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Tilting at Windmills

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February 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

IMMIGRATION: NOT THE SOURCE OF ALL OUR PROBLEMS AFTER ALL....Some new data on the immigration front:

A study released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California found that immigrants who arrived in the state between 1990 and 2004 increased wages for native workers by an average 4%.

UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri, who conducted the study, said the benefits were shared by all native-born workers, from high school dropouts to college graduates....

Another study released Monday by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center showed that immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had an incarceration rate five times lower than native-born citizens in every ethnic group examined. Among men of Mexican descent, for instance, 0.7% of those foreign-born were incarcerated compared to 5.9% of native-born, according to the study, co-written by UC Irvine sociologist Ruben G. Rumbaut.

So are these studies legit? I can't say for sure, but the objections offered up by the immigration hawks at the Center for Immigration Studies were so transparently lame that it suggests they don't actually have any credible criticisms of the methodology. They just don't like the results. But perhaps they'll be able to come up with something better after they've cogitated on the matter for while.

Kevin Drum 1:39 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (79)

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Fristlosi!!

Posted by: This Machine Kills Fascists on February 28, 2007 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

The incarceration rate is easily measurable, checkable and makes sense. After all, seems like we try to damage our youth while they are still in their formative years, doomed long before they get to 18.

May be someone can enlighten me as to how you prove people are better off now because of increased labor supply in the past. Seems counter-intuitive to me though I'll always admit to being dense at times. I can see that with 30% foreign born workers there might be an increase in demand for jobs ancillary to this labor force increase. But how you separate what "is" from what might have "been" seems totally speculative. And 4% better off over 14 years (less than .3% p.a.) probably falls within any margin of error.

Ideas?

Posted by: notthere on February 28, 2007 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

“If the Caucasian hordes had never come to this continent maybe we wouldn’t have all these problems we have today.”- Didn’t Trent Lot or Abe Lincoln or somebody say this?

Posted by: DP on February 28, 2007 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

Teresa Watanabe, Times Staff Writer, wrote: "Another study released Monday by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center showed that immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had an incarceration rate five times lower than native-born citizens in every ethnic group examined."

This is incorrect. What the Immigration Policy Center's press release actually says is: "Among men age 18-39 (who comprise the vast majority of the prison population), the 3.5 percent incarceration rate of the native-born in 2000 was 5 times higher than the 0.7 percent incarceration rate of the foreign-born."

The problem is that if the rate of incarceration among the native born is 5 times the rate of the foreign born, that does not mean that the rate of incarceration among the foreign born is 5 times lower than the rate among the native born. "Five times lower" makes no sense, because "one time lower" brings the rate all the way to zero, and the rate of incarceration can't be negative. Watanabe should have either not attempted to invert the statistic, or else inverted it correctly, as follows: "Another study released Monday by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center showed that immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had an incarceration rate one-fifth as high as native-born citizens in every ethnic group examined."

It's disturbing but not surprising to see such careless writing and careless editing in a major U.S. newspaper. Do they even understand why it is mathematically impossible for one group's incarceration rate to be five times lower than another group's?

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on February 28, 2007 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Among men of Mexican descent, for instance, 0.7% of those foreign-born were incarcerated compared to 5.9% of native-born..."

In other words, the sons of all these current Mexican immigrants are going to grow up to be eight times as criminal as their fathers. Boy, that's reassuring! Let's let in more illegal immigrants now so we can make the crime problem even worse for our children!

Kevin, if you read the local papers, you'll notice were in the middle of a new Hispanic gang war in SoCal, fought largely by the sons and grandson of immigrants.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on February 28, 2007 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

The problem is that these honkies can't hold onto their women!

Posted by: Kenji on February 28, 2007 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

Here's how it works. The typical illegal immigrant arrives around age 25, is too old to join a youth gang, is intimidated by the cops and by the new society, and so he keeps his head down, works hard, and only gets arrested when he's drunk. In contrast, his American-born sons grow up on the streets, are territorially possessive of their turf, are far more confident, join gangs when they are adolescents, and thus commit far more crimes, as this study shows. So, Hispanic immigration just causes more crime in the future. As this graph demonstrates, American-born Latinos are imprisoned at almost quadruple the rate of American-born whites.

If you want vivid evidence of the long term effect of immigration on crime, here's the LAPD's Most Wanted list, with pictures:

http://www.lapdonline.org/all_most_wanted


Posted by: Steve Sailer on February 28, 2007 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

If you read the study, it clearly states that recent immigration (of which a high percentage is obviously illegal) has depressed the wages of prior immigrants (before 1990) by a whopping 17-20%. So this study reinforces the argument that people competing at the lower levels of the labor market (who by now happen to be overwhelmingly non-"native born") are hurt a lot by illegal immigration. This study documents a shift in the composition of different levels of the labor force, but that's about all it does. Since more than a third of the labor force in California isn't native born, I'm trying to figure out what we're supposed to draw from this if we aren't flaming nativists who don't give a damn about wages or working conditions among the "foreign-born" other than that unbridled immigration depresses a large sector of the work force's wages to an alarming degree.

(From the Kansas City Star report on this: "Ironically, the biggest losers as a group due to immigration into California after 1990 are immigrants who arrived before 1990, Peri said. Without the newer influx of immigrants, he said, the earlier immigrants' wages would have been 17 to 20 percent higher in 2004.")

Posted by: brucds on February 28, 2007 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

This study shows that continued unskilled Hispanic immigration depresses the wages of earlier Hispanic immigrants. That's simple supply-and-demand logic.

That's why Cesar Chavez was so militantly opposed to illegal immigration from Mexico. He succeeded in driving up farmworkers wages after 1954's deportation of a million illegal immigrants and the ending of the bracero guestworker program in 1964. But when Mexico's economy collapsed in 1982 and the flood of illegal immigrants started again, all the gains he'd fought for in wages were wiped out, and now the UFW is a pathetic shell of what it once was.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on February 28, 2007 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

brucds --

Yeah, I spotted that, too, on a quick scan. Read it tomorrow if I have time, but that makes sense.

But my initial reaction is that at least some proportion of the immigrants are upwardly mobile so you would think that the same wage-depressing effect would spread upwards at a reducing percentage as you move up percentiles unless, at some level, you are importing more highly skilled immigration. Then you would expect a similar if more localized effect. After all, there must be a reason we want doctors and nurses to come here (from countries who can't afford to lose them) and it's not because we want to pay them more.

Posted by: notthere on February 28, 2007 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, your timeline on the UFW's a little screwy. The farmworkers hit a wall long before 1982. I know you guys at Vdare are a bit challenged when it comes to the history and politics of the labor movement, but there was a lot more to the story than immigration. Don't oversimplify...especially when it's an evasion of the negativity of right-wing politics vis-a-vis laborers at the bottom of the barrel. You're johnny-come-lately and more than a bit opportunistic when it comes to defending the working poor.

Posted by: brucds on February 28, 2007 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

I should add, as balance to that snarky comment, that the UFW's eventual weakness had a lot to do with some pretty crazy internal problems that had immobilized the leadership by the early '80s.

Posted by: brucds on February 28, 2007 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, Chavez went a little nuts after all the adulation he received. But, nobody else has come along in the last quarter century to match his accomplishments of 1965-1978. One big reason nobody is the New Cesar Chavez is because the supply and demand balance for farmworkers is so much more unfavorable now due to massive illegal immigration.

To learn more about Chavez's opposition to illegal immigration, see:

http://www.amconmag.com/2006/2006_02_27/article.html

Posted by: S on February 28, 2007 at 4:06 AM | PERMALINK

OTOH, Steve, if you'd kept all those criminally inclined Italians and Irish out years ago, you'd have lost some of the greatest American movies.

Posted by: MikeN on February 28, 2007 at 5:45 AM | PERMALINK

Except for American Indians, we are all illegal immigrants.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 28, 2007 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

showed that immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had an incarceration rate five times lower than native-born citizens in every ethnic group examined.

Hey, and this is true in our home countries too - we're incarcerated at far, far lower rates... so Steve, what is it about the States that apparently turns families of non-criminals into families of criminals?

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 28, 2007 at 6:55 AM | PERMALINK

Ah Jeez, Kevin, you're spoiling all us biggots and race-baiters' fun by introducing facts. Leroy, hit that man, whudja

Posted by: Stewart Dean on February 28, 2007 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Illegal immigration is a means by which corporations savage America’s working class. Although the media conglomerates have misrepresented the undocumented worker influx as primarily being a racial issue, it is actually an economic bludgeon. Business interests encourage illegal immigration for the purposes of depressing wages and subverting workplace safety laws. The Wall Street brokerage firm Bear Stearns uses the word “systematic” when describing the replacement of lower income American wage earners with illegal aliens, noting management prefers to employ help that is not documented because laborers who lack legal standing are more easily exploited."
- David Podvin http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?
sid=25804&mode=nested

Posted by: MsNThrope on February 28, 2007 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't wages. The problem is terrorism and sustaining our American way of life. Terrorists will use immigration to infiltrate America. And too many non-English speakers will dilute the values of our republic.

Posted by: Al on February 28, 2007 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Do they even understand why it is mathematically impossible for one group's incarceration rate to be five times lower than another group's?

Joel: You're being a tad pedantic here. The average person is quite reasonably and correctly going to interpret "five times lower" as meaning "one fifth". I cringe quite frequently at some of the economic illiteracy and bad statistics I read in the press, but the example you've cited is just poor language.

Posted by: Jasper on February 28, 2007 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

How does deportation affect the incarceration rates for immigrants? If they tend to get shipped back home, wouldn't that lower the percentage who wind up sitting in jail?

Posted by: googly on February 28, 2007 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

In contrast, his American-born sons grow up on the streets, are territorially possessive of their turf, are far more confident, join gangs when they are adolescents, and thus commit far more crimes, as this study shows...

Indeed. As you'd expect, this effect doesn't stop at the second generation. The children of those children will be even more confident, even more territorial, and even more streetwise. And the next generation after that!

As evidence, I give you the Bush family.

Posted by: Alex on February 28, 2007 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

As immigrants filled lower-skilled jobs, they pushed natives up the economic ladder

This recently happened to me. If we get enough immigrants I expect I'll become a rocket scientist like tbrosz or a brain surgeon and buy a second home.

I think a better metaphor is that the immigrants are like dolphins pushing us out of the dangerous surf zone and toward the tiki bar.

Posted by: B on February 28, 2007 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

...So are these studies legit? I can't say for sure - Kevin Drum

...But in the mean time Kevin will keep pimping immigration as an unmitigated good in spite of historical evidence that shows the US did fine during the years where immigration was most limited...1940-1965

Posted by: S Brennan on February 28, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

And too many non-English speakers will dilute the values of our republic.

Minimê. Cum loquatur de re publicâ nostrâ non Latinê, sed Anglicê, tum virtutes earundem rerum publicarum deteriores fiunt.

Posted by: Cato the Elder on February 28, 2007 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin will keep pimping immigration as an unmitigated good in spite of historical evidence that shows the US did fine during the years where immigration was most limited...1940-1965

Non cognoscit planê verba 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc'....

Posted by: Cato the Elder on February 28, 2007 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Immigrants now are coming to a different society than immigrants came to a century ago. The elevator to the middle class has been shut down, and the various New Deal mechanisms favoring labor are being dismantled.

Some nativists make occasional gestures to labor, but few of them seem to understand the part that changes in the status of labor play and this, and some are not merely ignorant but actively hostile to labor. (By "labor" I mean both unions and the workers represented by unions).

Immigration, illegal immigration, and free trade are all part of a complex of changes which work against labor and and against people on the bottom half or two-thirds of the income scale. People who make immigration the key miss the point though.

Posted by: John Emerson on February 28, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Seems like the right wing anti-immigrant group spokesman was better than Kevin thinks. Here is what the guy said in the linked article about the wage study:

"Steven Camarota of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies said the wage study, by examining immigrants only in California, failed to consider their effect on the rest of the country. Immigrants working for lower wages in a California factory, for instance, could keep wages down in a competing enterprise staffed by native-born citizens in another state, he said."

(clip)

"And, by examining only wage effects, the study failed to address the declining percentage of native-born adults working in California, Camarota said. Their share of the workforce declined from 65% in 2000 to 62% in 2005, one of the lowest in the country, which could be caused by competition from immigrants, he said."

That's a pretty strong attack on methodology because he's saying what the study failed to consider, i.e. where are the other native born workers located--and did they fall out of the labor market because they lacked the skills to take the higher paying jobs that required more skills? Or did they leave the State because they couldn't qualify for those higher skilled jobs? Looking at population movement trends in or out of California is necessary, not simply looking at population growth or decline in California.

The study flies in the face of too many other studies showing how illegals depress wages for those with whom they directly compete, and undermine the stability of wages for those in a reasonable range above those wages.

I wish the writer of the article found someone at the EPI or someplace other than the right wing anti-immigrant group to speak to the study.

Posted by: Mitchell Freedman on February 28, 2007 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's not about economics. It's about the culture. They drive weird, they don't eat ketchup, and they have a different word for everything.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on February 28, 2007 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

One more time: the definitive study of the economic impact of immigration was done by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences ten years ago, in 1997.

They found that counting ALL foreign-born, the net gain from immigration is "as much as" $10 billion a year -- in a $10 TRILLION economy. That's the TOP of the range.

It's negligible.

Looked at more closely, they found that all the net gains from immigration are macro and national in scope, and all the costs are micro and local. F'r instance, every taxpaying household in California is charged more than a grand a year cuz of foreign-born, mostly in education; in NJ, it's about $230.

Hell, even MILTON FRIEDMAN described the definitive "immigration" issue of the last 15 years, the H-1B "non-immigrant" visa, as a subsidy for employers.

So basically, anybody attempting to make an economic argument for, or against immigration is bullshitting you, or is ignorant.

Good lord, folks, will you GET it for once? It's not THAT hard to find out what you're talking about before you express opinions. (This means YOU, Kevin. I got more and better pro-immigration credentials than virtually anybody in the debate, too.)

The 1986 amnesty legalized 3.1 million mostly Mexican men. Folks argued at the time that they would simply make money in America, then go home (sound familiar?), that they wouldn't bring their families here.

That was wrong.

In 1986, the minimum wait for the wife of a guy who got his green card, then got married was about a year.

In 1995, it was THREE years.

In 1997, it was FOUR AND A HALF YEARS.

Last fall, it was SEVEN YEARS.

()

Our current system favors "temporary" workers and their families, and illegal foreign residents, and their families, over LEGAL immigrants -- who are, let's not forget, the only folks who are on the real "path to citizenship".

So just how much bullshit economics will you wade through before you figure out immigration is about families and citizenship, Kevin?

Posted by: theAmericanist on February 28, 2007 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

First, I think those incarceration rates for American born individuals are terrifying.

Second, I love this logic:
"Here's how it works. The typical illegal immigrant arrives around age 25, is too old to join a youth gang, is intimidated by the cops and by the new society, and so he keeps his head down, works hard, and only gets arrested when he's drunk. In contrast, his American-born sons grow up on the streets, are territorially possessive of their turf, are far more confident, join gangs when they are adolescents, and thus commit far more crimes, as this study shows. So, Hispanic immigration just causes more crime in the future. As this graph demonstrates, American-born Latinos are imprisoned at almost quadruple the rate of American-born whites."

And, a similar dynamic is visible with white and black Americans, who are all simply first and second generation Americans who recently joined gangs despite their immigrant parents urging them to keep their head down.

Posted by: MDtoMN on February 28, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Ah,. the link didn't post. Try 'unitefamilies.org'.

Posted by: theAmericanist on February 28, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

re: Incarceration
The NYT Magazine recently highlighted a study showing the low crime rates for immigrant groups, rising in the second and third generations. One reason is said to be immigrants from relatively peaceful societies becoming acclimatized to the more violent American society.

They might also show a correlation in communities distant from the southern borders. One problem is that these Hispanic immigrants nearly all begin or pass through the most violent section of the country.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on February 28, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Just to reiterate: the difference in crime rate between Mexicans in Mexico, American immigrants from Mexico, and their American-born kids shows that the problem isn't the people who come here, but what they find once they get here. This doesn't mean that it's wrong to say that there's a big problem, or that immigration hsould be restricted, but it does mean that it's is wrong to say that the problem is "The Mexicans". And most nativists do the wrong thing.

Posted by: John Emerson on February 28, 2007 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Why didn't this study differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants? Aside from the obvious slander towards legal immigrants (why should my wife, the green card holder, be viewed as synonymous with someone who was smuggled in by a human trafficker?), illegal immigrants, by their very nature, will be more prone to wage depression, if not flat-out illegal employer practices (refusal to pay overtime, cash payments instead of payroll deductions, etc).
I would think that this would matter to a study that purports to show that immigration only has either a negligible or a positive effect on US workers.

Posted by: jonathan on February 28, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

We obviously need to acquire more illegal aliens from asia.

Posted by: toast on February 28, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

The study looks bogus. Consider the comparison of incarceration rates. Remember that relatively few crimes are solved. That is, a criminal is apt to go for a long time before being convicted for one of his crimes.

Compare two criminals. The American-born criminal has had his whole life during which time he could have been caught and convicted. The immigrant criminal may have only come to this country recently, so he has a much greater chance of not yet being convicted for any of his crimes.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 28, 2007 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

While interesting, I'm failing to see how this is an argument for allowing people to bum rush our borders.

Posted by: SPROCKET on February 28, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Why didn't this study differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants?"

First, cuz it's hard to do.

Second, cuz the distinction doesn't matter to folks like Kevin.

Third, because the foundations that fund research like this are not interested in US citizenship, because it depends on the rule of law.

Posted by: theAmericanist on February 28, 2007 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK
The problem is that if the rate of incarceration among the native born is 5 times the rate of the foreign born, that does not mean that the rate of incarceration among the foreign born is 5 times lower than the rate among the native born. "Five times lower" makes no sense, because "one time lower" brings the rate all the way to zero, and the rate of incarceration can't be negative.

No, "5 times lower than X" means "less than X by a factor of 5", or "1/5 of X", just as "5 times higher than X" means "greater than X by a factor of 5" or just "5 times X".

Watanabe's construction, "5 times lower than X" does not, as you suggest, mean "X minus 5X" any more than the Immigration Policy Center's own original "5 times higher than X" construction means "X plus 5X".

This is a fairly well-established, well-understood, English construction.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Just for those who don't know, Steve Sailor is a professional anti-immigration racist. He distorts labor history and lies about Cesar Chevez in order to manufacture a pro-labor argument against immigration because he knows that his preferred wingnut racist arguments will make him sound like the nut he is.

Posted by: Disputo on February 28, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Jonathan voices my biggest concern about so many studies like this -- it doesn't differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants. And, please, blanket immigration defenders ... it could be done. Might take extra work, and you might have to throw out a certain amount of arrest data whne you couldn't make a determination, but it could be done.

I simply refuse to accept the findings of any study like this that doesn't make the distinction.

On the other side, you have not just folks like Kevin, but The Nation, which got its hat handed to it by readers like me last year over its immigration issue.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 28, 2007 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I just love it when the local semantic uberpedants lock horns -- though it is quite surprising to see CMD defending a "well-established, well-understood, English construction" over some more narrow or esoteric meaning.

(Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!)

Posted by: Disputo on February 28, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I'm failing to see how this is an argument for allowing people to bum rush our borders.

Man, it's all about "the gays" with you people, ain't it?

Posted by: Disputo on February 28, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK
"Why didn't this study differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants?"

First, cuz it's hard to do.

Well, actually, its a lot easier to get a legal-immigrant-specific incarceration rate, since the number of legally admitted immigrants is less contestably documented, and incarceration usually involves identification to a level which would provide a pretty good idea of immigration status.

Second, cuz the distinction doesn't matter to folks like Kevin.

Evidence? Certainly Kevin has made the distinction in the past, where discussing material to which it was relevant (both in discussing studies, as here; in correctly referring to what political opponents targetted with their rhetoric, as here; etc.)

Third, because the foundations that fund research like this are not interested in US citizenship, because it depends on the rule of law.

Please define the parameters of "research like this" and provide some reason to believe that (1) all institutions that fund research in that category are not interested in US citizenship, and (2) that the reason for that disinterest is their opposition to the concept of the rule of law.

It seems to me that your entire response is making slurs that are, at best, unsupported by the facts and, in some cases, directly at odds with the available evidence.

But, please, show me I'm wrong about that.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK
I just love it when the local semantic uberpedants lock horns -- though it is quite surprising to see CMD defending a "well-established, well-understood, English construction" over some more narrow or esoteric meaning.

While I won't deny that I can wax pedantic, I've always favored precision for the purpose of clarity; while sometimes that may favor an "esoteric" construction over one that is clear in common usage, that would tend to be in contexts where there was a danger of equivocation between the precise usage of a technical domain and a conflicting common usage confusing meaning.

(And, oh, look, I've got a namestealer. Fun.)


Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it depends on how you interpet the figures. 4% over 14 yeras - does that account for inflation? Or even if the figures were transposed, how many illegals are incarcerated strictly for immigration violations? Also, what does "those born here" mean? Many not born here are legal immigrants. Apples & oranges, or apples or oranges?

It makes no sense to me that a larger labor pool would create more jobs or better pay for other workers. It completely opposes all theories we learn in Econ 101. In every way, the summary of these studies just do not add up.

Hawk, where are you? You & I just might agree on something for a change. Then again, maybe not. Al blew it, big time, about the terrorist threat of the non existent Mexican terrorist.

Posted by: bob in fl on February 28, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK
Why didn't this study differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants?

Which study? Kevin's post refers to two different studies. The reason each takes the universe of analysis it does may not be the same.

Aside from the obvious slander towards legal immigrants (why should my wife, the green card holder, be viewed as synonymous with someone who was smuggled in by a human trafficker?)

Maybe you need to learn to interpret studies. A study that studies the incarceration rates of immigrants without distinguishing between legal and illegal immigrants does not, by doing so, claim that your wife is "synonymous" with anyone else. It simply doesn't address differences on certain axes. All studies address a limited set of potentially-relevant axes of variation, and a complete picture of almost any substantial social issue requires looking at more than just one study.

illegal immigrants, by their very nature, will be more prone to wage depression, if not flat-out illegal employer practices (refusal to pay overtime, cash payments instead of payroll deductions, etc).

That's a reasonable assumption, and is in fact borne out by other studies that Kevin has cited in the past; OTOH, the net effect of the actual immigration that occurs, legal and illegal, under the present policy may also be something that is of concern to people who are interested in evaluating and potentially reforming that policy.

For instance, if immigration is a net negative across the border, and illegal immigration an even stronger negative, then policies which make legal immigration harder and take a more punitive approach to illegal immigration make sense.

If immigration is a net positive but illegality itself seems to be the source of negative consequences, policies which streamline and open up legal immigration and seek to normalize the status of those already here may make more sense.

I would think that this would matter to a study that purports to show that immigration only has either a negligible or a positive effect on US workers.

No, really it wouldn't, if the question the study seeks to answer is about the overall effect of the actual immigration that occurs. Its certainly a related question that some people would naturally be interested in, but the existence of this study does not preclude people from conducting others to address different-but-related questions.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK
It makes no sense to me that a larger labor pool would create more jobs or better pay for other workers.

That's because you are considering only the supply-side effects of additional people ("labor pool") and not the demand-side effects.

More people means more consumers, which means more local demand for a wide variety of goods and services.


Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

notthere writes:

May be someone can enlighten me as to how you prove people are better off now because of increased labor supply in the past. Seems counter-intuitive to me though I'll always admit to being dense at times

An idea: illegal immigrants tend to work in the service industry, freeing native born citizens to work in knowledge based industries(from 1990 to 2004 saw the rise of the Internet) , thereby making the economy stronger. Also, more people into the pool results in an increase in money velocity, which also makes the economy stronger. A stronger economy causes wages to rise, benefiting native-born citizens.

Posted by: Andy on February 28, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

There's a near infinite array of possible handles; get your own.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Regardless of the practical arguments (and the posted claims aren't the whole story, illegal immigrants cause a lot of crime etc.): It is not legal to just walk into this country past official channels, we should not tolerate that, and there is no honest way for an illegal to sign up for W-2s. They have to either steal a legit SSN or make some crap up.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/business/yourmoney/05view.html?ex=1299214800&en=4647f88109b737eb&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss for more.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 28, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

PS - Note that the study referred to "immigrants" and presumably meant legal ones. No justification for the illegal kind whatsoever even if true.

Posted by: Neil B. on February 28, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK
Regardless of the practical arguments (and the posted claims aren't the whole story, illegal immigrants cause a lot of crime etc.): It is not legal to just walk into this country past official channels, we should not tolerate that

Um, who, particularly on this thread, is arguing that we should?

Or is this just a strawman you are fond of batting at?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

For every Mexican who comes across the border, we should kick out a white person.
The US would be a hell of a lot better off.
I live in a place (Settle-Tackyhoma) which is inundated with Mexicans and South American immigrants, first and subsequent generations.
If we can get enough of them here, maybe they can save us from ourselves.

Posted by: Mooser on February 28, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Would the "smarterthanyou@arrogant.com" cmdicely quit the crap and get their own handle? Granted that we can figure out which cmdicely is which based on who's the more pedantic, but c'mon: it's rude.

(Back, now, to lurking.)

Posted by: von on February 28, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

von,

I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Al on February 28, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

The pie is higher, as shrub would say.

Meaning: Instead of eight layers of income in the pyramid we now have nine, a new slave class was added.

Posted by: Matt on February 28, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: MAKE THE USERS REGISTER. It's way too easy to steal an ID on these threads, and one jackass or another has done it for years. Jesus F. Christ, it ain't that difficult.

At least make them crack the account first.

Posted by: mwg on February 28, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

The study wasn't based on faith, Kevin.

That is objection enough.

Posted by: William "Betting Bill" Bennett on February 28, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

I've just received an email from the author of the study, and Kevin Drum might want to review it and understand everything involved in this issue and then try again.

Posted by: TLB on February 28, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I've just received an email from God and TLB might want to review it and understand everything involved in this issue and then try again.

Posted by: Gabriel on February 28, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

McAnustotle: But start with white liberals so they can show they "walk the talk"

I'm still waiting for conservatives to "walk the talk" by enlisting and helping man the effort in Iraq.

So far not a single taker.

Soooooo surprising.

Posted by: Google_This on February 28, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

McAnustotle: As per your logic, the table says they don't go to jail.

No, the table says they don't go to jail because a study produced the numbers documented in the table and the author of the study put them in the table.

The logic you refer to has nothing to do with those statistics appearing in the table.

Posted by: Google_This on February 28, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

McAnustotle: Hey, shouldn't the question implied in the statistics be "Why not only take white and asian migrants?" As per your logic, the table says they don't go to jail.

We should take Klingons. They don't appear at all on the table and so, by your logic, they don't commit any crimes at all and would be the best immigrants ever!

And btw, the table doesn't say that whites and asians don't go to jail, it says they go to jail in lower percentages as compared to blacks and latinos.

McAnus: can't read, can't write; can't think, brain lite.

Posted by: Google_This on February 28, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: All studies address a limited set of potentially-relevant axes of variation

Yup, and from the LA Times article:

They were released just days before the U.S. Congress is to restart debate on major immigration reform legislation and as numerous states, including Texas, consider harsh measures against illegal migrants. [emphasis added]

And the first sentence of the introduction section of the study itself:

The supposedly dire labor market effect of immigration is one reason why some politicians called for tougher measures against illegal immigrants during the last Congress (2004–2006). [emphasis added]

This is like posing the question of whether eating too many bacon cheeseburgers is bad for you, and answering it with a study that says that eating is good for you. Oops, must have left out one of them axes.

Posted by: alex on February 28, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

This "study" is a crock as anyone who lives (and isn't one of those open borders leftists) in the border states can attest to.

These "poor, honest immigrants" do their crimes and the FIRST thing they do is run for the border. They know the Mexican government will not arrest them and deport them if the U.S. provides a warrant.

If the "poor, honest child rapist/murder....errrr....immigrant" decides to cross the border again and gets arrested for commiting crimes he/she knows that the Mexican consulate will be right there with the legal help and PR people to save them.

Posted by: Ennis on February 28, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Mitchell Freedman: The study flies in the face of too many other studies showing how illegals depress wages for those with whom they directly compete, and undermine the stability of wages for those in a reasonable range above those wages.

No, the economic study conveniently doesn't distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. Though of course both the study and the LA Times article refer to it as though it had some relevance to the debate about illegal immigration.

Further insight into discrepancies between economic studies comes from the more-truth-is-said-in-jest department (aka the Economist Jokes website):

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

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

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

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

Posted by: alex on February 28, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Andy's post was so delusional that I had to quote it in entirety.

"An idea: illegal immigrants tend to work in the service industry, freeing native born citizens to work in knowledge based industries(from 1990 to 2004 saw the rise of the Internet) , thereby making the economy stronger. Also, more people into the pool results in an increase in money velocity, which also makes the economy stronger. A stronger economy causes wages to rise, benefiting native-born citizens."

What 90's thinking ! All those workers displaced by illegal immigration or outsourcing or offshoring are now 'freed up' to become network gurus ! Why, all they need to do is go to their local community college and take C# and they are on their way to high paying jobs !

Andy, the Y2K/Dot.Com boom in IT is long over. Illegals are pushing blue collar Americans into the working poor which is why relations between Blacks and Hispanics in California have become violently hostile. Zero sum socioeconomic rivalry like that between the Irish and Blacks back in the 19th century. Illegals and working poor Americans, particularly Blacks, are competitors for the same jobs except that the illegal can work cheaper since he works off the books.

What is the methodology of this study ? Averaging the $10,000 the American construction worker lost from his $50,000 paycheck with the $15,000 a doctor or lawyer can now earn because he has a cheap nanny ?

And adding people, Andy and Cmdicely, does not increase the economy. The law of supply and demand has not been repealed. Glutting a labor market reduces wages so the same pie is sliced smaller. Demand is only what you can afford, not what you want.


Posted by: Charles Warren on February 28, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Both study releases represent efforts by the mass immigration advocates to further their cause and facilitate amnesty legislation. The PPIC, now headed by Mark Baldasarre who is a mass immigration advocate himself, knew exactly what they would get from Peri as he had already produced a similar study for the US as a whole last year that came to the same conclusion. "Rethinking The Gains From Immigration: Theory And Evidence From The U.S." can be found at http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gperi/reports/infocus_10306.pdf

And the immigrant criminality study wasn't new. It was just re-released by this subsidiary of the advocacy group, the American Immigration Law Foundation. "Debunking the Myth of Immigrant Criminality" is available on the Migration Policy Institute website and is dated June 1, 2006. http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?id=403

Posted by: Jeff Sanders on February 28, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

And adding people, Andy and Cmdicely, does not increase the economy.

Just try building a pyramid with half a dozen guys.

Posted by: obscure on February 28, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

One more time: the definitive study of the economic impact of immigration was done by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences ten years ago, in 1997.

They found that counting ALL foreign-born, the net gain from immigration is "as much as" $10 billion a year -- in a $10 TRILLION economy. That's the TOP of the range.

It's negligible.

Looked at more closely, they found that all the net gains from immigration are macro and national in scope, and all the costs are micro and local. F'r instance, every taxpaying household in California is charged more than a grand a year cuz of foreign-born, mostly in education; in NJ, it's about $230.

Hell, even MILTON FRIEDMAN described the definitive "immigration" issue of the last 15 years, the H-1B "non-immigrant" visa, as a subsidy for employers.

So basically, anybody attempting to make an economic argument for or against immigration is bullshitting you, or is ignorant.

Good lord, folks, will you GET it for once? It's not THAT hard to find out what you're talking about before you express opinions. (This means YOU, Kevin. I got more and better pro-immigration credentials than virtually anybody in the debate, too.)

The 1986 amnesty legalized 3.1 million mostly Mexican men. Folks argued at the time that they would simply make money in America, then go home (sound familiar?), that they wouldn't bring their families here.

That was wrong.

In 1986, the minimum wait for the wife of a guy who got his green card, then got married was about a year.

In 1995, it was THREE years.

In 1997, it was FOUR AND A HALF YEARS.

Last fall, it was SEVEN YEARS.

(unitefamilies.org)

Our current system favors "temporary" workers and their families, and illegal foreign residents, and their families, over LEGAL immigrants -- who are, let's not forget, the only folks who are on the real "path to citizenship".

So just how much bullshit economics will you wade through before you figure out immigration is about families and citizenship, Kevin?

Posted by: theAmericanist on February 28, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK
Hey, shouldn't the question implied in the statistics be "Why not only take white and asian migrants?"

Well, no, if we accept your premise that the table should be a basis for his allowed to stay and who is booted out, it should be “Why don't we kick out everyone born in the country and only allow immigrants, since immigrants go to jail less than the ungrateful native born, who have no respect for our society?”.

Of course, your premise is moronic in the first place.


Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK
I got more and better pro-immigration credentials than virtually anybody in the debate, too.

So you keep saying. Who the fuck cares? Unsupported appeals to personal authority get rather tiresome, especially as an alternative to marshalling coherent arguments.

The 1986 amnesty legalized 3.1 million mostly Mexican men. Folks argued at the time that they would simply make money in America, then go home (sound familiar?), that they wouldn't bring their families here.

That was wrong.

I remember the 1986 amnesty. I don't remember lots of people arguing that people given permanent residency would either not permanently reside or would not try just as hard to bring their families as any other immigrants with regular status. And I certainly don't think many people took such arguments seriously.

In 1986, the minimum wait for the wife of a guy who got his green card, then got married was about a year.

In 1995, it was THREE years.

In 1997, it was FOUR AND A HALF YEARS.

Last fall, it was SEVEN YEARS.

(unitefamilies.org)

While I agree that such delays are undesirable, your vague handwave in the direction of that website doesn't seem to substantiate your numbers; perhaps you'd like to give a more specific citation?

The actually information I can find on unitedfamilies.org, here and here, and here, gives, variously, 4-5 years, 5-6 years, and about 5 years as the length of the wait.

Our current system favors "temporary" workers and their families, and illegal foreign residents, and their families, over LEGAL immigrants

Please provide substantiation for the claim that the current system favors such persons, particularly "illegal foreign residents", over legal immigrants.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2007 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Does anybody here live in an area that could use more people?

Is your neighborhood under-populated? Are there not enough cracker-box, particle-board subdivisions mushrooming up in your open space? Could your roads use more traffic? How about noise? Do you need more car alarms, more subwoofer base response from your neighbors' stereos, perhaps a few more basketball hoops in your neighbors' driveways? Are you not standing on line long enough at the supermarket checkout?

How long did it take you to get your current job? What kind of competition were you up against? If you lost your job, how long would it take you to get another?

In IT, Democrats are all too happy to work with Republicans on making it easier for people like Bill Gates to import workers to compete with you. Let's talk turkey - to replace you. Come to think of it, most Democrats in Congress are happy to work with Republicans on legislation like that for any industry. As long as that industry makes substantial contributions to their campaign war chests.

The immigrants coming to the U.S. come here for economic opportunity, opportunity that is fast disappearing for Americans who are already here. If the economic outlook evened out worldwide, like if the IMF's and World Bank's policies were more "citizen friendly," nobody would leave their homeland. If we remain on this current path, there will come a day when we (and our children, grandchildren) will have to leave the U.S. to find work if we and they want to do something other than service jobs.

American citizens are, again, not dealing with any of the real problems facing us. We're letting politicians and corporations control the subjects of debate. We're going into another election cycle talking about issues like a security policy that will make us more insecure. When are we going to stop reacting, talking on their terms, and start discussing alternatives that will deliver real change, real security and equity for us all?

Posted by: Maeven on March 1, 2007 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Since 2000 the foreign born have accounted for 46 percent of the net gain in the total labor force." BLS

Might the diminished opportunities implicit in the openly discriminatory immigrant 'network hiring' have something to do with the high incarceration levels of American blacks?

Ya think?

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

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

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

'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

'The failure here isn't in the work ethic of Americans. Rather, it lies with the CEOs, business owners, university and hospital administrators, and government officials—and ultimately, with all of us who benefit from cheap labor—to offer the wages and benefits necessary to attract sufficient numbers of legal workers. - Daniel Gross

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 1, 2007 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Dice, if you're gonna demonstrate your ignorance so aggressively, somebody is sooner or later gonna make inquiries into your competence at your local bar association.

It's particularly revealing for this knucklehead that he asks"Please provide substantiation for the claim that the current system favors such persons, particularly "illegal foreign residents", over legal immigrants," since Dice and I have talked about this before, and I've told him, in detail.

The gist, temporary workers first: A guy who gets an H-1B visa (which is a temporary, non-immigrant visa authorizing the holder to work), THEN gets married, can bring his wife here immediately on a kind of secondary visa to his own work authorization. The rationale for this is that he is NOT an 'intending immigrant', although most H-1B workers ARE (which is, after all, why one would bring a wife along.) So she is not regarded as an intending immigrant, either -- which means she and her husband can lawfully sleep in the same country.

Illegal aliens, being lawbreakers, aren't exactly summed up by the way the law is written regarding their behavior. Suffice to observe that if a man is here illegally, and getting away with it (like, say, 8 million or so do), and he has a wife back home in Oaxaca or Jalisco or San Salvador, he has every moral and financial incentive known to matrimony to sneak HER into the country, too.

But the sharpest way to realize just how true it is that the law treats "temporary" workers and illegals better than legal immigrants, is to contemplate the choices presented to somebody who, for illustration (this does happen, too) could be in any of the three categories.

A guy who is here on a temporary visa, who wants to become an American, naturally chooses legal permanent residency ASAP. Say then he gets married to his high school sweetheart -- who, let's say, is here on a temporary student visa.

Now, she is an "intending immigrant". If she leaves the country, she can't return. (A little oversimplified, but accurate) But if she stays on after she graduates or otherwise ceases to be a student, she is illegal -- and more often than not, that's the only way she and her husband can sleep in the same country.

FOR FIVE YEARS.

But a "temporary" worker can bring his wife immediately. An illegal resident can get his wife in -- and virtually all the time, get away with it. That is a powerful incentive for otherwise law-abiding families to break the law.

Because if the guy DOES try to obey the law, his wife will be exiled for years on end -- or outlawed, should she obey her marriage vows instead of the immigration law.

Does that answer your knucklehead question, Dice?

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 1, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Joel S. Hirschhorn: Will the lefties only be happy when everyone but the wealthy elites in America become working poor?

That would seem to be the conservative plan, since their policies favor concentration of wealth in a few elite, with the rest of America reduced to indentured servitude.

Conservatives are anti-mininum wage, anti-union, anti-worker safety, anti-income tax, anti-estate tax, anti-lawsuit, anti-consumer safety, anti-social security, anti-health care, etc, etc, etc, all of which transfer wealth from the middle class and poor to the wealthy, especially those in the wealthy class who didn't earn their money, by making the middle class and poor bear the risks of doing business that entreprenuers are supposed to bear and subjecting the same to the law of supply and demand as if these human beings were commodities, no different than pork bellies.

It is conservatives that believe in and support a "wealthy elite" class.

So, Joel S. Hirschhorn is not looking at liberals, he's looking at himself in the mirror.

Posted by: Google_This on March 1, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- classy guy, Dice.

Posted by: theAmericanist on March 1, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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