Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 30, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

IMMIGRATION....Knight Ridder's Kevin Hall provides a sensible take on the economic impact of immigration:

"The consensus view is it is a net benefit to the country," said Tim Jim Smith, a senior economist and immigration expert at the Rand Corp., a research center in Santa Monica, Calif.

....Yet while immigration is a net economic benefit, it's one so modest that Smith cautioned that it "would not be on my top 10 list" of what's driving the U.S. economy.

Harvard University economist George Borjas recently published a study on the economic effects of immigration. He thinks the costs and benefits are a wash. Small gains to the broader economy are offset by social and fiscal costs such as providing health care to poor immigrants and schooling children who don't speak English.

"It would not be farfetched to say there would be zero gain from this," he said in an interview.

There's more, but this seems to be a fair summary. Immigration has some modest benefits and some modest costs, and overall is probably a small net positive in the short term and a larger net positive in the long term. At worst it's a wash.

Kevin Drum 2:13 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (185)

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Did you call up Microsoft and ask them if it would be ok if they let all their immigrant employees go?

Posted by: ogmb on March 30, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

...overall is probably a small net positive in the short term and a larger net positive in the long term. At worst it's a wash.

Americans don't do long-term thinking; hence the political problems.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 30, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

What about the sustainability of an economic model that depends on the perpetual importation of cheap labor?

Posted by: JS on March 30, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

Are we talking illegal or legal immigration?

And regardless of the question above, are we now satisfied as a country that we have allowed enough "foreign" people in that we should shut the door?

What is it about current discourse that disgusts me so? I am pretty sure that it is the "I got mine" starting line that permeates almost all discussions.

I think we should be a nation of opportunity and experimentation, not a self-satisfied giant that convinces itself again and again that we are living life exactly as it should be lived.

We aren't, and we are morons if we think that we are "protecting" ourselves (a silly goal to begin with) by actively denying opportunities to others. That isn't what we are about, or, to be more honest about it, it isn't what we should be about.

Posted by: abjectfunk on March 30, 2006 at 2:47 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, as usual you're missing the point. The fundamental problem with too much immigration is it is a threat to the American identity. The new immigrants can't even speak English and may someday want to take parts of the Southwest from America and merge it with Mexico. The new immigrants also can't assimilate to this country and its values. They constantly depend on welfare checks to get money. They don't have the work ethic that real Americans do.

Posted by: Al on March 30, 2006 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: There's more, but this seems to be a fair summary. Immigration has some modest benefits and some modest costs, and overall is probably a small net positive in the short term and a larger net positive in the long term. At worst it's a wash.

John Maynard Keyes: In the long-run we are all dead

Jerry: It's a small net positive in the short term unless you are an individual priced out of the labor market due to too much (and also illegal) immigration. Than it is a ginormous negative impact in the short, medium, and long term, and you may end up wishing you were dead.

Brad DeLong: Free Trade! Ignore the race to the bottom!

Posted by: jerry on March 30, 2006 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

Im not anti Immigrant -I'm Anti-ILLEGAL Immigrant!

Say isn't there a law in place already that states if they get caught they cannot become a US citizen for 10 years? [to deter illegal immigration]

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 30, 2006 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

What about the sustainability of an economic model that depends on the perpetual importation of cheap labor?

Posted by: JS on March 30, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

No problem, as long as you withhold enough healthcare to shorten the life span and keep them from learning enough to take away high-paying jobs. It's a labor model Wall Street can love!

Posted by: secularhuman on March 30, 2006 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

I have also read where the Ilegal Immigrants thru FAKE and duplicate ID/SS Cards have actually added, by some estimates about 8 billion to the SS System, but not in their names

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 30, 2006 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

What the economic analysis doesn't even touch is the phenomona of discouraged workers. Below is a rough analysis with the best data that I could find.

Take a look at the employment-population ratio. BLS has the statistics. Declines from Apr. 2000 to Feb. 2006 for:

White Men: 74.9% to 73.5%
White Women: 58.5% to 57.4%
White Teens: 50.1% to 40.7%

Black Men: 68.4% to 65.2%
Black Women: 61.7% to 59.2%
Black Teens: 31.2% tp 25.3%

Combine the above data with Census data on US population and we see that:

Total White Men, 2000 = 95,786,898
Total White Women, 2000 = 99,941,998

White Men in Workforce 2000 = 71,744,386
White Women in Workforce 2000 = 58,466,069

Total White Men, 2005 = 97,314,686
Total White Women, 2005 = 101,136,218

White Men in Workforce 2005 = 71,526,294
White Women in Workforce 2005 = 58,052,189

Total Black Men, 2000 = 17,027,927
Total Black Women, 2000 = 18,789,641

Black Men in Workforce 2000 = 11,647,102
Black Women in Workforce 2000 = 11,593,208

Total Black Men, 2005 = 18,138,368
Total Black Women, 2005 = 19,917,980

Black Men in Workforce 2005 = 11,826,216
Black Women in Workforce 2005 = 11,791,444
---------

White Men Working, 2005 at 2000 levels = 72,888,700
White Women Working, 2005 at 2000 levels = 59,164,687

Black Men Working, 2005 at 2000 levels = 12,406,644
Black Women Working, 2005 at 2000 levels = 12,289,394

Using the Pew Center estimates:

About 7.2 million unauthorized migrants were employed in March 2005, accounting for about 4.9% of the civilian labor force. They made up a large share of all workers in a few more detailed occupational categories, including 24% of all workers employed in farming occupations, 17% in cleaning, 14% in construction and 12% in food preparation.

If in 2005 we had the same workforce participation rate that we had in 2000 (not even the higher rates of the 1990s), we would have an additional 3,553,282 citizens employed, not including teens which I've omitted from this analysis. Also note, that the excuse that there are no Americans willing to do the jobs taken by the illegals is put to the lie by the Pew statistics which show that illegals aren't 100% of the labor force in any of the job categories in which they have a signficant presence.

Also, consider that from 2000 to 2004 the number of successful claimants of Social Security Disability Income rose by 1,200,000, a 20% increase in 4 years.

Posted by: TangoMan on March 30, 2006 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK

There are millions of people who enter the United States each year without documentation, then consume resources from private citizens and government alike - the costs are huge. And they don't provide a net economic benefit, and contribute nothing to the economy for at least 18 years after they arrive.

Children. They're coming, and they want to take over.

Posted by: Max Power on March 30, 2006 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of SAPS
Kinda Like Brasil was
http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/wbimf/statesOfUnrest.html

Since Seattle last year, the media has heralded the dawn of a new movement in Europe and America, epitomised by protests aimed at the WTO, IMF and the World Bank.

However, this 'new movement', portrayed by the media as students and anarchists from the rich and prosperous global north, is just the tip of the iceberg. In the global south, a far deeper and wide-ranging movement has been developing for years, largely ignored by the media.

What follows is a summary of protests and demonstrations organised by the southern poor. They are aimed at policies that hurt their livelihoods and, in some cases, undermine the democratic foundations of their countries. This 'hidden' movement has a global reach and signals a deep unease at economic policies that keep the poor in poverty.

Southern Protest

All of the developing countries detailed in this report have experienced civil unrest in the past year.

Teachers, civil servants, priests, farmers, students, doctors, trade-union activists, indigenous peoples and women's groups have called on their governments to halt the introduction of economic reforms which have by-passed their national democratic institutions, and have been foisted on them by the IMF and World Bank. These are poor people, in a desperate situation, who are striving for respect, dignity and a sense of pride in their lives and countries. Their voices deserve to be heard.

But they're not. Developing countries are still locked into a dependant relationship with the international financial institutions and donor governments. Despite the rhetoric of poverty reduction, debt relief and economic stabilisation, these countries must still implement liberalisation policies which hurt the poor.

Anyway keep on working for the MAN you ignorant Beastards!

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 30, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

In 2000, David Murdock of Dole Food donates $100,000 to the George W. Bush Inauguration.

Why is Kevin fronting for Pro-Bush anti-labor, low wage American Corporations?

Get with the people Kevin. We want fair immigration and fair trade. Fair. Not free.

El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido!

Posted by: jerry on March 30, 2006 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

Folks, think of your children and look to Kevin Drum as an example. Please don't let your children grow up behind the Orange Curtain. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Posted by: jerry on March 30, 2006 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

"There's more, but this seems to be a fair summary. Immigration has some modest benefits and some modest costs, and overall is probably a small net positive in the short term and a larger net positive in the long term. At worst it's a wash."

Benefits for whom? Costs for whom? And whom is it a net positive for? I am not a class warrior. But these kind of broad, non-class based pronouncements are annoying. Let's face it, illegal immigration hurts some and helps others. I always side with the very poor, whom are hurt by illegal immigration.

Why is the left so shy on this issue?

Posted by: mkultra on March 30, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

A few points;
1) Since people here illegally keep a low profile, what dependable data is there on their actual numbers? If none, then we really don't know the percentage of foereign born in this country. A century ago. We had no quotas and anyone who could get here could stay. We needed their labor. The situation today is almost the opposite.
2) The minimum wage remains low precisely because of the surplus of unskilled, undocumented workers. There is no need to raise the minimum wage when it's so easy to find undocumented labor.
3) A law that punishes immigrants, and those that provide humanitarian assistance, but exempts people who hire them, is unjust. In fact the lion's share of enforcement should focus on the employers. Building trades, restaurant chains, janitorial companies, even Wal-Mart, all exploit those here illegally, to the detriment of our own citizens.
4) The union movement here has been practically gutted by the same political forces that now promote amnesty (again) and guest worker programs. Those workers who can be unionized will soon find themselves competing with the next wave of illegal immigrants for low wage jobs.

Posted by: Kenneth D. Brown on March 30, 2006 at 4:28 AM | PERMALINK

What data are you looking at specifically, TangoMan? Looking just at white males, I'm seeing:

White male population, aged 18-64(Census):
2000: 71,097,059
2004: 74,733,538

White male workforce, aged 20 & over(BLS):
2000: 59,119,000
2004: 60,159,000

However, it might be more fair to look at those
between the ages of 25-44, since this is the prime working age:

White male pop, aged 25-44
2000: 34,940,642
2004: 34,357,742

Based on these observations, I'd say I disagree with you wholeheartedly. I don't buy the argument that illegals aren't a net benefit.. having illegals do our manual labor frees the population to do more skilled labor.


Posted by: Andy on March 30, 2006 at 4:37 AM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: overall is probably a small net positive in the short term and a larger net positive in the long term. At worst it's a wash.

Along with the link, you provide a lengthy excerpt of the article, then close with some brief remarks. Presumably, that is where we'd find your insights and analysis. Instead, you redundantly summarize the article once more, just as your excerpt had done. Now, clearly, though you don't say it outright (you seldom say anything outright), you are in virtually total agreement with the viewpoint of the article.

All of which is to say that you are in agreement with the concept of cheap labor, despite knowing that it's overall benefit to the economy is modest at best and that it impacts to the detriment of those at the lowest levels. If the economy grows while the poor get poorer, that means the rich are benefiting not only from the growth, but also from the losses suffered by the poor. Under what moral standard do you consider this a net benefit to the country? If in a group of ten people nine are poor and one is rich, and if during a year's time the nine who are poor suffer economic setbacks while the one who is rich make gains exceeding the losses of the nine, would you say that the group has enjoyed a net benefit? If the nine who are poor die and the one who is rich steals all they had, does the group enjoy a net benefit then also?

But that's not your worry. You've got a job you like so much you're only being paid half of what you're really worth, right? But half as much or twice as much, you likely are getting substantially more than last year, aren't you? Meanwhile, those at the low levels (and you don't have to go that low), though they have almost certainly worked harder and been more productive, are lucky if they've stayed even--more likely, they've lost ground. But, hey, you're worth it because your efforts have brought more eyeballs to WM ads. You did that! No, you didn't, Kevin. You sat in a chair and read things and typed things. You did something you enjoyed. You worked at your own pace. That's what you did. That is your worth. Some people--let's say, many--enjoy what you do. So it has value, of course. But, c'mon . . . what's the loss if you didn't do it? Meanwhile, the people who do the jobs which must be done should take solace in the fact that their labor (which only ever increases), their often dull and repetitive and debilitating labor adds a net benefit to the economy . . . to the richest . . . to the people they serve . . . to those who often berate them . . . to those whose selfishness causes them to suffer and often to die.

Ah, but that's the system, isn't it? It's a system that depends on keeping masses of people struggling just to survive in order to elevate a small percentage of the population. How is it that sitting in your chair, happily working at your own pace, you can not see how fucked it is? How is it that you do not see the inevitability of the Ponzi scheme's collapse, net benefiting no one but the last man standing. It won't be you.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 30, 2006 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK

Let me second Kenneth D. Brown's comment re: gutting the labor movemnet. In general, and in my area, where chicken processing, field labor, carpet manufacture and construction are major industries, illegal labor has the net effect in pushing down wages. Of course, there is resentment.
The illegals are hard workers; and will take jobs at lower wages than were the norm previously. The counties near me are approaching 20% hispanic. I welcome the cultural diversity. What's being done to the wage earner, however, is another story.

Posted by: Mr. Bill on March 30, 2006 at 5:28 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin always gets in trouble with his pro-immigration policies.

I do not think we can stop it. Mexico and the U.S. are so intertwined, and economics demands that we pack em in.

But we can all see Kevin's problem. Whoever wants to come here gets free medical care paid for by Kevin's taxes on us.

Posted by: Matt on March 30, 2006 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

But would legal immigration (screening for skills, English, minimum assets and willingness to buy their own Health insurance if work doesn't provide) add more economic benefits ?

Plus diversity too: e.g. migrants from other parts of the world. Like persecuted Arab Christians and African Christians....

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060330/ap_on_re_mi_ea/un_iran_nuclear

30 clock on Iran!

The next election has its issues: immigration and
bombing Iran!!

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

This is simply social capital moving around the world and thats an essential part of globalization.
What! You don't like it? What are you a fucking communist!

This issue really exposes the ugly underbelly of the racist copperhead fascist National Socialist ' Democrat' party doesn't it. Luckily that hideous beast is blind deaf and dumb and teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Good riddance Dino. Have a nice flight.

Posted by: professor rat on March 30, 2006 at 7:35 AM | PERMALINK

The analysis comes from the National Academy of Sciences' 1997 report "The New Americans: the Economic, Fiscal and Demographic Impact of Immigration". Google it, you can download the .pdf.

It's a peculiar example of how a badly written pc press release can screw up an issue.

Anybody who tries to find out the economics of immigration wades into a sea of conflicting and bogus claims.

So the Jordan Commission invested $800,000 of the taxpayers' money for a blue-ribbon, unimpeachably fair panel to arrive at a basic set of data to show what immigration does to (or for) the economy.

That way, people could argue about whether the glass was half-full or half-empty, and at least be talking about the same glass with the same amount in it.

The Academy concluded that all immigration (legal and illegal) benefited the economy by "as much as" $10 billion a year -- in a $10 trillion economy.

Which means it's worth about as much as bending over to pick up another dime ... when you already have three $20s, a $10, four $5s, seven singles, five quarters, eleven other dimes, nine nickels, and a heavy fistful of pennies in your pocket.

A financially prudent person would stoop to pick up a dime (if not a penny, necessarily). But you wouldn't cross the street to do it: that's the order of magnitude.

So the honest argument FOR immigration isn't economic. It's civic.

The Academy further established that the economic benefits of immigration, slight as they are, are largely macro-economic and spread across the country: lower prices for software (primarily through the H-1B, which even Milton Friedman calls a "subsidy"), dry cleaning, etc.; while the costs are micro, local and sometimes quite steep: the median NJ household pays about $230 more in taxes, the median California household pays more than $1,000 extra, every year, because of immigration.

Good things are rarely free. (And no, illegal immigration isn't going to save Social Security; they checked.)

But when the Academy went to write their press release announcing the study, accurately reflecting the report's findings, they felt, would have influenced the debate in Congress: so they hyped a misleading sentence that said immigration was a "net economic benefit" as the lede.

Pro-subsidy advocates grabbed that -- and the $800k in tax dollars invested to provide a benchmark set of data about which everyboy could agree to argue, was wasted.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.wpunj.edu/newpol/issue39/Steinberg39.htm
Immigration, African Americans, and Race Discourse
Stephen Steinberg

...
After 1965, demographic trends favored blacks. The nation's declining birth rate sharply reduced the number of workers, providing for a tight labor market that has always been the sine qua non of black employment. I remember that during the depth of the racial crisis in the 1970s, economists issued reassuring forecasts that, given the sharp decline in the birth rate, labor market conditions would improve for blacks around the turn of the century. But, alas, something happened on the way to the new millennium. The 1965 Hart-Cellar Act was passed, which would result in the influx of over 25 million legal immigrants over the next four decades. Not to mention millions of undocumented workers who gravitated to the same urban labor markets where blacks were concentrated.

Why did the United States open its door to millions of immigrants at a time that deindustrialization was generating unemployment? One answer, or so we are told, is that the huge upsurge of immigration was unanticipated when the Hart-Cellar act was passed in 1965. But even after immigration rose from a trickle to a flood, it came to be viewed as a blessing in disguise, which is to say, a conservative policy in liberal garb. I say this because the champions of mass immigration were not liberals, and certainly not ethnic activists, but free-market economists (now tagged as "neoliberals") who saw mass immigration as a panacea for a variety of economic ills.
.....
Other cheerleaders of "greatly increased immigration" contended that immigration lowered inflation (never mind that it does this by depressing wages!). Others argued that immigrants lowered the deficit by propping up domestic manufacturing, and generating economic activity through "enclave economies" (never mind that this amounts the creation of a sub-proletariat of immigrant workers!). Still others exulted that immigrants provided the energy and spirit to renew the fading American spirit of enterprise and innovation (never mind that it amounted to disinvestment in black labor, whose family roots go back to the beginning of the nation!). Quite a pile of expectation to pile on the plate of an uprooted immigrant struggling to make ends meet.
.....
Upon closer examination, however, the three explanatory factors that Lim invokes to explain why employers prefer immigrants to blacks can be seen as little more than circumlocutions for racism. Let me explain:

* By its very nature, the much-ballyhooed ethnic economy is a racist structure whose hiring practices are in massive violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Ethnic nepotism and racial exclusion are two sides of the same coin.

*Network hiring is a device that employers use to prevent blacks from even getting their foot in the door. This is racism, plain and simple! It is a working-class variant of "the old-boy network" that affirmative action was designed to counteract. In other words, network hiring is a mechanism of discrimination, and indeed one that employers use precisely because it insulates them from allegations of racism since they are not directly implicated in the recruitment of workers.

*The concept of "social capital" presumes that immigrants have traits that blacks lack. When employers use these prejudgments as the basis of hiring decisions, they are engaged in acts of prejudice. I fear that Lim has committed the fallacy I alluded to earlier: in this case, using the concept of "social capital" as a smoke screen for shifting the blame for discrimination from employers who actually make hiring decisions to hapless blacks who are denied employment. This illogical argument is advanced even though no evidence is proffered to validate the supposition that there are not black workers in abundance who have precisely the traits that are ascribed to immigrants and who could be readily hired, but for the prejudgments of employers.
.....
There is also a need to take off our political blinders and to confront the neoliberal underpinnings of current immigration policy. There is nothing progressive about flooding the lower echelons of the labor market with desperate immigrants who depress wages for each other as well as native workers. It is also problematic when the nation imports workers to fill higher echelons of the job pyramid, instead of upgrading the skills of native workers. For example, we import thousands of nurses from the Philippines and the Caribbean and then shut down nursing schools that traditionally provided channels of upward mobility for working-class women. Indeed, the traffic in nurses has become an export industry, with the additional irony is that there is a shortage of nurses in the Philippines.

My point is that the left has to get beyond liberal sentimentality on immigration policy, and face some hard choices.
......
To state the obvious, immigration is not a benevolence program for the "huddled masses" of the world, and it behooves us to confront the downside of current immigration policy, not only for blacks, but also for other low-wage earners, including immigrants and their children who are the first to suffer the consequences of the relentless influx of new arrivals.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

The point is there needs to be a clear path to legalization for the 6 million+ illegals already here, many of whom have children who are citizens by dint of being born here. Not incarceration or building 20 foot walls on the border, as mental midgets like Tom Tancredo advocate.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 30, 2006 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

So, does driving down wages count as a benefit or as a cost?

A lot of this chatter doesn't seem to make any sense: a benefit or a cost is always a benefit or a cost to somebody. And the very same thing can be a benefit to one person and a cost to another. What does it mean to talk about a net benefit or cost "to the economy as a whole"?

Posted by: SqueakyRat on March 30, 2006 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

I don't really trust any of these studies, which in any case only deal with macroeconomics. I've seen how LA has changed in the last 25 years. Not a wash. More like a profound transformation in education, healthcare, policing, public parks, employment, identification with and loyalty to America and all the things we tend to call society.


Posted by: Tim B. on March 30, 2006 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

I don't really trust any of these studies, which in any case only deal with macroeconomics. I've seen how LA has changed in the last 25 years. Not a wash. More like a profound transformation in education, healthcare, policing, public parks, employment, identification with and loyalty to America and all the things we tend to call society.


Posted by: Tim B. on March 30, 2006 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

It may be a wash economically, but its a wonderful political opportunity for immoral political opportunists like the Republicans.

Posted by: The Fool on March 30, 2006 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Well, for the citizen personally, it can be a real bummer. I've been in three car accidents since I moved to DC back in '86.

No insurance for two of them, because they were illegals. My insurance went up.

Both times it was clearly their fault. Doesn't matter -- they disappeared into the woodwork.

Posted by: Tony Shifflett on March 30, 2006 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

'Course there seem to be a lot of neolibs who want to party like it's 1883.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Immigration Follies
One way to stem the flow of illegal immigrants would be to enforce existing labor laws.

By Robert B. Reich

.....
"Its a compromise that will satisfy everybody but as a practical matter have absolutely no effect. The biggest lesson we should have learned about immigration is this: As long as there are lots of unskilled jobs in the United States that pay much better than jobs in Latin America or Southeast Asia, and as long as immigrants can fill them, immigrants will get here, somehow -- legally or illegally. Some will risk their lives getting here. And as long as they can buy fake documents saying theyre here legally, their employers will be able to say Dont blame me!"

So whats the answer? Theres no simple solution but one major step is to enforce basic labor laws that require employers to pay all their employees the minimum wage and protect their health and safety.

You see, one of the main reasons employers hire undocumented immigrants is that people who are here illegally dont complain when theyre paid below the minimum wage or forced to work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. So employers who hire them can cut corners and save money without much risk theyll be caught.

But if Americas basic labor laws were truly enforced -- if there are enough state and federal inspectors to increase the probability that an employer who breaks them will get caught, and if the fines and penalties are big enough -- employers wont run the risk. And that would mean fewer jobs here for undocumented immigrants. And if there were fewer jobs for them, fewer of them would cross our borders illegally."

....

In particular Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Rhetorical Sleight of Hand
--------------------------

Just as illegal immigration becomes a hot topic, Kevin and others start blogging about immigration in general. Probably just a coincidence. I'm sure they're not trying to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think this issue is hard for CA. It involves your identity. CA is a hugh agricultural state providing the rest of the country with fresh organic and non organic produce. Could average people afford the organic food if the illegals who picked it were paid a fair wage with benefits etc? Do you think you could fill their places with legal workers? I doubt not. CA is fameous for its restaurants and greenmarkets. Without the illegal labor I can imagine boutique food only the rich could afford. or the Wholefoods effect vs Walmart.

Posted by: amy on March 30, 2006 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Um, just curious, but will any of this immigration reform business mean that I'll have to start paying Social Security for my maid?

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

I say legalize them all. That would end illegal immigration. Have them pay taxes (including social security). Integrate them fully into the United States, including a path to citizenship.

When people want to move to my country, I feel flattered, not paranoid. Bienvenidos, I say.

(And those who base their opposition to immigration on some Anglo-Protestant ideal of American identity can go crawl back into whatever rat-infested ship their ancestors came across the Atlantic on).

Posted by: moderleft on March 30, 2006 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

There are some good comments above. I wonder why Democrats are so supportive of illegal immigration when black males and labor unions are the chief victims. I assume they assume that the illegals will vote Democratic. That was a small joke but thousands of them do so in California.

We must get control of the borders and a fence is an important part of that. Then we should allow legalization of those who have been here X years, probably about 7, who have not been arrested and who will learn English.

We also need to stop the activities of Mexican consulates in California who are inciting some of this activity and discouraging assimilation.

Finally, we need to make legal immigration much more attractive by increasing quotas and reducing the harrassment of applicants for visas and citizenship. Therre are lots of horror stories about lengthy delays and long lines. It's interesting that Democrats in Congress seem to fight legal immigration but support the illegal variety.

Until that happens the feds need to be paying the states for the cost of services to illegals. It is devatating public schools and health care facilities. The comment above about Social Security bisability claims is right on. The workers comp system is also heavily impacted.

Posted by: Mike K on March 30, 2006 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Tony Shifflett, exactly! And you know what I've found? I've found that it's so much easier for people to disappear into the woodwork if the wood is kind of, like, darkish, and their skin is of a similar tint.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Man, especially liberal man, does not live by GDP alone. I have problems with this "at least they clean our toilets" argument. What about the 72% of black high school drop out males under 30 who are not participating in the work force. Why is it so much more acceptable in the black community to be a convict than to be working for the man for chump change? If picking tomatos paid anything comprable to pushing parts around an assembly line floor in a wheelbarrow, then the most desolate corners of our society would start to be restructured.
Add to that the environmental impact of doubling our population every 30 years, denuding Mexico of it's most ambitious reformers, and the corrosive impact of teaching people to ignore inconvenient laws, and I think the left is sacrificing its best interests on the alter of multiculturalism.

Posted by: wks on March 30, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

Didn't read Borjas' study so don't know how comprehensive it is. Some questions for anyone who may have or who has a grasp of this kind of research.

One. Did Borjas take into account the age structure of the immigrant population and its effect on the future demographic of this country?

This may have a significant effect on the economy in the future by helping to balance our otherwise aging population.

Two. Anecdotally, immigrants and their first generation offspring are highly motivated to succeed. THe very fact that they have chosen to come to a new and unknown environment is evidence thereof. Has anyone measured the economic benefit of this kind of motivation? Might it lead to more entrepreneurship, inventiveness, etc.? And how could this be measured?

Posted by: karin on March 30, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Any calculation of the benefits of immigration must consider the costs from not having it, in particular the costs of strict enforcement of immigration quotas. When this is considered, the benefits of immigration are much greater.

The truth is we may think we want less immigration, with slightly lower future economic growth, but in reality we haven't considered the considerable costs, both economic and social, of enforcement and if we did most people now for strict limits on immigration would reconsider.

Posted by: nattybumpo on March 30, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

It is not immigration, legal or illegal that is the problem, it is illegal hiring that is the problem! The ability of businesses to hire laborers at less than legal wages and benifits is what is driving down lower income wages. Big Brother has definately won the war on words here that we are talking about "immigration", when we should be trying to stop slavery!

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

i invite all the comfortable consevative complainers to come to Carolina and pick cucumbers in the NC summer for minimum wage. put some immigrants out of business.

if you're not willing to do that, then STFU about the fact that some Mexican guy is willing to do it because it's better than he can get at home.

in other words, put your labor where your whiny mouth is.

Posted by: cleek on March 30, 2006 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

cleek nails it...

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

cleek,
as a high school student i picked tomato's right along side of the "migrants" as they were called then, maybe if YOU had done some hard work in your life you would be fighting harder for the rights of these people instead of fighting for the rights of the corporations to take advantage of cheap labor

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

amy: I think this issue is hard for CA. It involves your identity. ... Could average people afford the organic food if the illegals who picked it were paid a fair wage with benefits etc? ... CA is fameous for its restaurants and greenmarkets. Without the illegal labor I can imagine boutique food only the rich could afford.

Oh you poor dears. Surely we must do everything in our power to prevent this cultural destruction of the California lifestyle, and your very identity!

Hints
-----

1. People in this country ate fresh fruits and vegetables long before wages were driven down by millions of illegal aliens.

2. People have been known to use things called "gardens". In WWII Victory gardens provided 70% of our fresh vegetables.

2. For the free traders: other countries (eg Mexico) have a comparative advantage in labor intensive agriculture. Nobody seems to care about the US losing its manufacturing. So why all the tears for our poor California lettuce growers?

3. Mexico could probably grow more fruits and vegetables if California and the Southwest stopped stealing their water.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Rick, in high school, I learned that it was 'tomatoes'...perhaps we should be fighting for the rights of high school students?

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

I say legalize them all. That would end illegal immigration. Have them pay taxes (including social security). Integrate them fully into the United States, including a path to citizenship.

When people want to move to my country, I feel flattered, not paranoid. Bienvenidos, I say.

Try to understand what this means in terms of numbers. If we legalized the illegal aliens in this country now, we will, right off the bat, add 12-20 million people to the population (nobody knows the exact number). These people will then be eligible to sponsor their families, so you can double that number. On top of that, Congress is looking at a guest worker program that will import another 400,000/yr. And then you have the 1 million legal immigrant who come here already. And, let us not forget, that illegal immigration will probably still occur as employers will still try to find ways to get around labor laws. Within ten years, at this rate, we will possibly be adding the equivalent of the population of the state of California to our whole population.

Most of these people will be unskilled, with sub-high school educations. Most of them will not be conversant in the English language. That means their health care, education, and welfare will require government services mediated through an army of translators. Right now, our system is already stretched to the max. Schools are subpar, emergency rooms are closing, and prisons are filling up with criminals from outside the country. Do you really think we can suddenly take in an even larger group of this scale?

This is just on the economic front. It doesn't speak to the social dislocation and alienation that will happen in places like California--which is already overcrowded and experiencing a low-intensity race war between blacks and Hispanics.

i invite all the comfortable consevative complainers to come to Carolina and pick cucumbers in the NC summer for minimum wage. put some immigrants out of business.

You're missing the point. Without illegals, farmers would be forced to offer higher wages to attract workers. At worse, they would switch to crops that could be mechanically harvested, and we could start buying cucumbers from Mexico, which would mean these people wouldn't be dislocated from their homes in the first place.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Mexico could probably grow more fruits and vegetables if California and the Southwest stopped stealing their water.

Preach it, brother!

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

when we are talking about the poor farmer here please be aware that the days of the "family farm" are long gone, these are now almost exclusively owned by large corporations

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Derek, I'm wonderin how you feel about agricultural subsidies that enable farmers to continue growing crops for which, say, Mexico has a comparative advantage. Think that might be a factor in your equations?

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Wonderin: Rick, in high school, I learned that it was 'tomatoes'...perhaps we should be fighting for the rights of high school students?

Such a substantive rebuttal. I'll have to give that some serious thought.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

If we legalized the illegal aliens in this country now, we will, right off the bat, add 12-20 million people to the population (nobody knows the exact number).

They're already here. I say we make honest taxpayers out of them.

These people will then be eligible to sponsor their families, so you can double that number.

Well yeah, I tend to think promoting the integrity of the family is a good thing. Of course, that's just my pro-family values liberalism talking.

And, let us not forget, that illegal immigration will probably still occur as employers will still try to find ways to get around labor laws.

A strong union presence would cut down on employers' skirting of labor laws. Legalize the immigrants and let them join their fellow workers in the unions, instead of allowing dishonest employers to drive a wedge between workers.


Posted by: moderleft on March 30, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

alex, it wasn't a rebuttal, it was an insult, pure and simple.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

oooooh you know how to spell,,now i'm hurt, guess i'll hafta start usin spell checker to get respeck huh?

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Whether he used the right numbers or not, Tango Man has it right as do a number of others. The only folks who benefit from immigration are the immigrants, the wealthy and the owners of capital. As to the suggestion by Cleek, hell no I will not pick cucumbers in the hot sun for minimum wage or less, but a hell of a lot of citizens who are unemployed or underemployed would do it for $20 an hour--hell I might do it for $20 an hour, less stress and some fresh air. Low paid jobs are low paid jobs only because you can find people to do them for low pay. Of course the price of that cucumber is going to go up, but it seems to me a small price to pay to help a citizen make a decent living especially with all the money we have saved on manufactured goods by exploiting the cheap labor of Asians so the owners of capital can get richer.

Posted by: terry on March 30, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

..that, and stop worrying so much about being overrun by people with brown skin.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

wonderin,

As for paying Social Security, contact Linda Chavez.

And to the darkish slipping into the cracks, check back on the Amnesty Program of 86 when the government was stunned at the numbers of Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South African, and Europeans showed up - there were professionals who had been here for years - finally legal.

Reminds me of the INS raid on the Del Mar race track in 1985 - The INS supervisor for the So Cal area had been under fire for only stopping brown skins on the street - He decided that there was a priority in going after the thoroughbred racing industry - there were legitimate complaints that illegals were being exploited by trainers - the old saw about illegals coming from small farms and ranches in Mexico and are better working with horses; not withstanding the fact that blacks have worked backsides in the south and east for years and that many White trainers came up from the backside of hot walking and grooms - So a raid was ordered on the backside - Well, one of the INS idiots decided to drive his Jeep down the track during 5 AM workouts - there were several horses working, plus outriders - The Great Shoemaker was up on Lord at War, a true champion - Suddenly, Shoe looked ahead at a pair of lights coming straight at him - Fortunately, he was able to keep control of Lord and there were no injuries sustained - A thoro can be extremely high strung - could have been seriously injured or killed by the actions of this idiot.
Yes, some brown illegals were caught - others fled - However, the white illegals working in some of the top barns were never stopped.
There was also a dustup over D Wayne Lucas and another trainer who were flying illegals from a small airport outside San Diego into the El Monte airport near Santa Anita.

As a result of the raid, the trainers boycotted the weekend races and the track lost a ton of money due to the shutdown - The trainers did hire legal workers to get back to racing - used the incentive of being able to get into California tracks free.
With Simpson's Amnesty Bill of 1986 a cottage industry of fake IDs developed, and many workers on the backside with Real and Fake Ids gained work and there have been no more raids.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 30, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Derek, I'm wonderin how you feel about agricultural subsidies that enable farmers to continue growing crops for which, say, Mexico has a comparative advantage. Think that might be a factor in your equations?

Our ag subsidies are a sin, and you're right: they contribute to the illegal immigration problem by breaking farms in Mexico and, soon, Central America. I would get rid of them.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

terry, think that you'd pick tomato's (nod to Rick) for 20 bucks an hour for a career? And your point is, exactly?

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul, I have no doubt that many illegals are of the light-skinned variety; I was one myself for the last year that I lived (and worked) in South Africa. My point is a simple one: I am convinced, based on conversations with many people over this issue, that a lot of resistance to immigration, legal or illegal, is a simple matter of racism...

...and that's an opinion that's suitable for framing or wrapping fish.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Wonderin,
actually, i think there are plenty of high school students that would rather pick tomato's at $20 than learn how to spell it

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

"I say legalize them all."

Sure, start with the 300 million Chinese who want to come over, just legalize them where they are so all they need is a plane ticket.

We could also legalize Mexican majority who want to come north, but we would have to invade Mexico to protect them on their way North.

Then there are the Islamic lunatics, with their belt bombs, who make up the current flock of illegals. Just legalize all the Islamics in the middle east, why not?


Posted by: Matt on March 30, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

They're already here. I say we make honest taxpayers out of them.

They won't be net taxpayers. Their skill level won't give them the ability to earn enough, and it'll be doubly difficult as the labor pool keeps expanding.

Well yeah, I tend to think promoting the integrity of the family is a good thing. Of course, that's just my pro-family values liberalism talking.

Well, don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. You're not dealing with my point: we have to take care of these people: that means medicaid, utility and housing subsidies, food subsidies and education costs, all of which has to be provided in a foreign language. You're going to bankrupt a number of state governments.

A strong union presence would cut down on employers' skirting of labor laws. Legalize the immigrants and let them join their fellow workers in the unions, instead of allowing dishonest employers to drive a wedge between workers.

And you now you've entered the land of the counterfacutal. A large labor pool will undermine any union effort because employers can always turn to someone else, or they can seek to bring in more illegals. If you want to open the borders, which is the only way to end "illegal" immigration, then you're going to be dealing with over five billion people potentially coming here.

So how many people do you want to squeeze into this country? How many cities do want to overpopulate? How many ecosystems do you want to overstress and destroy?

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

It's sad that people like Wonderin and moderleft probably think they're progressive when they are advocating policies that benefit only the richest Americans and hurt the American working class. Just keep yelling about "racism" while you do the bidding of the Wall Street Journal and big agribusiness. Maybe they'll give you a diversity medal. Immigration is no longer a left vs. right issue. Affluent Americans of every political stripe, from Kevin to George Bush, are all very happy with a system that keeps gardeners, nannies, and housekeepers flowing in at low wages. There's very little benefit in large scale immigration for a young African-American high school graduate who can't even get a job at Dunkin' Donuts because every store is controlled by Brazilian immigrants. America is becoming shockingly similar to the Roman Empire - an affluent class decadently resting on the backs of imported slave labor while the native lower class is disposessed and mollified with violent entertainment and cheap food and drugs.

Posted by: Vanya on March 30, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Vanya, boy, are you off the mark where my opinions are concerned...but that's beside the point.

Others above have mentioned that a simple, but politically difficult, solution would be to enforce our current labour laws.

You think that I'm "advocating" illegal immigration? No, I'm advocating a clear-headed approach to unpacking the reasons that we have the system we have.

Clearly, the right wing has no interest in pursuing labour law enforcement, precisely because it undermines the pool of cheap labour that the business community wants.

I also think that no one gives a hoot about the illegal immigrants who earn next to nothing, and that racism is a big part of this.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Alex,

I was pointing out what i thought was the CA democrats mixed response to this issue. (i live on the other coast) I agree with your points. But i think it would be hard for CA to decide the right course. Agriculture is a big business in that state, and as you rightly point out it would be in jeaopardy by low cost countries of central and south america which can produce the product cheaper.

Off topic i've watched health care debates on the site with much interest. The advocating of single payer gov health care would wipe out an entire industry of jobs in nearby states. (I myself lean toward a mix of gov and insurance industry insurance with all children and preventative care covered.) Now that we are discussing a topic which hits close to home for CA jobs, livestyle etc i see the opinions are mixed.

Posted by: amy on March 30, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

As a few other commentators have noted: the net overall costs and benefits of immigration, and particularly illegal immigration are difficult to quantify. Primarily because: How do you get accurate data about illegals?

But there is one thing that appears to be true - it's not the net overall impact of immigration: it's who it helps and hurts within the country.
Immigration tends to help the corporations and upper classes in countries - because they get cheap labor for gardening, agriculture, house cleaning, child care, etc. And it hurts the country's unskilled laborers - because the people who would hire them, hire an illegal instead.

And despite all the commonly expressed sentiment: "immigrants just do jobs that natives don't want". We all know that's BS. Natives would do it if they were paid more. And we actually saw that happen at the tail end of the 90s boom.

And these two perspectives are pretty consistent across the industrialized world. The common upper class and corporatists opinion is that open borders and immigration are "good", and opponents are racists. And the common working class opinion is heavily anti-immigration. In fact, polls across the world show that immigration is NOT popular.

But that class based view runs into another obvious fact: it's indisputed that emigration is a huge positive for poor countries. The net transfer payments in Latin America or the poor North African countries neighbouring Europe are hugely important to those countries. These people do live much better lives outside the country of their birth.

So the classical "bleeding heart" liberal has a tough choice - do you go with a policy that's good for the working class of your own country - or do what's better for workers in other countries?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 30, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

A lot of liberals need to return to the understanding that labor scarcity is the best and often only weapon of the working class. We can try and pass laws to protect workers, but times and technology will always obsolete them, or require onerous policing bureacracies. If, however, you keep the number of workers in a country limited, you make the labor market a seller's market, and do more to ensure good wages and working conditions than all the laws Congress can pass. Union leaders like Samuel Gompers and Cesar Chavez understood this. That's why the former supported the 1924 restrictions, and the latter strove to block illegal immigration.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

"Just as illegal immigration becomes a hot topic, Kevin and others start blogging about immigration in general. Probably just a coincidence. I'm sure they're not trying to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration."

Definitely agreed. There is a big difference. I'm not opposed to legal immigration- heck, this summer I'm going to be adding one more legal immigrant to the country. Which means the immigrant in question has been checked for a criminal record, interviewed at the US embassy, will go on record as to her location, and (since I am her sponsor) has a signed documentation from a US citizen that she will not become a public liability. It's a long process, but it does serve a useful purpose.

With illegals, you don't have any of that. How do you know whether the individual in question has a criminal record? Or whether they will, individually, be a net positive for the country, or a public liability? And where is your record of where they are and where they come from? You don't know any of that.

And there is the fairness issue. As was pointed out further upthread, there are millions of people who would happily head into the US, if they could. Why should illegals get to jump to the front of the line, just because (for most of them) they happen to live in our neighbor to the south? Do we really have more of an obligation to take in poor Mexican workers than, say, poor Chinese or African or Indian or Russian workers?

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 30, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

An oversupply of global cheap labor is fundamentally a sign of a population problem which in the long term is a cause of resource depletion and environmental degradation.

Exponential population growth is only a large net positive in the long term if you are using an economic model with no boundary conditions.

Posted by: B on March 30, 2006 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Y'all are probably going to think I'm dumb, but I'm really not seeing a lot of the economic argument. The way I see it, either we invite immigrants into our country and they drive down wages, or we tell the immigrants to stay home, in which case we import the jobs to them and American wages get driven down anyway.

Mobility of capital without equivalent mobility of labor ain't never gonna work, folks...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 30, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, nobody listens: typical of progressives.

The purpose of American immigration is CITIZENSHIP.

What is good about it, is good for citizenship. What is bad about it, is bad for citizenship.

Anybody (other than immigration lawyers and subsidy-seeking employers) object to that?

There's no good economic argument for immigration. Get a grip. The honest argument for it is CIVIC.

Amy: no, the price of fresh vegetables wouldn't become prohibitive without government-supplied (which is what illegal immigrants are) cheap labor. We've had experience of this (the end of the bracero program in 1964); besides, the labor cost of produce is a tiny fraction of the cost to market. (Most of it is transportation and marketing.)

Wonderin: LEARN something, already. I'd pick strawberries fulltime .... for the MLB minimum salary. (Admit it, so would you.) The reason I don't, is simply that they haven't met my price.

So what's the argument that certain industries should be exempt from economics? We didn't keep TV manufacturing, machine tools, most of the auto industry or steel -- but, hey, stoop labor agriculture, THAT's vital?

Golly, it's pitiful.

Wanna know what's vital? American citizenship.

Sam: It ain't "undisputed" that emigration is a net plus for sending countries, particularly Mexico and Central America. The word is "ignorant".

To name just one, the BiNational Study done by both the United States and Mexico concluded that sending communities in Mexico have the LEAST job creation and the lowest rates of investment, because of, not in spite of remittances. The Pew Center found that the population with the measureably greatest desire to go to the U.S. at teh first opportunity are the RECIPIENTS of remittances.

Face it, dude: exporting your workforce and importing their wages is not a good economic development strategy.

You want to fix immigration? Get Congress to deliver the green cards it promises PROMPTLY (so everybody we WANT gets to come here legally).

Stop managing by waiting list. People don't live that way.

You want to slow down or even stop illegal immigration? Make every employer verify the Social Security # of every new hire,and keep the record next to his W2.

Listen, folks: the vast majority of the roughly 6 million illegal workers already pay taxes, etc. PUH-leeze, stop talking about 'em as if they're all working under the table: they're not.

Every time Kevin opens an immigration thread (not that he seems to have a steep learning curve, either), it's clear why progressives have no alternative to the bad guys, except a little more of this, and less of that.

It's the oldest liberal sin of all: we love to promise, and don't care about delivery.

Do the math: the McCain-Kennedy proposal about to be debated in the Senate promises permanent residency (eventually) for just under a million people a year... in slots for which there are exactly 87,000 green cards now available.

Inthenameofallthingsgodly, WHY is that somehow the best we can do?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Samuel Knight makes some good points, and alludes to (but partly ignores) the fact that good immigration policy is not constructed in a vacuum.

Want to slow down immigration from poor countries? Try increasing foreign aid. As a percentage of GDP, the US is dead last among the "donor nations" for foreign aid disbursements.

Want to help other countries develop their own agricultural and low-skill manufacturing economies, so that people aren't motivated to come to the US? Remove tariffs and trade protections that protect our own (comparatively more expensive) agriculture and low-skill manufacturing industries (e.g., textiles).

Want to get low-skill, low-education Americans employed at Dunkin' Donuts? Ensure that labour laws are enforced and that people graduating from American high schools can do basic math and spell words like 'tomatoes'.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,
i dispute your claim that "the vast majority of the roughly 6 million illegal workers already pay taxes, etc." A walk to Army street, SF or to your local home depot any day of the week will easily prove you wrong

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

jeeze,
knowing how to spel a word and tking time to worry about weather or not sombody reedin this blog seez a mistake r 2 differnt thins!

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Rick, I'm just joking around, man.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, start with the 300 million Chinese who want to come over, just legalize them where they are so all they need is a plane ticket.

Posted by: Matt on March 30, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Yay, a civilized opinion for a change. Don't forget some Indians. Some great talent in that country.

Posted by: McA on March 30, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I think daylaborers at home depot probably dont pay taxes. But ,( and i have direct knowledge in this fact) in NYC lots of dishwashers, porters, prep cooks who are illegal do need to produce a ss #. someone who works regular 8hr shifts ( day laborers do not have steady work with 1 employer) Now is that ssn valid? Who's to say. Most employers dont verify their other employees ssn numbers.

Posted by: amy on March 30, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Ensure that labour laws are enforced and that people graduating from American high schools can do basic math and spell words like 'tomatoes'.

Look, I can agree with most of your points, though I'm leery of direct foreign aid, which can do more harm than good. The thing you have to recognize, though, is that the most effective way to police labor laws is to control the labor pool's size. If you don't do that, you create incentives to cheat the labor laws because there will be too many people chasing too few jobs. Look at the time we're having policing things now that are clearly illegal, like drugs or tax evasion. What makes you think things will work out on the labor front when you have possibly quadrupled the size of the unskilled labor force?

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

My point is a simple one: I am convinced, based on conversations with many people over this issue, that a lot of resistance to immigration, legal or illegal, is a simple matter of racism...

...and that's an opinion that's suitable for framing or wrapping fish.
Posted by: Wonderin

And like we aren't importing folks who aren't themselves deeply rascist? What rock have you been living under?

Oh. please? Think again.

Better yet just *think* period.

Instead of stupidly and reflexively hauling out that 'rascist' slur against anyone who disagrees with you consider that immigration on the broken terms we've had since '65 have been vastly destructive of our existing minority communities.

Another neolib enabler.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Would you rather have a country where we argue about whether or not an immigrant is taking a tomato-picking job from an American citizen, or a country where that American is capable of providing consulting services to the immigrant's country, advising on how to grow wicked tomato's (Rick?) at home?

Immigration policy is not isolated from policies on, e.g., education, international trade, etc.

(And why are conservatives so thin-skinned?)

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Neolib enabler"

Love it.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

amy,
i know a contractor that regularly hires illegally (residents and illegal immigrants), they say it is the only way to compete

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I once was convinced that immigration could be a winning issue for the Dems. I am no longer. The Repubs are divided on the issue, but the Dems even more so.

As on so many other things, the Democratic party stands for nothing when it comes to immigration policy. It speaks not with one voice, but with five. It is not a party at all, but a mere collection of special interests at war among themselves.

The best thing the Dems have going for them is the Repubs and their current disarray.

I may not vote for anyone in the next Presidentials. Unless, of course, al-Qaeda strikes again. In that case, I will vote for the candidate who is least afraid of striking back.

Posted by: JohnFH on March 30, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Wonderin is right on - the best way to stem tidal waves of immigration is to have a good, decent policy for helping countries develop themselves.

And although foreign aid has not proven to be effective in development - the lack of it, clearly shows no desire at all to even try.

The second note is that the standard neo-liberal development model hasn't worked. Russia, Argentine, Mexico post-NAFTA etc. show that the IMF strictures are hooey. Remember how all of tehm denounced Malaysia for imposing capital controls during the Asia crisis? Remember how quickly Malaysia coped with crisis?

And Americanist is certainly being friendly isn't he? We progressives - how dare we just not agree with a ranting poster! The affrontery of it!

But the one big lesson on immigration to me is also that it is an incredibly emotional issue. You're not just talking about labor, you're talking about people's mothers, sisters and brothers. And your talking about the potential to quickly change the culture of a town or region.

That's why I tend to agree with Krugman on this one - we all know one thing: this administration can't manage anything. Therefore, don't help them do anything on immigration, because whatever they do it will be the wrong thing. I think Brad DeLong missed that central point of Krugman's argument.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 30, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

"Neolib enabler"

Love it.
Posted by: Wonderin

If the imported shoe fits, honey.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

They won't be net taxpayers. Their skill level
won't give them the ability to earn enough, and it'll be doubly difficult as the labor pool keeps expanding.

So what youre basically claiming is that upward mobility is dead in America? Low-income workers have absolutely no ability to increase their skill set and earning potential? If you believe that, then immigration is the least of our worries an economy that prohibits upward mobility is the real problem.

Well, don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. You're not dealing with my point: we have to take care of these people: that means medicaid, utility and housing subsidies, food subsidies and education costs, all of which has to be provided in a foreign language. You're going to bankrupt a number of state governments.

Unlike many on the right, Im not allergic to taxes. You work and live here, you should pay your fair share. That means pay your taxes. And while were at it, we should probably raise corporate taxes. Since big business benefits the most from labor, its only fair to expect them to give the most back.

And you now you've entered the land of the counterfacutal. A large labor pool will undermine any union effort because employers can always turn to someone else, or they can seek to bring in more illegals. If you want to open the borders, which is the only way to end "illegal" immigration, then you're going to be dealing with over five billion people potentially coming here.

5 billion people? The population of the entire planet is only 6.6 billion. Listen, I think the US is a great country, but Im not so narcissistically deluded that I think 75% of the people of the world are trying to move here.

As far as the large labor pool thats true only if workers are acting individually. United, they are able to leverage far more power viz. employers. A free market economy can only really work so long as there exists a strong labor movement (and, now that the economy is global, the labor movement needs to globalize, too). Imagine if, instead of union-busting, we actually encouraged unions and a parity of labor power to capital.

Posted by: moderleft on March 30, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Derek, I don't think that things will work out on the labor front if you quadruple the size of the unskilled labor force. Quite the opposite. I'm not suggesting completely open borders.

I do think that there are policy measures that can help to reduce the incentives for unskilled labourers to move here, and most of these involve issues regarding our general approach to trade. Some I've mentioned above (and, yes, you're right that direct foreign aid has problems, but there are clear success stories from which we need to draw some lessons...another time, perhaps).

The difficulty, of course, is that assisting with economic development in immigrants' home countries is a longer-term measure, and problems with immigration are experienced in the short term.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

BTW - I like the point about a strong labor movement. That's one little noticed aspect of the US recovery from the Depression and post WWII boom, and the miracle economies of both Japan and Germany after the war.

In each case there were strong labor movements. Ones that could represent labor's interests with capital (yeah, yeah, it's a bit Marxist...) And as the labor movements weakened - average wage growth slowed.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 30, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Derek, I don't think that things will work out on the labor front if you quadruple the size of the unskilled labor force. Quite the opposite. I'm not suggesting completely open borders.

But that is what we're looking at with the McCain-Kennedy bill. As I said above, it's not just 12-20 million illegal aliens already here, but their immediate AND extended families, who will be eligible to come in under the family reunification clauses. Then, you have the guest worker program on top of that. Finally, there is nothing much in the bill in the way of serious border enforcement, so we are still going to be dealing with illegal aliens--many of whom may be gambling on another amnesty coming down the pike. We are quite possibly going to add another California to our nation in the next ten years or so, and that population will be largely unskilled, poor and non-English speaking.

In answer to this, all I've gotten from supporters (I don't know if you're in this group) is a lot of counterfactual solutions: "Oh, we could possible improve labor laws..." Well, yeah, we COULD, but WILL it happen? Will business interests allow these things to pass, loophole free? And if they do, can we be sure there will be sufficient enforcement? Since this is all in a possible future, no one really knows. Lacking these guarantees, this McCain-Kennedy bill is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation to come out of a Senate committee.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Moderleft:
but Im not so narcissistically deluded that I think 75% of the people of the world are trying to move here.

From:

http://www.immigrationforum.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=764

" ...showed that 46% of Mexicans in a national survey conducted in May indicated they would go live in the United States"

If these numbers hold up, than Moderleft and his narcissicm will result in a U.S. population of 3 billion. The cost of paying for the airline tickets alone will bankrupt us.

Of course, Kevin will want up to pay for their medical costs, and almost 1.5 trillion alone just for Kevin's free medical checkups, probably aother 2 trillion just for the long term care, for many of these immigrants invited by Kevin and moderleft will be here precisely because of Kevin's free medical care.

Posted by: Matt on March 30, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

amy: I was pointing out what i thought was the CA democrats mixed response to this issue. (i live on the other [right] coast) I agree with your points.

Oops, sorry for the sarcasm. Frankly I was trying to figure out if you meant the lifestyle thing as parody.

I think the real reason many CA Dems have mixed responses is that they're in bed with agribusiness. I doubt that higher prices for fresh produce bothers them.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Rick: you can challenge the facts, but that don't change 'em.

In ballpark #s, at any given time there are as many as 20 million foreigners who are illegally present in the U.S., of whom about 11 million are illegally resident here. (There are about 30 million visitors a year, the extra 9 million illegally present are the visitors who don't leave when they're supposed to, but do leave fairly soon. The key motivator is jobs: visa overstayers who get illegal work rarely leave.)

Of the 11 million illegal residents, roughly 6 million are illegal workers. The remaining 5 million are kids, or spouses who don't work.

Of the 6 million illegal workers, 3.5-4 million work in highly regulated, relatively well-paying industries: meatpacking, food service, restaurants, etc.

ALL of these folks pay taxes through fake ids.

Of the 2 to 2.5 million who do not work in those jobs, roughly 1 million work in other taxpaying jobs which tend to have regional characteristics, e.g., you get a lot more illegals working in dry cleaners in the Southwest than you do in New England.

That leaves something like 1 to 1.5 million (many in agriculture, landscaping, and construction) who are not only illegal, but under the table. Virtually all of THEM (more than 90 percent of those who are RESIDENTS, while they're working under the table) will take the first taxpayign, steady job they can get, using false documents: cuz they pay more.

Just cuz the guys in your local Home Depot parking lot is the only part of the problem you SEE, doesn't make it the biggest or the most important. (If you want to know more about this stuff, look up Lindsay Lowell, Wayne Cornelius, or George Borjas's work.)

Sam: the word you were looking for is "effrontery". That whole "you affect an effect" thing.

I suppose it's hardly surprising you're illiterate, of course. But do try to take up the use of facts before you form opinions.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

In answer to this, all I've gotten from supporters (I don't know if you're in this group) is a lot of counterfactual solutions: "Oh, we could possible improve labor laws..." Well, yeah, we COULD, but WILL it happen?

God forbid we improved the labor laws (eye roll)

In answer to your question, so long as we accept that improving labor laws is counterfactual, then I guess it won't happen. But there's no reason why we have to believe that. We've had a strong labor movement in the past. There's no reason, except for the greed of the economic elite, why we can't have a strong labor movement in the future.

Posted by: moderleft on March 30, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

From the cource I cited above:

"MUND Amricas found that 26% of Mexicans in a national survey conducted this July said they intended to migrate to the U.S. for work in the next 12 months

This survey was conducted in 2002 when Kevin invite them all up for fee medicaid in California. Some 12 million, thanks to Kevin and Teddy Kennedy. Tell old fat Teddy to send us a few trillion for their medical costs, taken only from Kenndy voters please.

Of course, this does not include the other 5 million taxi drivers in NYC, living off of free medical care.

Posted by: Matt on March 30, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

So what youre basically claiming is that upward mobility is dead in America?

It will be seriously hampered, if not killed for a large segement of the population. What will happen is that we will begin to stratify our society and inequality will pick up its already alarming pace.

You work and live here, you should pay your fair share. That means pay your taxes. And while were at it, we should probably raise corporate taxes. Since big business benefits the most from labor, its only fair to expect them to give the most back.

First, you're assuming these corporations are going to do nothing. I can assure you, they won't. Secondly, you're assuming that there's enough money to cover all these people. That's far from evident.

Again, you're suggesting a counterfactual fix for a looming problem that can be avoided. What happens if these taxes do not get passed? What happens if they do get passed and they do not produce the needed revenues? And how much are you willing to tax the middle-class for this new population, because ultimately, that's where you're going to have to go, and if you think we have race problems now...well, you ain't seen nothing.

5 billion people? The population of the entire planet is only 6.6 billion.

I say five billion because that's how many people live in countries poorer than Mexico. Of course, not all of them will move here, but enough will to seriously over crowd the country and drive wages right into the basement.

United, they are able to leverage far more power viz. employers.

Workers can only unite when they're in a strong economic position vis-a-vis the employers. If there's a large, "reserve army of the unemployed" (to steal a phrase from Marx), then employers can induce workers to defect from any attempt to unite. This is a lesson that union leaders from Gompers to Chavez knew and acted on.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

. . . and overall is probably a small net positive in the short term and a larger net positive in the long term. At worst it's a wash.
Kevin Drum

The U.S. is already overpopulated by about 100 million. So, no it's just a wash, and it certainly has no long term "net positive." How the hell can someone who lives in the smoggiest most gridlocked part of the country say that a few million extra folks a year who many not even be fully literate in their native language is a net positive?

Posted by: Jeff II on March 30, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

IIRC, I've read that without immigration, the U.S. population would be in decline, due to declining birth rates. So immigration is a net positive, unless you like a shrinking economy. The real debate is over legal immigration v. illegal immigration. I'm from the Texas panhanlde, and trust me, it isn't possible to close the border. I've seen people get deported only to be back less than 48 hours later. IMHO, immigration is kind of like abortion - as long as people are going to do it no matter what, you might as well make it safe and legal.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on March 30, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

The joke is on the democrats. Mexicans are OVERWHELMINGLY socially conservative... and after a few generations here - will vote center right because just like the Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese - they detest homosexuality.

Gays are doing to the left, what evangelicals did to the right.

The GOP probably lose its majority in the coming elections just because they fucked with the libertarians and fiscal conservatives.

Forget the Mexican voting block - Bush is toast because of the war machine spending.

Posted by: tj on March 30, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

In answer to your question, so long as we accept that improving labor laws is counterfactual, then I guess it won't happen.

Look, leftists pride themselves on being part of the "reality-based community." When I say something is counterfactual, it's reflecting a reality. The labor laws you want--even if they are the answer--are not here. There is no guarantee that they will be here. So, with these FACTS in mind, is it wise to double, triple or even quadruple the size of the unskilled labor force when, in fact, the labor laws in this country are not, according to you, adequate?

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Derek, I agree that McCain-Kennedy could result in lots of problems; issues that don't seem to have been thought through very carefully. This is reflected in my (probably obvious) frustration with our government's seeming inability or unwillingness to address other critical policy areas that have impacts on immigration flows (and centre-left governments are not off the hook on that, either).

It's also not entirely surprising that McCain-Kennedy is appearing in an election year, as it clearly appeals to a broad range of voter groups. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

GOP will move to the right because of xenophobic base.

DNC will move to the right to keep the Latinos and aging boomers from bolting.

GAYS will suffer HUGE set backs. \

THESE ARE REAL CATHOLICS coming in here.. Mexicans may have gay men, but few lesbians and fewer homosexual activists.

GAYS are and will continue to be a problem for the left.

Posted by: tj on March 30, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

"I've read that without immigration, the U.S. population would be in decline, due to declining birth rates. So immigration is a net positive, unless you like a shrinking economy"

I hear this logic. Since Americans cannot both reproduce and pay for our massive government, we might as well kill ourselves and give to country to more rational people.

Posted by: Matt on March 30, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

THESE ARE REAL CATHOLICS coming in here..

Oh, man, are you in for a disappointment. Mexico is one of the most anti-clerical states around. Almost every good sized city has a Red Light district, and Mexicans are just as affected by the same social pathologies as we are. In fact, Hispanic abortion rates are a bit higher than white ones.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

"In fact, Hispanic abortion rates are a bit higher than white ones."

Well, yeah... they just abort the gay fetuses though. They're *that* committed to the anti-gay cause. Didn't you get the memo?

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 30, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

First, you're assuming these corporations are going to do nothing. I can assure you, they won't.

Which is why its important for all Americans to stand up against corporate interests. Corporations do not have American interests at heart, and we should realize that. It's not a question of them being "evil," but rather an acknowledgment that the government should not defer to them they way it does now. When it comes to choosing people's interests vs the corporate interest, a real patriot (or a real human being, for that matter) should side against the corporations.

Secondly, you're assuming that there's enough money to cover all these people. That's far from evident.
Ever since the current administration made the claim that you can launch a multi-billion dollar, open-ended war AND cut taxes, I've taken claims that we can't afford social spending far less seriously. If we can find the money to blow things up, surely we can afford to build as well.

if you think we have race problems now...well, you ain't seen nothing.
Race is a concept invented by the elite to drive a wedge into the working class. Ignoring justice because we are afraid of race problems will not fix our country's problem with race, it will merely prolong it.

Workers can only unite when they're in a strong economic position vis-a-vis the employers. If there's a large, "reserve army of the unemployed" (to steal a phrase from Marx), then employers can induce workers to defect from any attempt to unite.
That's why, more than politics, we need an authentic culture shift to real national solidarity. Employers who circumvent justice should feel the full brunt of public shame.

Posted by: moderleft on March 30, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Well, as long as we don't allow cloning of immigrants, we should be ok.

Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,
since when did 3.5 to 4 out of 6 become "the vast majority"

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Why is everything neoliberal economists and big business wants a new positive to the economy?

I am getting pretty suspicious of "studies" by experts lately.

Posted by: la on March 30, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, as long as we don't allow cloning of immigrants, we should be ok."

Is cloning their cats ok?

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 30, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,
ps where do you get your numbers?

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Let's assume this "it's a wash" figure is correct. The overall economic impact can't be our only concern; the more to-the-point question is, who wins and who loses? The answer, just by sheer logic, should be that big business executives and the illegal immigrants themselves are the winners; low-wage American workers are the losers, since a broader worker pool means wages are depressed. Is this a trade-off we want to make? Maybe so, maybe not. But we should frame the trade-off correctly.

Posted by: Miggs on March 30, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Just received an anti-immigration email from my aunt, suggesting that immigrants come here for the welfare.

I surfed the web for some statistics, did the math, and this is what I came up with.

About 7.5% of illegal aliens received welfare checks in 2001 (they were eligible because of their US-born children). The percentage of non-immigrant Americans receiving welfare checks was about 16.3%. Almost 80% of immigrant households using welfare --- legal and illegal --- had at least one person working.

In March 2005, there were an estimated 11.1 million illegal aliens. 5.4 million were adult males and about 7.2 million illegal aliens were employed. 24% of all workers employed in farming occupations were illegals, 17% of people employed in cleaning were illegal, 14% of people employed in construction were illegal and 12% of people employed in food preparation were illegal.

If these are the jobs that are being taken from my children, they're welcome to them.

Here's the original poem (it seems to be widespread on the Internet)and one I sent back in response.

Poem

I cross ocean, poor and broke,
Take bus, see employment folk.

Nice man treat me good in there,
Say I need to see welfare.

Welfare say, "You come no more,
We send cash right to your door."

Welfare checks, they make you wealthy,
Medicaid it keep you healthy!

By and by, I got plenty money,
Thanks to you, American dummy.

Write to friends in motherland,
Tell them 'come fast as you can.'

They come in turbans and Ford trucks,
I buy big house with welfare bucks

They come here, we live together,
More welfare checks, it gets better!

Fourteen families, they moving in,
But neighbor's patience wearing thin.

Finally, white guy moves away,
Now I buy his house, and then I say,
"Find more aliens for house to rent."
And in the yard I put a tent.

Send for family they just trash,
But they, too, draw the welfare cash!

Everything is very good,
And soon we own the neighborhood.
We have hobby it's called breeding,
Welfare pay for baby feeding.

Kids need dentist? Wife need pills?
We get free! We got no bills!
American crazy! He pay all year,
To keep welfare running here.

We think America darn good place!
Too darn good for the white man race.
If they no like us, they can scram,
Got lots of room in Pakistan.

Ghost Warriors
By Donald Hook

Shadows dance on canyon walls, They are shadows from my fire.
And from these walls Ghost Warriors call "Your history is a liar."
"Our sacred lands were stolen and this we can't forget."
"The spirits of our warriors who gave their lives for it."

But the wind whispers to me that the shadows I see are visions of when the west was young.
And the Indian danced around his council fire where prayers to the Great Spirit were sung.
They asked the Great Spirit to guide them in this their troubled time.
For the white man walked upon their land and said "This land is mine."

It was the search for yellow iron that became the red man's curse.
For the white man swarmed upon their land each fighting to be first.
And no amount of prayers could stop the coming flood.
Soon the yellow iron was bathed in Indian blood.

The Great Spirit couldn't help them they had to fight alone.
For the mountains and the desert that had always been their home.
The Indian was defeated and just seemed to fade away.
And his sacred lands were ravished it seemed in but a day.

The mountains were blasted open; the gold ripped from beneath the earth.
The wounded land lies silent now and has but little worth.
The Indian is gone forever from this land that once was his.
And no one seems to want it now not the way it is.

So now that you know their story, will you listen to the whispering wind?
The ghosts of ancient warriors are singing their songs again.
They're singing to the Great Spirit their sad and mournful prayers.
Asking Him to make whole again this land that once was theirs.

Posted by: catherineD on March 30, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderin: Ensure that ... graduating from American high schools can ... spell words like 'tomatoes'.

Would you have said that to Noah Webster? Shouldn't it be 'theatre', 'synchronise' and 'colour'?

P.S. Where is your trailing 'g'?

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Like tens of millions of others I came here in 1970 with exactly eight dollors in my pocket and a single suitcase with a few sets of clothing and absolutely nothing else. Although I greatly appreciate the opportunity that this country has given me to succeed and prosper here without much effort and beyond my wildest imagination and dreams, I do not understand the immigrant bashing now so common here.

Posted by: nut on March 30, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

"But that class based view runs into another obvious fact: it's indisputed that emigration is a huge positive for poor countries."

There are people who dispute this. Legal immigrants tend to be more highly skilled and educated people with a bit of capital and perhaps also people who are more self-motivated. It is actually a very big problem in healthcare for poor nations. If an african nation sets up a medical school and starts pumping out doctors and nurses in an attempt to improve thier health care infrastructure a large fraction of the people they pay to educate end up leaving for Europe or the US where they can sell their very valulable skills.

The really sad part is that many of these people are actually incorrect about thier prospects in the US. An engineer from africa will end up working as a security guard here because his qualifications and experience are not recognized.

Posted by: jefff on March 30, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

nut: I do not understand the immigrant bashing now so common here.

Where do you see bashing of legal immigrants?

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

If the US would return to Mexico the territories stolen by terrorists (Texas) and illegal war (California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado), then most of the indigenous people who travel north will not have to submit to becoming inhuman in the eyes of the American bigots, they will just be Mexicans in Mexico.

Otherwise, Americans should just be thankful for the low price of produce and domestic help.

Posted by: Hostile on March 30, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

There has always been immigrant bashing. This is actually pretty mild historically.

Posted by: jefff on March 30, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

la: Why is everything neoliberal economists and big business wants a new positive to the economy?

A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.

The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks "What do two plus two equal?" The mathematician replies "Four." The interviewer asks "Four, exactly?" The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says "Yes, four, exactly."

Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The accountant says "On average, four - give or take ten percent, but on average, four."

Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says "What do you want it to equal?"

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

low-wage American workers are the losers, since a broader worker pool means wages are depressed. Is this a trade-off we want to make? Maybe so, maybe not. But we should frame the trade-off correctly.
Posted by: Miggs

NPR did a bit last night. One study shows that wages at the low end have been depressed by 8% over the last couple of decades and this is linked to illegal immigration. And as out economy is producing fewer middle-income jobs, it's likely that you will see an upward creep with this. It dovetails so nicely with union busting and the rise of low cost big box retailing.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 30, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

lol.. gay fetuses - too much

Posted by: christAlmighty on March 30, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Pocket Rocket: I've read that without immigration, the U.S. population would be in decline, due to declining birth rates.

Wrong. Unlike Europe or Japan, without immigration we would have slow population growth. The US fertility rate is about 2.1 children per woman (slightly above the replacement rate).

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Alex, did I hit a raw nerve with that comment about education? Too bad Webster wasn't successful in his desire to change the spelling of words like "night" to "nite"...think of all of the resources spent on ads for "Lite" drinks that we could've diverted to keeping out illegal immigrants. Shame.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 30, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

And I say return Deseret to it's original boundaries - And bring back Lake Bonneville.

And England for the Saxons.

Posted by: stupid git on March 30, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong. Unlike Europe or Japan, without immigration we would have slow population growth. The US fertility rate is about 2.1 children per woman (slightly above the replacement rate).
Posted by: alex

Does that figure include the birthrate for 1st and 2nd generation immigrants? If so, then the U.S. fertility rate for women whose families have been in the country for three or more generation is below 2, if I'm not mistaken. If immigration was dramatically reduced, we'd be back a ZPG, as we were in the early 1970s, in a decade or so.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 30, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Derek Copold: So, with these FACTS in mind, is it wise to double, triple or even quadruple the size of the unskilled labor force when, in fact, the labor laws in this country are not, according to you, adequate?

I like to call it the "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" approach. Really, on Tuesday we'll improve the labor laws. Honest.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

stupid git: And England for the Saxons.

No, England for the Celts. The Angles and Saxons were Germanic invaders. In fact, the propaganda term "England" should be banished from the language. It's all Britain.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Is it still a wash if you factor in all the broadcast time purchased to bloviate about it?

Posted by: clb72 on March 30, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Derek Copold: If, however, you keep the number of workers in a country limited, you make the labor market a seller's market, and do more to ensure good wages and working conditions than all the laws Congress can pass.

A market based approach? What are you, some kind of Communist?

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Rick -- for the characteristics of the illegal population, I cited the work of Lindsay Lowell, Wayne Cornelius, and George Borjas; I've also noted the National Academy of Sciences' 1997 report "The New Americans: Economic, Fiscal, and Demographic Effects of Immigration". (This is on the Web at the NAS site, you can download the .pdf.)

Let's see -- in addition, there were the 40+ site visits and hearings done all over the country (from San Diego to Bellingham, Nogales and Denver, Garden City, Kansas, NYC, Lowell, Massachusetts, Seattle ... you get the idea) done by the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. (You can find those reports at the University of Texas at Austin site.)

If you read more closely, you'd see that 3.5-4 out of 6 is only part of "the vast majority", the remaining 2 to 2.5 include about 1.5 that are trying to join the first 67%, which would bring it up to at least 88% or so (check my math) -- which seems to fit "vast majority".

Clear it up for you? Ya wanna know more, ask.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

BTW - a few posters made a good point up above. The argument of the net benefits of immigration does depend greatly on whether we are talking about skilled vs unskilled immigrants.

For emigrating countries the exodus of talented, skilled workers can hurt many sectors. Nurses and doctors' emigration for example has definitely weakened the health care of many countries. And it is very difficult to ascertain whether skilled peoples' remittances do overcome the loss of their skills back home.

Of course for unskilled workers that's very different - there is a surplus of unskilled labor in just about every country in the world.

And that same basic fact also applies to the US. Skilled immigrants, like Andrew Carnegie or Grove have made enormous contributions to the growth of the American economy. Now Silicon Valley clearly benefits from those incredibly talented immigrants.

But the cost benefit of bringing in unskilled labor is much more tricky.

Lastly, on crowding, that's also simple math. Most polls seem to show that people don't want their cities filling up. They would prefer stable or slowly growing populations.

Good catch on the typo, but I still don't get what the heck you're arguing with those waves of statistics, Americanus. But you're clearly irritated that we don't get your inate brilliance. Sorry about that, but we really like Kevin's take on issues more than yours, which is we're discussing these issues on his website.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 30, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Beware of talk about "net benefits" to society. Consider for example if the result of illegal immigration is to put an extra $100 million into the hands of employers that would otherwise go to legal employees. Technically, that counts as "neutral" because the cost-benefit averages out! You could say the same thing about any redistribution of income, but how many working people want the assessment of things to work like that?

Most times I like what Kevin writes, butsometimes I see him being a dorky tool. He needs to spend more time reflecting on framing considerations, and to be more inherently suspicous of anything that the plutocracy likes.

Posted by: Neil' on March 30, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Dude very few people have problems with legal immigration. I think its the underground bottomless labor market domestically, coupled with the reality of offshoring tasks to a bottomless global pool that has most Americans upset. Couple this with the endless drive for technological development used to push skilled work into unskilled or automated positions and you start to see the problem.

Be as rosy as you like, but the reality here is a big problem. The republicans are going to try the race card for this November. But they will only present the traditional surface perspectives which are dead wrong. A fundamental shift in business practices must occur and of course the whiny baby sheep who in board rooms are not going to address it without being led. The only question is whether this is going to be a carrot approach or a stick approach as more and more people are effected by the proven trends.

Posted by: patience on March 30, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist: What do the illegals put as their SSN on their Federal and State returns, when they "pay taxes."? (Other than local sales taxes which any idiot like a foreign tourist pays too.) Speaking of foreign tourists: isn't it idiotic to have a Constitution in which their kids become US citizens if born in a US hospital by accident? We should ammend to require that for US citizenship, at least one parent (I'd prefer both) be a US citizen. That would crimp an incentive to illegal immigration.

Posted by: Neil' on March 30, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

One would assume that there is some maximal number of immigrants per year, at which point the costs start to be unbearable or unbalanceable against benefits flowing within a reasonable amount of time.
And a minimal level at which point the harm done by loss of benefits from immigrations outweighs the cost savings.

So, perhaps a more useful and interesting question is what are those maximal and minimal levels of immigration?
The range within which there's a good, healthy trade-off between costs and benefits?
And then mapping this to a progressive series of steps or tiers that a foreigner passes through to become fully integrated in this country.

I'm assuming here that this range would definitely not correspond to the levels set for legal immigration currently (they are too low).
Simply because so much of the country runs on the labor of illegal immigrants.
The facts on the ground seem to indicate that we like them and they like us; just that we are in denial; they end up marginalized; and costs related to ongoing lack of integration irritate the populace.
The level of desirable, 'natural' immigration here would include some good amount of the illegal flow.

Once you have a realistic range, you discuss how to formalize it, so that safe borders can become a reality, and hard-working law-abiding immigrants, coming in at a rate 'natural' to the US, can move at a reasonable speed toward citizenship or citizen-like benefits.

Posted by: Jim on March 30, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

ok theAmericanist,
how come your numbers and catherineD's differ so much?

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ask her. Mine are accurate.

One other thing -- somebody bitched upthread that an economic model that depends on a constant supply of fresh cheap labor isn't sustainable.

That's not so -- but what's more important, is that it's the wrong way to look at it.

It's a silly sorta thought experiment to wonder "what would America look like without immigrants?", as if we were gonna collectively and exclusively stop falling in love with foreigners, or as if those of us who are foreign-born will somehow no longer have close relatives who are still foreigners.

But -- that's the key: the Rule for "immigrants", in fact what makes them immigrants rather than "foreigners", is that they've been INVITED, as individuals, by individual Americans.

(Repeat that until it sinks in.)

It's never impressed me even once (and Lord! have I sat through arguments about it), when people argue about 'people who come here to grab the bottom rung of the ladder of American opportunity', or 'to do the jobs that Americans won't do'. Sure, if the supply of guys willing to shit work for shit wages vanished, those wages would increase -- but NOBODY does that sorta thing for a career if they have any other choice.

And they don't raise their kids to do it, either.

The great danger progressive are helping to build in immigration policy is to accept MORE people -- who are treated as less than the rest of us.

The folks who brag about how progressive they are, are generally the worst offenders. (That's you, Sam. Kevin, too.)

Kennedy, et al, are arguing in the Senate right now that it ain't amnesty cuz illegals will have to wait ELEVEN MORE YEARS before they get green cards (which, btw, won't be available then, either: no law provides 'em), and that this isn't unfair to legal immigrants because they won't have to wait any longer....

.... unless they happen to apply after this bill is passed, if it is.

Here is a f'r instance -- a client of mine, named SR, who was here on an H-1B visa, got her green card, and then got married, which means her husband is BEHIND the "amnesty echo" from 1986:

"My husband is in India and my kid who is 2 years old and myself are staying alone in Minnesota. Since I have a green card, Im not able to bring my husband to USA even on a visit visa. US immigration laws have torn apart my family and have forced me into being a single mom. I often find myself searching for words to explain to my child why his Dad is not with him. I have even thought of taking an extended vacation on loss of pay and going to India to live with my husband. Yet, another Immigration law wouldnt let do even that. It says if I live outside the US for more than 6 months in any given year, my Greencard will be suspended and I will no longer be able to enter the US.

Immigration laws have destroyed my family life."

Sam: ain't the issue less whether you like Kevin's take, and more whether we can fix this mess?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

"I think the real reason many CA Dems have mixed responses is that they're in bed with agribusiness. I doubt that higher prices for fresh produce bothers them."

I agree with you. But, i do think that the price of produce can get prohibitively high. The companies cant charge 3 dollars for a single organic lemon. Break down the cost in terms of labor, water, transportation, yield and maybe a profit. Factor in rise in wages for higher labor costs to pick, sort and pack. This will put the prices of the product out of reach for lots of middle class people.

I personally think we need to provide a path to citizenship for those illegals who are already here and who want to stay. Dont want to give yup your Mexican citizenship then they can join the guest worker program. This only works though coupled with border enforcement going forward

Posted by: amy on March 30, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I just love it when the corporate fascistic right wingers start feigning concern for their downtrodden black bretheren in a sleight of hand that allows them to label pro-immigration as racism. The mind would boggle were it not for the stomach turning.

The same people that would have us believe that black welfare recipients are all crack addicts driving Cadillacs and spitting out babies, now want us to believe that they really, really care afterall.

I believe there are seriously diseased people among us, and their disease will ultimately destroy us all whether we're personally infected or not.

Posted by: conscious1 on March 30, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

"I've read that without immigration, the U.S. population would be in decline, due to declining birth rates. So immigration is a net positive, unless you like a shrinking economy"

Somewhere up there... What kind of idiot confuses the average standard of living (which could be higher with more land and resources on average per person) with "size" of the economy measured in terms of income/wealth per person multiplied by the number of persons and businesses, which has little inherent advantage except as world power? How did such an idiotic twisted perspective take hold? Hint: it helps the corporate, speculative neo/con/lib-enabled sector which needs more workers to keep pay and bargaining power low, etc.

Posted by: Neil' on March 30, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

"[Higher labor costs] will put the prices of the product out of reach for lots of middle class people."

No, it won't. Labor costs are a tiny fraction of the cost of produce. (sigh)

"Dont want to give yup your Mexican citizenship then they can join the guest worker program...."

Golly, does this miss the point.

Dual citizenship generally is NOT a function of American law, but of the other country. That is, we can say who is an American, but not who is a Mexican.

The naturalization oath (which, btw, has been enacted into law four times by my count, with Lamar Alexander proposing to do it a FIFTH time), specifically requires the renunciation of prior political allegiances. So anybody who becomes a U.S. citizen HAS renounced their prior citizenship.

But if that country, like Mexico, doesn't recognize it, there ain't much we can do.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK


theAmericanist:

You dodged this question, so here it is again:
What do the illegals put as their SSN on their Federal and State returns, when they "pay taxes" as you imply is common? (Other than local sales taxes which any idiot like a foreign tourist pays too.)

Speaking of foreign tourists: isn't it idiotic to have a Constitution in which their kids become US citizens if born in a US hospital by accident? We should ammend to require that for US citizenship, at least one parent (I'd prefer both) be a US citizen. That would crimp an incentive to illegal immigration.


Posted by: Neil' on March 30, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

ALL of these folks pay taxes through fake ids.

Utter BS. We have a huge underground economy of which immigrants are only a portion.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

He needs to spend more time reflecting on framing considerations, and to be more inherently suspicous of anything that the plutocracy likes.
Posted by: Neil'

Amen.

Posted by: CFShep on March 30, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the caricture Amer.., but just opening the door wasn't what I or Kevin were arguing.

But that seems to be what you're doing, set up a strawman and beat the living daylights out of it.

American immigration laws right now are a horrible mess. They are tragic consequences. That's all true. But I go back to Krugman's basic point: all that has gotten much worse in the last 5 years, especially since we've had incompetent administrators posted at DHS and added tons of post 9-11 rules.

And it will just get worse working with this administration. They will botch it. So play later.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 30, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

The mind would boggle were it not for the stomach turning.

The stomach boggles!

Posted by: craigie's gravity on March 30, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Neil sez: "You dodged this question, so here it is again: What do the illegals put as their SSN on their Federal and State returns, when they "pay taxes" as you imply is common?"

I didn't dodge the question, I thought it was too fucking stoopid to bother with. They use fake SSNs -- no, d-uh. (Or else, real ones, that just aren't theirs.)

I didn't "imply" that they pay taxes, I noted that EVERY SINGLE SERIOUS PERSON knows that they do.

Which sorta leaves you out, I guess.

(patiently) It works like this, which if you'd like, hired anybody or even had a job in the last 20 years, you'd know, Neil:

In order to get what is still quaintly called a 'real job', an illegal worker has to show at least one, and possibly two or three documents from an approved list of -- I think it's 28 now. (Might be 24: passport, plus driver's license and a birth certificate, etc.) It's called the I-9 form, and EVERY employer has to have one for EVERY person hired since 1987.

Going back even before this requirement, which started in 1987, workers have had to present their Social Security #s for tax purposes since the 1940s.

So a guy who is here legally on a migrant worker visa, say picking peaches for $7 an hour in Georgia, may stay illegally after the harvest, cuz he knows somebody who will pay $10 an hour under the table to shovel shit at a chicken plant. But that's not a real steady job (believe it or not).

But the guys who pull the guts out the chickens DO have a steady job at, say, $8-12 an hour --- but because of OSHA, among other things, to get one you have to fill out a W2 and the employer has to fill out an I-9.

So you will get one of the several hundred thousand forged North Carolina driver's licenses that use 000-00-0000 as the SSN (Congressional testimony before the House Judiciary Committee from the NC Dept of Motor Vehicles and the SSA itself). The employer will say, gee, that looks on its face to be genuine and THEREFORE, under the law, I can NOT challenge you: you're hired.

So now the employer withholds your FICA and such, and pays into Social Security on your wages, as do you.

That's how. Clear it up for you, Neil?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Good one!

But I'd prefer the mind turns.

Posted by: conscious1 on March 30, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Sam, we're the OPPOSITION. So we should Oppose.

Just what are you proposing, in opposition to the bad guys?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Just my 2 cents on immigration in general.

Legal Immigrants: Welcome aboard, the bathrooms are there on the left, the coffee machine is in here, the office supplies are in the cabinet behind the receptionist area and here is where you'll be working. Again, welcome aboard.

Illegal Immigrants: OUT!! NOW!! 'And don't come back till you do it right. I dis-agree with Bush on this one. Guest worker = amnesty. They have broken our laws. Get out!
Also, even being the capitolist pig that I am I still don't believe that american companies should be using a source of cheap labor to keep from paying min. wage. Oh and I take offense to Bushs' elitist attitude saying american workers won't, or don't want to do these jobs. George! Are you saying that these jobs are only fit for desperate mexicans? No, you are saying that americans won't do those jobs FOR THAT LOW OF PAY!! You pay us enough and americans will do any legitimate job. Try offering these jobs with decent pay to our own poor. "Guest worker' my ass.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist: I wanted to smoke out the whole process, because I knew that the schmucks tried, and that employers and maybe the government accomodated them - certainly the smooth-taking realist sophists like yourself were accomodating them. If the illegal uses a fake SSN on the W-2 and the *return,* why isn't that picked up by the IRS? Are they trying hard enough? The point is not that the illegal and their enablers don't even try or can't get some sucess, it's that they shouldn't be able to. They wouldn't be able to if we really tried, which is the point that matters.

Posted by: Neil' on March 30, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Also, even being the capitolist pig that I am I still don't believe that american companies should be using a source of cheap labor to keep from paying min. wage.

That's what makes you a capitalist piglet and not a full blown hog.

Posted by: conscious1 on March 30, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

"That's what makes you a capitalist piglet and not a full blown hog."
Posted by: conscious1

HAHAHA but one day I hope to own a fully blown hog.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

That's why, more than politics, we need an authentic culture shift to real national solidarity. Employers who circumvent justice should feel the full brunt of public shame.

Moderleft, I simply cannot answer these kinds of arguments because they exist in the realm of Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda. Maybe the culture SHOULD change, but it HASN'T. It IS what it IS. Given what it IS, IS it a good idea to force working-class Americans of any race to compete in a labor pool two to four times its present size?

When you deal with the situation as it IS, the answer IS clearly "NO."

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

That's why, more than politics, we need an authentic culture shift to real national solidarity. Employers who circumvent justice should feel the full brunt of public shame.

Moderleft, I simply cannot answer these kinds of arguments because they exist in the realm of Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda. Maybe the culture SHOULD change, but it HASN'T. It IS what it IS. Given what it IS, IS it a good idea to force working-class Americans of any race to compete in a labor pool two to four times its present size?

When you deal with the situation as it IS, the answer IS clearly "NO."

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Alex-Good joke.

Posted by: la on March 30, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Just as illegal immigration becomes a hot topic, Kevin and others start blogging about immigration in general. Probably just a coincidence. I'm sure they're not trying to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration.

Is that supposed to be sarcasm? I frankly think it makes sense to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration, because they're largely the same issue. Even the comments above mostly reveal that to be the case. Commenter after commenter bemoans the terrible effects on wages or on public finances exerted by immigration. But these alleged terrible effects will be the same even if we decriminalize the annual half million or so who are coming over illegally. Indeed, they may well intensify, because although some immigrants will no longer be working under the table (and so the downward pressure on wages should decrease), others will be eligible for government programs they currently cannot receive (which will increase the bill to the taxpayer). Scratch the surface of somebody who professes to be opposed to illegal immigration, and nine times out of ten you find a person opposed to immigration in general. I think this ultimately derives from behavioral phenomena rooted deep in human evolution that render most people defensive about their territory, their space, and their resources. We simply aren't hardwired to share with newcomers. It's simpler and more psychologically appealing to imagine the border being "sealed" (as technically and economically infeasible as such a task may be) than it is to work through the tedious minutiae of devising a rational policy to deal with the inevitable stream of humanity drawn to so much wealth and opportunity.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 30, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,
my point was not really who's numbers are correct, my point is that nobody really knows for sure. i tend to believe hers, because it proves my point better;-)

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Rick: bullshit.

Her #s don't make sense. For one thing, she does the classic 'illegal aliens get welfare cuz their kids are citizens' line.

If you fall for THAT, you are even dumber than I thought you were.

For another -- I cite, let's see: the National Academy of Sciences, a bipartisan, intensely controversial (and decidedly influential) Congressioanl Commission, a Nobel laureate (two, actually, if you read my work widely enough: Friedman and Becker), and assorted bigtime scholars at schools like Georgetown, Harvard, the University of California.

Ah... but YOU like stuff that makes you feel good.

Neil: "certainly the smooth-taking realist sophists like yourself were accomodating them..."

LOL -- man, you do NOT know who you're talking to.

It more or less ruined my career to have been the point guy for testing electronic verification of the Social Security Number. (Go read "Borderline Insanity", in the Monthly's archives, or "The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform", by Gimpel and Edwards.)

The thing about the IRS is -- it is easy to SEND them money with the wrong SSN.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Where is all this "free medical care" Matt keeps talking about?

Posted by: DCNative on March 30, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Americanist,

I have dual citizenship. I'm a British citizen by birth, and a U.S. citizen by naturalization. I would not have become a U.S. citizen if doing so had required me to give up my British citizenship. I can assure you that becoming a U.S. citizen has had no effect whatsoever on my status as a British citizen. I consider myself a full citizen of both countries. Yes, the oath requires you to renounce allegiance to other countries (the wording is hilariously archaic, or at least it was when I was naturalized -- something about renouncing allegiance to "all foreign princes and potentates" or something), but that's just words. It doesn't mean anything more than you want it to mean. I had my fingers crossed behind my back when I was saying it :).

Posted by: Dual Citizen on March 30, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dual Citizen: I would not have become a U.S. citizen if doing so had required me to give up my British citizenship.

Then you shouldn't have become a US citizen. My grandfather, also a British citizen by birth, became a naturalized American citizen after living here for many years as an LPR. It took him many years (my US born father was old enough to be the witness) because he took the citizenship oath seriously, and was ambivalent about permanently giving up his British citizenship.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Dual Citizen: I would not have become a U.S. citizen if doing so had required me to give up my British citizenship.

Then you shouldn't have become a US citizen. My grandfather, also a British citizen by birth, became a naturalized American citizen after living here for many years as an LPR. It took him many years (my US born father was old enough to be the witness) because he took the citizenship oath seriously, and was ambivalent about permanently giving up his British citizenship.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,
ok smartass, this is from National Academy of Sciences - "Workshop participants noted that estimates of the illegal immigrant population have been made for only selected time points and generally only for states. As a result, the case studies usually needed to extrapolate from available point estimates and make assumptions about the number of illegal immigrants in smaller areas, such as counties or metropolitan areas. Moreover, data on the characteristics of the illegal alien population are generally available only for national aggregates, requiring strong assumptions in order to develop subnational estimates."
last study was done in 1996 - are those the statistics your talking about? - even THEY admit there is no real way of knowing - i'll bet everyone of your other sources also come with the same disclaimer

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Then you shouldn't have become a US citizen.

Why? The U.S. didn't prevent it, and he wanted to retain citizenship for both countries. Don't like it, then change the law or just suck it up.

Posted by: haha on March 30, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Illegal Immigrants: OUT!! NOW!! 'And don't come back till you do it right. I dis-agree with Bush on this one. Guest worker = amnesty. They have broken our laws. Get out!

Hate to break it to you, but they aren't going to leave just because you tell them to leave. So how do you propose removing them?

Get back to us when you have the solution to that one.

Posted by: haha on March 30, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it is net positive- we are paying to subsidize certain industries: agriculture, food service construction, etc( who needs free markets?) while providing education medical, roads, higher insurance since they carry none- auto health etc, law enforcement and a new employee or 2 or 3 in every business and office who is bilingual. Meanwhile the remittance business is the biggest industry in Mexico.

Posted by: k on March 30, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

and we need a large number of workers (12 million)not in unions with no vote- really great for the country

Posted by: k on March 30, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Did you have a point, Rick?

You asked my sources, and I cited 'em. You glanced at 'em -- and reached the astonishing conclusion that, in addition to being authoritative...

... they're honest.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

they are honest, you are being misleading

Posted by: Rick on March 30, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I am really starting to think that a lot of the do-nothing open-border handwringers posting on this here (and on TPMCafe) deserve the political insult du jour: cheap-labor liberals. These people's main concern is that they won't be able to afford the nanny any more.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on March 30, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care what the benefit is for the larger economy, it is a net negative for low income workers to have to compete with illegal immigrants. Wages would be highers without them, and I don't care if that comes at the expense of some of Microsofts or walmarts profits.

Posted by: Soullite on March 30, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Dunno how I was misleading: seemed reasonably clear to me.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 30, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Pocket Rocket: I've read that without immigration, the U.S. population would be in decline, due to declining birth rates.

Wrong. Unlike Europe or Japan, without immigration we would have slow population growth. The US fertility rate is about 2.1 children per woman (slightly above the replacement rate)."

Right. But that's partially because of immigrants who emigrate here and then have 4 or 5 or 6 children. If we were to cut off immigration, the population growth would invert.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on March 30, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

If we were to cut off immigration, the population growth would invert.

Another good reason for a fence.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on March 30, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

"it's jsut a wash"

in a static analysis, that might be true.

in a dynamic analysis, convering several yars,

i wonder if that would not be would be inaccurate,

maybe higly inaccurate.


did these analysts take into account:

what happens when you (us - the government) spends money to seek out, arrest, hold, and deport millions of illegal immigrants?

or the costs if there is criminalization of illegals

or

criminalization of americans citizens who employ illegals?

or

the costs if businessmen operating on a knife's edge of profit

like vegetable and fruit farmers and processors

or

chicken farmers and processors

or

"small potatos" (is that with an "e" or not?) construction firms?

and tell me kevin

what do these prognosticators say about

any "reverse multiplier effect".

when workers who allow a small company or industry (e.g., carpets) to function (i'm talking about illegals only now)

are no longer available to that company.

so

the company goes out of business?


the incomes of workers are not spent.

the company does not buy machines, vehicles, gasoline, or whatever particular supplies that industry requires (say concrete or chicken feed)?

any ideas?

Posted by: orionATL on March 30, 2006 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

"the costs if businessmen operating on a knife's edge of profit"

Ugh, a socialist. Susidizing scut businesses with illegal alien labor is far and away the most expcnsive manner of subsidizing business, for the taxpayer must make up the difference of supporting the illegal's mujer, his 3.5 ninos, the 20 relatives on the way--their medical, education, extra infrastructure, etc.

If we want to subsidize scut businesses, the cheapest way to do this is direct subsidies from the taxpayer to the failing, non-competitive business.

Posted by: Myron on March 30, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

I had my fingers crossed behind my back when I was saying it.

Wow, a model citizen.

I consider myself a full citizen of both countries.

You can consider yourself a native of Mars, too, but it won't make it so.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 31, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Derek --
My mother too is a British-American dual citizen. As I understand it from her, as far as the British Govt. is concerned there simply is no such thing as "giving up you British citizenship." Why? Well, they used to call them British "subjects" -- maybe they still do. That should give you the general idea. It's not a club.

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

Does the war of 1812 ring a bell, Rat?

Posted by: theAmericanist on April 1, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

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