Illegal Immigration: Boom Or Bust For Business?

Immigration was one topic mentioned by President George Bush in his State of the Union Speech Tuesday night--"We need to resolve the status of illegal immigrants who are already in this country. Without animosity and without amnesty." But can that be done when tempers run so high on both sides of the issue?

One position is that illegal immigrants are good for American businesses. But is that true? Dan Stein is from FAIR--Federation for American Immigration Reform. Juan Jose Guitierrez is from Latino Movement USA. Both were on "Squawk Box" to talk about it.

Stein says absolutely not--and that America can't stand this flood of illegal immigrants and that President Bush needs to enforce laws--including against companies hiring illegals. He says the illegals are driving down wages. He says 30 years ago wages in meat packing plants were 30% above manufacturing wages--but are now 15% below manufacturing wages.

Guitierrez says wait--illegal immigrants are part of the American economy and have been for a very long time. He says what's not being revealed to the American public is how the government is cracking down on illegals--by arresting them at 4 am in the morning for example and Guitierrez says the question is "do we want to break with the American tradition of fairness." He says the number of illegals coming into the U.S. is dropping and that what we need is to do what's right for them. He says many people in the U.S. are incorrectly blaming illegals for problems in the economy.

President Bush has indicated he hopes to sign a comprehensive immigration bill in 2007, and signed a bill in 2006 calling for a 700-mile border fence, the fence — controversial because of doubts about its effectiveness and cost.

FYI: It's estimated that there are some 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. The Pew Hispanic Center state that 57% of illegal aliens are of Mexican origin and about 75% are of Latin American origin. They also report that while the number of legal immigrants arriving has not varied substantially since the 1980s--the number of illegal aliens has increased dramatically and, since the mid 1990s, has surpassed the number of legal immigrants in the U.S.