Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 30, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MARKET-STYLE IMMIGRATION REFORM....Over at Tapped, Ezra Klein summarizes an LA Times article explaining how we could go a long way toward cracking down on illegal immigration without thousands of miles of Iron Curtain-style fences or vast mobs of vigilante groups lining the borders. Instead, the single most effective policy would probably be the simplest: enforce the law that prohibits businesses from hiring illegals. The problem, of course, is that this would require Republicans to pass laws that their corporate contributors don't like, and we all know what that means. Let's put up a fence instead!

As for me, I'm basically in favor of a market-style approach that tweaks incentives to increase the cost of immigrating illegally while decreasing the cost of immigrating legally. At some point, if you can enact the right basket of policies to get the costs right, you'll reduce illegal immigration to a point we can live with.

So: crack down on employers because that's probably the the cheapest and easiest way of discouraging illegal immigration. If it's hard to get a job, you're less likely to cross the border. At the same time, make it easier to immigrate legally with a reasonable path to citizenship. This makes "getting in line" more attractive. Do these things right and there just aren't very many people left who find the illegal route more attractive than coming over legally.

It also goes a long way toward solving the wage problem. There's no question that immigration from Mexico drags down wages for unskilled labor, but today it drags it down even more than it has to because illegal immigrants have no bargaining power. An increased supply of legal immigrants would still put downward pressure on wages, but not nearly as much as illegal immigrants do.

And remember: one of these days we're all going to retire. When we do, we're going to be glad we let our population grow by adding a large number of citizens whose sole motivation for coming here was to work and make money. That's the same reason my ancestors came over, after all, and that all turned out pretty well in the end.

Kevin Drum 1:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (112)

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That's the same reason my ancestors came over, after all, and that all turned out pretty well in the end.
Kevin Drum

For whom exactly? My Coushatta aunts want to know.

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

Good idea about the employers, and one pushed by many conservatives, if not many Republican politicians. Taking another look at streamlining the legal immigration pipeline, and re-examining current quotas, is also a good idea.

Of course, these ideas aren't incompatible with the idea of increasing border security. Why not do both?

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

This is why I bother to read this blog and sometimes comment (even though I usually get splattered with arrogant hatred every time I bother to comment).

Kevin often supports the slight left of middle which is in some cases better than either of the extremes.

On this issue, the people in the middle - which I think includes a smattering of better border enforcement, better enforcement of laws against hiring of illegals, and please, please, please some kind of guest worker program that can gracefully phase us out of the situation we are currently in - are the ones with the sane policy.

Unfortunately, since mid term elections depend on bringing out the base, I don't think there is anything that will be done about immigration reform until after November.

Posted by: John Hansen on March 30, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, it wouldn't really work that way. Changing the payouts of slot machines isn't going to do anything if the floor boss has an override switch.

Even if you accept that changing the mix would do anything, and even if you got the mix just right, the same corrupt forces that support illegal immigration now will continue to support illegal immigration or other system-busting behavior later.

The same companies that profit off illegal immigration will pay the same or similar politicians to look the other way.

While almost all of those who are coming are doing so to work, that doesn't mean that they're all the same and think the same. That doesn't mean that working will be all that they end up doing. For instance, 58% of Mexicans think the U.S. southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico. While those who come from Mexico might be good workers, about half of them may hold ideas that are dangerous to the rest of us. The signs proclaiming this to be the Chicano "homeland" are just a fringe manifestation of this this belief.

And, almost all of those illegal aliens are low-wage workers. That doesn't sound like a sound retirement plan to me, especially since the work they do is very difficult and they would need to be part of it and about a decade or two before those who don't do such hard work.

Perhaps trying to stem corruption while trying to move away from depending on serf labor at the same time would be the better overall choice.

Illegal immigration news

Posted by: TLB on March 30, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to disagree with this Kevin - even tbrosz can't do it!

But let's not allow illegals access to cloning technology either - that way lies madness.

Posted by: craigie's gravity on March 30, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

However, just to play devil's advocate (since that's what I get paid for):

define "employer"

Are my neighbors going to get fined thousands of dollars for having illegals clean their pools? I hope so, because I don't have a pool. But they might object, and if you lose the middle classes on this, you lose the argument.

Posted by: craigie's gravity on March 30, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Market solutions? You weak-kneed pinko. Real Murkans
just squint thier eyes and get tough!

Posted by: jimbo on March 30, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

As for me, I'm basically in favor of a market-style approach that tweaks incentives to increase the cost of immigrating illegally while decreasing the cost of immigrating legally.

That's not a "market-style" approach. That's just using police power in a different fashion.

This is an old idea, and should be used. But should be done in conjuction with building an electrified fence and dramatically increasing the numbers of border patrol personnel.

However, so long as the economies of Mexico and Central American remain so weak, and the birthrates so high, you'll never stem the desire of people to come north. It's pathetic when you think about it, and should be, but apparently isn't a great embarrassment to the elites in those societies. Especially considering that they're all such good Catholics.

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

How is it possible that Republicans are itching to spend billions of dollars punishing illegal immigrants who flout the law, yet don't want to lay a finger on unlawful corporations who flout the law? Can you say hypocrisy on the Republican Right?

What a slap in the face to hard-working families in America.

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

The real problem with this common sense approach is that it hurts the owners of the GOP, so they'll never go for it. And evangelicals probably don't care, or maybe they even approve, because most of these immigrants are Catholics, and they are apt not to be in favor of abortion, and abortion is of course the only issue worth voting over.

So maybe the strategy is to convince people that all illegal immigrants are actually atheists! That should split the Republican party for years, if not forever. Hmmm...

Posted by: craigie's gravity on March 30, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

This is a concept I've been in agreement with for some time. Although I agree that many Republican politicans (and Democrats) won't go for it...it's not quite right to say that conservatives don't back. The National Review (or at least some of their writers) has been suggesting this for years.

Posted by: Nathan on March 30, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

It's hard to disagree with this Kevin - even tbrosz can't do it!

Hey, illegal immigration has been a conservative issue for years, and probably number one on the list of areas where conservatives have been dissatisfied with Bush's performance.

Welcome to the club. Where've you been?

What's next? Democrats getting all excited about national defense?

Posted by: tbrosz on March 30, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's about time someone pointed out the obvious solution -- crack down on employers.

I worked in an industry that had lots of illegals. As long as they showed us something that vaguely satisfied an I-9 form, we hired.

In fact, it would have been illegal to do more just because someone was foreign -- that would be discrimination.

Start levying fines on the owners of carwashes, janitorial services, etc., and pretty soon half the illegals would have no choice but to leave.

BUT don't just blame the Republicans -- the Dems don't want to piss of Business Lobby either.

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

Welcome to the club. Where've you been?

At a different club.

I think it's funny that in order to make this seem like a groovy, capitalist-friendly idea, Kevin has to call something "market-style reform" when what that appears to mean is "enforcing the law."

Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

For instance, 58% of Mexicans think the U.S. southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico. While those who come from Mexico might be good workers, about half of them may hold ideas that are dangerous to the rest of us.

That conclusion is not logically supported by the pruportaed facts you state. Even if 58% of Mexicans have some dream to recover the land stolen from them in 1848, it doesn't follow that 58% of the Mexican people who actually immigrate to the US believe that. In fact, it's possible the one of the reasons they're leaving Mexico is because they don't want to like under Mexican rule.

Posted by: Conservative apikoris on March 30, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Cracking down on employers is the only thing that makes sense. I've thought so for as long as I've been aware of the issue (I grew up in San Diego, CA, so that's a long time...) Well, that and convincing Latin America that Catholic attitudes towards contraception is what's killing their economies -- and then helping them get access to contraception, and build cultural approval for it.

Shrub has cut immigration enforcement on employers.

(I will admit, however, the GOP used this strategy -- attack the demand side of things -- for the War on (Some) Drugs, and it's sort of not working...)

Posted by: quietann on March 30, 2006 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

What's next? Democrats getting all excited about national defense?

Posted by: tbrosz on March 30, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Were all for a reasonable national defense, now stupid foreign policy and meddling in other nations affairs thats a different story.

Posted by: Neo the commissar on March 30, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Where I live there are plenty of illegal workers and no one cares. You can drive down to the town square and hire a Mexican worker for 10 bucks an hour (maybe buy him a soda and hamburger for lunch) and everyone one is happy. If one had to pay some contractor to gather his workers to do it it would cost easily 10 or 15 times more. There are no compalints from the liberals or the conservatives. Everyone seems to consider it a win-won for all.

Posted by: Raggy on March 30, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

hire a Mexican worker for 10 bucks an hour (maybe buy him a soda and hamburger for lunch) and everyone one is happy. If one had to pay some contractor to gather his workers to do it it would cost easily 10 or 15 times more.

Wow! People can get paid $150/hour plus lunch (or is that 10 or 15 lunches?) Where is this place - I want to go work there.

Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "One of these days, I'm going to retire. And when I do, I'm going to be glad to have a brown-skinned guy named Jose cut my lawn, and a brown-skinned girl named Maria clean my house."

Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 30, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh c'mon Raggy....."no one cares"??? And it costs you $100-$150 an hour to have your pool cleaned or your lawn cut when you call a service instead of picking up a guy in a parking lot? By the way, state employment offices connect employees/employers for free.

Posted by: mja94116 on March 30, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think you would have to include individuals who are paying these people under the table as well. This is ridiculous though. You think 10 million(just some made up number, I have no idea how many, but a lot) illegals are just going to start fleeing back to Mexico. They may be unemployable with this law, but do you think people are just going to let these people starve in the street?

I've seen a lot of state rumblings on this issue. I'd like to see a state's success at implementing a you can't hire illegals policy. I think it will be a cluster.

Grant amnesty to those already here, increase the number of work permits allowed from Mexico and start enforcing the border.

Posted by: Chad on March 30, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it at least worth mentioning, in terms of immigration from places like Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the ramifications on the economies of those countries for which the citizens of this country bear at least a good measure of responsibility thanks to decades of outright aggression and neoliberal economic warfare? I don't expect Congress to entertain that kind of discussion, but it would be nice to have the liberal blogosphere address it, even cursorily.

If we want to tighten border security and enforce strict immigration policy, maybe we should, in trade, be offering massive financial reparations to the countries we helped tear apart for 40 or 50 years. Rising tides, you know, lifting all boats and all of that?

Ah, fuck it. Let's just build a wall. It's TOTALLY working for Israel.

Posted by: flex on March 30, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

They may be unemployable with this law, but do you think people are just going to let these people starve in the street?

Of course not. This is where we let Cheney and his friends have a little "recreation." Problem solved.

Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

The real change that is needed is change in Mexico.
Close the border and you will accelerate real change in Mexico. I just hope it will be change for the better but I doubt it.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on March 30, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Two more steps:

1) Raise the minimum wage to match the highest value in inflation adjusted dollars that it has had in the last 30 or 40 years and establish automatic cost of living adjustments.

2) Really lower the boom on employers that cheat on minimum wage, overtime or other laws regarding pay and working conditions. This should include both heavier fines for criminal violations and triple damages for civil suits.

These two steps would go a long way towards reducing the opportunity for employers to cut costs by hiring illegal immigrants.

Providing for stronger enforcment of collective bargaining rights here in the U.S. would also make it easier for employees to defend themselves against unethical employers.

Encouraging Mexico and our other trading partners to at least meet international standards on worker rights and collective bargaining would make it more attractive for workers to stay where they are. Mexico for one has had a substantial increase in economic activity since NAFTA was enacted but it has served more to make a few people very rich than to help the typical worker.

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

flex -

Yours is the solution that Dare Not Speak Its Name. If we want to stem the tide of people willing to do almost anything to get here, then we should make it less desirable for them to leave home. And that, I'm afraid, is a soft, cuddly, liberal kind of solution, that costs money without anything concrete (like a wall!) to show for it. You just might cut down the problem in 5 or 10 years, but you'd be hard pressed to prove it.

In other words, I agree with you, but it will never happen.

Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Beyond not allowing them to be employed, we could also put a bunch of onerous restrictions on wire transfers back to Mexico. They're taking our money back to another country. If they want to be Americans, then be Americans.

I'm no doubt going to be able to come up with another couple of ridiculous ideas to go along with not letting them work and not letting them send money home. Just give a few minutes.

Posted by: Chad on March 30, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to enforce bans on HIRING illegal immigrants, you will need some way for employers to easily and unobtrusively identify illegal immigrants. Anti-discrimination law forbids extra scrutiny because of ethnicity, and any illegal immigrant working for someone with payroll withholding provided documentation showing that they are a legal worker (document forgery is a big business).

The proposed solution is a database of names and SSN's, available online so employers can check--but that has some rather significant privacy concerns.

So--a way fro employers to identify hiring illegals--forbidding discrimination--privacy--all three are valid concerns, but so far it's very difficult to see a way that all three can be accomplished.

Posted by: SamChevre on March 30, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

They're taking our money back to another country.

I thought the GOP talking point is that the money you earn is your money.

How about this solution: just outlaw cash. Once everything is an electronic transfer, we can control everything. With appropriate oversight from FISA, of course. Or not.

Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin and the LA Times are one step behind the curve, again. HR 4437, which has been so viciously attacked, not only adds penalties but also sets up a verification program that requires employers to verify the legal status of their employees. And the Minutemen, whom he slanders needlessly as vigilantes (they have not taken the law into their own hands), do mount watches at day worker sites to photograph contractors.

To Kevin's point: yes, enforcing the law against employers is an important step, but it cannot take care of everything. How are you going to stop people from surreptitiously hiring illegal labor and paying them with cash? We can try to police this, and if we do it seriously, we can experience some success. However, this is going to be very difficult if we do not set up a serious barrier to entry. Otherwise, you're still going to have a flood of illegals who are willing to conspire with employers to circumvent the law.

Additionally, be aware that immigrants can now bring in their extended families--including grandma and grandpa. The average age of the immigrant population is 39, four years older than the native population. The supposed benefit you get from a growing population will be negated by the old folks the immigrants import and the fact that the immigrants, being low-skilled workers, will not be able to create as much wealth as the high-skilled workers they are replacing.

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

This morning Mark Riley on AAR's 5-7 a.m. show presented the other side of the coin...

An Anglo (American) girl was visiting Mexico as a sort of post-graduation break. She found her self being offered a property management position in a Mexican resort community and thought she had stumbled into an attractive and comfortable situtation... until the Federales paid a call to inform her she could not take the job without first having jumped through the proper governmental hoops to obtain the required paperwork.

That tells me, in at least some ways, the Mexican government has more concern for its people than the American.

Posted by: stumpy on March 30, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Immigration of whites didn't turn out all that well in the end for the Native American population did it? Prosperity was not theirs was it?

In time, immigrated Hispanics may decided they don't owe an aging white population anything. Wonder what a white reservation will look like?

Posted by: Bell on March 30, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed that Kevin's "free-market" solution doesn't have anything to do with markets - it's a questions of enforcement. And it's not a simple solution - how do you enforce the law is incredibly complex.

The practical reality is that if the US forced all employers to verify the legal status of workers that would substantially change the game. And as craigie illustrates above, if that's extended to all the people doing work on your pool, providing daycare, etc., that would have a swift impact all over the place.

And if it were done suddenly, talk about the dislocation! Construction, agriculture, day care and lots of other industries would all of sudden scramble for workers - or have to start raising wages or closing.

But this whole issue isn't that simple - it leads right to basic questions of national identity and what we want for our future:
How populous do you want the country to be? Do you want bigger cities with worse traffic, but more job opportunities?

What culture do you want to live and grow old in?

What language do you want to hear around you? (BTW - I'm bilingual and I think everyone should learn another language)

etc. Those are very emotional and tough questions. And what's really illuminating is there does not seem to be a huge economic argument one way or the other for the US. (Which is vastly different than Europe or Japan or have shrinking populations)

One other note: Rove's little gambit has worked beautifully in one way. Suddenly people are talking about immigration, rather than Iraq. But in the long run I'm not sure that you can guess where all these discussions will go.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 30, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative apikoris says: Even if 58% of Mexicans have some dream to recover the land stolen from them in 1848, it doesn't follow that 58% of the Mexican people who actually immigrate to the US believe that.

Note the "about half" in my comment. It might be less than that, it might be more. No one really knows. However, "liberalism" is still encouraging racial separatism by, for instance, apologizing for MEChA (or, in the case of the L.A. Times, ignoring or lying about it).

Raggy says: There are no compalints from the liberals or the conservatives. Everyone seems to consider it a win-won for all.

Those contractors are no doubt part of national associations that donate to politicians. Those politicians then ignore our laws, and that's corruption. You and your neighbors might want to look into this issue in quite a bit more depth.

Someone else: You think 10 million(just some made up number, I have no idea how many, but a lot) illegals are just going to start fleeing back to Mexico.

This is a variation on the "cattle cars full of weeping deportees" argument. Many of them will leave in time. And, there are ways to make Mexico take them back.

Another writes: Isn't it at least worth mentioning, in terms of immigration from places like Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the ramifications on the economies of those countries for which the citizens of this country bear at least a good measure of responsibility thanks to decades of outright aggression and neoliberal economic warfare? I don't expect Congress to entertain that kind of discussion, but it would be nice to have the liberal blogosphere address it, even cursorily.

Here's another thing for "liberals" to feel guilty about: the effect of massive emigration and remittances on the sending countries. Those who support massive illegal immigration automatically support that devastation. Perhaps you should do something about it now rather than feeling guilty later.

-- To see a discussion of some of the other canards used by supporters of massive illegal immigration, check out Immigration Reform

Posted by: TLB on March 30, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Immigration of whites didn't turn out all that well in the end for the Native American population did it? Prosperity was not theirs was it?

Hell, they got screwed before the first white settler even stepped ashore. Diseases, you know. Spread by the first explorers. Totally different situation, not at allanalogous to the current situation.


In time, immigrated Hispanics may decided they don't owe an aging white population anything. Wonder what a white reservation will look like?

My goodness, some real guilty feelings here. I work with a lot of Hispanics, and I've never heard any hostility towards gringos. They're going to want to move into white neighborhoods, not put whites off in a reservation.

Posted by: Jose Jimenez on March 30, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

That tells me, in at least some ways, the Mexican government has more concern for its people than the American.

At the same time as Mexican ambulances bring pregnant women across the border to give birth, Mexican hospitals have demanded large amounts of money to treat American emergency victims. In at least two cases I know of they died before being treated.

The Mexican government's human rights commission has admitted that they regularly engage in abuse against illegal immigrants from other countries, and they very strictly enforce their borders.

About 200 people per year become naturalized Mexican citizens vs about 1 million in the U.S.

A recent Zogby poll shows that Mexicans don't have that high a regard for Americans.

Since I don't have time to type out the requisite disclaimers, consider those just data points.

Posted by: TLB on March 30, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

This is old stuff. We had the same discussion in the 1980's [It tends to come up in times of worker insecurity.]

President Reagan's amnesty law, also known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
IRCA essentially granted undocumented/overstay aliens an opportunity to gain lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. as long as they could prove that they entered the U.S. prior to January 1, 1982, and resided in continuous unlawful status through May 4, 1988. Reagan's amnesty benefited millions of people, many of whom have already become U.S. citizens by now.
...
Employer duties in IRCA
http://uscis.gov/graphics/aboutus/history/sanctions.htm
IRCA and Employer Sanctions
IRCA corrected an unfair double standard in immigration law that prohibited unauthorized aliens from working in the United States but permitted employers to hire them.
IRCA Employer Sanctions Provisions
IRCA, among other things:
* Makes it unlawful for any person knowingly to hire, recruit or refer for a fee any alien not authorized to work, and established phased penalties for non-compliance.
* Requires employers to verify all newly hired employees by examining either a U.S. passport, a certificate of U.S. citizenship, a certificate of naturalization, resident alien card or a combination of papers showing identify and authority to work.
* Requires each employer to attest to documentation before any hiring.
* Requires the employee to attest that s/he is authorized to work in the United States.
* Establishes civil and criminal penalties for hiring illegal aliens, with a six-month education period during which employers would not be subject to penalties, and a subsequent 12-month warning period when a violator would be given a warning citation for the first offense.
* Requires employers, recruiters and those who refer for employment to keep records.
IRCA Anti-Discrimination Provisions
IRCA, among other things:
* Creates an Office of Special Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute any charges of discrimination stemming from unlawful immigration-related employment practices.
Bars employers from discriminating against legal residents simply because they are not full-fledged citizens.

Here's an analysis of IRCA
http://www.cis.org/articles/2005/back105.html

Here's a discussion on the declining enforcement of IRCA
http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?id=332

Hey, illegal immigration has been a conservative issue for years, and probably number one on the list of areas where conservatives have been dissatisfied with Bush's performance. Posted by: tbrosz at 1:37 PM
The corporation funding the Republican Party have always liked cheap immigrant labor for higher profits and more docile workers. That has keep them for offering serious solutions. The other element of the Republican Party, the nativist and racist element, is against it, hence the conflict in the party. Posted by: Mike on March 30, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

The practical reality is that if the US forced all employers to verify the legal status of workers that would substantially change the game.

All you need to do is prosecute - criminally if possible - a certain number of employers per year. That will send a very strong message that other employers will hear loud and clear.

Posted by: TLB on March 30, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The fake ID industry has been going on for a long time. Reporters have shown how easy it is to get a fake "green card," social security card or drivers license. But the catch is that the numbers don't match the government files.

I have often wondered why there couldn't be a system whereby an employer would report the name and social security number of each new employee online. Then a government computer could check whether (a) the social security number had ever been assigned to a person of that name, and (b) whether this social security number was being used by some other person in some other place. Obvious fakes and duplications would get flagged.

The advantage of this system is that the employer is not required to play cop; his responsibility begins and ends with reporting a name and a number. It's not unlike the system whereby the hotel desk in Venice takes your passport number.

As to enforcement, once again it does not place an undue burden on the employer. The government can handle violations according to current policy, whatever that happens to be.

This would not have much effect on the cash market for day labor, but that isn't the main problem. Roofing and construction and hotel cleaning and lots of other industries might be hard hit, but the result would be to return labor costs to what would actually be more of a fair market rate.

Posted by: Bob G on March 30, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "enforce the law that prohibits businesses from hiring illegals. The problem, of course, is that this would require Republicans to pass laws that their corporate contributors don't like, and we all know what that means. Let's put up a fence instead!"

Instead!!! Hell lets do that too!!! In fact let's make the illegals build the MoFo.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

People here at this "left wing" site have no trouble thinking that putting up a thousand mile long electrified fence is a good idea. This is blatently totalitarian at best, and horribly racist at worst. Having lived in San Diego, and dated a woman living in Mexico in the past, one has no idea how middle and upper class Mexicans suffer to get appropriate visas just to be able to shop in San Diego for a day. The border crossings are horrible messes daily with small minded bigots for immigration guards who are way overworked. It is completely barbaric, and in no way represents any kind of a civilized solution.

If you make it so that one needs to have a verified SSN to work in the US, illegal workers will stop coming. Period. Now in LA anybody with $10 can have a fake green card and a fake social security card that will allow them to work in the US. The law is not enforced at all, and that's the way the conservative business interests like it.

Open the borders and let people in who want to vacation and spend their money, but enforce the laws that are already on the books, and the problem will get MUCH better, without resorting to draconian, Orwellian tactics lately seen behind the Iron Curtain.

Posted by: Another Lurker on March 30, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Going back to Kevin's original thought about making it less attractive to immigrate illegally and more attractive to immigrate legally, how about a law that penalizes people during the legal immigration process if they have previously tried to immigrate illegally.

For example, applicants who have ever had a deportation order filed against them might be forced to wait an extra 3-5 years. Right now, part of the problem is that attempting to immigrate illegally is a no-lose situation. The worst case scenario is that you get deported, in which case you are right back where you started from...no better, but certainly no worse.

However, change the law so that attempting to immigrate illegally will jeopardize future attempts to immigrate legally, and people might start to think twice about trying to enter the country illegally.

Of course, for all I know, this may already be a part of current immigration law but not not being enforced. Anybody know how being deported affects future attempts to immigrate legally?

Posted by: MattW on March 30, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

This [a border fence] is blatently totalitarian at best, and horribly racist at worst.

Bullshit, pure and simple. A fence that's designed to keep people in is totalitarian, a fence that's designed to keep people out is only commonsense. As for racism, making this charge only betrays intellectual bankruptcy.

Having lived in San Diego, and dated a woman living in Mexico in the past, one has no idea how middle and upper class Mexicans suffer to get appropriate visas just to be able to shop in San Diego for a day.

Well, if they hadn't made such a mess of their country that 56% of the people want to leave, they wouldn't have to go through the hassle.

In the list of people deserving my sympathy, upper and middle class Mexicans come in somwhere towards the bottom half.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

If you make it so that one needs to have a verified SSN to work in the US, illegal workers will stop coming. Period.

Right. And if you make cocaine illegal, people will stop using it. And if you make prostitution illegal, people will stop doing that too. Oh, wait...

Posted by: craigie on March 30, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Another Lurker:
That racist crap is just BS to try and make conservatives wary. I ain't buying it and no thinking person would because it's a weak and tired tactic. Which doesn't even make sense because conservatives are no more racist than you are. Racists are racist, no matter what side of the aisle they are on period. It has nothing to do with race anyway. This is about all illegals AND about national security. Mexico just happens to be the biggest problem.
Sure if you think enforcement alone will fix it then lets do it.
But if it doesn't work and the illegals keep coming in with terrorists possibly in their midst then *wink* I gotta job for 'em. Build it boys!

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Another Lurker:
That racist crap is just BS to try and make people wary. I ain't buying it and no thinking person would because it's a weak and tired tactic. It has nothing to do with race anyway. This is about all illegals AND about national security. Mexico just happens to be the biggest problem.
Sure if you think enforcement alone will fix it then lets try it.
But if it doesn't work and the illegals keep coming in with terrorists possibly in their midst then *wink* I gotta job for 'em. Build it boys!

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

After re-reading your post Another Lurker I had to gladly change my post.

Posted by: Lurker42 on March 30, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Derek Copold: HR 4437, which has been so viciously attacked, not only adds penalties but also sets up a verification program that requires employers to verify the legal status of their employees.

That's the good side of the bill. Then some moron(s) decided to make it a felony to live here illegally, or to help illegal aliens in any way.

As I've said before, if I didn't know better (and I'm not sure I do) I'd think that HR 4437 was written by fifth columnists to set back the cause of stopping illegal immigration by years.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hispanic is not a race it is an ethnicity. For race, the majority of Hispanic or Latin ethnicity tend to be native-American, white (gasp) or a mix.

Posted by: james on March 30, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: And if you make cocaine illegal, people will stop using it.

The analogy to the War on Drugs is false. People buy illegal cocaine at high prices because there is no less expensive or legal substitute. By contrast, the legal substitute for illegal labor is legal labor. Just raise the price of illegal labor (through fines, etc.) enough and people will buy the less expensive legal labor instead.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Then some moron(s) decided to make it a felony to live here illegally, or to help illegal aliens in any way.

Actually, that was written by the Democrats as a poison pill according to Sensenbrenner, and it does not, despite Cardinal Mahoney's bellyaching, target those providing humanitarian aid. It goes after people smugglers--you know, the guys who leave semi-trailers full of illegals out in the hot sun.

The point being: that language is not set in stone, and it can be removed in the conference committee. The two important points are the database verification requirement and the beefed up border security. Until these two provisions are in place and working effectively to reduce the illegal population, talk of an amnesty or guest-worker programs is so foolish it borders on the insane.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Someone on a blog I read a few days ago (can't remember who or where) suggested giving green cards to any undocumented workers who turn in an employer who hires them. Now that's a free market solution that could actually work!

Posted by: Rich C on March 30, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Employer sanctions entered US law with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1987, part of the quid pro quo for the amnesty offered to the estimated 6 or 7 million illegals that were thought to be living (and working) here. When employer sanctions went into effect INS threw all kinds of resources into enforcement, doubling the number of special agents they had in most district offices. But, as time went by enforcement became sort of a joke...a big joke. Also a bad joke as more and more employers used their liability under employer sanctions to avoid hiring people who appeared to foreign born. In other words it became a means for employers to lawfully discriminate in their hiring. To the point that unions like AFSCME actually have called for employer sanctions to be abolished because of their ineffectiveness in keeping illegals out and their being used by employers for purposes of discriminatory hiring practices.

But, by all means, lets repeat our past mistakes.

Do I have any serious ideas about how to avoid all the pitfalls we've learned about in the past? Not really. If we employ beefed up employer sanctions it will be a shortlived project that will be subverted by large political contributions made by whole industries as well as specific employers. Eventually the new law will become a joke like the old law. Build a fence along the borders? Is that the Miners and Tunnel Diggers Full Employment Act of 2007 we are talking about? Or maybe we need to beef up border security personnel so we can hire more Coast Guard personnel after the smugglers take to the seas. Plain fact is we don't have the will or resources to secure our borders from determined immigrants who think they can find a better life here. They will stop coming when they stop believing that their lives are better here than staying home.

In the meantime there are some things we can do. If we are going to offer illegals some method of regularizing their status and putting them on the track for citizenship, which is the preferable way to go, we need to insure that we don't set up programs that are going to encourage fraud. When legalization was set up in the late 1980s under IRCA it provided huge incentives for fraud because people could only apply for the benefit if they were here, but were only eligible if they had been here for at least five years by the time the program went into effect. Imagine what a market there was for fraudulent documents that would provide proof if presence in the US for those who were unlucky enough to have not arrived prior to 1982. Guest worker statute? By all means. But set it up so intending guest workers can only apply outside the US. Encourage them to go home to apply for a regularization of their status. Don't encourage them to come here and start out by committing fraud.

Posted by: Majun on March 30, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Derek Copold: Actually, that was written by the Democrats as a poison pill according to Sensenbrenner

I'm skeptical of that claim, but would be very interested in any links, etc. to any evidence that that was true.

and it does not, despite Cardinal Mahoney's bellyaching, target those providing humanitarian aid

How clear is the language? There can be a big difference between what people claim a law is supposed to do, and what can actually be done with it.

that language is not set in stone, and it can be removed in the conference committee.

I've long suspected that the felony stuff was put in as something to be bargained away. It's still dumb. Look at the backlash it (quite understandably) created.

Do we really need 11 million new felons? The way to enforce a law is not to make the potential penalties draconian, but to make them reasonable and effectively and consistently enforce them.

The two important points are the database verification requirement and the beefed up border security. Until these two provisions are in place and working effectively to reduce the illegal population, talk of an amnesty or guest-worker programs is so foolish it borders on the insane.

We mostly agree here, especially about database verfication. As far as I'm concerned guest worker programs should always be off the table (let's can the H-1B too).

I'd be fine with amnesty if I thought the laws would actually be enforced in the future. Having fallen for the 1986 fiasco though, I don't want to even hear talk of amnesty until after it's been demonstrated that the laws will be enforced.

Posted by: alex on March 30, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Alex: Here's an expanded summary from Paul Cella ( a very conservative source). He links to the bill itself in the first paragraph, too.

http://www.redstate.com/story/2006/3/30/9167/30353

The House also has a side-by-side comparison of the proposed law with current law showing that if the proposed law requires locking up Fr. O'Hoolahan for handing out soup to the illegals, then so does the current law:

http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/smugglingsidebyside.pdf

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's still dumb. Look at the backlash it (quite understandably) created.

You would have had backlash one way or the other. If we weren't fight over the felony issue, it'd be a fight over the "Berlin Wall" on the border. If they're so focused on this, fine. They'll have that much less room to complain if the provision is dropped.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Can we imagine hundreds of square miles of shack cities surrounding our major urban centers?

Posted by: cld on March 30, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

We're going to retire and the people who have bogus SSN's will have their 6% going to the general fund, not the SSA trust fund because there is no account number for it to be ascribed to. The employers don't have to worry about their 6% , they get off. The illegal worker does not have to pay federal or state witholding( dummy SSN remember) or just 'dummy' up the paystub so that it reads married with 6 children for everyone so no money comes out. There will be no RSDI( Retired survivors disability insurance) for illegal workers to retire with and we the taxpayers will pay their Supplemental Security Income checks( with medicaid) because they will have nothing else. So we pay for our retirement and theirs too while we subsidized Joe Sixpacks self Contracting business 30 years before. Congratulations.

Posted by: emel on March 30, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Alex: Here's an expanded summary from Paul Cella ( a very conservative source). He links to the bill itself in the first paragraph, too.

http://www.redstate.com/story/2006/3/30/9167/30353

The House also has a side-by-side comparison of the proposed law with current law showing that if the proposed law requires locking up Fr. O'Hoolahan for handing out soup to the illegals, then so does the current law:

http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/smugglingsidebyside.pdf

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

...ummm, not exactly the same thing if you look at it closely and pay attention. They would like you to believe that this:

Sections 274(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (v)(II):
(iv) Any person whoencourages or induces
an alien to come to . . . or reside in the
United States, knowing or in reckless
disregard of the fact that such coming to . . .
or residence is or will be in violation of law
shall be punished as provided in
subparagraph (B).

is the same as this:

Section 274(a)(1)(C):
Whoever assists, encourages, directs, or
induces a person to reside in or remain in the
United States, or to attempt to reside in or
remain in the United States, knowing or in
reckless disregard of the fact that such
person is an alien who lacks lawful authority
to reside in or remain in the United States
shall be punished as provided in paragraph
(2), ...

But the fact is that the addition of the word "assists" in the new law makes it a whole new ballgame. That one little word is enough to lock up Fr. O'Hoolahan for handing out a bowl of soup. But lack of that word in the existing law leaves good samaritans in the clear. But use your head. I mean if they really weren't making any real changes to the criminal penalties that apply, why bother passing a law in the first place?

Posted by: Majun on March 30, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

However, so long as the economies of Mexico and Central American remain so weak, and the birthrates so high, you'll never stem the desire of people to come north. It's pathetic when you think about it, and should be, but apparently isn't a great embarrassment to the elites in those societies. Especially considering that they're all such good Catholics.

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

Equating Mexican culture with that of Central American republics (which themesleves have separate histories) ignores the almost one hundred and fifty years of state anti-clerical policy of our southern neighbor. After years of war between the Cristeros and the Mexican government, which itself had its roots in the Wars of Reform, the Church's role in Mexican society was severely curtailed. As recently as 2002, the Mexican press excoriated Vicente Fox for kissing the ring of the Pope when he visited Mexico to canonize Juan Diego. Moreover, the Mexican birth rate has been dropping over the last few decades and I wouldn't find it surprising to see it approach that of the US in the next few years.

Two final points... First, there have been numerous efforts over Mexico's history to reform its political system. The work and sacrifice of millions of Mexico definitively ended one-party rule in 2000, after eating away the foundation of PRI's political monopoly for decades. The effort to deepen democracy and economic reform continues.

Of course, there are obstacles. Mexican business and political elites fight these changes. U.S.-based and other multinational corporations operating in Mexico often share the interests of these elites, but not always. I think that NAFTA represented the policies advocated by these parties and it comes as no surprise that the agreement did not help the average Mexican. Given the world economic climate and Mexico's place within it, attributing Mexican poverty to some sort of congenital political inertia seems inaccurate. The political and economic reforms needed to stem the flow of migrants heading north is unlikely to rest on laissez faire foundations. Internal and external change will be needed, though thankfully Mexican's base of resources and infrastructure would make its flourescence less painful than that of, say, Portugal in the 1970's and 80's.

El-P

Posted by: El-P on March 30, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

craigie writes:

I think it's funny that in order to make this seem like a groovy, capitalist-friendly idea, Kevin has to call something "market-style reform" when what that appears to mean is "enforcing the law."

It's a market-style law enforcement. You can enforce the law by building a wall. You can enforce the law by doing police sweeps through workplaces, schools, and churches (as has been done in the past). You can enforce the law by increasing border patrol. Or, you can use market reforms and take out the demand, and then supply will disappear. It's like illegal drug enforcement - the problem can't be solved with traditional "law enforcement," as long as the demand is high, especially in a democracy such as ours.

Posted by: Andy on March 30, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

That one little word is enough to lock up Fr. O'Hoolahan for handing out a bowl of soup.

The same thing could be said for "encourage", which is in the existing law.

I mean if they really weren't making any real changes to the criminal penalties that apply, why bother passing a law in the first place?

Because the next sentence includes those who keep illegal aliens in the U.S.--the "remain" part as opposed to simply "entering and residing". So if Fr. O'Hoolahan agnostically hands out a bowl of soup to someone who happens to be illegal, he's not in violation of the law. If he knowingly sets up house for an illegal alien and covers for him, then he is in violation of the law, and, quite frankly, he should be punished.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
according to this link, Diebold has purged California voter lists of 43% of newly registered voters in the LA area -- and 26% statewide.

How does this affect upcoming contests in a tight race?

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/3/30/103433/106

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 30, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

A word about this fence idea. Most of the border area between Arizona and Mexico is very isolated, very harsh, often mountainous terrain. The areas that have been devastated by turn of the century (19th to 20th) cattle running are only now, with careful work by Audubon, the Nature Conservancy, and others, recovering. It is vital for wildlife to be able to go back and forth across this man made border. A desert environment is far more fragile than other zones. Where I grew up in the northeast, an unused dirt road would be grown over in a few seasons. Here it takes up to 100 yrs.

This doesn't mean I advocate unrestricted human immigration. In fact, the San Pedro River, one of the last riparian areas in south east Arizona, suffers horribly from the human traffic. I bird this area frequently and I was speaking to a naturalist volunteer the other day. Up to 500 people per NIGHT now use the San Pedro River as a guide through the area. It is heartbreaking to see all the diapers, water jugs, backbacks, etc., that now litter this very important natural resource.

So, yes we have a problem, but building a fence would be an ecological nightmare.

Posted by: trogon bill on March 30, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Andy sey: Or, you can use market reforms and take out the demand, and then supply will disappear.

Oh, how can you be sure the supply will disappear?

The job market is not the ONLY attraction, maybe they want a decent education for their children, maybe they have relatives here, etc. Don't kid yourself, the supply may get smaller, but how much smaller is a good question. I'm sure many people would rather be living in the USA without a job or a steady job then living in Mexico, either out of work or working for a few dollars a day.

Posted by: Rhythmwize on March 30, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

a large number of citizens whose sole motivation for coming here was to work and make money. That's the same reason my ancestors came over, after all, and that all turned out pretty well in the end.

Sing it loudly.

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

That one little word is enough to lock up Fr. O'Hoolahan for handing out a bowl of soup.

The same thing could be said for "encourage", which is in the existing law.

I mean if they really weren't making any real changes to the criminal penalties that apply, why bother passing a law in the first place?

Because the next sentence includes those who keep illegal aliens in the U.S.--the "remain" part as opposed to simply "entering and residing". So if Fr. O'Hoolahan agnostically hands out a bowl of soup to someone who happens to be illegal, he's not in violation of the law. If he knowingly sets up house for an illegal alien and covers for him, then he is in violation of the law, and, quite frankly, he should be punished.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 30, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK


No court I know of will interpret the word "encourage" as meaning the same thing as "assist". They cover two very different types of activities. One providing hope and the other providing concrete aid such as food or shelter. Don't kid yourself this law is a major change and will criminalize a whole range of humanitarian activities. I just pointed out the word "assists" as a quicky, but the addition of the word "directs" to the criminalized types of activities also broadens the scope of the law so that not only Fr. O'Hoolahan, running the parish soup kitchen, will be in jeopardy, but the Monsignior and the Bishop are on the hook here too. If the soup kitchen is run at their direction, or under their authority.

And the language that you point to, about "remains" doesn't mean what you seem to think it means. The old law only talked about "coming to" and "residence", but the new statute adds this language:

knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States

The reason for that change is that the old law made it easy for someone who helped a nonimmigrant overstay to simply say that they didn't know that their status was no longer valid. They came in legally and they didn't meet the immigration statute's definition of residence, so they weren't covered by the old statute. Now, with the addition of the language about "remain" in the US, they have picked up those who aid persons who have overstayed or otherwise violated their nonimmigrant status. Now foreign student advisors at our Universities are on the hook, either act as an enforcer when an F1 student goes out of status, or risk going to jail for 10 years. The person or persons who drafted this knew very well what they were doing.

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

And if we don't enforce the laws against hiring illegals, then honest employers will be driven out of business by employers who are willing to break the law. And there's already WAY too much of THAT kind of thing going around.

Posted by: ferd on March 30, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

So many liberal platitudes! "...We're going to be glad we let our population grow by adding a large number of citizens whose sole motivation for coming here was to work and make money. That's the same reason my ancestors came over...." Platitudes ("America is a nation of immigrants") or charges of racism are both ways to keep from thinking. I am reminded of Bushco platitudes about "freedom and democracy" or the "liberal media".

Tate's law: how you define the problem determines its solution.

We need to tease apart two issues. The first has to do with immigration. The second is our inability to control our Southern border. We don't have problems with controlling our border with Canada.

We have a flow of Mexicans and others from Central America walking over the borders to the US and scoring low wage jobs in agriculture and domestic service because even a low wage job is better than their opportunity back home. Is this a problem of immigration or is it a problem of our inability to control our borders? Are people coming here because we are such a great nation or because the economies of Mexico & Central America are so impoverished.

How is this situation different than, say, the situation when immigrants came to the US around 1880-1920?

One difference has to do with resources and limits to growth. Then the US was a sparsely populated continent. Are we an empty continent now? Do Americans really want the US population to grow from 300 million people to 400 million people over the next 30 years? How adequate is our water supply now? How are our forests doing? How is the soil? The fisheries? How about our wetlands?

Another difference is the power dynamic. The US today is a rich, fat country that has meddled in the economies of Mexico and Central America. We are subsidizing our wasteful life styles and avoiding reality by sucking dry the resources of other nations through cheap oil and cheap labor. It changes the dynamic of why people come here. Americans have a greed motive to ignore the poverty we have caused. It works out very well for us. And we can soothe our consciences by saying that people are coming here for the same reason our ancestors came here.

You want market solutions? Pay a living wage for farm workers and domestic service. Jail employers who hire illegals. Support the economies of Mexico and Central America. Tax oil. Support sustainable life styles in the US.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 30, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Just an aside something a few people touched on way up-thread. Most people here seem to be thinking mainly in terms of the large industries employing lots of illegals agribusiness, chicken-processing plants, the like. And a lot of that really is labor that few American citizens would readily do for what it pays. (Raise the pay enough, though, and I guarantee you can find enough Americans to do anything. Prices would of course rise. A lot.)

But what about the illegal immigrants doing work that many if not most Americans cheerfully do themselves? Believe it or not, some people really do mow their own lawns, clip their own hedges, tend their own gardens, wash and iron their own clothes, dust their own furniture, vacuum their own carpets, wash their own cars, cook their own meals, and even gasp raise their own children. And houses somehow keep getting built even in places where the population of undocumented workers is negligible. I think the demand is at least as much a function of the supply as the reverse. Why bother doing this pesky work when I can get someone else to do it so cheaply?

Posted by: waterfowl on March 30, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN,

Not trying to be snarky here, genuinely curious:

Jail employers who hire illegals.

Would that include the modern-day equivalents of Zo Baird and Kimba Wood, or wouldn't it?

Posted by: waterfowl on March 30, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

I agree enforcing employer sanctions would be the best solution, but are you really willing to take on the ACLU and the rest of the sabateurs that make it impossible to get a legitimate ID card in this country. I think you might have come up against this same problem in your identity theft research.

Posted by: wks on March 30, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

One difference has to do with resources and limits to growth. Then the US was a sparsely populated continent. Are we an empty continent now? Do Americans really want the US population to grow from 300 million people to 400 million people over the next 30 years?

This American does.

China, with about four times our population, already has a GDP that by some estimates is nearly 2/3rds the size of the USA's in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Now, I realize PPP comparisons aren't valid for all purposes, but it does give me pause to think that in a few years, possibly as few as ten, the United States will no longer be the nation-state with the single largest economy. At some point that has to affect American national power and influence.

The dirty little secret nobody talks about anymore (though 19th and early 20th century statesmen talked about it a lot) is that population is a key input for the size of a nation's economy, and the size of a nation's economy is THE key determinant of national power. The fact that America's population -- thanks to immigration -- is growing faster than that of China or Europe or Japan or Brazil (and maybe even faster than Mexico, so I'm told) is frankly a comfort to me.

Truth be told, the coming world population crash will be one of the big stories, maybe THE big story, of the 21st century. Many nations won't be able to muster even glacial population growth, and many, perhaps most, will eventually be in decline. The US, too, may someday face the prospect of shrinking population. But for now we're not, thanks to the fact that so many people consider our country a great place to live.

I have a feeling our descendants will look back with wonder on the days when America had a really difficult time merely keeping people from sneaking in, so sharp will be the global competition for human resources.

Now, I'm not oblivious to the pressures created by population growth. But still, America's population would have to reach one billion to even match the population density of modern day France -- one of the European countries with the greatest quantities of lovely countryside and undeveloped land.

Many of America's current challenges in this regard are created by unwise policies dealing with sprawl, transportation, housing, etc., and could be solved, and likely will be solved (as the market increasingly makes the classic suburban American lifestyle dearer) by appropriate changes leading to greater density. Population growth itself, in other words, is only part -- I believe a small part -- of the story.

The fact is, even factoring in today's relatively robust levels of immigation, the growth in the US population is continuing to decelerate, and this slowing growth shows little sign of reversing over the long haul. We're likely living in the waning days of the great American expansion; to the extent that immigration keeps us growing a bit more quickly for a few more decades, I'd say on balance it's a big plus for national security.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 30, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh, a papist.

Posted by: Myron on March 30, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

waterfowl: "Would [jailing employers who hire illegals] include the modern-day equivalents of Zo Baird and Kimba Wood, or wouldn't it?"

I hadn't thought it through. My focus was really on finding ways to change the incentives. Originally I wrote, "fine employers..." and then I thought that we need to make the incentives stronger. "Jail" seemed like a stronger disincentive.

That said, I have sympathy for individuals who try to do the right thing when they hire household help but don't know quite how. Employment law assumes a small human resources department to deal with employment issues--withholding FICA, for example. So you want to hire a nanny for the summer or pay someone to clean your house. Or--as happened to me--you try to arrange a small bus route to get your children home from school. Suddenly the State is treating you like GE. That's hard.

So, I guess, upon reflection, that I would prefer to treat modern day Zoe Baird's or Kimba Woods differently.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 30, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

PTate,

So you want to hire a nanny for the summer or pay someone to clean your house. Or--as happened to me--you try to arrange a small bus route to get your children home from school. Suddenly the State is treating you like GE. That's hard.

We need to separate issues here. Getting the Social Security tax properly calculated and filed is hard for a single employer. But making some effort to find out whether the person you're hiring can work legally in this country doesn't seem all that onerous. Shouldn't you at minimum try?

I don't know about your bus route. I hope it didn't involve illegal, unlicensed drivers. I doubt it did.

Posted by: waterfowl on March 30, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida writes,

"Truth be told, the coming world population crash will be one of the big stories, maybe THE big story, of the 21st century."

Or....not.

Even under the UN Population Division's low projection of population growth, world population is expected to rise by over 1.2 billion by 2050, to about 7.7 billion people. Under the medium projection, it is expected to rise by over 2.5 billion, to about 9.1 billion people. Under the high projection, it is expected to rise by over 4 billion, to about 10.7 billion people.

If the forces seeking to make it harder for men and women to control their fertility (notably, the Roman Catholic Church) gain power and influence, even the UN's high projection may be too low.

Posted by: Folsom on March 30, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, these ideas aren't incompatible with the idea of increasing border security. Why not do both?

Cost.

Posted by: blank on March 30, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Is anyone (besides myself) thinking of the ultimate solution? No matter what we do, in ten years time, we'll be revisiting this issue again.

So my suggestion is to do the unthinkable - recruit Mexico as our 51st state. I'm serious :-)

Both sides win and we solve the problem by adressing the problem - not the symptoms of the problem.

Just a thought :-)

Posted by: rich on March 30, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Even under the UN Population Division's low projection of population growth, world population is expected to rise by over 1.2 billion by 2050, to about 7.7 billion people. Under the medium projection, it is expected to rise by over 2.5 billion, to about 9.1 billion people. Under the high projection, it is expected to rise by over 4 billion, to about 10.7 billion people.

Right. So, even under the implausible "worst case" UN projections, the first half of the 21st century will see roughly a 60% rise in the human population, as compared to a roughly 140% increase in the last half of the 20th. If the medium projection comes is accurate, we'll see a 50% increase (again, compared to the previous 50 years' 140% increase). Should the lowest projection be the right one, the comparison is a mere 26% vs 140, which means the rate of population growth will have declined by some 83% from one half century to the next. Population growth is slackening, and this decrease appears to be gathering momentum.

In actual numbers (not just percentages) the decline has already set it (http://www.npg.org/facts/world_pop_year.htm), having peaked with 1989's 87 million; last year the earth's human population increased by a mere 75 million. That's a 14% decline in human population expansion since the end of the 80's.

If overpopulation is your concern, you should be heartened by the tremendous advances made in this area (with Catholic Italy and Poland leading the way, as it turns out). But make no mistake, this success presents policy makers with a new set of challenges, some of which are likely to be quite difficult.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 31, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'm also in favor of building a wall. If anyone wants to cross the border illegally, they should all be forced to do it through a selected number of gates. That way, you can periodically decide to close the gates and minimize illegal flow!

Posted by: pencarrow on March 31, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

The Racist Republican in Denial seems to say:

Let's keep those Mexicans poor and miserable.
Let them work for less than $10 a day at home. The chosen few can work building cars and electronics in grist mills (maquilladoras) owned by multinational corporations for $5 or less an hour. (These are jobs we used to have at a living wage. But we tend to overelook that.)They don't need to live in houses with running water or send their kids to school. They don't need to have enough money for a modest life.

And if they have ambition and want to sneak into the land of opportunity to avoid abject poverty and near starvation, well too bad, we want them locked up and deported. Or build a wall like the Chinese or Israelis did, even if it costs a trillion dollars.

And the greedy bossman Republican will say:

If they make it here, I can always threaten to call the 'Migras' (Immigration) if they don't like my sweatshops and my sub-standard wages.

The Racist Republican Politician can play on the racial and economic fears of their constituency.
Look at Abramoff and Tom Delay and the deals they made to keep pay below the minimum wage in the Mariannas, an American Protectorate in the Pacific.

It should be clear, that without International Wage Protection to advance the living standard in
other nations, the loss of good jobs here will continue. The influx of immigrants to fill low wage jobs in the US will continue also by the poor from Latin America and elsewhere.

Respect the dignity of poor and honest people.

Racist Republicans in Recovery should support the advancement of immigrants and not buy into the scare tactics of our Rich Republican Overloads.

I always ask, "Who benefits?"

Posted by: deejaays on March 31, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Republican Solution: Get Halliburton to build the 700 mile long wall for a trillion tax dollars using cheap Mexican labor.

Posted by: deejaays on March 31, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

Please, even at the risk of boring a few people, keep this theme alive. The root of illegal immigration is exactly as you describe: big businesses happy to offer jobs to people willing to work for substandard wages and few if any benefits.
The infamous and unconstitutional Prop 187 of 1994 was a grass-roots operation with little or no funding of its own for advertising until Pete Wilson, a mediocrity as governor, needed a good wedge issue to kick-start his floundering campaign. Big business, which never hesitates to lavish money on pet conservative initiatives in California, was silent during that campaign, just as they are now.

Posted by: secularhuman on March 31, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

BobG: I have often wondered why there couldn't be a system whereby an employer would report the name and social security number of each new employee online. Then a government computer could check whether (a) the social security number had ever been assigned to a person of that name, and (b) whether this social security number was being used by some other person in some other place. Obvious fakes and duplications would get flagged.

Already exists. And when SSA started sending out letters querying all the non-matches the illegals left and their employers sent up such a whine that the attempt was simply abandoned.

Millions of employers and something like 2400 attempts to verify SSN on-line (and free).

Posted by: CFShep on March 31, 2006 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

This goes back to my challenge to theamericanist in another thread: The illegals get to cheat with fake SSNs or whatever, but if W-2s and returns were properly challenged, then t he illegals would have to be smoked out. Either the ostensible SSN would be fake or stolen from a real person, and that itself should generate a felony against the illegal (probably better than making it a felony just to be here.) The W-2s should be sent in right away to be checked, and this whole thing would stop soon. Or, if employers didn't file W-2s, we bust them for that.

Moral: Don't trust the lying enablers who insist "You can't really do anything about illegal immigrants taking jobs, so bend over."

Posted by: Neil' on March 31, 2006 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

I see that Kevin forgets the disparity, child labor and Slums created by the Robber Barons..

The Progressive movement was to clean up this mess. Now the Corporations are leading the people staright into poverty again with wages that keep people in POVERTY.

Do not you Realize the Corporations have spent Millions if not Billions to pay off Influence Peddlers, and create Wage Laws for the Poor and NONE for the Corporate greed.

And you say that things turned out OK?
Yes things turned out OK thanks to the Progressive movement of the PEOPLE and not
from listening to a bunch of self serving cockamamy Senators and Politicians who would sell the people, and have, into POVERTY.

Thats Freedom, Brotherhood and Equality?
America is starting to resemble Tudor Europe..
All we need to do is start accusing the Witches and sell off slaves to the Pirates and of cource build some of the Religious Courts and Pillory's

Welcome to America the Land of the Freely And Leaglized Poverty.

Posted by: Hamster Brain on March 31, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

No court I know of will interpret the word "encourage" as meaning the same thing as "assist"..

There are, in fact, three aid workers being tried in Arizona for taking illegals to the hospital. So this is now happening under the current law.

Now foreign student advisors at our Universities are on the hook, either act as an enforcer when an F1 student goes out of status, or risk going to jail for 10 years.

If they give out government aid or help in allowing an illegal alien to remain, knowing full well that the person is here illegally, then they deserve to be punished.

This, however, does not apply to an aid worker rendering life-saving aid or even handing out a lunch.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 31, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Cracking down on employers sounds like fun for the whole family, but the net result will be vastly increased discrimination against all Hispanic job applicants - employers will insist on green cards for them all, even those born and bred here - why take a chance on a phony birth certificate or social security card if that means fines and bad publicity?

Here's a better alternative: Immigrating to this country without a proper visa is a civil, not a criminal offense. The usual punishment for civil offenses is a fine. So let's levy a substantial fine on illegals as part of the price of putting them on the path to citizenship. The $1,000 payment proposed by Sen. Kennedy is far too low - no one views that as a substantial punishment for having broken this country's laws. I would suggest $10,000 (or more) per person.

The other part of the problem is assimilation. No program to regularize the illegals is or will be acceptable to a majority of the American public unless it emphasizes assimilation in the Anglo culture. Period. This is not subject to debate. Most of the opposition to immmigration stems from legitimate concerns that the US is facing waves of unassimilated, separatist, Spanish-speaking immigrants. To become legal, illegal immigrants will have to learn English, learn some American history, etc., etc. Ending bilingual education in the public schools and forcing immigrant children to learn English as soon and young as possible would help, too.

Couple forced assimilation with substantial fines and I think you will have a compromise that satisfies everyone.

Posted by: DBL on March 31, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Neil, you're showing up at the Super Bowl with World Series tickets.

It's not about "sending in the W2s".

The House bill mandates a fairly rapidly-phased-in system for ELECTRONICALLY verifying the Social Security Number.

I was Communications Director (in fact, they created the job for me over this issue) of the Commission which recommended this system...

... in 1994.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 31, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida,

"Right. So, even under the implausible "worst case" UN projections, the first half of the 21st century will see roughly a 60% rise in the human population, as compared to a roughly 140% increase in the last half of the 20th. If the medium projection comes is accurate, we'll see a 50% increase (again, compared to the previous 50 years' 140% increase). Should the lowest projection be the right one, the comparison is a mere 26% vs 140, which means the rate of population growth will have declined by some 83% from one half century to the next. Population growth is slackening, and this decrease appears to be gathering momentum."

Huh? Yes, the rate of population growth is slowing. But that's not what you said in the statement I quoted. You claimed that an alleged population "crash" will be "one of the big stories, maybe THE big story, of the 21st century." There's no serious evidence of any such "crash."

And even though the rate of growth is slowing, the number of additional human beings being added to the world population is still very large. Under the high estimate, the world will have to feed, clothe and house an additional 4 billion people--almost two-thirds of the total existing number of human beings--over the next 40 years or so.

Posted by: Folsom on March 31, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

So my suggestion is to do the unthinkable - recruit Mexico as our 51st state. I'm serious

The Mexicans wouldn't go for it. Despite the fact that about 56% have indicated a desire to come here, they still fanatically resist the idea of being "Americanized" due to the history between the two countries.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 31, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida,

"If overpopulation is your concern, you should be heartened by the tremendous advances made in this area (with Catholic Italy and Poland leading the way, as it turns out)."

Where fertility rates have been declining in traditionally Catholic countries like Italy and Poland, that is happening despite the teachings of the Catholic Church, not because of them. It is happening only because the nominally Catholic populations of those countries are disobeying the teachings of the Church. The Catholic Church is doing everything in its power to dissuade and prevent people from using contraception and family planning services that are essential to preventing overpopulation.

Posted by: Folsom on March 31, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

The House bill mandates a fairly rapidly-phased-in system for ELECTRONICALLY verifying the Social Security Number.

I was Communications Director (in fact, they created the job for me over this issue) of the Commission which recommended this system...

... in 1994.


Ummm thats Rapidly?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
America Home of "Freely"
Legalized Poverty
Corrupt Lobbyists
Self Serving Politicians
Self Protectionist Intellectual Society
Cheap Illegal Immigrant labor
Christian Tudor Wackos [Rushdoony Falwell, Robertson]
Stupid President

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 31, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Cracking down on employers sounds like fun for the whole family, but the net result will be vastly increased discrimination against all Hispanic job applicants - employers will insist on green cards for them all, even those born and bred here...

That issue has been overcome. We can now network a database and issue a work id that will confirm whether the holder has legal status in the U.S. It can be issued to everyone, and when an employer hires someone, anyone, he can scan the card--as is done with a credit card--or call it in. At that point, he's off the legal hook.

I'm not going to pretend this is a perfect solution. It won't compeletely solve the problem because a lot of the trade is done on a cash basis, but it does make enforcment easier.

The catch, which a lot of liberals prefer to overlook, is that we still need to have serious border control, and ultimately, that means we need serious physical barriers.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 31, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Catholic Church is doing everything in its power to dissuade and prevent people from using contraception and family planning services that are essential to preventing overpopulation.

Apparently without much success.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 31, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

The Racist Republican in Denial seems to say:
Let's keep those Mexicans poor and miserable.
Let them work for less than $10 a day at home.

The only thing more annoying than a snotty bastard who screams "racism" to intimidate opponents is a snotty screaming "racism" while engaging in his own version of it. Do you think the Mexicans can't fix their own problems in their country? That to alleviate their misery they need you, O great smug and self-satisfied white patronizer of the brown masses?

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 31, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dumb Asses. I have worked in the Construction Business. It's Cash Money.
Secondly they just recross the border in a few weeks.

The Whole Problem is Greed. Everyone wants everything done as cheap as possible for the highest profit, yet because of that 'Capitalistic' Ideology Ilegal Immigrants are a Boon to a Capitalist State. Period.

Capitalists DON'T care about Humans as Humans but simply as Work Energy.
How many Watts can you Squeeze out of a human before it dies?

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 31, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

You claimed that an alleged population "crash" will be "one of the big stories, maybe THE big story, of the 21st century." There's no serious evidence of any such "crash."

I stand by that statement. Falling population in some countries, dramatically slower growth in others, is already a major "story"; it's simply ignoring the news to say there's no serious evidence pointing in the direction of a future dramatic drop in the number of human beings. Although human population will obviously continue to increase for many years, this growth, both in percentage terms and actual numbers, is already slowing, and all evidence points to continued decline. Will this process ulimately culminate in an actual decreasing human population on earth? Nobody can say for sure, but it's possible, and I believe it is likely, and will probably commence some time this century. You can quibble about my description of this process as a "crash" if you like, but for I think for many governments in 70 or 80 years' time (and quite a few this decade and next), a "crash" is exactly what it's going to feel like.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on March 31, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

P.B. Almeida,

"I stand by that statement."

A slower rate of population growth is not, by any reasonable use of the word, a population "crash," and it is not a "quibble" to criticize such a gross misrepresentation.

If you think you have serious evidence that world population is likely to "crash" this century (as opposed to your "I believe this, I believe that" statements), then present it.

Posted by: Folsom on March 31, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Derek - You are correct. The technology exists to issue to every legal resident of the United States a biometrically validated and secure ID card. That would be necessary to make any kind of punish-employers-for-hiring-illegals program effective.

But do you want to live in a country with a national ID card? I can assure you that once national ID cards are issued, it won't be long before you will have to show one to enter any public building or to travel on any kind of public or mass transit (trains, subways, buses, airplanes). Some localities will probably even require you to carry your ID with you at all times, and I doubt very much that the Supreme Court would stop them from doing so.

So, please consider the unintended consequences of what you are asking for.

Posted by: DBL on March 31, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

But do you want to live in a country with a national ID card? I can assure you that once national ID cards are issued, it won't be long before you will have to show one to enter any public building or to travel on any kind of public or mass transit (trains, subways, buses, airplanes). Some localities will probably even require you to carry your ID with you at all times, and I doubt very much that the Supreme Court would stop them from doing so.

This pretty much happens with my drivers' license and Social Security card these days. It might as well serve some purpose. Do I like it? No. However, life isn't peaches and cream. We make trade-offs. I can live with the ID if it means the country is made more secure.

Posted by: Derek Copold on March 31, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The ONLY resolution to the illegal immigrant program that is cost-efficient (can you image the cost of a completely impenetrable 700 mile wall?) is to penalize employers who hire illegals. Does that mean private property owners who hire occasional pool cleaners end up paying a fine? Yes! The law is worth nothing if it isn't enforced.

Posted by: CT on March 31, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Does that mean private property owners who hire occasional pool cleaners end up paying a fine? Yes! The law is worth nothing if it isn't enforced.
..............................................

Well, thats where a National ID card would come in handy.

I live in Southern California.

I called a tree service to have a tree removed.

They sent out a couple guys who spoke very little English. Were they illegals? How was I to know.

They worked hard and got the whole job done in about 2.5 hours. It cost me $300. I loaned one guy my safety goggles cuz I was worried chips from the stump grinder would fly in his eyes.
I felt kinda sorry for them, dont know how much they were getting paid but the tree service probably did alright.

Did I break the law? How the hell do I know?

Im all for a National ID card, its the only sensible thing to do.

Posted by: Rhythmwize on March 31, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, since mid term elections depend on bringing out the base, I don't think there is anything that will be done about immigration reform until after November. OK! I am thinking!

Nothing more enhances authority than silence. It is the crowning virtue of the strong, the refuge of the weak, the modesty of the proud, the pride of the humble, the prudence of the wise, and the sense of fools.

Of course, these ideas aren't incompatible with the idea of increasing border security. Why not do both?

So, please consider the unintended consequences of what you are asking for, and vote.

Set aside your tempered contempt.
Forgiveness becomes institutionalized when amnesty is granted for war crimes or political crimes against a particular ethnic group (as occurred in South Africa in the apartheid era, for instance). Some people, both within and outside the victim groups, feel strongly that such crimes should be prosecuted and the perpetrators punished. This is the only way to obtain justice, it is argued, which many believe is required before a lasting peace can be obtained. (Montville 1993 ) Did you have this problem last year.

Why the notorious coward has to be taken by the hand.

Refusing to apologize and "sticking to your guns" is the more psychologically acceptable stance. Some legal jurisdictions treat an apology as evidence of wrongdoing. Note that the action comes before the thought (Passive)

Let the public be damned. He doesnt have to test himself because he has already tested you.

What a slap in the face to hard-working families in America.

That's not a "market-style" approach. That's just using police power in a different fashion.

BUT don't just blame the Republicans -- the Dems don't want to piss of Business Lobby either. Who wrote this Nixon.

Posted by: aschcott on April 1, 2006 at 4:59 AM | PERMALINK

Folks: there is no need, and nobody is proposing, a national ID card.

The reason has nothing to do with civil liberties, but with fraud: any document is only worth the value of the information ON it. Having some elaborate document solves nothing.

That's why both the House and Senate, and the Bush administration, have finally recognized the value of ELECTRONIC VERIFICATION, based on the Social Security #.

You hire a tree service, or a company that cleans pools, THE EMPLOYER is on the hook for having hired guys who, under current law, have to show documents. You're not the employer, you're the customer.

What Congress is debating is making electronic verification mandatory.

I've suggested that one problem with the system, from an employers point of view (not to mention the customer), is that it is all stick and no carrot: the only way you know that a given employer doesn't hire illegally, is that they haven't been fined. (How's that working out?)

Why not have DHS certify private companies that provide worksite verification services? That way, employers that are either directly certified, or which use such certified services (ahem: I have an interest) could be identified -- AND, perhaps, those companies should be the ones elgible for a "temporary" worker program.

End of useful, practical suggestion. You may now return to pointless ranting.

Posted by: theAmericanist on April 1, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

I am too soft hearted for my own good.I would not punish those who want to improve their lives.I would help them instead. How? I don't know. Even our elected officials do not know. They do need help that is certain. This Country can afford to be generous,considering the billions of dollars that was misspent on the invasion of Iraq. We certainly can extend a helping hand to the undocumented who are willing work in low paying, and sometimes back breaking jobs. Who among us is willing to do the kind of work that they do?

Posted by: Lucy Borik on April 1, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Tell ya what, Lucy: think about a list of all the lowpaying EMPLOYERS you want to give a gilt-edged break to, and get back to us.

Posted by: theAmericanist on April 1, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

PB Almeida--

Slower population growth will actually be a good thing for the world. There will be more productive workers as a percentage of the entire population, because the percentage of children in the total population will go down.

Only a very few countries will ever have negative population growth...Russia, maybe a couple of small Western European countries.

Posted by: kokblok on April 2, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK


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