Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 18, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION....Mickey Kaus, trying on his new role as champion of the common man, is appalled that Ted Kennedy is giving in to the chicken plucking industry's refusal to pay its chicken pluckers "$10 or $15 an hour." In a remarkable and unprecedented surge of apparent sympathy for organized labor, he suggests caustically that Ted wouldn't give in so fast if the chicken pluckers organized and then went on strike demanding $10 an hour. Boo yah! In real life, of course, Mickey would denounce Democratic support for a strike like this with acid disdain ("the last feeble gasp of Kennedyesque paleoliberalism," perhaps), but as long as it's just a hypothetical example it's all good.

So why the sudden concern for the working poor? Illegal immigration, of course, and a desperate desire to somehow get the left to oppose sensible immigration reform as stridently and absurdly as the wingnut right. But how? Answer: flail around and try to convince gullible liberals that the plight of the working poor (i.e., chicken pluckers) is due to immigration from Mexico, not conservative public policies of the past 30 years. And how desperate is Mickey to make this point? So desperate he's willing to cite the hated Paul Krugman as a source that illegal immigration has depressed the wages of high school dropouts 8.2%. That's desperate.

Of course, pay no mind to the fact that the column he cites is a year old, and it turns out the study Krugman wrote about has since been updated. Illegal immigration hasn't reduced the wages of high school dropouts by 8.2%. It's reduced wages by 3.6% at most, and probably not even that much, according to the authors.

And pay no mind to the fact that even that tiny drop is probably due mostly to the fact that illegal immigrants are illegal, which reduces their bargaining power considerably. Make 'em legal and their wages would certainly rise by at least a couple of percentage points, no? But that's "amnesty," and our affection for the common man can go only just so far. Comprehensive immigration reform, by increasing the bargaining power of non-natives, would almost certainly help native workers too, but that's a very inconvenient fact. Best to pretend otherwise and hope that a few gullible liberals will buy it.

Kevin Drum 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (88)

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Comments

So I guess Kaus doesn't have an open invitation to Eating Liberally? Probably for the best -- he might bring his beard, Ann Coulter.

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on June 18, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Setting aside the debate about how creating more legitimate opportunities for immigrants to enter and work in this country will affect wages, note that 3.6% is still significant, especially to someone living/working on minimum wage.

That's about $500 bucks a year, in real terms two or three car payments on a good used car, two annual transit passes, a health care deductible (assuming there is even insurance at all), a year of basic phone service, or a few family trips to the grocery store.

Posted by: Bob R. on June 18, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kaus is a racist scumbag.

Posted by: jon on June 18, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

the only people that i know who seem to be interested in mickey kaus are bloggers like yourself

maybe, just maybe, if bloggers stoppled engaging in bloggo games with mickey, he would get lonely and change his tune, or go away

Posted by: jamzo on June 18, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

If the flow of uneducated immigrants were curtailed, the salaries of low-wage workers would rise, with or without a union, due to supply and demand. E.g., if too many potential farm workers had better jobs available, then the farmers would have to pay higher salaries to hire an adequate number of farm workers. That is, the farmers would have to compete for employees with other employers.

In short, I think the key to wage levels is supply and demand. Poorly educated immigrants compete for jobs with poorly educated Americans. That's true whether these immigrants are legal or not.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 18, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I wish you'd write about the Dreams Across America campaign. Liberals have been drinking the Lou Dobbs kool-aid for two years because they like what he has to say about outsourcing and CEO pay.

They've just about completely bought into the idea that illegal immigrants are harmful, ergo the solution is to round up and jail all the CEOs of the companies who hire them.

As if leaving people jobless and helpless in a foreign land is a progressive position.

Illegal immigration is harmful. The progressive position should be to fix the immigration system so that these people can come here legally--something with is practically impossible to do unless you're rich and college educated. And we have to compassionately deal with the 12 million undocumented who are here already.

Posted by: Michael Ditto on June 18, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bob R.: Read the linked post and the linked NYT article. That 3.6% number is a high end estimate. The actual number is probably lower, and quite possibly zero.

And in any case, as I say in the post, increasing bargaining power by making workers legal would almost certainly increase wages by at least a few points. Sensible immigration reform would help native workers and immigrants.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on June 18, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

the solution is to round up and jail all the CEOs of the companies who hire them.

I like that idea!

Posted by: Vicente Fox on June 18, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

For the life of me I don't understand why anyone, especially people like Kevin & Andrew Sullivan pay any attention at all to Kaus. He is clearly an unpleasant little man who thinks he is a lot smarter than he his. His ideas are generally trite and appeal to the lowest common denominator level of thinking. Just ignore the guy and let him slink back to whatever little internet hole he crawled out of.

Posted by: confused on June 18, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

If there is any doubt that a significant proportion of the opposition to immigration reform is rooted in racism, take a look at the e-mail address "Vicente" provided for one example.

Posted by: Michael Ditto on June 18, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Comprehensive immigration reform, by increasing the bargaining power of non-natives, would almost certainly help native workers too, but that's a very inconvenient fact.

It's not a fact, it's a conjecture.

One of the "facts" about the immigration reform bill is that not all of its consequences are "in fact" known. Such as, whether the border control provisions will be enforced, and how well the point system will work compared to H1 visas supported by companies.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on June 18, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

It defies common sense that an endless supply of cheap labor doesn't undermine unions and the wages of native-born unskilled workers. Look at locations (my state, Hawaii) where there are only limited illegal immigrant workers and compare them to those (your state, California) where there are.

Agricultural workers here are the best paid in the nation. Hawaii hotel maids, janitors, etc. are making $15 and hour wage, about three times the pay received by LA hotel workers.

If the feds would put all their efforts into enforcing employer sanctions, the problem would be quickly resolved. For those industries that truly need workers--and aren't simply trying to boost their margins by paying wages so little they can't get U.S. workers--there should be a guest worker program.

The Canadian guest worker program which makes employers responsible for all workers they bring in and requires them to provide housing and access to healthcare would be a good model to follow.

Posted by: DevilDog on June 18, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Poorly educated immigrants compete for jobs with poorly educated Americans. That's true whether these immigrants are legal or not."

Exactly.

And...

"It defies common sense that an endless supply of cheap labor doesn't undermine unions and the wages of native-born unskilled workers. Look at locations (my state, Hawaii) where there are only limited illegal immigrant workers and compare them to those (your state, California) where there are. "


Exactly again. I'm genuinely amazed that anyone would argue otherwise.

Posted by: Cal on June 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

"the only people that i know who seem to be interested in mickey kaus are bloggers like yourself

maybe, just maybe, if bloggers stoppled engaging in bloggo games with mickey, he would get lonely and change his tune, or go away "

I must admit that Kaus seems to be a lot less important to on-line political discussion than he did back in 2000 or so.

Posted by: howie on June 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Wage regulation and enforcement would solve the problem.

Posted by: Brojo on June 18, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK
Make 'em legal and their wages would certainly rise by a couple of percentage points, no? But that's "amnesty," and our affection for the common man can go only just so far.

Its amnesty if its retrospective, an evil as "open borders" if it is merely prospective. But, yeah, either way, the people chanting loudest about "illegal immigration" aren't willing to much about the "illegal" part that most of the demonstrable problems directly stem from.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 18, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

The "plight of the working poor" is due mainly to their own bad decision-making.

Posted by: Brian on June 18, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK
If the feds would put all their efforts into enforcing employer sanctions, the problem would be quickly resolved.

Sure, if all the efforts have the federal government were put into that instead of everything else the federal government does with its resources, that would probably do quite a bit to end employer violations.

OTOH, some might argue that the federal government does have other important tasks to devote its resources to, and that placing all federal efforts into immigration enforcement through employer sanctions is beyond insane.

For those industries that truly need workers--and aren't simply trying to boost their margins by paying wages so little they can't get U.S. workers--there should be a guest worker program.

Why? Guest workers are a dumb idea. Better to have unlimited fee-based immigration with those immigrants subject to supplemental taxation, and let those who wish to "sponsor" immigrants for their own purposes, economic or otherwise, pay the immigration fee for the would-be immigrants involved but have no further claim against them outside of a contract claim with strictly circumscribed remedies; guest worker programs produce workers that have an especial disincentive to overlook workplace violations of labor conditions regulations since their status is temporary and dependent on employment, and creates a potentially large pool of people with no attachment to the country and society.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 18, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK
The "plight of the working poor" is due mainly to their own bad decision-making.

Exactly. Had they been wise, they would have chosen their parents better. Fools.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 18, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I find it difficult to comprehend why anybody would (a) read, (b) care about, or (c) take the time to dissect the hypocrisy, real or perceived, of somebody like Mickey Kaus. He's writing in fucking SLATE, for fuck's sake. He WANTS to die. Why won't you LET HIM?!?

Posted by: norbizness on June 18, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly. Had they been wise, they would have chosen their parents better. Fools.

Good grief. No, they continue to make decisions that leave them poor.

Posted by: Brian on June 18, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

What most people seem to be missing is Republican culpability in playing both sides of this issue.

The administration effectively stopped enforcing laws against hiring illegal aliens by corporations (such as meat packers). Violations and citations that were being given out by the 10's of thousands during the Clinton administration dropped to literally handfuls under the Bush administration.

Now the GOP turns around and points to the huge surge of illegal aliens into the country, especially in the Midwest, and cries they are "shocked, shocked" to find so many illegals working in this country.

It's a common GOP tactic - make a problem worse, then run on a platform of 'getting tough' on that problem.

Another example is crime. Under Clinton we enjoyed 30 year lows in almost every category of violent crime, thanks in no small part to the 100,000 policeman initiative. The Bush administration ended that program. Also, all of the cuts in federal money to states (remember the financial crisis so many states were experiencing early in the Bush administration?) contributed to cuts in policing across the country. Now we're seeing crime statistics growing at rates not since in... anyone? anyone? 30 years. If it continues to get worse, you can guarantee that the GOP will be front and center, campaigning on getting tough on crime.

Democrats also risk being marginalized by Republicans on Iraq. While Democrats have effectively stopped pushing confrontational legislation to bring the troops home, more and more Republicans are stepping forward to suggest that we need to start considering withdrawal. If Democrats aren't careful, they're going to get played and the GOP could position itself as the party who is standing up to the Bush administration and leading the charge to bring our troops home. It may not be that likely, but it really does appear as though they are positioning themselves to do just that, if push comes to shove.

It's hard to know party deserves more contempt: the GOP for the criminality or the Democrats for their never-ending incompetence. I think the Democrats - because the Republicans wouldn't have been getting away with all of this for so long if the Democrats would simply show some spine and stand up to them. I don't know if the Democrats could have found two people in the entire party who look and sound less like leaders than Pelosi or Reid.

Posted by: Augustus on June 18, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I must admit that Kaus seems to be a lot less important to on-line political discussion than he did back in 2000 or so.

That's an interesting point.

My thinking is that an entire class of pundits has been rendered obsolete by the last six years, namely those whose shtick is based on the "Pox on both your houses" approach to political commentary.

Who listens to Friedman, or Kaus, or Broder? They and their "philosophies" have been refuted by history. Even the commonest of men are on to their stupid little gimmicks.

Posted by: frankly0 on June 18, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Just to follow up on my previous post, one way to think of what's happened with punditry is that Krugman has won, and Broder, Kaus, and Friedman have lost.

The "shrill" is the new rational.

Posted by: frankly0 on June 18, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

What is the distribution of income that flows from native employers? IOW, who is paying them how much to do what? Is the vast majority of money paid for their labor coming from individuals, small businesses, or corporations? The "solution" it seems to me would depend on where the sources of income are. Does anybody have any links to data on this?

I think the following statement from the NYT article is very misleading:
"Unlike California, Ohio remains mostly free of illegal immigrants. And what happened to the wages of Ohio's high school dropouts from 1980 to 2004? They fell 31 percent."

That was likely a result of massive layoffs in the automotive industry.

This statement thus far makes the most sense:
"It defies common sense that an endless supply of cheap labor doesn't undermine unions and the wages of native-born unskilled workers. Look at locations (my state, Hawaii) where there are only limited illegal immigrant workers and compare them to those (your state, California) where there are. "

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 18, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

"It defies common sense that an endless supply of cheap labor doesn't undermine unions and the wages of native-born unskilled workers."

Quantum mechanics also defies "common sense" and happens to be true. It doesn't seem beyond the realm of logic to imagine that:
a) the supply of cheap labor is not infinute,
b) immigrants tend to join labor unions when given the opportunity, and
c) the economic impact of illegal immigration on unions and wages is far, far dwarfed by the impact of the corporate Republican political machine.

P.S. Mickey Kaus is not a liberal. He is a conservative, but more importantly, he is a nativist.

Posted by: Aaron on June 18, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK
In short, I think the key to wage levels is supply and demand. Poorly educated immigrants compete for jobs with poorly educated Americans. That's true whether these immigrants are legal or not.

In the modern world economy under regimes like the WTO, capital and goods are highly mobile, labor generally less so. Poorly educated foreigners compete for jobs with poorly educated Americans—that's largely true whether the poorly educated foreigners are in some other country, in America legally, or in America illegally.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 18, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

LMAO, using economics to prove something is like using density-theories to explain how submarines work. It's pointless, because not enough is known about economics to make this kind of determination. It's not a tested sciences, and in those instances where it has been tested, it has failed miserably. Economics gave us the washington consensus, and it's apparent now that it was simply a shell game used to rob from the poor and give to the rich. Why should anyone listen to a bunch of rich elitists practicing a fake science?

Economics is a philosophy, it's not a real science. It's formula's are not equal to gravitational formula's or the effect of photons on an electromagnetic field. Those things can be calculated regardless of other factors, economic models lack that ability. Economics isn't math, no matter how much it tries to be. The models it uses have never been proven reliable, and never apply to all circumstances. As a result, they have no real way to measure where wages would be right now if we haven't had a very large illegal immigrant problem in this country. Economic theory dictates that we should all be getting raises right now due to increases in productivity. Those raises have yet to materialize. If even basic economic theory is proven wrong so easily, how can anyone make a determination using far more advanced theories?

They can't. This is just about people like Kevin Drum not giving a fuck about the working class and looking for any justification to ignore it's problems. That's all economics is every about.

Posted by: soullite on June 18, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Immigration seems to be turning into the new abortion for right-wing voters. I was listening to a radio report the other day involving "man-on-the-street" interviews with Republican voters who were incensed with the compromise bill and any Republican congressperson supporting it.

One after another, they wanted the illegals out and the borders enforced. They couldn't understand why any R wouldn't be voting for that. There was no connection at all between their position and the fact that prices on their food in particular would have to go up dramatically if all this labor was suddenly unavailable, or the idea that lots of R-voting business people liked illegal immigrants just fine.

As with a number of these sorts of issues, I find myself at a loss to try and understand what is behind this fervor--but I think if we fail to understand it and figure out how to address it, this issue is going to be very, very difficult to resolve.

Posted by: sbw on June 18, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kaus is a wanker among wankers, akin to instapundit when it comes to intellectual honesty. So why in the world does Kaus show up as a "contributing editor" for Washington Monthly in the left-hand column? And why is he in the very short list of "TPM approved sites" on talkingpointsmemo.com?

Posted by: bob on June 18, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Listen to yourselves.

You're essentially arguing that the only workers affected by illegals are high school dropouts.

Posted by: listenup on June 18, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK


All you really need to confirm that the impact of Third-World immigration is a series of before and after pictures. Compare each city which has been a focus of Third World legal and illegal immigration. Have wages increased or decreased? Has quality of life improved or decayed? What about social cohesion?

When Third World aliens immigrate to the United States, they bring with them their Third World habits and customs and thus create replicas of the failed states they fled. The situation is only better here because they enjoy the benefits of being surrounded by an established Constitutional Republic.

What is the positive reason why we should open our borders anyway? The economic impact is negative, even granting Drum's questionable assertion that the impact is slight) the social impact is negative. So why do it? Why let Third World aliens in?

It is because Liberals see the opportunity to tarnish people on the side of the facts as racist and to thus indulge in their self-congratulatory anti-racism. Facts be damned. We'll find our own facts. Our lying eyes be damned. The American people be damned. I get to call you racist; it makes me feel good; that's all that matters.

Posted by: BC on June 18, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

It is important to apply a common sense approach to immigration. What our politicians are doing is making a bad matter worse. Rather than reiterate what I have written, please click on the link to read a common sense approach to immigration.

Posted by: SanDiegoMike on June 18, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

The "plight of the working poor" is due mainly to their own bad decision-making.

Stupid people need jobs too.

Posted by: Jenna's Bush on June 18, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

We amnestied 2.7 million illegal aliens in the late 1980s, predominantly in California, and ever since California has been paradise ...

Oh, wait, that was in the Bizarro Universe. In the real California, the standard of living for a median income family of four attempting to buy a home is now 49th out of 50 states.

And California public schools come in between 44th and 49th on the NAEP tests.

So, how'd that amnesty work out for you?

Posted by: Steve Sailer on June 18, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum is just one of a few who tells it as it is, like Ruben Navarrete. A lot of xenophobes will dismiss them by calling them names, but since they cannot attack the facts, they attack the messengers!

Posted by: Human Being on June 18, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 Just to follow up on my previous post, one way to think of what's happened with punditry is that Krugman has won, and Broder, Kaus, and Friedman have lost.

The "shrill" is the new rational.

I'd agree and give the following metaphor. Pundits like Krugman look at the landscape and stake their position. Pundits like Kaus and Bobo look at where the "men of stature" stand and jump somewhere amidst them. But while the stature of the alpha-chimps may be a thing of awe to the Bobo-Kauses and set them off hooting, it has naught to do with the lie of the land. Insofar as Krugman has 'won', it is by looking at things as they are.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 18, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I've commented on the Bloggingheads comments board that if Mickey doesn't admit he's a Republican, it's because he's cheating the party out of it's dues. Nevertheless, I think this is one issue where your tendentious obsfucation is so over the top that even your readership can see it. Do you honestly argue that 20 million unskilled workers injected into the labor force does not hold down wages for our least powerful citizens? I can only paraphrase Chico Marx, who are you going to believe, Kevin or your lying eyes. And as for chicken plucking being a job Ameericans won't do at any reasonable wage, I can answer with two words: coal mining. If employers had to pay what the market would bear the Mexican people might get a lot of poultry barns opened in their villages, but the ones that stay in business here would pay a decent wage.

Posted by: minion w/out a rove on June 18, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK
Do you honestly argue that 20 million unskilled workers injected into the labor force does not hold down wages for our least powerful citizens?

Isn't the more usual "high estimate" 12 million? At any rate, they aren't "injected into the labor force". In a world in which capital and goods are highly mobile, they are in largely the same "labor force" no matter which side of the border (whichever border) they are on, and competing for labor opportunities with people whose economically useful skills are similar everywhere in the world, not merely within their own country.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 18, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, pay no mind to the fact that the column he cites is a year old, and it turns out the study Krugman wrote about has since been updated. Illegal immigration hasn't reduced the wages of high school dropouts by 8.2%. It's reduced wages by 3.6% at most, and probably not even that much, according to the authors. —Kevin Drum

"High school dropouts" pretty much sums up the whole issue.

Illegal immigrants aren't competing for the great entry level factory jobs that high school graduates in certain parts of the country hope to find primarily because most of those jobs don't exist anymore. And they'd have to be pretty much fluent in English to get these jobs.

"Fucking Chrysler plant here I come."

Posted by: JeffII on June 18, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum idiotically writes: Make 'em legal and their wages would certainly rise by at least a couple of percentage points, no?

Actually, no. Making them legal would lead to yet more waves of IllegalImmigration as a) millions outside the U.S. decided to come here for the next amnesty, and b) the newly-legalized workers got too expensive and were replaced with new IllegalAliens.

Is Kevin Drum capable of thinking things through at all?

It'd certainly be interesting to know how much money WM gets from George Soros, someone who supports massive immigration (to the U.S.)

Michael Ditto says: As if leaving people jobless and helpless in a foreign land is a progressive position.

There seem to be several billion people worse off than Mexicans; how about Michael Ditto leading the charge to bring them here instead. That'd be the true progressive solution, right?

Posted by: TLB on June 18, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

At any rate, they aren't "injected into the labor force". In a world in which capital and goods are highly mobile, they are in largely the same "labor force" no matter which side of the border (whichever border) they are on...

Yes when the inputs and outputs are mobile. e.g., PC assembly. Or one could imagine lots of chickens being shipped across the Mexican border to be plucked, then re-shipped back to the US.

But where some part of the job is dictated by geography - farming and construction come to mind, as well as lots of other services - I expect that labor mobility can reduce wages and increase output in that sector (E.g., if cheap lawn care was not available, some folks would pay a lot for expensive lawn care, but others would mow the damn lawn themselves or take other steps. An influx of workers would "create" jobs in the sense that more will be employed at $10/hour than at $20/hour.)

Posted by: Tom Maguire on June 18, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

How much do pheasant pluckers make?

Posted by: The June Fool on June 18, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Stupid people need jobs too.

They should not, however, expect those jobs to have high wages.

Posted by: Brian on June 18, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

How much do pheasant pluckers make?

Dunno but de-Spoonerize that and they can prolly make a good deal more - even with labor mobility.

(And will they keep on plucking pheasants till their plucking days are done?)

Posted by: Another Fool on June 18, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely

a} the vast majority of Mexican illegal workers would probably prefer the poultry barns moved home rather than have to "live in the shadows"TM here.

b) the high estimate today is 12 to 20 million - even if you prefer to work with the 12 million number, once this 12 get Z-visas and access to the social services cafeteria plan they will quickly be replaced by another 20 million "living in the shadows"TM.

Posted by: minion on June 18, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

rofl Kevin. Nicely done, that was a great betch-slapping.

I can't stomach Mickey's obscurist nitpicking any longer. Talk about missing the forest for the trees... MICKEY.IS.SO.ANNOYING. >rofl Kevin. Nicely done, that was a great betch-slapping.

I can't stomach Mickey's obscurist nitpicking any longer. Talk about missing the forest for the trees... MICKEY.IS.SO.ANNOYING. >

Posted by: minty on June 18, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Making them legal would lead to yet more waves of Illegal Immigration

TLB's ancestors migrated to America. TLB would have said it was a mistake naturalizing their predecessors.

Posted by: Brojo on June 18, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't "immigration from Mexico" one of the "conservative public policies of the past 30 years"?

Posted by: Thomas on June 18, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

"It defies common sense that an endless supply of cheap labor doesn't undermine unions and the wages of native-born unskilled workers."

Quantum mechanics also defies "common sense" and happens to be true.

Fascinating how willing you are to expend the livelihoods of working Americans to insisting that somehow the law of supply and demand as it affects wages has been repealed. Tell me, if the economic impact is so minimal then why is every cheap labor business interest in this country making a maximum push for 'comprehensive immigration reform' ?

It doesn't seem beyond the realm of logic to imagine that:
a) the supply of cheap labor is not infinute,

I guess that means working class people are just going to have to get used to generations of immiserisation until the Third World runs out of people. Or the Mexican and American standards of living are equal. What the hell. Or the Chinese or Indian. Or the Vietnamese or Filipino.

b) immigrants tend to join labor unions when given the opportunity, and

So ? In a glutted labor market where workers dare not strike what the hell good are unions ? What the hell good is organizing 12 million workers when 30 million strikebreakers can just be brought in to replace them ? Unlike you, I don't care about increasing union headcount. I care about improving the bargaining leverage of working Americans which isn't going to happen until the labor market tightens and capital has to bid for labor.

c) the economic impact of illegal immigration on unions and wages is far, far dwarfed by the impact of the corporate Republican political machine.

When workers know that their jobs can easily be given to illegals or offshored they will not strike. In fact, since organized labor has no bargaining leverage in the context of a glut it is easy for them to conclude that their union dues are wasted money. Again, you are willing to sabotage the bargaining power of American workers merely to pad union rolls.

P.S. Mickey Kaus is not a liberal. He is a conservative, ...

It is the populist Right that has fought for working Americans on this issue while the left has frankly ignored and betrayed them either out of multicultural political correctness or selfish institutional empire building. Or class snobbery. Given your 'let them eat cake' attitude towards the lower orders you may yet wrench defeat from the jaws of victory next year. If the GOP candidate takes a populist position on this next year, he can win.

This isn't a left vs right issue. It is a populist vs oligarch issue. And there are oligarchs on the left who only care about padding union rolls, filling church pews, and adding welfare state clients whatever the consequences to the American worker and taxpayer. There is a tremendous amount of selfish institutional empire building here.

...but more importantly, he is a nativist.

Hey, how about unlimited H1B's ? Unlimited numbers of them every year ? You don't like that ? What a nativist bigot against Indians you are ! But then again so much of the 'left' on this issue only cares about what affects their class.

Posted by: Aaron on June 18, 2007 at 2:32 PM |

Posted by: Charles Warren on June 18, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo: I forget whether you're on my "don't bother" list, but I do know you must be smarter than Kevin Drum, and therefore if you think this through you'll see all the faults with your argument.

I think a large issue with the ImmigrationDebate is due to PersonalityTypes. Some people are good at thinking things through, ContingencyPlanning, etc. Others just aren't.

Posted by: TLB on June 18, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK
Making them legal would lead to yet more waves of IllegalImmigration as a) millions outside the U.S. decided to come here for the next amnesty, and b) the newly-legalized workers got too expensive and were replaced with new IllegalAliens.

Its relatively easy to design legalization schemes which would not encourage people to immigrate illegally, and which would discourage employment of illegal immigrants.

For the first, just make sure that anyone with any opportunity for legalization from illegal status has it is easier if they enter legally in the first place, and given them a route to do so: my preferred method is to have unlimited fee-based immigration of any person not personally barred for immigrating to the United States, with a scale of fees based on the existing immigration categories with an extra, highest-fee, catch-all category for anyone not personally barred but not in any of the existing admission categories. Then allow illegals that haven't done something which makes them permanently barred from legal immigration to be legalized, but require them to use that highest-fee category and pay an additional penalty fee. (Along with this, I'd eliminated H1Bs entirely; companies that wanted to hire foreign workers could, of course, pay the admission fee for the workers they wanted to hire, but the employee would be a regular immigrant then, not a in a special dependent status.)

For the second, divide the interests of the illegal workers from those of the illegal employers, by requiring anyone caught culpably employing illegals to pay the legalization fee (bot the base and penalty fee) for every legalizable illegal worker, in addition to other fines, damages to the workers for any violations of working conditions or wage and hour regulations, etc. If it becomes good for the worker for the illegal employer to get caught, few will take the risk of hiring illegals.

I think a large issue with the ImmigrationDebate is due to PersonalityTypes. Some people are good at thinking things through, ContingencyPlanning, etc. Others just aren't.

I think you are right about that. The thing I think you've overlooked, though, is that the latter group subsumes the class of people who habitually jam together and capitalize words, in English, to form bizarre gratuitous compounds.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 18, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: In a world in which capital and goods are highly mobile, they are in largely the same "labor force" no matter which side of the border (whichever border) they are on

If that were true, then they wouldn't bother crossing the border.

Posted by: alex on June 18, 2007 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Dear cmdicely,

If borders are not enforced, then neither current nor future illegal aliens have any incentive to pay any fee, nor do personally barred immigrants have any disincentive from entering the U.S. illegally.

Periodic amnesty for illegals removes almost all incentive for the illegal to follow any procedure that is meaningful.

Your proposal of an entrance fee to all who want to come in (as though the U.S. were a theme park) would result in an influx of millions per year,perhaps 10s of millions. The U.S. as it exists today would be radically altered if such a thing were to happen. This is a fact. It will not go away if we ignore it. It has to be addressed.

So tell me: Will this transformation in your opinion be for the better? For the worse? If it is for the worse, do current Americans have the right to prevent it?

Posted by: BC on June 18, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Now that the reader has read cmdicely's ideas, I suggest that the reader now put them in the current, reality-based context rather than their current realm of fiction.

In our world, all his plans will come to naught as various interest groups pay off politicians and get them to gut or ignore his plans.

Teddy Kennedy et al even lie about what's inside cardboard boxes, and we're supposed to expect them to follow new laws designed to replace the laws they currently try to ignore or subvert?

Posted by: TLB on June 18, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

maybe, just maybe, if bloggers stoppled engaging in bloggo games with mickey, he would get lonely and change his tune, or go away

Great idea -- it sure worked for me with the Swift Boat Veterans !!

Posted by: John Kerry on June 18, 2007 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

A basic question nobody seems to ask is: Why is Mexico the way it is, where so many people want to leave? Why is it so corrupt, poor, poorly literate, and inegalitarian?

Is it something in the Mexican air? Will all be okay once they breathe the righteous aroma of liberty?

No; the fact is that Mexico's condition is rooted in deeply rooted social patterns which are inconducive to good government and prosperous societies. This is true of almost all Third World nations which were not set back 50 years by Communism. If we allow Third-Worlders in, we allow the Third World itself into our borders. (Latin American countries in particular share to a large extent a consistent and identifiable socio-economic profile.)

Why?? What is the pressing social necessity for this? Is it because the prices of tomatoes will increase by a nickel if we don't let it happen?

Or because the Left won't get to brag about how it loves "diversity"?

Heaven forbid!

BC

Posted by: BC on June 18, 2007 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who thinks that illegal immigrants are not having a significant negative effect on wages in this country must be living under a rock. They've taken over the meat packing industry and broken the meatpackers union in the process. They're flooding construction jobs and driving wages down everywhere they go. This is a Republican dream world--lots of cheap labor with no interest in unions and very, very docile. Can't blame them for leaving Mexico and points south--NAFTA screwed them royally, but if something isn't done they'll drag the US into the third world and it isn't going to take very long to do it.

Posted by: sparky on June 18, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

The models that show minimal wage losses from unskilled immigration are theoretical. The empirical data is vastly different and shows huge losses from immigration. Take the work of Giovanni Peri ("Immigrants� Complementarieties and Native Wages"). He claims (based on theory) that immigration has raised wages for even unskilled workers. However, his actual data (Figure 3) shows a 17.6% reduction in wages for unskilled workers in California and a 15.1% reduction nationwide.

Of course, the California data seriously understates the actual reduction because Peri uses a national cost of living index, rather than a California one. Allowing for California's much higher cost of living the real wage reduction is much greater. Can Peri explain any of this? No. Does he try? No.

Another example (see http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecenters8f44)

"The effect of immigration on those low-skilled Americans is profound, and the government knows it: �Undoubtedly access to lower-wage foreign workers has a depressing effect [on wages],� says former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.12 Research suggests that between 40 and 50 percent of wage-loss among low-skilled Americans is due to the immigration of low-skilled workers.13 Some native workers lose not just wages but their jobs through immigrant competition. An estimated 1,880,000 American workers are displaced from their jobs every year by immigration; the cost for providing welfare and assistance to these Americans is over $15 billion a year.14"

Another example (see http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/05/01/dobbs.immigrantprotests/index.html)

"In fact, a meat-packing job paid $19 an hour in 1980, but today that same job pays closer to $9 an hour, according to the Labor Department. That's entirely consistent with what we've been reporting -- that illegal aliens depress wages for U.S. workers by as much as $200 billion a year in addition to placing a tremendous burden on hospitals, schools and other social services."

Another example (see http://migration.ucdavis.edu/rmn/more.php?id=126_0_2_0)

"Meatpacking wages fell sharply after peaking in 1980. In Iowa, the average hourly earnings of meatpackers in 1981 was $11.33, 50 cents less than the US average $11.83. Wallace Huffman of Iowa State University noted that real meatpacking earnings fluctuated between 1963 and 1988, but were lower in 1988 than in 1963."

Another example (see http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/06/choosing_sides_on_immigration.html)

"And it's true that recent "victories" in unionizing low-skilled workers have produced paltry gains. For example, the Service Employees International Union managed to organize janitors in Los Angeles, but Briggs notes, "at wages way below what they were back in the 1970s." The strange part is that Los Angeles' janitors were highly unionized (and mostly African-American) until the '70s, when a surge in illegal immigration destroyed their bargaining power.
The union last year organized janitors in Houston. For all these efforts, this largely Hispanic workforce saw its pay rise from a pitiful $5.25 an hour to a pathetic $6.25 -- which is lower than the minimum wage in 21 states and the District of Columbia. Wages in the contract's later years will barely exceed the new federal minimum."

Another example from history (see http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1019&context=briggstestimonies)

"Following the the enactment of the first ceilings on immigration in U.S. history, the economic gains to workers were found to be immediate. Indeed, labor historian Joseph Rayback called the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 "the most significant pieces of "labor" legislation enacted during" the post-World War I era.,,26 Mills and Montgomery likewise observed "from the international viewpoint the morality of the postwar immigration policy of the United States may be questioned, but of its economic effect in raising real earnings there can be little question.,,27 Lebergott, who attributed this tripling of real wages for urban workers that occurred in the 1920s to the substantial immigration reductions that occurred in this period, observed that "political changes in the supply of labor can be more effective in determining wages than even explicit attempts to fix wages.,,28What more powerful statement can be made about the significance of the adoption of reasonable immigration polices to the enhancement of worker welfare in the united States?"

See "Dropping Out Immigrant Entry and Native Exit From the Labor Market, 2000-2005" (http://www.cis.org/articles/2006/back206.html) for a paper on how immigration is driving American workers from the labor force. See "The Impact of New Immigrants on Young Native-Born Workers, 2000-2005" (http://www.cis.org/articles/2006/back806.html) for another paper on the same subject.

Finally let's try the common sense approach. Why exactly does corporate America relentlessly demand Open Borders? Because they want more Democratic voters in the US? More welfare costs? More crime? Not very likely. How about wages that go down and down down? Doesn't that make a lot more sense? If corporate America knows in its heart that mass immigration slashes wages, why can't ***** **** figure it out?

Posted by: Peter Schaeffer on June 19, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

If we have "immigration reform," what are the chances the President and Coyote-in-Chief Jorge Busch (or a Democratic successor keen for the racist Hispanic bloc vote) would not continue to thwart efforts to stem the invasion? Zero, of course.

What is the probability that the millions of "guest workers" would ever return home? Close to zero, as there has never been a guest worker program in the world where the "guests" returned home. They'll have their jackpot babies and bleeding hearts will say we can't just deport 100 million illegals and their jackpot babies. This is a hard step, but another amnesty will encourage millions more to come in. Three million amnesties brought in 12 million more illegals and 20 million new jackpot babies. Another amnesty will mean the end of America as we know it.

Washington has already signaled that they would not have any "roundups" in the future, meaning no enforcement, since it is impossible to control 33,000 kilometers of border and coastline, and the enormous Hispanic underground is ready to shelter new illegals. Border security is merely an insider joke to pacify the public.

Posted by: Luther on June 19, 2007 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK
If borders are not enforced, then neither current nor future illegal aliens have any incentive to pay any fee, nor do personally barred immigrants have any disincentive from entering the U.S. illegally.

US immigration laws are enforced, both at the border and in the interior. I've personally known people who were deported.

They aren't enforced as effectively as we might like (the same is true of virtually any law: too many murderers get away with it, too.) Making the laws more enforceable will help deal with that.

Illegal immigrants often pay substantial fees now to human smugglers to enter illegally and face the risk of death en route, detection once here, and deportation. If you don't think they'd rather pay a fee to the US government for safe entry with legal status, you are deluded.

Periodic amnesty for illegals removes almost all incentive for the illegal to follow any procedure that is meaningful.

I haven't recommended "periodic amnesty", so I really don't care.

Your proposal of an entrance fee to all who want to come in (as though the U.S. were a theme park) would result in an influx of millions per year,perhaps 10s of millions.

That depends rather strongly on where the fees were set. Managed properly, it ought to result in no more total immigration than today, with substantially less illegal immigration, substantial direct enhancement of federal revenues, lower taxpayer costs for more effective enforcement, and improved labor conditions.

And its not a "theme park", the fee addresses the purpose of the limitiations. We limit admittance to control the costs associated with immigration. But the limits, in practice, don't work, and the presence of people in an "illegal" status imposes its own costs—so instead I would move from hard limits to efforts to allocate the costs to those who would impose the social costs and realize the benefits.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 19, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

BC, TLB and company are just like Kaus, couching their nativist arguments in populist economic terms (dollars to donuts they'd cross any picket line) even though their real beef is with MexicanElites importing ThirdWorld people despite their alleged InherentInferiority just to sate our LiberalAppetites for Cultural Diversity. Or something. These same exact arguments - that these new immigrants are culturally incompatible, or are unskilled and will drive down wages - have been unsuccessfully made by nativists for generations against each of the waves of Irish, southern and eastern European immigrants in U.S. history. The nativists have always lost, and they will lose again this year.

Soullite even rejects all of economics, but knows by his own gut-based science that immigration harms American workers, never factoring into his calculus that immigrants both legal and illegal are huge stimulants for all of our domestic products, real estate, etc. These restrictionists don't care what's best for our economy and have absolutely no practical solution for how to deal with our current out-of-status population.

Luckily, the Drum/cmdicely side is going to win this debate. And comprehensive immigration reform is going to pass! They will be legal and there will be nothing you frothing idiots will be able to do about it.

Posted by: WelcomeFuture on June 19, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

WelcomeFuture,

The United States reformed immigration in the 1920s and made this country a middle-class nation. In the 1950s, Eisenhower booted illegals (wetbacks back then), by the million and protected American workers. It will happen again.

Check out the Rasmussen polling data for what the American people really want. Clue, it ain't Amnesty.

And yes, mass immigration 100 years ago did slash wages. Which is why labor supported immigration reduction.

Posted by: Peter Schaeffer on June 19, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

"That depends rather strongly on where the fees were set. Managed properly, it ought to result in no more total immigration than today, with substantially less illegal immigration,"

If the fees are set perfectly, (that is, at the estimated cost of crossing the border illegally) there is a chance that it might simultaneously price out many immigrants while cutting in sufficiently on the business of smugglers to render the industry unprofitable. Ultimately what will happen is that all aliens who get a better deal with the fee than with other methods will come here legally rather than illegally. Those who can undercut the fee by getting here illegally will continue to do so. It addresses the problem at the margin, and only by lowering the effective price of legal residency so that more will be able and willing to come legally rather than illegally.
It's like decreasing the chances that your car will be stolen by driving beaten 1986 Buick Skylark.

Enforcement is the only issue as cmdicely himself indirectly implies, when it comes to addressing illegal immigration per se...i.e. making sure the procedures, whatever they are, are not violated.

The problem is not so much the illegal status (why not make 'em all legal?!) as the rate of the influx. cmd's proposal admittedly does not address this.

Posted by: BC on June 19, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Peter Schaffer, you're wrong and you don't know history. There was a nativist panic in the 20s, a red scare, and you think it created American prosperity? Please. The rise of the American middle class in the 20th century was because of the rise of the labor unions and the GI Bill, not because Eisenhower sent home a few thousand braceros. We never deported millions and we aren't going to now.

In 1965, after more than four decades of freezing immigration, more than 30% of Americans were living in poverty. Since then, since we've opened our borers, we've enjoyed the greatest period of prosperity in human history. Forty years of high immigration later, a much smaller percentage of Americans are living in poverty. And if immigration depresses wages, why are the wages here in NYC so high? Why are our unions stronger than anywhere in the country? Why do you restrictionists even bother arguing this from an economic standpoint when you know your real concerns about immigration are cultural. Why won't you be honest?

Rasmussen is full of sh*t - and the segment of the population that would support roundups and mass deportation is about the same percentage that would to support Dennis Kucinich for President. You restrictionists are a very small loudmouthed minority of most Americans. Stay angry!

Posted by: WelcomeFuture on June 19, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

"WelcomeFuture" appears to also be known as "Sanpete", "degsme", and probably other names as well. Why so many names?

And, of course, regarding the arguments that were made in the past:

1. That doesn't mean that the concerns were valid.
2. When the situation changes, that has to be taken into account.

To do otherwise would be a LogicalFallacy, about the only thing "WelcomeFuture"/"Sanpete"/"degsme"/whatever is good at.

Posted by: TLB on June 19, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Forty years of high immigration later, a much smaller percentage of Americans are living in poverty"

Correlation doesn't equal causation. Roundups and mass deportation wouldn't be necessary. All that would be required is to keep progressively cranking down on employers-really quite simple. It isn't necessary to "freeze" or "stop" immigration, but to do something about the valve that is currently stuck wide open. My opinion is that *some* immigration is beneficial-completely unrestricted immigration harmful.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 19, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

"1. That doesn't mean that the concerns were valid."

==========]]]]

"1. That doesn't mean that the concerns weren't valid."

Posted by: TLB on June 19, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Huh? I've never posted as Sanpete or degsme. Those names aren't "me."

Posted by: WelcomeFuture on June 19, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK
The problem is not so much the illegal status (why not make 'em all legal?!) as the rate of the influx. cmd's proposal admittedly does not address this.

Illegal status is a huge problem, but its not a root problem, its a problem of our existing attempt to address the social costs (negative externalities) resulting from the rate of immigration by controlling the rate. But the problem being addressed is not "the rate of influx" but the negative externalities resulting from the rate of immigration. There are two principal ways of attempting to address the negative externalities associated with an activity, one is placing hard limits or outright prohibition on the activity, the other is working to internalize the externalities by making the people whose activity imposes the social costs pay for those costs. For purely economic costs, the latter is often more efficient, as the former generally imposes a new social costs to impose negative consequences to discourage the activity that imposes its own social cost, whereas the latter seeks compensation for the social cost.

My proposal does, contrary to your characterization, deal with the impacts from the rate of immigration, which is the fundamental problem. It deals with them in a smarter way than the way our current failed system attempts to, but apparently you are wedded to the idea of trying more of what has failed.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 19, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK
Correlation doesn't equal causation.

No, but a correlation between a cause and the reverse of the suggested effect (as here between high immigration and increased poverty) is prima facie (but obviously not incontrovertible) evidence of the falsity of the causal link suggested.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 19, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Doc, you're correct inasmuch as correlation doesn't equal causation. But if there is not even correlation, it's pretty hard to argue causation. If there is causation, you certainly expect to see correlation. The restrictionists in the past - during America's massive immigration of the late-19th-early-20th century -argued that if we didn't stop immigration, our economy would be ruined and the mongrel hordes would overrun us. I'm sure you can find nearly identical sentiments in restrictionist screeds from 1886 or 1986. The doomsayers were dead wrong then and they're wrong now.

TLB doesn't say that the restrictionists of the past were right, just that their concerns were "valid." Valid in the limited sense that it is nominally valid to fear getting hit by a meteor, since it could happen, but not valid to fear getting run over by a unicorn. But then as now, the restrictionists have nothing but visceral evidence that immigration is contrary to the interests of native workers, no correlation, no causation, nothing. Then as now, the economic arguments against immigration are almost always window dressing for the restrictionists' real cultural gripes against the perceived otherness of recent immigrants.

Posted by: WelcomeFuture on June 19, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: a correlation between a cause and the reverse of the suggested effect ... is prima facie ... evidence of the falsity of the causal link suggested

No, that reasoning only works in a controlled experiment. In a real world situation involving people who make decisions based on the variables in question, it doesn't hold at all.

but obviously not incontrovertible

In this case, it's quite easily controvertible. Illegal aliens, like other people, tend to move to where there are more plentiful and better paying jobs. Since most illegal aliens probably have few ties to any particular part of this country, the effect may be even stronger with them.

Even assuming it's true that places with high proportions of illegal aliens have better paying jobs for them, the only inference you can draw is that in some parts of the country the increase in supply hasn't completely overwhelmed demand.

Posted by: alex on June 19, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

WelcomeFuture: if there is not even correlation, it's pretty hard to argue causation

1. See my 4:00

2. What correlation? All we have is your rhetorical question "if immigration depresses wages, why are the wages here in NYC so high".

a. The subject of this thread is illegal immigration, not immigration in general. Legal immigrants, who are typically better educated or more highly skilled, are a completely different matter.

b. If you have any evidence of a correlation beyond a single "observation", please provide it.

c. When providing that evidence, limit it to the types of jobs in which illegal aliens are generally employed, provide wage growth rates in addition to absolute levels, and factor in the local cost of living. Otherwise you have no argument.

Rasmussen is full of sh*t

And your evidence for this is?

restrictionists are a very small loudmouthed minority of most Americans

What's a "restrictionist"? Someone who believes in any limits on immigration? Someone who's opposed to illegal immigration? What?

economic arguments against immigration are almost always window dressing for the restrictionists' real cultural gripes against the perceived otherness of recent immigrants

And your evidence for this is?

The nativists have always lost, and they will lose again this year.

1. Do you even know the definition or "nativist"? Or perhaps you just use it as a vague synonym for bigot, xenophobe, racist or "someone who disagrees with me".

2. By your own recall of history, the "nativists" won for 40 years. Why couldn't they win again?

And comprehensive immigration reform is going to pass!

That must explain the current status of the "reform" bill.

immigrants both legal and illegal are huge stimulants for all of our domestic products, real estate, etc.

They help the economy grow! Who gives a shit? What matters is GDP/capita and its distribution.

Posted by: alex on June 19, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

To cmdicely:

1) You are correct in writing that the current system does not work. You are incorrect in referring to the current system as "hard limits or outright prohibition on the activity,". The current system is better categorized as "looking the other way while people stay here illegally in spite of our very generous immigration policy. When borders are seriously enforced, restriction almost always works, as it did here from 1924-1965 and as it continues to do in Japan, Sweeden, and, ironically, Mexico, which enforces its southern border quite successfully.

In fact, I would argue that "hard limits or outright prohibition on the activity", is, in this case, a far easier, cheaper, more effective, and more efficient way of eliminating the externalities associated with mass immigration than internalizing the externalities. I could understand the basic fairness of admitting foreigners on the condition that they meet their own health care, education, and police costs, or that a sponsor meets those costs, but such a policy is a non-starter in the political world in which we live.

Furthermore, many externalities are public "bads" such as overcrowded streets, cultural alienation (on the part of the immigrants as well as the native residents) and the breakdown of common language Civil Society, which cannot be effectively internalized. (I saw my home town get swamped with illegal aliens and in the span of five years, people literally could not speak to their neighbors and grocers. What is the cmdicely compensation plan for this? How about the cost of the house that I had to move into, for starters? How about compensation for the time it took to establish a home, or for gas and time to the commute? (Subtracted, of course, from the benefits of the old home relative to here).

Under any system, if the immigrant is...on average...more trouble than he or she is worth, internalizing the externalities (the trouble) would require that he or she pay more than his or her current net worth, which is an impossibility.

The solution is to build a system whereby immigrants are more productive, and then there would be no need to internalize externalities, cause we would (mostly) be willing to live with them.

Posted by: BC on June 19, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK
You are correct in writing that the current system does not work.

You have an unusually keen grasp of the obvious.

You are incorrect in referring to the current system as "hard limits or outright prohibition on the activity,"

Well, sure, because it doesn't work. The current legal regime, however, is accurately described that way.

When borders are seriously enforced, restriction almost always works, as it did here from 1924-1965

Unfortunately for anyone who wants a return back to that style of enforcement, the no-probable-cause race-based random stops for documentation that were the cornerstone of the "serious enforcement" (such as "Operation Wetback") of that time were ruled unconstitutional more than 30 years ago.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 19, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK


cmdicely:

"Well, sure, because it doesn't work. The current legal regime, however, is accurately described that way."

The best guess I can make of what this means is that what the U.S. Government tries to do is impose said hard limits, and thus that is the "legal regime"; but hard limits don't work, so our current problem stems from our government's sincere but misguided attempts to restrict immigration.

What I actually said, clearly was that our Government does not want to enforce current immigration restrictions, and it is this negligence which is causing our current problems. It is not the case that when somebody does not want to do something, it implies that it cannot be done.

I then wrote:

"When borders are seriously enforced, restriction almost always works, as it did here from 1924-1965 and as it continues to do in Japan, Sweeden, and, ironically, Mexico, which enforces its southern border quite successfully."

cmdicely conveniently leaves out the italicized portion of what I said and presents the following excerpt:

"When borders are seriously enforced, restriction almost always works, as it did here from 1924-1965"

To which he replies:


"Unfortunately for anyone who wants a return back to that style of enforcement, the no-probable-cause race-based random stops for documentation that were the cornerstone of the "serious enforcement" (such as "Operation Wetback") of that time were ruled unconstitutional more than 30 years ago."

He apparently does not want to look like he's accusing the Sweeds and Japanese of racism, since that would make him look like a Left-Wing caricature, nor does he want to direct this accusation towards Mexicans, since that would invite the reply "then why do we want these racists here?" He has no problem trotting out the old bogeyman of the evil 1950s racist American however.

He also seems to want to obscure from his readers that "Operation Wetback" was a corrective enforcement measure, not a comprehensive enforcement method. Our Southerns borders were enforced before and after "Wetback".

This is cmdicey's second logical fallacy: If a policy was implemented and there were some examples of questionable ethics in its implementation, that negates the validity of the whole policy. I wish this man worked for the IRS.

My general point remains unaddressed and unanswered: that restrictions on immigration are highly achievable, easy, efficient, and effective in principle,and certainly much easier than anything cmdicely has proposed. If cmdicely does not like that national origins quotas were part of the original restriction scheme just take the national origin quotas out and it's the same easy, practical policy, only more cmdicely friendly.



Posted by: BC on June 19, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Alex says "By your own recall of history, the "nativists" won for 40 years. Why couldn't they win again?"

Yeah, bad people occasionally win, like with teh Chinese Exclusion Act. Congratulations for that. Cherish that rare victory. Like Ted Kennedy says, you can't do enough for opponents of comprehensive reform. You've already lost.

Posted by: WelcomeFuture on June 19, 2007 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

WelcomeFuture: Yeah, bad people occasionally win, like with teh Chinese Exclusion Act. Congratulations for that.

Congratulations to whom? The Chinese Exclusion Act was a triumph of racism, not nativism. While I'm arguably a nativist (most people are, and would happily admit to meeting the actual definition, even if objecting to the word's pejorative connotation), I'm certainly no racist.

Still haven't found the dictionary, have you? I suppose to mindless cheerleaders little details like diction aren't important. All you know is that "nativist" is a bad word.

Like Ted Kennedy says ...

Ah, Teddy. The man who also promoted NCLB. Thank God all liberals aren't like him, or I'd have to become a reactionary. I'd say he should resign, but I think the Massachusetts constitution has a provision that a Kennedy will represent the state.

You've already lost.

You mean that George Bush's dream of an endless supply of cheap complaint labor will come true? Guest-Workers-R-Us? That's unfortunate.

Posted by: alex on June 20, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK
He also seems to want to obscure from his readers that "Operation Wetback" was a corrective enforcement measure, not a comprehensive enforcement method. Our Southerns borders were enforced before and after "Wetback".

You seem not to understand the use of the phrase "such as" to point to an example, among other difficulties in your reading.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 20, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Unfortunately for anyone who wants a return back to that style of enforcement, the no-probable-cause race-based random stops for documentation that were the cornerstone of the "serious enforcement" (such as "Operation Wetback") of that time were ruled unconstitutional more than 30 years ago."

This clearly implies that "Wetback" was typical of what is clearly stated as a "cornerstone" of enforcement policy: no-probable-cause race-based random stops.

My response:

Logical Fallacy 2:

If a policy was implemented and there were some examples of questionable ethics in its implementation, that negates the validity of the whole policy...


[R]estrictions on immigration are highly achievable, easy, efficient, and effective in principle,and certainly much easier than anything cmdicely has proposed.

remains unaddressed. The fact that countries today continue to set tight limits on immigration remains unaddressed. The fact that the borders were controlled-relatively speaking-during the Reagan Administration without having to resort to the tactics bemoaned by dicely's straw-man arguments, I'll grant, is a new argument.

It is not a question of whether we can enforce immigration restrictions humanely and effectively. It's obvious that we can. We have done it before; others do it now. The question is why cmdicely and our government do not want to, whereas I and other restrictionists do. Why is dicely willing to try anything to ease what he admits to be the harmful effects of mass immigration except that which is the easiest, most obvious, most effective, and (probably) fairest method of all stopping mass-immigration?

This is what it comes down to. I'd be very interested to hear your response.


Posted by: BC on June 20, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

They?re here to stay

It was the Patriot Act that permitted all banks to provide extended financial services (savings/checking accounts, credit cards, home mortgages, car loans, etc.) to illegal immigrants. You didn?t misread and I didn?t miswrite.

As of Oct. 1, 2003, U.S. Treasury regulations (reference the Patriot Act, Section 326) required that banks obtain: 1) Name, 2) Street Address, 3) Tax ID or SS number, and 4) Birth date. The Patriot Act is silent on citizenship. Tax IDs (ITINs) are routinely issued to illegal immigrants by the IRS in order that they can file income tax returns without social security numbers.

Former Treasury Secretary John Snow in a letter to Congress in 2004 wrote: ?Not accepting the ?matricula consular? card (my note: an easily obtainable Mexican ID card for name and birth date verification) would drive large sections of the U.S. (illegal) population to underground financial services, and weaken the government's ability to enforce money laundering and terrorist financing laws."

This makes it vividly clear that President George W. Bush and his administration fully intended that by law illegal immigrants would have unobstructed access to a full range of banking functions. Why in the world did anybody think that it was a scheme by Bank of America, or any other bank, when they don?t have the authority to enact laws?

Bush now wants a ?comprehensive immigration law?. I confess that I can?t possibly imagine what his actual intentions might be. But I suspect that he doesn?t plan to send the illegals home before they pay off their 30-year mortgages.

Posted by: Fred Morse on June 26, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

They?re here to stay

It was the Patriot Act that permitted all banks to provide extended financial services (savings/checking accounts, credit cards, home mortgages, car loans, etc.) to illegal immigrants. You didn?t misread and I didn?t miswrite.

As of Oct. 1, 2003, U.S. Treasury regulations (reference the Patriot Act, Section 326) required that banks obtain: 1) Name, 2) Street Address, 3) Tax ID or SS number, and 4) Birth date. The Patriot Act is silent on citizenship. Tax IDs (ITINs) are routinely issued to illegal immigrants by the IRS in order that they can file income tax returns without social security numbers.

Former Treasury Secretary John Snow in a letter to Congress in 2004 wrote: ?Not accepting the ?matricula consular? card (my note: an easily obtainable Mexican ID card for name and birth date verification) would drive large sections of the U.S. (illegal) population to underground financial services, and weaken the government's ability to enforce money laundering and terrorist financing laws."

This makes it vividly clear that President George W. Bush and his administration fully intended that by law illegal immigrants would have unobstructed access to a full range of banking functions. Why in the world did anybody think that it was a scheme by Bank of America, or any other bank, when they don?t have the authority to enact laws?

Bush now wants a ?comprehensive immigration law?. I confess that I can?t possibly imagine what his actual intentions might be. But I suspect that he doesn?t plan to send the illegals home before they pay off their 30-year mortgages.

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