Monday, March 27, 2006

What's conservative about opposing immigration?

I'm glad the US Senate backed off the harshest anti-immigrant measures proposed by the House of Representatives, but I still think the bill they're left with ignores reality.

I've never understood self-avowed "conservatives" who disdain free markets, in the case of immigration, labor markets. Most of the amped up anti-immigrant rhetoric entirely ignores the truth of America's economic dependence on immigrant labor: One out of 20 American workers is an illegal immigrant. In some industries a majority of workers entered the country illegally. Send them away (which anyway, is impossible barring totalitarian measures) and your housing, grocery and restaurant prices will skyrocket among many other things. Would that be a good thing?

Would it be worth it if housing prices increased 50-100% and diminished access to home ownership for average Americans? Can the United States
realistically afford to radically restrict immigration? Personally, I don't think so. As I've written before, I honestly don't understand what's the big deal? We need the workers, and they want to work. So we need a path to legitimacy for those already in the country and a more realistic assessment of how many people should be allowed to legally enter from Mexico each year.

The only rational answer to the US immigration crisis - which is fundamentally an economic crisis driven by high US demand for cheap labor and a lack of good-paying jobs in Mexico - lies in expanded LEGAL immigration, not nativist policies motivated by reducing the number of Spanish speakers or those with brown skin.


Anonymous said...

We are going to break the bank with medical costs, never get a handle on auto insurance problems, nor solve school finance until we control our border.
And what's the point of the government digging through my underwear and x-raying my shoes at the airport when they are fine with 700,000 people strolling over the border every year?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

All those to me seem like arguments for expanding LEGAL immigration - e.g., immigrants barrred from having drivers licenses can't get car insurance. Your complaints vent an understandable frustration with the current approach, but they don't point to a realistic solution. How would criminalizing 12 million people and driving them further underground help things?

As for why the X-Rays at the airport, you're conflating very different problems - nothing we do about Mexican immigration will affect Al Qaeda one way or the other.

Matt Glazer said...

There is something to be said about the problem with our social programs not receiving enough funding and bringing 11 million workers into the tax system.

Imagine what that would do for social security, medicaide, and medicare?

Imagine for a second how much extra funding 11 million people could bring for education and security at our ports.

Most importantly, imagine what 11 million labor workers would do for the union movement and international fair trade?

If someone can give me one real downside to making immigration policy that promotes bringing the educated and hard working people that want to support themselves, their families, and the US economy... then by all means let me know.

Nobody and I mean nobody, wants an immigration policy that promotes Bin Laden coming over, but why not workers and responsible families?

Anonymous said...

Since 1996 immigrants have been able to file their taxes when the IRS began issuing special tax numbers for people living and working illegally in this country. Experts estimate that 8 million to 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States contribute untold billions each year in payroll taxes. Additionally, a 2001 study conducted by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida shows that immigrants do pay their proportionate share of taxes and in some cases pay more than the native-born population. Also, as the debate over Social Security continues, undocumented immigrant workers in the United States are currently supplying the system with as much as $7 billion a year in subsidy. Therefore, it could be said that undocumented immigrants assist even more because they will never collect benefits.

- G.C.

Anonymous said...

From the bottom up:

Not securing the border means you have to do the invasive airport shoe x-raying, that erode the Bill of Rights. Given a choice, I'd rather seal the border than endure the political theatre of the airport functions of the TSA.
I made no comment about modifying the status of people already here.
I'm all for more legal immigration. LEGAL. It's ridicuously hard.
Illegal immigration ought to be discouraged and the border sealed, otherwise, there's no country, just kind of an open-air market...and IN that market, medical costs, education costs, et, are going to be impossible to contain.

Anonymous said...

irst of all Al-Quaeda came across the Canadian border not the Mexican.

Even it you want border security, the ground swell is cause by fears of terrorism.

This whole thing is about the war on terror so think back and you'll see that this war is starting out just like the war on drugs: Overseas focus, border focus, state to state focus, then your neighborhood.

I can just see the press release in 2020. “The North Texas Anti Terrorism Task Force (NTATF) has just arrested 40 suspected terrorists and charged them with federal drug and conspiracy charges. The head of this organization had STRONG LINKS to an organization LINKED to terrorism. The NTATF is a joint federal, state, and local task force dedicated to domestic terrorism efforts. The head of the task force said this is what federal, state, and locals can do against domestic terrorism funded by drugs when they work together and the task force is working hard to make to Texas safe. Drugs fund terrorism and this entire organization was dismantled in this multi-state, multi-jurisdictional effort.”

Anything is possible when law enforcement is working together.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@RoT: You say "it's" conservative, but what position is represented by "it"? (Not a Reagan-esque amnesty program, to be sure.) You're "against" illegal immigration, but for those who are here already, is it feasible to deport 15% of the California school population and their families? If not, then it's just an inflaming comment that doesn't point toward a solution.

What's more, the MUCH bigger homeland security problem -- hell, a massive everyday public safety issue -- are the millions of undocumented immigrants with no ID for whom the government doesn't even have an address, phone number, no starting point to find them. They're more likely to be victims of crime, less likely to report crime, less likely to come forward as witnesses, and more likely to cooperate with criminals instead of police ENTIRELY because of their illegal status. That's a public safety catastrophe which would be made worse if local police began to enforce immigration laws.

Pro-business and pro-public safety, or non-pragmatic, radically disruptive of families and anti-business- what's more conservative? It's easy these days to be against illegal immigration, but what should a conservative be FOR?

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the views expressed by gritsforbreakfast. I am conservative and republicam and always have been. The only salvation for our entitlement systems in the face of an aging populace is legal immigration. The easiest way to defeat illegal immigration is to facilitate legal immigration. The overall economic impact of a massive new system of legal immigration would be staggering. If we fail to do this, then we will watch our economy and lifestyle lose ground to the rest of the world for the next 50 years. Xenophobic and irrational are the prime characteristics of the current "conservative" policy position. You cannot "protect" jobs or create "security" by attempting to restrict immigration. Further, in attempting to do so you will completely disable the economy.

Anonymous said...

"Public safety catastrophe" if local police enforce immigration laws?

Are you kidding? It might make their lives less safe within their communities, but illegal immigration would about disappear! If the FedGov paid each local LEA a $50 bounty for each illegal immigrant caught, and each county jail got double the standard bed space fee for housing them, it would amount to a few more officers hired, a whole boatload of illegal aliens sent back home, and a nation on a more secure track for a future.

Xenophobia? Laughable! There is no question earth is becoming more standardized and the rest of the world is catching up with us. But that doesn't mean I should give up what made this country what it is today, so that a second or third generation american majority can change law, policy, etc.

But who am I trying to convince? The United Nations fan club ain't goin' nowhere.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yes a "catastrophe" - the day some crook shoots me and the only witness won't talk to the cops because they're afraid of being deported, that's a catastrophe. In Texas we're talking about nearly 1.5 million people who wouldn't cooperate with police. Meanwhile, attention is diverted from solving more serious crimes, for which the clearance rate has been dropping already in recent years.

Anyway, it'd be inneffective at your goal, since most illegal immigrants lay low and don't commit crimes - with a bounty police would still need probable cause for an arrest. Plus once you've declared that your policy you're in Joseph Stalin territory. I think it'd be TERRIBLE for public safety and for human rights, and more than a few police chiefs agree.

Anonymous said...

Grits, I would go a step further and institute foreign policy directed at improving the lives of ordinary Mexicans in Mexico. Not being a foreign policy expert, I don't know what those policies would be, but with all the resources we have at our command, there must be a way.

If we can increase the standard of living for ordinary Mexicans, there will be fewer of them trying to emigrate illegally.

Anonymous said...

I don't get you, Scott. They are mostly law abiding, so your only real worry is that they won't come forward as witnesses? And what's with the "clearance rate" fallacy? Clearance has to do with CID, not patrol officers, who make most if not all of the contact with illegals.

Aaah, here we go. The slippery slope of Stalin, and local police detaining illegals. Keep the bounty...there's no question that pc would still be necessary for stops...nobody said otherwise.

Now here's an idea worth repeating. Make life better in Mexico. Forcibly invade, reconstruct their government in our image, and assist with economic and social development. Heck, I'd rather see that then spend another buck or two on a wall.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Won't come forward as witnesses, as crime victims, as participants in public life. I think it harms public safety for 11 million people to live in the shadows.

Totally with you BTW on increased US investment in Mexico to spur job creation, most of it probably private, being a big part of any long-term solution.