Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

April 16, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND THE ECONOMY....Remember that study suggesting that illegal immigration had modestly reduced the wages of native-born high school dropouts? Well, it turns out there's even less to that than meets the eye:

George J. Borjas and Lawrence F. Katz....estimated that the wave of illegal Mexican immigrants who arrived from 1980 to 2000 had reduced the wages of high school dropouts in the United States by 8.2 percent.

....When Mr. Borjas and Mr. Katz assumed that businesses reacted to the extra workers with a corresponding increase in investment...their estimate of the decline in wages of high school dropouts attributed to illegal immigrants was shaved to 4.8 percent. And they have since downgraded that number, acknowledging that the original analysis used some statistically flimsy data.

Assuming a jump in capital investment, they found that the surge in illegal immigration reduced the wages of high school dropouts by just 3.6 percent.

....Mr. Katz agreed that the impact was modest, and it might fall further if changes in trade flows were taken into account specifically, that without illegal immigrants, some products now made in the United States would likely be imported.

So we went from 8.2% to 4.8% to 3.6% and probably even less if trade flows are taken into account.

Bottom line: illegal immigration has had a (small) positive economic impact on the American economy as a whole; its sole negative impact has been tiny and limited to one segment of the workforce (high school dropouts); and if we're really worried about high school dropouts, everyone agrees they have way bigger problems than competition from illegal immigration anyway.

If this is the best we can come up with after 20 years and 8 million illegal immigrants, there really isn't a serious economic argument to make against immigration from Mexico. Cultural backlash is pretty much all that's left.

Via Ezra Klein.

Kevin Drum 5:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (196)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

And global warming due to CO2 isn't significant. If you don't want to believe something you can always find excuses not to.

Posted by: James B. Shearer on April 16, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, Kevin.

If you don't want to believe something you can always find excuses not to.

What a terribly wrong-headed (and ironic) criticism, given the content of Kevin's post.

Posted by: von on April 16, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

If you don't want to believe something you can always find excuses not to.
Posted by: James B. Shearer

probably ... but I think the point was that it's harder to find data supporting unreasonable prejudices.

Posted by: Nads on April 16, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK
If this is the best we can come up with after 20 years and 8 million illegal immigrants, there really isn't a serious economic argument to make against immigration from Mexico.

Even if it is isn't, there is little serious economic argument to make against immigration from Mexico, as the effect of illegal immigration is greater than the effect of a similar amount of legal immigration would be, since illegal immigrants have disincentives to seek to enforce legal labor protections and, therefore, are employable at cheaper costs than legal immigrants would be.

Thus, even if there is a significant impact from illegal immigration, it poses an argument only against high levels of illegal immigration -- it doesn't provide a basis to argue against immigration policy reform that serves to correct illegality by expanding legal immigration.

Everyone agrees that illegal immigration is a bad thing, and that the US would be better off if there were no undocumented aliens living in the US, and no persons illegally entering. The debate, though those on one side try to obscure this, is not between supporters and opponents of illegal immigration, but between different beliefs about the desirability of competing ideas about how to deal with the existing fact of illegal immigration to move us closer to the ideal state.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 16, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals like Kevin Drum ignore the ILLEGAL part of immigration. If I could prove that drug dealers and murderers produce a modest benefit to the economy, I suppose liberals would support them too!

Posted by: Al on April 16, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

cultural backlash, and the fact that illegal immigrants are, err, illegal. the net economic impact of double parking in new york is probably nugatory, but that doesn't mean i don't pay my parking tickets.

Posted by: lucretius on April 16, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget: Intolernace. Hate. Racial prejudices. Greed. Us against them.

Posted by: JC on April 16, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Nads, I think the unreasonable belief is that unskilled labor is exempt from normal market forces and that increasing supply won't put downward pressure on wages. American sugar producers don't want competition from foreign sources because it would lower prices. Is this an unreasonable prejudice on their part?

Posted by: James B. Shearer on April 16, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Fake Al appears to be ignorant of the difference between a criminal offense and an action incurring a civil penalty. Who'da thunk it?

Posted by: ahem on April 16, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

At the end of the NY times article Borjas suggests that other distributional problems for the high-school drop out are hidden and that immigration might still hurt them. No saying what they are, but I'd have more faith if he spent as much time working on how to deal with these problems as on why we should limit immigration. Also, it's important to keep in mind that the net possitive effect of immigration is partly due to the fact that immigrants are bared from most public benefits (almost all of them, in fact) for 5 years. This, or something like it, seems reasonable to me.

Posted by: Matt on April 16, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK


AL: If I could prove that drug dealers and murderers produce a modest benefit to the economy, I suppose liberals would support them too!
Well, it has been proven that there are murderers in the administration who have produced a profound detriment to the economy, but that doesn't stop conservatives like you from supporting them.


Posted by: jayarbee on April 16, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

james: then there should be evidence to support that position, right?

evidence of a net positive impact overall, and minimal disruption targeted to a minority should force a questioning of the underlying assumption that immigration is subject to traditional supply/demand equations.

and it then naturally brings up the question of, if not economic, what is really bothering people about the invading brown hordes.

Posted by: Nads on April 16, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of issues besides the wages of dropouts.

All I know is that numerous studies place the cost of illegal immigration at billions of dollars (the actual amount varies widely, depending on assumptions) both at the state and federal levels.

States have asked for billions in Federal reimbursement for these costs.

It's interesting that liberals think that hiring illegals is will encourage investment and job growth, but tax cuts for businesses won't.

Just wondering: If, as the article said, Ohio is free of illegal immigrants, who's doing the work in that state that Americans won't do?

Posted by: tbrosz on April 16, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals like Kevin Drum ignore the ILLEGAL part of immigration. If I could prove that drug dealers and murderers produce a modest benefit to the economy, I suppose liberals would support them too!
Posted by: Al on April 16, 2006 at 5:42 PM

Conservatives like Al only focus on the illegal acts of others. Are you sure all your 'deductions' on this year's tax return are legal, Al? Do you always drive at, or below, the speed limit?

What about that felon Ann Coulter, who should be thrown in jail (and torured by Rummy) for voting in the wrong district?

Posted by: mrjauk on April 16, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz, he said mostly dead, not dead.

Twue wuv.

Posted by: Matt on April 16, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

I bill the government about $300 every time Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants come to the emergency department for colds and other primary care problems that don't really require medical care. If you're not paying, there's no reason not to seek unnecessary care in the most expensive way. (If $300 sounds like a lot, remember that each visit to emergency room requires vital signs, med reconcilliation, and frequently tests, to be 100% sure that we are not missing something for which we could be sued.) Have these negative effects on the economy been taken into consideration in your calculations?

Posted by: Bad Shift on April 16, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

So because although unlimited illegal immigration may depress the wages of legal immigrants and native born HS dropouts, it allows increased investment so corporations can create even more jobs with abusive conditions, low pay, dangerous conditions, no legal protections. Fabulous! if you are upper level management in one of these corps. Not so fabulous for the rest of society.

How can anyone take this article seriously. It starts out by comparing the decrease in wages between drop outs in CA and OH. What BS. How can anyone take seriously an article that ignoress the fact that OH is in the rust belt. Better editors and NYT, please.

Posted by: Chrissy on April 16, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

This could be a useful snapshot...or simply yet more how-to-lie-with-statistic's that represents much of what passes for economic science in humDrum land, the dopiest kingdom of them all.
I'm a high school dropout who gets a third of my income from welfare, a third from working the black seam and a final third from victimless crime. Thank you Liberal welfare state, thank you black economy and a huge thank you to the dickheads who still support all the failed prohibitions.
I make a very good living thank you very much and have no complaints. Apart maybe from the odd pseudo grumble at loopy fantasist's like Marxist and Austrian economics enthusiast's and preening political poodles like Kevin Drum. Actually though, to be honest, it's fun exposing their inane pretentions and pricking their puffed up baseless self importance.
A high school dropout can often run rings around a class of bourgeois managerial imbeciles who think they know-it-all.Better by far to be a high school drop out than a quintessential ' Kiss up -kick down' kinda guy.
The kinda guy Kevin is.

Posted by: professor rat on April 16, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bad Shift, in the ER of my former county an illegal immigrant was admitted who had been working on a roof in 100+ degree weather. He literally cooked his brain and internal organs. He will remain in a vegetative state and it's not the developer who will pay and doubtless the developer did not lose a minute of sleep over this guy's fate.

Posted by: Chrissy on April 16, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Professor Rat: Please. Tell us more about how smart you are! It doesn't sound self absorbed or insecure at all. Promise.

Posted by: Pat on April 16, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

99 % of jobs that illegal immigrants do are subsidized jobs that do not provide living wages, any health benefits, etc. If the government enforce the requirements that all
guest worker jobs should pay living wages; most of those jobs will disappear due to
new technology and shift in habits of American consumers.
And the country will be much better off.

Posted by: jt on April 16, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Nads, the prediction is that increasing the supply of unskilled labor will lower wages. The linked article says that wages for high school dropouts fell 17% in California and 31% in Ohio between 1980 and 2004. Looks like evidence in support of the prediction to me. The article does not really question that unskilled wages are hurt, it is just minimizing the magnitude of the effect. You could write a similar article downplaying global warming, just quibble about the data , quote a maverick climatologist or two and ignore future effects which are the real concern.

Posted by: James B. Shearer on April 16, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

I like how it's always about the term "illegal" as if this administration and its supporters actually give a rat's behind about the laws they flout. The culture of corruption is so rampant in this country but it's always the brown people's fault. I don't think brown people had anything to do with Enron stealing those worker's pensions and 401K funds.

Posted by: NeoLotus on April 16, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

oooooooooooooooohhhhhh
ppppppuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuulllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzz

jumping from "gee, they keep changing their estimates about the impact on workers without High School Diplomas to -- "nothing to see here, move along" is a serious slight of hand.

I expect more from this site.

The notion that there are ANY jobs in America that Americans will not do is BULLSHIT!

Why do some talk out of one-side of their mouth, proclaiming this to be a SUPPLY problem because there aren't enough workers, blah blah blah blah...

And NEVER talkd about the DEMAND side -- a living wage that Americans could actually support families on.

Why do so many assume that corporations have the "right" to circumvent minimum wage and labor laws by bringing in illegal aliens?

Why do so many assert that every employer should have the right to hire somebody to do ANY job at ANY WAGE rate that they want to offer.

This post is really all based on a lie.

Posted by: anonymous on April 16, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Every town has a place where day working immigrants, both legal and illegal, meet so as to be picked up for work.

What if out-of-work high school drop-outs were paid by someone to show up at these locations and try to get hired as day laborers?

It would certainly disprove the notion that these are jobs americans don't want. Or maybe it wouldn't.

Posted by: slanted tom on April 16, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that there is no economic argument to be made. And, I do not agree with the cultural argument (in fact i would prefer a higher PERCENTAGE of our country to be immigrants) but what about environmental/space concerns? Pressure on our open lands? Implications for further sprawl? Why is this not talked about. I mean, have you seen parts of california, atlanta, north carolina, DC, etc. etc. lately? The sprawl goes on forever.

Posted by: e on April 16, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that there is no economic argument to be made. And, I do not agree with the cultural argument (in fact i would prefer a higher PERCENTAGE of our country to be immigrants) but what about environmental/space concerns? Pressure on our open lands? Implications for further sprawl? Why is this not talked about. I mean, have you seen parts of california, atlanta, north carolina, DC, etc. etc. lately? The sprawl goes on forever.

Posted by: e on April 16, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

The economic analysis is really quite simple and the effects that are being measured, reduced wage deflation and increased investment as a result of increased low cost labor supply, are completely in line with economic theory.

Let's look at an example. If an industry has to pay its workers $15/hour it may hire 100 workers. When the taxpayer is forced to subsidize the labor by 50% the cost to the employer becomes only $7.50/hr and this frees up capital to be invested in expanding production, which also creates more job opportunities where the empoyer can hire an additional 100 employees for $7.50/hr with the taxpayer subsidizing the remainder of the employee cost. This sounds like a winning formula that the economists have developed - ignore taxpayer subsidy in the economic analysis and we can subsidize our way to immense job growth and capital infrastructure expansion. You know, if only General Motors could pay its employees $2/hr and the taxpayer could pay the other $38/hr, they could expand their production and become major employers again. Why they could probably hire another 100,000 employees if they only have to pay them $2/hr. You know, why don't we go even further with this plan and actually pay employers to hire people and then the metrics would be even more fabulous.

To purposely leave out an economic variable, such as taxpayer subsidy, will dramatically skew the remaining variables.

On a more systemic level of analysis, what good is done by having industries, like let's say strawberry farming, taking place in the US when they require subsidized low cost labor in order to survive. These types of industries, when economically analyzed in a systemic frame, are actually a drag on the economy. The best solution is for them to relocate to Mexico or Brazil and operate without gov't subsidy for the low cost labor that they require.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 16, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

The more liberal commentary I read on this topic the more frustrated I become and this may actually push me into the libertarian free-market open borders crowd. If no one wants to be mean to illegals and they want to open up the border, then if we completely abandon the social welfare state, then I can join Kevin Drum in not being concerned. Kill off taxpayer subsidy and let citizens and non-citizens rise and fall according to the market and then I won't really give a damn how many illegals are in our midst, for I won't have to be paying for them.

I'm with you Kevin.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 16, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

The statement that there are "jobs Americans won't do" is to be expected coming from over-privileged, arrogant snobs like the bushies who have never had to do these types of jobs. It is a condescending, demeaning statement that disrepects the dignity of the people that do these jobs. If the bushies and the elites who think unlimited illegal work is great had had to do this type of work maybe they wouldn't be so damn condescending. All jobs should and the people who do them should be valued and given fair wages and conditions.

Posted by: Chrissy on April 16, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

But what about the huge cost of hospitalization and medical treatment? What about the illegals who drive uninsured, thus raising costs to others?

Posted by: susan on April 16, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Let's add that illegal immigrants disproportionately bring down the prices of goods that are disproportionately consumed by the poor.

I doubt that software costs are significantly impacted by illegal immigrants but food prices are.

Illegal immigrants bring down costs in the entire food supply chain from the farms where we raise aimals and vegetables to the businesses that pack and distribute them to the stores that sell them.

It would not surprise me if even high school drop outs are net beneficiaries of illegal immigration.

Actually determining that might depend on whether or not we assume that government transfer payments would increase to compensate for higher food costs if we eliminated illegal immigration.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 16, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Claiming that low wages for illegals raises investment is crazy. You would see more capital investment if wages for menial jobs were higher and it became economical to replace people by technology/machines. Borjas and Katz are just looking for a way to avoid the obvious. I'm with jbs on this one.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on April 16, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

How long before you come out against the minimum wage, Kevin?

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on April 16, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

As soon as I see a serious proposal by Republicans to punish their corporate masters for hiring illegals, I will agree we have a serious debate taking place. Until that time, I see a Republican party desperate to stop the short-term bleeding for 2006, with only 3rd grade ideas (a big fence! send 12 million people out of the country!) to get the base riled up.

Probably, though, a "war on immigrants" would be a lot like the "war on drugs." Anyone who wants to convince me the former would be more successful than the latter is free to try.

Posted by: go vols on April 16, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

Let's also note that the high costs imposed on services by illegal immigrants are caused by the way we handle immigration.

Illegal immigrants pay thousands of dollars to be smuggled into the US.

Say we changed the rules...

"Buy a plane ticket, deposit $x,000 with the INS as insurance, behavior bond, and ticket home if you're broke later, and go find a job."

Want to bet people wouldn't go for it?

And want to bet that having, say, $5,000 in an interest bearing account that they will get back in 5 years or when they leave the US if they keep their noses clean wouldn't be a powerful incentive to stop immigrants from even jay walking, never mind committing more serious crimes?

Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 16, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

I consider myself a liberal democrat, but Kevin's argument is so narrowly focused it is ridiculous. There are the costs of medicine, schools, added traffic congestion, overcrowded neighborhoods, crime and the fact that illegal immigrants bring down average wages. Americans WILL do jobs illegals do, just not for as little... i.e. poverty wage where people live ten to a single bedroom apartment.

Kevin will have his way though I am sure and California will be overrun by Mexico. Hopefully, California won't end up being controlled by bribery and corruption, ala Mexico, but I doubt it.

California in 2060, should be blast.

Posted by: Cal State Disneyland on April 16, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

No. One big mistake here looks to be the use of averages. When such a study says X has reduced the wages of soandso by 3.6%, they presumably mean an average over a large area or even the whole nation. But the effect in areas of high illegal immigration would likely be higher. If you are one of the affected persons in those areas, the damn average change being low is small comfort. (Same for "average income" increases and likewise spin from righties.) Of course there are other factors in play as well.

Kevin should have known better than to fall for yet another potentially BS argument using averages, and so should you.

test marker 51723

Posted by: Neil' on April 16, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

This sounds like utter BS to me. I know a little bit about economy and so far nobody has offered a convincing reason why a high supply of unskilled workers wouldn't result in pressure on wages as the theory predicts. Imho the explanations offered don't hold water:

Some companies only invested in the US because of the availability of unskilled workers - on the other hand, there are more unskilled workers im Mecixo and lower wages, plus the investion would be cheaper there! Even if this 'investment' claim would be true, wouldn't it be better to create those jobs in Mexico and thus reduce the pressure on mexicans to earn their money as illegal immigrants in the US?

There are not so many high school dropouts in the US - but this isn't about dropouts, this is about workers competing for jobs they are not skilled in. What about the masses of unemployed with criminal records? What about the elderly that got squeezed out of better paying jobs?

Higher-skilled workers could hire foreigners at low wages to mow their lawns and care for their children, freeing time for these workers to earn more - or to just hang around more in front of the TV. Besides, what about the high-skilled workers who won't get hired because others are doing overtime?

Statistics don't show a correlation between wages and the ammount of illegal immigrants in the states - and statistics don't say much about all those criminal enterprises who illegally pay workers less than the minimum wage, either.

Sorry, but it's totally surrealistic to argue that any reliable data on immigrant jobs, wages, and overall impact on the economy will be found in official statistics. The shadow economy that is dependent on the supply of illegal, 'blackmailable' workers isn't to be found in those numbers.

Only one statement is obviously true: There are US citizens that are profiting from the high numbers of illegal immigrants. But what isn't explained here is that it's the Mafia and other criminal employers.

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Eli says:

Claiming that low wages for illegals raises investment is crazy. You would see more capital investment if wages for menial jobs were higher and it became economical to replace people by technology/machines.

Eli's right - if you reduce low wage labor you increase the proportion of capital vs. labor used in most enterprises. This, in turn, according to classic economic theory, should increase the return on capital and the proportion of the economy that goes to pay for capital vs. labor.

I don't see why anyone (other than the ultra-rich) should see that as a benefit.

On the other hand, if the US becomes more expensive we should also see more capital moving overseas to take advantage of lower foreign labor costs.

For example, I've moved a bunch of US capital to China to start up a software company here because labor costs are 10% - 20% of US costs.

BTW, there's no contradiction - in China one would expect labor intensive businesses and for capital to get a lower percentage of total returns but, especially for export businesses, for total returns to be higher so capital ends up with more.

That's exactly what you see. My customers are mostly garment factories. They employ thousands of workers, many of them doing things you would use a machine for in the US or wouldn't do at all (squads of people keeping lawns immaculate with no power machinery, skilled marker makers spending hours to improve fabric utilization on each design by a few percentage points instead of just using marker making software and accepting an extra 2 - 5% wastage).

Work like this in the US almost doesn't exist any more. What manufacturing is left is almost all high couture where high material costs and short runs make labor costs less important.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 16, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

"illegal immigrants have disincentives to seek to enforce legal labor protections and, therefore, are employable at cheaper costs than legal immigrants would be."

"Thus, even if there is a significant impact from illegal immigration, it poses an argument only against high levels of illegal immigration -- it doesn't provide a basis to argue against immigration policy reform that serves to correct illegality by expanding legal immigration."

Good point, cmdicely! Much better than Kevin's second hand opinion. Also to be considered: Any total stopto illegal immigration without a legal alternative would result in a serious reduction of the money flow into Mexico and a higher rate of unemployment there. Do the US really want an unstable neighbor at their southern border?

My opinion is: Illegal immigration has to be rigorosly prevented in this times of terror. The border has to be better secured in order to keep terrorists out. The US should offer legal means of immigration instead, for a comparable (preferably slightly lower) number of workers. There has to be a possible path towards citizenship for those who want to stay. Plus the administration needs to do more to support the mexican economy and reduce the pressure on mexican workers to leave their country and their families.

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

"This, in turn, according to classic economic theory, should increase the return on capital and the proportion of the economy that goes to pay for capital vs. labor. I don't see why anyone (other than the ultra-rich) should see that as a benefit."

Hmm, wouldn't it be a benefit if the shares of capital in the hands of the middle and lower classes would be higher? But you (and the theory) are right and, according to german experts, this is the reason why Germany still can compete among leading industrial nations. Our wages are very high in comparison, but this forced the industry to invest in sophisticated, highly automated machinery that is among the best in the world. This raised productivity and enabled the companies to pay the higher wages. OK, our unemployment rate may be twice yours, but there are other reasons for that. We're still among the leading nations regarding the exports. Higher exports would be nice for the US balance of trade, too...

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

The hassles, problems, compromises and relentless pressures and dilution of content that goes on every day for the overworked teachers in my children's classrooms because 1/3 to half of the kids in their classes speak no English has me mad as hell and I am not up to taking it any more despite how I think myself a liberal on so many other issues except how the local Indian tribe dances for joy in giving us the finger as they gobble up the land around them to expand gambling and setting up businesses and pay no taxes but the nonIndian guy with his business does pay taxes to the hilt. Not to mention seeing the four and five kids in tow among the Mexican families. But not as bad as the Mormons!

Posted by: Barcus on April 16, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Not to mention seeing the four and five kids in tow among the Mexican families."

That's typical for parents without good provisions for old age. They rely on their children to support them - the more, the merrier. Btw, are illegal immigrants eligible for social security? What do you think?

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

When will La raza come out of the closet and change its name to Los racistas? I have never seen such a racist display in this nation, for over forty years, as I have seen in these “immigrant protests” in the past few weeks. Who would have the nerve to state that laws should not apply to them because of their race? The “we should not be deported because we are American Indians and Europeans took the Americas from us” is the biggest bunch of BS spoken in this nation since the KKK marched in the 1960’s

Posted by: Cj on April 16, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

"The we should not be deported because we are American Indians and Europeans took the Americas from us is the biggest bunch of BS spoken in this nation since the KKK marched in the 1960s"

Agreed. How many of those signs did you see among the masses? How many swastika tatoos will you find in an average US prison?

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

The we should not be deported because we are American Indians and Europeans took the Americas from us is the biggest bunch of BS spoken in this nation since the KKK marched in the 1960s.

Why is it bullshit? It seems to me these people have a substantive moral claim.

Posted by: Manuel on April 16, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Cultural backlash is another red herring. How about just culture?

Michel Tremblay, the great Quebec playwright, just this week gave up on Quebec sovereignty after 40 years because it is now all about economics only. Culture doesn't count in the debate.

Here, you have non-economists using economic arguments only, while culture is reduced to "cultural backlash". Wow. The growth of a huge minority can't be discussed other than in economic terms. No wonder there is the joke about the US: What is the difference between the US and yogurt? Culture.

Posted by: Bob M on April 16, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess that settles it- illegal immigration is good. So, since illegal immigration is a net benefit, why limit ourselves to the benefit that can be provided by Mexico? There are millions upon millions of Africans, Asians, and Europeans who would be happy to give us the same benefits. Why discriminate? Let 'em all in.

(Above is sarcasm, just in case it's not obvious.)

Posted by: MJ Memphis on April 16, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

"It seems to me these people have a substantive moral claim."

I've got some problems with that. How substantive is the claim that your ancestors 400-500 years ago owned that land? My grandpa owned a house in a city that now belongs to Poland and still I don't protest in Warsaw to claim special rights....

Oh, btw, I think the claim on lands that belonged to ancestors 2000 years ago is rididulous, too...

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Here, you have non-economists using economic arguments only, while culture is reduced to "cultural backlash"."

From history lessons, I seem to remember the culture of 'a melting pot of nations'. What happened to that? That's so 20th century?

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

To word it deifferently: What 'culture' do you want to preserve? Maybe the culture of the beginning of the 20th century, when there were large parts of the US where german was the predominant language? Hehe!
Imho, there's one outstanding cultural achievement of the US and that's the drive for change.

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan--

So you want to eliminate all government programs so that you don't have to pay for illegal immigrants' benefits?

Wow, I've never seen a better example of "cutting off your nose to spite your face" in my life!

And also, I'd really like for you to explain to me exactly how strawberry pickers in California are recepients of government subsidies whereas strawberry pickers in Brazil or Mexico would not be. Last time I checked, Brazil and Mexico also had agricultural subsidies, public schools, health clinics, etc. So unless you're talking about some other mysterious kind of "subsidy", I don't understand what you're getting at. Instead of pining for a mythical free-market paradise, you should be hoping that the nations of Latin America finally act like civilized places and get their government programs working in a proper and non-corrupt way.

Also, California happens to be the best climate for growing vegetables and fruits in the world, so there will always be high demand for agricultural workers in that particular place. Plants can't just be grown wherever 'the market' dictates. While it is true that certain farming areas in the US are kept going mainly through government subsidies (US sugar, anyone?) , this is certainly not the case with the Central Valley. This land would be profitable agro land with or without subsidy.

Posted by: kokblok on April 16, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

In the real world, unskilled African-Americans and a lot of young people are saying they can't get manual labor jobs in construction, roofing, and other building trades. In New Orleans, there are well documented reports of union crews being laid off by contractors who are hiring illegal aliens. I guess the victims in these cases will feel much better after they've read the study Kevin cites.

Posted by: DevilDog on April 16, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

"US sugar, anyone?"

Yup, it's a joke today. But if a rising demand for ethanol fuel would lead to higher prices, maybe even US sugar canes would make sense.

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

"In New Orleans, there are well documented reports of union crews being laid off by contractors who are hiring illegal aliens. I guess the victims in these cases will feel much better after they've read the study Kevin cites."

Yup! But don't forget, everything will look fine in the statistics!

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Over 50% of black men in their 20s are jobless, and 72% of black men in their 20s who are high school drop-outs are jobless.

When you don't have a job any more, I guess the impact to your wages due to illegal immigrants is small. If employers could not turn to more pliable and low-wage illegal workers, they may have had to dig deeper into the reserves of non-working, able-bodied American. Instead, they can just ignore them.

Source:
http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20D10FA34550C738EDDAA0894DE404482

Posted by: Dan Morgan on April 16, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Gray says:

Hmm, wouldn't it be a benefit if the shares of capital in the hands of the middle and lower classes would be higher? But you (and the theory) are right and, according to german experts, this is the reason why Germany still can compete among leading industrial nations. Our wages are very high in comparison, but this forced the industry to invest in sophisticated, highly automated machinery that is among the best in the world. This raised productivity and enabled the companies to pay the higher wages. OK, our unemployment rate may be twice yours, but there are other reasons for that. We're still among the leading nations regarding the exports. Higher exports would be nice for the US balance of trade, too...

This is a really great example of how people can use pervert economics for political purposes.

What do you mean when you say that Germany is still competing? As you point out, your unemployment is twice ours and new factories in Germany are few and far between.

If machines are really a good substitute for cheap labor then people would use them even if cheap labor was available. Fact is, they're not as good. To get the same result in Germany you need to invest more capital than you do in countries like Poland or China.

That means that unless there are good reasons for being in Germany (ie. proximity to suppliers or customers or a need for skills that don't exist in other countries) capital will move to other countries and Germany today faces an inexorable decline.

Moreover, those advantages I mentioned are pretty fleeting.

Look at Hong Kong and China.

Twenty years ago Hong Kong factories wanted to import Chinese workers. It was politically impossible and they were told to spend the money for Hong Kong people. Instead they opened up factories on the mainland but kept their back offices in HK.

Once they got used to China they started moving their back offices to China but keeping front office staff - customer facing people - in HK.

But as more and more factories moved to China the customers started visiting China as well - they wanted to see the factories where their good were being made - so the front offices moved to China as well.

One of my customers has migrated over the last 10 years from having its factories in China but all back office and front office staff in HK to having a show room and one receptionist in HK while all other staff are in China and come to HK on an as needed basis. They still have HK people on payroll but only about 15, down from over 200.

That's Germany's future too.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 16, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Gray--

Well, I'd imagine they'd be more likely to get their ethanol from corn like they do now. Is there talk of a major push for sugar-cane ethanol?

Of course, corn ethanol don't make too much sense from an environmental or energy policy standpoint, considering how much petroleum goes into producing a bushel of our tasty yellow friend. (mainly through fertilizer) Maybe sugar ethanol actually would be better...

Posted by: kokblok on April 16, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

This piece was a bit short on specifics. Why is it that employers decided to increase investments in capital equipment because more workers were standing outside the gate? And if the Mexican workers weren't here the jobs would probably be done overseas? Its probably my own particular industrial bias, construction, but there are a lot of jobs done by Mexican and Central American workers that simply could not be done by Indians, Chinese, etc., pouring concrete, masonry, landscaping, agricultural work, etc.

Posted by: tkleeman on April 16, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

One of the (R) right wing arguements is that undocumented immigrants 'bid down' the wages for lower level jobs. The solution to that problem is simple; raise the minimum wage. Any Capitalist worried about immigration lowering wages already has a tool, minimum wage laws. Unfortunately, most of the right-wing (R) are tools.

Posted by: OldPolitico on April 16, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum:

Are you a serious commentator, or just a hack?

Wage levels are not the only factor in an economic argument. Others include things like all those billions of dollars the LAUSD is spending to build schools. A large part of their students are illegal aliens or the children of same.

On that topic, an extremely disturbing percentage of CA high school students are dropping out. Maybe you could hire Dan Walters to help you think about this issue and figure out not only to what extent massive illegal immigration is involved, but the economic costs of the fallout from that.

Here's a very partial list of some of the issues involved with illegal immigration:

* increased corruption in the U.S. as companies that profit from illegal immigration donate to politicians who look the other way

* increased numbers of low-wage workers coming into a high cost of living country (resulting in people living in garages or even tents in backyards)

* lowered wages for our own low-wage workers, many of whom have simply stopped looking for work

* increased chance of worker abuse and workplace injuries and deaths (much higher for illegal aliens)

* entrenching the corrupt Mexican government rather than forcing them to reform

* assisting the government of Mexico meddling in our internal politics

* assisting attempts to weaken U.S. citizenship and sovereignty

* foreign citizens marching in our streets demanding rights to which they aren't entitled

* among other diseases, drug-resistant tuberculosis

There's more, but if Drum expects anyone to take him seriously on this issue he needs to start doing a lot of research.

-- Illegal immigration news

Posted by: TLB on April 16, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

>>>You know, if only General Motors could pay its employees $2/hr and the taxpayer could pay the other $38/hr, they could expand their production and become major employers again. Why they could probably hire another 100,000 employees if they only have to pay them $2/hr.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 16, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

"What do you mean when you say that Germany is still competing? As you point out, your unemployment is twice ours and new factories in Germany are few and far between."

I only see a widening gap in foreign trade balances: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c4280.html
And maybe it escaped your attention, but we still have a manufacturing sector that's woth it's name! That there are problems in distributing the national income in a social equitably way doesn't mean that the nation per se isn't doing well.
As for capital vs. labor, one of the side effects of the use of more expensive machinery is that it very often raises quality, too. Plus you need higher skilled workers to handle it. So this isn't about getting the same result, this is about getting a higher quality result! Of course, no nation can beat the 'el cheapos'. Imho the only solution for western industrial nations under the threat of globalisation is to divert into products that require a higher qualified workforce. Look at your own numbers, the wages in China are at max. 20% US standard. Do you believe US wages could be lowered to a point that would be comparable to this? No way!

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

"You know, if only General Motors could pay its employees $2/hr and the taxpayer could pay the other $38/hr, they could expand their production and become major employers again. Why they could probably hire another 100,000 employees if they only have to pay them $2/hr."

Tangoman - exactly! This has been my point for the last year on this issue. Why is it good for some industries to benefit from the illegal alien subsidy and not others? Would losing part of the US agricultural industry be worse than losing the US automobile industry, electronics industry, steel, etc? I think not.

Listening and reading liberals opine on economic issues is more entertaining than hearing Bush explain the intricacies of foreign policy. They should stick to what they do best - calling us "racists" for supporting people who commit ongoing misdemeanors.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 16, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Friedman--

I'm not sure about what you're saying. Obviously, at some point wages in China are going to have to go up. They are kept artificially low by the government, but this isn't going to work in the long run. Even Hu himself was on TV today saying that the current course is unsubstainable. And what was he proposing? Better social programs, environmental responsibility, etc. Was it just rhetoric? Probably. But the fact that he even needs to PRETEND about such things is a sign that the strange hybrid monster that is the Chinese government is starting to wake up to their true position.

Also, your position as a manufacturer may be giving a kind of bias to your views. But the economies of Western Europe and the US are no longer based on manufacturing, which can be easily moved. They are based on services which are much more rooted in place and in local networks of trust. Your doctor or lawyer is not going to move to Xi'an. There's only so much you can do over the phone, which explains why most Americans and Europeans still have jobs despite the fact that there are two billion Indians and Chinese that could do their jobs much cheaper.

Germany has a higher unemployment rate than the US partly because:

A) it measures its unemployment rate in a very different way
B) the German central bank has an obsession with tight money, much more so even than the US Federal Reserve.
C) A lot of Germans would, for cultural reasons I suppose, prefer to remain on unemployment instead of taking shitty jobs quickly like our unfortunates do here. Unemployment there ain't as bad as unemployment here.
D) Unemployment benefits last longer in Germany, so naturally people stay unemployed longer. You can say that this is an "inefficiency" but most Germans would probably disagree with you and say that it in intentional result of a conscious policy.

Posted by: kokblok on April 16, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

Wait, what exactly is the "illegal alien subsidy"? I'm not trying to be snarky (yet). I just don't know what you're talking about. Is it just the fact that the government is paying for schools and health clinics for illegal aliens or do you have some kind of more direct subsidy that you're thinking of?

Posted by: kokblok on April 16, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Probably, though, a "war on immigrants" would be a lot like the "war on drugs." Anyone who wants to convince me the former would be more successful than the latter is free to try."

GoVols -
Apparently you forgot TITLE VII--EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION of HR 4437?
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h109-4437

Does this convince you that the House Reps. want to "punish their corporate masters"?

Posted by: junglemutt on April 16, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Last week The Economist had an article about an economic study that showed a similar minimal impact immigrants had on lowering wages and on the economy as a whole (a positive). But try using it as an argument. The Americans I talk to socially, well educated middle class suburbanites, believe the media hype that our emergency rooms are overrun with migrants from Mexico, our public schools are filled with troublesome non-English speakers, and that all of those workers they see all around them toiling from dawn to dusk are not paying any taxes.

Last year at Easter dinner it was Teri Schiavo dominating the conversation. Today's dinner it was immigration. Despite scientific evidence and personal history, my mother and her husband are both children of immigrants, they swallow whole the bunkum that Latin American immigrants are not assimilating faster than their parents or are as hard working. They were not much interested in the war of 1848 either, but they sure knew Jesus died for their sins.

Posted by: Hostile on April 16, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Good points, kokblok, thx. Nevertheless, unemployment IS a huge problem here and a high burden on the administrations budget. Imho, one reason for the missing jobs is the low demand the customers generate on our national market. The US countless times demanded apropriate measures to counter this, to no avail. Under the Kohl and Schrder administrations, the people who really would wish to spend more money, the lower and middle classes, had to bear additional burdens while the rich got some nice tac deductions, especially after the fall of the wall. Sounds familiar? Dunno how this should have resulted in a stimulation of the market. We seem to have some voodoo economists in charge here, too.

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok-

Schools, health care, only withdrawing the FICA tax in most cases, etc. are just the beginning of the subsidy. The bulk of the subsidy is the fact that the agricultural industry is permitted to pay less than the going wage for labor. If we did this for every industry operating here, we'd qualify for the EU.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 16, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--
I don't think most opponents of illegal immigration are "racists". Nor do I think that our economy would suffer much if we were somehow able to close off our border effectively.
And I don't think that closing the border would be a humanitarian disaster. Mexico ain't that horrible a place to live. No one is starving and they got some good infrastructure down there. I'm tired of people bad-mouthing Mexico like it's the fucking Congo or something.

So, employment verification--fine. The wall is just stupid and, if you have a proper verification system, redundant.

My question is: what do you propose to do with the millions of established illegals that are already in the country? Your answer to this question plays a large role in determining whether I think you're a raving lunatic or a sharp fellow.

But my broader point is that I don't really think immigration has strong NEGATIVE effects, either. If you're really worried about downward wage pressure, how about cutting our birth rate by a little bit? A high birth rate depresses wages, after all. Or why not work on cutting our average life expectancy? The sooner folks die, the less wage pressure on the rest of us!

Posted by: kokblok on April 16, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

"If we did this for every industry operating here, we'd qualify for the EU."

Thx for pointing this out. Of course this is some kind of hidden subsidies.

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Do the US really want an unstable neighbor at their southern border?"

I'm not able to decipher if you're writing this with a straight face?

Please tell me again, when was Mexico stable?

Posted by: junglemutt on April 16, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

But that is not a "subsidy", at least in any normal economic sense. What makes you think that the "market rate" is above the "going rate" for agricultural labor? Isn't it a darling argument of the right wing that the minimum wage itself creates this situation by not allowing the "free market" to reach equilibrium at the "proper" wage?

I fail to see a "subsidy" here. Now I'm all in favor of the minimum wage and I think dismantling it to stop illegal immigration in a few industries would be a monumental throwing-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater blunder, but as a man of the right surely you can see that the lack of enforcement of a minimum wage provision is not the same thing as a subsidy.

Furthermore, most illegals work under fake documents in tax-paying jobs well above the minimum wage. Surely, these employers aren't benefitting from any "subsidy".

Posted by: kokblok on April 16, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

sorry, that second sentence should read: "What makes you think the wages paid to illegal agro workers is above the "going rate" for agro labor"?

Posted by: kokblok on April 16, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

"The wall is just stupid and, if you have a proper verification system, redundant."

Stopping immigration by erecting a wall would create a dangerous situation south of the border. So illegal immigration has to be replaced by legal means to work in the US, the current green card program isn't enough.
But still, secure borders are needed to prevent terrorist infiltration!

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok,

The illegal immigrant subsidy to which people are referring is really a subsidy to low educated immigrants that was documented by two reports from the National Research Council back in '96 and '98. Immigrants who are H.S. dropouts end up costing taxpayers $89,000 more than the economic value they produce over their lifetimes. Immigrants who are H.S. graduates end up costing us $31,000. Those who have some college education, but not necessarily graduates, end up contributing $105,000 over their lifetimes to the American economy.

If you think about it for a moment it really is intuitive. We live in the world's most advanced economy and it costs quite a bit to live here, to pay for education, to pay for healthcare, etc. How much economic value does the average person with only a 6th grade education produce and how much do we need to subsidize them?

What happens is when 60% of illegals have no more than a 6th grade education, the jobs that they do are limited and the value they create is less than what they consume, therefore the employers who hire them benefit by off-loading costs onto society at large. If the employee had to pay, via their earnings, for what they consume in public services, they couldn't, and then the employer would have to either raise their wage or mechanize or locate to a jurisdiction with a lower cost of living.

You were questioning my earlier comment about social services. Here's what I mean - what we're doing is importing a class of people who are very dependent on social services and these social services have to be funded. If liberals like the social welfare state then they need to recognize that open borders is a sure route to killing social welfare programs because you can't keep adding net tax recipients to a system while holding net tax contributors constant. So, it becomes a choice of one or the other, and if liberals want to be "nice guys" by ignoring economic reality and welcoming the under-educated hordes then why should guys like me fight you. I'm a net tax contributor, by a long shot, so if these illegals don't become a burden to me then that removes one of my main objections to open borders. If liberals don't care about instituting a universal health care program to benefit American citizens and would rather have open borders, then all citizens and illegals who can't pay for medical care can suffer together. I'd rather focus my allegiance to the welfare of my fellow citizens than on illegals and I can live with a social welfare system so long as the floodgates are closed and the bottom of the pyramid, those who are net tax recipients, doesn't keep expanding.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 16, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Furthermore, most illegals work under fake documents in tax-paying jobs well above the minimum wage."
I've never understood how this may work. If you are employed under a falsified social security number, federal agents should be questioning your boss after the first ss payment made the alarm bells at the administration ring. If you use a correct ss number form another guy, double payments incoming at the ss administration should trigger the same response. How do they calculate the benefits if they don't keep track of the numbers???

Posted by: Gray on April 16, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan--

I still don't really see this as a "subsidy", except in a most roundabout way. If that's a subsidy, then all low-wage employers are in effect given subsidies, because all low-wage employers employ high school dropouts and graduates. It makes no difference whether they're "native" or not. Thus I fail to see how those employers who hire immigrants are the recepients of any specific "subsidy".

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

"My question is: what do you propose to do with the millions of established illegals that are already in the country? Your answer to this question plays a large role in determining whether I think you're a raving lunatic or a sharp fellow."

Really now, you shouldn't base my sanity on only this issue. hahaha

No, seriously, here's my (perfect) solution.....The illegals came here for jobs, correct? That is the key to the solution.

We don't need any additional laws, we don't need HR 4437 or any of the McKennedy, Spectre, Frist bills. We don't even need to invest any money in bolstering the SSA's database.

We already have everything in place. And we only need to do one this...Give employers one year to clear their payrolls of illegal aliens. Most small companies can do this with one telephone call to the SSA. If you provide the SSA with the SSN's&names of your employees, they can tell you which numbers and names don't match their already existing database. The employer will dismiss their illegal laborers, all other employers will do likewise, and the illegal labor market will be virtually nonexistent. After a several month period of unsuccessful job hunting, most illegal aliens will realize that job prospects are futile and will return home. This will solve 75% of the problem.

Nobody needs to be "draconianly" deported, no wall is needed, companies don't even need to be fined - IF THEY COMPLY. If they don't, then ACTUALLY punish them. Oh, and many in lower-class America gets a resultant raise! Win, win, win - all the way around. Except we pay 10% more for stawberries & lettuce, hotel rooms, dining-out, and for a mowed lawn.

Now, is that reasonable?

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Gray--
There are no double payments because they choose SS numbers of dead guys or something like that.

It does seem like it wouldn't work that well, but that just shows how disorganized our government can be.

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

"Immigrants who are H.S. dropouts end up costing taxpayers $89,000 more than the economic value they produce over their lifetimes. Immigrants who are H.S. graduates end up costing us $31,000."

Hmm, so how much do US dropouts and US graduates cost? If people are working all the time, how can it be they create a negative value? Where's the catch?

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

If the economy benefits so much from low skill workers why do we continue to spend so much money educating native born Americans? Think of the economic boom we could have if we shut down publicly funded high schools and colleges to increase our homegrown pool of unskilled labor.

Posted by: Carter on April 17, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

Yes it's reasonable, if you want an army of 12 million homeless unemployed immigrants marching on your town, massive economic disruption, an even larger underground economy, blood in the streets, etc, etc, etc...

Sorry, they aren't just going to quietly slink back to Mexico. Most of these people have been here for years, are fixtures of the local community, etc...

Why not just let 'em stay and then say "No More"? Surely we can live with the current level, and if that SS verification scheme actually works, then we wouldn't have musch to worry about for the future...

There now, that's better than blood in the streets, now isn't it?

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

If that's a subsidy, then all low-wage employers are in effect given subsidies,

They are, but the difference is that they're citizens and we have little choice but to fund them. There's no need to bring in millions more who need this funding, especially when our workforce participation rates are dropping, and we've seen a 20% increase in Social Security Disability recipients from 2000 to 2004. That's a huge increase and it's likely that there are a number of discouraged workers in the mix.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

"If that's a subsidy, then all low-wage employers are in effect given subsidies, because all low-wage employers employ high school dropouts and graduates."

Imho the problem only arrises if the employers pay less than the worker would need to afford the essentials of living for himself and his family. In these cases, the society (state, nation) has to close the gap. Check the WalMart example!

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm, so how much do US dropouts and US graduates cost? If people are working all the time, how can it be they create a negative value? Where's the catch?

US citizens cost even more because they qualify for a whole lot more of social programs. Think about this though - what are the future obligations if we add 12 million illegals to the citizen roster? Most are requiring subsidy as it stands now, so what happens when the qualify fully for more generous social benefits.

The social welfare state will become less sustainable, but if liberals are making the choice between universal health care and being nice to illegals, then they've got no one but themselves to blame when the system becomes unsustainble.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

Carter--

The "economy" may indeed benefit from low-wage workers. But, no one wants to actually BE the low-wage worker. That's why voters push for better education, etc. So that that OTHER guy's kid can make money for THEIR kid!

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

"There are no double payments because they choose SS numbers of dead guys or something like that.

It does seem like it wouldn't work that well, but that just shows how disorganized our government can be."

Here's the way it works - the illegal buys a fictitious SS card or simply provides his employer with any "made-up" SSN. The employer sends that info. into the SSA. After a few weeks, the SSA sends a written notice to the employer that the name & number don't match. They employer takes that notice and tosses it in the garbage. The federal govt., which previously would send the INS (currently ICE) to inspect blatant violating companies, also does nothing, because we're talking about the Bush Admin. - BIG BUSINESS rules!

You see, almost all employers already know who their illegal employees are. They choose to do nothing about it, because currently nothing will happen to them if they don't. This is nothing more than a hoax on the American public, which after all, is quite naive about the entire process, as are most radio and TV commentators as well.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

I think that's a bit of an exaggeration. Obviously, some companies are punished for hiring illegals. Not a huge number maybe, but it does happen fairly often...

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

"They are, but the difference is that they're citizens and we have little choice but to fund them."

Huh, Tangoman, the society has no choice but to fund the EMPLOYERS? Now that's VERY rightwing. Or are you suggesting that it's normal that a hard working guy who has the disadvantage of no special qualification can't even afford his own healthcare in the US of 2006? What do you propose him to do? Steal a rope and hang himself? :-/

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Tango, there are some awful flaws in your logic. US dropouts and graduates cost even more? So who's paying for this, the rich? If this is true, don't you think that this shows that there's something wrong with the wages? Even during the ice-age, a hard working man used to be able to earn his own living, and I've heard that the vast majority of those guys never saw a school...

Again, why don't those scoungers just commit suicide out of shame. Obviously, nobody needs them.

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

kokblok,

Obviously I wasn't arguing that we need to be giving US employers subsidies. I misread the comment to which I was replying and I was referring to employees.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Kokblock,

I beg to differ. Remember these aren't "criminals", they only came here for jobs, right? And most of them came here in the last 10 years. These aren't people who would riot, they're just like you or me, except they didn't obey our immigration law, in fact they broke 3 federal laws by working here illegally.

Also, they didn't come here because they were unemployed, they came here because they were under-employed. They knew they could triple or quadruple their Mexican/Latin American salaries.

Also, only approx. 60% are from Mexico, a large number are from Central and South America. ie. approx. 400,000 are Peruvian nationals. Trust me, they will go back to Peru and Mexico, etc.

There are literally 4 billion people in the world that will come here legally, the problem is that not all are qualified, and if we enforce our existing laws - NONE OF THE CURRENT ILLEGALS ARE QUALIFIED TO BE HERE EITHER.

Hundreds of thousands of law-abiding foreign nationals already paid their permanent resident visa costs and are just waiting for the US Embassy to call them. Let's reward them, they followed the rules - That is the American way!

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

And by the way, I don't really see how this is going to be enforced retroactively. The backlog is enormous. I work for the government myself and I know very well that such a huge enforcement effort is not going to be logistically possible.

We're talking about an incredibly labor-intensive process of getting individual employers into local and state courts. The fees alone would be staggering, as would the added manpower neccesary to do the job. Do you have any idea how many full-time employees the Department of Justice or INS have currently? They would have to triple or quadruple their staff, at least.
I suspect one reason why serious enforcement hasn't been a priority is that no one wants to pay for it.

In our legal system, cases generally have to come up by individuals harmed by the illegal action. They bring violations to court and then judges decide on individual cases. This is how most minimum-wage violations get discovered. There ain't no government investigator working on this stuff---they can hardly afford to go after the murderers! What you are proposing is a massive federal program unlike anything we have ever seen before.

By the way, if everyone knows who's illegal, why aren't there more cases of US citizens ratting out companies that hire illegals? Anyone could do it--just call up the INS hotline. If illegal immigration really were so horrible, don't you think all those aggrieved natives would be on the phone ratting out their co-workers? Or is it only "theoretical" illegals they're opposed to? There is obviously massive collusion going on, between employer, illegal employees, other employees, customers, etc.

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

"I think that's a bit of an exaggeration. Obviously, some companies are punished for hiring illegals. Not a huge number maybe, but it does happen fairly often..."

Four (4) were fined in 2004!! In the entire US of A! Seriously - I work with DOJ.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Name is Gray, but ok. Still, you should think about if it's healthy for a society to allow wages that result in a vast number of peole that have to be subsidies by society. Why take the money form the rich in form of taces to give ti to the needy, when you could raise the wages of the poor, thus reduce the income of the rich but in return tax them less? Maybe I'm a dreamer, but this sounds like being more fair to me...

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

oops, sorry for that load of typos :(

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

US dropouts and graduates cost even more? So who's paying for this, the rich? If this is true, don't you think that this shows that there's something wrong with the wages?

Why do you think we have a $45 trillion unfunded liability just for medicare? This at a time when our entire GDP is $11 trillion.

Wages can only go up to the level where the employee is generating a surplus value for the employer. No employer is going to pay an employee $12/hr when a machine can do the job for $10/hr. Now, rather than letting labor market forces create labor supply shortages and thus raise the wage level to a point closer to the labor substitution point we're keeping the labor market generously supplied. If you look at the national data, you see that the capital has been increasing its share of national wealth and labor has been losing.

There is room for wages to rise, bounded of course by the productivity of the worker. When wages rise then the employee is better able to fund their own expenditures and rely less on the public.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

"Four (4) were fined in 2004!! In the entire US of A! Seriously - I work with DOJ."

Unbelievable. How many agents work in investigating these crimes, two or three?

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

That is just delusional. Most of these people haven't lived in Mexico or wherever for many years. Most of them have gotten married, quite often to legal US citizens. A large proportion are parents of children born in the US (who are therefore US citizens and may not even still have citizenship of their heritage country). Most of them are deeply enmeshed in the local societies in which they live.

Yes, they are "law-abiding". But there is only so much one can take.

I'd say that being forced to leave your child in another country would cause most people to snap. And it won't just be "illegals"...it will be all those legal friends and families of illegals. You know, all those hundreds of thousands of people that were marching in the street? Yeah, those guys.

Sorry, mass deportation ain't gonna happen. Ever. Have any better ideas?

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

We're talking about an incredibly labor-intensive process of getting individual employers into local and state courts. The fees alone would be staggering, as would the added manpower neccesary to do the job.

All you need to do is instruct the IRS to not permit a deduction for any employee that is not permitted to work in the US. All of a sudden all of those wage expenses that employers are paying, regardless of the status of the employees, now have to come out of the employers after-tax income. This way they can hire whomever they please and it's their choice as to whether their expenses can be deducted from taxes or not. Therefore there is no need to police the situation, raid employers, etc.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

My solution would only require hiring a few hundred additional SSA employees to compare records. It's not that big of a deal. It's the most economic solution that I've heard to date.

There is nothing retroactive about it. If a company CURRENTLY has illegals on the books, they need to be dismissed. Trust me, if the executive order was signed today, companies would comply. There are too many US citizens who are fed-up.

And trust me, if you work criminal investigations like I do, then you know how many US citizens complain, as do other companies, and federal government agencies themselves. The Bush Admin. and prior administrations let this get out of hand by not fining enough companies that illegally hired. It's all politics, as usual.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Mexico -
"Unemployment rate: 3.6% plus underemployment of perhaps 25% (2005 est.)"

Hmm, didn't know that. But what's underemployment, really? Earning not enough to care for your family?

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt---

Only four cases. That kind of proves my point. If anyone really cared, we'd have had a lot more cases than that, my friend. Anyone can call the INS hotline. Now why aren't they? Could it be that they just hate those "theoretical" illegals but are willing to make an exception for their friend Juan?

Seriously, it wouldn't be hard to convict these companies...so what gives? Why blame the government if the citizens themselves don't seem to give a shit? Unless, of course, they're "Theoretical" citizens whose wages are being theoretically decimated. Right? Those guys are lighting up the INS hotline, aren't they?

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

"All you need to do is instruct the IRS to not permit a deduction for any employee that is not permitted to work in the US."

Nice idea, Tango. But I seem to have heard that many illegals work for a small percetage of the official minimum wage. Employers tax rate may be how high, 40%? How does this compute?

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Sorry, mass deportation ain't gonna happen. Ever. Have any better ideas?"

It's called "self-deportation", and it will work. The illegals who have legal spouses and children need to make a choice, take the spouse and children with you to beautiful, sunny, dry Mexico, or let them stay here.

They can reunite if the illegal applies for residency at the nearest US Consulate in Mexico. The spouse can petition for them. Hopefully, he/she won't have a criminal record in the US. If he/she did....oh, well, we don't want them here anyway, right fellow G-worker?

This concept will work and is fair. And don't we want what is fair for all thousand law-abiding foreign nationals that applied for their work visas and waited and waited..... Those are the most-victimized people in this discussion, yet they're forgotten by the Democrats. How convenient.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

TangoMan--

Well your proposal is a little different from what junglemutt seemed to be proposing.

But guess what would happen if the IRS were to take such a step? You'd simply see a great increase in the level of under the table work. These companies are not going to fire such a large percentage of their workforce. Of course, you could go on with further investigations and punish those employers. But then we're back at square one--with a huge enforcement effort.

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

That's not what would happen and you know it very well. Those people would simply go into jobs that were further underground. Meanwhile, entire communities would be up in arms.

This is really so predictable it is laughable. If you think they're going to go off quietly you are totally crazy.

What's more, such a move is unneccesary. Why can't we just say "Ooops, sorry we screwed up! We tempted you guys here with promises of easy jobs and lax enforcement but now we see maybe it wasn't a good idea. But since we're not sadists or anything, we're not going to totally destroy your communities just so we don't have to admit we were complicit ourselves. We're gonna put you on the road to citizenship. As for your compadres south of the border, well, they're going to have to deal with a real enforcement mechanism at the workplace. So it sucks to be them. But life isn't fair you know. We're just trying to cause the least amount of disruption and pain possible while securing our borders."

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

Maybe the reason why those law-abiding legal immigrants have been "ignored" is the fact that most of them do not seem to support the radical deportation methods you support. Because, oh yeah, the majority of them have "illegal" friends or family members.

It doesn't make sense to speak in the name of the legal immigrants, when the recent marches make it pretty clear that they don't stand with you on this issue of "self"-deportation.

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt, your plan would result in a lot of employers looking for legal workers replacing the illegal ones. This would result in a raise of wages, but still there won't be enough US workers to fill the mepty places. And then what? Shall the employers reduce their workforce and thus their output? What's your plan for legal immigration?

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Kokblock,

I'm going to bed, so this is my last post. I've enjoyed the discussion, but consider this...

Only 20-25% of Americans have a passport.
Less than 1% of Americans ever had to request a visa for their passport.

That alone should tell you what the average American knows about the subject of "immigration".

They don't know that all citizens of "Non-Visa Waiver Countries" need a valid passport and valid US visa to simply visit the US.

They don't know that all Mexicans and residents of Latin American countries need a work visa or Permanent Resident Visa (Green Card) to legally reside and work in the U.S.

They don't have an appreciation for those foreign nationals that obey are immigration laws and are punished as a result. If they did, we wouldn't be having this discussion, because what illegals are doing is fundamentally wrong and is certainly NOT GOOD for our country.

But the politicians do know all the above, and they're just going to play with it, especially the BIG BUSINESS, Capitalist over Conservative Republicans. It's shameful.

I can't fault the Democrats, that's the nature of the beast. If they couldn't import poverty, they wouldn't win anything. Who else would vote for them except for post-graduate, ivory-tower theoreticians?

Have a good night.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

Wait a minute, now illegal immigrants are VOTING?! Who knew it had gone this far...

Yeah, Democrats are importing non-voters so they can win elections. Makes a hell of a lot of sense. I'm sure all those veggie growers are Democrats too. Did you hear the one about the Democratic coyote? He loved Pinot Noir! Har-har-har!!!

And yes, there'd be no poverty in the US without immigration. No, everything would be rosy. We'd all live in mansions and the GOP would have a thousand year reign! Our manufacturing jobs would still be here if it weren't for immigration. That's why the Democrats have to manufacture poverty...because otherwise it wouldn't exist and they wouldn't have jobs!

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

But guess what would happen if the IRS were to take such a step? You'd simply see a great increase in the level of under the table work.

No, you wouldn't. Consider a hypothetical business which has a revenue of $1,000,000 per year. Of that, $500,000 goes for material & supplies, $100,000 for building rent, utilities, transportation, and $250,000 for labor. This leaves a profit of $150,000 per year and that is what is taxed. Now, let's say all of the laborforce is illegal. What happens is the employer, instead of paying tax on $150,000 has to pay tax on "profits" of $400,000 because the wage expense isn't allowed. The choice is theirs.

If they want to go underground then the above example is identical. The employer is still generating revenue of $1,000,000 but can only document $600,000 in expenses, so their taxable income is $400,000 but they also incur under the table labor expenses of $250,000, and this has to be paid from their after-tax proceeds of the $400,000 taxable income. If they want to do that, then let them. The downside is that they can now be sued by any employee who is hurt on the job because they weren't covered by worker's comp.

Perhaps the better strategy is to hire workers who are legal, and instead of paying $250,000 the employer ends up paying $300,000 but it is all deductable.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

US
"Labor force: 149.3 million (includes unemployed) (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate: 5.1% (2005 est.)"

149.3 million * 0.051 = 7.614 million

Hmm, how much illegals are we talking about? 8 Million? 12 Million? There simply aren't enough legal unemployed to replace the illegals if they are forced out of their jobs. What's needed is a transition program for the illegals to become citizens or finish their stay and return. and the green card program has to be largely extended to cover the future demand of the economy, preferable with a high quote for south and central american participants. This is how a responsible policy should look like, not like some kind of 'Skiddoo!' act.

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

There simply aren't enough legal unemployed to replace the illegals if they are forced out of their jobs.

Take a look at the data I compiled in this post. Notice the lowering of the workers/population ratio for those between 15-65? Also, please follow the link at the bottom of the post to the study on discourged workers.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

if you want an army of 12 million homeless unemployed immigrants marching on your town, massive economic disruption, an even larger underground economy, blood in the streets, etc, etc, etc...

The situation we're in is similar to having been invaded. If you don't think that's accurate, consider the choice we're faced with: either capitulate to the demands of foreign citizens, or face the consequences.

Obviously, in the case of an economic downturn things could get very ugly.

There are a few lessons that need to be learned but aren't:

- who's responsible for getting us in this position, and how do we prevent them from doing more damage?

- make sure there are many fewer foreign citizens in your country than you can deal with

- make sure that millions more illegal aliens don't keep coming here.

Any form of surrender will encourage more illegal aliens to try to come here, and they'll know that all they need to do to get what they want is march in our streets.

Perhaps it's time to start looking at whether any of those Senators who support foreign citizens marching in our streets have thereby committed any sort of crime.

Posted by: TLB on April 17, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Bad link, sorry. Here it is again.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Tango, the problem is, there isn't any incentive for this employer to hire legal workers, because he probably would have to pay them twice the wages of the illegals, or even more. Then his business wouldn't generate any real profit at all, so he simply would close it.

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, one last post, I want to address Gray's questions, but I have to wake up early. You know I have a lot of illegal alien, Mexican national narcotics traffickers to investigate. And by the way, I'm sure you guys know, that illegal alien, Mexican national narcotics traffickers dominate the narcotics trade in the U.S. In fact, 25% of all federal prisoners are illegal aliens, and they are NOT in prison for immigration violations, if you know what I mean. If you ever purchased cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine, then you'd know what I'm referred to. It's getting so bad, that you can't hardly find a white or black guy who'll sell you a pound or more of any of the previously mentioned drugs. The major sources are inevitably illegal alien, Mexican nationals....but, I'm digressing...


Gray,

"your plan would result in a lot of employers looking for legal workers replacing the illegal ones. This would result in a raise of wages, but still there won't be enough US workers to fill the mepty places. And then what? Shall the employers reduce their workforce and thus their output? What's your plan for legal immigration?"

You are right on all counts, but we don't need to reduce the work force. My legal immigration plan is already in place. Like I wrote previously, there are literally hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals waiting to be called by US Embassies in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. There are millions more that will apply as we raise the cap on LEGAL IMMIGRATION. Those are the people that we want to live and work here, and deserve to be here, much more so than law violators.

Will wages and the cost of doing business increase - yes, so what? We're only talking 10% at the most. Do you really think that businesses are passing all their labor savings down to the consumer? Think again, most of the savings become profits that go right to the bottom line of their INCOME STATEMENT.

I want what is right and fair. I think I made my case. If you agree, please call your Congressmen and Senators and demand it. Who knows, it might work. The US is supposed to be a democracy, so it's worth a try.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

Tango, pls excuse me while I'm puking. #%$߲

This Caplan guy cited in the story you linked seems to believe that the average genetic quality of the US society plummets when mexicans are allowed to immigrate. I don't care if he says that the welfare of the nation will rise, too, THIS IS FASCIST HORSEPOO!

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

Did you notice the falling rate of workforce participation? Take those rates and combine then with Census data on populations and you'll discover quite a few of our citizens who could be in the workforce if enticed by higher wages. Did you notice the spectacular fall-off of teenage workforce participation?

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

I'm very much for a transition by raising the cap on legal immigration, but:

"there are literally hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals waiting to be called by US Embassies in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe."

Sure. But what's the idea behind replacing mexican immigrants with others that come from faraway places? You think this would result in less cultural differences? Or do you want to punish southern america for the illegal immigrations of the past? For me, this sounds like you have a personal problem with latinos...

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Oh Kokblock,

Why take everything out of context? I'm sure you understand what I mean by importing poverty.

Here, I'll walk you through it...the illegal alien becomes "a US citizen" after 5 or 10 years. Who is he going to vote for? Didn't we just do this in 1986? And who did that 3 million block of "legalized illegals" vote for? And who does the under $35,000 demographic vote for? And what candidate did 88% of black Americans vote for in 2004? Now, tell me that the Democrats don't win the poverty vote.

And you're right, there would still be "poverty" if we didn't have illegal immigrants in the US, there would just be 11 million fewer poor people in the US.

I lived in Peru for 6 years, hence the poverty is in quotes, because it's "American poverty" or what the Peruvians refer to as "middle class".

Have a good night.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

But what's the idea behind replacing mexican immigrants with others that come from faraway places?

Go take the online test I link to here and see whether you'd qualify to immigrate to Canada. The human social capital of Canada's immigrants is far higher than those that come to the US. Over 60% of our illegals never went beyond 6th grade. Canada gives points to immigrants who speak either English or French. You get the idea. Canada is choosing which immigrants to admit and we're just letting anyone come across the border.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Did you notice the spectacular fall-off of teenage workforce participation?"

No, cause I don't care. I don't think "teenage workforce participation" is a good idea in the first place. Damn kids should concentrate on their education. If this would result in them having to wait longer for getting a new cell phone or other hightech toys, it won't hurt them.

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

"For me, this sounds like you have a personal problem with latinos..."

My Peruvian wife and latino children would probably disagree with you.

I have a problem with corruption, crime, ignorance, and hypocrisy.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

Tango, some people I know tried to immigrate into Canada and/or Australia, I know about the hurdles. I'm for a screening of immigrants, btw. But I realy don't see that a highly educated foreigner will handle your lawnmower nor care for your kids.

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Good for you, jungle. So why not concentrate on immigrants from neighboring countries? The US should be interested in stabilizing their hemisphere, family connection s help a lot with that. What are the US interests in Africa?

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Read my post again, I wrote "Latin America" as the first group of legal applicants. Latin America goes north to south from Mexico to Argentina and Chile. The whole kit and kaboodle.

But I really don't have a preference, I just want somebody who does not violate our laws and can pass the same TOURIST VISA/PERMANENT RESIDENT interview that US Consulate Officers administer to millions of foreign nationals around the world, every year.

I wouldn't be so concerned about the Western Hemisphere, I would think taking care of our allies would be better. And I don't necessarily consider Mexico, Venezuela and Bolivia as current allies.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

Yup, you did, Jungle. Guess I got distracted by Africa and Europe, sorry. And I'm damn tired. Our ideas on raising the legal cap on immigrations aren't so far apart, it's only the transition process that worries me. But I'll stop here before I make even more reading mistakes. CU!

Posted by: Gray on April 17, 2006 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Gray asks:

Still, you should think about if it's healthy for a society to allow wages that result in a vast number of peole that have to be subsidies by society.

This betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of poverty.

Why do you think we have to subsidize poor people in Western societies? Because wages are low? That's laughable - even the poor in Western countries live far better than most people could a hundred years ago.

Poverty isn't based on not having things. It's based on comparison with societal expectations.

Raising wages won't help - the definition of poverty will just change.

There always have to be people on the bottom and they will always consider themselves poor.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 17, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't chosen a side on this issue yet, but I remember a story on illegal immigration that I saw on 60 Minutes years ago. Many people were coming to this country illegally to have their children born as Americans and could therefore take advantage of the welfare state.

Posted by: pol on April 17, 2006 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

If it's just dollars and cents, bank robbery only costs $65 million/year, about 150th of the most lowball estimates of the cost of illegal immigration.

But it isn't just dollars and cents; it's an invasion that is growing exponentially.

Posted by: Myron on April 17, 2006 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

My neighbor has a drywall business. We talk a lot, and he has explained to me many times how illegal immigrants have driven prices into the ground.

To be competitive in his bids, he has to use illegal labor. Otherwise, there is no way he could compete in his market.

Companies (at least in construction) face a severe competitive disadvantage by working legally. My neighbor knows it, his competitors know it, and the illegals know it.

This simple fact, more than anything I have read that utilizes "damned lies and statistics" tells me that our country has a problem.

The obvious solution is to combine the House and Senate approach. Build a wall, and then get the people who are here into the system.

Posted by: Chad on April 17, 2006 at 4:29 AM | PERMALINK

"Bottom line: "

Immigrants add more to the private economy than they add to the government economy, thus rebalancing the ratio and letting us skirt along even though we suck government checks like little babies suck milk.

Posted by: Matt on April 17, 2006 at 5:20 AM | PERMALINK

Tango Man says:

But what's the idea behind replacing mexican immigrants with others that come from faraway places?

Go take the online test I link to here and see whether you'd qualify to immigrate to Canada. The human social capital of Canada's immigrants is far higher than those that come to the US. Over 60% of our illegals never went beyond 6th grade. Canada gives points to immigrants who speak either English or French. You get the idea. Canada is choosing which immigrants to admit and we're just letting anyone come across the border.

You dickless left wing wonders may want to copy everything Canadian from universal health care to immigration policy but luckily you guys are still a minority in the US.

Real Americans understand that Canada is just a rather unimportant suburb of the US with over 50% of their minuscule population living within 100 miles of the border and sucking off the American teat to provide them with everything from defense to medical research.

I have no desire to live in a white bread world full of people just like me. I like variety in my life.

The incredible diversity of America's immigrants is one of our greatest strengths. It shows in everything from our food to our foreign investment to our military.

If you like Canada so much why don't you move there?!?!


Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 17, 2006 at 5:44 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and PS, the fact that they accept French speakers just demonstrates how worthless Canadians are.

I mean have you ever met any Quebecois?

Posted by: Michael Friedman on April 17, 2006 at 5:48 AM | PERMALINK

What about the cost of living difference between California and Ohio? Don't they tell you in Econ 101 and in Journalism 101 to always adjust for the cost of living?

According to the data gathered by the nonprofit organization ACCRA, which measures cost of living so corporations can fairly adjust the salaries of employees they relocate, California has the highest cost of living in the country with an index of 150.8 (where 100 is the national norm). Ohio is below average at 95.4. So, relative to the national average cost of living, high school dropouts in Ohio average $8.77 versus $5.78 for the equivalent in California. That means they are 52% better off in Ohio than in California.

So, contra the New York Times, it looks like the Law of Supply and Demand hasn't been repealed after all.

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2006/04/does-illegal-immigration-lower-wages.html

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 17, 2006 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

Chad--

Yes! There is no reason why you can't have an amnesty for those here now while making it virtually impossible for future illegals to come. Those who say so are full of shit. It doesn't matter what "message" you send to potential immigrants. If your verification systems work, it won't make a difference. They won't be able to work here. If the verification system couldn't work, then all this discussion is meaningless anyway.

Doesn't anyone feel like we deserve to deal with the consequences of keeping those immigrants here, since we encouraged them to come by not enforcing our own laws? It's like we spent years encouraging people to jaywalk by letting them know (wink, wink) that they wouldn't be punished and giving them a nice cake on the other side of the street as an incentive. Now that so many have done exactly what we wanted, we've turned angry and are saying that not only do they have to give back the cake, they have to leave the communities they've built under our approving noses and walk back across the street and never come back, because jaywalking is now a felony. Never mind that they have been here for years.

Don't you have an inkling about why this is cruel and hypocritical? As well as being unneccesary. If we get our front-end policies right, then it won't matter. We can live with the current level. We're living with it now. Making them legal will allow them to move around the country with greater ease, lessening their negative effects on specific local wage markets.

And still no one seems to have come to terms with the fact that mass deportation is not going to happen. Some pipe dreams die hard, I see.

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

The irrepresible and fanatical racist Steve Sailer and his lapdog TangoMan emerge to torment the good readers of another blog.

Go see the series on racist wingnut bloggers over at Firedoglake and you'll get a nice dose of Sailer speech.

http://www.firedoglake.com/2006/04/03/late-nite-fdl-the-education-of-blitzer-continues/

The best thing the Republican Party ever did was figure out that if you call poor people who come to America to try to make a little money 'illegal immigrants' and then attempt to classify them as felons, you can DISTRACT people from the real crimes, which are the outsourcing of jobs, the flouting of environmental laws and the breaking of unions.

It's simply DISTRACTION. Look, over here! There's a bunch of brown people making 5 bucks an hour hanging sheetrock or cutting grass! Don't look over there, where they're dumping chemicals into the river as they dismantle the assembly plant and put 10,000 Union workers out into the cold.

Want to solve the problem? Make it a felony to hire someone who isn't here legally. That's right--economically exploiting someone should be a felony. Don't agree? So you condone the exploitation of children brought into this country to work as sex slaves? Where do you draw the line, then? One would think that applying the laws equally and enforcing them would appeal to even the wingnuts, but, sadly, they fear their supply of chubby little boys might dry up if we take this whole 'immigration' thing too far. One would think that 'enforcing' the laws would make a difference. Well, no, can't do that. Must DISTRACT people from the reality that businesses must be allowed to exploit people while we chase a few poor people around with butterfly nets.

Bait and switch. Grand Wizard Sailer and his scrappy little buttbuddy TangoMan, dressed to the nines in Klan robes, doing their little rituals of hate speech and waving phony statistics. They lie and spread bullcrap, couched in polite tones and strident paragraphs full of pseudointellectual halfwit conclusions. They do this all unto the good people, none of whom buy it or fall for it.

Still blogging, you two scamps? Better change those names and come back another day, when you can confuse the issues and play your game of DISTRACTION.

Posted by: Not really a commenter on April 17, 2006 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

"Don't you have an inkling about why this is cruel and hypocritical?"

Only in Leftopia would enforcing your existing law be considered cruel and hypocritical.

"since we encouraged them to come by not enforcing our own laws?"

A very, very small percentage of Americans "encouraged" illegals to come here. Distorting the truth is doesn't help your cause.


"Making them legal will allow them to move around the country with greater ease, lessening their negative effects on specific local wage markets."

Huh? Where do you live? Apparently you don't know that they already (illegally) live in every corner of America.


"because jaywalking is now a felony"

Illegal immigration has been a misdemeanor for a number of years, punishable by up to 6 months in prison. Is it the other 6 months that bothers you?

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

The human social capital of Canada's immigrants is far higher than those that come to the US. Over 60% of our illegals never went beyond 6th grade. Canada gives points to immigrants who speak either English or French. You get the idea. Canada is choosing which immigrants to admit and we're just letting anyone come across the border.

The United States attracts more of the most highly skilled imimgrants than any other nation, including Canada. America's universities and leading-edge firms are filled with brilliant people who have brought their talents to these shores.

But what America also attracts is a large number of people that most other rich countries eschew -- those whose attributes can't be summed up with a fancy resume or a fat bank account -- those who bring only their ambition, their taste for hard workd, their desire for better lives, and their industriousness.

I'm not a Canada-basher, but what exactly does Canada's failure to attract unskilled immigration give Canada that the US lacks? Give them more prosperity than the US? A higher standard of living than the US? Lower taxes? More wealth? Higher economic growth? The answer to these questions is no. It is America's unique fortune to share a border with a large source of hardworking, industrious future Americans, not something to be regretted.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on April 17, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

You people all need to realize that this whole thread got launched by a Kevin Drum that lives safely esconced within the social and economic barricades of Irvine, California - deep in the heart of The Orange Curtain. As such, the only migrants he interfaces with are the gardeners he sees out the windows of his SUV working by the sides of the road, which were contracted by the home-owners association. He doesn't have to try and use the medical services of Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. He has never taken his family to spend a day at a park in Anaheim. He doesn't have to concern himself with the public schools in Orange (where the best teachers have long since left to go teach the kids in his Irvine). He does not ever serve jury duty in Compton. He makes sure his gas tank is full before he drives the freeways through East LA, which is rare anyway because he would rather stick to the 405 freeway which hug white neighborhoods along the coast - even though it is the long way around. His idea of Mexican food is Del Taco, unless it's the #2 plate at Acapulco's when he want to splurge on something "authentic". His police department ship their officers out to the surrounding cities in order to get educated on the realities of gangland crime. He sees more graffiti in shoe commercials then in person.

And now he has found a comfortable position on immigration, away from those main illogical and irrational positions of the left, where he can safely state that this is only an issue concerning how we assist our high-school dropouts.

Posted by: OC Native on April 17, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Last year at Easter dinner it was Teri Schiavo dominating the conversation. Today's dinner it was immigration."

Yep. Manufactured resentment. You'd think at least they'd give us bread and circuses . . .

Posted by: Dan S. on April 17, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

More cutsey "studies" claiming exactly what the business community wants to hear. And you guys wonder why the population is so anti-intelluctual.

Posted by: la on April 17, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

1) If illegal immigrants were evenly-dispersed throughout the country as you claim, then you certainly can't say that they have especially strong effects on specific local labor markets, as so many of your comrades have been arguing. And by the way, they certainly are NOT spread evenly throughout the country, as even a cursory look at Census statistics would make obvious.

2) "Enforcing the law"...yeah, and the only possible punishment for illegal presence is deportation?? I'm a little shocked that you're some kind of government investigator and yet you don't seem to understand the basic distinction between enforcing the law and sentencing. Duh, even the most liberal proposals accept that some penalty needs to be applied to those who have broken the law. They just don't share your Hammurabian obsession with this one particular form of punishment. So, six months in jail is the maximum sentence. You know as well as I do that maximum sentences are rarely applied. I fail to see how the collection of a fine from offenders would not be "enforcing our laws". You might as well say that any judge that doesn't impose the maximum penalty on a shoplifter is not enforcing our laws.

3) Unfortunately, you still have failed to show exactly how maintaining the current level of immigration through a combination of amnesty and tougher front-end programs would lead to disaster, the death of western civilization, and the pauperization of the US. What you've given me is a lot of pious cant about our "sacred laws".

4) Do you not see the slightest bit of cruelty and hypocrisy in the position of these House GOP members, who encouraged lax enforcement for years and now suddenly want to expel millions? This is blindness on an unprecedented scale. You hide behind a fig leaf of "legality" which obscures the massive collusion of the majority of the American public in the encouragement of illegal immigration. It ain't just the "business community". It's all those consumers pushing for cheap lettuce, etc. Most of us benefitted from illegal immigration, and now we're just going to wash our hands of the whole thing and say..."Oh, yeah, actually all that stuff we actively encouraged, see it was ILLEGAL. So, bye-bye!" ???
That's just the height of hypocrisy.

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Illegal immigration is, to date, the largest single source of corporate welfare in this country. We (meaning all of us taxpayers) pay through the nose in healthcare and infrastructure costs to keep this source of cheap labor for multinational conglomerates. Why?

Is the solution to send all the illegal immigrants back? Honestly, that would do more to punish the real villains here, the corporations leeching onto taxpayer subsidies to enhance their bottom lines, than any other proposed solution, with the significant downside, however, of also punishing the pawns in their great game.

IMHO, make them all legal, allow them to sue their past employers for benefits, and allow the same amount to be paid to the taxpayer general fund as punitive damages for longstanding illegal behavior on the part of those corporations. At the same time close the holes in the border in which they came, and make it damned clear that any company that hires an illegal worker will be 200% responsible for the below-standard wages and benefits once caught. And, of course, then actually fund the INS to catch these companies.

The focus in this debate has been completely wrong. You don't blame the guy who can't feed his family unless he sneaks over the border to get a few bucks an hour instead of pennies a day at the factory. You blame the corporation which greedily takes this worker, hides him from the government, pockets both the wage difference and the benefits difference, and pays off congressmen and state legislatures to look the other way.

In this respect, the Republicans have already won this debate. They framed it as "what to do with those nasty brown people". No, the real question is, "what to do with the bloodsucking leeches who bring them in?" Until the debate is reframed, as harsh as the Republican position is, it will engender a fairly large body of support.

Posted by: Jet Tredmont on April 17, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I'm ignorant of the technicalities of economics, but what about the money that is sent from the United States by illegal immigrants to Mexico? This exported money is, from what I understand, the second largest source of revenue for the Mexican government. I don't know the exact dollar amount off-hand, but if this is the case it must be a substantial drain on our M1 aggregate. Wouldn't this have the effect of slowing down the economy for everyone, not just high school dropouts?

Posted by: David Ray on April 17, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

"It's all those consumers pushing for cheap lettuce, etc. Most of us benefitted from illegal immigration, and now we're just going to wash our hands of the whole thing"

While saving $.50/head of lettuce is really nice, I think any reasonable analysis would also show that I am paying far more than that in the portion of state and federal taxes which go to make up the slack for the companies which hire "undocumented workers" so that they can spend less on the top line and still make more on the bottom line.

While, yes, taxpayers are generally short-sighted and certainly easily manipulated by a reasonably well-crafted PR campaign, the simple fact is that the illusion of having benefitted from illegal immigration is exactly that: an illusion.

Posted by: Jet Tredmont on April 17, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Jet--
Well, it's certainly true that MANY Americans have been hoodwinked into believing they benefit from illegal immigration. But even if the net effect IS negative, it is not distributed evenly. Many Americans benefit from cheaper lettuce and DON'T pay the costs associated with it. Someone else pays those costs. So these people do benefit in a real way. And these are the people that are more likely to vote, etc.

Also, most of the costs of supporting illegal immigrants are provided by state and local governments. But illegal immigrants are taken into consideration when it comes to Federal funding based on Census numbers. From the local perspective, having more ilegals might not be such a bad thing, since it will increase Federal funds to the locality. And illegal immigrants actually use LESS government services on average than "natives". This is because their kids often drop out of school early, and they are wary of approaching government aid agencies for fear they may be caught. So in some respects, localities with high numbers of illegals are actually getting a pretty good deal...more federal money per actually-enrolled student, etc....

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Illegal immigration is, to date, the largest single source of corporate welfare in this country. We (meaning all of us taxpayers) pay through the nose in healthcare and infrastructure costs to keep this source of cheap labor for multinational conglomerates.

Highly unlikely. The higher up the economic food chain one goes, the harder it is to find illegal immigrants. By the time one gets to "multinational congolmerates" they're very rare indeed. Microsoft, Exxon, GE, Boeing, Goldman Sachs -- these firms hardly need the skills brought to the table by poorly educated peasants with little knowledge of English, except to the extent that they avail themselves of this cheap labor by opening facilities south of the border.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on April 17, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

David Ray:
the number the last time I looked was something like $10billion annually, from those illegal Mexican immigrants living in California. $14 billion anually natiowide. That money buys some real nice community improvements back home. It would offset hte annual debt in the California State budget quite nicely. Nobody on the left wants to ask the obvious questions about that money. Questions such as: why are these people NOT investing most of that money in the communities HERE? Could it be because they do NOT associate themselves with this country? They do NOT see this country as their future? Dollar for dollar, how does these amounts compare to any such amounts sent back by previous waves of immigrants? How much of that money came from non-taxed revenues (cash transactions) which means that it never show up on the positive side of the cost/benefit equations? How many teachers could that money fund? How many classrooms? How many raises to the police and fire agencies? How many parks could it build? How many potholes could be filled? How many bridges shored up?

Pick your favorite pet project, right or left, and think hard about that flow of cash.

Posted by: anon on April 17, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Am I just missing something here? If the overall impact of illegal immigration is, at best, a minor improvement on the total economy, then why does that settle the issue in favor of illegal immigration? Shouldn't it be that we would need to see some gargantuan benefit to our economy in order to justify this whole mess?

Clearly nobody is suggesting that, because it is practically a wash on our economy, there must be no problem at all. Right?

Posted by: EricH on April 17, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

anon--
Well, considering the fact that every dollar sent back to Mexico is a dollar we don't have to provide in foreign aid, I'm not sure it's quite as bad as you say.

Immigrants have always sent back a lot of money to their homelands. Where do you think the IRA got all their money? Of course, the advances in money transfer technology and communications makes it much easier for today's immigrants to keep connected with their homelands.

That's something to consider--maybe the only reason why previous immigrants assimilated so quickly is that they were cut off from regular communication with their homelands. This is obviously not the case now.

But does it mean that the immigrants "don't care" about America? Not really...it just means that they think they can have it both ways--keep connections to homeland while participating in adoptive country as well. Is this a potential problem? Of course. But it would be a problem with ANY kind of immigration, not just the illegal sort....

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kokblock,

It's difficult to advance the discussion when you consistently misquote me. I never wrote that illegals were "evenly-dispersed throughout the country". I wrote that they were in "every corner" of the U.S. It's widely known that the largest groups of illegals are located in southern California and in large metropolitan areas where there is a high concentration of Mexicans, ie. Chicago, DC, Houston, Phoenix, etc. My original point was that in the last several years, illegals have also moved into smaller metropolitan areas.

Now, regarding "cruel punishment and hypocrisy" - sending a criminal home is a form of justice, not cruelty. Forcing him/her to have a logical debate with a liberal would be cruel and unusual punishment. "Hypocrisy" - The only Americans that wanted illegals here were management of corporate America, the Democratic National Party and their left-wing affiliates.

You write - "Unfortunately, you still have failed to show exactly how maintaining the current level of immigration through a combination of amnesty and tougher front-end programs would lead to disaster, the death of western civilization, and the pauperization of the US."

I certainly have made my point. What did you miss?
-The fact that 25% of all federal prisoners are illegal aliens.
-The fact that illegal alien, Mexican nationals dominate the cocaine, heroin & methamphetamine trade in the U.S. (NOTE - I didn't even mention weed.)
-"Pauperization"? Most illegals here would be classified as "poor" by American standards. Are you saying that that fact, alone, doesn't contribute to poverty in the U.S.?
-The fact that our country would consider compromising our nation's security and prosperity so that companies can continue to profit from illegal labor.
-The fact that every 20 years the Democrats are allowed to illegally grow their voter-base and shift our nation's political agenda further to the socialist left.

If our '86 policy had been "self-deportation" rather than legalization, we wouldn't even be having this discussion today, because the illegals wouldn't have had any job opportunities here.


Now, it's my turn. Let me test your immigration acumen and critique your "solution" -

You say that we should legalize all (11 to 20 million) illegals already here, right? Exactly at what point would you cut-off those legalizations. ie. Would you legalize those that arrived last year, last week, yesterday, tomorrow, next week, next year, etc? When does the madness stop exactly?

What about those prospective immigrants that already have passed all the criteria to emigrate to the US and are just waiting in line in their native countries? What do you do with them?

What about those foreign nationals that already possess tourist visas, are they allowed to fly here and declare themselves residents, thereby invoking the privilege of your "Great Amnesty of 2006".

What about those illegals that already are convicted of felonies? Would you allow them to stay.

What about those illegals that have illegally RE-ENTERED? That's another "draconian felony", right?. Do you allow them to stay?

What about those that were deported after working here with only a tourist visa and have not been able to return. What do you do with them? Let's not be "HYPOCRITICAL" here? Fair is fair - if illegals with no visa can stay, want not a former illegal with a visa residing in a foreign country?


Applying your AMNESTY judiciously is getting tough taking these considerations into mind, isn't it?

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

We should kick the real illegals, the anglos, out.

At least the Mexicans aren't stealing land like the anglos did.

Or do you think we should give amnesty to anglos for their thievery too?

================

The real question?

If conservatives are such saints on this issue, why did they have to lie about the Democratic position on the immigration bill - in writing no less?

Oh, I forgot: serial and unapologetic mendacity is a fundamental characteristic of conservatism.

Posted by: Advocate for God on April 17, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

The situation we're in is similar to having been invaded. If you don't think that's accurate, consider the choice we're faced with: either capitulate to the demands of foreign citizens, or face the consequences.

That is what the Mohicans said!

The invaders think they are being invaded. SHEEESH!

Posted by: Hostile on April 17, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

junglemutt--

1) If you recall, you said that immigrants were in every nook and corner or something like that...so it's understandable that I got a little confused. Anyway, that wasn't really an important point...I was mainly arguing against some of the other folks who have been harping on the wage effects of immigration being stronger because of the geographical concentration of immigrants in certain areas. My point being that if you legalized the workers they would be more mobile within the US and the negative effects on local wage markets would lessen.

2) You still don't get it, do you? "Enforcement of the immigration law" does NOT equal "deportation".

3) I have never said I had any problem with deporting illegal immigrants who have broken the law IN OTHER WAYS. Of course, one could argue that imprisonment in US jails would be a more effective way of stopping these criminals rather than sending them on a deportation merry-go-round. It seems like all the "liberal" proposals accept that felons charged with crimes other than simple presence would not be eligible for citizenship or green card status, whatever. It would not be difficult at all to separate these people out as they have criminal records.

4) The amnesty program would of course have to wait until the implementation of the front-end programs of SS verification, etc. There could also be some kind of threshold for the amount of time the person has been in the country. Again, most of these people are in the system in one way or another...they exist in DMV databases, etc. It wouldn't be hard to pick some documents that the amnesty applicant would have to provide in order to prove that he hasn't just come up a week before the implementation of the law. Again, this would not be that difficult or costly, since it would be the applicant (not the government) driving the process and the state clerks or whatever would just have to match foreign passports or ID cards to data in their database. People that had fishy documents would be rejected, just as they are at consulates abroad. No problem, or at least no greater problem that any kind of legal immigration system.

5) I'm not sure what the exact cut-off would be for time spent in the US. Obviously, it would be arbitrary and cause some problems of fairness. But that's the nature of bureaucratic standards. That isn't "hypocrisy", any more than not allowing an 11-month resident of a state to have in-state tuition is "hypocrisy".

6) As for the people on the current "legal" list, well I would treat them the same as I would have otherwise. The consular officials decide who gets let in and who doesn't. Maybe it sucks to be on the list of people who didn't get it, and maybe these people will feel it is unfair that illegals got amnesty while they have to wait in line. But guess what? Who cares? Those are Mexican citizens in Mexico, not residents of the US who are integral parts of US communities. And they don't meet the consular standards. Life's unfair. I'm not all that concerned. It's better than displacing millions of people just so you can claim to be "consistant".

7) Care to explain why it's Democrats who are to be blamed for using immigration to attract new voters when in fact the clearest example of such behavior is the GOP and the Cubans in Florida? Oh, and Permanent Residents (which is the status that the immigrants would get and retain for a fairly long time) don't vote. So you must think that the Dems are a lot more far-sighted than reason would lead one to believe, if they can predict the voting behavior of people that will not be actual voting citizens for years. Besides, what is especially "Democratic" about hispanic voters. I was under the impression that the GOP was crowing about how they would vote to the right on social issues...the GOP could just as easily be accused to trying to bolster their base with hispanics through guest worker, etc. They just happen to be more inept at it.

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

As a Californian I have trouble backing the "net positive" position. Multiple languages in schools reduce teacher effectiveness and spread resources more thinly. Social services are dominated by aliens in many areas. The underground economy hurts state revenues. I could go on. My point is not that illegals are "bad", just that certain industries benefit from their presence, while other segments of society suffer. That's not racist or NIMBY, it's just what I see.

Posted by: Berkeley Choate on April 17, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Forcing him/her to have a logical debate with a liberal would be cruel and unusual punishment.

ROTFLMAO!!

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oh BTW, if cracking down on Illegals was genuine high priority, it could be easily done by seriously going after employers. This is a no-brainer. Illegals have mobility. Employers (99 percent or so) don't, are fewer in number and can easily be punished. Wherever one stands on the debate, let's be honest and admit that the will of the power players to actually do anything is minimal.

Posted by: Berkeley Cjhoate on April 17, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

All you need to do is instruct the IRS to not permit a deduction for any employee that is not permitted to work in the US.

TangoMan: Just how is the IRS going to "permit" or "prohibit" such deductions? Obviously any prudent employer paying wages or salary possesses photocopies of his employees' working documents, whether they're valid or not. What you want the IRS to do entirely depends on the implementation of a hitherto yet-to-be-devised national ID database. And if such a database were devised or implemented, we wouldn't need to rely on IRS audits to keep people from employing illegals, we could simply have the immigration police themselves fine the hell out of violating offenders.

You may be confusing this issue with that of paying workers under the table, but that will occur with or without the implementation of a new database. The phenomenon already occurs, and it is not limited to illegals. All that's required is a worker willing to work under the table, and an employer willing to pay him in this manner. And yet this phenomenon is not particularly widespread in the US, because it is difficult for employers to take the deduction if they pay cash. The strategy often used as a work-around is to pay under-the-table workers using a 1099. But the IRS severely punishes employers who utilize this strategy as a means to get around payroll taxes (it's a perfectly legitimate way to pay genuine free lancers, of course), and indeed, payroll tax fraud is probably the easiest way for an employer to run serioulsy afoul of the IRS and find himself in deep doo-doo.

In short, only the implementation of a seamless worker ID database, coupled with tamper-proof IDs, can truly make it difficult for Americans to hire illegals.

Posted by: P.B. Almeida on April 17, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan--

"ROTLFLMAO!!"

God I love you guys and your long abbreviations. Boy, that really stung, I tell you. Funny though, all my conservative friends enjoy arguing with me in person. I guess it's that whole uncivil internet thing. Those who hide behind a mask of anonymity feel the power to be unneccesarily vituperative.

Berkeley--

Not just the "power players". Almost everyone. This is a fake issue. Again, where are all the citizens going out and ratting on their illegal coworkers? That's within their right. Our justice system works like that. No, instead the Tancredo crew would prefer going and dressing in camouflage out in the desert and hallucinating about Mexican helicopters. Want to know why? Because they're cowards. They don't want to actually look someone in the eye, a real person, and say that person has to leave their stable job and community because they committed a misdemeanor 10 years ago. Funny how no one wants to do that.

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

PB Almeida--

You're right...and such a seamless system would not be terribly difficult to implement. I'm pretty sure they do it in places like France already. It is almost IMPOSSIBLE for an illegal to get work in France, as many of my friends have experienced first-hand...all the paperwork is checked up-front...

Posted by: kokblok on April 17, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

I was listening to a couple folks of a left-leaning persuasion talk about the "poor abused" day laborers that work construction in our area. While there's no question that they loose out in terms of benefits and protections, in my area at least, the potential to do well is there. A hard-working laborer will pull down $12/hr. plus, and guys with skills make it into the twenties. At a certain skill point they become valuable enough that good companies will make them full-time emplyees and try to fully integrate them into legal society. Meanwhile, my fully legal workers have to pay taxes, and in some cases take home less cash money than many of the illegals. Take that as you will.

Posted by: Berkeley on April 17, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Multiple languages in schools reduce teacher effectiveness and spread resources more thinly. Social services are dominated by aliens in many areas. The underground economy hurts state revenues. I could go on.

When you 'go on,' please remember that when your ancestors arrived in the US they probably caused the same problems. Almost all migrants cause some social problems, even the native English speakers and the wealthy.

My grandmother was a third generation American, born on the farm her immigrant grandfather homesteaded (my father was born there, too). My grandmother did not speak any English until she went to school. The household spoke German. That was about a hundred years ago. Today, my father claims the immigrants from Mexico do not assimilate as quickly as his ancestors did, which is contradicted by social science and his own personal history. Many Americans have the same delusion. I was chatting with a friend over the weekend. His mother's household only spoke Norwegian and his mother, second or third generation American, learned to speak English at school. It is a common history we all share.

Posted by: Hostile on April 17, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Wherever one stands on the debate, let's be honest and admit that the will of the power players to actually do anything is minimal."

Agreed, and it's been that way since 1986. The past presidents and congresses should be hung, drawn and quartered for direlection of duty. We'll get to that right after the illegals are rounded-up and shipped out of here.

Posted by: NoIllegalAlienLeftBehind on April 17, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

"No, instead the Tancredo crew would prefer going and dressing in camouflage out in the desert and hallucinating about Mexican helicopters. Want to know why? Because they're cowards. They don't want to actually look someone in the eye, a real person, and say that person has to leave their stable job and community because they committed a misdemeanor 10 years ago."

Why demonize people and call them cowards simply because they believe in enforcing the law. Most polls show that majority of Americans agree with Tancredo's strategy. Illegal aliens have absolutely no right to be in the country, and it's not a misdemeanor they committed 10 years ago, but rather it's a crime that continues every moment that they are physically located in our country. Why do we have an immigration system anyway? Have you ever pandered the reasons? I'll go out on a limb and say that the US Govt. wants to know who is coming into our country, and they want them to emigrate to the US in an orderly fashion, unlike the illegal way employed by millions of undocumented immigrants. Is that also cowardly?

Posted by: NoIllegalAlienLeftBehind on April 17, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

"my father claims the immigrants from Mexico do not assimilate as quickly as his ancestors did, which is contradicted by social science and his own personal history."

Assimilation is increasingly an outmoded term. Since the 60s it has been made clear that one need not buy in. Whether one is black, white, chicano, arabic or laotian, people are finding that they can exist within their own belief systems and not follow whatever purports to be the mainstream. I do not think that this is always a good thing, as it isn't always the best qualities of culture that are forwarded, and isolation can breed bitterness and danger. But it is an inevitable phenomenon.

Posted by: Berkeley Choate on April 17, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Berkeley Choate: "Multiple languages in schools reduce teacher effectiveness and spread resources more thinly.

Agree! Here in Minnesota, our immigrant population has been Hmong and refugees from Somalia, not so many from Mexico. Still, ~40% of the children beginning kindergarden in St. Paul do not speak English, much less read or know their alphabets. This, of course, changes the curriculum radically. As a consequence, children who do know their alphabets are bored.

The trend is for parents to 1) pull their children out of the public schools to enroll them in private schools; and 2) start voting "no" on public school funding referendums. Other parents choose to move to the suburbs and the local tax base erodes.

It's all very fine to preach noble sentiments about the US being a nation of immigrants, but in the previous period of high immigration, prior to WWI, other Americans were not picking up the tab for immigrant transition costs. I believe that most Americans are willing to support some immigration. But most also reach a point at which they feel as if they aren't getting enough for their investment. Push them beyond that point and they feel as if they are being asked to dig their own cultural grave. There will be resistence. People who are not being heard have their ways of making their will known.

For one thing, we can be quite confident that if high rates of immigration (legal or illegal) continue, public services will be cut back.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 17, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Assimilation is increasingly an outmoded term."

It's difficult getting hired by a Fortune 500 company if you only speak Spanish or Ebonics. So, if you don't want just working in fast food, then I would agree completely.

Posted by: NoIllegalAlienLeftBehind on April 17, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

"2) You still don't get it, do you? "Enforcement of the immigration law" does NOT equal "deportation"."

If you are referring to a subject who is illegally in the U.S. (with either no visa, an expired visa or a misused visa), then yes, it NORMALLY does. And if it ALWAYS did, then we wouldn't have 11+ million illegals here. But I disagree, if you're referring to my "self-deportation" plan as a deportation. No arrests or deportations actually take place, the goal is to decrease employment options for subjects illegally in the country or illegally working but in possession of only a tourist visa.


"6) As for the people on the current "legal" list, well I would treat them the same as I would have otherwise. The consular officials decide who gets let in and who doesn't. Maybe it sucks to be on the list of people who didn't get it, and maybe these people will feel it is unfair that illegals got amnesty while they have to wait in line. But guess what? Who cares?"

First of all - either I'm misunderstanding you or you are misunderstanding the legal US immigration process. The US Consular Officer interviews all visa applicants. The applicant must show the officer that he/she is qualified to travel to the US. It is very explicitly communicated to the applicant (of tourist visas) they he/she is not allowed to work in the US. They violate US law when they illegally work in the US, because you need a work visa or Permanent Resident Visa to legally work here.

Permanent resident applicants who remain in their native countries and wait their turn and do NOT illegally emigrate to the US are obeying and respecting US law, as opposed to illegal aliens.

Your amnesty program would reward the people who violate the law and punish those who obey the law.

Is that completely non-sensical or am I living in a parallel universe where good is bad, up is down, etc.? I'm corn-fused!

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN: Here in Minnesota, our immigrant population has been Hmong and refugees from Somalia, not so many from Mexico. Still, ~40% of the children beginning kindergarden in St. Paul do not speak English, much less read or know their alphabets. This, of course, changes the curriculum radically. As a consequence, children who do know their alphabets are bored.

While 40% is an admittedly high number, I'm not convinced that it's that big a problem in and of itself. I'm amazed at how many people of my parent's generation didn't learn English until they started school. This was at a time when the NYC public school system was the best in the country.

It's amazing how fast kids can learn English if you catch them young and immerse them in an English speaking environment. Yes, some will have difficulty, and they should be given extra help, but most will pick it right up. I also think that federal assistance should be given, because immigration is under federal control.

As for kids who know their alphabet when they enter kindergarten, great. My son learned the alphabet before he started kindergarten, but I didn't. At that time most kids didn't. Kindergarten was where you ate paste and listened to stories. Has anyone ever demonstrated that by cramming more into kids at an earlier age, you get better educated HS grads? The US has the best educated 4th graders in the world, but it doesn't show in our HS results. Give the kids a break and beat them up when they're teenagers.

Posted by: alex on April 17, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

"7) Care to explain why it's Democrats who are to be blamed for using immigration to attract new voters when in fact the clearest example of such behavior is the GOP and the Cubans in Florida?"

This is so obvious, that I shouldn't have to do this, but here we go again...

Let's check voter demographics -
Stats for the 1988 election:
Dukakis Bush
Hispanic vote 70% 30%


Stats for the 1992 election:
Clinton Bush Perot
Hispanic 61% 25% 14%


Stats for the 1996 election:
Clinton Dole Perot
Hispanic 72% 21% 6%


Stats for the 2000 election:
Gore Bush Buchanan Nader
Hispanic 62% 35% 1% 2%


Stats for the 2004 election:
Kerry Bush Nader
Hispanic 53% 42% 2%


Who did that 3 million block of "legalized illegals" vote for since 1988? Dukakis, Clinton, Clinton again, Gore and Kerry.

And who does the under $35,000 demographic vote for? Dukakis, Clinton, Clinton again, Gore and Kerry.

And who were the only politicians that spoke at the illegal alien protests against law enforcement? All Democrats.

And the most pertinent point - Which Congressmen and Senators want to legalize the largely-Hispanic illegal alien population in the US? mostly Democrats

You are absolutely correct about the Cubans. They are the only majority-Republican Hispanic voters in the U.S., and the Republicans do pander to them, but they are all legally in the country, which is a policy that I disagree with.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 17, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

In the latest New Yorker, a comment in an article on--of all things--the simmering schism in the Episcopal church hit me like a gong. The author, Peter Boyer, commented that "Anglican's founding event was a sixteenth-century political fix, engineered by Elizabeth I as a means of avoiding the Reformation-era wars tearing at Europe....When Elizabeth ascended the throne as a Protestant...the prospect of civil war was real. Elizabeth's elegant solution allowed her subjects to believe whatever they wished but insisted upon a uniform worship service....the Book of Common Prayer allowed for the coexistence within one institution of distinctly different interpretations of Christianity..."

What struck me about this liberal fix is that it presages, in the political realm, the Rule of Law that is essential for democracy. People can seek life, liberty and pursue happiness, but they, we, must abide by the common rule of law. It isn't coincidence that 28% of America's presidents have been Episcopalian.

This roundabout thought leads me to NOT support an "amnesty" for illegal aliens, on principle. Americans, conservative and liberal, must insist on the rule of law. Thus, we must begin to enforce the laws to ensure that employers do the paperwork. Children of people who are here illegally should not be automatically given American citizenship (though the constitution will have to be amended to do that) because the prospect of automatic citizenship for their children is a reward for people who have broken our laws.

At a practical level, since we can't hunt down and deport 8 million people, we need to find a temporary fix that rewards following the law and does not reward those who break the law. For example, the government could issue temporary limited-stay guest worker visas to illegal aliens, but if they want to become citizens they need to return to their home countries and wait their turn in line like every one else. Such a guest worker visa program would be a one-time temporary fix to help us through a complex transition. No more would be issued. We would change our immigration laws to address the problems that are plaguing us now--a shortage of visas for highly skilled workers. We would encourage development and investment in Mexico to give Mexicans economic opportunities at home. That would go a long way towards closing down our porous southern border.

Or something like that. The point is that we are a nation of laws and all people, from the president down (I wish!), must abide by those laws. In addressing this national crisis of porous borders, we must first start with the principle of rewarding those who follow the law and not rewarding those who have broken the law.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 17, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ales: "While 40% is an admittedly high number, I'm not convinced that it's that big a problem in and of itself. I'm amazed at how many people of my parent's generation didn't learn English until they started school. This was at a time when the NYC public school system was the best in the country."

I agree completely with what you say--yes, kids can learn a second language quickly, yes, we may be pushing our children-- but, alas, your argument is irrelevant. If you are a 5 year old kid and bored in school because you speak English and know your letters and half your classmates don't, your parents will view it as a problem. It does no good to tell Mom and Dad that the school isn't concerned about challenging their child. And the kids who know their letters when they start kindergarden are also the kids who are most likely to graduate from HS.

It is the difference between normative behavior--what we wish people would do--and descriptive behavior. What middle class parents do is pull their kids out of the public schools, regard public schools as a poor investment/welfare and move to the suburbs.

Why is NYC not one of the best school systems anymore? What happened there?

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 17, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN,

The trend is for parents to 1) pull their children out of the public schools to enroll them in private schools; and 2) start voting "no" on public school funding referendums. Other parents choose to move to the suburbs and the local tax base erodes.

It simply astounds me who liberals are looking at immigration and social welfare policies as being disconnected and believing that they can have their cake and eat it too. If they are in fact prioritizing illegal immigration over social welfare spending then I hope that they've thought their decision through.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN: Why is NYC not one of the best school systems anymore? What happened there?

A good question with many answers, and I'm not sure which ones are right. My point was simply that it was not having a high proportion of kids from non-English speaking homes. IIRC, that percentage was actually higher back in its heyday.

If you are a 5 year old kid and bored in school because you speak English and know your letters and half your classmates don't, your parents will view it as a problem.

If the schools were otherwise good, parents with common sense would overlook a few bored kids in kindergarten. Eat more paste!

It does no good to tell Mom and Dad that the school isn't concerned about challenging their child.

Most parents of grade school kids that I know are convinced that they're going overboard. This may not be true nationally, but it is here on Long Island. By contrast, parents of HS kids often complain that they're not being pushed hard enough. We're doing it ass backwards.

And the kids who know their letters when they start kindergarden are also the kids who are most likely to graduate from HS.

Is that correlation or causation?

Posted by: alex on April 17, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN: It isn't coincidence that 28% of America's presidents have been Episcopalian.

I suspect people of other denominations have heard about the rule of law in the last 400 years, W's having left the Episcopal Church not withstanding.

This roundabout thought leads me to NOT support an "amnesty" for illegal aliens, on principle.

Screw the principles. As a practical matter the illegal immigration problem won't get better until the law is enforced in the workplace. Nobody, D or R, has been serious about that, even though it's widely acknowledged to be the essential missing ingredient.

If we started enforcing that, I don't care whether we grant amnesty. There are only two points I'm adamant about:

1. Demonstrate effective workplace enforcement for several years before even discussing amnesty, or anything approaching it. I fell for the "we'll enforce it in the future" crap back in 1986.

2. No guest worker programs. There has never been a guest worker program that's worked as advertised. It also creates a two tier system, and is contrary to the very successful American tradition of immigration.

We would change our immigration laws to address the problems that are plaguing us now--a shortage of visas for highly skilled workers.

What categories of highly skilled workers do we not have enough visas for? Beware the self-serving hype.

Posted by: alex on April 17, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

This roundabout thought leads me to NOT support an "amnesty" for illegal aliens, on principle. Americans, conservative and liberal, must insist on the rule of law.

I think that you're looking at this backwards. Too often what I see is liberals determining the conclusion that they want to achieve and then searching for a principle to achieve the goal, rather than holding up a prinicple they find important and then accepting the consequences that flow from upholding the principle. See this essay for more on the topic.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 17, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

TangoMan: "I think that you're looking at this backwards. Too often what I see is liberals determining the conclusion that they want to achieve and then searching for a principle to achieve the goal"

What would the frontways way of looking at this be? Do you mean that I wanted to oppose amnesty so I've searched around to find "rule of law" as a workable cover?

T'other way round. I started from a kind of standard liberal la-di-dah of support for amnesty, and, from listening to the conservative angst and the Aha! of that comment I mentioned above, I realized that we must support the law, all of us, if we are to survive as a democracy, and that one consequence of that is no amnesty, however harsh that may seem.

However, I agree with your essay. Actually, my Book of Common Prayer inspired "we can believe what we want as long as we support the law" position applies here as well. Liberals, having forgotten this "middle way", as we Episcopalians call it, sometimes seem to have fractured into a thousand bickering drama queens demanding special attention.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 18, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

Ptate in MN,

What would the frontways way of looking at this be?

Oops! I didn't actually mean it the way it came out. Brain hiccup :)

What I meant is that the way you are reaching a decision based on adhering to a principle is no longer the modus operandi of contemporary liberals. I actually applaud your decision process but that's easy for me to do because I agree with the way you went about it.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 18, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Alex: "No guest worker programs. There has never been a guest worker program that's worked as advertised. It also creates a two tier system, and is contrary to the very successful American tradition of immigration."

We could call it something else. I'm just brainstorming a temporary transitional program. I don't care if there is a two tier system, temporarily. We have 8-12 million people in this country illegally. They have been rewarded for coming here in part because we have been coddling employers. We bear some responsibility for the present situation because we have not insisted on the rule of law.

The goal is to get illegal aliens out of the country as humanely and as swiftly as possible. We can't round them all up and deport them because that isn't practical (and it sounds fascist.) We can't throw them in jail because that is cruel. We aren't going to give them all amnesty because that would reward them for breaking the law.

So how do we bring them out of the shadows to ensure some kind of employment protection and how do we provide incentives for them to leave the US within, say, five years. One way would be a transitional visa that would require them to leave within five years. If they want to return as immigrants, they can return home, apply and wait their turn through legal channels. But those transitional visas would only be offered to people who are here now, illegally, and only as a temporary correction while we start cracking down on employers. So for a short transitional period, employers would have have a workforce composed of native born workers, immigrants, and transitional workers. They would no longer be able to hire illegal aliens. Within three to five years, all transitional workers would be gone. They might return as immigrants though, when they have gone through legal channels.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 18, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

Just to brainstorm with you, how about we create a registry which documents each illegal in our midst. Then we conduct a lottery and each illegal is granted a temporary visa but with different expiry dates ranging from 2 years to 5 years. This allows every illegal to get their affairs in order and allow for an ordered departure. We could even institute a market for "visa trading" where those who want to stay longer than their permitted time can bid for the visa with a longer window of time that was randomly assigned to another illegal. In this way each illegal can arrange their affairs as freely as we can possibly allow and liberals don't have to worry about the US looking like a fascist state simply by enforcing its own laws.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 18, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

TangoMan--

If we're just going to send illegals back to Mexico so that they can wait in line to come back in legally, then that's stupid. Why not just charge a higher fine and cut out all that merry-go-round business of sending them back home? If we know which immigrants we want to keep and grant citzenship based on certain attributes, we can simply grant amnesty to those people with those attributes, with a fine of course. What's the point of moving people around like musical chairs?

Posted by: kokblok on April 18, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN--

I think that's kind of a strange conception of "rule of law". Part of rule of law is the ability to change the law by going through the proper channels. Obviously, any amnesty program would be approved by congress, so it would be consistant with "rule of law".

Now, if you were to say that frequent changes in laws weaken the respect and reverence that people feel towards them, that I might agree with. But this is really a highly theoretical and frankly debatable proposition and not a clear matter of "principle" as you seem to be suggesting.

I agree that Democrats need to be more principled in many cases. But immigration is one case where I think it makes total sense to use a results-based approach. And the argument is really over what result we want, not what is the most "principled" way to achieve that result.

Here are the results I want:

1) For the US government to actually have control over who works in this country in the future.
2) For there to be the least possible disruption of established communities on both sides of the border.
3) For the percentage of immigrants (legal or illegal) not to reach proportions that are significantly higher than they are now.
4) For there to be recognition among the amnestied illegals that they did break the law, and that they must pay some kind of fine to account for that fact.

The problem is that all these various forms of deportation and psuedo-deportation you and TangoMan are brainstorming about pretty much completely ignore #2. To think that building in a waiting period of two years or creating some kind of complex market for visas is really going to significantly minimize the disruption for the millions of well-established illegal immigrants is absurd. If you were at work and someone told you you'd be fired in two years, I don't think you'd feel much better than if they told you you'd be fired in a month, especially if they told you you could never work again in the coutnry that you lived in. And the idea that these people are going to happily take one or two year vacations in Mexico is absurd as well.

Such a policy would severely destabilize both countries if it was actually "effective". Of course, it's quite possible that most of the illegals fired from their jobs would simply join the underground economy or live as leeches off their relatives. In that case, the psuedo-deportation would be pointless.

So: cruel or pointless...take your pick.

Posted by: kokblok on April 18, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok: For the US government to actually have control over who works in this country in the future.

Demonstrate that for a few years first, and I'll accept almost anything else to go along with it. No "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" promises about future enforcement though. I fell for that in 1986.

Do I think that's going to happen? No way. It'll be business as usual, courtesy of both major parties.

Posted by: alex on April 18, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for pointing out this article, Kevin. Last week at C&L, the Borjas & Katz study was quoted several times to "prove" that the wages of unskilled and low-skilled American workers were being hurt by illegal immigration. I had a hard time trying to make the point that the wages for low-skilled jobs were low not because of an excess of available labor, but primarily because the economic value of those jobs was low. At higher wage levels, many of those jobs would simply disappear.

Posted by: Chesire11 on April 18, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

alex--
Well if you don't believe that any reforms can actually be implemented, what's the point of talking about this issue at all?

Posted by: kokblok on April 18, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok,

We all have evidence of prior reform which was supposed to stress enforcement being abandoned. On the basis of prior history why should we think that the future will be any different? It could be, but you need to make a case for why a different path will be followed this time than was the case in the past, and why the pressures of the past that led to the gutting of enforcement will not rise again after this latest amnesty. I haven't seen anyone make a good case for why this situation is different, therefore I, Alex, and many others don't believe in the "trust us, we'll enforce immigration laws if we can get amnesty passed again" line of reasoning.

Posted by: TangoMan on April 18, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

"At higher wage levels, many of those jobs would simply disappear."

Chesire -

I agree completely, many illegal immigrants are working in jobs that are completely unnecessary and wouldn't even exist if Americans would pay a reasonable wage. Let me give you a few examples -

1. live-in nanny - That's right New Yorkers, watch your own kids for a change.

2. gardener - It's time for the suburbanites to miss a few innings of baseball and cut their own grass.

3. maid - Remember when Americans took pride in cleaning their house, rather than illegally in-sourcing the job.

4. dishwasher - the machine variety cost $200 at your local Best Buy, the illegal human variety has been outdated for 1/4 century.

5. strawberry pickers - What would Eli Whitney do?

6. construction worker - I know KB Home netted $842 million in FY 2005, but how about sharing some of that wealth with legal workers and giving them a 25% raise. Maybe then, the average working stiff could afford to buy a KB Home-manufactured home. You know, kind of like what Henry Ford did, except 100 years later.

7. corner of the street fruit vendor - I like the concept of the conveniently-purchased orange as much as the next guy, but 7-Eleven's business model is not bad either.

I'm sorry if I'm missing any other vital services that "Americans refuse to do (for the minimum wage)", but let's be honest here, we don't need any illegals, they just pad the profit margins of our great corporations.

Posted by: NoIllegalAlienLeftBehind on April 18, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

kokblok: "To think that building in a waiting period of two years or creating some kind of complex market for visas is really going to significantly minimize the disruption for the millions of well-established illegal immigrants is absurd."

I don't really care if the "well-established" lives of illegal aliens are disrupted by being asked to return to their home country. (By definition, they can't be immigrants, since immigration involves receiving permission to enter and reside in a country from the legal authorities. Illegal immigration is an oxymoron, like Bush peace initiative.) Just because they are comfortably settled, we should not ignore the fact that they entered the US against our laws.

It may sound silly to require people to return to their land of origin to apply for immigration visas, but try to think of it as a reconciliation ritual after wrong-doing. It may involve hardship, but it is not unfair or cruel. We are not throwing them in jail, we are not criminalizing them, we are not denying them the possibility of becoming American citizens. We are trying to provide a reasonable transition for them and us. We are being firm, just and reasonable: Illegal aliens broke our laws to come here, and now they need to leave. We are asking them to accept and follow our rules. Changing the laws to overlook the fact that they entered this country illegally is unfair to the immigrants who abided by our rules and waited for their turn.

While part of the rule of law involves amending laws, in this case the law that needs amending is not one that issues amnesty for illegal aliens, but immigration laws that encourages family reunification over skills. If we need more hard-working, low skill laborers--the jobs the illegal aliens have been taking--then we need to increase the number of immigration visas to meet the need.

Posted by: PTate in MN on April 18, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

"We are not throwing them in jail, we are not criminalizing them, we are not denying them the possibility of becoming American citizens. We are trying to provide a reasonable transition for them and us. We are being firm, just and reasonable: Illegal aliens broke our laws to come here, and now they need to leave. We are asking them to accept and follow our rules. Changing the laws to overlook the fact that they entered this country illegally is unfair to the immigrants who abided by our rules and waited for their turn."

PTate,

I could not have said it better myself.

Somebody needs to play the hard-liner in this forum, so it might as well be me.

First off - I've lived in Latin America for a long time, I'm married to a Latino (and her family), I've arrested numerous illegal aliens for narcotics offenses, I understand the immigration system and its faults, I know too many illegals currently in our country, etc.

My point is that I'm not writing about the THEORY of immigration law and enforcement. It's what I do for a living, thanks to the extensive illegal alien, Mexican national, narcotics trafficker "community" in the U.S. and their loser customers.

From my experience, I can assure you that most illegal aliens come here to take advantage of America. Their loyalties are not to this country, but to their native countries. They came here, because they know they can make triple, quadruple, quintuple, etc. the money that they were making in their native, underdeveloped, unsuccessful, disorganized and corrupt countries.

But aside from those negatives, the illegals I know are "nice" people, so are the great majority of foreign nationals that I met in foreign countries where I have previously lived. And I'm sure that I could say the same for citizens in the rest of the world. Does that mean we should invite all the hard-working, "nice" people of the world to live in the U.S.? Of course not, illegals have absolutely not right to be in this country. We are (were) a country of law and order. Laws that we used to enforce. Order that existed due to those laws. If we fail to enforce those laws, then we become like one of those third-world countries, where so many illegals previously resided. None of those countries would permit illegal aliens or even permanent residents to protest for "rights" while concurrently violating the country's laws. It's completely asinine. It's so absurd, that only a liberal or a greedy Republican would try to justify it.

Do we have a right to enforce our laws and deport illegals? Absolutely, but it is not necessary and not practical (given the mess that our politicians created for us).

So how do we fix the problem? As most people who have studied the issue agree, we need to focus on the employers. If they don't hire illegals, then illegals don't have a motive to be here, and more importantly, future "prospective" illegals won't have a reason for coming here. As I have written before, everthing we need is already in place, the fictitious SSN's used by illegals can easily be checked by employers. In most cases, it's as simply as one telephone call or email to the local SSA office. The employer learns that the SSN & name does not match the SSA's database, he/she then has "reason to believe" the subject is illegally working, he/she can ask for proof of legal residence in the U.S. When the illegal subject can not demonstrate that proof, then the illegal subject is dismissed. The illegal subject would have no other job prospects and would eventually return home.

Now, don't tell me about the EXCEPTION to the rule. This is not a perfect system, not 100% of the illegals would leave the U.S., but I'm confident that 75% or more would. It's humane, effective and cheap. This is the only law that needs to be enforced to get a handle on the illegal crisis that we're experiencing. And this is what the Congress should agree to do immediately.

Posted by: junglemutt on April 18, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly