Dear Center for American Progress: do you support getting jobs for Fresno's homeless?
An open letter to the Center for American Progress:
Your Matt Yglesias drew my attention (link) to the New York Times article "Cities Deal With a Surge in Shantytowns" (link) about a rise in homeless people living under bridges in Fresno, California. I have an effective way to ease their plight and I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know whether you'll help promote the idea.
In my plan, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would conduct sweeps for illegal aliens working in the fields that surround Fresno. California's Central Valley has been called the "fruit basket of the world", and there are no doubt thousands of foreign citizens working illegally in the fields not too distant from that city. Immediately after a sweep is performed, those U.S. citizens and legal workers who are currently living under bridges would be brought in to take the jobs of those illegal aliens. Many growers have some form of dormitory housing, and for those who don't trailers of some kind could be quickly put in place. And, those legal workers would be much less likely to be abused by their employers, whether that involves long hours, dangerous working conditions (including exposure to pesticides), dangerous living conditions, and so on. There would also be some form of a jobs board (such as provided by the local unemployment office), so that when non-farm employment opens up the legal workers can apply for it.
Note also that the illegal aliens would be deported to their home countries, meaning that they'd be taken out of the job market and wouldn't remain in the U.S. and obtain benefits. And, there'd be no loss of economic activity: the former homeless would spend the same or more than the current illegal aliens; in fact, they'd be able to spend more since they wouldn't be sending a portion of their money out of the country. So, considering that legal workers could command a slightly higher wage, it would have a net economic benefit. And, by deporting those illegal aliens to their home countries, we'd encourage proper public policy where a country cares for its own people rather than sending them to another country.
The plan outlined above could be very quickly put into place; it's a plan supportive of American workers and it encourages proper public policy. The alternative is to allow U.S. citizens to be homeless under bridges while foreign citizens who are here illegally take the jobs they could be doing.
Accordingly, I'm sure you'll stand with me to support this pro-American plan. Please let me know your thoughts.
2/28/11 UPDATE: I should have added in the post that what I describe would be voluntary. I realize some people are homeless by choice or because they're mentally ill, but others are not like that and would be willing to work if given the opportunity. My plan is just for those in the latter group.