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Tilting at Windmills

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March 24, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

IMMIGRATION REFORM THE WRONG WAY....Jim Gilchrist, the rabidly anti-immigrant Minuteman Project founder who lives a few miles down the freeway from me, polled 25% of the vote in our recent congressional election, nearly as much as the Democratic candidate. That's no surprise. Here in Southern California, illegal immigration has always been a big deal.

However, as Douglas McGray writes in "Shift Work," it's not just border states where illegal immigration is a big deal anymore:

Until recently, most Americans lived in communities where few (if any) illegal immigrants settled. Conditions were ideal for a policy of willful inattention. But that's changing, as immigrantslegal and illegalincreasingly settle throughout the country. California's share of the country's estimated 10 million illegal residents is shrinking, as dozens of states from Virginia to Idaho see their undocumented populations explode. In a handful of these new immigration hubs, more than half of the foreign-born population is now undocumented.

As part of the populist backlash this has caused, immigration foes are increasingly trying to deputize local officials such as cops, doctors, and teachers in their fight to deport illegals. But a funny thing has happened along the way: it turns out that even conservative local officials think this is a bad idea:

Fresno's Republican mayor, Alan Autry....looks fit for the role of an immigration hardliner (big, ugly, white, and from the South, he deadpans.) But his motives for getting involved in the issue are more complicated than his lefty critics or his Minuteman fans assume. Local employers and middlemen prey on a workforce the region depends on, Autry told me. We're having more and more instances of businesses working people for four weeks, not paying them, and then calling immigration, he said. Some employers literally work men to death: Just a few days earlier, a local laborer had died in the 108-degree heat, and farm workers gossiped about two other alleged deaths that failed to make the news.

....Yet despite the visibility of illegal immigration in Fresno, Autry backs the local statute that prohibits cops like [Pat] Farmer from reporting undocumented workers to the feds. I don't believe we'll ever make a dent in the problem by approaching the symptoms, he said. Instead, he has tried to organize fellow mayors to lobby Congress for comprehensive immigration reform, including a guest-worker program.

Laws that require local officials to report illegal immigrants may be increasingly popular, but it turns out that no one neither local officials nor federal immigration officials thinks these laws will work. In fact, they're likely to make things worse. Click the link to get the whole story.

Kevin Drum 4:51 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (138)

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Kevin Drum: Increasingly, immigration foes are trying to deputize local officials such as cops, doctors, and teachers in their fight to deport illegals

You're GUILTY! of conflating legal immigration with illegal immigration. Believing in the "fight to deport illegals" doesn't necessarily make someone an "immigration foe", it makes them an illegal immigration foe.

I'm not being pedantic. This semantic slight of hand is a standard trick on this issue.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Laws that require local officials to report illegal immigrants may be increasingly popular, but it turns out that no one neither local officials nor federal immigration officials thinks these laws will work.

That's why the best law is to allow local official to shoot illegal immigrants because that would definitely work.

Posted by: Al on March 24, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

immigration foes

Perhaps you meant illegal immigration foes.

Posted by: TangoMan on March 24, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Does it help business, or hurt the community?

Does handing out condoms to high schooler's curb unwanted pregnancies or increase promiscuity?

Does it taste great, or is it less filling?

It only makes sense if it's a zero-sum issue, right?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on March 24, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Douglas McGray: Until recently, most Americans lived in communities where few (if any) illegal immigrants settled. Conditions were ideal for a policy of willful inattention. But that's changing, as immigrants legal and illegal increasingly settle throughout the country.

He's also guilty of conflating legal immigration with illegal immigration. In NYC and its suburbs (eg here on Long Island) there have been lots of legal immigrants for generations.

Illegal immigration is another matter. In Suffolk County there's a town called Farmingville that's become a center of illegal immigration. Democratic County Supervisor Steve Levy has actually been standing up on this issue, rejecting fake calls of racism, and been well received for it.

Around here almost everyone has or has had relatives who are immigrants, so no politician in their right mind would say anything negative about immigrants per se.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well, what do you expect from a socialist hotbed like Fresno?

Posted by: craigie on March 24, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Immigration, legal or illegal, is a major problem for the U.S. Putting aside all the obvious economic, cultural and humanitarian straw men that will be thrown in my path, the U.S. is overpopulated. We are especially overpopulated with the poorly educated, native born and otherwise.

The U.S. needs to severely limit immigration for about a decade. And then revisit the issue.

In short, I am in favor of making illegal immigration a federal offense, for the immigrant, the "coyote," and employers.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 24, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Alex and TangoMan: I don't expect you to agree with me on this, but my experience is that if you scratch about an inch below the surface, opponents of illegal immigration from Mexico are also opponents of legal immigration from Mexico. I don't think the distinction is nearly as important in real life as you make it out to be.

Question for you: Are you in favor of increasing legal immigration quotas from Mexico?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on March 24, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

That ain't nothing. In Alabama we have a guy in the state legislature who's proposed a bill that would allow the seizure of the property of illegal immigrants. I call it the "Shakedown Legalization Act of 2006". Unlike most of the insane bills that are proposed, this one has a good chance of passing. Meanwhile in Hoover (south of Birmingham, and the home of the state's largest Latino community) there's a conspiracy between the cops and a state judge. They arrest Latinos for minor offenses (including jaywalking and riding in a car without a seatbelt) and he orders them to leave the country. (Even though he isn't an immigration judge, isn't allowed to order this, and anyway his authority is confined to this state.)

Posted by: Mac Thomason on March 24, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Douglas McGray: Until recently, most Americans lived in communities where few (if any) illegal immigrants settled. Conditions were ideal for a policy of willful inattention. But that's changing, as immigrants legal and illegal increasingly settle throughout the country.

He's also guilty of conflating legal immigration with illegal immigration. In NYC and its suburbs (eg here on Long Island) there have been lots of legal immigrants for generations.

Illegal immigration is another matter. In Suffolk County there's a town called Farmingville that's become a center of illegal immigration. Democratic County Supervisor Steve Levy has actually been standing up on this issue, rejecting fake calls of racism, and been well received for it.

Around here almost everyone has or has had relatives who are immigrants, so no politician in their right mind would say anything negative about immigrants per se.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

So Fresno has a statute that actually prevents cops from reporting illegals to the feds??? I can understand the merit of opposing a statute that requires them to report illegals, but I can't really understand the reasoning behind a statute that prevents them from doing so.

Posted by: Nobody on March 24, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

my experience is that if you scratch about an inch below the surface, opponents of illegal immigration from Mexico are also opponents of legal immigration from Mexico.

Hmmm, maybe. But I think this is where I get off the liberal orthodoxy bus. I do have a problem with illegal immigration, and my problem with it is the word "illegal". If my mother and all my grandparents could wait in line, then so can everyone else.

And my problem with "guest worker" programs isn't that the workers are Mexican, it's that I fear that these are just a smokescreen for bashing unions and driving down wages overall. Look at the meat packing industry, for example.

And finally, I find it immoral that an illegal alien can come into my neighborhood and demand up to $15/hour for unskilled labor, and pay no tax on that money, while a legal Mexican works at McDonald's for 6 bucks/hour, and pays tax on that pathetic income.

So it's not the Mexicans, it's the unfairness of the current non-system.

Posted by: craigie on March 24, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Dammit, this isn't THAT hard.

You want to stop illegal immigration? Enforce employer sanctions.

You want to enforce employer sanctions?

Verify every new hire's Social Security Number, the same way credit card companies check your account... in nanoseconds.

You want employers to cooperate?

Have private companies (for disclaimer, email me) that do verification services certified by the DHS. It's a niche business, the way payroll services is a niche.

Employers want a guest worker program?

Link eligibility to hire guest workers to certified verification.

Want to fix LEGAL immigration?

Stop managing by backlog.

Where to start?

Recognize that immigration law ought to be compatible with Matthew 19:6. Husbands and wives, parents and small children WILL sleep in the same country.

But fercrysakes, Kevin, stop talking like this is a public policy area where it is impossible to make sense, or where the tradeoffs are hard.

No, they're not. All you gotta do to make sense, is make distinctions.

Legal immigrants are people we WANT. That's why they're legal.

Illegal foreigners are people we DON'T want. That's why they're illegal.

If there are people here legally whom we WANT, then somebody has invited 'em.

So Congress should deliver what it promises: marriage is a moral issue. (And ignored, so far, by the debate in Congress.)

But the sibling category is a jobs network. We should stop screwing around with "amnesty", and "earned legalization", which are political poison pills, and recognize that folks can ACCUMULATE the characteristics that we want in immigrants: a U.S. citizen sibling sponsor, a "temporary" job, etc.

So we should base immigration law on our VALUES.

But, PUH-leeze, stop talking about immigration as if it's an economic issue. It's not.

In 1997, the National Academy of Sciences authoritatively reported that net impact of ALL immigration is "as much as" $10 billion a year... in a 10 TRILLION dollar economy.

That's the relative value of an extra dime when you already have three 20s, a 10, three 5's, eleven singles, six quarters, nine other dimes, twenty-one nickels and a big fistful of pennies in your pocket.

Immigration OUGHT to be progressives' perfect issue, because it is NOT about economics, it's about civics.

So let's disenthrall ourselves, already. Talking about this mess in vague generalities is polarizing, paranoid, and counterproductive.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 24, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

I can't really understand the reasoning behind a statute that prevents them from doing so.

The idea is that, if illegals know that cops will deport them, they won't call the cops. And that in turn makes illegals a free-fire zone for criminals. Which, whatever you think of them, is a bad idea.

See, it's all very complex. It requires nuance. So the GOP is at a serious disadvantage in dealing with it.

Posted by: craigie on March 24, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

As a former agricultural employer I can state unequivocally that I would support increasing legal immigration from Mexico and deporting all current illegal immigrants from the US. Neither will happen.

Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech on March 24, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK
immigration foes

Perhaps you meant illegal immigration foes.

No, what he actually meant was "supporters of the stigma of illegality and the abuses it enables".

Or, at least, that's just as reasonable a "correction" as yours.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: I don't expect you to agree with me on this, but my experience is that if you scratch about an inch below the surface, opponents of illegal immigration from Mexico are also opponents of legal immigration from Mexico.

You're right, I don't agree, and that's not my experience. BTW, why do you say "Mexico", as though there are people opposed to illegal immigration from Mexico but in favor of it from say Guatamela or China.

Furthermore, why do you refer to "opponents of legal immigration from Mexico". There are many people who want to see both legal and illegal immigration reduced (I'm not strong on this myself) to keep the US population under control, but their objections have nothing to do with country of origin.

Depending on whose stats you want to believe, maybe 60% of illegals are from Mexico. Back in the 1980's there were lots of illegal immigrants from Ireland in the NY area. The vastly improved Irish economy has changed that, but I almost wish it hadn't. If you're white, being opposed to illegal Irish immigration would disarm the cheap tactic of accusing illegal immigration opponents of being bigots.

Question for you: Are you in favor of increasing legal immigration quotas from Mexico?

Yes, as I've suggested many places, including this blog.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm willing to discuss other methods after employer sanctions have been given a few years to see how effective they are.

Look at the nightmare guest worker programs have created in Europe.

One thing about any guest worker program if it does (and I hope not) - all jobs should have to be registered publicly and citizens have the right to apply before guest worker permits are granted. One of the things that creates real problems in the computer industry is that companies are allowed to place unrealistic ads, and then claim they could find any Americans for the job, and hire programmers from overseas who don't have the advertised qualifications (i.e. 10 years experience with a 5 year old technology).

Posted by: NotThatMo on March 24, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Dicely demonstrates why lawyers are not the folks to rely on to make meaningful distinctions.

To correct myself: "if there are folks here ILLEGALLY whom we want, then somebody has invited them."

The Rule (with lots of exceptions) for legal immigration is that an American has invited a foreigner, by name: citizens invite spouses, kids, parents and siblings; legal permanent residents invite spouses and kids; employers get to sponsor workers.

The Ellis Island model was a DIRECT connection between getting here -- and belonging here.

We have all but severed that model -- and progressives should reclaim it for our own.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 24, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

NotThat writes: "One of the things that creates real problems in the computer industry is that companies are allowed to place unrealistic ads..."

On the contrary: they are REQUIRED to write the ads that way.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 24, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist, please run for president on a sensible immigration platform. I will vote for you.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 24, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Just as illegals won't call the cops to report crimes if they believe they'll suffer for doing so, creating rampant crime zones which will not remain segregated from the general population, illegals who do not seek medical services for fear of being turned over to the legal system will mingle with the general population with untreated, often contagious conditions. For people who can't get grasp the notion that these people should receive the basic public services the rest of us do out of simple humanitarian concern, those are illustrations of why we all stand to suffer if we turn social service providers into immigration officers.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on March 24, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

All European and Asian Americans are illegal immigrants to the Americas. Only Native and ex-slave African Americans have a legitimate legal claim of being in America. Arbitrary lines drawn on pieces of paper have nothing to do with human beings' migrant patterns or the status of people who move from one place to another, which is how all of those xenophobic Europeans ended up in America in the first place.

Let us do away with these lines and welcome everyone, even that scum sucking European whose ancestors illegally came to America - Jim Gilchrist, into the family of humankind. If not, enforce the same rules against the Europeans and Asians, retroactive to 1492, and send them all back to their countries of origin.

Posted by: Hostile on March 24, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK
But fercrysakes, Kevin, stop talking like this is a public policy area where it is impossible to make sense, or where the tradeoffs are hard.

On this I agree with you. The tradeoffs are not particularly difficult if you apply common sense and logic.

However, you don't do that very well.

Legal immigrants are people we WANT. That's why they're legal.

Illegal foreigners are people we DON'T want. That's why they're illegal.

That's not really true if you look at the broad structure of our immigration policy. There are, essentially, two completely distinct concerns it addresses:

1. Concerns about the kind of people we wish to allow to immigrate. Some people don't match this and are, essentially, categorically prohibited from immigrating to the United States. These are the people we don't want. If they come here at all, they are illegal. However, people that aren't in this group can come here illegally as well because of the implementation details of the next policy concern. These are not individuals that we don't want, as individuals, however.

2. Concerns about the social cost of the total level of immigration policy. Because of (presumed) social costs of immigration, we try to control the total level of immigration through a number of controls. The immigrants who break these controls, including those who attempt to comply with them but whose status lapses due to processing delays, are also illegal but are, unlike those who violate the controls addressing the concerns in #1 above, not fairly described as people we don't want. The issue is cost containment.

When you zoom into the policy details addressing #2, you find that they are exceedingly poorly designed given the concern they are designed to address; a few simple approaches, like aligning the distribution of slots within the overall total quotas with the level of qualified applicants from each country to manage waiting lists and thereby not create a particularly strong demand for illegal immigration from Mexico would do a bit to fix the problem of illegality in this class. Realizing that the quotas are a mechanism for controlling social costs, and therefore allowing them to be flexible with the payment of an appropriate fee, would furhter deal with the problem of illegality in this class, without imposing uncompensated costs.

And taking the steps to deal with illegality in the second class would allow enforcement resources to more effectively deal with the people we specifically don't want to here, those violating the controls in the first class.

And that, in brief, is how to deal with the problem of illegal immigration.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: And my problem with "guest worker" programs isn't that the workers are Mexican, it's that I fear that these are just a smokescreen for bashing unions and driving down wages overall.

How true. And I've yet to hear of a "guest worker" program in any country that worked as planned. It's pure bullshit.

Immigrants should come here as LPRs (legal permanent residents). None of this "two tier" crap like with illegals, H-1B's, L-1's, etc. Come here legally, change jobs any time you want, or start a business, no legal fears, and you can become a citizen in five years if you want.

While I'm not in favor of amnesty, I'd much rather see a blanket amnesty for all illegals (make 'em LPR's) than any "guest worker" program".

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Are you in favor of increasing legal immigration quotas from Mexico?

It doesn't matter to me from where qualified immigrants originate, so long as they pass qualifications laid down by our elected legislators. I want the citizens of our nation to have some say in who will become their fellow citizens rather than leaving that decision up to coyotes.

Considering that each illegal immigrant without a high school education is costing the taxpayers $89,000 over their lifetime, this is a losing economic choice for America. I'd rather replace poorly educated, low wage earning, illegal immigrants with HS graduates from Mexico, India, China, Nigeria, etc.

Further, I'm more concerned with the plight of my fellow citizens who happen to be Black men, than I am with the plight of Mexico's poor. The New York Times just reported:

The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.

This is basic economics - flood the labor market with illegal immigrants willing to work under horrendous condition and for a pittance and you're going to negatively impact the job prospects for our own citizens who have the fewest marketable skills.

Here's another article from Robert J. Samuelson just published in the Washington Post:

What we have now -- and would with guest workers -- is a conscious policy of creating poverty in the United States while relieving it in Mexico. By and large, this is a bad bargain for the United States. It stresses local schools, hospitals and housing; it feeds social tensions (witness the Minutemen). To be sure, some Americans get cheap housecleaning or landscaping services. But if more mowed their own lawns or did their own laundry, it wouldn't be a tragedy.

The most lunatic notion is that admitting more poor Latino workers would ease the labor market strains of retiring baby boomers. The two aren't close substitutes for each other. Among immigrant Mexican and Central American workers in 2004, only 7 percent had a college degree and nearly 60 percent lacked a high school diploma, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Among native-born U.S. workers, 32 percent had a college degree and only 6 percent did not have a high school diploma. Far from softening the social problems of an aging society, more poor immigrants might aggravate them by pitting older retirees against younger Hispanics for limited government benefits.

Read the whole thing. These aren't racist nutbags who are writing this in the New York Times and the Washington Post, they true blue liberals. What they're doing is simply looking at the problem in a rational and systemic fashion.

Posted by: TangoMan on March 24, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK
So Fresno has a statute that actually prevents cops from reporting illegals to the feds??? I can understand the merit of opposing a statute that requires them to report illegals, but I can't really understand the reasoning behind a statute that prevents them from doing so.

If local police are allowed, without restriction, to report suspected illegals to the feds, some of them will. If they do, this will discourage illegals from cooperating with the police on matters of local law enforcement and safety affecting all residents.

Admittedly, such a rule is something of a blunt instrument. It would be better to fix immigration policy so that the only "illegals" were the genuinely undesirable immigrants.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Well, at least nobody has trotted out that old canard, "but they take jobs nobody else will take."

Posted by: GAB on March 24, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Deportation. What an ugly sounding word. Its so twentieth century. I dont know the answers to this complicated issue, but I do know that there are illegals in this country doing extremely valuable work that NO AMERICAN CITIZEN would perform, particularly in the area of in home health care for the elderly. They are honest, ethical, hardworking, kind, and they are willing to do what numerous of our fellow citizens have refused to do or who have quit after doing the job for a short period of time. Whatever your solution, they have to stay.

Posted by: jammer on March 24, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

There you go GAB. Take your canard.

Posted by: jammer on March 24, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK
Dicely demonstrates why lawyers are not the folks to rely on to make meaningful distinctions.

And theAmericanist demonstrates the tendency of nativists to resort to ad hominem rather than rational debate.

Plus, I think a lot of actual lawyers would be offended by your claim that a negative generalization about lawyers is supported by reference to a posting by a second-year law student.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: But I think this is where I get off the liberal orthodoxy bus. I do have a problem with illegal immigration, and my problem with it is the word "illegal".

Who made tolerance of illegal immigration part of the "liberal orthodoxy" anyway? I know lots of folks far to my left who detest the way it's tolerated. Tolerance of illegal immigration also isn't popular with legal immigrants, Hispanics, or other so-called special interest groups. BTW, if you're a member of a so-called special interest group, can you resign, or is membership compulsory?

Kevin's line that "even conservative local officials think this [enforcing immigration laws] is a bad idea" makes me laugh. Who better than the Cheap Labor Party to not believe in enforcing immigration law?

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

1. Most of the people I've seen who are really hot about illegal immigration also want to stop legal immigration, at least from Central America. It's the same issue for them.

2. My plan for ending illegal immigration is this: extradite employers who hire illegals to Mexico for abusing Mexican workers. Jail time to be served in Mexican jails. It's a lot cheaper than building that wall, folks.

3. Of course, #2 would mean that rich white guys would go to jail, so we can't have that, can we?

Posted by: tomeck on March 24, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

All European and Asian Americans are illegal immigrants to the Americas. Only Native and ex-slave African Americans have a legitimate legal claim of being in America. Arbitrary lines drawn on pieces of paper have nothing to do with human beings' migrant patterns or the status of people who move from one place to another, which is how all of those xenophobic Europeans ended up in America in the first place.

Let us do away with these lines and welcome everyone, even that scum sucking European whose ancestors illegally came to America - Jim Gilchrist, into the family of humankind. If not, enforce the same rules against the Europeans and Asians, retroactive to 1492, and send them all back to their countries of origin. Posted by: Hostile

Kumba-fucking-ya.

If you didn't post this same sort of nonsense on a regular basis, I think we'd all assume someone was posting "on your behalf" as comic relief as various folks do for Al.

The adage about you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family definitely extends to the family of man.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 24, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK
Who made tolerance of illegal immigration part of the "liberal orthodoxy" anyway?

No one. "Tolerance of illegal immigration" is mostly a meaningless right-wing propaganda term that labels any disagreement with the speakers preferred method of dealing with the problems of illegal immigration; it used a lot like "judicial activism" is used to label any judicial decisionmaking that the speaker disagrees with.


Kevin's line that "even conservative local officials think this [enforcing immigration laws] is a bad idea" makes me laugh.

Your insertion which misrepresents Kevin's argument and inserts your belief into his argument is the height of intellectual dishonesty. "this" does not refer to "enforcing immigration laws". It refers to the policy of making local officials mandatory reporters as a means of enforcing immigration laws.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

If you think there are too many people in the US, go back to where your illegal immigrant ancestors came from.

Posted by: Hostile on March 24, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Who made tolerance of illegal immigration part of the "liberal orthodoxy" anyway?

Liberals boxed themselves into this tolerance for fear of appearing racist by opposing the interests of Hispanics. It doesn't matter that the interests of the Black community are put into direct conflict with those of foreign citizens. It doesn't matter that the interests of alievating poverty are hindered by catering to the interests of foreigners. It doesn't matter that the interests of labor organizations are hindered by support for illegal immigrants. All that matters is that liberals avoid the moniker of being called racists. That's how support for illegal immigration has become synonymous with liberalism.

Posted by: TangoMan on March 24, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

That's why the best law is to allow local official to shoot illegal immigrants because that would definitely work.
Posted by: Al on March 24, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

What works even better, is getting such a law passed, and then pocketing 50000 pesos from Juan Pescadero, to *not* shoot him. Isn't THAT how these wingnuts operate? (ie. Abramoff).

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 24, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK
Laws that require local officials to report illegal immigrants may be increasingly popular, but it turns out that no one neither local officials nor federal immigration officials thinks these laws will work. In fact, they're likely to make things worse.

Yes, well, look Kevin. Its more important -- to all too many elected politicians at least -- to enact policies that make good soundbites to create the impression of attacking problems than to actually deal with problems.

This is especially true when those politicians are in bed with interests that benefit from the actual problem, and therefore want the problem to continue, whatever pretend "solution" is enacted.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Let's start back at the beginning.

1) The United States is a sovereign nation that has the right to regulate who may or may not live within its borders. Non-citizens who wish to live here may apply to do so through our immigration process, and their application may or may not be accepted.

2)Illegal immigrants have made the conscious decision to ignore this process (and our laws) and to try to sneak into the United States and live here illegally.

Now someone explain to me why an illegal immigrant should not be deported as soon as they are discovered?

And before anybody calls me a racist, let me tell them that both my wife and many of my friends are LEGAL immigrants who came to the United States on student visas, got jobs upon graduating from college and applied for H1-B visas, applied for green cards after the required wait, and eventually became US citizens.

There is a very crucial distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, as Alex and others have pointed out. Its high time we stopped being nice to illegal immigrants and instead encouraged more legal immigration.

Posted by: MattW on March 24, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

I have to chime in and agree that cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants are the root cause of the problem.

Fix that and we reduce the problem of illegal immigration tremendously.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 24, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Most Americanists think the only good Native American is a deported Native American.

Most ancestors of Americanists thought the only good Native American was a dead Native American.

Too bad the Native Americans of the 15th Century did not have a strong immigrant policy regime. It may have kept out many of the European bigots who draw arbitrary lines on paper in order to keep native peoples from migrating within their own continent. Although where the lines are drawn is arbitrary, the attempt to keep natives out of their own continent is not.

Posted by: Hostile on March 24, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK
Its high time we stopped being nice to illegal immigrants and instead encouraged more legal immigration.

In what precise way is the current system "nice" to illegal immigrants that should be discontinued?

What plans do you have to "encourage more legal immigration" (the outline of my plan along those lines is upthread)?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: "Tolerance of illegal immigration" is mostly a meaningless right-wing propaganda term

Really? And here I thought I was being so original with that phrase.

BTW, what would you call it when so little effort is put into effective ways to enforce our immigration laws (eg employer sanctions). "Tolerance" sure sounds like an accurate description of the de facto policy to me, though you could argue that "encouragement" is better.

Your insertion which misrepresents Kevin's argument and inserts your belief into his argument is the height of intellectual dishonesty. "this" does not refer to "enforcing immigration laws". It refers to the policy of making local officials mandatory reporters as a means of enforcing immigration laws.

You could argue that, if you could get get away with arbitrarily insisting on a strict literal interpretation of what he wrote.

However, given the overall tone of Kevin's post, his previous posts on this issue, and the article he linked to, it's fair to say that his objections to enforcing immigration laws go beyond the particulars of this approach. Certainly my inference is more reasonable than Kevin's insinuation that opponents of illegal immigration are generally motivated by bigotry.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Let's start back at the beginning.

Europeans illegally claimed the Western Hemisphere as their own, named it after an Italian map maker and then tried to keep others out, even those who already lived there.

Posted by: Hostile on March 24, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK
However, given the overall tone of Kevin's post, his previous posts on this issue, and the article he linked to, it's fair to say that his objections to enforcing immigration laws go beyond the particulars of this approach.

No, its not. And if you think your insertion is fair, I'd ask that you present a specific justification, not handwaving generalities.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile,

Too bad the Native Americans of the 15th Century did not have a strong immigrant policy regime.

Let me trump your ludicrous comments with this statement:

Too bad the kinfolk of Kenniwick Man of the era of 12,000 BC did not have a strong immigrant policy regime to stop the Bering Straight migrants we now know as Native Americans.

Posted by: TangoMan on March 24, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

I apologize for ever taking dicely seriously.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 24, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK
BTW, what would you call it when so little effort is put into effective ways to enforce our immigration laws (eg employer sanctions).

Well, first off, I'd call it "begging the question" to assert that employer sanctions are an effective way to enforce our immigration laws.

Then I'd call this general style of argument falsely assuming that your political opponents agree with you that those methods are effective.

And then I'd say that the whole line of argument was irrelevant, as there is no correlation between liberalism and distaste for employer sanctions, so no connection, even ignoring the two previously described fallacies, between your point and the supposed "liberal orthodoxy" of "tolerance of illegal immigration."

"Tolerance" sure sounds like an accurate description of the de facto policy to me, though you could argue that "encouragement" is better.

Even granting, arguendo, that that is true of the de facto status quo policy, since liberals don't direct the status quo policy, that is irrelevant to the charge at issue.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

If one goes back and reads the popular literature of a hundred years ago, one will find a common attitude about immigrants of today and of those immigrants who were ruining the country then (Southern and Eastern European Catholics). Bill the Butcher had similar attitudes about all of those Irish illegals a generation or two earlier, as well.

Posted by: Hostile on March 24, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad the Native Americans of the 15th Century did not have a strong immigrant policy regime. Posted by: Hostile

Yeah. Primitive people who hadn't yet figured out any use for the wheel, a written language or basic metallurgy were sure to have strong immigration policies.

And, BTW, "Native Americans"? Make up your fucking mind. You disparage the naming of the continents after the Anglicized version of the name of an Italian explorer, yet you still use the term. If you are oh so politically correct, try aboriginal.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 24, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

This whole argument is moot anyway. Fox is on the way out, and the front runner in the election to replace him is a leftist. Mexico has just discovere a huge oil reserve in the Gulf. This means that within the next 5 years, the US will be annexing Mexico to "liberate it from the terrorist socialist regime" - so there will be no such thing as an illegal immigrant. At least not from Viejo Mexico.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 24, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

So; tbrosz. What's your opinion on the SpaceX fiasco today? Another brilliant example of how private industry always does things better and cheaper than government?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 24, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

I apologize for ever taking dicely seriously.
Posted by: theAmericanist

Word.

He doesn't really believe in anything other than Jesus. Therefore, he'll argue something just to be arguing, which pretty much explains why he wants to be a lawyer. Could have taught Clinton how to parse is.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 24, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK
This whole argument is moot anyway. Fox is on the way out, and the front runner in the election to replace him is a leftist. Mexico has just discovere a huge oil reserve in the Gulf. This means that within the next 5 years, the US will be annexing Mexico to "liberate it from the terrorist socialist regime" - so there will be no such thing as an illegal immigrant. At least not from Viejo Mexico.

Annexationist interventions are so 1890s. The US won't annex Mexico, will liberate the Mexican people (at great cost in lives, primarily Mexican), and the shuttle in a group of Tejanos to attempt to form a new government, after an occupation period during which the Mexican tax code, social services systems, and other government functions will be rewritten by interns from Heritage and AEI.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

...but I do know that there are illegals in this country doing extremely valuable work that NO AMERICAN CITIZEN would perform...

Sorry, GAB is right. This is a canard. There are a number of states with very few illegal immigrants. Eight states have almost none: Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming had, between them all, a grand total of 7,000 illegals in 2000, unchanged since 1990.

Yet somehow in all these states the farm work gets done, the hotel sheets get changed, the yard work gets completed, the construction work gets finished, and the dishes get washed.

The proper way to put it is that no American would do the work for what someone will pay an illegal alien.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 24, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Laws that require local officials to report illegal immigrants may be increasingly popular, but it turns out that no one -- neither local officials nor federal immigration officials -- thinks these laws will work.

As usual, after laying out your case for why something won't work, you fail to suggest what will. Could that be because immigrants, whether legal or illegal, won't be competing with you for your job (or those to which you might aspire) anytime soon?

That's in-sourcing. As for out-sourcing, it's also doubtful it will soon come to pass that your job will be in danger on that front. So you'll be free to criticize proposals for correction in that area also, without bothering to suggest solutions. Odd, since the solution for both problems--really the same problem--is obvious.

It's all about cheap labor, of course. Corporations love it; most of their workers hate it. Those who don't are often ambivalent about it because, in the near term, cheap labor is a benefit to them realized via low prices. Some of them may fret that, long term, cheap labor will impact them personally, either through loss of their jobs or loss of their customer base. But the fear of higher prices will keep most quiet, if watchful.

So, Kevin, you won't tell us the obvious: The only effective solution to both cheap labor problems (in-sourcing and out-sourcing) is corporate regulations. Corporate greed harms this country. Therefore, stiff penalties (say, $50,000 per instance) must be imposed on employers each time they hire an illegal immigrant. Likewise, every employee who loses his position because his duties were transferred to a worker in another country, will receive from his employer a cash buyout (say, $50,000).

No doubt, you'll find plenty of reasons to say why these solutions won't work either, all centering on capitalism, the free market and, most especially, globalization. But let me tell you something about globalization. Like all ideas advanced by those with money and power, it advances only those with money and power. They guard that power with the lives of the powerless, drawing a border around it much like the artificial borders of nations. Only when those borders--power borders and national borders--are gone will globalization be of benefit to the people of the world.

Actually, Kevin won't be evaluating my proposals since he's not likely to even see this. But plenty of others will rise to scoff at them, telling their tales of mass corporate bankruptcies, out of control inflation and rampant unemployment. Never mind that comfort derived from the suffering of others is undeserved. The better argument is their own: No one is irreplaceable. It doesn't just apply to the lowliest workers. When the right to make billions is taken away, there will be no shortage of equally qualified persons ready to perform the work of billionaires for much less. The total combined income of all persons in the U.S. could fall by, say, 25% while the standard of living and incomes for most persons increased substantially, if only the richest of the rich--who would still be rich--could learn to live on an amount that did not exceed 2, 3, even 4 times the income that the rest of us are constantly striving to just keep level.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 24, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK
As usual, after laying out your case for why something won't work, you fail to suggest what will. Actually, Kevin isn't saying what won't work, he's reporting on the existence of someone else's work which both claims that one approach won't work and, if you'd read through the link, suggests an alternative.

Heck, he even put the link to the full story twice.


Could that be because immigrants, whether legal or illegal, won't be competing with you for your job (or those to which you might aspire) anytime soon?

Yeah, because nationality places a huge restriction on political punditry; only US citizens can be political pundits in US publications.

Andrew Sullivan, for example, doesn't exist.


So, Kevin, you won't tell us the obvious: The only effective solution to both cheap labor problems (in-sourcing and out-sourcing) is corporate regulations. Corporate greed harms this country. Therefore, stiff penalties (say, $50,000 per instance) must be imposed on employers each time they hire an illegal immigrant. Likewise, every employee who loses his position because his duties were transferred to a worker in another country, will receive from his employer a cash buyout (say, $50,000).

No doubt, you'll find plenty of reasons to say why these solutions won't work either, all centering on capitalism, the free market and, most especially, globalization.

No, they won't work primarily because they are impossible to enforce effectively, especially the latter.

Though, now that you mention globalization, the free market, etc., the fact that they both create strong disincentives to creating jobs in the US in the first place is another problem.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

We are especially overpopulated with the poorly educated, native born and otherwise.

Hmmm. Sounds perfect for the low paid service jobs this economy is churning out. The only way to stop illegal immigration is to go after the employers hiring them. Jobs dry up - no more illegal immigration.

Posted by: Exbrit on March 24, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK


CMDICELY: No, they won't work primarily because they are impossible to enforce effectively, especially the latter.

How effectively enforced are laws against drug usage? Burglary? Car theft? Prostitution? Speeding? Drunk driving? Armed robbery? High crimes and misdemeanors?


Posted by: jayarbee on March 24, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yet somehow in all these states (Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming) the farm work gets done, the hotel sheets get changed, the yard work gets completed, the construction work gets finished, and the dishes get washed.Posted by: tbrosz

True, but none of these states, other than Montana, has much if any labor intensive agriculture or has seen a significant growth in population in the last decade or two.

Maine, NH, Vermont and WV don't have manufacturing or commercial bases that require any more cheap labor than what their moribund economies are already supplied with.

People are abandoning the Dakotas.

Wyoming, well, except for the tourism areas in the NW corner of the state, it doesn't have much of an economy at all (though it apparently needs greater per capita DHS allocation than do most of the coastal states).

In short, there is no need in those states for additional cheap labor, primarily because the standard of living in them is largely so low to begin with.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 24, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile: you're wrong.

In order to be "illegal", there has to be a legal regime that outlaws an act.

There was no such law, nor system of laws, when the 500 First Nations were running all over the continent.

And, as it happens, there was no law prohibiting Irish immigration (nor any other, excepting slave importation), in the days of the fictional Bill the Butcher. (Which was the late 1850s. The first real restrictions on entry came later, with the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1870, but we didn't get real numerical limits on immigration until 1921.)

What there WAS, was an exclusion from CITIZENSHIP.

That's what we're replicating today, by accident almost, in a fit of absence of mind by progressives.

Get a grip.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 24, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

How effectively enforced are laws against drug usage? Burglary? Car theft? Prostitution? Speeding? Drunk driving? Armed robbery?

The answer varies for each of these. The current legal regimes for several are arguably far from ideal. However, those aren't the issues here. Immigration policy is, and your suggestions have nothing that I see to recommend them as better solutions than options offered earlier in the thread, or in the article Kevin linked.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK
That's what we're replicating today, by accident almost, in a fit of absence of mind by progressives.

Again, even if this is a result of the status quo policies (a defensible claim), I don't see how you blame it on progressives, who aren't running any branch of government.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

"The proper way to put it is that no American would do the work for what someone will pay an illegal alien.
Posted by: tbrosz on March 24, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK"

Kevin, it bugs me immensely when tbrosz is the voice of reason here. And there is no hot button issue that drives me nuts faster than when people conflate legal and illegal immigration.

My father, aunt, cousins and sister-in-law are all legal immigrants. To immigrate legally, you have to fill out many forms, answer many intrusive questions and wait many years before you're allowed to live here freely.

So why do illegal immigrants get to cheat and go to the head of the line and why does Mexico get special rights vis a vis immigration? It is the wealthiest nation in Latin American (richer even than Chile or Costa Rica. If we want to help the poor, why not bring in laborers from the very poorest nations?

What's going on is Mexico is a relatively affluent country whose wealthy white elite doesn't want to tax itself to educate, house or care for its poor Indian majority. Mexican public education stops at the 4th grade (in Costa Rica, a far better governed nation, free education goes through high school).

Its astonishing how the Mexican elites use the combination of liberal political correctness and conservative greed to support its policy of exporting poverty. But go back to sleep, nothing to see here.

Posted by: beowulf on March 24, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: And if you think your insertion is fair, I'd ask that you present a specific justification, not handwaving generalities.

If you're going to play Precision Police, I'll ask you to help with a few points:

1. Why does Kevin say "even conservative local officials think this is a bad idea" (note plural) when he can only cite one such official?

2. Kevin also says that "no one neither local officials nor federal immigration officials thinks these laws will work". "No one"? Does he have any evidence for this definitive statement?

3. Douglas McGray wrote "until recently, most Americans lived in communities where few (if any) illegal immigrants settled. Conditions were ideal for a policy of willful inattention. But that's changing, as immigrantslegal and illegalincreasingly settle throughout the country." Why does he mention legal immigrants? How could this affect the policy of not enforcing immigration laws?

4. Upthread Kevin wrote "my experience is that if you scratch about an inch below the surface, opponents of illegal immigration from Mexico are also opponents of legal immigration from Mexico". What's the basis of this experience? Is he referring to explicit statements or was he making inferences based on tone?

Please don't actually answer these, or claim that you wouldn't dream of doing so, or claim that they're irrelevant to my "fallacies".

Since you legalistically ignore connotation and implication, I'll spell it out for the record. I'm rejecting your standard approach of insisting on precision (in your curiously selective way) rather than debating substantive issues.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

One reason that employer sanctions, which are on the books, haven't worked is because the forgeries of the right to work documents are so good that the employer can not be prosecuted in good faith. When a worker presents a driver's license and Social Security Card it is unlawful not to accept them as valid unless the documents are obvious forgeries, and good forgeries can be had at very cheap prices.

Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech on March 24, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Want to stop illegal immigration? Slap a $250,000 per incident fine on any company caught hiring illegal immigrants. Problem solved.

And frankly, whether you think immigrants are a "problem" or not, I don't think anyone can agree that the solution is to bring back indentured srervitude.

Posted by: anonymous on March 24, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK


CMDICELY: those aren't the issues here. Immigration policy is, and your suggestions have nothing that I see to recommend them as better solutions than options offered earlier in the thread, or in the article Kevin linked.

Your initial response was not to say they weren't better solutions. Rather, you said they were not solutions at all--that "they won't work primarily because they are impossible to enforce effectively." Suddenly this "primary" reason isn't even at issue. I'd prefer an explanation that outlines why other solutions are better, or at least one which explains why mine won't work without relying on a reason you think is irrelevant.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 24, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK


If you're going to play Precision Police, I'll ask you to help with a few points:

Okay, here, I'll help.

Why does Kevin say "even conservative local officials think this is a bad idea" (note plural) when he can only cite one such official?

Perhaps because Fresno's policy is not (as the article notes) unique and Kevin is aware that the officials involved in some of the similar local policies are similarly conservative and have cited similar concerns.

Kevin also says that "no one neither local officials nor federal immigration officials thinks these laws will work". "No one"? Does he have any evidence for this definitive statement?

I don't know why Kevin states that, and I think its an unwarranted inference. It in no way supports your accusation, though; though its similar to the error underlying your accusation, as it seems to presuppose that everyone agrees with Kevin on what actually would work.


Douglas McGray wrote "until recently, most Americans lived in communities where few (if any) illegal immigrants settled. Conditions were ideal for a policy of willful inattention. But that's changing, as immigrantslegal and illegalincreasingly settle throughout the country." Why does he mention legal immigrants?

Because they are immigrants, obviously.

How could this affect the policy of not enforcing immigration laws?

No one -- except you and a couple other commenters on the thread that have inserted that strawman into the debate -- is talking about "the policy of not enforcing immigration laws."

Douglas McGray and Kevin Drum are talking about what concerns exist with the immigration status quo, what changes various people want to make, and what concerns various people have about those proposals.

Certainly, nothing about this, either, does anything to support the interpretation you inserted into Kevin's quote, in any case.

Upthread Kevin wrote "my experience is that if you scratch about an inch below the surface, opponents of illegal immigration from Mexico are also opponents of legal immigration from Mexico". What's the basis of this experience?

Well, since people commenting on this very blog in previous threads who have expressed a desire to control illegal immigration from Mexico have grounded that in cultural concerns and expressed concerns about the total level of immigration, particularly from Mexico, that could be one of the sources of that experience.

I don't know everywhere else Kevin may have seen such feelings expressed; I've seen them lots of other places.

Please don't actually answer these, or claim that you wouldn't dream of doing so, or claim that they're irrelevant to my "fallacies".

Well, given your contradictory requests, I've chosen to go with the first, rather than the later request. Sorry if that bothers you.


Since you legalistically ignore connotation and implication, I'll spell it out for the record. I'm rejecting your standard approach of insisting on precision (in your curiously selective way) rather than debating substantive issues.

I'm not sure how inserting unsupported hostile reinterpretations into quotes of Kevin's rather than directly engaging his substantive points, or waving around a bunch of irrelevancies instead of responding substantively to my challenge of that behavior, or not responding to any of the many substantive arguments, on either side, about the policy at issue in the thread demonstrates your supposed focus on "substantive issues".


Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK
Your initial response was not to say they weren't better solutions. Rather, you said they were not solutions at all--that "they won't work primarily because they are impossible to enforce effectively."

I would think that in a discussion in which the initial posts references an article which presents two competing policy approaches, and in which several people have offered other alternatives, that context would make clear that the standard for evaluation of a policy proposal was a comparative one in reference to the other proposals offered (and the status quo), not some kind of absolute one.

Yes, its possible that your proposal would be better than no immigration enforcement policy whatsoever. If you read my initial "wouldn't work" as meaning that it wouldn't be, I apologize for being unclear.

Suddenly this "primary" reason isn't even at issue. I'd prefer an explanation that outlines why other solutions are better, or at least one which explains why mine won't work without relying on a reason you think is irrelevant.

I've already outlined, upthread, what I think is the ideal approach and why I think it is the ideal policy. That should serve as an argument as to why any other policy is not ideal; additionally, I've already pointed out that your program, specifically, serves as a direct disincentive to job creation in the US, as doing so creates new and potentially very expensive risks.

I'll also note Tassled Loafered Leech has raised a good point on the problem with the enforceability of employer sanctions, which are, of course, already on the books.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: "Tolerance of illegal immigration" is mostly a meaningless right-wing propaganda term that labels any disagreement with the speakers preferred method of dealing with the problems of illegal immigration

Where is your evidence for this assertion? Specific citations please, not hand "handwaving [hand waving] generalities".

Well, first off, I'd call it "begging the question" to assert that employer sanctions are an effective way to enforce our immigration laws.

I'd call it an implication. I will argue, in the spirit of FDR, that it's worth trying. Do you have any evidence that it won't?

Then I'd call this general style of argument falsely assuming that your political opponents agree with you that those methods are effective.

Style tip: write directly. If you (assuming that on this issue you qualify as a "political opponent"), then please say so. Also provide arguments at least, if not actual evidence.

Even granting, arguendo, that that is true of the de facto status quo policy, since liberals don't direct the status quo policy, that is irrelevant to the charge at issue.

How many liberal/progressive politicians can you cite that consider enforcement of immigration laws important? Even members of a minority party can speak.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK
Where is your evidence for this assertion?

The use, on this thread, of the statement to characterize Kevin Drum's position, when he has linked to an article which advocates for a specific method of enforcing immigration laws as more effective, illustrates its use as a propaganda tool to characterize disagreements over how to enforce immigration laws.


Well, first off, I'd call it "begging the question" to assert that employer sanctions are an effective way to enforce our immigration laws.

I'd call it an implication.

An implication of what?

I will argue, in the spirit of FDR, that it's worth trying. Do you have any evidence that it won't?

The fact that employer sanctions are a feature of the status quo system, and that they have failed, and the specific reason why they are difficult to enforce posted by Tassled Loafered Leech, supra.

Style tip: write directly.

I have been, both in general and in the specific instance you point to.

If you (assuming that on this issue you qualify as a "political opponent"), then please say so.

If I...what?

How many liberal/progressive politicians can you cite that consider enforcement of immigration laws important?

I don't feel obligated to cite evidence to rebut a position for which no evidence or argument has been offered.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I have read this suggestion elsewhere and it makes good sense to me. When an illegal immigrant is apprehended and is to be returned to Mexico, return him/her/them to the southern most portion of the country.

Once word got around that it is quite a hike to get back home if you get caught, the numbers of those willing to illegally enter the US might have a chance of decreasing.

Posted by: brisa on March 24, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK
I have read this suggestion elsewhere and it makes good sense to me. When an illegal immigrant is apprehended and is to be returned to Mexico, return him/her/them to the southern most portion of the country.

Once word got around that it is quite a hike to get back home if you get caught, the numbers of those willing to illegally enter the US might have a chance of decreasing.

I'm pretty sure that's been done before, decades back, without much success (though I think only to Mexico City, which isn't quite the southernmost point, but far enough south that it has the same general effect), not to mention, of course, the logistical difficulty of making that work without foreign cooperation.

And not to mention that most illegals aren't caught and deported in the first place, so there is very little basis for expecting that to have much deterrent effect.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 24, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why not have this as a punishment for being caught as an illegal immigrant: you can never be a US citizen.

Posted by: Neil' on March 24, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: The use, on this thread, of the statement to characterize Kevin Drum's position

There you go again with that double standard on precision. Tsk, tsk. Where was that phrase used on this thread specifically to characterize Kevin's position on what should be done about illegal immigration, as opposed to Kevin's prejudices about "opponents of illegal immigration"?

The fact that employer sanctions are a feature of the status quo system, and that they have failed

I'd wait until they're seriously tried before claiming that they've failed. Funding to the tune of less than $50 per violator (many times less than border security funding) is a joke. Reagan was fond of this trick too. Don't repeal laws or regulations, just ensure that there's no effective enforcement.

An implication of what?

If you honestly believe that the antecedent of "it" was unclear, may I suggest Lojban?

I don't feel obligated to cite evidence to rebut a position for which no evidence or argument has been offered.

It would have been a more effective debating technique for you simply to have ignored this point. "I don't feel obligated" screams "I can't". Nor can I prove that the dodo bird is extinct, but they're almost as hard to find as "liberal/progressive" politicians (or even Vichy Democrats) who even claim to consider enforcement of immigration laws important.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

There is no solution to the undocumented worker issue as long as they are the cheapest labor pool. None.

If all 10-12 million illegals were to be given amnesty tomorrow and 'put on the books' that would increase their cost of labor: fica/workman's comp/withholding all would kick in. And tomorrow there would be a new lowest cost worker arriving in the next batch of illegals. We did this all 15 years ago and we are still dealing with this problem.

The guest worker programs have the same problem: they raise the cost of labor.

Only two courses of action will work: either the employer is severely punished for hiring an undocumented worker or the worker himself is severely punished.

The technology exists today to implement a worker ID system via ssn. What is missing is the political will to truly punish employers who violate the law. There is no solution until this happens.

My greatest fear is widespread violence against illegal immigrants. If the next recession is a strong one, or something worse, and jobs are truly scarce, this could happen.

And the figure stated above of a 10 billion dollar impact is a complete and utter joke. There are 10-12 million undocumenteds in this country. $10 billion is $1000 per undocumented per year in impact. Sorry, that does not wash. I would imagine the cost of Medicaid alone for this population exceeds 10 billion a year.

Posted by: Nat on March 24, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

You won't get your beloved single payer healthcare if you have open borders. Social programs and uncontrolled immigration don't go together. Something I think that both sides of the political spectrum should realize: America does not have unlimited resouces and can't save the whole world. We can't even rebuild New Orleans.

Realistic expectations would be nice.

Posted by: la on March 24, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

I can give you one word why every single American should be opposed to illegal immigration: methamphetamine

Close to 70% of the methamphetamine currently consumed in this country is made in Mexico. Nearly 100% of this amount is brought into the United States by illegal immigrants. Given that the US is clamping down on domestic production, this percentage will only increase over time.

Methamphetamine is literally poison. It is both highly addictive and it causes brain damage. Severe brain damage in some cases. There are over a million methamphetamine addicts in the United States. The costs these addicts impose on society are staggering. There are health costs associated with treating addicts. There are treatment costs. There are costs associated with imprisoning addicts. Costs to the courts. Costs for police. Costs to in terms of the crimes addicts commit to support their habits. And on and on.

And then there are the children. Meth destroys families. Social service agencies are overwhelmed. Children are not only displaced, but thousands and thousands and thousands are brain damaged for life because their mothers were addicted while pregnant.

If any other country was responsible for causing as much death and destruction as is caused by meth, we would probably go to war with it. (And while the Mexican government has made pledges to help stop meth production, forgive me if I put much stock in them. There is too much $ at stake.)

Are there other ways to stop meth addiction? Sure. Are there illegal immigrants not importing meth? Sure. But so what?

I really can't believe that we are having this debate. We should make every serious effort to end illegal immigration now. Stop illegal immigration, you stop the bulk of the meth problem.


Posted by: mkultra on March 24, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

mkultra: Nearly 100% of this amount is brought into the United States by illegal immigrants.

Regardless of whether this is true, you can easily smuggle drugs without illegal immigrants.

This is a strawman of the sort that distracts from the real issue: illegal immigration is tolerated because it's a source of cheap labor.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Regardless of whether this is true, you can easily smuggle drugs without illegal immigrants."

I don't think you get it. A person coming to United States illegally is coming for one thing: to make money because he or she is desparately poor. They will do anything to make a buck, because, frankly, they have nothing to lose. The $ is worth the risk. There are literally thousands of willing couriers. Dry up this source and what are you left with? Persons coming here legally. Are they going to import the same amount of meth? Re they going to take the same risks in the same numbers? No.

Would some get thru the border anyway, of course. Would the same amount that comes now? No way. Of course I assuming here border security would increase under any serious effort to combat illegal immigration.

Don't get me wrong - employers should have to go to jail if they hire the undocumented.

Posted by: mkultra on March 24, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Alex:

You're GUILTY! of conflating legal immigration with illegal immigration. Believing in the "fight to deport illegals" doesn't necessarily make someone an "immigration foe", it makes them an illegal immigration foe...I'm not being pedantic. This semantic slight of hand is a standard trick on this issue.

I doubt Kevin is guilty of anything here. Even if his choice of words was not well-thought out in this particular instance, I'd say he's regrettably on pretty firm ground. I fervantly wish there were more people who shared my opinion that illegal immigration creates problems but immigration in general is a solid net positive for America, but I seldom come across this view in public. It seems to me the vast bulk of the vocal opinion opposed to illegal immigration is so hot about the issue precisely because it views immigration in general (even the legal variety) as an undesirable phenomenon to be minimized as much as possible.

I think that there are obvious troubling implications for national security flowing from the pourous state of our borders, but I frankly don't see a whole lot else to worry about. The total number of immigrants (legal + illegal) we're getting -- likely somewhere around 1.5 million annually -- is an easily absorbable number that makes America stronger. And that's why I see much merit in a "decriminalization" approach that seeks stepped-up enforcement only if it is combined with substantial increases in admissions quotas. If one is truly "pro-immigration/anti-illegal immigration" this strategy is the obvious solution.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 24, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida: I doubt Kevin is guilty of anything here.

He's either guilty of semantic three card monte, or of making a gross generalization about people who oppose illegal immigration. People like you and me. He's displaying his prejudice.

I fervantly wish there were more people who shared my opinion that illegal immigration creates problems but immigration in general is a solid net positive for America, but I seldom come across this view in public.

It's not far from my view, and I come across it all the time.

It seems to me the vast bulk of the vocal opinion opposed to illegal immigration is so hot about the issue precisely because it views immigration in general (even the legal variety) as an undesirable phenomenon to be minimized as much as possible.

People who oppose all immigration because they're bigots, or because they think we should reduce US population growth? Big difference.

And that's why I see much merit in a "decriminalization" approach that seeks stepped-up enforcement only if it is combined with substantial increases in admissions quotas.

There's nothing to decriminalize. Being an illegal immigrant is a civil, not a criminal violation.

I'm all for increasing admission quotas from Mexico and the Central American countries, but I think we should shift part of the exisiting legal quotas to them, rather than increasing the total quota.

Also, I doubt that increased quotas in and of themselves are sufficient. We need a multi-pronged approach that includes serious employer enforcement. Not because employer enforcement is the only effective approach, but because it's the obvious missing piece of the puzzle. It's so strongly opposed because it would interfere with the cheap labor boon.

Posted by: alex on March 24, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

What if a company employs someone who is illegal, pays them the same as if they were legal, the employee pays full taxes under the false SSN. Billions of dollars get paid into a black hole in the IRS each year which never really gets talked about...

My experience is that small companies (like restaurants) often hire illegals not out of a gouging urge to pay them less, but just out of a tried and true reality that they tend not to be meth-heads and tend to show up on time, and work well.

But, the ugly reality is that not allcompanies are compassionate and honest and most rely on the cheap labor to fill their coffers. SO I guess we can prepare for just about everything to jump in price by a fair bit.

Posted by: hacheson on March 24, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum:

You have no clue what you're talking about.

Using phrases such as "anti-immigrant" and "immigration foes" only lowers your credibility.

As for the post, there are different types of "reporting" involved, including that proposed by Costa Mesa and even Los Angeles County: violent felony suspects will have their immigration status checked.

For those who want to learn the actual facts about illegal immigration instead of KD's misstatements, click here and keep scrolling.

Posted by: TLB on March 24, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Fresno and therefore I have pretty good idea about in the valley. Illegals work in the fielsd here. Farmers don't report them on their taxes. As a child my family worked in the fields of Fresno County, my mom and my six brothers would work to pay for school clothes and shoes, and not once did the owner of the farms ever ask for our proof of citizenship. The fields is a cash business with the stoop laborer getting the hard end of the stick as he or she stoops. There is no quick fix and I don't see many people lining up for the kind of work my family did, the same work many illegals do today for a dollar that doesn't go nearly as far.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on March 25, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

You patriotic Democrats might want to oppose your less-than-patriotic elites before it gets too late.

A week ago, Hillary Clinton met with a group of Irish illegal aliens and gave them her support. That group (the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform) is funded by the Irish government.

And, I've just learned that the rally of illegal aliens in Georgia today was organized by Teodoro Maus, a former Mexican consul.

Unless the Democrats get their act together soon, many Americans are going to consider them no better than Quislings.

Posted by: TLB on March 25, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Careful, TLB, or you are going to get banned from here just like you did from RedState.org . . .

Posted by: Don P. on March 25, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

You patriotic Democrats might want to oppose your less-than-patriotic elites before it gets too late...A week ago, Hillary Clinton met with a group of Irish illegal aliens and gave them her support. That group (the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform) is funded by the Irish government...And, I've just learned that the rally of illegal aliens in Georgia today was organized by Teodoro Maus, a former Mexican consul...Unless the Democrats get their act together soon, many Americans are going to consider them no better than Quislings.

Oh gosh...do you mean to tell me that illegal workers doing productive work here in the states might actually be getting some moral support from...um, friendly governments with whom the USA has good relations, and productive trade, and deep historical and kinship ties?

I'm OUTRAGED!

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 25, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

summary of important points:
(from a committed liberal AND a "foe of illegal immigration")

0. I hope everyone will grant that the US is a sovereign nation and has the right and obligation to control who comes here. The vast majority of the US do not want to allow unlimited immigration through completely open borders. So that should be off the table.

1. The population of the US is growing and many cities seem overcrowded. Schools, roads, and social services are inadequate. Median wages have not risen appreciably in past five years. A large part of the reason is illegal immigration at a half million per year. Estimates of 12 to 20 million illegals here, holding 8% of the jobs.

2. What ever the US does about it now, we need to not encourage a greater flood in.

3. The US has limited resources. Recent NYT article on black men in cities here having a very hard time. And mainly being ignored or thown in jail.

4. Mexico is not the poorest country in Latin America. If we want to help the poor more efficiently, we could import workers from poorer counties.

5. Mexican elites refuse to tax themselves to help their poorest people. Effectivly encouraging them to sneak into the US.

6. There should be strong deterrents for both illegals and their prospective employers. We can't be too nice or that will just encourage an accelerated flood of illegals. Unfortunately we have 12-20 million illegals here already, many very established. To keep the situation from getting worse, we will have to be pretty harsh.

==> Here's an idea: simultaneously increase legal immigration quotas by say 200,000 per year, and severely punish employers who hire illegals. Wages will rise. Most illegals will lose their jobs, and be replaced by legal immigrants and, gasp, Americans! Many people will have to leave. It is unfortunate, but they have been living a lie.

7. If this becomes a major issue for the midterm elections, I am concerned that the Dems are in a weak place on this, a very unpopular place. Their whole attitude seems to be "Oh the poor illegal immigrants". Yes, it is too bad they are poor, but they are dragging down wages for the whole country. How is it OK to sneak into a country?

PS I thought Alex and cmdicely wasted a lot of space on this thread.

Posted by: hh on March 25, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

So, Kevin, you won't tell us the obvious: The only effective solution to both cheap labor problems (in-sourcing and out-sourcing) is corporate regulations. Corporate greed harms this country. Therefore, stiff penalties (say, $50,000 per instance) must be imposed on employers each time they hire an illegal immigrant.

It wouldn't be an effective solution at all, because outside of agriculture, corporate America for the most part avoids illegal labor to the best of its ability, and goes to considerable lengths and expense to avoid the fines and bad press associated with getting caught with improperly permissioned workers. Even a casual glance at recruitment ads reveals a heavy emphasis on proper credentialing. In fact most illegal labor in this country is to be found employed by small businesses or homeowners in such sectors as restaurants, landscaping, construction, childcare, and domestic services. In terms of logistics, rounding up the Fortune 500 and fining the heck out of them would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, there's not much legal cause to do so. In terms of logistics, rounding up hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and millions of households is going to be a tad more difficult.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 25, 2006 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida,

getting some moral support from...um, friendly governments

I'm assuming that you're being purposely obtuse here, for these incidents do not merely involve friendly governments offering moral support but instead involve friendly governments involving themselves in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. I'm sure that if the US was actively sponsoring demonstrations in Paris that had French illegal immigrants protesting the decisions of the French government, that most French citizens and the government itself, would be protesting the US involvement in French internal affairs. Any nation would, and the US is no exception. The Mexcian gov't has a long history of involving itself in internal US politics that goes far, far beyond simply offering moral support to illegal immigrants.

Posted by: TangoMan on March 25, 2006 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

Until now, I thought the majority of posters on these threads were liberals. I will never make that mistake again.

Racist bastards.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 25, 2006 at 4:55 AM | PERMALINK

Not to take dicely seriously (never again!), because as I've told him directly, he doesn't know shit about the subject and won't shut up, but he did ask why identify progressives as part of the problem:

There are a couple political facts of life about immigration issues that should be more widely known. First, it has what pollsters call 'great cleavage but little salience.' (I love that phrase.) What it means is, if you ask people to name their top 3, 5, 10 or even 20 issues, very few will consistently bring up immigration. Crime, health care, the economy, national security -- those are the big ones. Immigration has little salience.

But if you ask about it, you get very strong and divided opinions: cleavage. Something like 80% express concern about illegal immigration these days, with maybe 30% "strong concern"; while even legal immigration tends to get "concern" in the 40+% range, with a core of about 20% that is "strong concern". That's potent stuff -- IF you ask about it.

Handled right, it's an opportunity. But we don't handle it right.

The second fact of immigration politics is that it does not break down on ordinary partisan lines, the way the tax and spending issues do. Taxes and spending define the political spectrum -- higher this, lower that pretty reliably determines if you're a Democrat or Republican, a liberal or a conservative.

Immigration isn't like that -- and never has been, going back to the Know-Nothings when you had precisely the same confused some on this side, some on that blurring between the Democrats and the brand-new Republican Party. (To give Republicans their due, they were the party of the abolitionist German immigrants, while Democrats tended to get the Irish in those days.)

So regulatory lawyers, letterheads with foundation grants and subsidy-seeking companies naturally combine to provide Congress with incentives to NOT solve any of the problems which immigration poses, from the failure to deter illegal employment (which is a subsidy), to an actual government supplied workforce (which is a BIG subsidy) to the bafflegab of immigration law (which is a HUGE subsidy).

Hell, if political science was actually a science, this would make a superb study. Why don't progressives actually propose to SOLVE the mess?

Perhaps the single most telling statistic about immigration is the growth in the immigration bar: in 1990, there were only about 5,000 in the country. Today, there are closer to 50,000.

Anybody think our immigration laws are BETTER?

Which is why I blame progressives. We're allergic to clarity and uncomfortable with patriotism, and we're just damn fools when it comes to the obstacles to common sense put up by regulatory lawyers.

This is a HUGE opportunity for the good guys, to stand up and force a choice on Congress: family values (those wives and kids), free market economics (no subsidies), and civics (citizenship). It is the perfect illustration of patriotism and American exceptionalism -- there has never been a nation in the history of the planet that has ever done immigration on the scale of the United States: "they" become "us".

Hell, it's even a potentially winning issue: it unites Democrats who vote, while dividing Republicans who vote. No wonder it confuses us -- the institutional Democratic Party figures the letterheads with foundation grants actually move votes.

But they don't.

Of course the Republican party will cut a deal between its libertarian hypocrites (who love subsidies when they go to the folks who fund their foundations) and its nativists.

But why should progressives accept that?

Take 10 minutes to look at the alternative immigration policies backed by most Democrats, and you find that first, they're NOT alternatives but the same proposals, and second, they won't work.

Ten years ago "comprehensive immigration reform" meant the Jordan Commission proposals, which were all about enforcing the law and delivering on Congress' promises to put wives and kids on the path to citizenship -- and UNANIMOUSLY opposed a new guest worker program.

Now 'comprehensive immigration reform' means how big a guest worker program should be, and the wives and kids are being ignored. (again!)

Where are the progressives talking plain common sense?

LOL -- let's offer a choice, not an echo.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 25, 2006 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida states "outside agriculture corporate America for the most part avoids illegal labor". Ridiculous.

A cursory look at some of the big contributors to Bushie and the Republicans, builders and developers, hotel and restaurant associations, for instance reveals how much money corporations who employ illegals are giving to the Republicans. Almeida have you ever been in a Walmart? A corporate nursing home? Seen one of the home sites of a big builder/developer? Stayed at a hotel? Gone to a McDonalds?

And this is just in-sourcing as Jayarbee says. Out-sourcing (of "off-site employees" as some corporations are calling it) is a whole different cheap labor scheme for corporate America.

It's about cheap labor and the Republican elites. Dems would do well to exploit the deep chasm between the Republican elites who benefit from cheap labor and those who don't and point to the Republican elites tendency to punish the poor immigrants instead of the powerful and wealthy corporations who employ them.

Posted by: Chrissy on March 25, 2006 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

Mass immigration is just another form of globalization and as such is part of the ongoing blitzkrieg of class warfare aimed at the American lower class.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on March 25, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

Regardless of whether opponents are against just illegal immigration or both illegal and legal immigration is it good POLICY to deputize priests, nurses, cops, teachers, welfare workers, or any other LOCAL officials to enforce FEDERAL immigration law? HR 4437 would supersede local laws, like Fresno's in the article, that keep police from checking the immigration status of people who come forward to report crimes or help an investigation. LAPD is operating under the same constraint for good POLICY reasons. Is that really a good idea for the FEDERAL government to force change?

From the article:

Bills like Sensenbrenner's, combined with the efforts of local legislators around the country to press their own civil servants into the fight against illegal immigration, could produce a revolution in immigration enforcement. But they may also set off a revolt by the very cops, teachers, and welfare workers legislators seek to deputize. These workers feel, with a good deal of justification, that they can either do their jobs effectively, or act as immigration police but not both.

Posted by: Don P. on March 25, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,

Hear, Hear to your posts.

TBrosz,

Yes, Montana does not need anyone coming in to undercut their remarkable "top wage" system. Minimum wage of $5.15 with the exception of any busines with earnings of $110,000 per annum. Then, they can pay the "inflated sum" of $4.00 per hour - The small industries love it - the many new retirees moving to Flathead love you have their yard and household chores done for $4.00 -
Reminds me of Americans talking enthusiastically about retiring in Mexico where one could have work done by the "happy" natives for a song.

Many of the early Republicans came from the breakup of the Know-Nothings - who despised the immigrants from Ireland.

Know a wonderful family in the San Pedro area - successful long shoremen, refinery workers, court reporters, government workers - Their grandfather from Croatia jumped ship and started a successful fishing business. This story of immigration, both legal and undocumented, is very complex.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 25, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it's always a donnybrook when a nation of immigrants talks about immigration. Especially when one party likes to fly the Confederate flag. Hmmm. Did we learn anything from that part of our immigration history?

Nobody stays here if they don't want to be that unique blend of consumer and idiot known as "American". Others come, and they go. Some of "us" leave, neatly balancing the total grey cells in the national pool to keep us just dumb enough to buy stuff.

We have enough people. I'll use a rough index and say we have about 45 million "discarded" people- people who aren't worth enough for anyone to provide health insurance.

We also have a lot of jobs that shouldn't be done. When I was a kid, men got their shoes shined, and hats brushed, by the shoeshine boy. Nobody worries because you can't do that anymore.

In my area, immigrants steal brush from the state forest and private landowners. The brush is collected and sold by brush-packing houses to florists. This finances a rural oligarchy that pretty much tries to keep other employers out of the county. To make our misery complete, the only "tourist" industry is the recreational motorcyclists who trash the forests riding offroad. All for a few sprigs of salal in your FTD bouquet.

And we'll have fun fun fun 'till Daddy takes the T-bird away. It's like marijuana prohibition- a dependable issue for election, enforced on a rascist basis, nonsensical in any iteration, a money-maker for the industries we least want to support, and, basically, it's the AMERICAN way.

Posted by: serial catowner on March 25, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

The US experience with Prohibition holds some good lessons here. Attempting to ban something that is in demand (alcohol, cheap labor/wages) tends to lead to corruption of the authorities and other undesirable effects.

Saying "just levy big fines on or send employers to jail" is a perfect example.

Let's consider what follows.

Sart with the fact that forged credentials are easy to get, so you need a system that allows them to be cross checked AND require that everybody use it. Well, well - a national ID system! Those cost quite a bit and can be extremely intrusive and inconvenient (how do you get your first id, where do you go to get it, what happens if you lose it?). So now you have all the small government conservatives and libertarians up in arms and if it's a pain in the ass to get you piss off just about everybody.

Oh yeah, and what does it cost a potential employer to verify identity correctly? If I want to hire someone to do Spring cleaning of my yard am I responsible for contacting the Department of Identity for verification? If not, then fuck it, he's hired as soon as he flashes a card and I don't care if its a forgery.

If it's gonna cost money to verify AND you enforce it effectively you now have every single small business and homeowner up in arms and the economy starting to get collywobbles as low income people get frozen out of the job market.

If you don't enforce effectively then see fuck it above AND don't forget the corrupting power of selective enforcement - "I'll pretend I didn't see this violation if you slip me a little contribution."

Posted by: Butch on March 25, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Zombies of Hate
It is unbelievable that while we spend billions of dollars to prop up a theocratic and corrupt goverment thousands of miles away in Iraq (as an excuse to occupy the Middle East) that right now here in our own back yard human skeletons lay in the desert unfound as our illustrious politicians get their campaign moneys from the very corporations that caused these skeletons to be there in the first place.

I blame the illegal (but not immoral)immigrants no more for coming to this great nation than I would blame first grade children for becoming addicted to Heroin that a drug dealer (who stands across the street from their school)methodically sells to them every day.
The Republicans and some Democrats who are for this present immigration bill have become that drug dealer while they themselves have also become addicted to the money from corporations and the hate that can get them their votes.

They may argue from a legal standpoint, that they are only for enforcing the rule of law but they are not arguing from a moral one. They are acting immorally. And, Just as Martin Luther King broke "the law of men" to uphold "the much higher law of humanity for Mankind"
These poor illegal immigrants break "the law" but do not break the laws of humanity. Everyday, that this immigration problem is held up and not solved while people are dying in the desert our leaders must know that indirectly they are violating the laws of humanity.

And now, we see, most despicably some politicians such as John Shadegg and Jon Kyl pimping their drug of hate, fomenting the building anger between Anglo and Hispanic peoples in our beautiful country. Will it bother them once the race riots start and the killing begins? I pray to the Almighty that it does because if race riots and killings start then the evil Genie will be out of the bottle and who knows when and if it will ever be able to be put back in.

Like the Serbian, Croatian and African leaders of the last decade who used hate to begin their murderous ethnic cleansing some of our political leaders will become Nationalist leaders, who while provoking anger will have their egos stoked as they are propped up by the very people that they evinced that anger within, the very people that they turned into Zombies of hate.

Don't go after these immigrant children of GOD who have only come to our great country with no malice in their hearts and only to feed their families and find a better life. Go after the politicians who like drug dealers are addicting some of our fellow Americans to the wonderful sensation of hate in order to get themselves more votes.

Remember we can have a blood bath and a witch hunt in trying to extract these 11 million illegal (but not immoral) immigrants and put on a shameful show on for the world (as we lecture other countries about human rights)or we can show the world that we Americans will solve this serious immigration problem on our own continent with the humanity and magnanimity that our forefathers would be proud of.

America was the humane and civilized nation that could solve serious problems such as this immigration dilemma and we shall prove that we still are that great nation, that "great experiment" that can solve these dilemmas of mankind.
Fortunately, we the people of America are still humane and civilized as a nation because we are America.

We must show the world that Bush and his Neo-Cons no longer speak for us, for they are trying to change America with their race baiting by appealing to the hate in our hearts, not only is this unscrupulous and immoral it is UNAMERICAN.

We shall retake our nation one mind, one heart at a time and give it back to the principles that were outlined in the Declaration of Independence. That all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.
Leonard Clark
The Damned Liberal
Desert Storm/OIF III VET
and
Candidate for the U.S. Senate
in Arizona on March 29, 2006

Posted by: leonard clark on March 25, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Here in Denver, there have been a number of screw ups showing just how little the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department cares about illegals. Here is the latests screw up. Boils down to cop stops van with 15 illegals, calls ICE. ICE says "oh, we don't handle that part of the freeway, call some other office." Since the ICE didn't care, the cop let them go.

Posted by: Peter on March 25, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan offers PB Almeida some of my thoughts, although I would probably go a bit further.

As for the misstatements above about HR4437, try this for the truth about the bill.

Here's more on immigration as prohibition.

As for morality, anyone who encourages prospective illegal aliens to cross the desert is deeply immoral.

There are only two ways to stop prospective illegal aliens from crossing the desert:
1. Completely open the borders.
2. Enforce our immigration laws across the board, at the border and at workplaces.

Anyone who says otherwise is living in a fantasy world or is lying to you.

I suggest using that test to see whether someone's position is truly moral or not. Cardinal Mahoney, Amy Sullivan, the Dems, and the GOP fail the test.

Posted by: TLB on March 25, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

dr sardonicus wrote:

"Until now, I thought the majority of posters on these threads were liberals. I will never make that mistake again.

Racist bastards."

Personally, I think anyone who calls those opposed to illegal immigration racist is just trying to deny his/her own racism.

Posted by: ProudliberalDem on March 25, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Here in Denver, there have been a number of screw ups showing just how little the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department cares about illegals.

Maybe so. But to be somewhat cynical in my reply, what of it? Who cares? What/whom are illegals hurting, anyway?

You hear a lot about how they're supposedly costing the government so much in the way of benefits, but I suspect it's at best a point or two of total public sector spending. Besides, the easiest way to reduce that would be to deny illegals benefits in the first place. Far easier to pass a law denying illegals government programs than it is to find a way to stop them from crossing the corder (I can't be the only one who's leery of hundreds of billions in extra spending on enforcement, border guards, electronic fences, employment police, etc., with no guranteed results).

There's probably a bit of downward pressure exerted by illegals on wages, but I doubt the situation would change much if we sent every one of them packing, given the fact that technology makes offshoring possible, AND given the fact that a million LEGAL immgigrants are arriving each year at any rate. I mean, at the end of the day, why is everybody so freaked out about the illegal immgration "menace"? I just don't get it, and don't see the crisis. What exactly is ending illegal immigration supposed to accomplish, and how exactly is the country going to be better off? I see at best a bit of modest upward pressure on wages if we can end illegal immigration, but not much else. And some of the higher wages will be passed onto the general economy in the form of higher inflation. Taxpayer savings? I doubt it, as any savings on benefits will be eaten by enforcement costs and reduced contributions to FICA. We'll also pay a price in a larger and more heavy-handed police presence in America (yipee! just what we needed!), and fairly fucked up relations with Mexico. Too great population increases? All the projections I've seen predict America's rate of population increase continuing to decline.

Posted by: Puzzled on March 25, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK


craigie: And finally, I find it immoral that an illegal alien can come into my neighborhood and demand up to $15/hour for unskilled..

An illegal alien doesn't "demand" $15 / hour - that is what the market pays. If that $15/hour job is so great, why isn't the legal Mexican doing it? It's his own fault if he choses a $6 job.

In the 1970's, when there was relatively low illegal immigration, our economy was stuck in stagflation. In the 90's, as illegal immigration soared, we went through one of our greatest economic growth periods in our history. And now, our unemployment rate is still at a historically low 5%. It is an economic argument - if there weren't jobs here for illegals, they wouldn't be here. And not in the sense that they're taking away jobs from Americans. If people from Iowa are moving to California, are they taking jobs away from Californians? Or is it just that the CA economy is strong, and has a great need for jobs, which Iowans come to fill? A guest worker program makes sense - it legalizes what market forces are already doing.

Posted by: Andy on March 25, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Andy, your points are so fucked up, I almost don't know where to begin. I'll start by noting that the much-touted "historically low 5%" comes from the fact that thousands of Americans stopped looking for work or maxed out their unemployment and therefore stopped being counted amongst the official "unemployed". If an American/legal resident can't find a decent job, that alone puts the lie in your claim that thousands of jobs are being created that can't be filled by anyone except illegal migrants.

Go home to RedState.org.

Posted by: ProudliberalDem on March 25, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

What/whom are illegals hurting, anyway?

One of the most pernicious effects of illegal immigration is that it leads to political corruption. That leads to undermining our entire political system.

An illegal alien doesn't "demand" $15 / hour - that is what the market pays.

And, just to make it clear, that "market" is not a "free market" in the generally understood sense. It's quite a controlled and highly-subsidized market: employers get "cheap" labor, and everyone else picks up all the other costs for them. It's also a crooked market, in that it relies on the government not to enforce its laws.

Posted by: TLB on March 25, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Alan Autry, the mayor of Fresno, is an actor (In the Heat of the Night, Saving Grace).

But way back in college at University of the Pacific (Stockton, CA) where he was the quarterback of the football team and BEFORE he changed his name, I knew him as Carlos Brown.

Just thought you all might find that somewhat amusing...

Posted by: CaliforniaDrySherry on March 25, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

This is truly a fraught issue and I don't have a strong set of opinions on it.

I will say, though, that it's not surprising at all that this issue cuts across both parties. Unions have as much history of protecting their own jobs and industries as they have working for broad solidarity among workers. Some well-established unions (cf the Teamsters) were extremely threatend by civil rights in the 60s. Progressive positions that are founded on notions of universal equality and social justice have always cleaved the working class. Republican red-state districts rebel against CAFTA with enough social conservative textile workers in them. Anti-globalization produces bizarre coalitions of frothing Buchananite crypto-racist nativists and ultra-progressive anti-corporatists. Progressives feel genuinely caught between wanting to defend jobs availability, wage stability and social services for Americans and demonizing a powerless underclass, behaving in ways anyone would, that the heritage of nearly all Americans were a part of at one time, legal or otherwise.

As usual, theAmericanist shows up and makes quite a show of how everybody else on this issue is wrong without cogently and succinctly laying out is own position. If anyone of you who have praised his posts or agreed with them can state what he's concretely advocating, I for one would be interested in reading it.

The only thing I feel even somewhat strongly about here is not wishing to essentially deputize local service providers as immigration cops. They themselves apparently feel uncomfortable with this, and the reasons have been articulated in this thread. There are public safety and public health issues involved in having a good working relationship with any community.

Otherwise, I'm still sifting through the arguments ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 25, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Butch, you dunno what you're talking about... or maybe you do, and figure we can be conned as easily as you've been?

Everybody already provides pretty much all the information necessary to their employer for tax purposes: the Social Security Number.

Electronic verification of the # takes care of most of the problem, costs the employer next to nothing without costing the taxpayer much at all.

The actual error rate in the Social Security database, btw (just to get that out of the way) is vanishingly small: virtually all errors in the Enumeration and Identification system are folks who mis-state their SSN, plus the several million presumably illegally employed folks with SSNs like "123-345-6789".

Since 1961, with VERY few exceptions, U.S.-born citizens get SSNs at birth. So establishing legal authorization to work for born citizens is easy.

Legal permanent residents, naturalized citizens and the various work-authorized non-immigrant statuses are verifiable by the DHS and the State Department: that's not hard to do, IF you actually want to do it.

Credit card companies routinely do much more difficult checks millions of times a day -- cheaply and in seconds.

And identification fraud is PRECISELY something we want to crack down on, including when some "undocumented" guy claims a REAL Social Security Number that isn't actually his.

So face it, Butch: your real objection is to "We, the People" actually enforcing the law...

... most likely, since you're on a (more or less) progressive blog, because what you really object to is the importance of U.S. citizenship itself.

Got anything to add or dispute?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 25, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Illegal" immigrants as a political force?

AIPAC/Israelis setting US foreign policy?

Where for art thou America?

From a melting pot to a multi-stall shopping bazzar for every ethnic/corporate/foreign special interest to snag a piece of what once was America.

I am not voting for the dems or the repubs, neither represent America...I am going to wait for the revolution.

Posted by: Chanel No 5 on March 25, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

I'm wondering about P.B. Almeida's point. i live right next to a mid-sized city with a huge Hispanic population and I see what he's talking about on a daily basis. While you certainly might be correct that accurate ID verification is cheap and easy -- what about all the under-the-table work done by construction day laborers, landscapers, restaraunt employees, etc. etc.. Heck, even McMansionites who drive to the local big-box home improvement store at 7 in the morning and trawl for illegals to do odd jobs around the "estate"?

How exactly would you bring this type of employment (and I know many guys in my own cohort -- some of them well-credentialed -- who take the odd under-the-table job for quick cash) into the system?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 25, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wow - confirming SS# costs very little to do electronically? So, where's the terminal where I do the electronic verification of the guy I'm hiring to clean my yard, Americanist? Where's the terminal that the farmer out somewhere between Yakima and Spokane goes to? Where does the woman at the little pet store down the street go?

As for your other assertion, I'm perfectly happy to see well crafted and thought out laws enforced.

And I laugh out loud at people who propose stupid and ill thought out laws and then get into a howling lather when people ignore or circumvent them.

But have fun frothing - I enjoy the show.

Posted by: Butch on March 25, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Heck, even McMansionites who drive to the local big-box home improvement store at 7 in the morning and trawl for illegals to do odd jobs around the "estate"?

The solution to this is quite simple: we just begin mounting massive surveillance-enabled sting operations focusing on people who need odd jobs done. I'm sure we can muster up the extra police power to mount hundreds of thousands of such efforts. I sure as hell cannot think of better uses for our security apparatus (al Qaeda shmall-shaeda!). If the suburbanites and small business owners can't pay the fines, we'll confiscate their houses. If there's no equity, we'll throw em in jail along with the imprisoned multitudes of non-violent drug offenders. THAT'll teach 'em. And if we run out of prison space, the economy will get a boost out of the stimulus from all that new construction. Hell, we're already two-thirds of the way to being a police state as it is. Why not complete the job?

Posted by: Cynic on March 25, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

One of the reasons it's been so hard to find a consensus on this issue has been the effect of successfully making welfare reform a bipartisan issue. It used to be a quintessential battle between bleeding heart liberal and anti-statist conservative, but the focus on the moral and psychological virtues of work changed that equation -- and for the greater good, I might add.

An unintended consequence of that is that it's very hard anymore to bust a person's chops for hard work. It's not just that wealthy Republicans benefit from cheap labor (which they doubtless do), it's that the average person who doesn't confront the downside of illegal immigration daily in his/her own community doesn't find it easy to hate on a guy who works from dawn to dusk, lives in a shoebox with five roommates, exists on red beans and rice and sends most of his pathetic wages home to his wife and kids in Mexico.

Sure, there's resentment from Americans who not only work hard but (in Clinton's winning formulation) also play by the rules. Why do these folks get to blow out of government obligations to which my neighbors and I have to submit? But again, that's mitigated by the success of the Republican meta-argument against government.

Just as the relentless campaign against the alleged abuses of the IRS makes it more difficult to scourge the average guy who cheats on his taxes, people are tempted see illegals out of an entrepreneurial paradigm. Here's this person eating rocks to survive and showing a stronger work ethic than any American s/he might be displacing. Doesn't help that all the cures proposed for illegal immigration entail beefing up bureaucratic structures -- and why passive resistance to some of them come from anti-illegal politicians like Autry. In a weird sort of way, hardworking illegals are -- quite without intention -- living out a cherished Libertarian fantasy of resistance to the state. Also telling that the most energized anti-illegal Americans are also choosing to live out the Libertarian fantasy of Minuteman vigilantism rather than working to change the DHS bureaucracy.

So yes, it's about more than economics. It's also about cultural dynamics and cherished ideological shibboleths. And just like welfare reform, it may well take a Democrat to get serious about illegal immigration.

Certainly we have less to lose from the knee-jerk anti-bureaucracy types.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 25, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- Butch, you're a fucking idiot. You can verify SSN's now, by phone.

Or you can sign up with the Basic Pilot, and do it on the Web.

Once more: DO you have anything to add, or do you just like looking like an ignoramus in public?

The chewtoy asks about a relatively small part of the economy, the off the books day labor that is characterized by but not limited to illegal workers: the short answer is that you fix the ladder first.

One problem progressives have with the issue of illegal unemployment is that we tend to be too lazy and self-righteous to actually understand it. The bleeding heart folks (typified by Cardinal Mahoney) talk about how exploited illegal workers are. The dumbass economists talk about how if you improve working conditions, you'll "remove the incentive" to hire illegal workers.

And the diversity crowd complains that these are 'jobs Americans won't do' and, like dicely (why DID I ever take this clown seriously?) fret about the 'stigma of illegality'.

Reality check: illegal employment is characterized by a ladder effect. A bracero or migrant farm worker, even on a legal visa, gets paid less in harsher conditions than somebody with at least modest skills working day labor. So even though a guy may come here to pick strawberries, he will take a better job on a construction site: it pays more.

This is where economists and more-regulation types tend to speak up for an idea so stupid, ONLY progressives could believe it: 'We know they will come for shitty jobs, so we'll make the jobs better and ... they'll stop coming?'

But the fact is, most of the 6 million or so illegal workers in this country (about 3.5-4 million) work for considerably better than minimum wage in often highly regulated working conditions: meat packing, food service, the trades.

The trick is, those are all on the books jobs. Since IRCA in 1986 employer sanctions requires that anybody who hires somebody ON the books has to file a form to show they didn't knowingly hire an illegal workers -- so these guys aren't "undocumented", they're illegal, with LOTS of (forged) documents.

Which is why worksite verification is a linchpin: without it, the wheels come off.

But, PUH-leeze, get a grip on the whole 'guest worker' thing.

No guest worker program has ever worked -- anywhere, at any time. In EVERY case, the same economics which attracts people, compels them to stay: you don't get workers, you get PEOPLE, and they act like it.

Do the math: a guest worker program is a government-supplied labor subsidy for certain industries, which thereby pay less than the market rate for wages. So the workers promptly move to the higher paying illegal labor market.

NO highly regulated legal labor market can ever compete with an unregulated illegal one.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 25, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

Well if what you say is true then, the answer is to bring the underground economy above ground, the way we did by ending Prohibition and why some argue for legalizing drugs. First take the crime out of the enterprise.

It would seem though, that your own presuppositions (which I don't necessarily disagree with) would militate against ever solving this problem. If unregulated, illegal economies will always outcompete legal, regulated ones, that's the same race-to-the-bottom logic as globalization. Somebody will always do it somewhere else cheaper.

So my question is ... who's to say that we can effectively tighten up worksite verification? Why wouldn't document forgers become that much more sophisticated, considering the economic incentives for doing so?

Secondarily, say you're right. What happens to all those busted illegals with forged paperwork? Do we instantly deport them? In the tens and hundreds of thousands? If not, what's to stop a tightening up on documents from simply increasing the volume of off-the-books labor?

The bottom-line logic is very pernicious here.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 25, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- as noted ad infinitum, chewtoy, you're full of shit.

1) The point of "employER sanctions" is not to bust the worker. It's to bust the employer.

2) Employers who cannot hire illegal workers without knowing that they're hiring 'em (which is what verification does) will simply stop hiring 'em.

3) Employers who continue to hire illegal workers while establishing that they knew this (which is another thing verification does) will be fined. They won't like this. (See #2)

4) Guys who cannot get good, (otherwise) legal jobs because they are illegal, will not stay in America in the way that guys who come for shitty illegal jobs stay because they can get good (otherwise) legal jobs.

Going too fast for you, dude? Try another reality check: what kind of employers NEVER get Social Security #s from their workers?

Damned few. You can't be a legal employer if you don't. So you're either very small, or you don't last long (or both). You can't be publicly traded. You can't do business for long with any company that IS publicly traded.

Nor do you keep your workers long. Illegal immigration is NOT characterized by the college guys who organize a company that paints houses ove the summer.

I know, I know: this sorta thing is beyond the chewtoy. It's too, ya know, REAL. It's so much easier for progressives to act like academic economists: "First, assume a can opener."

But unless you figure that vast swaths of the American economy, e.g., food service, hotels, construction, meatpacking, etc., are suddenly gonna go from being employers with accountants and lawyers, many of 'em publicly traded, to being off the books operations, then it's actually pretty simple, ain't it?

Which is precisely why folks (like Butch) try so hard to make it SEEM hard.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 25, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

I live in South Caroline and can tell you,almost all the guys building the homes in my booming communtity are Spanish speaking. Where are the white dudes that want these jobs?

Posted by: shelly on March 25, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

almost all the guys building the homes in my booming communtity are Spanish speaking.

And when the housing bubble pops, what will all those guys do then?

Posted by: TangoMan on March 26, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Going too fast for you, dude? Try another reality check: what kind of employers NEVER get Social Security #s from their workers?...Damned few. You can't be a legal employer if you don't. So you're either very small, or you don't last long (or both). You can't be publicly traded. You can't do business for long with any company that IS publicly traded.

This is so wrong it's almost touching. The sort of employer who "never" obtains a social security numbers at least in the hundreds of thousands, and may exceed one million. They have no need (and usually no hope, for that matter) of ever tapping the public securities markets. These small enterprises are all around us -- they're ubiquitous. And that's what makes the quixotic hopes of the restricionist crowd -- specifically the pipedream that an "employer crackdown" is going to rid the country of its illegal residents, so utterly risible. Well, the world seems to be producing plenty of straws, my friend, so keep on clutching.

Posted by: reader on March 26, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Americanist:

> LOL -- as noted ad infinitum, chewtoy, you're full of shit.

And, as noted ad infinitum, you are your own causes' worst enemy.

You know, Paul, unlike, say, Iraq, I don't have strongly
formed views on this issue. I'm perfectly willing to listen
to arguments from people who know about it. I was engaging in a
colloquy, asking questions ... and for some reason, doubless having
to do with deep psychological issues, you just can't handle the
slighest degree of something you might even *perceive* as dissent.

Time and again you do this Paul. You come on a thread, say some
intelligently provocative things that get people's ears to perk up
-- and then wreck the opening you created by having absolutely no
follow through save grotesque amounts of grautuitous hostility.

If you think progressives are so full of shit (because you aren't
arguing with me, or Chris Dicely for that matter, you're using us as
stand-ins) -- why do you attempt to pontificate on a progressive blog?
Do you think progressives who are told that they're full of shit are
going to just *agree* with you, abase themselves and fall in line?

I'm a professional political activist. I talk to literally thousands
of people in election campaigns. I am the *very last sort of person*
you should be attempting to alienate. I should be able to come away
from one of your immigration threads and go "hey, that Paul Donnelly
has some great ideas." Instead, you make me think you're an asshole.

Why, Paul? What purpose do you think you're serving?

> 1) The point of "employER sanctions" is not to
> bust the worker. It's to bust the employer.

That's nice, Paul. And it is my intent that your
daughter gets a pony for her birthday if she wants one.

If what you say is true, that there's been an employer
documentation regime in place since '86 and the vast amount
of illegal employment is founded on forged docs -- who's
holding them? You're saying that illegals would simply be
fired and forced to pay no penalty for having these docs?

These are not rhetorical questions. I'd like an answer to what
happens to the illegals once they're busted, whether by an employer
after the law goes through or in an interview by instant checking.

Do you propose deportations, or just letting these guys back out
on the street so they can go apply for work somewhere else?

> 2) Employers who cannot hire illegal workers without
> knowing that they're hiring 'em (which is what
> verification does) will simply stop hiring 'em.

What about the market? There are a crew of amigos outside your office
waiting to do a time-sensitive job that may go to your competitors if
you're not quick enough. You'll have to advertise and interview now
to get legals. Don't you think this is going to create the kind of
pressure to cause specialists in doc forgeries to emerge from the
shadows, if the added expense of hiring legals is great enough?

> 3) Employers who continue to hire illegal workers while
> establishing that they knew this (which is another thing
> verification does) will be fined. They won't like this. (See #2)

Sure. Most of them will comply at first. But again -- there's going
to be tremendous pressure to find innovative ways around this. And
once again -- you've not addressed the issue of the illegals who used
to line up for these jobs. What happens to them? They go back into
the underground economy? They get deported? They get new super-duper
forged docs from a hack into the SS database that can't be traced
because the SS# is from a Mexican guy who died a few days after birth?

> 4) Guys who cannot get good, (otherwise) legal jobs
> because they are illegal, will not stay in America in
> the way that guys who come for shitty illegal jobs
> stay because they can get good (otherwise) legal jobs.

I understand the ladder argument, and I understand that what you
say may serve over time to disincent immigration compared to the
current situation. But once again -- what happens to the guys
who are here and who are stuck now doing day labor for some local
contractor? You make it harder for these guys to advance up that
ladder, you increase the potential that some of them are going to
turn to crime, or pay big sums for more sophisticated fake papers.

You're going to need to address what happens to the
currently employed illegals who would not be working under
this new regime in order to give your idea credibility.

> Going too fast for you, dude?

Why, did you come already? *handing Paul a napkin*

> Try another reality check: what kind of employers
> NEVER get Social Security #s from their workers?

I think you're underestimating the amount of under the table work
there is out there -- even from established local businesses.

> Damned few. You can't be a legal employer if you don't. So
> you're either very small, or you don't last long (or both).
> You can't be publicly traded. You can't do business for
> long with any company that IS publicly traded.

Lotta publicly traded landscapers, luncheonettes
and general contractors out there, I'm sure.

> Nor do you keep your workers long.

Why do you think they call it day labor?

> Illegal immigration is NOT characterized by the college guys
> who organize a company that paints houses ove the summer.

Just anecdotal, but my next-door neighbor has a college degree. His
profession is medical sales. They changed his commission structure and
so he provoked a firing so he could get unemployment. He goofed around
for a year until he was broke. One day driving his truck, he sees a
crew of guys putting asphalt on the roof of a store. He yells up to
them (he did construction in highschool) and starts a conversation.
They see he knows the lingo, so they invite him up to work. And so
he stays more or less employed for the next two years with entirely
under the table work for these sorts of contractors (and there
are lots of them because NJ's housing boom hasn't cooled yet).

> I know, I know: this sorta thing is beyond the chewtoy.

Just like civil debate is apparently beyond you. You've
got cum in your hair, btw. Here's another napkin.

> But unless you figure that vast swaths of the American economy,
> e.g., food service, hotels, construction, meatpacking, etc.,
> are suddenly gonna go from being employers with accountants
> and lawyers, many of 'em publicly traded, to being off the
> books operations, then it's actually pretty simple, ain't it?

The companies aren't going to go off book, certainly not en masse.
They'll try to adapt by hiring legals (I don't think any of these
firms particularly want to hire illegals anyway; as you imply, it's
more a question of looking the other way) -- and they may have to
pay more for them to acquire the same level of work performance.

The problems are going to arise, again, from 1) the increasing
sophistication of document forgers who offer their services
to illegals through the same criminal channels they got their
original forged paperwork (I have a Polish computer tech buddy
who makes scads of money servicing Wall Street whose driver's
license is courtesy of the Russian mafia) and 2) what becomes
of the illegals currently employed in the above-ground economy.

If you spike these guys into downward mobility while allowing them
to stay here -- you're going to exacerbate all the social problems
of illegal immigration that's driving the concern to begin with.

> Which is precisely why folks (like Butch)
> try so hard to make it SEEM hard.

Or maybe guys like myself, Butch, reader and the Dice Man offer
so much resistance because you argue like such a prick of misery.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 26, 2006 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

Let me see. If we want legal immigrants but do not want illegal immigrants a general amnesty would make everybody legal. Problem solved.No? You mean immigrant bashing really is rascist. Imagine that!

Posted by: BillS on March 26, 2006 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

BillS:

It's because the illegal immigrants "cheated" that people oppose an amnesty.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 26, 2006 at 4:12 AM | PERMALINK

Reader is the one clutching at straws -- a reasonably thick one, like those sewer pipe things they give you now at chain restaurants for the milk shakes, but a straw, nevertheless.

Like I said upthread, the cash economy is a problem characterized, but not limited to illegal workers. Since we're talking about the latter, FOCUS:

What happens with illegal workers is generally that they start (used to, anyway) as migrant farm work, stoop labor, which in fact was often legal -- braceros, the H2A program, etc. But off the books day labor pays more, and ON the books work pays still more.

That's the ladder. Strictly speaking, the difficulty with illegal immigration isn't the guy who sneaks across the border and works in the shadows of the American economy. The numbers aren't that large, the jobs aren't that significant, and and the social consequences aren't that great.

In fact, if you watch the debate closely, you realize that many advocates simply lie: they say on the one hand that ALL illegal immigrants are like this -- that they aren't really interested in becoming Americans, they just want to work a few years in the U.S. economy and then go home with all that dough. The fact that this same argument was made about the 3.1 million folks who got amnesty between 1986-1991, and that it was proven wrong, isn't part of the discussion anymore, for some reason. (Ask dicely or the chewtoy: they're suckers for dead arguments.)

Then on the other hand, advocates for continuing to fail argue that there really should be no difference between legal and illegal, permanent and temporary: it's all good. Why shouldn't a guy who is here for a short time stay longer? Why shouldn't be bring his family? What does the LAW matter, since (they claim, fatuously) there is nothing that can be done, anyway? What's with (dicely's term) this "stigma of illegality"?

Define problems so you can't solve 'em, and guess what? You won't.

The way to solve the problem is to break the step from off the books work to where (sorry, Reader: you don't know what you're talking about) MOST illegal workers are employed: in better than minimum wage, highly regulated for working conditions jobs in meatpacking, food service, construction trades, hotels, etc.

Of the 6 million or so illegal workers in the U.S., roughly 3.5 to 4 million are in those industries at taxpaying jobs.

Hell, even of the off-the-books workers, there are literally hundreds of thousands of fake Social Security Numbers being used (ask the SSA), so the problem is a little bit more get-at-able than ya might think.

So there's two things wrong with Reader's take. The first is that it is factually inaccurate.

But the second is more telling: BECAUSE he is factually wrong, he/she also defines the issue so that it cannot be solved.

That's a habit progressives need to break.

LOL -- and chewtoy, you're simply not worth the effort. You say little of value except to squeak.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 26, 2006 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

One other thing: the real problem with amnesty and "earned legalization" isn't so much that folks cheat by jumping the line.

(For one thing, that manages to concede the problem without recognizing it -- WHY do we even attempt to manage immigration by waiting list? It doesn't work: how long would any of us sleep in a different country than our wives and kids?)

The real problem with amnesty is that it is an EXCEPTION. Twenty years ago, we made an exception on the premise that it was one-shot deal. Now, we're supposed to make another exception.

Why not instead make rules that work?

THAT's what progressives ought to propose, and force votes on: which, so far, we ain't done.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 26, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist--

If you want to focus on immigrants in over-the-table jobs, then you have to revise your earlier statement about how many millions of dollars the "illegal immigrant" is costing "the US taxpayer". Obviously, you will have to figure in the taxes that these illegals, who as you admit are the majority, are paying. You can't have it both ways.

On a related note, I hope that everyone here recognizes that both representation and Federal funding for localities is tied to Census enumeration, which counts illegals as residents. This may explain why some local governments, particularly those small towns in the Plains and elsewhere, might not be so zealous about enforcing the immigration laws. Of course, they may try to have it both ways, playing off fears while gladly accepting their higher Census counts, but this is just another way in which this issue really is complicated by diverse political interests.

In fact, even for local citizens it might actually make some sense, from a local politics standpoint, to WANT more immigrants, as this would increase both your funding and your representation. This doesn't address the legal issues, but it does sort of go against the whole "fiscal drain" argument.

Posted by: kokblok on March 26, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I should mention that the added representation is even better because those immigrants (legal or otherwise) can't vote! So it's like we got the old 2/3 compromise back in effect.

One big reason why Texas and Florida continue to gain electoral votes and congressmen. What, you thought it was all sunbirds?

Posted by: kokblok on March 26, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

The real problem with amnesty is that it is an EXCEPTION. Twenty years ago, we made an exception on the premise that it was one-shot deal. Now, we're supposed to make another exception...Why not instead make rules that work?

theAmericanist: We really ought to do both. The calculus for amnesty is based on simple cost-benefit analysis: the advantages of having these people live and work in the system, subject to law, taxation, etc., exceed the disadvantages.

Most advocates of amnesty, myself included, strongly believe it's not feasible to deport 11 million people in the first place, and this obviously plays a role in our estimates. But you touch upon a very valid point: the Reagan-era immigration reform did absolutely nothing to address the ongoing issue of illegal immigration, it only dealt with those who had already successfully slipped across the border.

So, although I favor some sort of amnesty, I also advocate doing so only in conjuction with measures that radically reduce the number of illegal immigrants successfully sneaking into the country each year. I believe these measures should include the resumption of a robust regime of deportations (which will require big increases in the personnel budget) after the amnesty is concluded to send a clear message that this really was "the last time", and that, in the age of terrorism, the US will do everything in its power to have secure borders.

I also believe, for what it's worth, that this sharp reduction in illegal immigration numbers will also require addressing the black market in semi-skilled Latin American labor -- and doing so will necessitate a sizeable boost -- probably on the order of 500,000 -- in annual US immigration admissions. My sense is that the guest worker proposal is a way to make such a move politically palatable by emphasis on the word "temporary". But merely increasing immigration admissions would be a simpler and more straightforward way to get to the same goal.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 26, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Blok: The National Academy of Sciences already calculated what the foreign born (including illegals) pay in taxes when it calculated the economic impact of immigration.

Somewhat oversimplified, illegal foreigners tend to be younger, have relatively more kids (mostly cuz they are younger), and work lower pages jobs than the population as a whole. So they consume more in benefits (like education) than they pay in taxes, pretty much the same way a young family (parents in their 30s, kids in their teens) consumes much more in education, water, road use, etc., than they have paid in taxes.

The NSF/NRC report in 1997 authoritatively concluded that while immigration on the whole is a slight benefit to the U.S. economy (as much as $10 billion a year in a $10 trillion economy, which is like a dime to $100) it imposes significant costs: taxpaying households in NJ pay about $230 more a year, in California, more than $1,000 more. Immigration is a good thing -- but good things are rarely free. Denying that is dishonest.

I don't like dishonest arguments.

PB gets perilously close to the truth, but then, not being used to it, collapses: "My sense is that the guest worker proposal is a way to make such a move politically palatable by emphasis on the word "temporary". But merely increasing immigration admissions would be a simpler and more straightforward way to get to the same goal...."

And just WHY would anybody think trying to con the American public is a really smart long-term strategy? Hell, Tamar Jacoby was one of the original advocates of a "temporary" worker program that -- gee! -- she's suddenly discovered was never supposed to be temporary, at all.

Ten years ago, "comprehensive immigration reform" meant prioritizing legal admissions for the wives and kids of legal permanent residents. The ACLU, Catholic Bishops, Chamber of Commerce, the National Immigration Forum and the immigration bar were all against it.

Now, "comprehensive immigration reform" is supposed to mean a "temporary" worker program that literally NOBODY thinks will work, as PB illustrates.

And THIS is how we're supposed to persuade the Congress to vote for it? With huge street demonstrations of people bragging how they broke the law and don't think much of America, except they want to work and bring their families here?

'Splain to me again how this is such a brilliant strategy.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 26, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

For one thing, that manages to concede the problem without recognizing it -- WHY do we even attempt to manage immigration by waiting list?

You need either a waiting list or a lottery if you are going to have hard and fast numerical limits that are less than the total number of eligible applicants; the fundamental problematic choice is the election of hard and fast numerical limits with no bypass option; if there were a way to legally pay to bypass, there'd be a lot less incentive for illegal immigration.

It also doesn't help that the per country limits are not aligned to demand, of course.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 26, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

As noted dice, you don't know shit about it. What's impressive, of course, is that you don't CARE.

We don't have 'hard and fast numerical limits', exactly -- we have a pierceable cap which allocates visas by algebra according to a set of numerically unlimited categories (immediate relatives of citizens, categories with an annual minimum (spouses and kids of legal permanent residents), categories subject to limit (siblings of U.S. citizens; employment categories), and uniform per country ceilings in the categories subject to limit (which is where the algebra comes into play). With me so far?

And that's the SIMPLE version.

The fact is, "We, the People" should deliver on our promises. Nuclear families of both citizens and legal permanent residents should be unlimited -- period. Matthew 19:6 and all that.

Anybody disagree?

Then ask yourselves: WHY doesn't Congress do this? Hell, why isn't Congress even debating it?

It's not in the Specter bill. It's not in the McCain-Kennedy bill. It's not central to Cardinal Mahoney's complaint about how immoral the Sensebrenner bill is.

Nope -- and for that, I blame ... progressives.

Nobody expects conservatives and business lobbies to care about citizenship or family values much beyond cheap labor, and of course libertarians are primarily hypocrites looking for their own form of government subsidies.

Besides, the right generally does not want government to work, anyway.

But -- we do. We should be the folks who not only visibly believe in "We, the People", progressives should also be the folks who bother to understand that governing is choosing -- and who insist that our choices reflect our values.

Spouses and kids of legal permanent residents -- a category that now has at least 1.5 million families in it, waiting a MINIMUM of 4.5 years, and who are outlawed and exiled if they obey their marriage vows instead of U.S. law -- should be a numerically unlimited category, because these folks ARE "immediate relatives", just as they are for citizens.

Kevin, ask yourself: WHY are you spending so much time on an agenda set by subsidy seeking employers, and so little on the underlying facts?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 26, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Now, "comprehensive immigration reform" is supposed to mean a "temporary" worker program that literally NOBODY thinks will work, as PB illustrates.

I think it's an overstatement, theAmericanist, to state that "literally nobody thinks" a guest worker program will work. I think plenty of people think it will work better, maybe far better, than our defacto prohibition policy with respect to immigration of semi-skilled workers from Latin America. But I just think permanent immigration will work a lot better.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 26, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Round 'em up; ship 'em back. Eisenhower did it under Operation Wetback. Washington makes excuses because illegal immigration benefits the few, the elite, the corrupt, the greedy.

Legal immigration is not desirable either. It ain't 1850 anymore when we needed immigrants to drive Indians off the plains and establish claims to territory. The challenge of the future is resource management. Ballooning the population to mimic China and India is counterproductive. Technical immigration of the last thirty five years has been a disaster for America, displacing the greatest R&D machine the world has ever known with third world hacks. Results: innovation--dead; industry--moribund; trade deficit--approaching a trillion dollars; exports: hides, soybeans, scrap metal, meat offal.

Posted by: Myron on March 27, 2006 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

No, I meant it: literally nobody thinks a guest worker program will work.

Those who argue that it will SO work, are actually arguing (like you) that it won't be a guest worker program at all.

They are fortunate in this that very few media folks (Kevin, f'r instance) have much stomach for arguing facts against the narrative. (As somebody pointed out, once the media as a whole has settled on a narrative, e.g., that "comprehensive immigartion reform" means a guest worker program, then facts are altered to fit the narrative, rather than the other way around.)

I'll give Kevin this much: he does ask some of the right questions. But most folks in the commentariat are sorta by definition precluded from actually understanding a subject thoroughly enough to say: the narrative says x, but the facts say not-x. The most you get is a gotch! question, now and again, reinforcing the "it's so complicated' meme that restores the basic (and false) narrative.

If you read the McCain-Kennedy bill, for example, you find that ALL the 'temporary' workers, plus their families, will eventually be eligible for green cards. (The curious fact that these green cards will not be available is somehow not part of the debate.)

Understand -- there ARE some genuinely temporary jobs in the U.S., but there are very few genuinely temporary workers. The reason is simple -- you can make more money working on a roof than you can working on the lawn. The more steady the work, the more it pays.

Remember the wisdom of the German critic of their gastarbeiter program: "We wanted workers, but they sent us people."

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 27, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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