disaster, new permits can be changed or the program can be cancelled altogether and after the permits expire, everything will go back to normal. A guest worker program would allow workers to seek legal protections without fear of being deported, and could potentially create a means to tax hitherto undocumented workers to pay for social services.
The means to a solution such as this one is difficult to determine. Public perceptions of immigrants in the US seems to be persistently bad, and politicians on both the left and the right like to talk tough about “cracking down” on illegal immigration. Most of the 08 presidential candidates favor militarizing the US-Mexico border in spite of the fact that most illegal immigrants enter the US legally (source). My suggestion is to arm yourself with the facts about immigration, write your congress people, and make an effort to correct people when they perpetuate myths about immigration.
See also: Dispelling Myths About Immigrants.