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Tilting at Windmills

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November 12, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

IMMIGRATION....Michael Tomasky asks (in the same piece I highlighted this morning), "Why would Democrats, having finally regained control of the legislative calendar, schedule a vote that highlights their divisions?" Mickey Kaus responds:

Tomasky's talking about abortion and gay marriage, but you could ask the same thing about legalizaton of illegal immigrants, no?

This is an interesting question. Consider the following:

  • For Democrats, immigration is almost as much a wedge issue as it is for Republicans. On balance, they'd probably benefit from passing comprehensive immigration reform, but not by much.

  • For Bush and Karl Rove, immigration reform was part of their long-term "realignment" strategy, a way to drain away traditional Latino support from Democrats and transfer it to Republicans. However, the Tom Tancredo wing of the party has torpedoed that dream for at least the next few decades, and passing a bipartisan bill won't get it back. At this point, there's not really much upside for Bush to continue picking a fight within his own party over this.

  • At his Wednesday press conference, Bush didn't even mention immigration reform until a reporter reminded him at the tail end of the Q&A. "I appreciate you bringing that up," he said. "I should have remembered it." It sure doesn't sound like immigration is exactly at the top of his mind right now, does it?

In other words, Mickey may be right. Democrats have bigger fish to fry and may be happy to avoid a fight by putting immigration on hold for a while. Ditto for Bush. My guess? It's time for a bipartisan blue ribbon commission!

Kevin Drum 6:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (146)

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Comments

Immigration is not a clear issue for dems.

1) There is the Hispanic vote. Dems gain by increasing immigration.

2) There is the black and underclass vote. These folks do not look at immigration as a good thing. Rather, it is competition.

3) If immigration includes a real loosening of the H1-B visa system, you will see a huge rejection by high-tech dems like myself. We do not want a vast horde of educated scabs coming here to destroy the wage scale for high-tech workers.

Guest worker programs had better include ONLY jobs Americans WON'T do. Bill Gates and me have REALLY different ideas of the need for billions of Indian coders. I don't see the need. For Bill, he wants cheap labor.

Posted by: POed Lib on November 12, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, Democrat racebaiting makes it impossible to form good policy.

Republican: "I think we ought to enforce our immigration laws."
Democrat: "WHY DO YOU HATE MEXICANS???"
Republican: "But it's race neutral. We'd treat illegal immigrants from, say, Britain the same as ones from Mexico..."
Democrat: RACIST!

Under that paradigm, it's impossible to have a grown-up discussion. And, of course, any attempt to prevent illegal immigrants from stealing public services is also smeared.

Congrats Democrats. You hurt the nation, but did manage to get some political points out of it. Hope you're proud.

Posted by: American Hawk on November 12, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's kinda awkward for me to be the one bringing this up, but I think Kevin is putting too much faith in the number of items Bush can carry around in his noggin at one time.

Posted by: minion of rove on November 12, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Note Kaus just spent the entire campaign claiming the Republican House was the only thing blocking amnestry. I tend to find Kaus amusing but this sort of cynical maneuver does help me understand why he is so hated in some circles.

Posted by: James B. Shearer on November 12, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Golly, brown people scare my Al so much! We just have to do something to protect Al from them (and gays!).

Oh, you Dems, always hurting the nation. And providing Hawk with a lifetime supply of straw!

Posted by: Al's Mommy on November 12, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

There is the black and underclass vote. These folks do not look at immigration as a good thing. Rather, it is competition.

In Georgia, where immigration played at least a part in the last election, the exit polls showed black voters and those who described the economy as "not so good" were among those most supportive of providing a legal status to undocumented immigrations.

Those most supportive of deportation? Those who thought the economy was "excellent."

http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/ap_newfullstory.asp?ID=82985

If just immigration reform would be a boon for Democrats among Hispanic voters, if it won't alienate other supporters, and if a lot of Republicans - including Bush - already agree on it, why not push it?

Posted by: Drew on November 12, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

To POed Liberal's comments above, I'd add that there is also the environmental aspect of immigration. Insofar as immigration goes, nothing has frustrated me more (a frustration a number of others I know have also expressed) than the almost complete lack of comment in recent debates about the impact on America's environment that millions upon millions of new residents has had and will continue to have.

Sadly, environmental concerns were in recent years hijacked by people who -- it strongly appears -- were basically racists simply looking for a figleaf to hide behind. Also, certain virulently anti-environmental corporate forces saw it as a possible way to split the conservation community, and so -- for example -- we saw a divisive battle at the Sierra Club awhile back over a slate of rabid anti-immigration types trying to seize control of the Club's Board of Directors.

Frankly, the issue of immigration -- because it IS so wrapped up with questions about race -- can be an extremely difficult one to discuss. The Minute Men anti-immigrant types are shot through with out-and-out Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation followers (as David Neiwert at Orcinus has repeatedly documented); like the paid serial troll up above, they sanctimoniously try to pretend that their concerns have to do with enforcing the law (or, in my community, "protecting America's environment") when the real agenda is race-driven rage and fear.

Wish I had any brilliant solutions to all of this, but in fact, I think Kevin is right: the whole topic is just a minefield for both Parties right now, and that may incline both to push it to a back burner.

Posted by: Roger Keeling on November 12, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

My view on the "environmental" aspect of immigration is that it's just part and parcel of the environmental problem as a whole. Push for stronger conservation, use of alternative fuels, and just generally reducing the environmental footprint of the average American, and the "environmental impact of immigration" will diminish proportionately.

In any case, the idea that immigration is an environmental problem leaves the environmental movement wide open to the traditional attack that environmentalists are anti-prosperity - and frankly, in this case I'm not entirely unsympathetic to that line of argument.

Posted by: Mithrandir on November 12, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

All in good time, but let's deal with min. wage, Medicare, AMT, college costs, and oh yeah, Iraq.

Posted by: Keith G on November 12, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Congrats Democrats. You hurt the nation, but did manage to get some political points out of it. Hope you're proud.

Congratulations Republicans. You hurt the nation and it's standing in the world and you started an illegal war that killed thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's just to make political hay.

Hope you're proud.

See how easy that was? I can do this all day, Bulgarian Pigeon.

Posted by: Global Citizen on November 12, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Mithrandir:

I consider myself a strong environmental voter, and I concur. It's like tabling the so-called population explosion; it was a good thing for the movment. I hate NIMBYism; I'm damn glad that Deval Patrick supports the Cape Cod Project Wind over the objections of his two wealthy senators.

I think Dems should push giving illegals a path to citizenship as a way to push *up* wages. I think Dems should, at very least, embrace the Lou Dobbs argument that the people who *really* want the status quo are Republican business interests. Whether we suffer with cognitive dissonance about this or not as committed, ideological (in a good sense) Democrats -- immigration is very much part of the populist wave that elected so many of our new freshmen.

We need a way to harness this view of illegals and make it a question of economic justice for everybody. Pushing up the wage scale of recent immigrants supports the wage scale of all lower income workers.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on November 12, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

One way to reduce the price-competitive edge of employing illegal immigrants would be to make them undeportable if their employer was under investigation for wage or safety violations, with some sort of automatic (transportable) work permit granted if the employer was actually punished for committing the violations. This makes it much more difficult for unscrupulous employers to play the "we'll report you if you report us" game. And yes, there are ways to game the system, but I tried to devise a set of rules that would make that risky and unprofitable.


Posted by: dr2chase on November 12, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

There's no obvious way to deal with immigration reform, and nothing remotely close to consensus in the US. It's a timebomb for Dems, just as for the Republicans. They should avoid it in favor of real reforms. Better wages and jobs, an end to predatory capitalism, will have much more effect upon average Americans.

Posted by: smintheus on November 12, 2006 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Mickey may be right."

No. That can't be it. Any other theories?

Posted by: keptsimple on November 12, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

The voters were clear about their priorities, Iraq, corruption and Iraq. Immigration is a tough issue for both parties. It would be a mistake to overreach on this divisive issue and thereby delay action on the voters' top priorities.

The mandate to counter corruption will require shining the light into the darkest parts of this secretive administration. It will require transparency and accountability, the very features our State Dept insists on for "emerging democracies." The revelations that will come out of the necessary hearings will not be pretty for Republicans, but they were unwise to think so much deception and secrecy would go unexposed.

Reducing energy dependence and incentivizing alternative energy has so many benefits (stop funding terrorism, opt out of oil wars, support the American farmer, create jobs, reduce greenhouse gases) I believe it should be the centerpiece of a cohesive strategy that provides the perfect contrast to the petroleocracy (or is it an oilogarcy?) of the GOP.

Posted by: GreenDreams on November 12, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, POed Lib, Get a Job!!!

Yeah, I know you already have one... but the point remains - if you're such a worthless waste of space that you can be replaced by an Indian fresh off the boat at half your salary then you should be.

Upgrade your skills, learn how to make yourself more valuable, develop business skills so you can manage those H1-Bers, and stop whining.

Mama's boy...

Posted by: Mike Friedman on November 12, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Mickey may be right."

No. That can't be it. Any other theories?

Indeed. The theory that Mickey Kaus could be right about anything, even by accident, has been thoroughly discredited at this stage.

Posted by: brent on November 12, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Kevin reading anything by that troll Kaus?

Seriously -- does anyone read Kaus? I guess Kevin does, but anyone else?

Posted by: Holdie Lewie on November 12, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Immigration is a dangerous issue, but potentially a pretty big win for the Democrats, if they play it right.

The Democratic position should be something like this:

First, really secure the borders -- north and south -- and not with the stupid fence idea. The fence is a prime example of Grossman's Law: "For every complex problem there is a simple, easy-to-understand, wrong answer. What's need is a combination of physical barriers, electronic surveillance, and increased patrols. And securing the borders should be combined with securing the shoreline and ports.

Next, make the case on humanitarians and fairness grounds that illegal immigrants that are already in the country should have a path to citizenship. After all, we invited them here. No, we didn't put adds in the local Mexican newspapers, but we let it be known that if you managed to make it across the border you could easily get a job, and as long as you kept your head down you wouldn't get into trouble. In fact, we made sure that it wasn't too hard to get across the border, and if you did happen to get caught you could just try again later.

This is a far more divisive issue for the Repubs than for the Dems. It squares big business interests who want cheap, compliant labor off against the "values" wing who think giving poor people a hard time is a good Christian value.

And let me throw in another idea. How about a guest worker program where the "guests" have to be paid 1.5 time the minimum wage. Let's see if American citizens really don't want those jobs.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvarka on November 12, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

This is not a new problem, it was fodder for stoner comedy almost 30 years ago.. Remember Up in Smoke? The scene where the family has called immigration on themselves so they can get shipped back to Mexico for a relatives wedding and they will just sneak back in after the services?

Posted by: Global Citizen on November 12, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats have bigger fish to fry and may be happy to avoid a fight by putting immigration on hold for a while.

Then they'll be able to tell the American people that they voted for comprehensive immigration reform before they blocked it.

They are for immigration reform. Now that they have the votes, they should pass it.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on November 12, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that the liberals want to give blanket amnesty to illegals in pure bullshit. At least it is as far as this liberal is concerned. The real winners right now are the employers who are exploiting the illegals and driving wages down for native born citizens. There is no jobsite enforcement of the existing laws. We don't need new laws; we just need to enforce the ones that are already on the books. A few months ago INS raided a bakery in Austin that employed six illegal workers. We're talking a full blown raid with guns, warrants, the whole nine yards. Strictly for show because anyone who works construction in Austin (I do) could have told them that ANY major construction project in the city has hundreds of illegals and they're not just 'doing jobs that Americans won't do." They're undercutting wages, working with no benefits --let the emergency rooms handle that--and displacing many long term American workers. In years past construction jobs were loaded with college students during the summer; today there are none. Blacks used to make up a large part of construction crews. They've been replaced by illegals in all except the unionized crews. If we want to stop the flood of illegals we have to go after the employers and that would alienate some large scale political donars. The laws are already on the books; they're just not being enforced. Immigration reform that does not maintain the pool of cheap labor for employers will never pass. On the other hand, if we don't do something soon, we may as well move the US border north from the Rio Grande to the Red River.

Posted by: sparky on November 12, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRMarler:

I agree. At the very least, the Dems shouldn't push back on this if Bush brings it up in the new congress.

I think Dems should make the overarching case that border security is important -- but subordinate to the border security we need against Islamist terrorists (linking those two issues so that fence-supporters begin to understand the trandeoffs involved and prioritize) -- and that making illegals citizens helps support low-income wages.

What Dems should *not* do is to take a de-facto laissez-faire non-position on immigration.

It's a potentially explosive issue for many of the populists who voted for us.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on November 12, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kaus argues that when we give legal status to the 12 million here, they will move up one economic level and Mexico will replentish the base of the pyramid with 16 million more, then they get amnesty and we will start on the next level. No matter how accomodating you are as a liberal - as opposed to the insensitive Repub types - there is some tipping point where the most compassionate person will be compassioned out. I like the idea of 1.5 of the minimum wage being required for guest worker wages. I'd also like to see the taxes/fees on H1-B visas increased at least as high as the average headhunter's fee for filling professional jobs. I still think we should be telling Mexico and Central America that we are not going to be their safety valve forever. When we get a rational, non-discriminatory guest worker program young men from Bangledesh, India, etc. will already have English proficiency and will be willing to work for a fraction of what the Hispanics consider a living wage.

Posted by: minion on November 12, 2006 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

whether the dems have the actual votes to pass immigration reform is entirely beside the point of whether or not they should do so now, or wait until a time when they can maximally use their position against the repubs.

there's breathing room here. based on Kevin's analysis, bush seems unwilling to take a lead on the issue anymore. since the white trash wing of the repubs will never go along with his previous version of immigration reform, the dems can afford to wait and either force bush's hand towards a bipartisan and equitable (and popular) policy, or watch this lame duck prez forego the possibility of any future latino votes by capitulating to the minutemen-type extremists. ... then throw his words back in his face.

Posted by: Nads on November 12, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Illegal immigration can be solved in 5 minutes, with the political will:

1) Mandatory jail time for employers who hire illegal immigrants. That will stop illegal immigration cold.

2) National ID cards that every new employee must show, to prevent discrimination against Hispanics and other ethnic groups. We need to get over the supposed privacy objections, which can no longer be justified in the face of massive illegal immigration.

3) Mandatory jail time for possession of a forged ID card. Employers will be immunized against employees showing fake ID cards.

4) Guest workers should be allowed only where absolutely necessary, like agriculture.

5) Some kind of path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, to prevent our economy from falling apart when employers stop hiring them. We may also need to loosen our limits on legal immigration to continue providing enough manpower for our economy.

Even hard-rock conservatives should accept limited amnesty for immigrants who are already here, if it truly ends the flow of new illegal immigrants in the future.

Posted by: rosswords on November 12, 2006 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

sparky, you're right. There are a lot of citizens who want those jobs, but not at near slave labor wages.

Also, enforcing current laws about employing illegal is a given. Our current lack of enforcement is nothing but an invitation for illegals to come to our country. The Repubs blame it all on the illegal workers, but as the old saying goes, "it takes two to tango." The businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants are just as illegal as the immigrants if not more so, since they are the ones who extended the invitation. And the government is a duplicitous co-conspirator in this game by failing to provide employers with an effective way to check employees citizenship status (not that employers want it).

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvarka on November 12, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

I guess it's a sign of progress when the obstinate foolhardiness of the ACLU and "civil rights" lobbies opposing a national ID card is now blamed on big biz and the Repubs.

Posted by: minion on November 12, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

rosswords, I agree with almost everything, except: Guest workers should be allowed only where absolutely necessary, like agriculture.

I strongly suspect that there are plenty of citizens who would be thrilled to get jobs picking strawberries, but not at minimum wage (or less).

Don't know about you, I'd much rather work outdoors in a field than in an underground coal mine "where the rain never falls and the sun never shines", but there are a lot of of American citizens who work underground mines. They don't do it because the work is easy, the do it because the money is good.

So, how about requiring that employers who hire guest workers pay at least 1.5 times the minimum wage? Let's see if they really can't hire citizens.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvarka on November 12, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Why do they always have to be Blue Ribbon Commissions? Why not Green or Black once in a while?

Posted by: davids on November 12, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

rosswords,

Hard-rock conservatives don't need man's laws. They have the only law that matters, The Bible. You should read what Jesus has to say about immigration and employer's responsibilities. It might help you see the truth of the matter, and why the Democrats will lose.

Posted by: Jeffrey on November 12, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

aaron aardvarka
We're on the same page but the government has a way check sitizenship status. Employers are required to see two forms of identification prior to hiring, but the government doesn't follow up to see if the social security numbers, driver's licenses, and birth certificates are valid: a simple matter by simply checking existing government data bases and notifying employers of suspect employees. But employers already know that the workers are illegal--safety meetings on construction projects have to be conducted in English and Spanish and many employees are listed as independant sub-contractors instead of hourly employees who have to have taxes withheld and reported to the IRS. Don't get the idia that I'm some sort of racist, I'm not. If I lived in Mexico I'd be swimming that river every night if I had to. The problem is the Mexican economy which is a Republican dream world--a few at the top enjoying inherited wealth and power and an unlimited supply of cheap labor to be exploited. We need a foreign policy that addresses the economic situation in Mexico instead of trying to duplicate it in the U S which would bring us to the horrible 'death tax', but that's another issue. The continued influx of illegals is an anchor holding the middle class wages,but it's a windfall for corporate America.

Posted by: sparky on November 12, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

"You should read what Jesus has to say about immigration and employer's responsibilities."

WTF? Jesus was silent on these topics.

Posted by: Joel on November 12, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey sayest: "You should read what Jesus has to say about immigration and employer's responsibilities. It might help you see the truth of the matter, and why the Democrats will lose."

You mean something like:

But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. - Leviticus 19:33-34

Or maybe:

Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. - Zechariah 7:10

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvarka on November 12, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

no aaron ... he meant what JAY-SOOS has to say about immigration.

Posted by: Nads on November 12, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

When Clinton came into office, prosecution of businesses hiring undocumented aliens spiked as the real culprits were taken to task. Prosecution of businesses went from a couple of hundred per year to approximately 1500 per year. The numbers fell as businesses realized they would be held accountable for their hiring practices. When Bush 43 came into office, installed by big bidness, prosecutions of these businesses dropped steadily, to the point that a whopping three were prosecuted for hiring undocumented labor in 2004.

Posted by: Global Citizen on November 12, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

ITS TIME TO KICK BUSH TO THE CURB.

Posted by: Joe Blow Me on November 12, 2006 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ain't it true that low-skill wages are driven down by the arrival of more and more illegals? Tomorrow's border-crosser will perform today's $1/hr. job for 90 cents.

Stop illegal immigration, and you stop slave wages. Or conversely, raise the minimum wage and you regain local worker interest in those low-skill jobs.

(gum wrapper speech)

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on November 12, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

What do the Democrats have at all to gain from helping Bush get an immigration bill passd, assuming of course that both sides would like to see one passed. They have to know if a bill was in fact passed that both Bush and the Democrats liked, Bush would claim whatever upside credit came from the bill much like Homeland Security. At this point, they have no need to help Bush.

Posted by: Guscat on November 12, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Here's my kinda sorta realist take on this, and my advice to the Democrats is "Keep it simple": Provide for a limited amnesty for Mexican and Central American workers who've labored incredibly hard for many years at poverty wages doing dirty jobs at meatpacking plants and picking fruit, jobs that Americans really don't want to do. They've paid into our Social Security and our tax base but haven't received the benefits themselves, and thus, Mexican and Central American illegal aliens really do deserve an amnesty. Just leave it at that, and don't complicate matters with all sorts of attached strings-- just give them amnesty and legal permanent resident and work status, followed by the opportunity to stay here as citizens.

In fact, I do suspect that there will be a kind of tailored amnesty for Mexican illegal immigrants and other Latinos who have already been laboring in the country for years and basically supporting the most fundamental aspects of our economy, including food acquisition and distribution.

Remember, this sort of a basic amnesty doesn't have to be part of an omnibus immigration reform bill, which probably has far too many hot buttons to get passed-- a basic amnesty like this could just be wrapped in another big bill, for example, an appropriations bill and be passed within it, with less fanfare.

This would definitely net many Democratic votes (though for 2012, not 2008-- the newly amnestied Latino voters wouldn't have qualified to vote by then), although Republicans could win over at least some of them perhaps, with social conservative stands. However, more importantly, I do sense that overall, this sort of an amnesty strikes people from both parties as being basically fair.

After all, the currently "illegal" Mexican and Central American immigrants toil incredibly hard for very low wages and contribute to our Social Security fund, without reaping the benefits for themselves and their families. It's only fair to legalize them, and I suspect that this would be a winner for the Democrats.

That is, rather than spending a ridiculous amount of time on a big, hulking immigration reform bill that would be killed as it gets weighed down with more and more amendments, just keep it simple-- incorporate an amnesty for Mexicans and Central Americans who've worked here in low-wage jobs for many years, into another bill, and then just leave it at that.

The Democrats should really just focus on that sort of a limited amnesty for hard-working Mexicans and Central Americans, and stay away from any attempt at "comprehensive" reform or taking other steps that would explode in opposition and cause the Democrats massive humiliation and failure.

For example, the legal immigration numbers should be kept where they are or slightly increased (to maybe a million or so) to accomodate for family reunification for the amnestied ex-illegals. The idea of Hagel and Martinez to practically double those legal immigration levels, provoked a level of rage (even among many self-described liberals) on talk shows and in letters to the editor as I've never seen before-- too many people, across party lines, are already feeling too much urban strain in things like traffic and crime, to justify such an increase in immigration levels.

A limited amnesty for Mexicans and Central Americans would have a modest and sustainable effect overall, and would be something like a one-time thing, thus could be absorbed by the USA in general. OTOH, the idea of Hagel and Martinez to basically double our annual immigration levels would be long term and would place far, far too much strain on cities and states, and their various social services, that are already feeling far too much strain. We can hardly build enough schools, hospitals and highways for the population that we have-- we shouldn't double immigration levels like that, it's an extreme that would be far too much.

Also, I think the idea of increasing H1B's, for e.g. high-tech workers from India or nurses from the Philippines, is a terrible idea that should be rejected. Even if you don't agree with all the statements that POed Lib makes, his opinions are widely held and very real among the US tech, skilled and professional community, and they can't be ignored. US professionals are already under tremendous economic strain, as outsourcing and the importation of people on the H-1's really has devastated many sectors of our domestic economy.

Already, many universities are finding it next to impossible to fill even half their engineering and science classes with American students, since they sense-- probably correctly-- that there probably isn't much of a future in those technical fields if the American graduates are basically expendable, and can be so easily replaced with imported labors on an H1B visa. I've worked as an advisor for students considering careers, and the aversion to anything in tech really is hitting catastrophic levels-- motivated, intelligent kids really don't want to go into tech if there's so little job security for it, and if the H1B program overwhelms them. Don't expand the H1B program-- if anything, we should be shrinking this program.

Likewise, Sam Brownback's idea of importing millions of Filipino nurses is absolutely insane, for both our countries. It would basically devastate the health care system of the Philippines, which has already lost many nurses and is straining to stay afloat. It's barely functioning as it is, and a US invitation for all those nurses would basically cause it to collapse. Likewise, on our end, such a program would be devastating to the wages and bargaining power of American nurses.

People talk a lot about the lack of trained nurses in the USA. But the solution to this is to do what far too many states have been too hesitant or lazy to do-- build more nursing schools, sponsor more nursing programs here, and pay nurses a fair wage.

Once again, the mantra for Democrats should be: Keep it simple. Pass a one-time limited amnesty for the illegal aliens who've suffered the most and given the most to our country, that is, the Mexicans and Central Americans who've worked so hard on the fields and in difficult jobs for such low wages, and yet have not received the benefits of social services and Social Security into which they've paid, through their tax dollars and FICA contributions. Then, just stop there-- don't push for other major reforms that if anything would strain already stressed sectors of our economy, and if anything, reduce the H1B provisions somewhat.

Posted by: Karen Simon on November 12, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, the mantra for Democrats should be: Keep it simple. Pass a one-time limited amnesty for the illegal aliens who've suffered the most and given the most to our country, that is, the Mexicans and Central Americans who've worked so hard on the fields and in difficult jobs for such low wages, and yet have not received the benefits of social services and Social Security into which they've paid, through their tax dollars and FICA contributions. Then, just stop there-- don't push for other major reforms that if anything would strain already stressed sectors of our economy, and if anything, reduce the H1B provisions somewhat.

And then what? Let another group sneak in, stay for several years, and give them amnesty??

Posted by: wilder on November 12, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, the mantra for Democrats should be: Keep it simple.

Like Karen Simon writes, keep it simple. Democrats should build a wall, secure the border, demonstrate to the American public that our borders can be controlled. Then we can start both selective deportation and earned citizenship and arrive at a fair midpoint.

There should be no rewards for breaking the law.

Posted by: TangoMan on November 12, 2006 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

What about the employers who hire the illegals in the first place, Tango? What do you propose we do with them?

Posted by: Global Citizen on November 12, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Another thing about the H1-B visa program-- a reduction in its numbers could be coupled with e.g. incentives to help expand math and science education in the USA.

In any case, we need to do everything we can to combat the rather arrogant attitude of Mike Friedman above, which basically sounds like, "Get over it, you hard-working, well-educated loser engineers in the USA-- you are expendable, so deal with it!"

Again, I'm just speaking frankly here-- this is ridiculously unrealistic. Tech workers in the USA have enormous educational debts to acquire their high-level training (something that those in other countries tend to have less of), plus they have incurred the opportunity cost of forgoing more lucrative careers that require less training (like investment banking and venture capital), plus they have to work incredibly long hours both to succeed in their difficult majors and in their early years of on-the-job training, where they have to learn the basics.

Again, if we basically treat our high-tech workers as expendable and replaceable, then people won't go into these majors in college, and we'll continue to lose our native high-tech base. For bright college students to endure not only the long hours and workload of an engineering or computer science major, but also the lost opportunities elsewhere and the incredibly high costs of educational loans, they have to be given reasonably decent incentives on the other end. The already too-large H1-B visa system basically kills these incentives and is wreaking havoc on our pool of young people interested in these careers-- and, thus, on our native tech industries in general. I know, I've seen this firsthand-- even in traditionally tech-friendly universities, interest in engineering, computer science and similar majors has fallen off drastically.

Again, this is why IMHO the Democrats (and also the Republicans) would benefit tremendously from a more limited focus on providing amnesty for the poor illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America, who do the very dirty jobs like hotel maintenance, meat packing and picking fruit. These people really do the jobs that Americans don't want to do, and receive little compensation for it despite their own additional contributions into the US Treasury and Social Security. They deserve amnesty and should receive it, either in a separate bill, or in an amnesty passed in the midst of another bill-- the Democrats should pass that, and then stop there.

Posted by: Karen Simon on November 12, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kaus is completely off base here, and it's because he's letting his anti-immigration paranoia torpedo his objectivity. Or, more likely, he's not objective to begin with so he's hoping to influence the debate and stop any possibility of decreasing illegal immigration by increasing legal immigration.

Democrats would be wise to get something done, at least if it's truly a comprehensive reform that relies primarily on undermining the perverse economics driving illegal immigration rather than being a plan that relies primarily on a punitive approach.

The point is: if Democrats can solidify the votes of Latino voters -- really solidify and expand this voting group -- then the GOP is fucked but good, for a long, long time.

Granted, the president will get some of the credit, but as his own party is so hopelessly riven by people with a Lou Dobbs/Tom Tancredo worldview, the GOP will explode in an anti-immigrant rage. I think we could see deep Democratic majorities for decades because of the predictable xenophobic reaction on the part of the GOP to comprehensive immigration reform. Their base in the old Confederacy can't stand the thoughts of brown folks being able to immigrate legally.

Posted by: Jasper on November 12, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Except, wilder and TangoMan, that corporate America already has invited in these millions of "illegals" to do the dirty work that the Americans themselves don't want to do. Giving them amnesty would not be rewarding them for breaking the law, since it's basically powerful US interests that invited them here in the first place-- it would be rewarding them for working so hard for such low wages and for so little opportunity to reap the benefits of their labor in the first place. That, very much, is fair.

Posted by: Karen Simon on November 12, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, a prior small amnesty was indeed passed by Ronald Reagan and a half-Republican Congress in 1986, and it had a similar basis-- since so many millions of Mexicans and Central Americans had toiled for so long under such conditions in jobs that Americans wouldn't do, they deserved the right to become Americans themselves and reap at least a fraction of what they contributed. If Republicans themselves could decide this in 1986, then a Republican President working with a Democratically-controlled Congress in both houses should be able to accept this, also.

Posted by: Karen Simon on November 12, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

POed Liberal,
"Scab: A slang term for a strike-breaker."
Cool. I did not know H1-B's are strike breakers.
If the USG reduces the number of H1-B's, the coders will not come here, they will stay in their countries and still "take the jobs". And they will do it for a 3rd or a quarter the salary rather than half. This is what happened to the manufacturing jobs that went to China in the 80's and later. Secondly, upto 1/3 or more of all startups in Silicon valley are formed by these "scabs" as you call them. These startups employ Americans. Finally, a major difference between the
U.S and Europe, and what makes this economy so strong is its ability to use immigrants to fuel local economic growth. You cut this ability off, and it is to the loss of the American economy.
I know a lot of people, especially techies, have no problems with globalization, as long as they are not affected by it. Guess what,it cuts both ways.

Finally, for all those whining about illegals, consider this: The reason they survive here is because they fill a real economic need; it is really hypocritical to utilize them and exploit them on the one hand, and complain about them polluting the environment, and taking up services on the other hand. Things like these often make me reconsider my support for the Democratic party.

Posted by: k on November 12, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

For bright college students to endure not only the long hours and workload of an engineering or computer science major, but also the lost opportunities elsewhere and the incredibly high costs of educational loans, they have to be given reasonably decent incentives on the other end.

They are given "reasonably decent incentives". That's why young Americans continue to enter fields such as engineering and computer science. The unemployment rate for Americans with technical education credentials is negligible. Wages and benefits in this sector are higher -- in some cases much higher -- than average. The US "imports" proportionally fewer tech workers relative to population than Australia or Canada. If anything, we ought to be working to increase the education levels of our immigrant pool. From a sheer economics perspective, the smarter our immigrants are, the better off we are as a country. If truth be told, the US needs skilled immigrants with technical skills a lot more than it needs illiterate peasants. (I support allowing more of the latter to enter, FWIW, first and foremost because I don't think prohibiting their arrival 100% is feasible, or passes cost/benefit analysis).

Posted by: Jasper on November 12, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, Kevin Drum is a lightweight when it comes to these matters.

Here's an immigration challenge for Kevin Drum (it was originally for Sully, but it applies to Drum as well).

Don't trust Kevin Drum's thoughts on these matters until he starts answering the tough objections to "reform". And, don't worry, there are plenty more tough objections available.

Posted by: TLB on November 12, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

The 1986 Amnesty bill was sponsored by Senator Allan Simpson of Wyoming - He never dreamed that he had helped create a tremendous cottage industry of forged documents - This is when the real surge of illegals came across the border and stayed.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on November 12, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, for all those whining about illegals, consider this: The reason they survive here is because they fill a real economic need; it is really hypocritical to utilize them and exploit them on the one hand, and complain about them polluting the environment, and taking up services on the other hand. Things like these often make me reconsider my support for the Democratic party.

Hi-tech H1-B visa workers do not fill an economic need. They are just scabs. The only people who want them in are scab-loving employers, other scabby H1-B workers and the attorneys who prey upon these scabs.

Which are you?

We don't need foreign scabs in here to do the good jobs. We do need Americans doing these good American jobs.

Amazingly, the entire high-tech sector was invented mostly by Americans over the years 1965-1990. Now that the sector is alive and driving the American economy, all of a sudden we can't survive without foreign scabs. How did Americans get so fucking stupid in 30 years?

Posted by: dataguy on November 12, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

If truth be told, the US needs skilled immigrants with technical skills a lot more than it needs illiterate peasants.

I am sure that the thousands of unemployed US hi-tech citizen workers agree with you.

This is the big lie, beloved by free trade wackos and economists. Remember, in today's world, an economist is someone who can prove, mathematically, that some Indian scab is much more deserving of your job than you are.

H1-Bs should be cut to 500/ year.

Posted by: dataguy on November 12, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Republican: "I think we ought to enforce our immigration laws."
Democrat: "WHY DO YOU HATE MEXICANS???"
Republican: "But it's race neutral. We'd treat illegal immigrants from, say, Britain the same as ones from Mexico..."
Democrat: RACIST!

Hawk you get dumber every day.
As if immigration problems just popped up today, Let me remind you the GOP has had since 1994 to DO something about immigration. What did Bush want to do? Refues to get fingerprints and give them Amnesty.
Congrats Hawk dummy, The GOP sat on it's hands for 12 years. Thanks for hurting America by electing do nothing GrOPes

Posted by: Dog_named_Boo on November 12, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK
Yeah, I know you already have one... but the point remains - if you're such a worthless waste of space that you can be replaced by an Indian fresh off the boat at half your salary then you should be. -- Friedman

And you can be replaced for half the cost as well!!

Posted by: Dog_named_Boo on November 12, 2006 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Karen Simon: These people really do the jobs that Americans don't want to do, and receive little compensation for it despite their own additional contributions into the US Treasury and Social Security.

Do have any evidence for this, or are you just (unintentionally) regurgitating the Republican talking point. I think it more likely that illegal aliens are taking these jobs because working at McDonald's pays more and is easier. Americans will do difficult, nasty, even dangerous work if the money is there. But they won't, and shouldn't, do these jobs for poverty wages.

If we're to have a just society, the reward for labor should be commensurate with job being performed. In a free market, the level of compensation is set by the balance of supply and demand. It's part of our social contract. Where the problem arises is when big business conspires with the Government to break this contract by bringing in workers from outside of our borders (and taking away worker's rights to organize, for example). This circumvents the free market for labor.

And, it's not the fault of the illegal aliens. They're victims as much as the U.S. workers who's jobs they take.

(As an aside, this isn't an argument against the minimum wage. In fact, when you scratch the surface of any minimum wage job you'll usually find forces at work that artificially keep wages low. The best example if this is restrictions against union organization. Business are free to cooperate (conspire?) to keep wages low, but workers are restricted in their ability to organize by factors such as Taft-Hartley rules and "right to work" laws.)

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvarka on November 12, 2006 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK
This is the big lie, beloved by free trade wackos and economists. Remember, in today's world, an economist is someone who can prove, mathematically, that some Indian scab is much more deserving of your job than you are.

Correction they are Economyths

Posted by: Dog_named_Boo on November 12, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Except, wilder and TangoMan, that corporate America already has invited in these millions of "illegals" to do the dirty work that the Americans themselves don't want to do. Giving them amnesty would not be rewarding them for breaking the law, since it's basically powerful US interests that invited them here in the first place-- it would be rewarding them for working so hard for such low wages and for so little opportunity to reap the benefits of their labor in the first place. That, very much, is fair.

My point was, what makes you think that would even come close to stopping the cycle? The current group is given amnesty, earns a higher wage. Employers troll for more undocumented workers. A new group sneaks in and lives here for several years.

Posted by: wilder on November 12, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Mithrandir brings up the environmental movement, perhaps not being aware that the SierraClubFoundation got a $100 million donation from someone who told CarlPope that if they came out against immigration they'd never get another dime.

rmck1 says: I think Dems should push giving illegals a path to citizenship as a way to push *up* wages.

Of course, what he doesn't realize is that those same groups that currently support illegal immigration will continue to do so. Result: millions of new legal workers, millions of new illegal aliens.

GreenDreams discusses corruption. Perhaps Kevin Drum could look into companies and even the FederalReserve trying to profit from illegal immigration. I'm sure Kevin Drum is well aware of that, and is also well aware of the extremely dangerous nature of that, and will be discussing it Real Soon Now.

aaron aardvarka discusses the religious/humanitarian grounds, without realizing that allowing illegal immigration is not in the least humanitarian. It makes the situation far worse for everyone involved. If you don't understand why, start doing some research.

rosswords suggests mandatory jail time for employers, without disclosing exactly how we could get to that point. What forces are standing in the way? What forces (hint: our host) enable those forces standing in the way?

Karen Simon needs to keep it much shorter. And, as she might know, we've already had several smaller amnesties since the Big One of '86. And, Bush just extended a "temporary" program for Central Americans for another year. All of those amnesties have built up networks that enable additional illegal immigration.

Overall, I'd like Kevin Drum to start offering answers to all of the objections to amnesty. If he can't do that, please bring in guest bloggers who are more familiar with these matters.

Posted by: TLB on November 12, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK
These people really do the jobs that Americans don't want to do, and receive little compensation for it despite their own additional contributions into the US Treasury and Social Security.

This is not true, I used to work in construction doing plumbing, drywall, framing, air conditioning, etc etc. I ended up leaving the because the companies hired so man illegals that I could not afford to work for such low wages. I made more in construction back in the eighties than I do today doing IT and computer work.

Marxist Capitalism is a self defeating system. Companies want the lowest costs and the highest profits. The problem here is that the very people tha are being paid lower and lower wages are the very ones that buy the products they produce.

Like choking yourself to death.

Posted by: Dog_named_Boo on November 12, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

What about the employers who hire the illegals in the first place, Tango? What do you propose we do with them?

Fine them of course. First order of business should be fair warning that aggressive enforcement of existing laws will commence at a future date. This gives employers some time to extricate themselves from the mess. Thereafter they open themselves to fines and more severe penalties.

Yes, this will be hugely disruptive in a visible way, but no more disruptive than the existing state of affairs wherein the ranks of discouraged workers are growing as not reflected in the unemployment data (look to the falling employment/population ratio and look particularly at the dismal ratio for young workers and how drastically it's fallen over the last decade) and lastly the disruption caused by the external costs associated with illegals which fall on the taxpayers as a whole while the illegals and their employers reap the benefits of the subsidies they receive.

Enforcement will result in self-deportation over time. I'd be open to a visa lottery, with the visas awarded being to individual illegals being eligible for auction, so that the lucky visa holder can elect to keep the visa for themselves or auction it to another illegal who can justify paying some market price.

Posted by: TangoMan on November 12, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

TLB: aaron aardvarka discusses the religious/humanitarian grounds, without realizing that allowing illegal immigration is not in the least humanitarian. It makes the situation far worse for everyone involved. If you don't understand why, start doing some research.

TLB, you either have poor reading skills or selective comprehension. Pleas re-read my posts . . . carefully.

I'm totally opposed to allowing more illegal immigration, as my posts made clear. But it's only right to provide a path to citizenship for those who accepted our invitation and are already here.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvarka on November 12, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

I am sure that the thousands of unemployed US hi-tech citizen workers agree with you.

We should base our policies on what is in the national interest, not on what is in the interest of an interest group as tiny as that of "unemployed programmers". Churn is natural in a capitalist economy, and causes far more transitional unemployment that either outshoring or immigration. Far better to strengthen the safety net, so that temporary stints of unemployment aren't a disaster, than pursue the disastrous policies of economic nationalism that make us all poorer (and make the safety net more difficult to afford, to boot). Closing our doors to the talents and knowledge brought by immigrants would be disastrous. Remember that the next time you google.

Posted by: Jasper on November 12, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jasper: We should base our policies on what is in the national interest, not on what is in the interest of an interest group as tiny as that of "unemployed programmers". etc.

What a bunch of BS . . . on several levels.

The only reason industry is so adamant that H-1Bs are needed is that they can be paid less and they're more compliant. Now many companies are finding out to their chagrin that foreign tech workers aren't really better than their American counterparts. In fact, in most cases they're not as good.

Hiring H-1B workers disincentivizes Americans from entering technical fields that are responsible for America's dominate position in the world economy and are the key to our economic future.

By hiring foreign workers we are in effect giving them on-the-job training that they can take back to their home countries and use against us in the global tech economy.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvarka on November 12, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and one more thing. Rather than lobbying congress for H-1B authority, companies that can't find enough tech workers should take a different approach . . . TRY PAYING MORE.

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvarka on November 12, 2006 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

We should base our policies on what is in the national interest, not on what is in the interest of an interest group as tiny as that of "unemployed programmers". Churn is natural in a capitalist economy, and causes far more transitional unemployment that either outshoring or immigration. Far better to strengthen the safety net, so that temporary stints of unemployment aren't a disaster, than pursue the disastrous policies of economic nationalism that make us all poorer (and make the safety net more difficult to afford, to boot). Closing our doors to the talents and knowledge brought by immigrants would be disastrous. Remember that the next time you google.

You're either a scumbag repukeliscum or an economist, here to prove that we don't deserve our own jobs. What the world needs is more economists imported from other countries.

And, yes, I am an economic nationalist. There are very few jobs with such special skills as to need foreign "talent". And most of the foreign "talent" is not that talented. Just more compliant.

I hire programmers all the time. Chinese are very crappy, although they look good on paper. Their language skills are crap, and they are very compliant, just not very innovative or self-starting - I have to tell them everything. Americans are much better - you give them a project, they do the project. They don't misunderstand every third thing you say.

Posted by: dataguy on November 13, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Time to invade Mexico - conquer them, make them build roads, and schools, and an economic infrastructure so they have their own jobs, and don't have to come to the US.

Then when the neocons are finished raping our economy, we can cross over into Mexico illegally and pick peppers for 2 pesos a day.

Posted by: Impeach.Remove.Convict.Punish.Justice on November 13, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

What about the employers who hire the illegals in the first place, Tango? What do you propose we do with them?

Hard time.

Try them for treason - if they're knowingly hiring illegals, they are committing economic treason. If you love America, hire Americans, support the American Economy, pay American Wages, and American Taxes.

Posted by: Impeach.Remove.Convict.Punish.Justice on November 13, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

I'm too tired to nail it.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on November 13, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

Illegal immigration serves one function in Mexico: It eliminates all those with initiative and drive, and sends them to the US.

If they stayed in Mexico, there might actually be some action on the horribly unequal social conditions there.

That's why the Mexican government supports the illegal emigration of its own citizens to the US - remove the firebrands from trouble-maker status.

Posted by: dataguy on November 13, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

disclaimer: I have worked for 10 years for the various permutations of INS/CIS/whatever on the benefits side.


I just read an interesting take on this issue in Foreign Affairs mag by someone named Tamar Jacoby, and I shall summarize my take on his plan, which I somewhat disagree with, but think is a good starting point:

First, there has to, HAS TO, be a consistent, energetic enforcement strategy. Yes, there should be better border security, but also interior enforcement. Worksite enforcement is total suck and has been for years, political propaganda like the Wal-Mart janitors raid notwithstanding. The IT infrastructure has existed for years to verify CIS documents using nothing more than a decent internet connection and Windows IE, but employers have resisted this because they would no longer have the excuse of being expected to recognize fake documents. Bear in mind as well that ther is a political issue here; unscrupulous and exploiting employers are rarely, if ever, called out on their behavior, the media instead usually parroting the line that la migra just doesn't understand the economic realities of blah blah blah puke. Get wired into the American public's brain that a boss who would allow a construction worker to break his leg on the job and toss him off the job with no pay is no better than a slaver, and maybe we'll get somewhere.

Second, open up the legal channels. Just like actually enforcing the worksite rules energetically can change attitudes towards immigration, so can revamping the work visa and permanent resident regulations. As it stands, there are artificial caps placed on almost all of the work based and family based green cards, which causes a lot of pain and hardship for families who are torn apart for years due to the lack of available cap numbers, and incredible stress and confusion for employers who want to help prospective employees, but who are assaulted by byzantine regulations, crooked "consultants", and a cap system that grants only 5000 immigrant visas (green cards) per years to those teeming hordes who apparently will do those jobs that Americans won't. I agree with those above who state that H-1b's are a source of cheap labor for tech companies. But H-1b's are also a source of teachers, college professors, lawyers, accountants, doctors, and a myriad of other professions; and h-2b's, which are also becoming quickly unavailable every year due to artificial caps, have been providing seasonal help to willing employers in unskilled jobs for years as well. Legal immigration is not an impossible task, especially when combined with energetic prosecution of illegal activity. If the available numbers go up, the illegal numbers go down.

Last, as much as I hate to admit it, is amnesty. Sure, cover it up by calling it "earned status" or whatever, but it's still amnesty. And it'll be necessary. There's just too many, and as has been mentioned by others above, ther were promised the world on a string by employers who knew that they were doing wrong much more than the illegals did.

Anyway, that's my summary of the Tamar Jacoby plan. Discuss, if you think it's worth discussing.

Posted by: jonathan on November 13, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm ... I mentioned, well up above, the environmental impact of the massive influx of immigrants that we've seen over the past 20-30 years. I also pointed out that, sadly, some folks who seem primarily motivated by racism chose to garb their opposition to immigration as an environmental commitment. That's about all I said.

Yet my comment elicited just two more, and both with the red herring argument of "that's NIMBYism."

I have to say their replies are vaguely infuriating, really not that different in kind to those of the D.C. insider pundits who dismissed Feingold's (utterly sincere) efforts to censure Bush as merely an effort to position himself for a presidential run; or who trivialize populist economic arguments by various Democrats as mere political posturing.

I used to live in Santa Barbara, having moved there only a few years after the 1969 oil platform blowout. I know full well that SOME of the very-active Santa Barbarans (often, very well-heeled people indeed) didn't want their view of the Channel marred with oil platforms: classic NIMBYism. But I also know that the vast -- overwhelming -- majority of citizens there were genuinely aghast at the environmental destruction and the tremendous loss in the region's quality of life that even one oil spill had inflicted. They didn't want any more oil production going on just off their beaches, and they didn't particularly want ANY oil development going on of ANY beaches ANYWHERE because it was clearly a threat to the world's environment.

But, of course, nitwits lacking better arguments periodically showed up to heave arguments about NIMBYism at us all.

So now we see the same idiotic argument popping up over immigration. Having lived and worked among and with Hispanics (citizens and immigrants, legal and illegal), and having loved a few of them and respected a hell of a lot more of them, I have just about zero tolerance for anything that looks like racism. That's why I've never been able to join with ANY of the anti-immigrant groups (I did join FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which at the time fooled me about their real motivations. But the charade didn't last long, and within a year or two I angrily resigned).

But the fact is, there ARE some legitimate reasons for being extremely unhappy about the vast flow of immigrants -- legal or otherwise -- into the U.S. A number of those are posted above, notably the frustration many have over immigrants driving down wages and job opportunities for American citizens. But, wait: isn't that just another form of NIMBYism? I think it most assuredly is.

The growth rates of other countries -- China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, and more -- are tremendous. We just passed 300 million people in this country, up from 200 million in around 1967. The next 100 million will only take about half as long, if that. And nearly ALL of that is due to immigration and/or new in-country births by recently-arrived immigrants during that time period.

Do you really believe that such vast numbers of people aren't having massive impacts on our national environment? We're told that about 11 million illegal immigrants are here right now. That's about the equivalent of greater New York City wandering around.

The recent housing bubbles -- plural, because I think the huge run-up in prices in some places in the late '70s and early '80s counts too -- were in no small part affected by immigration. No one is creating new land, after all. Immigrants may well stack themselves 10 to a house to save money. But in so doing, they displace the people who previously paid -- and could afford -- two to a house or apartment. Those folks, in turn, confront a tighter housing market and must allocate more of their income for a roof. That affects the people living just above them, in slightly bigger or nicer places. It's a ripple effect, a wave that goes all the way up to the $3 million MacMansions. And this isn't something that's very debatable: people who come here must live somewhere, and hence must have an impact. That, in my view, is part of the environmental impact.

To be alarmed about this is not NIMBYism. It's more like a simple case of the self-preservation instinct, just as worrying about one's job is part and parcel of self-preservation.

But the solution to all of this is, as several above have said, NOT to be building 700 mile fences, or rounding up people like cattle and dumping them over the border. It's not to treat decent, hard-working, energetic human beings like trash. To treat them as something utterly disposable.

Personally, the solution I would like to see would involve a true get-tough policy on employers who knowingly hire illegals. Tough fines, even jail time. Outs for those who were clearly misled by well-made fake IDs (then the immigrant, and whoever sold him or her the fake ID, get the tough treatment). Along with some of the other provisions mentioned by posters above. And, yes, clear and reasonable avenues to amnesty and eventual citizenship for those who've been here -- but, ideally, done in a way to not encourage yet another 16 million to flow in right behind them.

Posted by: Roger Keeling on November 13, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

El Wacko once more proves that being dumped for a Mexican turns wingnuts into monomaniacs.

Crack down on employers, rationalise the process, provide earned legalisation, and actually fund the bureaucracy into the 21st century.

Posted by: ahem on November 13, 2006 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

Roger Keeling:

Well, I'm sorry you feel infuriated by the charge of NIMBYism, but I think there are sound philosophical reasons why it's made. An environmental argument has to be made in terms of the broad public interest; when environmental interests and private interests collude, you have to look at underlying motivations in order to determine the ultimate saliency of an environmental argument.

An oil derrick or a wind farm might obscure your beautiful beachfront view just the same -- but clearly there's a sound environmental argument for the wind farm. Calling objections to Project Wind "environmental" is trumped up. Scenery is something we value as humans. There is no scenery value in nature.

I guess, paradoxically enough, I'm not hugely concerned about the population level of the US precisely *for* environmental reasons. An environmental perspective means you view the world as interrelated, not discrete entities you can wall off from the rest. Like it or not, we're as much part of a global economic web as we are of global weather patterns, and as long as there are going to be economic incentives to immigrate, as long as we benefit from the labor of immigrants, they will come. America is part of a cultural environment.

The other reason is that, in terms of carrying capacity, America just isn't that populated as a nation. Compared to ... what? Sao Paolo, Brazil? Mumbai? Japan? We have regional population issues -- but we also have a lot of low-density places which are depopulating. It's not like America is incapable of finding room for immigrants. If we need more housing, we can either construct it or refurbish housing stock. If surburban sprawl becomes too onerous, some of us will relocate.

I'm not making an argument *for* illegal immigration. I don't think anyone but pure laissez-fairists are in favor of that. Only suggestiong that you should put immigration in a broader context. It's a cause for concern, but I'd put it on a rung below global warming, clean air and clean water.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on November 13, 2006 at 5:13 AM | PERMALINK

'It is the ultimate sign of a corporatist state when elected officials dishonor their first obligation to protect the interests of the citizens they supposedly represent. Illegal immigration is all about economics and the inevitable devastation to America's working- and middle-class citizens.'

'The other problem with Democrats, liberals and progressives is their willingness to put the welfare of illegal immigrants above the rights and needs of current and future American citizens. I am nauseated by the stupidity and lack of patriotism by these peoples' willingness to sacrifice the prosperity of working- and middle-class Americans - their fellow citizens.'

'Why should the welfare of American citizens be traded off to give a better life to people from other nations intentionally breaking OUR laws? Americans have every right to protect their own economic wellbeing even if it means keeping out people living in deplorable foreign conditions. Will the lefties only be happy when everyone but the wealthy elites in America become working poor? Is this thinking progressive?' -

Joel S. Hirschhorn - 'A progressive and populist position on illegal immigration

'"Every nation has an obligation to limit immigration to a number that will not dilute its workforce, but will maintain a stable middle class - if it wants to have a stable democracy. This has nothing to do with race, national origin, or language ... and everything to do with economics." - Thom Hartmann

Posted by: CFShep on November 13, 2006 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

You want to stop "illegal immigration"? Then write your congress critter to have Taft-Hartley repealed.

Any other solution is free market wishful thinking. You cannot have it both ways. If all you want is "always low prices" for your food and landscaping services; cheap flat screen TV's; and an endless array of cheap cell phones--then you agree to outsourcing jobs and "illegal immigration".

We do not have free trade. When Tom Friedman loses his job to somebody emailing it in from Bombay--then we will have free trade. Otherwise, it is just a sham which continues to protect priviliged sectors of our society.

Given this, then the discussion should be over which markets require intervention to preserve the social contract, not some self-deluded rant based on blind allegiance to some crackpot economic theory.

Posted by: bobbyp on November 13, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

"The American people have spoken out against the president's agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy ... And at this late stage in my term, I'm not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against ." Lincoln Chafee

And I hasten to assure ya'll that the agenda which has been rejected manifestly includes the Current Occupant's corporatist and neoliberal trade and immigration policies. Neither of which enjoy support from most American citizens.

As for Mr. Chafee himself: Come on down, sug. Better late than never.

Posted by: CFShep on November 13, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

When Tom Friedman loses his job to somebody emailing it in from Bombay--then we will have free trade.

Friedman writes about world affairs from an American perspective - something that's just not possible for someone who's not American, or doesn't even live in America. but if Americans ever want to read the opinions of an Indian columnist, there's no reason the NYT couldn't hire one to submit weekly columns.

Posted by: cleek on November 13, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats should agree to key legal issues about immigration in away that doesn't alienate law-respecting Hispanics: (1.) It is illegal and wrong to just come across our border without proper procedure; that shouldn't even be allowed as "debatable." (2.) Employment is controlled by the SSN number throught the W-2 process: there is no way to get a "real job" in American without either using a real SSN, or scamming the system in a way that is dangerous (identity theft, etc.) and not just a muddled argument about how much money people should or will get many years later from different employment arrangements. Take it from there.

Posted by: Neil' on November 13, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Bill, an argument from race is generally a self-defeating argument.

Posted by: cleek on November 13, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK
For Democrats, immigration is almost as much a wedge issue as it is for Republicans. On balance, they'd probably benefit from passing comprehensive immigration reform, but not by much.

As usual, the details matter more than the broad headlines. As short-term tactical matter, there is probably little for the Democrats to gain politically from "comprehensive immigration reform" just from passing something that can fit that broad name.

On the other hand, both politically and in terms of advancing the substantive implementation of progressive values, there is considerable benefit both for the party (if the Democrats lead it) and the nation (no matter who does it) of implementing a policy that does the following:
1) Makes it so that more of those who come to America to live do so within the law, with no disincentive to cooperation in the enforcement of our laws (whether when it applies to smuggling, street crime, or labor conditions),
2) Makes it so that those who are personally undesirable (criminals, terrorists, and the like) and are therefore perosnally excluded from entering America can't hide among communities made sympathetic to their apparent plight by our continuing exclusion of those not personally undesirable.

The politics are not independent of the substance of the policy.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK
Scenery is something we value as humans. There is no scenery value in nature.

All things that have value have that value because, and only because, they are valued by someone. This is no more true of scenery than, say, clean air or clean water, and certainly "scenery" is a feature of the environment.

While it is certainly true that there are different types of "environmental" concerns, and that they run the gamut between the aesthetic and some are more related to the long-term viability of human civilization on the planet, and certainly scenic concerns are at the former extreme and arguably quite a bit less important for that reason, it is certainly a mistake to characterize the distinction of being that scenery has no "value in nature" without reference to human preferences while other environmental concerns do have such value. Value is nothing but a label for human preferences.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Bill, come on, come on out of your shell - Fell free to tell it as you really think it.

Why not simply, say "as a kike" -then you can critique the "Nig--- writers", the "dago scribes", the "greaseball tomers" or how about an op-ed by Pat B as the "mick muckraker" or one of those "Vatican Pope lovers".

Let your bile flow - perhaps you can talk about your love for the purity of the "Wasp wits".

Sieg Baby - now start singing "Springtime....."

Posted by: thethirdPaul on November 13, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Bigotry is bipartisan.

Posted by: Hostile on November 13, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, American HawK: point to one plan actually put forward by Republicans that would treat Mexican immigrants "the same" as those from the UK. Particularly, in this respect: show me one plan that would provide immigrants from Mexico that have similar personal qualifications and backgrounds other than nationality similar wait times for an immigrant visa as those from the UK.

Because I haven't seen one that abandons the per-country limitations in our current system that treat Mexican would-be immigrants decidedly different from British would-be immigrants.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

How can Americans already forget that their ancestry comes from illegal european immigrants that did what ever they had to do to better their lives. Killed the original land owners, stole their land, wiped out civilizations. They did what ever they could for a better future just as South Americans continue to do and will continue to do. Secure the border. Don't build a fence for the sake of all wildlife that lives along these border states.

Posted by: silvano aportela on November 13, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'll believe ANY of you guys are serious about "immigration reform", either substantively or politically (including Kevin), when you start making distinctions -- cuz if you won't make distinctions, you can't make sense.

First distinction: Americans and foreigners. With some exceptions, the rule is that immigrants are people who have been invited (by NAME) by Americans. Not every foreigner in America is an immigrant. For one thing, the H-1B is a "non-immigrant visa", and folks who are too dumb to notice it's a subsidy, when even Milton Friedman says so, are just wasting wind talking about it. (We didn't subsidize television factories or machine tools: why Microsoft and Intel?)

Second distinction: legal and illegal. Legal immigrants are people we want. That's why they're legal. Illegal foreigners are people we don't want. That's why they are illegal. Talking about illegal foreigners AS IF they were invited (by name?), or as if that distinction doesn't matter, marks you as useless.

Third distinction: What we want, and the law. When there are foreigners illegally in America whom we WANT here, the law should be changed so that they they are legal.

Fourth distinction: we are a land of immigrants -- but not ANY immigrants. There are literally billions of people on the planet who would swim here, if they could. Dumbass notions that confuse Ellis Island mythology with the practical importance of American citizenship, which depends on not only being invited (by NAME), but welcomed, are an obstacle to common sense. If you can't say "no", your "yes" becomes meaningless -- if the welfare ban on non-citizens or Bush's claims regarding torture don't convince you, ask any high school cheerleader.

Fifth distinction: alienation and citizenship. Thomas Jefferson ran for President on the platform that five years living here was plenty to prove somebody wanted to be an American -- and he condemned the Alien and Sedition Acts' 15 year requirement. We oughta get back to that -- the MINIMUM wait for spouses and kids of LEGAL permanent residents is nearly SEVEN years. We are literally alienating the very people we claim to want most -- and they know it, even if the punditocracy is too self-absorbed to learn anything about a subject before they form opinions.

We've replaced the Ellis Island model with the gastarbeiter approach -- but OUR model worked, and theirs doesn't.

I'll believe you guys are serious when you stop confusing a cesspool with a hot tub, and start talking clean common sense about which foreigners we want to become Americans, and how we know... which is why LPR spouses and kids is a damned good place to start.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Time for a "blue ribbon" commission? Why must they always have blue ribbons? Why not change things up and make this one a "green hatband" commission or an "orange cummerbund" commission?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on November 13, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Why not just a simple "its not a big problem right now."

Posted by: Mysticdog on November 13, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

We'd believe theAmericanist was serious if he didn't have a history of selling green cards to the highest bidders.

Posted by: on November 13, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Still conflating legal and illegal discrimination here fellas.

The Democrats support legal immigration. The only reform it needs is an effective effort to actually keep track of legal immigrants.

Illegal immigration is a whole different story. DC Dems might not want to touch it, but, for example, here in Pennsylvania Senator to be Bob Casey had to change his campaign ads to reflect a "no amnesty" position in response to voter comments.

Down here in the grassroots you will find there is no wedge on illegal immigration.

Posted by: zak822 on November 13, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Quaker in a Basement,

Blue ribbons have been very popular with the Pubs, because so many of them have won Blue Ribbons at the county and state fairs for "hog calling to the public troughs".

Yes, Demos have won quite a few, but the Pubs perfected it and have taken it to new heights.

As Wal-Mart says, but, but, but where would we get our janitors?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on November 13, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK
Still conflating legal and illegal discrimination here fellas.

No, what you seem to miss is that immigration policy determines the conditions of immigration and defines what is and is not "legal immigration".

The Democrats support legal immigration.

Almost everyone supports "legal immigration", differences over immigration policy center more around (1) what immigration should be legal, and (2) how should immigration which is illegal be addressed.

The only reform it needs is an effective effort to actually keep track of legal immigrants.

That's certainly not a universally accepted Democratic position; lots of Democrats think a lot more needs to be changed.

Illegal immigration is a whole different story.

Illegal immigration is an inseparable part of the same story.

Down here in the grassroots you will find there is no wedge on illegal immigration.

There is quite a dispute in how to deal with illegal immigration, even at the Democratic grassroots. Trying to pretend there isn't is ridiculous.

What Democratic politicians need to do is to understand the fundamental concerns people have and find a policy that addresses them and communicate how it addresses them, rather than just looking at polls on policies and being passively reactive.


Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Why does Kevin keep insisting that Mickey Kaus is still alive?

Posted by: HeavyJ on November 13, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

More about highlighting divisions here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/12/AR2006111200762_pf.html


Let's see: Murtha took a bribe in Abscam (or was otherwise implicated), brings home military-related pork to his district (which gives him a sizable base of political donors), opposes abortion and opposes gun control. Does that sound like "draining the swamp" of corruption or a liberal shift?

Will Alcee Hastings be the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee instead of Jane Harmon, just because Nancy Pelosi doesn't like Jane Harmon?

Will Alan Mollohan chair the House ethics committee?

What committee will William Jefferson chair when he wins his runoff election?

Stay tuned for exaggerated, and possibly snarky, accounts of Democratic divisions and blemishes.

I am not especially hostile to Democrats. I voted for some, and some whom I voted for did indeed win their elections. But I do find the idea that the Democrats are generally a lot more honest and sensible than Republicans to be comical. If Sen. Ted Stevens gave us "the bridge to nowhere", Sen. Robert Byrd has given us the "river of cash to W. Virginia". I seldom listen to AM talk radio, and mostly know about it from what I read. I expect that the talk show hosts wil have a lot to say about the Democratic choices for committee chairs.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on November 13, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Point of personal privilege: I don't have a "history of selling green cards to the highest bidder". (For one thing, I don't own 'em, and thus can't sell 'em.) What I tried nearly 20 years ago, and lost money at, was making the investor visa work, specifically the provision that offered green cards to folks who put up their own money to create jobs in inner cities. It didn't work, but it wasn't a wholly crazy nor entirely mercenary idea.

LOL -- but since I used to get attacked all the time as a "mouthpiece for restrictionist causes" (ask CATO), I figure it's worth correcting:

LPR spouses and kids; Matthew 19:6. Fix that, and lots will fall into place.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and now we have this certifiable fucking nutjob, "The Americanist", here to tell us exactly how things work.

Hide the good silverware, people.

Posted by: Pale Rider on November 13, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Jasper: They [American engineering and CS students] are given "reasonably decent incentives". That's why young Americans continue to enter fields such as engineering and computer science.

College enrollment in those fields is down by at least a third, even in top schools. Apparently high school seniors are not as dumb as some people think they are.

The unemployment rate for Americans with technical education credentials is negligible.

Wrong again! For people in CS/IT and engineering it's higher than the national average, let alone the average for those with college or graduate educations.

The US "imports" proportionally fewer tech workers relative to population than Australia or Canada.

What an interesting factoid. Here's another - the US has more engineers per capita that any other country except Israel.

If anything, we ought to be working to increase the education levels of our immigrant pool.

The H-1B visa, and its cousin the L-1, are specifically called Non-Immigrant Visas. Wanna guess why?

k: Secondly, upto 1/3 or more of all startups in Silicon valley are formed by these "scabs" [H-1B's] as you call them.

In fact almost no startups are founded by H-1B's. In order to stay in the US an H-1B needs a job at an established company.

Are you yet brilliant commentator that doesn't even understand the difference between an H-1B Non-Immigrant visa holder and an LPR?

But if you're talking about the number of tech startups created by immigrants, you should know that it's actually slightly less than their proportion of US tech workers would suggest. I hope you're not in a technical field, because you're easy prey for such numerical fallacies.

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see: Murtha took a bribe in Abscam (or was otherwise implicated), brings home military-related pork to his district (which gives him a sizable base of political donors), opposes abortion and opposes gun control. Does that sound like "draining the swamp" of corruption or a liberal shift?

sounds a lot like John McCain.

Posted by: cleek on November 13, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

sounds a lot like John McCain.

Yeah, and at least Murtha is right about the war; Mr. Straight Talk Express ain't talking so straight about what he knows to be true these days...

Posted by: Pale Rider on November 13, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK
I'll believe ANY of you guys are serious about "immigration reform", either substantively or politically (including Kevin), when you start making distinctions -- cuz if you won't make distinctions, you can't make sense.

Just about everyone here that has discussed this issue is "making distinctions", and indeed generally making every one of the distinctions you refer to. Of course, many of them are suggesting different ways of looking at and reflecting those distinctions than either the status quo or, I presume, your preferred approach (which you don't really make clear).

First distinction: Americans and foreigners. With some exceptions, the rule is that immigrants are people who have been invited (by NAME) by Americans. Not every foreigner in America is an immigrant. For one thing, the H-1B is a "non-immigrant visa", and folks who are too dumb to notice it's a subsidy, when even Milton Friedman says so, are just wasting wind talking about it. (We didn't subsidize television factories or machine tools: why Microsoft and Intel?)

None of what you discuss here has anything to do with your supposed topic of "American vs. foreigner". The distinction you are actually discussing is better summarized as "legal immigrant vs. other (either not legal or not immigrant) alien".

Second distinction: legal and illegal. Legal immigrants are people we want. That's why they're legal. Illegal foreigners are people we don't want. That's why they are illegal. Talking about illegal foreigners AS IF they were invited (by name?), or as if that distinction doesn't matter, marks you as useless.

This presumes that the status quo law is a perfectly reflection of what "we want". In a discussion of the desirability of policy, that is called "begging the question" since that is precisely the point in dispute. Making such an assumption marks you as useless.

"Desired vs. undesired" and "legal vs. illegal" are two distinct axes of differentiation, and how well the two align is precisely one of the points of dispute at the heart of immigration policy debate.

Third distinction: What we want, and the law.

A distinction you fail to make properly in your discussion of the second distinction.

When there are foreigners illegally in America whom we WANT here, the law should be changed so that they they are legal.

This is obviously true, but even so rather oversimplified. One must also consider the case where there are people who would immigrate (or have already immigrated) illegally who we don't because of the social costs imposed under given the present system, but who would be willing to comply with an alternative regime under which they would become desirable immigrants. Or the case where the social costs of imposing exclusionary rules for certain classes of "unwanted" immigrants may never justify any effective exclusion, and where allowing them under certain conditions to be legal may make it easier to effectively exclude more critically "unwanted" immigrants and mitigate to some degree the costs imposed by the less-unwanted immigrants, making allowing them legal status a better policy than legally excluding those less-unwanted would-be immigrants. Policy is about priorities.

Fourth distinction: we are a land of immigrants -- but not ANY immigrants.

This is just a repeat of the "wanted vs. unwanted" distinction seem to conflate with the legal vs. illegal distinction under your "second" distinction.

Fifth distinction: alienation and citizenship.

First, the word you want here is either "alienage" or "alienism" (the state of being an alien rather than a citizen), not "alienation". Alternatively, you could mean to make a distinction between "alienation" and "welcoming". But "alienation" vs. "citizenship" is confused.

Second, this appears to be a rephrasing of your first ("american vs. foreigner") distinction, which you finally get around to discussing here, which I guess is good since you didn't discuss it where you mentioned it, instead discussing something completely unrelated.

We oughta get back to that -- the MINIMUM wait for spouses and kids of LEGAL permanent residents is nearly SEVEN years. We are literally alienating the very people we claim to want most

I've yet to see anyone say that close family of legal permanent residents are the aliens that we want the most in the US. Most people would say that aliens who are family members of US citizens are the people we want the most, so you seem to be failing at making the "American" vs. "foreigner" distinction you claim is so important.

So, apparently, by your own stated standards, you can't be taken seriously.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

aaron aardvarka: Your amnesty would lead to further illegal immigration.

jonathan: Let me tell you about Tamar Jacoby.

zak822: I made a video about a misleading Bob Casey statement on immigration.

Posted by: TLB on November 13, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Dicely sez "I've yet to see anyone say close family of legal permanent residents are the aliens we most want..."

Lord, this guy is dumb.

By definition, legal permanent residents ARE the people we want. As noted, that's why their residency is both legal and permanent.

Guess what else? They're PEOPLE. They fall in love, get married, have kids, and want to raise 'em in what they quaintly consider their lawful PERMANENT presence in this country would make their "home".

But you dunno anybody who figures those folks are the people "we" most want.

Dayum, you really are as dumb as I thought you were.

At the risk of introducing a thought into yer noggin, Dice: what does it mean that you don't know anybody who thinks these folks are people "we" want, if not that you know a LOT of people who reflexively seek to literally alienate exactly the folks we claim to want most?

Tell a guy he's legal and permanent but that his wife is an outlaw (or an exile), and what ELSE is it, but alienating him?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Bob (rmck1),

On numerous occasions at this board -- on threads concerning all sorts of topics -- I've encountered your comments and, often enough, found them quite worthy indeed. We're not always, I think, butting heads on things.

But I really think you're not very knowledgeable about this issue of the environmental impact of immigration.

But a quick detour first: I never once mentioned the whole Wind Farms Off The East Coast issue. I am aware that there has been some egregious examples of true, classic NIMBYism relating to all of that. But don't try to tar me, or the environmental movement, with all of that. Most folks on our side vigorously support wind farms. I, myself, was peripherally involved with Zond Corporation (now GE Wind Systems), and have written about energy issues generally -- and wind in particular -- for years. I have virtually no objections to most wind farms, and precious little patience for those who snipe at this terrific energy source. Okay?

There most assuredly is something such as NIMBYism. But it is often grossly overstated. Plus, as I tried to say in my last posting, it is often a broad-brush means of tarring over objections to things as somehow illegitimate, even when those objections are COMPLETELY legitimate. Just scream "NIMBYism" at your opponents, and apparently you're then freed of the need to ever actually consider any merits of what their arguments.

As for your suggestion that the U.S. has plenty of room for more people: in this small space, it's not seriously possible to even begin the task of demonstrating how overwhelmingly ignorant you are about this topic. I can scratch the surface, but only that, by citing just two random points:

** The ENTIRE SOUTHWEST and UPPER MIDWEST of the U.S. -- home to tens of millions of people -- is either in, or facing, tremendous shortages of potable water. Watersheds absolutely essential for the sustenance of major wilderness areas, for example, are being siphoned off to meet the nearly unquenchable thirst of places like Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Los Angeles. The area is ABSOLUTELY beyond its carrying capacity. Add in the incredible demands of agriculture, which must continue expanding to meet the ever increasing number of mouths to feed here, and we are indisputably on a downward slope that WILL end in a catastrophe sooner or later. Adding more people to this mix -- which is exactly what's happening, day in and day out -- is simply throwing fuel onto the fire.

** Virtually the entirety of the Great Plains -- from Oklahoma all the way up through the Dakotas -- are in uses which scientists say are simply not sustainable. Many of the states and counties there are either losing population or just barely clinging to what they have, and almost all growth that does occur is in a handful of massive urban areas. Those states may LOOK "empty" but they are far from it: they are, in fact, significantly over-populated ... and nature is effectively fighting back, forcing what scientists say is nothing less than a a reversion to frontier conditions. Hence a perfectly serious proposal from the academic couple, Frank and Deborah Popper, that a full quarter of the entire region be converted to an ecological reserve. Not because they want such for aesthetic reasons, but due to the fact that it's going that direction anyhow.

Your reply to this seems to be, "Well, so what? Other places are even MORE fucked up." Yeah, China, India, big parts of Africa ... they are unbelievably far over the line on sustainability. Seriously, are you advocating that the U.S. ought to become like them? Really?

Ultimately, overpopulation is a global problem. No doubt about it. But WE DON'T CONTROL THE REST OF THE WORLD. (And a good thing, too, given the ever-present threat of people like the neocons and George Bush seizing power here). We can't make people elsewhere have smaller families or do anything else. We can encourage them, offer assistance, but that's about it. What we do control is THIS country. And we have every right to take steps to make sure our nation is (a) doing the right thing by the Earth (which we haven't been); and, (b) protecting ourselves from the short-sightedness of other peoples (which, I'd say, we also haven't been).

Again, I don't think the answer is race hatred, 700-mile long fences on the Mexican border, and all the other horse pucky that the rightwingers keep coughing up. I suspect the best answers, domestically, must center on enforcing existing laws, especially strong and continuous enforcement of criminal and civil penalties against employers knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, ideally coupled with reasonable accommodation for those folks who've effectively made their homes here, and for whom reparation back to Mexico or wherever would be an unreasonable and even cruel burden.

Posted by: Roger Keeling on November 13, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

You're either a scumbag repukeliscum or an economist, here to prove that we don't deserve our own jobs.

DataGuy: Not too many "Republican scumbags" advocate bolstering and repairing the safety net. Yeah, I admit it: I strongly believe a Scandanavian-style approach -- rigorously free markets combined with a generous, well though-out, taxpayer-funded safety net -- is a better bet for an advanced economy than a system dictated by this or that protection-desiring interest group, whether that interest be sugar farmers, steel producers, or, yes, computer programmers.

Posted by: Jasper on November 13, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Jasper: I strongly believe a Scandanavian-style approach -- rigorously free markets combined with a generous, well though-out, taxpayer-funded safety net -- is a better bet for an advanced economy than a system dictated by this or that protection-desiring interest group, whether that interest be sugar farmers, steel producers, or, yes, computer programmers.

Nice speech, but nothing to do with the H-1B visa program. The H-1B program is in fact a subsidy to the employers of computer programmers, at the expense of "American" programmers (a category that includes LPR's as well as citizens).

I know of no one suggesting that we should deny immigration visas to people because they're programmers. However I know of numerous large and politically influential parties (eg Microsoft, Intel, IBM, etc.) saying that their businesses will falter unless we continue and enlarge this guest worker program. That's called a subsidy - granting special "import" privileges in order to support specific businesses.

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"There is no doubt that the H-1B program enables employers to hire programmers at a lower rate than they would otherwise have to pay, and to that extent it is a subsidy." -- Milton Friedman, quoted in ComputerWorld and ILW.com

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,

Come on, everybody knows that Milt is a closet Marxist.

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK
By definition, legal permanent residents ARE the people we want.

No, by definition, legal permanent residents are people that:
1) Have applied for permanent residency, and
2) Have been allowed legal residency.

Whether they are the "people we want" presumes a number of points that are in substantive dispute, but most particularly the fidelity of the law to "our" wishes.

But, even assuming those things, that does not also imply that their family members are "wanted". Now, I agree that close family members of legal permanent residents out to be viewed as either the second or third most preferred category of immigrants (behind close family of US citizens, and in near parity to slightly more distant family of US citizens), that is neither true by definition nor is it something you've made the argument for.

You've instead made the claim that close relatives of current LPRs are "the people we want the most", which is, as far as I can tell, poorly represents what most people think about priority of immigrants.

Guess what else? They're PEOPLE.

So are the people we don't want.

They fall in love, get married, have kids, and want to raise 'em in what they quaintly consider their lawful PERMANENT presence in this country would make their "home".

If we viewed our country as their "real" home, we'd make them citizens. Its that "American" vs. "foreigner" distinction that you are so big on other people making if they are to be taken seriously on immigration, but fail to make yourself (revealing your own unseriousness, I guess, if we are to take your standards seriously.) Permanent Resident Aliens are, as the proper title for their status makes clear, aliens.

Sure, they'd like to be treated as citizens when it benefits them: so would people on non-immigrant visas, and people illegally present. And certainly their close family are the people they want the most.

But you dunno anybody who figures those folks are the people "we" most want.

Correct. About everyone I know thinks that close family of actual US citizens are, and ought to be, a higher priority than those of current permanent resident aliens, and that the close family of current permanent resident aliens are, therefore, not the folks "we" most wnat.

At the risk of introducing a thought into yer noggin, Dice: what does it mean that you don't know anybody who thinks these folks are people "we" want, if not that you know a LOT of people who reflexively seek to literally alienate exactly the folks we claim to want most?

It means that most people make the American v. foreigner designation, and consider the close family of actual Americans more important, in an immigration context, than the close family of people who merely may become Americans in the future.

But I guess you don't make that distinction, and that by your stated standards, then, we should not take you seriously.

Of course, I've been not taking you seriously since you started posting your sloppily reasoned posts on this topic that really don't offer anything, but spend most of their time insulting, either generally or specifically, other posters here for not being "serious".

Tell a guy he's legal and permanent

"Legal" and "permanent" are not attributes of the person anyway.

but that his wife is an outlaw (or an exile),

The spouse of a permanent resident alien is neither an outlaw (someone without the protection of the laws whom anyone is free to murder or otherwise victimize without penalty, a status which does not exist in our laws) nor an exile from the US (someone who has been expelled from their native or home land); they may be an alien who has not yet established this land as their place of legal permanent residence, but that is not the same as either of the statuses you refer to.

and what ELSE is it, but alienating him?

What alternative do you have to offer? Would you treat permanent resident aliens exactly as citizens for the purpose of sponsoring others? Would you, IOW, destroy what you yourself claim is an important and necessary feature of immigration policy: the distinction between "foreigner" and "American" and the importance and priority of "foreigners" who wish to immigrate being invited specifically, not in a general class, by Americans?

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

aaron aardvarka:

Actually, "Grossman's Law" was created by the late H. L. Mencken. I believe if you check "Prejudices: Second Series," page 158 you'll find the original version as "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem --- neat, plausible, and wrong."

BTW, as a Republican, I hope that if a "comprehensive" immigration reform package is passed, it is passed by this new Congress, as I believe it will hurt the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Stephen M. St. Onge on November 13, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

aaron aardvarka:

Actually, "Grossman's Law" was created by the late H. L. Mencken. I believe if you check "Prejudices: Second Series," page 158 you'll find the original version as "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem --- neat, plausible, and wrong."

BTW, as a Republican, I hope that if a "comprehensive" immigration reform package is passed, it is passed by this new Congress, as I believe it will hurt the Democratic Party. But as a citizen, I believe it will be better to put off any "immigration reform" until we have secured the borders. Without border security, no reform can succeed, because more illegal immigrants will just enter the country.

Those who want lots of illegal immigration should admit that, but they won't.

Posted by: Stephen M. St. Onge on November 13, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Nice speech, but nothing to do with the H-1B visa program. The H-1B program is in fact a subsidy to the employers of computer programmers, at the expense of "American" programmers (a category that includes LPR's as well as citizens).

Alex: Ovewhelmingly, the relatively tiny H1 program allows jobs to stay in the US rather than be outshored to India or elsewhere. Talk to any recruiter (not one myself but I've worked extensively with them) and they'll tell you: it's difficult to hire good people in the US. The H1 program is a very modest pressure reliever that retards the flow of jobs overseas, and helps bolster the competitiveness of expensive tech centers like Silicon Valley and Boston -- places that would be less competitive were it not for the deeper talent pool made possible by the presence of skilled immigrants. I suspect a lot of technology firms wouldn't even consider expanding or locating in these sky-high expensive areas (and add to this list Long Island/NYC, No. Virginia, Seattle, etc.) without the existence of the H1 program -- they just couldn't make a buck. It's that simple. The net effect on US employment from the H1 program is without a doubt posititve. Using your so-broad-as-to-be-meaningless defintion of "subsidy", the fact that we limit immigration from tech professionals should itself be considered a "subsidy" -- a subsidization of the wages of technology workers.

By the way, someone upthread disputed the notion that that H1 program is an immigration category. This is nonsense. Significant percentages of H1 holders stay in the US permanently. Indeed, the H1 program isn't so much a program to import workers as it is a program to allow people who are already here to stay here and immigrate permanently. The typical path is 1) post-secondary or graduate education (a foreigner immigrates to the US to study at an American school); followed by: 2) OPT (Occupational Professional Training -- they're allowed to work in the states for a year as part of their education visa; followed by: 3) H1 status (not easy to get, but if you're dilligent and you've studied something practical, some American company somewhere will find a use for your skills; followed by: 4) green card sponsorship by a US employer; followed by 5) permanent residence, and, eventually, citizenship. Many such immigrants, of course, marry US citizens along the way, thus shortening the process by a step or two.

Yes, it's simply a travesty that the US government allows these talented people to enrich our country and boost its productivity. I mean, because of them the wages of the US technology sector are, um, wait a mintue -- they're the world's highest.

Posted by: Jasper on November 13, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Jasper: Ovewhelmingly, the relatively tiny H1 program allows jobs to stay in the US rather than be outshored to India or elsewhere.

And your evidence for this assertion is?

Besides, if those jobs in the US are filled by guest workers, how does that help Americans (which, I repeat, includes LPRs as well as citizens)?

Talk to any recruiter (not one myself but I've worked extensively with them) and they'll tell you: it's difficult to hire good people in the US.

Talk to good technical people in the US, and they'll tell you it's hard to find a job. Everybody has their vested interests, so the tie breaker is objective statistics. Again, unemployment in these fields is higher than average, let alone the average for college graduates. And this doesn't include programmers who are now flipping burgers.

Even in 1998 an extensive GAO study found no evidence of a "shortage" that justified increasing the H-1B quota. Of course Congress, no doubt prompted by serious lobbying and donations, voted to increase the quota before that study, which Congress itself had commissioned, was completed.

The H1 program is a very modest pressure reliever that retards the flow of jobs overseas

Evidence? While H-1B's are used to get cheaper labor than what would otherwise be available in the US, it's still a lot cheaper to hire someone overseas. So any job that can be done overseas, will be.

Your argument is exactly what the industry argued in the late 90's, while lobbying for enormous quota increases. They got the increases, and then went offshoring happy anyway. Consider me unconvinced.

and helps bolster the competitiveness of expensive tech centers like Silicon Valley and Boston

Hmmm, expensive real estate, general high cost of living, puts cap on endless business expansion in specific location. Maybe that explains why you no longer find light manufacturing, or even many back office operations, in Manhattan. Companies expanding to lower cost parts of the US is nothing new. Nor do I see why places like Silicon Valley and Boston should be subsidized to the detriment of other parts of the US that would benefit from such expansion.

Using your so-broad-as-to-be-meaningless defintion of "subsidy"

Perhaps you have a better term for this specific type of economic favoritism (the antithesis of a free market).

the fact that we limit immigration from tech professionals should itself be considered a "subsidy"

The fact that we limit any form of immigration can be considered a subsidy. Are you therefore in favor of removing all restrictions on immigration numbers?

By the way, someone upthread disputed the notion that that H1 program is an immigration category. This is nonsense.

Better tell the CIS - "non-immigrant visa" is their term.

Significant percentages of H1 holders stay in the US permanently.

Not legally. Unless they get a permanent resident visa first. But then they're not H-1B's anymore, are they?

Yes, it's simply a travesty that the US government allows these talented people to enrich our country and boost its productivity.

While simultaneously prohibiting the entry of many talented and productive doctors, lawyers, accountants, small business persons, marketing people, you name it.

I mean, because of them the wages of the US technology sector are, um, wait a mintue -- they're the world's highest.

Just like they are for all of the other job categories that I mentioned, and many more. Yet somehow only a handful of job categories are eligible for the H-1B visa. Why is that?

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Dice, as noted, you're too stupid to follow an argument, viz: "Would you treat permanent resident aliens exactly as citizens for the purpose of sponsoring others?"

No, for the purposes of sponsoring their spouses and kids. This is why I noted if you won't make distinctions, you can't make sense. You won't make distinctions about "others": QED.

US citizens have access to unlimited visas for spouses, kids, and parents. (They have limited access for siblings.)

I make a distinction (as does the law) for marriage. It's different.

Dice evidently doesn't believe in immigration (that is, just because they're legal permanent residents doesn't mean "we" want 'em); nor does he believe in marriage (that is, just because a legal permanent resident marries doesn't mean that the nation that wants HIM can't legitimately require his wife to sleep in a different country for years).

Face it, Dice: you're either too dumb to follow an argument -- or considerably meaner and more xenophibic than you've ever noticed, cuz of how dumb you are.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK
Besides, if those jobs in the US are filled by guest workers, how does that help Americans (which, I repeat, includes LPRs as well as citizens)?

It provides service jobs for Americans supporting high-value foreign laborers rather than creating service jobs for foreigners supporting those same laborers, which would be the case if the jobs were outsourced. I mean, those imported programmers still go out to eat, get haircuts, etc...

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK
Dice, as noted, you're too stupid to follow an argument, viz: "Would you treat permanent resident aliens exactly as citizens for the purpose of sponsoring others?"

Asking you a question to clarify your policy recommendation when you've blown a lot of air around it but never actually come out and said specifically what you'd do differently is not being "too stupid to follow an argument". Maybe you could stop trying to figure out how many insults you can fit into a post and actually try to effectively communicate your ideas.


No, for the purposes of sponsoring their spouses and kids.

Why should they have the same priority as citizens here? Why shouldn't only citizens have access to "unlimited" visas for this purpose? Isn't it important and more desirable for immigrants to be invited specifically by Americans? Certainly, in all your arguments you've said this, yet your proposed policy conflicts with that ideal.

This is why I noted if you won't make distinctions, you can't make sense.

Yes, and that's just idiotic. Everyone in the discussion is making distinctions. You, if you want to make sense, need to learn to support and justify the distinctions you would have the law make, not merely assert that everyone must make the same distinctions, and attach the same policy treatments to them that you would, in order to "make sense".


You won't make distinctions about "others"

Certainly, that's false. I asked what you would do, since you hadn't specified what you wanted to do differently than the status quo. Sure, I listed on specific alternative that seemed suggested by the general thrust of your complaints, that's not the same as recommending that policy, and far from saying I personally won't make any distinctions not made in that suggestion. Its simply a question to get you to explain what you want done differently.

US citizens have access to unlimited visas for spouses, kids, and parents. (They have limited access for siblings.)

Yes, great. So why should permanent resident aliens get the same treatment as citizens for spouses and children? And why, if treating them as if this is their home is a concern justifying the others, should they not then also get that treatment for parents?

Dice evidently doesn't believe in immigration (that is, just because they're legal permanent residents doesn't mean "we" want 'em)

Not believing that the present law is faithful to what is desirable is not the same thing as not believing in immigration. Certainly, pointing out that the fidelity of the present law to popular will is an unjustified assumption in your argument that violates your own standards (back to your third distinction between "what we want" and "the law") is even more dissimilar from not believing in immigration.

nor does he believe in marriage (that is, just because a legal permanent resident marries doesn't mean that the nation that wants HIM can't legitimately require his wife to sleep in a different country for years).

This charge, of course, is irrational on its own, but its also inconsistent with the first half of the same sentence: you can't accuse me of not believing in immigration because I don't believe that permanent resident aliens are, of logical necessity, "wanted", and then charge me with this based on the assumption that I accept the premise that permanent resident aliens are, of logical necessity, "wanted".

You need to work on a coherent presentation of your ideas that doesn't rely on self-contradictory insults, but instead focusses on describing and justifying whatever it is you want in the way of policy. Apparently, one part of that is that you want permanent resident aliens treated as citizens are now for purpose of sponsoring their own spouse or children, but not their parents. Anything else? Any justifications?

Face it, Dice: you're either too dumb to follow an argument

...or you're too dumb to make one.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: those imported programmers still go out to eat, get haircuts, etc...

That's a good argument. Have guest workers instead of immigrants and citizens do the software and engineering work, so that immigrants and citizens can give haircuts and flip burgers instead.

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Very good thread with sincerely constructive points offered by all. Let me contribute two quick points:

1) The vociferous war on a national ID, which would be very easy to create with today's technology, by the usual suspects of the left [ACLU, La Raza, etc.] is the biggest hurdle to penalizing the employers that hire illegals. Suppose you are an employer who has tried to do the right thing, you are being driven to the wall by your unethical competitors, and you face the constant scrutiny of "civil rights advocates" if you make a peep about the posibility of fraud on Pepe's I-9 docs.

2} I do not consider myself a racist. I once proposed marriage to a woman of another race [she had the common sense to turn me down] and often wonder what challenges a biracial son or daughter would face in this country. But I think I speak for a great many people who feel we've sacrificed something precious in our children's birthright when I hear a '60's Beach Boys song and look at Compton or East LA today. I believe America should be the biggest, most generous tent in the world, but the definition of a tent is something with an inside and an outside. I think we should take more legal immigrants than the rest of the world put together [we always have and are doing so today] but we should try to understand the mixed emotions of good people before cutting off debate with ad hominums about their motives.

Posted by: minion the friendly troll on November 13, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Have guest workers instead of immigrants and citizens do the software and engineering work, so that immigrants and citizens can give haircuts and flip burgers instead.

If you have the magic pixie dust that turns Americans into the preferred hires that right now often spend months being paid by American companies while working overseas, I hope you've patented it.

Posted by: ahem on November 13, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

ahem: If you have the magic pixie dust that turns Americans into the preferred hires that right now often spend months being paid by American companies while working overseas, I hope you've patented it.

In practice, "preferred hire" means "works cheap" and "never complains because getting fired also means losing your visa".

However, if you're suggesting that US visa policy should favor people with highly paid skills, then you may have a point. In order to make this policy objective, we should simply give greatest preference to the people with the most highly paid skills. Such data is readily available from the BLS. This list does not start with programmers and engineers. We will, of course, have to eliminate the restrictions that we have on the number of foreign students allowed into US medical schools, and other trade restrictions, such as the requirement for US citizenship for admission to the Patent Bar. There are numerous other examples. We folks targeted by the limited skills categories of the H-1B program will wait our turn.

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK
That's a good argument. Have guest workers instead of immigrants and citizens do the software and engineering work, so that immigrants and citizens can give haircuts and flip burgers instead.

Well, its better than outsourcing, where the citizens and immigrants neither have the software and engineering jobs nor the haircutting and burger-flipping jobs.

But, yeah, its not good, that was the point I was trying to make. Good solutions to that problem aren't going to come through immigration, visa, or trade policy, per se, but through investments in basic education, job (re)training, and in general in making the American workforce ready for the kind of jobs we want people to be able to have.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Dice, I've learned (we talked about this in email like two years ago, yanno) that you don't understand plain English when it is written out for you in short sentences and simple words.

Again: marriage is DIFFERENT. (Re-read that, since you obviously didn't get it the first three times.)

A guy comes to the U.S. with a green card, or gets one while he's here, then he gets married to his high school sweetheart back home. As a legal permanent resident, he has made a commitment to the U.S.

As a husband, he has made a commitment to his wife.

For some unfathomable reason, you regard this as a conflict of some sort, between his immigration status and his marriage. You object to the idea that marriage is marriage, because you hallucinate that honoring immigrant marriages would somehow degrade citizenship.

FOR SHAME. (And I'm being kind to you, more than you deserve.)

You want this married couple to choose between obeying their marriage vows (and, yanno, actually LIVING together), or obeying US law (which requires a minimum separation of about 7 years).

You scoff that this is not an important issue. (Get out more.)

You mis-state the nature of the problem: when a LPR's spouse remains in the United States (thus honoring his or her marriage) while waiting out those 7 years, they ARE outlawed, which is called "unlawful presence".

Likewise, if they leave, they cannot return (even with a legal temporary visa) for that 7 year minimum, and IF they have been unlawfully present for even six months, they cannot even return THEN.

It's known as the 3/10 year ban. It places two parts of our immigration policy in direct conflict, so Dice: perhaps you might take up the use of knowledge before you next express an opinion.

And -- for folks other than Dice, cuz he's lost and useless -- it gets worse. When somebody has a TEMPORARY visa (like an H-1B), and gets married: they are treated BETTER than LPRs.

That means, we treat people who break our laws, and those who have NOT made a commitment to America, better than those who obey the law and who have made that commitment.

Dice, if you want to argue that a legal permanent resident of the United States should in effect be forbidden to marry, kindly do so. Show where this is in the national interest.

As noted above, it's pretty simple: you're either as dumb as I keep noting you are, OR you're far more cruel and xenophobic than your brains have yet allowed you to notice about the truth of your own "opinions".

More broadly: this is simply the central issue of legal immigration, not just because it is a morally decisive issue in its own right, but also because it is PRECISELY at the fault line of why immigration policy sucks: Congress promises more than it delivers.

Fix this one, and a great deal falls into place.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

OHFORCRYINGOUTLOUD: I was gonna let it go, but this is too stupid, even for Dice:

Most of the impact of our immigration policy is a SUBSIDY. When you subsidize something, you get more of it.

When the government provides a labor force, that's a subsidy. When it is an illegal labor force, provided in effect by the failure to enforce the law, that is a very large subsidy.

When the government proposes to add a highly regulated labor force (guest workers), to an economy saturated with an essentially unregulated illegal one, the regulated market cannot compete with the unregulated one. That means guys brought in as temporarily legal guest workers for low wages in landscaping will take higher paying illegal jobs in meatpacking or roofing.

Virtually all H-1Bs want to get green cards, btw -- and they're blocked by utterly useless regulations.

The idea that if "we" somehow educate and train young people, that will eliminate these subsiies and its effects -- is a sign that the guy offering the opinion has literally never had a genuine thought on the subject.

When you subsidize something, you get more of it. That's what we're getting -- more of the severing of the direct connection between immigration (getting here) and belonging here (citizenship) that I call the Ellis Island model.

Severing that connection is fine with Dice -- and, ye gods! he thinks it's cuz of market ECONOMICS.

(shaking head)

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

In practice, "preferred hire" means "works cheap" and "never complains because getting fired also means losing your visa".

Or, alternatively, not. Your stereotype of the H1-B is just that. In which case, you don't mind the European branches of Yahoo and Google sending money overseas because the specific people those companies want to hire cannot get visas.

And high-tech is notoriously difficult for BLS statistics to measure, because the field changes so rapidly, and the institutional structures that validate ability and experience in more well-established disciplines don't exist. For the moment, I'll trust the people with hiring responsibility at Google or Yahoo to seek out the appropriate people to do particular jobs.

That said, I do support clear, transparent skill-based visas, akin to those in Australia/NZ and to some extent in Canada. (And I acknowledge that Aus/NZ have the advantage of being island nations, without the border issues faced by the US. But that's a separate issue, given that the H1-B class generally doesn't cross the Arizona desert to enter the US.)

Posted by: ahem on November 13, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ahem: in 1990, the Democratic House passed legislation that would have wholly deregulated employment-based immigration. An employer who wanted to hire some guy who could grow amoebae into microchips could have simply bought the guy a green card at the market rate, negotiated how long he was willing to work for them in exchange for his green card (thus, a secondary market), and he would otherwise have been a free agent.

Employers ADAMANTLY opposed deregulation. Still do.

Care to explain why?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK
Dice, I've learned (we talked about this in email like two years ago, yanno) that you don't understand plain English when it is written out for you in short sentences and simple words.

Funny, I'd say the same about you.

Again: marriage is DIFFERENT.

Duh. Obviously, it wouldn't need a distinct name if it wasn't different than other things.

(Re-read that, since you obviously didn't get it the first three times.)

Look, I know you need it to get over your inferiority complex, but it would be nice if you'd just cut the unnecessary (and universally inaccurate and unsupported) insults and just make your points. Such as they are.

A guy comes to the U.S. with a green card, or gets one while he's here, then he gets married to his high school sweetheart back home. As a legal permanent resident, he has made a commitment to the U.S.

A legal permanent resident retains their foreign citizenship, and has virtually no substantive commitment to the US. In fact, people who are permanent residents often choose not to become citizens precisely because they don't want to make a commitment to the US (as, of course, is their right.)

As a husband, he has made a commitment to his wife.

Indisputably, so?

For some unfathomable reason, you regard this as a conflict of some sort, between his immigration status and his marriage.

Look, why don't you make your argument in support of your policy rather than attempting to read my mind (clearly, you aren't reading what I wrote, since I said nothing of the sort, so I assume your attempt to divine what I am reading is an attempt at telepathy.) Because while its possible, though unproven, that you could come up with a coherent argument for your position if you tried, you clearly can't read minds, even when you are apparently trying your hardest to do that rather than arguing your case.

You object to the idea that marriage is marriage,

Please point to anyplace where I have objected to the idea that marriage is marriage.

because you hallucinate that honoring immigrant marriages would somehow degrade citizenship.

I've never said that, either. What I have asked you to do is to justify your argument that policy should be changed in the way you recommend. Which you continue to not do, instead preferring to post your fantasies about what I think, instead of justifications for your recommendations.

You want this married couple to choose between obeying their marriage vows (and, yanno, actually LIVING together), or obeying US law (which requires a minimum separation of about 7 years).

No, I never said I wanted that, I said I wanted you to justify the changes you recommended, and justify limiting them as you recommend.

However, I'd point out that no one forced the immigrant in your hypothetical to make a commitment to his wife that he could not legally carry out (presuming that part of that commitment is living together, which certainly is one way of addressing the commitment involved in marriage, but not an absolute prerequisite.)

You mis-state the nature of the problem: when a LPR's spouse remains in the United States (thus honoring his or her marriage) while waiting out those 7 years, they ARE outlawed, which is called "unlawful presence".

Families can provide mutual support without living together, indeed, that's part of the sacrifice they choose when they choose to immigrate under rules that require that. Or choose to get married when one of them is in an immigration status that requires that. While, certainly, we can (and should be, though you seem unwilling to do this) debate whether policy ought to require this, this reference to "honoring" their marriage reflects a very crabbed view of what it means to honor marriage.

And "remains" suggests that the spouse was in the US: were they here illegally, or were they abusing a nonimmigrant visa to immigrate? Either way, I think its something that we could have a debate about whether we want to encourage...

And, of course, aside for the fact that you were abusing "outlaw", you aren't substantively contradicting my presentation of the facts, so your accusation that I am mispresenting anything is, at best, unjustified.

And -- for folks other than Dice, cuz he's lost and useless -- it gets worse. When somebody has a TEMPORARY visa (like an H-1B), and gets married: they are treated BETTER than LPRs.

You mean that when an H-1B holder has a preference over an permanent resident alien when seeking a permanent residency for a spouse? Or are you merely stating that married non-immigrant visa holders can get non-immigrant visas for a spouse, as well?

You seem to be failing to make an important distinction, here.

That means, we treat people who break our laws, and those who have NOT made a commitment to America, better than those who obey the law and who have made that commitment.

How do we treat them better? Particularly those who break our laws?


Dice, if you want to argue that a legal permanent resident of the United States should in effect be forbidden to marry, kindly do so.

I don't. I've asked you to justify your recommendation. The status quo doesn't stop permanent resident aliens from marrying (I should know, having married one), it simply means that permanent resident aliens who choose to marry people who aren't otherwise qualified to immigrate to the United States immediately do not, by so doing, make those other people immediately eligible to immigrate to the United States.

As noted above, it's pretty simple: you're either as dumb as I keep noting you are, OR you're far more cruel and xenophobic than your brains have yet allowed you to notice about the truth of your own "opinions".

Or you are making a lot of false assumptions about what I think and believe and using them to insult me rather than doing what I've asked: justifying your recommendations. Clearly, you are more comfortable tossing around insults with no basis than you are arguing for the policies you want implemented on their merits.

More broadly: this is simply the central issue of legal immigration, not just because it is a morally decisive issue in its own right, but also because it is PRECISELY at the fault line of why immigration policy sucks: Congress promises more than it delivers.

You've yet to make the case for why this is a "morally decisive issue in its own right", which would actually be responsive to the challenges I've made to you.

The rest doesn't follow. Even if the central problem is that Congress promises more than it delivers, and even if the problem you think exists here is an example of that overpromising, that doesn't make this narrow issue the central problem of abortion, it would make it an illustration of the central problem.

Unless you think this is the only case where Congress overpromises, in which case your whole painting of it as a general problem distinct from this specific issue is, of course, wrong.

Fix this one, and a great deal falls into place.

What, specifically, falls into place if you fix "this one", and why do you believe that it would fall into place from fixing "this one"?

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK
Most of the impact of our immigration policy is a SUBSIDY. When you subsidize something, you get more of it.

This makes certain assumptions about elasticity that are generally, but not universally, true, but broadly speaking I agree. Of course this contradicts nothing I've said, either.


When the government provides a labor force, that's a subsidy.

Sure, no one would dispute that.

When it is an illegal labor force, provided in effect by the failure to enforce the law, that is a very large subsidy.

I'd disagree. While I'll agree that the labor force represented by people illegally present in the United States is a large subsidy, its not large simply because it is illegal, but rather because it is a large number people. And its not provided simply by the failure to enforce the law, but through the structure of the law itself, whose limitations create a serious imbalance between those wishing to come here for economic reasons even if you only consider those eligible by invitation or otherwise for legal status, if they wait long enough, and those who will be admitted in any reasonable period, which creates a strong natural incentive to break the law. Its not merely a passive failure to enforce the law that is at issue.

When the government proposes to add a highly regulated labor force (guest workers), to an economy saturated with an essentially unregulated illegal one, the regulated market cannot compete with the unregulated one.

The government has never proposed to add "guest workers" on top of the illegal market, at least formally; they've always proposed guest workers combined with tightening of enforcement. Of course, you could argue that the tightening wouldn't work, but you don't, you just mischaracterize the proposal.

And H-1B's (if that's what you mean by "guest workers", rather than the usual guest worker proposals), while they do coexist with the legal market, don't really intend to compete, as they aren't aimed where the illegal market is.

That means guys brought in as temporarily legal guest workers for low wages in landscaping will take higher paying illegal jobs in meatpacking or roofing.

If you assume that the higher-paying jobs won't also be eligible for guestworker programs, and that the increased enforcement aimed both at illegally present workers and employers hiring them won't work, that is certainly not an unreasonable conclusion, though its hard to see how its relevant to anything I've said, since I've never said anything about guest worker programs and certainly don't endorse them.


The idea that if "we" somehow educate and train young people, that will eliminate these subsiies and its effects -- is a sign that the guy offering the opinion has literally never had a genuine thought on the subject.

You know, I might disagree with this, but more than that, so what? I never said if we educate young people more that doing so would eliminate subsidies magically on its own. I said that solving the problems of Americans not getting good, high-tech jobs, and those jobs instead going to foreigners either through outsourcing or H-1B's wasn't going to be addressed substantively through immigration policy (subsidies or otherwise) but through education, improving transitional assistance and retraining for displaced workers, and other things that make American workers more qualified for better jobs.

That might reduce the incentives for various subsidies, either H-1B or otherwise, but it won't eliminate them , that's a separate act people would have to take if they wanted to eliminate them.


When you subsidize something, you get more of it.

Redundant and not in dispute, but sure.

That's what we're getting -- more of the severing of the direct connection between immigration (getting here) and belonging here (citizenship) that I call the Ellis Island model.

Arguably, sure. Not that that contradicts anything I've said.


Severing that connection is fine with Dice

Where did I say that?

-- and, ye gods! he thinks it's cuz of market ECONOMICS.

Uh, what? Your fantasies about what I think are getting pretty bizarre.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 13, 2006 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

To be more precise, I've been speaking as if you DO think, Dice: and you don't.

My mistake.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

ahem: Your stereotype of the H1-B is just that.

What stereotype? H-1B's with equivalent education, experience, etc. make on average about 20% less than similarly qualified immigrants or citizens. If H-1B's had such valuable skills that couldn't be filled by immigrants or citizens, that difference wouldn't exist.

And losing your visa if you lose your job is part of the H-1B regulations. You remain in this country legally only at your employer's pleasure. Surely I'm being cynical in suspecting that this leads to more compliant employees.

In which case, you don't mind the European branches of Yahoo and Google sending money overseas because the specific people those companies want to hire cannot get visas.

No, why would I mind European subsidiaries sending money overseas? Maybe some of it will wind up here.

BTW, people who have truly hard-to-find skills can get O-series visas.

And high-tech is notoriously difficult for BLS statistics to measure

How convenient. Surely the whole matter of highly specialized skills is unique to tech. Fields like say, medicine, don't have highly specialized skills or rapid change.

I'll trust the people with hiring responsibility at Google or Yahoo to seek out the appropriate people to do particular jobs.

Of course. Such people have no vested interest in claiming that immigrants and citizens with the necessary skills are not available. And let's ignore objective statistics, like unemployment and compensation levels.

That said, I do support clear, transparent skill-based visas

Great. I support a pony for every kid that wants one. The political reality is that the H-1B visa program exists because companies with lots of money and political clout constantly lobby Congress for it. Perhaps if we kill the H-1B program, the pressure will build for a visa program that uses a more objective criterion than companies crying "we can't find anyone here".

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: But, yeah, its not good, that was the point I was trying to make.

In that case I was chiming in, rather than rebutting.

Good solutions to that problem aren't going to come through immigration, visa, or trade policy, per se, but through investments in basic education, job (re)training, and in general in making the American workforce ready for the kind of jobs we want people to be able to have.

While investments in education, etc. are always essential, immigration, visa, and trade policy still play an important role. You can kill almost any job market if you selectively target it.

As such, any skills based requirements should follow objective criteria rather than political pressure. Alternatively, we could seek immigrants with a broad range of skills, similar to what we have in the US. That way, no particular group gets hurt worse than any other.

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Alex, the more objective criterion is called "money".

If an employer really wants to hire a foreigner cuz they have skills no American has, they will be willing to PAY to get the guy.

Part of that is what they are willing to pay the worker, his or her market rate.

But on top of that, there is the price the company is willing to pay to get the extra-economic value of the work visa. Since that is part of the value the company is getting, it has a price.

When that visa makes the new American worker a free agent in the American economy, the market works best.

This doesn't mean that the company cannot negotiate with the guy for how long he or she is willing to work, in exchange for the company's investment in buying the guy the green card.

But it DOES mean that if the guy's skills are as valuable as the company claims, then they are as valuable to OTHER employers. Company A might be willing to invest $15-20k in buying the guy his green card, but only if he will work 3 years for 'em; company B might be willing to do $15k (but not $20k), for a two year contract: market economics.

What happens instead is -- well, it's Dice. Folks make distinctions that don't make differences, and lawyers get paid.

BTW -- first fun fact of the day: the very first piece of spam ever recorded was from... an immigration lawyer, in 1994.

Second fun fact of the day: the single most telling immigration statistic -- is the five-fold increase in immigration lawyers since 1985.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 13, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist: the more objective criterion is called "money"

Stop being silly. That "market economics" stuff is only for when the hired help starts getting uppity.

Posted by: alex on November 13, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Hey -- deregulation of employment-based immigration is a very smart political tactic. It passed the House in 1990, and was proposed by a blue ribbon commission in 1995.

The New Republic looked at it, and said that "the arguments against it are so un-American they are hard to publicly make."

Which probably explains why Dice makes 'em.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 14, 2006 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK
Hey -- deregulation of employment-based immigration is a very smart political tactic. It passed the House in 1990, and was proposed by a blue ribbon commission in 1995.

The New Republic looked at it, and said that "the arguments against it are so un-American they are hard to publicly make."

Which probably explains why Dice makes 'em.

You know, your inability or unwillingness to read what other people write before inventing insults might be mildly amusing the first couple of times, just from how amazingly detached from reality the attacks are, but in the end its rather tiring. I haven't here made any argument against "deregulation of employment based immigration", in fact, the only reference I've made in this thread to the argument over employment based admission of foreign workers (no matter what mix of immigrant and non-immigrant statuses or what degree of regulation) has been to argue that no approach to it will do more than nibble around the edges of the problem of currently American workers not getting good enough jobs, because that problems roots and solutions lie elsewhere.

I haven't made any comment on what approaches in that area are desirable (at least, in this thread), and I certainly haven't argued against deregulation here.

So, please, if you want to have a discussion, try to stay focussed on responding to what people are actually saying, and not inventing fantasies to debate. (Not that you are actually debating so much as launching ad hominems at your own hallucinations.)


Posted by: cmdicely on November 14, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Dice, I keep noting you don't understand your own arguments, cuz you haven't actually THOUGHT about 'em. You just proved my point -- again.

You obviously know nothing on the subject, asking if "an H-1B holder has a preference over an permanent resident alien when seeking a permanent residency for a spouse? Or are you merely stating that married non-immigrant visa holders can get non-immigrant visas for a spouse, as well?"

What part of LPR spouses outlawed and exiled was unclear to you? If they are here, they're outlawed. If they aren't here, they're exiled.

Too complex for you?

You huff that I hadn't explained "why this is a "morally decisive issue in its own right", which is why I note simply: you're stooopid. It's immaterial to me whether you were educated beyond your intelligence in college, or beyond your capacity for moral reasoning in law school.

Virtually all H-1B visa holders seek to remain permanently, if only because that makes 'em free agents and no longer a labor subsidy. (See the work of Lindsay Lowell, among many others; or check out the band, the H-1Bees.) Many marry while holding "temporary" visas, precisely because it is better than waiting for permanent residency before the wedding.

Those who do marry while here "temporarily", and then get permanent residency, are (and have been) allowed to remain indefinitely (albeit at submarket wages), precisely BECAUSE they were not allowed (or, if you like, discouraged) to make the commitment to the United States denoted by a green card, which happens to actually BE the proverbial "path to citizenship".

So it is damned telling of you, Dice, that you went on to note approvingly "that permanent resident aliens who choose to marry people who aren't otherwise qualified to immigrate to the United States immediately do not, by so doing, make those other people immediately eligible to immigrate to the United States..."

That merely states what the law IS -- although I suppose it is a mitzvah that you've learned THAT much. The point is, the law is WRONG, and should be changed. (Read Matthew 19:6, and consider it as a PRACTICAL insight, and not merely a moral imperative.)

Of the three classes of foreigners living in the United States -- those here as legal permanent residents, on the path to citizenship, those here on "temporary", non-immigrant visas, and those here illegally, it is the first, by definition, who are the ones we most WANT to remain -- that's why they are both legal and permanent, as noted above.

They are also the ones who, if they marry their sweethearts from back home, are required BY LAW to be separated for years on end.

When one illegal alien marries another, the law winks -- and, in fact, there is much hubbub about this in the "earned legalization" debate.

Note again that Dice HIMSELF is pleased that temporary workers' marriages are treated better than those of legal immigrants. It's fine with this guy if people stay here as 'indefinitely temporary' non-citizens, but should they make the commitment to become U.S. citizens (which can only be done through permanent residency), well: that's too uppity for Dice. CITIZENS (like him) can marry foreigners, but if a legal permanent resident wants to marry a foreigner -- well, he or she should have stayed an underpaid "temporary" worker: right, Dice?

That's what you said: twice.

So you're left exactly where I noted you always were, Dice: you're either too stupid to seek facts before forming opinions, or else you really are every bit as unAmerican in your values as I noted your opinions show you to be.

The purpose of American immigration law is to make new Americans out of foreigners. Literally alienating people who want to make a commitment to the United States by forcing them to choose to be indefinitely temporary in order to marry, through a guest worker subsidy against citizenship; for the law to force a choice between the path to citizenship and marriage -- well, hell, Dice: you just don't know anybody who thinks this is important.

You're happy to sever the direct connection between getting here, and belonging here, the Ellis Island model that literally MADE us America.

QED.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 14, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist is wrong about many things, but specifically, he's wrong about the first Spam. Internet Spam has been around since at least 1978

Posted by: hateful hurtful horror on November 14, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK
You obviously know nothing on the subject, asking if "an H-1B holder has a preference over an permanent resident alien when seeking a permanent residency for a spouse? Or are you merely stating that married non-immigrant visa holders can get non-immigrant visas for a spouse, as well?"

That question has nothing to do with what I know about the subject. Its a question about the basis of your claims.

What part of LPR spouses outlawed and exiled was unclear to you?

The connection of your claim with reality: no one is "outlawed" or "exiled" because they are the spouse of a permanent resident alien.


If they are here, they're outlawed.

False, if they are here, prior to being married, in some legal status and then get married, they are not "outlawed", or even adversely effected, merely because they married a permanent resident alien.

Of course, if they are illegally present prior to the marriage, they may face negative consequences from that, whether their new spouse is a permanent resident alien or an H-1B holder.


If they are here, they're outlawed.

You can't be exiled from a place that was never your home, so that's not true either. They make take too long to be admitted, but that's a different argument.

Those who do marry while here "temporarily", and then get permanent residency, are (and have been) allowed to remain indefinitely (albeit at submarket wages), precisely BECAUSE they were not allowed (or, if you like, discouraged) to make the commitment to the United States denoted by a green card, which happens to actually BE the proverbial "path to citizenship".

Er, wrong. No matter what they did before, if they "get permanent residency" they have, indeed, done everything denoted by a "green card" since "green card" is simply a (detached from present reality: the cards aren't actually green anymore) reference to permanent resident alien status.

The point is, the law is WRONG, and should be changed.

So you say, but then you say this:

Of the three classes of foreigners living in the United States -- those here as legal permanent residents, on the path to citizenship, those here on "temporary", non-immigrant visas, and those here illegally, it is the first, by definition, who are the ones we most WANT to remain

Nope, wrong. They are by definition the ones the law envisions most remaining. Of course, as you seemed to recognize earlier in your post, it is an error to portray the law as correct by definition, so why are you yourself making that error?

Note again that Dice HIMSELF is pleased that temporary workers' marriages are treated better than those of legal immigrants.

Er, no, I haven't said that. What I did was challenge you to defend that characterization: permanent resident aliens spouses are eligible for a "better" immigration status with more stability and privileges, but it takes them much longer to be admitted. "temporary" aliens are able to bring their spouses in sooner, but in a less secure status. These are clearly different, but you have not made the case that one is categorically superior, though you've squeezed in a few hints about why you might think its so between your voluminous irrelevant insults.

It's fine with this guy if people stay here as 'indefinitely temporary' non-citizens,

I've never said that.

but should they make the commitment to become U.S. citizens (which can only be done through permanent residency), well: that's too uppity for Dice.

Never said that, either. You should read more and invent less.

CITIZENS (like him) can marry foreigners, but if a legal permanent resident wants to marry a foreigner -- well, he or she should have stayed an underpaid "temporary" worker: right, Dice?

(As an aside, are you suggesting that H-1B holder's on average make less than permanent resident aliens?)

As usual, though, your main line of argument is completely wrong. A permanent resident alien who wants to marry a "foreigner" should do so. Now, if they marry another permanent resident alien, this is no problem, at all. If they marry someone here in a temporary status, they should do so with knowledge of the delay to get permanent status, and where they themselves are on the track to citizenship. If they want to marry someone with no status in the US, the same consideration applies. Of course, the best solution for a permanent resident alien who wishes to marry a foreign who is also not a permanent resident alien is not to "remain" a temporary worker, but to become a citizen, which is, notionally, one of the main purposes of permanent resident alien status.

That's what you said: twice.

No, actually, I never said any of those things you attributed to me. Not once, not twice, not at all. As usual, they are complete inventions of your fevered imagination.

The purpose of American immigration law is to make new Americans out of foreigners.

I agree. Which is, after all, why I think we ought to restrict the number and duration of non-immigrant admissions (and make them costly, in terms of payment to the government, for the sponsors, though less so in connection with tax-exempt not-for-profit charitable, and scientific, and particularly educational work), shorten the path to citizenship for admitted immigrants, admit immigrants initially as families, rather than having immigrants seek to get their families admitted after they are (though I probably wouldn't treat immigrants as favorably as citizens for post-admission, pre-citizenship sponsorship), focus of our immigration controls on sponsored statuses by eliminating hard caps in favor of soft caps that can be temporarily bypassed by paying fees which are are graduated to reflect preference classes, so that no one qualified to immigrate by any allowed form of sponsorship and set of personal characteristics would be necessarily delayed.

You're happy to sever the direct connection between getting here, and belonging here, the Ellis Island model that literally MADE us America.

No, I want to strengthen that model. That I have sought for you to justify your complaints with arguments rather than abuse and condescension doesn't mean that I oppose your policy proposals (I do in many case think they are the wrong way of approaching the real problems, though in many cases I agree in very broad outline with your perception of the general problems with the status quo system), it is rather because I think that underneath the self-important bluster, you actually seemed to maybe have a few interesting ideas which I would have liked to have seen more fully developed.


QED.

You keep using that. I actually hope you don't understand what it means, because if you think anything you've posted here even remotely resembles a logical proof of anything, well, you are more deluded than I've given you credit for so far, which is saying quite a lot.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 14, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Last word: real stories.

I know a guy, a legal permanent resident. Married a foreign student, here on a temporary visa. They had a child, so she's the wife of a green card holder, and the mother of a US citizen. Busy, she stopped going to school. If she had left her husband to return home to wait SEVEN years, as an "intending immigrant" she would have been unable to return even with another student visa. So she obeyed her marriage vows and obligations as a mom, rather than US immigration law. Then her own mother began her final decline, so she brought the grandchild for her to see. Now she is subject to a 10 year ban, regardless of her husband's naturalization.

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

Which is just fine with Dice, viz, "you have not made the case that [allowing legal permanent residents who marry to live as married couples] is categorically superior."

THAT is an example of QED, asshole.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 15, 2006 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

As usual, there is so much wrong with your post, "Americanist", that its hard to know where to start. So, I'll just go straight to the big lie and focus on that. After relating your anecdotes, you say this:

Which is just fine with Dice, viz, "you have not made the case that [allowing legal permanent residents who marry to live as married couples] is categorically superior."

But, of course, you've radically altered what I said to mean something completely different. What I said was:

What I did was challenge you to defend that characterization: permanent resident aliens spouses are eligible for a "better" immigration status with more stability and privileges, but it takes them much longer to be admitted. "temporary" aliens are able to bring their spouses in sooner, but in a less secure status. These are clearly different, but you have not made the case that one is categorically superior, though you've squeezed in a few hints about why you might think its so between your voluminous irrelevant insults.

That is, I challenged you to defend with argument your claim that nonimmigrants were categorically better treated than immigrants. You lie twice in your recapitulation, first, with your editorial insertion which changes the meaning of what I was challenge you to defend, and second with your characterization of that challenge as an endorsement of anything as being "okay". It was simply what it said on its face, a challenge to support your assertion.

THAT is an example of QED, asshole.

No, its an example of a couple of anecdotes followed by an outright lie, not a logical demonstration of the truth of a proposition.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 15, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Wow -- did they really teach you to be that obtuse in law school, or was it natural talent?

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 15, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

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