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Immigration Bill Open Thread:
I haven't followed the immigration bill closely, although it's obviously a very important piece of legislation. I have a vague sense I support it: We Americans have an internally incoherent set of views towards illegal immigration, and given that occasional fixes like this are probably inevitable over the long haul.

  But I'm guessing VC readers have a lot of strong views about this issue, and would be interested in voicing them. In light of that, here's an open thread on the immigration bill. Comment away. As always, please keep it civil.
Justin (mail):
The only thing that really has perked my interest about this whole thing was the President's argument that those who opposed the bill were unpatriotic. Not that he would say that - I've been awake these past 6 years - just the shock of the bill's opponents.

The one thing I am curious about - given the cost of citizenship financially, are there any useful estimates about the amount of people expected to gain amnesty under the proposal? Something tells me this is more about the theory of immigration than the actual effect of it.
6.27.2007 12:44pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
I support continued non-enforcement of our immigration laws for the following reasons:

1) Scofflaws make our nation more exciting and diverse. Who wants all those law-abiding immigrants anyway?

2) Bootleggers have wants and needs just like the rest of us, and they would be out of business if our laws were enforced.

3) The United States is a vast cuontry with lots more room for people. Without millions more people, we will not be able to fully maximize our contribution to global warming, habitat destruction, and high real estate prices.

4) War has an important unifying effect on our country, and it would make it very difficult for our enemies to wage war against us if they can't sneak across our southern border whenever they want.

5) U.S. Senators love to be pompous and condescending about how "racist" it is to enforce our immigration laws. Asking them to actually enforce our immigration laws would fundamentally alter the character of the Senate.

6) It's important to allow a continued flow of illegal, cheap labor to come into the United States, now that the Thirteenth Amendment has made legal slavery impossible.

7) Etc. Etc. Etc.
6.27.2007 1:00pm
Henri Le Compte (mail):
My impression, as a citizen in a border state, is that the controversy revolves primarily around the "amnesty" provisions in the bill, and the "enforcement" question. What's frustrating about a topic like this is that it gets very difficult very quick to get objective information about what is, or is not, at stake. All sides begin spinning so frantically that Joe Blow out here in fly-over land has no idea what is real and what is spin!

I think Pres. Bush is pushing this legislation (against all cold political calculation) because he genuinely believes it is the right thing to do-- or maybe it is more accurate to call it the best compromise that can be reached. That counts for something, and I wish I could hear what it is that the supporters see in the legislation that is so important that they would risk alienating their base. It is a rare sight in our modern politics to see a politician put idealism over politics. I suppose this is one of those examples of a the freedom of being a lame duck.
6.27.2007 1:04pm
Guest44:
Totally agree that we have a contradictory set of values and laws about immigration right now.


What I know of the new bill is pretty bad: it rewards those who have broken the law so far, and encourages more to enter illegally to take advantage of the amnesty. It does these things in a way that strongly favors people who have the means to get onto US soil, to the disadvantage of others (Africans, Asians) who cannot.
6.27.2007 1:05pm
byomtov (mail):
I have a hard time accepting the term "amnesty." There's a $5000 fine to start with. That's a huge amount of money for low-income workers - almost half a year's pay at minimum wage. Then there are some other requirements, which seem to be in flux.

When I pay a traffic fine, it doesn't seem to me that I got amnesty.
6.27.2007 1:20pm
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Obviously any country has a right to enforce its borders, and immigration policy is the responsibility of the government to manage. There is nothing shameful or suspicious about taking a completely hard-headed approach to immigration, and to look at it solely through the lens of "national interest."

There was a time in US history when a "wide open" immigration stance made sense. I think it is also obvious that that time has long past. In particular, it makes no sense to have a massive immigration of people who have no particular skills, education or knowledge that are beneficial to a nation. Or does it? I am sincerely asking. On the surface, it appears obvious that such people will not fit particularly well in an advanced economy-- like the US or Europe-- and are disproportionally likely to end up needing financial aid than they are to create wealth.

I have no problem with the idea of immigration being slanted heavily toward educated, productive people. I suspect that most people who are uneasy with the illegal immigration problem feel the same. As always, the race card is being used in this argument to distract from this very non-racist concern. Why is it in our national interest-- and why is it our de facto national policy-- to allow massive immigration of other nations' poor, sick, uneducated, low skill citizens? We don't have enough of our own?
6.27.2007 1:23pm
Redman:
I think the larger issue is the philosophical one of the Senate proceeding to pass a bill which is opposed by at least 3 out of 4 Americans.
6.27.2007 1:23pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I'm agnostic on the legislation myself (largely because I haven't read it and agree with you that the spin machines went into overdrive on this one so it's hard to tell what's what). My impression through from listening to discussion about the bill is the opponents may not be so much opposed to what's in the bill but that they don't believe that the enforcement and border security measures will happen and we will wind up with a situation similar to the 1986 immigration reform which leads to a de facto amnesty that encourages an even greater number of illegal aliens.

Yes I realize that supporters say it isn't an amnesty because the illegal aliens would have to pay a fine and back taxes but opponents charge (correctly IMO) that they're unlikely to pay this money anyway and they're going to continue remaining in the country for the most part.

I had also heard (and if anyone knows differently I would appreciate the correction) that the original legislation said something to the effect that when an illegal alien applied for a Z visa, the federal government had something like a day to conduct a background check and provide a reason for rejecting it otherwise the visa would be granted (it was since amended to something like 30 days). Assuming that this is true and not just an exaggeration or distortion by opponents of the bill, having a provision like that in the bill would probably lead a lot of people to the conclusion that the authors of the bill really aren't interested in enforcement which validates their suspicions that this is setting us up for a repeat of 1986.
6.27.2007 1:25pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The problem as I see it, is that most of us don't really understand the bill all that well. And Congress is really to blame for that - my impression is that it was not drafted out in the open, it is quite large, and amendments are not welcome. Plus, it seems like it is being rushed, possibly because the more that the people know what's in it, the more they are likely to complain.

So, at one point, a lot was being made about the rigors of becoming a citizen, and that border security would have to be tightened before that. But then, the response was that most of these people are probably happy just being legal, or at least not deported, so tying citizenship to border security was irrelevant. But I don't know where that has gone.
6.27.2007 1:26pm
JWB (mail):
Most of the above commenters focused on the "amnesty program," which tends to trouble law-and-order conservatives. Equally troubling, in my opinion, is the "guest worker" program, which seems like a sell-out of American workers (and not just low-wage).

The bill proposes to let aliens come to work jobs in this country for a limited time. Leave aside the implied-slavery aspect of this program (if they leave their jobs, they have to return home), and just think about the effect on the labor market. Companies get lower wage costs, in as much as the supply of labor increases, and workers of all stripes get lower wages. The immigration bill is a huge boon for Corporations, who stand by some estimates to make $330 billion from this bill in lower wage costs, while current American workers lose about $300 billion in wages. (It's estimated to be a net gain to the country of $30 billion due to general increased productivity, distributed VERY inequitably.) I can't imagine why this idea is so popular.

And of course, nobody begins to explain how we're actually going to force "guest workers" to leave after their 2-year stints.

The bill is just full of great ideas...
6.27.2007 1:32pm
GM Roper (www):
I have two primary concerns. Our government really has two major responsibilities, control of the boarders, defense of the people in the time of war. There are numerous other responsibilities, but without enforcement of the first two, the others are rather moot.

1) Is there any reason that current laws are not being enforced, and if they can't be, why aren't they and why were we told in 1986 that this would decrease illegal immigration?

2) If the last "fix" of 1986 is too complicated or too difficult to enforce, why would this new law be any different.

I suspect, though I cannot know, that this is merely a pandering to the immigrant lobby to see who will get the most votes from the newly enfranchised citizens. Remember Clinton's orders to INS to "emergency" process tens of thousands citizen wannabees in the late 90's before all of the requirements had been met? Where did a majority of those "votes" go and where will the new ones go? If this is pandering for votes, and I strongly suspect it is from both the rhetoric of the "ruling class," and from the push from the immigrant lobby, then the Legal immigrant and new citizens and the native born citizens of this great nation will have been screwed. And we didn't even get a kiss.
6.27.2007 1:38pm
GM Roper (www):
You would think that with two college degrees and a professional practice I would know how to type BORDERS. Sigh, fat finger disease strikes again.
6.27.2007 1:40pm
Tim DeRoche:
I'm completely baffled by the public debate on this issue. A few observations:

1. A lot of the MSM coverage seems to be focused on "immigration problem." But it's not clear to me what the problem is. There seems to be an assumption that immigration is hurting the American economy. But - if that's true - then why has our economy been booming while we've been integrating tens of millions of immigrants. Where's the evidence of harm?

2. In fact, as others have pointed out, there may be a direct link between high levels of immigration and our economy's recent success. If cheap immigrant labor has held inflation in check, resulting in lower interest rates and higher levels of investment, then maybe immigration is actually contributing to our GDP growth, rather than subtracting from it. Does anyone know of any research looking at this question?

3. One of the standard liberal arguments against illegal immigration is that it depresses the wages of poor Americans. But this argument seems to be based on the assumption that we should protect the wages of poor Americans at the expense of even poorer Latin Americans. By almost any measure, "poor" Americans have more money and opportunties than the massess of people in the Third World. If one wants to combat income inequality, then it seems logical to allow poor people to move to an area of the world that has more money. Why should we protect relatively affluent American "poor" people while we tell truly poor Latin Americans to stay in abject poverty?

4. If one believes in free trade (as most conservatives do), then the most intellectually consistent position is to favor the liberalization of immigration. If goods and capital are allowed to cross borders with relatively few restrictions, then why shouldn't labor be afforded the same freedom?
6.27.2007 1:41pm
Houston Lawyer:
Many of us don't have any desire to send back the illegals among us, other than those who have committed criminal acts. However, we do believe that we should at least try to enforce the borders.

We don't believe that the Federal government has expended the least bit of effort in applying existing laws against the illegal immigrants and those who employ them. This policy seems to continue, regardless of which party controls the Federal government.

It appears that supporters of the bill are far more interested in granting legal protection, as well as citizenship, to those who are illegally in this country now. The hard-wired portions of the law are those granting rights to the illegals.

It is the lack of good faith on enforcement that irks me the most. If I really thought that the migration of millions of people would stop or slow substantially, I might actually support the bill.
6.27.2007 1:42pm
Eli Rabett (www):
My major concern is that strict ID requirements for work do not work (see Germany as an example). Since turning the border into a modern free fire zone like that between East and West Germany is not in the cards, and even if it was people would still come in, the problem looks insoluble. Unless of course there is no work, and thankfully Bush isworking on that
6.27.2007 1:46pm
Gordo:
I don't support this immigration bill, but not because it isn't tough enough. I believe the solution to the Mexican immigration issue is to open our border with that country to the free flow of (non-criminal) Mexican and American citizens across it. I do not support this policy because I am a left-wing ideologue who wants to destroy the American economy and American way of life. I support this policy because I want to see both our economy and our society strengthened.

Before we fully open the border, we will need to work on security issues with Mexico. This will involve extending our current sea and air defense systems to Mexican waters, and guarding the southern Mexican border with Guatemala (a much shorter border than that between the U.S. and Mexico). Mexico must continue its current campaign to combat drug cartels and root out corruption in its law enforcement agencies. Once we are satisfied with Mexico's response, we would allow free flow of non-criminal citizens through authorized border checkpoints. We could then assume that anyone still trying to cross our border illegally was doing so for genuinely harmful criminal purposes, and could act accordingly.

After security issues are resolved, all the economic arguments, when looked at with facts instead of anecdotes, point toward allowing free flow of peoples across the border. Here is a summary of those arguments:

1. Mexican immigrant workers fill low-paying jobs that our economy needs to function well. The U.S. does not have a large number of unemployed citizens available to do these jobs - our unemployment rate is low not only historically, but in comparison to the average among the world's developed economies. The argument that employers should just pay higher wages to attract Americans to these jobs flies in the face of basic principles of economics. Higher wages mean higher prices. Higher prices mean less demand. Less demand means fewer employees are needed. And there go the jobs that were reserved for "real Americans."

2. The fiscal problem with current immigrants, legal and illegal, is not that they drain our economy, but rather that the burdens and benefits of their presence are unevenly distributed in our federal system of government. The benefits, in terms of taxes collected (not just from the immigrants themselves, but also from the increased overall economic output resulting from their presence) goes primarily to the federal government. The burdens, reflected in social welfare and health costs, are placed primarily upon state and local governments where the immigrants are located. This can be resolved by equalizing this burden, not by making our entire nation poorer.

I'll talk about the social arguments in favor of an open border in another post.
6.27.2007 1:47pm
whackjobbbb:
"Comprehensive immigration reform" is buzzword for a massive piece of legislation that affects all of us, and involves huge clustersof the government bureaucracies. NOBODY trusts the government to assemble ANYTHING addressing ALL of the various issues, efficiently harnessing that (incapable?)bureaucracy... and yet the Washington greasers are claiming to do precisely that. Those approval ratings say it all... and what the honorables are saying in these thousands of pages is exactly what Cheney told Leahy.

For one, the "comprehensive" advocates need to respond to the Heritage immigration data, which I haven't seen them do. For two, they need to respond to national security imperatives, which I haven't seen them do. Cut that bill apart, and the public might begin to understand this, or parts of it.
6.27.2007 1:47pm
Chris Bell (mail):
byomtov, that's because you don't speak Dobbsian. Anything less than send them all home = amnesty.
6.27.2007 1:48pm
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
I'll round out my list above of reasons why I support continued non-enforcement of our immigration laws:

7) The right to travel is a fundamental right, and therefore anyone who wants to should be able to get into this country, including a billion Chinese if they so desire.

8) We struggled all those years to tear down the Berlin Wall, and the proposed border security measures would be almost exactly the same horrible thing as the Berlin Wall (except that they would keep trespassers outside rather than trapping an imprisoned population inside).

9) We are a nation of illegal immigrants.

10) It's important for the United States to alleviate the overpopulation crisis in other countries by letting more people sneak into this country, thereby allowing those other countries to postpone dealing with the crisis.
6.27.2007 1:51pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
It is the lack of good faith on enforcement that irks me the most. If I really thought that the migration of millions of people would stop or slow substantially, I might actually support the bill.


I think you're right about that, while I suspect that much of the opposition to the actual contents of the legislation may be based on a misunderstanding of what the contents are (or in some cases an outright distortion); the lack of good faith on enforcement and the way many of the bill's supporters treat it as either an after thought or as just a way to placate the public (there was an NPR story regarding the Mexican legislature's reaction to a previous version in which a public official went on record as saying that the border control was the price they had to pay to get amnesty) makes me uneasy about the bill.
6.27.2007 1:52pm
whackjobbbb:
DeRoche/Gordo,

Recently, Heritage has a bunch of data up, on the subject of immigration. Have at it. Engage them. The Washington honorables have certainly avoided doing so.
6.27.2007 1:53pm
John425:
You would be P***ed off if someone entered your home through the back door just because you left it unlocked. Why would you feel any different when your country's back door is unlocked?
6.27.2007 1:56pm
eddy:
From Senator Jeff Sessions' website:

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the new Senate bill will only reduce net annual illegal immigration by 25 percent. It will add 550,000 visa overstays to the illegal population by 2017, and up to 1 million visa overstays by 2027.


Republicans service their corporate clients with cheap labor, and Democrats gain new voters. Both parties win and the common citizen is shown contempt.
6.27.2007 2:03pm
Spartacus (www):
From a libertarian perspective, we should have open borders worldwide, except where private property rights are at question (which incidentially, they a=often are on our southern border--but that is another issue). However, there is no such reciprocal freedom. The day any American can go live in Mexico and enjoy all of the freedoms we all should enjoy as citizens of the world. As long as Mexico and every other country in the world enforce protectionism and tightly closed borders, I think any supposed moral arguments about how the US should open up our borders to the masses fleeing from poverty and opression elsewhere are moot.

The policy question is seperate from this, but as has been noted, the only reason that immigrant labor is cheap, is because Americans have fought for better working conditions, etc., and so now these poor immigrants don't have to be granted the same protections. Which from a fee-market operspective is just fine. But That's still no reason to give any of them a path to citizenship.
6.27.2007 2:05pm
liberty (mail) (www):

just think about the effect on the labor market. Companies get lower wage costs, in as much as the supply of labor increases, and workers of all stripes get lower wages. The immigration bill is a huge boon for Corporations, who stand by some estimates to make $330 billion from this bill in lower wage costs, while current American workers lose about $300 billion in wages.


You are caught in the protectionist fallacy. American workers don't lose out when firms do well (and its not just corporations, its small business at least as much)-- on the contrary, the bigger profits for American companies by use of cheap labor will lead them to expand and invest, hire more management and skilled labor, spend more in our economy, etc.

Most Americans can see this, they don't think in terms of a zero sum game, and being entrepreneurs themselves, tend to realize that a market which is good for business is good for workers - and for entrepreneurs.

If I run a little housecleaning business, I know why it is nice to be able to hire cheap immigrant labor - and I know that I could not survive at all if I was forced to hire only Americans and especially with a minimum wage law in place. If I can't survive ,it hurts me and it hurts other workers in the economy too as I am forced to return to the labor market as a worker instead of an employer.
6.27.2007 2:07pm
Andy L.:

You would be P***ed off if someone entered your home through the back door just because you left it unlocked. Why would you feel any different when your country's back door is unlocked?


I would agree, if it ended there. We should stop people coming into our house/country if they don't have permission. But the immigration situation is a bit more complex than the house/trespasser analogy you use. For example, how would you feel if someone came in through your back (or front) door uninvited, and then began living in your basement, maybe paying you rent, taking care of some of the odds and ends around the house, etc. You knew they were there, but never got around to telling them to leave. Several years go by, there still living in your basement, you still do nothing to evict them. You even know them on a first name basis now. Who knows, maybe you occassionally break bread together and exchange gifts for birthdays and holidays with their kids, because in the ensuing years that they've been living in your basement, they've managed to start a family. Years later, are you still so pissed off that they can in the back door uninvited?
6.27.2007 2:09pm
David Drake:
Concur with the initial post (I am vaguely for the Bill) because of the reasons Henri le Compte and others express:

The problem today is that there is a mismatch between the current immigration law and the needs of the economy. Immigration policy favors family reunification and refugees, not the people with skills we need or the willingness to do jobs that others here will not. As long as that continues, immigrants will come looking for work, regardless of what immigration policy is. Our borders (including airports, seaports, etc.) are simply too long to police effectively.
6.27.2007 2:15pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Republicans service their corporate clients with cheap labor,


I doubt it. Most of the illegal aliens who are working in the United States seem to working for smaller businesses, farmers who pay them in cash, or for individual households. I doubt very much that larger businesses much less corporations whose officers and managers know that they are likely to be high profile targets of an investigation or law enforcement would risk knowingly hiring illegal aliens in any meaningful numbers.
6.27.2007 2:20pm
Bill Sommerfeld (www):
I'm suspicious of the proposals for a number of reasons:

1) haste. normally bills have to go through extended review by various legislative committees; this one bypassed committee review.

2) complexity. As I understand it the bill is several hundred pages, more than I want to read myself and containing lots of gems that can be quoted by demagogues on both sides in support of the issue. Past legislation in this area has failed to deliver on its promises. Simplicity would help here.

3) Fairness to those who follow the rules. A bunch of my coworkers are non-citizens in the US under various visas. They talk frequently about the uncertainties attached to maintaining legal status and getting permanent residence status; they have to leave the US periodically to renew.

As I understand it, the proposal allows people who entered the US illegally (bypassing the bureaucratic limbo) to come forward and almost immediately get provisional protection from deportation, while people who want to move to the US legally often face long waits for approval back in their home country.

For me, "fair" would allow someone here illegally to come forward and say they're going home to get in line legally, and be granted the equivalent of a short-term tourist visa to permit them to wrap up their lives here and move home in a dignified manner, with no advantage over those who consistently followed the rules.
6.27.2007 2:20pm
Mark Hagerman (mail):
I want the bill scrapped in toto. We need to seal the borders as tightly as our technology can manage, identify everyone who comes in, round up and deport those who're already here illegally, and fine anyone who provides aid or assistance to illegals.

Employers of illegals, when caught, should pay a fine of $25 per hour per illegal ($50k per man-year).

Landlords should forfeit all rents paid to them for housing used by illegals.

Banks that open accounts for illegals should be required to close those accounts, and pay triple the balance to the Federal government.

There was a time when illegals would hide in terror of "la immigracion". Let's bring those days back.
6.27.2007 2:21pm
The Drill SGT:

My impression through from listening to discussion about the bill is the opponents may not be so much opposed to what's in the bill but that they don't believe that the enforcement and border security measures will happen and we will wind up with a situation similar to the 1986 immigration reform which leads to a de facto amnesty that encourages an even greater number of illegal aliens.


Many folks like me oppose the bill because it does exactly what Thorley says. It provides immediate protection then if money is spent on enforcement it triggers a path to citizenship.

What most of us want is increased enforcement first. Not just pissing money away. IF enforcement makes a measurable difference in reducing illegal crossings, then and only then should we consider regularizing current illegals

The current bill is a fantasy of numbers.

1. today there are 12-15 million illegals
2. if the bill passes, 3-5 million more folks will come across in the 12-18 months before the window closes. these folks will produce fraudulent documents (a statement from a non-relative and a gas bill) to establish that they too were here last year.
3. all the children, parents, and spouses of illegals are also included, thats another 10 million
4. so now were are at 30 million in this group for amnesty. they have 12 months to file, but with the front loaded protection, there will be a front loaded application process. say 2 months. well that's 40 work days. or 750,000 applications a DAY.
5. The previous version stated that DHS had 24 hours to do the background check or automatically grant the visa. Given that the DHS has a current total backlog of 400,000 checks that it cant catch up with, how could it possibly do 750,000 a day? (my wife works for DHS btw)

total lunacy.
6.27.2007 2:26pm
The Drill SGT:
oh, and as an example, we could not issue those extra 3-4 million mandated passports in 18 months, but we're going to have a system in place to screen and process 12-30 illion barely literate no-english speakers?
6.27.2007 2:32pm
Mike Keenan:
In Houston there is a lot of opposition to this bill. Sometimes it seems to be mostly based on xenophobia and a basic underlying selfishness. But, there are real concerns. The crime rate has soared here in the past year -- legal (Katrina) and illegal immigrants are blamed. Health care and education are over-burdened.

Without knowing all of the details, I tend to reject any bill that creates a guest worker program. I don't like the idea of creating subclasses.

Will we be able to compete with China without a relatively open border? Will we be able to support all of the retiring baby boomers?
6.27.2007 2:53pm
Carolyn (mail):
Tim DeRoche said:


3. One of the standard liberal arguments against illegal immigration is that it depresses the wages of poor Americans. But this argument seems to be based on the assumption that we should protect the wages of poor Americans at the expense of even poorer Latin Americans. By almost any measure, "poor" Americans have more money and opportunties than the massess of people in the Third World. If one wants to combat income inequality, then it seems logical to allow poor people to move to an area of the world that has more money. Why should we protect relatively affluent American "poor" people while we tell truly poor Latin Americans to stay in abject poverty?


To me, the answer to that last question is pretty obvious: because they're Americans. Let Latin America worry about Latin America. If those governments worked at making their countries more appealing for their own citizens, then our immigration problems might be lessened. The US is more affluent for a reason, and it not due to having millions of undocumented and questionably skilled persons sucking at the teat of the US Government.

And why is it that (here and elsewhere) so many pro-Immigration viewpoints contain appeals to emotion and sentiment, while the anti-Immigration viewpoints rely on facts? Should the moral high ground be the launching point for Immigration law? Shouldn't hard facts and cold reason be part of this as well?
6.27.2007 2:55pm
MikeC&F (mail):
I doubt very much that larger businesses much less corporations whose officers and managers know that they are likely to be high profile targets of an investigation or law enforcement would risk knowingly hiring illegal aliens in any meaningful numbers.

I haven't made up my mind about the bill yet. But I do wish people would do some research (or at least follow the news regularly) before "very much doubting" something.
Wal-Mart does it.
Wal-Mart (sort of) does it again.
Wal-Mart (definitely) does it again.
Large pallet maker does it.

These are just the stories I remembered hearing about. I imagine some real research would yield even more examples.

Anyhow, I am not expressing a view one way or another. But, really, is it too much to expect people to do at least do a little research before commenting?
6.27.2007 2:56pm
plunge (mail):
What I find interesting is the position of the right-wing anti-amnesty crowd. There are lots of good reasons to think that the political situation is going to get worse for them before it gets better. That is, in a couple of years, chances are pretty decent that President Obama will be overseeing a slightly MORE Democratic Congress. Do they really think that the immigration bill pushed through during THAT term, when Teddy Kennedy is riding higher than ever, is going to be more to their liking than whatever they can negotiate today?

Personally, I don't much care about the issue either way for most of the reasons DeRoche noting. But I am greatly enjoying watching conservatives squirm. Stuff like this cracks me up too:

"If one believes in free trade (as most conservatives do), then the most intellectually consistent position is to favor the liberalization of immigration. If goods and capital are allowed to cross borders with relatively few restrictions, then why shouldn't labor be afforded the same freedom?"

Lolz. Conservatives? Free trade? You forgot the part about how free trade is only good when it benefits U.S. corporations and stockholders, otherwise it's a menace to society.
6.27.2007 2:58pm
JB:
The division over immigration comes mainly from differing predictions of what Mexican illegal immigrants want.

Most people believe that if we had open borders everyone in Mexico would move here. That would, I agree, suck.

Some believe that if we had open borders large numbers of Mexicans would work here for a while, then go home, saving a bit of money here and taking advantage of the lower cost of living there.

If you believe the first, then you should be against this bill because it encourages increased immigration from Mexico which we can't deal with.

If you believe the second, then you should oppose this bill because it doesn't do anything to help the Mexican who wants to work here, then go home and buy a house.

The reason why people dislike this bill is because for both predictions, the bill won't help and may hurt.
6.27.2007 2:59pm
Ramza:
The trigger mechanism int the current senate bill changes the bill completely. It is somewhat of a guarantee some border enforcement will happen.

Before z-visa happen
*50% of the border fence has to be built
*The number of illegal border crossings must substantially go down.
*Congress must agree and say that we are making real progress with the border, and vote with a majority vote.

This means at least some border enforcement will occur

Furthermore if you cross the border past the bill signing you will be fingerprinted and sent back. Furthermore you can NEVER get a greencard, residency, citizenship etc, thus preventing another amesty.
6.27.2007 3:06pm
whackjobbbb:
Certainly, we'll look at this selfishly, as to what it means to us within these borders. But I'm curious as to what it means to and about other countries, such as Mexico, a full 20% of whose living native born people reside in this nation to their north?

Ignoring us... is this good for them, really? Should our policy continue to enable an artificial and perhaps corrosive migration, and from a country so rich in resources? Isn't this a clear sign of rot on our doorstep... a rot that we enable?
6.27.2007 3:13pm
glangston (mail):
Andrew Hyman has covered it fairly well from my view, but I'll add this.

I think a surplus of cheap, relatively unskilled, and illegal immigrant labor distorts the market in labor and indirectly in housing.

It doesn't seem to be a social necessity to have cheap fast food (or cheap food in general, considering the obesity epidemic), cheap lawn care, cheap child care, cheap janitorial services, or cheap construction labor. If we did have a "necessity" for something cheap, possibly it should be health care or legal services or perhaps more thrift in government.
6.27.2007 3:16pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I haven't made up my mind about the bill yet. But I do wish people would do some research (or at least follow the news regularly) before "very much doubting" something.
Wal-Mart does it.
Wal-Mart (sort of) does it again.
Wal-Mart (definitely) does it again.


And I really wish before playing "gotcha" you had bothered to actually read the links you posted rather saying "oh goody, they mentioned Wal-Mart." Because had you bothered to actually read any of the links you posted you would have seen that illegal aliens were employed by a sub-contractor who worked on building a Wal-Mart store and a cleaning contractor who performed janitorial services for Wal-Mart.

Which sort of explains why even though Wal-Mart got its name dragged through the mud, there weren't any actual charges of immigration violations brought against the company for those incidents because (wait for it) they're not responsible for monitoring whether the two smaller companies who actually did hire illegal aliens were following the law.
6.27.2007 3:16pm
Michael A. Koenecke:
The essence of the bill is the Z Visa: granted within 24 hours irregardless, and infinitely renewable. Most illegal aliens are not interested in U.S. citizenship: they just want to work here. The Z Visa accomplishes that, and makes an absolute mockery of our tax system. Our current system is heavily biased toward and favoring document fraud, because employers are PROHIBITED from inquiring further when presented with documents which are not OBVIOUSLY fraudulent. Not only that, they are released from liability based upon those documents.

That was part of Simpson-Mazzoli in 1986, and the proposed bill simply makes that even *more* attractive than following the law. One little affidavit, and you've got your Z Visa and will be left alone. Heck, you probably won't even need the affidavit, and will be able to pick up forged Z Visas at your local flea market, just as green cards and Social Security cards are available now.

The employer has to check your status within *eighteen months* after you're hired (three years for existing employees), but the background check is supposed to be done in a day? Now *there's* something to strike fear into the heart of your average agricultural worker: in a year and a half, he might have to find a different job.

I have yet to see ONE person favoring this bill explain how it differs from Simpson-Mazzoli, and why it will work when the latter did not.
6.27.2007 3:18pm
Fub:
Henri Le Compte wrote at 6.27.2007 12:23pm:
Why is it in our national interest-- and why is it our de facto national policy-- to allow massive immigration of other nations' poor, sick, uneducated, low skill citizens? We don't have enough of our own?
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Department of Homeland Security have worked hard to address that question. Their trial solution is unique: deport a mentally disabled American citizen. They chose Pedro Guzman. They claim they are following the law correctly.

Their trial initiative has succeeded so far, as Pedro Guzman is still missing somewhere in Mexico. My question is whether the present bill will require the agencies to locate Pedro, bring him back and give him amnesty if his mother Maria Carvajal pays a fine on his behalf.
6.27.2007 3:19pm
BladeDoc (mail):
byontov -- that $5000 dollar fine has already been amended away. The "back taxes" thing only applies if you want to be on the "path to citizenship" and not for just guest workers and is ridiculous on it's face. How much in taxes does a minimum wage worker owe each year? As a matter of fact the EITC probably results in us owing them back taxes (not that I think it'll work that way). So yeah, it's amnesty.
6.27.2007 3:23pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Before z-visa happen
*50% of the border fence has to be built


How much is that in terms of miles? IIRC didn't the legislation authorizing the construction of border fence only cover a portion of the border (so we're talking about 50% of that portion rather than 50% of the total border). It seems to me then that this would be a step down in enforcement because it basically says that Congress has to only follow through with 50% of what it had already promised before it can grant the z-visas. In which case I can see why the border fence supporters tend to be opposed to this bill.

*The number of illegal border crossings must substantially go down.


Much as I'm not a fan of the Minutemen, they did have a point that the border patrol wasn't stopping or monitoring many of the illegal border crossings. In which case I could see "substantially go down" as meaning "looking the other way or not recording them."

*Congress must agree and say that we are making real progress with the border, and vote with a majority vote.


Which means it could just be stuck in as a rider in an unrelated bill during conference committee and if the bill passes with the rider, voila Congress has "agree[d] and sa[id] that we are making real progress with the border" without even debating it on the floor in any meaningful manner.

You may think I'm being overly cynical but immigration reform isn't an issue IMO that most members of Congress want to deal with. The way that this bill is being put together and debated plus the way that they try to pass the buck onto future Congress to make the tough decisions makes me suspect that they're just trying to pass a bill so they can say they dealt with the issue and go back to other, less volatile legislation.
6.27.2007 3:31pm
Anonymous Attorney (mail):
Tim DeRoche wrote:


4. If one believes in free trade (as most conservatives do), then the most intellectually consistent position is to favor the liberalization of immigration. If goods and capital are allowed to cross borders with relatively few restrictions, then why shouldn't labor be afforded the same freedom?


The difference is that widgets crossing the border do not require government services such as schooling, health care and welfare.
6.27.2007 3:46pm
John Kunze:
For me, "fair" would allow someone here illegally to come forward and say they're going home to get in line legally, and be granted the equivalent of a short-term tourist visa to permit them to wrap up their lives here and move home in a dignified manner, with no advantage over those who consistently followed the rules. -- Bill Sommerfeld

This is denial of the problem. They can all go back to Mexico that easily today. They don't. So what are we going to do, raise an army 250,000 strong to throw them out and keep them out?

And if you want to talk fairness, is it "fair" that I was born middle-class in the US and had a chance to become rich, yet a guy named Carlos was born poor in Mexico with only the smaller chance of getting ahead?

Sorry, the fairness argument says let them all in.
6.27.2007 3:50pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
4. If one believes in free trade (as most conservatives do), then the most intellectually consistent position is to favor the liberalization of immigration. If goods and capital are allowed to cross borders with relatively few restrictions, then why shouldn't labor be afforded the same freedom?


The difference is that widgets crossing the border do not require government services such as schooling, health care and welfare.


Agreed do the "there's no difference between goods crossing borders and people crossing borders" people really think that false symmetry persuades anyone?

And it goes without saying that there a number of instances where there should be restrictions on goods crossing borders as well -- prohibited technology transfers in the case of national security, dangerous/hazardous items such as diseased fruits and vegetables, and goods made with slave labor or pirated goods that violate the intellectual property rights of American citizens.
6.27.2007 3:58pm
Michael A. Koenecke:
Actually, before the *permanent* Z visas will issue, the border security measures are supposed to be *funded.* But that makes no difference, because the "provisional" Z visas start issuing from Day 1. And personally, I think border control is kind of a red herring: it takes a few minutes, tops, for illegals to get under, over, or through a fence. Real employment verification, with real employer liability, would solve 90% of the problem, but that's the reason right wing business interests are pushing this bill: they don't want to have any liability for employing illegals, so just as in 1986 it simply will not happen.
6.27.2007 3:58pm
plunge (mail):
"It doesn't seem to be a social necessity to have cheap fast food (or cheap food in general, considering the obesity epidemic), cheap lawn care, cheap child care, cheap janitorial services, or cheap construction labor. If we did have a "necessity" for something cheap, possibly it should be health care or legal services or perhaps more thrift in government."

You missed the fact that when all those things are cheaper, we have more money left to spend on things like health care and legal services.
6.27.2007 4:06pm
Pres:
This is a very respectable discussion that may, but for a couple of posts, miss the point. It is tempting to discuss the merits of free immigration (I myself would, for example, like to ask Mr Hyman a simple question--How many?--and if it were not impolite, would insist upon a straight, numerical answer); or to reminisce about the bracero program and the Japanese farm worker program (you probably haven't heard about that one), both of which I remember well and favorably; or to tell about a client of mine, a highly skilled techie in Silicon Valley, a naturalized US citizen from China, who was ordered to train his replacement who was here from India on an H-1B visa ("When he's ready to fill your job at a much lower salary, we'll give you a good reference letter.": While that is paraphrase, I am not making this up); or to say that perhaps our only strength now is found in immigrant vigor. But to talk about any of this with reference to the current immigration bill is to ignore reality.


For a generation or so our government has shown that it lacks the will, the competence, and probably the intention to enforce the immigration laws that are on the books. This is the default of both political parties and all three branches of government--most clearly the legislative and the executive. To pretend to have laws is one way a government demonstrates lack of legitimacy.

We live in a sillyocracy and and ought not to be surprised when Mr Hyman advocates ignoring the law. Nor should we criticize him for taking that position, for he may be taking a closer look at reality than most of the rest of us. We should however acknowledge that the depth and breadth of political dishonesty that we are confronted with in regard to immigration may be unprecedented. My prediction is of course that the bill if enacted, will be underfunded, not administered according to its terms, and for practical purposes, unenforced.

I fail to see how anyone can talk about this bill without mentioning the likelihood that it is no more than a sham, even though large numbers of the well-intentioned elected (I will give them this) may sincerely believe they are doing something other than rounding up votes.

Houston Lawyer got it right. I add that only by demonstrating the will to enforce the law we have (What, by the way, is the reason for the rush to legislate? No sarcasm intended: I have forgotten.) and then deliberately debating legislative improvements, can the congress and president produce an honest, workable result.

Sorry to have been so long winded
6.27.2007 4:06pm
Mark Seecof (mail):
Proponents of the Immigration Catastrophe bill keep calling it a "compromise." Well, it is, but not a compromise between those (65-75% of all Americans) who want the border enforced and those who don't. Rather, it is a compromise between big business interests who want more indentured servants (legal immigrants who work for low wages and are forbidden to quit or change jobs) and big ethnic interests who want more clients (through amnesty for 12+ million mostly poor wetbacks and the future admission of untold numbers of their relatives from abroad). That is why the bill provides exactly those two things, and why all the Senators involved keep saying they can't amend either portion. Note that the interests of current American citizens (other than a few farm and business owners, plus some demagogues) are not factored into either prong of that compromise.

Assertions by propagandists for the bill that "we can't control our borders; we can't deport people" are simply false. We've done both in the past with great success.

The predictable (indeed, undisputed) effects of the bill would be lower wages and higher taxes for American citizens plus higher crime in American cities. It is also likely that passage of the bill would encourage a great increase in attempted illegal entry, by people hoping to claim the benefit of this amnesty or get in line for the next one.

I think the bill would have another effect, though this one is harder to quantify. The best aspects of American culture, such as our political institutions based on equal citizenship, our eagerness for scientific and technical advances, and our relatively-free economy, have already been severely weakened by demagogues playing to socio-economic divisions within the country. We have failed to integrate most of the immigrants of the last 40 years into mainstream American society--rather leaving them bunched together in insular and sometimes hostile subcultures with demagogic leaders who seek special benefits such as "affirmative action" in their names. The pending bill would accelerate the influx of unassimilated immigrants from cultures far more hierarchical and less respectful of learning than our own. It is likely that (not from any evil motive, you understand) such people would have a baleful influence on our culture if they were invited to live here.

(I am sure that some of you will regurgitate propaganda to the effect that immigrants don't lower (and may even raise!) American wages or living standards. So let me correct you in advance. The avowed purpose of the bill's "worker visa" provisions is to reduce wages in the US. (When the President says "jobs Americans won't do," he leaves off the vital words "for the wages employers wish to pay.") At the same time, we know that amnesty (legalization) for poor illegal aliens will make them eligible for even more welfare benefits, financed by taxes on the American middle class. Anyone who doesn't see their wages reduced by competition from immigrants will see their taxes increased to pay welfare to other immigrants and support to (often Black) Americans displaced from employment by immigrants. Many will see both. None of this is in doubt. On the other hand, supposed "complementarity" between immigrant labor and native labor promoting US economic growth (which could, in the long run, improve living American living standards) is in doubt.

(If you think an large supply of low-wage labor necessarily promotes economic growth, please explain why Bangladesh, for example, is so poor.

(Finally, to anyone who types the words "family reunification" I retort: the US imposes no barriers to family reunification. None. Illegal aliens may go home to their families any time they wish. The US does not prevent anyone from exiting the country. Anyone who leaves his family abroad to sneak into the US is solely responsible for any feelings of longing which may trouble him or his kin. I hope that the next time one of you says the US is "dividing families" the words taste as putrid in your mouth as they sound in our ears.)
6.27.2007 4:08pm
Tim DeRoche:
To Carolyn:

What facts are you referring to? From the anti-immigration folks, I haven't heard very many facts at all. I've seen no hard evidence that immigration hurts the economy. And there is - at best - mixed evidence about whether immigrants drag down wages of the unskilled.

What problem are we trying to solve? Is there a problem at all?


To Anonymous Attorney:

Fair enough. I'm not sure the govt. should be funding those things for immigrants or citizens.
6.27.2007 4:17pm
maximp:
As a free-trader, I have always felt that US immigration policy was a quagmire. However the apparent naivete of the bill supporters makes me wonder about their mental facilities. Exactly how do they expect the 24-hour requirement would work? I support shall-issue laws for weapons permits, but not for the visas.
Having dealt with INS and later with DHS ICE, I have to say that incompetence and laziness that have been a rule there make a very bad combination with almost unchecked authority its officers have. Most Americans have never dealt with those agencies, but those who had frequently compare them to the most hated agency of the US government - IRS. The laws under which they operate are similarly complicated and self-contradictory, the officers have the same level of responsibility for their words and actions (close to zero), the only appeal goes through special courts if at all, etcetera.
I am by no means an "enforcement first" supporter, and I think there is something to the 24-hour idea. However I believe that the first step to fixing the problem would be simplifying the system, not making it more complicated, and clearing the backlogs. And the whole "qualified" H1-B program as it stands needs to be super-simple, I think - no quotes, no wait time past the document verification.

Note, that all of the above is an informed, but definitely biased opinion of a perso who had almost qualified to the title of "illegal" prior to 9/11 and Patriot Act.
6.27.2007 4:23pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I live 60 miles from the border. I represent a rancher who is being sued by illegals, and thus have some info. It's unbelievable!

Current estimates are 10-20 million already here. I think Border Patrol's Arizona sector stops about 100,000 per year (and estimates are it only catches 10-20%).

The rancher just had his 10th drive thru of the year. That's when drug smugglers take stolen trucks (usually 3+ at a time) and simply plow cross country thru his fences to get to a highway. Large areas of his land are covered, just covered, in litter discarded by crossers.

If caught, the illegals sign a "voluntary return" form, and are bussed back to the border. The smart people smugglers have a simple deal: if BP catches us, I'll race away, you stay and get caught. Then we rendezvous at a fixed point on the other side of the border, and come back tommorrow night.

A major risk is that gangs work the border and rob the illegals. Sometimes they even work on this side of the border. Just had a group of illegals shot up, and couple killed, north of here (about 80 miles north of the border).

The Mexican government wholeheartedly supports this. They produce pamphlets on how to do it (I've got one). An agency, Groupo Beta, busses illegals from a town about 15 miles south of the border, to the border itself. Illegals in the US are a major source of hard currency there. I saw an article in the local paper relating how some rural Mexican towns are essentially depopulated of adult males (as in 90% gone) because they've come to the US.

Another article was devoted to strife between drug runners and people runners, the former being much better armed. Some drug cartels drive people smugglers off their routes (in one case shooting and burning up their cars) because they fear they attract BP. Others will let them use their routes for a price. Still others let them use their routes, but only if they go first. If BP doesn't catch them, the road is clear for the drug trucks. If it does catch them, it'll be pinned down transporting them, and then the drug shipments can go thru safely.

The federal district judges have pointed out that if anyone wants to get serious (i.e., criminally charging the illegals, or at least formally deporting them), they'd have to double or treble the number of judges here. I mean, 100,000 cases a year in a court that now has, as I recall, four or five judges...

I can understand them wanted to get out of that hellhole. Only the major cities (esp. resort towns trying to attract tourists) have water that can be safely drunk. Entering Tijuana, a fairly major border town, you pass an open sewer, and your nose tells you you have arrived. The government is a strange mixture of the worst aspects of socialism, oligarchy, and corruption, with the last predominating. My law prof. (who practiced there) said the largest financial institution in the country is the national pawn shop.

The Mexican government's support of this puzzled me for a time. I mean, if you have people willing to work, why not bring the work to them? Then you'd get their tax revenue instead of the US getting it. I suppose it's a matter of -- to do that would require giving up at least some corruption, and a change in mental attitude (economic success = exploitation by the wealthy) that they aren't prepared to accept. So best way to keep things going is to ship your workers to another country.

I think there is an attitude there that is sort of pre-industrial revolution. The rich are VERY rich. It is acceptable to be very rich if you are essentially a rich family from the old days, have lots of land, that manner of thing. But someone who wants to achieve wealth by commerce is ... obviously exploiting someone, a shifty sort of character, a parasite on society. Ask people to invest and, as my prof. said, the reaction is not "let me look at it, I might get in on the ground floor," but rather "it must be a scam: if it was for real you would have had your family and friends invest and kept it all to yourself."
6.27.2007 4:24pm
Horatio (mail):
I support continued non-enforcement of our immigration laws for the following reasons:


Add to it communicable disease that make healthcare fun and exciting for the practitioners and populace at large
6.27.2007 4:30pm
chris c:
This bill is a complete stab in the dark. We do not know how many it will impact, how much it will cost, and we have a govt that seems indifferent when not hostile to the ancient notion that it should guard the border. "Trust us", in this context, and from this Admin, is unpersuasive.

and honestly, what's the rush? why not enforce the laws we have now first (esp those vs employers), and see if that results in curbing demand for illegal labor (which drives this entire phenomenon)?

ps - those expressing concern re Latin American poverty should read a piece in the Wa Post today re Honduras - it notes that $$ sent back from Hondurans in the US helps, but the absence of so many working age men brings many costs too. "let them all in" is no cure all for 3rd world poverty, even assuming that such policies would not prove to overburden the goose that lays the golden egg.
6.27.2007 4:30pm
Buckland (mail):
A couple of somewhat random thoughts:

Lots of people seem to blame the '86 immigration reform for creating problems today. I tend to doubt that. The real issue causing today's illegal immigration is the poor job the Mexican government has done in providing a growing economy. It's really hard to keep people from moving when life is much easier 100 miles to the north.

I also think that a second reason for the increased border crossing is the better infrastructure in Northern Mexico. Back as late as the 80's the number of paved roads connecting cities was pretty small. However the need to move goods (thinks to NAFTA) created lots of nice roads, virtually all of which has pretty good bus service.

I think I'm one of the few people remaining that thinks that the current system isn't so bad. Right now there's some amount of screening for new Americans due to the rigors of being illegal -- "in the shadows" if you will. A person willing to work illegally will have a fairly rough life with the migrant, low paid lifestyle. However have a baby here and the kid gets automatic citizenship. Isn't that what the much earlier migrations to the US were about? Sign on for a hard, rather crappy life so that the next generation can have a better one. There's something Darwinian there -- those that can't stand the hard work and lack of respect go back to Mexico; those who can raise the next generation of Americans.

The changes in the 'chain migration' are long overdue. Bringing brothers and cousins tend to allow people to come without skills. I know some people think this isn't changed enough, but in this case 'good' isn't the opposite of 'great'. Getting half a loaf is better than none.
6.27.2007 4:31pm
CatoRenasci (mail):
Tim DeRoche:

There is apparently new evidence of negative effects, see:

http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2007-06-25jl.html

It seems to me that whether one like this or that provision of this incredible mish-mash, it should be opposed on the grounds that it has been prepared in secret and is not going through the usual committee and amendment process. It's like a prepackaged bankruptcy with the judge in on the prepackage design instead of acting as an independent reviewer.
6.27.2007 4:33pm
bittern (mail):
Wake me up when the small business-people, farmers, two-income professionals, and home landscape-owners of the country decide they don't like having unprotected workers laboring for them cheap. That's when unprotected labor stops coming to fill those opportunities, for better or worse. Think community ecology. Until then, you conservatives crack me up. Oh, and don't tell the construction companies &workers, and the mortgage company officers what happens to housing demand when people stop crowding in here.

I don't often agree with Thorley but he's certainly correct that the big corporations are not really the issue here. My liberal friends need to bend their argument just a little here to fit the facts. Plenty of bedrock Republican party supporters with a pan in the fire. On the other hand, Thorley, you ought equally to dispute Eddy's complementary theory that Dems are in this to cultivate future voters. Not exactly a quick return on the political investment.

John425: Maybe, just maybe, the country is not the same as your house. Let me try an intermediate category. What if somebody came into the hotel you were living in through the back door? What then? O calamity! Gracious!
6.27.2007 4:52pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmm.

Frankly I'm astonished so many people haven't bothered to keep up with the single most important bill in the past 100+ years.
6.27.2007 4:55pm
Lily Simmons (mail):
Tim DeRoche:

You said, " I'm not sure the govt. should be funding those things for immigrants or citizens."

But, in fact, they are funding those things. You cannot wish this away. As the laws currently exists, we are required to fund these programs. And make no mistake, lower wage workers are net users of gov't programs - they take more from the system than they give.

I am distressed that this is not part of the discussion in the Senate. Taxpayers will be compelled by government to subsidize the cheap labor through increased healthcare costs, earned income tax credit, etc. Those cheap products and services will not be so cheap for the taxpayers in the long run.
6.27.2007 4:58pm
thegreatsatan (mail) (www):
What makes anyone think that the new and improved "enforcement" laws will be enacted and implemented with any greater zeal than the current ones?

Why would businesses that hired illegals, hire pseudo-legals?

Are we really to believe that by passing the Shamnesty bill, that we will get real border enforcement? Real workplace identification? Someone has to be smoking some pretty dank weed to think they can create a "tamper proof" ID.

The government doesn't enforce the laws that are currently on the books, why would they enforce the new laws? Whats to stop them from passing this piece of crap and then saying "Well we tried", its like the Wimpy character from Popeye who will gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today. Yet he never will, and the government never will enforce the new laws. 22 Senators currently on the hill were there in 86 to pass the first wave of Amnesty, they lied then, and they are lying now.

When it comes to workplace enforcement, "investigations" into illegal workers being present average 22 months to complete. Yet the government knows what businesses are hiring illegals, and has a top 100 list for businesses with workers whose SSN's are fraudulent, furthermore many state/local agencies are culprits as well:
One Illinois employer—whom the government has identified but won't hold accountable or publicly name—filed with the Internal Revenue Service 131,991 bad W-2s, on which the name and Social Security Number did not match, and which the SSA, even after some investigation, could not attribute to any known legal worker in the United States. These 131,191 bad W-2s most likely represent illegal aliens hired by this Illinois employer. The same inspector-general report reveals that a California security-guard company filed 4,321 of these "non-match" W-2s and that a state government agency ranked among the Top 100 employers in the country for filing "non-match" W-2s.


The fact that this bills supporters are doing everything in their power to ram this through without any sunlight on the bill what so ever should be a massive red flag to anyone who believes in fair and open disclosure within our government.

What do they have to hide?
6.27.2007 5:04pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmm.

IMHO the costs incurred from social programs will be steep, particularly since this amnesty allows for unrestrained chain immigration of relatives all of whom can become eligible for social programs, but the I'd suggest the real costs will be in public education.

The single most disturbing aspect of this amnesty is that there are literally no limits placed on the number given Z-visas. Whether it's 10 million or 200 million, no limits are actually declared within the bill itself. And as yet nobody really knows how many illegals there are now and how many will be able to qualify based on loose requirements and/or fraudulent documents.

There are about 50 million public education students in America today at a cost of about $500 billion a year. Add another 50 million new Z-visa students, few of whom I assume are fluent in English, and it'll cost at least $500 billion a year to educate them on top of the hundreds of billions of dollars it'll cost to build the facilities to educate them in and the bi-lingual teachers necessary to teach them.
6.27.2007 5:07pm
bittern (mail):

The difference is that widgets crossing the border do not require government services such as schooling, health care and welfare.

Agreed do the "there's no difference between goods crossing borders and people crossing borders" people really think that false symmetry persuades anyone?

I suppose I shouldn't respond since I've not decided there's full symmetry. But clearly a theory of symmetry isn't going to convince somebody that already has a point of view against people crossing borders. On the other hand, are you serious that the real or valid objection to this immigration is the cost of government services? That's amusing.
6.27.2007 5:08pm
Don Miller (mail) (www):
I have visited Mexico and live in a community that has a high Hispanic population (20%).

What I saw was a culture that has bred a lack of respect for the rule of law. Other people will disagree, but I believe this lack of respect is what dooms Mexico's ability to fix the corruption that is rampant in their government and political systems.

People who sneak across the border bring this lack of respect for the rule of law with them. If they respected the law, they wouldn't have come across illegally in the first place. They continue to show this lack of respect by using forged documentation to apply for jobs that they aren't legally entitled to.

Ask any of them and they will come up with 100 excuses to justify their actions.

I don't believe in any system where people who came to this country illegally are allowed to stay permanently without some sort of real hardship being imposed upon them.

If we really need a guest worker program, then I believe that these people should have first crack at eligibility for it, but I don't believe they should be able to enroll in the program while staying in the US. They should have to go back to their country of origin and apply there.

Changing our laws so that it doesn't inconveniance them doesn't allow them to demonstrate that they have learned the importance of respect for the law.
6.27.2007 5:09pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
My rancher client had an interesting proposal. Round them all up. Send them home. First, issue each an AK-47 and sufficient ammunition, and tell them that if they would just overthrow the government and put in something halfway honest, they could have nice jobs AND be with their families.

I have a friend who did oil exploration down there, decades ago. The going rate for labor was 25 cents per day. His (American) employer said that was BS, he wasn't going to pay anyone less than a dollar a day. (In modern money, those figures would probably be about $2 and $8). The local gentry decided he was ruining their market for cheap labor, and hired a hit man to kill them. Fortunately, the hit man was a bad shot, and my friend was not. Eventually the employer negotiated out his grievances with the local wealthy. That's what I mean about the system there being a combination of the worst aspects of plutocracy, socialism, and corruption.
6.27.2007 5:16pm
bittern (mail):

The fact that this bills supporters are doing everything in their power to ram this through without any sunlight on the bill what so ever should be a massive red flag to anyone who believes in fair and open disclosure within our government.

What do they have to hide?

The cons are too interested in attacking the liberals and the liberals delight in taunting the cons. With all that fun to be had, we need to leave the shady stuff to the professionals. Anyway, your politicians are even more corrupt than mine, so why don'ya fix yours first and stop complaining about mine?

Now, let's go fight about something, o greatsatan.
6.27.2007 5:18pm
MattE (mail):
I'm completely against this bill for the simple fact that we have yet to enforce current immigration laws. Yes, Bush is right, the status quo is not going to cut it. But first things first, stop the influx, then figure out what to do about those still here and the one's that still want to come here. If a pipe bursts in your basement, do you sit around trying to figure out what to do with the water in the basement and forget about the pipe, or do you shut off the water first and THEN do something about the flooded basement?

On a lighter note, if Mexicans want in this country so bad, why don't we just overthrow the Mexican government and make Mexico part of the U.S. If they want in so badly, let's take them. Been a long time since anyone in the Western world did some expansion-like conquering.
6.27.2007 5:21pm
thegreatsatan (mail) (www):
bittern:

your post has me confused, care to expand upon it?
6.27.2007 5:24pm
nmates (mail):
My dream amendment (completely unfeasible, but I can dream) is this:

- For any country that sends 100K immigrants, legal or illegal to the USA (or some % of its source population) in a given year, that country's ambassador must go in front of congress, and give a "Top 10 reasons my country sucks and people want to leave" speech, and face questioning. Said ambassador's speech must be broadcast on all major (and all state owned) TV/radio networks in the source country during primetime, on at least 5 consecutive days.

- This applies to all countries that have passed the trigger level since 1986, the date of the last immigration bill.


Seriously, the more consideration as to why the other countries have problems, the better.
6.27.2007 5:28pm
thegreatsatan (mail) (www):
Looks like the Senate's work is bearing fruit

The head of a Mexican forgery ring was convinced he could make phony documents that illegal aliens could use to indicate fraudulently that they were eligible for a new amnesty, says a government affidavit recounting wiretapped phone calls the man made.

Julio Leija-Sanchez, who ran a $3 million-a-year forgery operation before he was arrested in April, was expecting Congress to pass a legalization program, which he called "amnesty," and said he could forge documents to fool the U.S. government into believing illegal aliens were in the country in time to qualify for amnesty, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent said in the affidavit
6.27.2007 5:31pm
bittern (mail):
Great Satan,
I'm being fancy, I suppose. Apologies.

Just taking myself as an example, I don't hardly know what is in the bill, and I expect the bill is a hash with all sorts of benefits for inside players. I find many of the counter-proposals made here and elsewhere just shy of insane (too). In the middle of it all, you come in and propose that we get something decent, uncorrupted, and clear out of a Bush-Kennedy coalition. The mind boggles.

My comment was that there's way too much bad faith between leftside people (which I think I am) and rightside people (don't know if that's you) for us to coalesce on an open-gov't plank, instead of using planks to hit each other with.

Since I'm still in an obscure mood, that might not help. Don't be afraid to give up on understanding and plunge on ahead!
6.27.2007 5:34pm
ericvfsu (mail):
I like Andrew Hyman's tongue-in-cheek list - good job AH.
6.27.2007 5:37pm
thegreatsatan (mail) (www):
bittern

I think there is more bad faith between Government and the people than there is between the two parties. Both parties seem to want this bill, 80% of the population does not.
6.27.2007 5:41pm
Andy L.:
It seems to me that there are two major issues: (1) how to treat the reported millions of unlawfully-present immigrants who already permamently reside in this country; and (2) how to stop or greatly reduce the continued flow of illegal aliens into this country. Although some will call for increased border security or building a longer border fence, the claims that there is a "crisis" were largely advanced by certain politicians as they sought re-election last fall.

As to (1), it seems unrealistic, if not impossible, to simply "round up" all the illegal immigrants and ship them off to their native land. First, how many years would it take to apprehend, process and transport the millions of illegal immigrants. Second, contrary to what's been reported on this thread and in other places, not all the illegal immigrants are Mexicans. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if well less than half of all illegal immigrants are from Mexico. Third, there is the whole question about the effect, if any, the absence of five to ten percent of the labor force would have on our economy, specifically in the areas of agriculture, personal services, construction, landscaping, etc. I recognize that people have strong and passionate views, but seriously, what is the plan for executing this mass evacuation?

The "what are we going to do to fix it" seems to be the bigger problem in my mind. A government, if it so choses, certainly should have the ability to (a) control its borders; and (b) know who is present within its borders. Of course, this is purely a policy choice. Contrary to what others have said, I don't think conrolling borders is one of the most important functions of government. The idea of effective border control is a relatively modern one; for most of history, people came and went from one country to another with very little trouble.

If we want to stop or significantly reduce the flow of illegal immigration, then we have to have better control over the thing that attracts immigrants to the U.S., mainly the ability to work and make money. As long as there are jobs and a better living here, no length of fence is going to stop people from coming. I'd like to see some more policy discussion about effective ways of controlling or limiting employment for undocumented workers. A uniform, national ID/work authorization card? I imagine that sends shivers down the spine of libertarians, no?
6.27.2007 5:41pm
TZiese:
A link to the most recent Pew survey on the immigration bill:

http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=335

I think it might clear up some falsehoods that have been thrown around. (Like asserting that this bill is opposed by more than 3/4 of Americans. It ain't. Or saying that a majority of the country is against "amnesty." Wrong again.)
6.27.2007 5:48pm
Federal Dog:
"This means at least some border enforcement will occur"

No it does not. Why would anyone actually believe that any enforcement would take place this time? It certainly did not in 1986, and there has been no will whatsoever for decades to enforce any limits on illegals. Anyone who believes that anything but wholesale amnesty will occur is an historically illiterate fool.

From a libertarian perspective, if you want to open the borders, you must get rid of the welfare state. Good luck with that. Politicians are looking to create a massive new client state and impose the financial burden on already overburdened taxpayers. This entire farce makes me sick with its bad faith and obvious deception.
6.27.2007 5:50pm
MattE (mail):
How about something a little more recent



It doesn't say more than 3/4 are against, but it does say less than 1/4 are in favor. And chances are, if those 28% that said they didn't know knew more about the bill, they would probably say no.
6.27.2007 5:53pm
A.C.:
Here's my take on the fundamental problems with the bill:

1) The rushed process and weird procedural moves signal to me that something nefarious is occurring. It could be the best bill in the world, but I would oppose it because the proponents are playing games and I want them to stop. I expect that the idea behind the games is to give something to well-organized pressure groups before the less organized mass of the population can put together a coherent opposition. (When do legislative games have any other function?) The Senate and its arcane procedures are supposed to slow down debate and ensure that things receive full consideration. This does not appear to be happening here.

2)OF COURSE we should worry that the government has no intent to control the borders in the future. Enough people have brought this up already, but anyone who can remember the Reagan years will see this as a rerun. And rightly so.

3) The fundamental responsibility for Mexican poverty lies in Mexico. A lot of Americans are upset at being asked to compensate for the failures of the Mexican political class to deal with that country's internal issues, as well as by the fact that the class in question both uses migration as a safety valve and encourages its population to place the blame for its own failings on us. Mexico is a rich country by global standards and could be a lot richer if it got its act together, so there's really no excuse.

4) It's possible that taking the work to Mexico rather than bringing the workers to the US could help with this. If the border were to be enforced, employers who wanted access to cheap Mexican labor would have to put up with Mexican infrastructure and Mexican business laws. This would create a constituency for fixing a lot of the problems that are keeping Mexico poor and could ultimately raise wages there. Emmigration may raise wages there somewhat by reducing the number of people competing for jobs, but it does nothing to address low productivity and barriers to business formation. Those are the real problems.

5) A lot of us think it's bad that so many people have maids and gardeners these days. When did Americans stop mowing their own lawns? If you want to consume too far too much housing and land, as many families do these days, at least you should have to take care of it yourself.

6) Some professions (construction trades, for example) that used to pay enough to put their members into the middle class really ARE getting undercut by immigrant workers. These people have grounds to complain even if the immigrants are legal, but they should be hollering their heads off if the immigrants are illegal.

7) AND using bullhorns if the companies hiring those immigrants violate the still more laws -- and middle class norms -- by not paying Social Security tax or worker's comp. Also, if the employers aren't doing that, do you really think they are following OSHA rules, environmental laws, and local health and building codes? Once you start dismantling the social contract, what's to stop it all from being tossed away in the interest of lower costs?

8) Finally, the United States is a society and not just an economy. The society has a number of rules and expectations about what working life will be like, as well as about things like how the schools will function and how decisions affecting ordinary people will be made. A lot of these rules and expectations were built up over many decades, and a lot of them seem to be getting wiped out in just a few years. The fact that the changes might lead to more income for society as a whole is not the issue. If the changes result in redistribution (of cash AND of things like good neighborhoods and schools), which they certainly seem to do, and if they are shoved through by an insider-dominated process that seems to exclude ordinary citizens, then our political class is becoming as bad as Mexico's and we should give them a good thrashing.
6.27.2007 5:53pm
Visitor and passerby:
I think Mark Seecof has it mostly right.

Is the fundamental purpose of immigration law and/or control so that our economy can be optimized? I'm not entirely certain, but I'm guessing that is a no. The following may strike some as the words of a dilettante, but I don't care about the economic impact of umpteen-million illegal immigrant workers on: GDP, interest rates, inflation, minimum wage, etc ad nauseum. The US economy strikes me as relatively robust and able to respond to pretty significant forcings.

As one poster mentioned earlier, this first generation of illegal has it pretty crappy so that successive generations can have it good, read: they want a better life for their kids. I don't believe this is the case anymore, though it once was. Assimilation is the key, and it appears that the sole thrust of immigration apologists and supporters is to form a sub-culture that does not have to "suffer" as a non-citizen. See: how many languages at every gov't office, on signage, at private business, in various and sundry "neighborhoods"; programs to support illegals; an entire cottage industry of document experts producers...if there is a better life to be had here then why aren't THEY PURSUING IT? It has nothing to do with the life they can have, but the fleecing they can accomplish and benefits received with little or no responsibility and/or accountability.

From a pretty good movie: "America is advanced citizenship, you gotta want it bad".

At the risk of being labelled a, what was it, "Dobbsian"? Or criticized as a mean, ugly, hypocritical conservative, nay, capital-R Republican...send them back and make them come back legally. Time for a reset. Hard-boot. The processes are jammed and spooling big-time. There's procedures in place that seem to work pretty well for 3 of the 4 compass points in this country, sooo? We can wage pretty devastating war anywhere in the world; we can (allegedly) predict what the climate not only is doing now but how devastating it's going to be to us in the near future (down to the cm of sea rise and degree of temp change); the DMV in California can find you ANYWHERE (and I mean anywhere, live in a box and the postal guy will still visit you) in the State w/in two weeks if you are a minute late on paying registration fees...is it really that hard for us to defeat decidedly low-tek border crossings??? Crapsakes.

Oh, I'm supposed to talk about the bill, right? I don't support a "fine" for illegals that is first, obscenely low compared to legal immigration costs and second, is highly unlikely to be paid. From everything I've heard (or not heard), the bill does nothing to punish business (whether large or small) for providing the carrot and cover. All I'll say about the enforcement portion (fence, BP, etc) is CRAPSAKES! (see preceeding paragraph).

There's a reason it's called "illegal" immigration and there should be a punishment for it. Granted, deportation is probably not the best, or wasn't the best, but that was before the change (by several orders of magnitude) in the size of the illegal population. If they want to stay, every one of them should march to the other side of the border and stand in line and request to come into the country, legally, all fees and requirements attended to.

America is a land of 'equal opportunity' for everyone...which includes how you get here.
6.27.2007 5:56pm
TZiese:
And, to be fair, here's Gallup's most recent poll data. A bit more opposition than in the Pew survey.

http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=27775&pg=1
6.27.2007 5:56pm
MattE (mail):
6.27.2007 5:57pm
thegreatsatan (mail) (www):
TZiese:

Nice poll, too bad it doesn't support your take on it.
read the fine print:

**if they pass background checks, pay fines, have jobs. Half respondants asked about providing amnesty, half about providing a way to gain legal citizenship.

The poll you cite is almost a month old, and doesn't really reflect what is in the current Amnesty bill.

Rassmusen polling data thats only a day or two old here Plus they link to other polls that back their assessment.
6.27.2007 6:04pm
bittern (mail):
Great Satan,

I wasn't thinking about the parties per se, but we partisans. In the immigration "debate", I think the conservative partisans have crazy ideas, the liberal partisans are kicking back enjoying the show, and the gov't is running amok as usual. No kudos to anyone.

Unlike many of my lib friends, I'm not keen on government by referendum/plebescite. I oughtta look at TZiese's data, but let me assert that 80% want to aggressively control the borders, 80% want landscaping and construction costs to stay low but 70% want to enforce labor laws, some 40% want to send their new neighbors away right now, and 99% do not know what is in the bill. Therefore, I can't attach much meaning to your suggestion that the Congress is opposing some collective will of the people.

bittern
6.27.2007 6:05pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmm.


It's possible that taking the work to Mexico rather than bringing the workers to the US could help with this.


That's called NAFTA.
6.27.2007 6:17pm
Gangster, renounce! (mail) (www):
Any form of amnesty will give even more political power inside the U.S. to the MexicanGovernment. That's a topic not too many are aware of, but they do have a great deal of power inside our country, and they'd use increased power to push for future amnesties. (Example: they have direct or indirect links to several NGOs, such as the SPLC and the ACLU).

And, it will give even more power to racial power groups and racial demagogues, which they too will use to push for more amnesties.

Regarding the bill itself, the provision allowing gang members to be legalized still remains in a slightly limited form; see my name's link.

And, as discussed here, someone could go from being a Mexican citizen here illegally on Monday to being enlisted in the U.S. Army on Wednesday. Not exactly a good thing when you actually, you know, think it through.
6.27.2007 6:18pm
whackjobbbb:
Gotta be about 10:1 against in here. I almost pity the poor incumbent politician who has to defend a yea vote in the next election. That poor slob is gonna be You-Tubed to smithereens.
6.27.2007 6:48pm
LM (mail):
I haven't read most of the immigration bill, so I don't feel qualified to opine. What troubles me most about the illegal immigration debate at large is that the angry cries of "no amnesty" seem focused almost entirely on the immigrants, not the employers who lured so many of them here. I'm not talking about the stiffer penalties contemplated prospectively for illegal immigrants and employers alike. I refer only to the retrospective question of amnesty. which seems addressed toward the illegal immigrants alone.

I'm willing to give most of the amnesty opponents the benefit of the doubt. This question may not have occurred to them, and given the chance they might agree that the law should be applied even-handedly, retrospectively as well as prospectively. But based on my limited anecdotal experience, more than a few opponents remain adamant about not excusing past immigrant behavior, while not getting very worked up over the employers' past behavior, even when they are confronted with the issues juxtaposed. For me, that at least raises a question of xenophobia or some other kind of personal animus we shouldn't abide.

I've heard that most employers of illegal immigrants haven't broken any law. Apparently, this is because they are required to perform cursory verification only of the existence, not the authenticity of residency documentation, even though many of them are fully aware of their employees' actual status. Anyway, if no law was broken, nobody should be punished. But I'll bet a properly motivated prosecutor could find more than a handful of past violations, however minor or technical. After all, amnesty is amnesty, right?

Remember, a large percentage (30-40%?) of the illegal immigrants never crossed a border illegally. They overstayed legally issued visas; not a felony or even a misdemeanor, but an administrative violation on the order of a traffic ticket. To say we should punish immigrants but not employers would be like saying we should fill our jails with drug addicts, even if most dealers stay free, because the addicts are a rag-tag public nuisance, while the dealers would be hard to pick out from our other neightbors, and they hire expensive defense lawyers and...oh, wait....

The laxity of existing employer sanctions shows how until now, as a nation we've winked at illegal immigration under the thinnest veneer of illegality. To insist now on punishment for millions of people who reasonably believed they were invited to come, work and stay, notwithstanding a scarcely and unevenly enforced legal prohibition, would be dishonest and inequitable. We may have made a mistake allowing so many to be here for so long, but the fault is at least as much ours (all of us as a nation and those of us who employed them) as it is theirs. Any retroactive punishment that doesn't take account of that violates American principles of decency and fair play.


A few other random, Andy Rooney-like thoughts on the immigration issue:

1. Whether or not porous borders were ever acceptable, in an age of unaccounted for suitcase nukes, we can't tolerate them any longer.

2. I'm not crazy about our constitutional doctrine that creates an incentive for foreign pregnant women to come here and create newborn Americans.

3. Why are there so many famous Canadian comedians? I'm not sure I like that either.
6.27.2007 7:07pm
Kev (mail) (www):
Years later, are you still so pissed off that they can in the back door uninvited?
For me, it never would have gotten to "years later." So what if the person who broke in "did odd jobs" for me? I'd rather do the work myself and have a secure home.
6.27.2007 7:15pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
What troubles me most about the illegal immigration debate at large is that the angry cries of "no amnesty" seem focused almost entirely on the immigrants, not the employers who lured so many of them here.


Examples please. Who are the "employers who lured so many of them here" and please provide details as to what exactly they did to "lure" someone into entering the country illegally.
6.27.2007 7:19pm
Redman:

Gotta be about 10:1 against in here. I almost pity the poor incumbent politician who has to defend a yea vote in the next election. That poor slob is gonna be You-Tubed to smithereens.


Moreso than ever before, there is a huge disconnect between the political class and the citizenry. That to me is the "real story" . . . not so much the substance of the bill.

This fiasco might come back to bite the democrats on the rear come 2008.

Two of the groups that are most opposed to this bill are the ethnic voters who are descended from legal immigrants and the members of organized labor, both of which groups are at the heart of democrat power in the industrial states; if enough of those votes can be picked off by the GOP, it can take one or more states like Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey or Illinois.
6.27.2007 7:20pm
Kev (mail) (www):
One more thing:
As to (1), it seems unrealistic, if not impossible, to simply "round up" all the illegal immigrants and ship them off to their native land. First, how many years would it take to apprehend, process and transport the millions of illegal immigrants.
It's not impossible at all. How do you round them up? One at a time. A traffic stop here, a domestic disturbance there. Besides, the ones you'd want to be the first to go would be the ones who are committing crimes, right? And the little-by-little thing would reduce the possible shock to the economy of getting rid of the illegals, while providing the opportunity to hire new people in those jobs: High school and college students, the able-bodied who are currently on welfare, and, yes, legal immigrants who come in the right way.
6.27.2007 7:26pm
bittern (mail):
Thorley:

All of them. All their employers. Please answer LM's question.

The lure of a job in America is the lure. You want to sidetrack onto whether that's actively luring? Let's not, eh? Y'all got any interest in decreasing immigration, figure out how to stop luring immigrants. Otherwise we can all pee into the wind. Whatever.
6.27.2007 7:30pm
lyarbrou (mail):
Readers should see the testimony of Barry R. Chiswick (
UIC Distinguished Professor, Department of Economics,University of Illinois at Chicago and Institute of Government and Public Affairs
University of Illinois and Program Director, Migration Studies, IZA -- Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, German) before the US senate judiciary committee on the question of immigration.

Chiswick testimony


As Chiswick clearly notes, there are tremendous differences in the effect on society of immigration of unskilled (lacking a high school education) and highly skilled (BS or advanced degree)individuals. The former is a net economic drain on society; the latter make a positive contribution. A study conducted on "The Economic impact of the hispanic population on the state of North Carolina" by the Keenan Institute shows that there is a net negative cost of about $100 per individual. A study ("The impact of illegal immigration on Minnesota") conducted by the Minnesota department of administration estimates that the cost to Minnesota of illegals in 2004 was nearly 200 million. Robert Samuelson has also pointed out the costs of unskilled immigration in numerous articles. In one article he notes:

"...We've had endless stories on how immigration might affect congressional elections and whether there will be a House-Senate "deal."

But note the irony: The White House's projected increases of legal immigration (20 million) are about twice the level of existing illegal immigrants (estimated between 10 million and 12 million). Yet, coverage overlooks the former. Here, I think, Rector has a point. Whether or not the bias is "liberal," groupthink is a powerful force in journalism. Immigration is considered noble. People who critically examine its value or worry about its social effects are subtly considered small-minded, stupid or bigoted. The result is selective journalism that reflects poorly on our craft and detracts from democratic dialogue."

Robert Rector has made similar observations and Milton Friedman noted many years ago that a welfare state is not compatible with open borders. This is especially true if borders involve a poor country. In Kansas, our state supreme court basically re-wrote the constitution and dictated that the state legislature spend nearly a billion more dollars to fund K12 education. A great deal of these funds, perhaps most, go to areas where there is a large fraction of non-english speaking students.

A report prepared at the behest of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine ("Rising Above the Gathering Storm: energizing and employing America for a brighter economic future") strongly recommended that the US establish a skills-based immigration system that would favor the highly skilled and trained instead of the family based system that is used for most legal immigration. The current bill gives token support to this concept but it is not enough. Most of our legal immigration should be skills based.

In summary, I believe the current Senate bill is a deeply flawed bill that facilitates businesses off loading costs of unskilled immigrants (health, welfare,education, and incarceration costs) to the taxpayer. It is a deeply flawed bill, both in the manner in which it was conceived and what, if anything, it would achieve in dealing with our basically unregulated borders. It should be deep-sixed.
6.27.2007 7:35pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

All of them. All their employers.


I call bulls*** on this unless and until you or someone else provide specific evidence to back it up. If you can't point to specific examples of an employer actively and deliberately luring someone to enter the United States illegally (and the fact that they pay more than the prevailing wage in the illegal origin's country of origin plus travel expenses doesn't cut it) then this is just a nonsensical argument like the "what's the difference between goods and people going across the border" line from earlier.
6.27.2007 7:36pm
bittern (mail):

This fiasco might come back to bite the democrats on the rear come 2008.


Redman,

Is that pro-bill McCain, pro-immigration Giuliani, or pro-good cheer Romney you'll be waving your fiasco banner under? (P.S. I'm with you on the substance of the bill.)
6.27.2007 7:42pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
In Kansas, our state supreme court basically re-wrote the constitution and dictated that the state legislature spend nearly a billion more dollars to fund K12 education. A great deal of these funds, perhaps most, go to areas where there is a large fraction of non-english speaking students.


We had something similar in the Twin Cities several years ago when the NAACP sued school districts that were already spending more per pupil because the students weren't getting an "equal education" because of their special needs (read: ESL and broken homes). Granted most of them were almost certainly here legally (we have one of the largest if not the largest Somali and Hmong populations in the nation) but having such a large concentration in a given area creates its own unique challenges. Which leads me to think that this is probably an even greater concern in the border States where they not only have concentrated ethnic enclaves but (a) the numbers keep growing as it is probably easier for new arrivals to come from Mexico than from Vietnam or Somalia and (b) assimilation is hampered when people live there only part-time and return home.

I'm not necessarily a proponent of a "time out" to allow for assimilation and I agree that for legal immigrants this will probably work itself out over the next couple of generations. Not necessarily the case when you have an unregulated flow back and forth.
6.27.2007 7:49pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Is that pro-bill McCain, pro-immigration Giuliani, or pro-good cheer Romney you'll be waving your fiasco banner under? (P.S. I'm with you on the substance of the bill.)


Of the nine declared candidates IIRC only McCain and Huckabee have come out in favor of the legislation. Both Romney and Giuliani have come out against it and the only other candidate tainted by it is Brownback who was a co-sponsor of the Kennedy-McCain bill from last session. Giuliani though has his own problems on the issue as he supported NYC's sanctuary laws while Mayor.
6.27.2007 7:52pm
bittern (mail):


All of them. All their employers.

I call bulls*** on this unless and until you or someone else provide specific evidence to back it up. If you can't point to specific examples of an employer actively and deliberately luring someone to enter the United States illegally

Thorley, you mis-understand me. Immigrants are lured here by the idea that jobs are on offer in El Norte. Do you disagree? I'm not that interested in the extent to which employers send out the message intentionally. Maybe your interpretation is what LM meant; I don't know.

If you want to pretty much stop immigration, then I suggest you stop the hiring of immigrants. Pretty simple link. The extent to which people actively abet the alluring message that there's money to be made here doesn't make that much difference.

LM:
The laxity of existing employer sanctions shows how until now, as a nation we've winked at illegal immigration under the thinnest veneer of illegality.
6.27.2007 7:53pm
bittern (mail):
Thorley. According to the vegetarians:

Tempted by promises of a steady income, many workers are lured to the States to work in slaughterhouses. Slaughterhouses in the U.S. run radio advertisements in countries in Latin America to recruit workers, and the animal-processing giant IBP has a labor office in Mexico City.53 Some companies even bus workers from their homes south of the border to the slaughterhouses where they will work—GFI America, Inc., an animal-processing corporation that makes hamburger patties for chain restaurants—even bussed workers from the Mexican border to a homeless shelter in Minnesota. The company had told the immigrants that they would be given apartments, and it tried to make peace with officials at the homeless shelter by offering to donate some hamburgers to the shelter's cafeteria. Understandably outraged, one county official said, "Our job is not to provide subsidies to corporations that are importing low-cost labor."54

Lookee at the high numbers on those footnotes. I got no independent confirmation but it looks as legit as anybody else. bittern
6.27.2007 8:08pm
Kev (mail) (www):
I'm not crazy about our constitutional doctrine that creates an incentive for foreign pregnant women to come here and create newborn Americans.
Yes, this needs to be changed at once. There should be no more "birthright citizenship" for children whose parents weren't supposed to be here in the first place. That way, nobody can decry their deportation as the "breaking up of families" anymore.
6.27.2007 8:53pm
LM (mail):
Thorley Winston:

Examples please. Who are the "employers who lured so many of them here" and please provide details as to what exactly they did to "lure" someone into entering the country illegally.

What do you call those colorful, shiny things they use to catch fish? Oh yeah, a lure. Does it tap the fish on the shoulder and say, "Come with me over there and jump on my hook?" No, it sits there and let's the fish do the work. If I want to lure a homeless person to my house, I don't go looking for him. I just put some food and blankets by the door. I have pretty high confidence in my plan. I think you get the picture.

If I create a job, the type of which, due to wages or working conditions, is predominantly filled by illegal aliens, and I insist on the same wages and conditions, what am I counting on happening? To me, that's luring. You want to argue the semantics? Fine, so we disagree. Either way, it's hardly material to the point of my comment, unless you'd go so far as to say that millions of the illegals didn't come here knowing there were jobs intended to be filled by them and only them.
6.27.2007 9:08pm
dwlawson (www):

power in the industrial states; if enough of those votes can be picked off by the GOP, it can take one or more states like Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey or Illinois.


Forget Illinois...it's a socialist paradise here.

We have similar slimy legislative tricks going on in our legislature: Appropriations bills bypassing appropriations committee and public hearings; voting to declare a budget "balanced" when it isn't, etc.
6.27.2007 9:31pm
dwlawson (www):

Is that pro-bill McCain, pro-immigration Giuliani, or pro-good cheer Romney you'll be waving your fiasco banner under? (P.S. I'm with you on the substance of the bill.)


How about pro-2nd Amendment Fred Thompson?
6.27.2007 9:34pm
sbron:
How can a nation survive that despises its own people,
calls them lazy, stupid and racist,
and feels that its only salvation is unlimited immigration?

The Left used to say that groups underrepresented in
high-paying professions were "underutilized." Now
the Left is strangely silent about underutilization,
because it is in league with the Bill Gates faction
that wants completely open immigration for those
with technical skills.

What happened to the idea of developing our own
people and intellectual resources?
6.27.2007 9:56pm
sbron:
How can a nation survive that despises its own people,
calls them lazy, stupid and racist,
and feels that its only salvation is unlimited immigration?

The Left used to say that groups underrepresented in
high-paying professions were "underutilized." Now
the Left is strangely silent about underutilization,
because it is in league with the Bill Gates faction
that wants completely open immigration for those
with technical skills.

What happened to the idea of developing our own
people and intellectual resources?
6.27.2007 9:56pm
s806:
I think if you prevented flow from Mexico then a "Path to Citizenship" would not be so hotly contested. As it stands now, there is going to be a massive race to see who can cross before the cut-off date.

The pro amnesty rhetoric uses the word immigrant indiscriminately and would put an illegal construction worker in the same category as a Columbian genetic researcher with a H1-B visa.
6.27.2007 10:00pm
who'syourdaddy:

But, there are real concerns. The crime rate has soared here in the past year -- legal (Katrina) and illegal immigrants are blamed. Health care and education are over-burdened.


Sounds like you need to cut back on health care and education spending.

Why does everyone have to wreck my liberal utopia? It seems like the first incroachment on liberty justifies the next.
6.28.2007 1:44am
Justin (mail):
At what point did the word "wetback" become acceptable under the rules of civility for this blog?
6.28.2007 10:29am
Smiley (mail):
The pro amnesty rhetoric uses the word immigrant indiscriminately and would put an illegal construction worker in the same category as a Columbian genetic researcher with a H1-B visa.




Ironically, my understanding is that under the bill as it stands right now, the construction worker would be on an expedited path to citizenship/Green Card, while the Columbian will likely remain in H1-B purgatory for at least the next decade.
6.28.2007 10:34am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Agreed with what many said, that for a problem 21 years in the making, this is being rushed through, with complicated compromises not out in the light.

Sometimes my ego gets silly. For instance, unlike Cooter Libby or Martha Stewart and this Griles guy, Bill Clinton looked me in the eye from my television and lied directly to me, and I take that personally. For 20 years I have had to present my papers at every new job -- in return they promised me that the amnesty would be followed by a stop.

I'm not sure how H-1B -- legal non-immigrants -- has gotten so tied up with the illegal immigrant question, but as a well-qualified software engineer who has been unemployed for 25 of the past 75 months, I know there is no shortage of software engineers.

I understand that the tacit policies have encouraged the law-breaking, the same as the artifically low speed limit and its lack of consistent enforcement encouraged speeding. I might have believed that these folks who came over would abide by meaningful laws, but then DiFi spoke about the touchback provision yesterday, "What immigrant is going to show up and register for a program if he has to take his chances on leaving the country and coming back before he gets some kind of immigration status?''

We may all be immigrants or children of immigrants, but I am also concerned with the lack of meaningful assimilation. In the news yesterday, Boston was wondering whether candidate names should be translated or tranliterated on ballots -- if somebody can't read enough English to vote (or to match names from a foreign-language guide) what business does that person have voting, or being a citizen at all?

And agreed with the prior commenters who noted the half-lies in statements like "splitting apart families" or "jobs that Americans won't do."
6.28.2007 11:31am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmm.

Particularly since the Presidential election is a national election and thus is limited to citizens. And a primary requirement for citizenship is proficiency in English.

So the existence of a "citizen" that requires a *name* to be translated into Chinese is somewhat curious.
6.28.2007 3:37pm
The Drill SGT:

Particularly since the Presidential election is a national election and thus is limited to citizens. And a primary requirement for citizenship is proficiency in English.

So the existence of a "citizen" that requires a *name* to be translated into Chinese is somewhat curious.


You are correct for those immigrants who attempt to become naturalized citizens. However, that analysis breaks down when we have an interpretation of the Constitution that allows anyone to sneak into the country and give birth to a US citizen. Those citizens grow up in households where English may or may not ever be spoken; go to school where the educational elite have a multi-cultural biase against assimilation and teach K-12 in Spanish for example; and work in communities where Spanish is the language of the factory floor or construction site.
6.28.2007 4:13pm
Mark Seecof:
Well thank goodness, the Immigration Catastrophe bill stalled in the Senate this morning (28 June 07).

It has already returned from the dead once this year, however, and something like four times during Bush's reign, so it may still be useful to comment on it.

I keep seeing people ask the question: why would the bill grant immediate indefinite (601(k)(2)(A)) residence and work authorization to wetbacks, but not to law-abiding visa applicants who have been "waiting in line" for years?

That's part of the "compromise," pals. Imagine what would happen if high-skilled "H-whatever" visa holders were made eligible for new 'Z' visas. Within 24 hours of the President signing such a bill, all of the Indian programmers in the country--whose bosses could no longer add the threat of deportation to that of dismissal--would sport shit-eating grins as they emailed their bosses to demand hefty raises.

Well, we can't have that! That goes against the whole purpose of guest-workers. We must have cheap, obsequious workers, who quiver in fear when the boss clears his throat--not confident, independent workers who can quit when they wish!

As I pointed out before, the "compromise" in the bill is between: (a) business interests who want more high-skills guest workers, whose right to remain in the country will be conditioned on pleasing their employers; and (b) ethnic (and leftist-political) pressure groups who want more unassimilable alien clients (period).

Business groups are not especially eager to legalize low-skills/ low-wage workers (mainly campesinos, or should we write peons?), but they're willing to trade that for a big increase in H-whatever visas (for which, you will notice, they frantically lobby Congress every year). After all, a business can save enough money on a single H1-B programmer (~$20,000/year) to give twenty part-time (no benefits) janitors a $1/hour raise (going from $6 to $7/hour is +17%).

Groups like La Raza, on the other hand, are quite willing to leave Indian or Chinese workers in indentured servitude if that's the price they must pay for a chance to lead 12-20 million more illiterate followers on street marches for more "community development grants" (payable to the fellows with the bullhorns).

Each side is suspicious of the other. Each side fears to apply the other side's rules to its own immigrant pool (businesses need the threat of deportation to keep workers in line, demagogues need amnesty to bulk up their crowds). But both sides are willing to compromise to get what they want.

And both are utterly, irredeemably opposed to any compromise with the vast majority of American citizens, neither big-business managers nor ethnic lobbyists, who want to see neither an turbulent march by low-skilled peasants nor a sad parade of ill-paid knowledge- workers in slave irons.
6.28.2007 6:04pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
You are correct for those immigrants who attempt to become naturalized citizens. However, that analysis breaks down when we have an interpretation of the Constitution that allows anyone to sneak into the country and give birth to a US citizen. Those citizens grow up in households where English may or may not ever be spoken; go to school where the educational elite have a multi-cultural biase against assimilation and teach K-12 in Spanish for example; and work in communities where Spanish is the language of the factory floor or construction site.

Apparently these consent decrees between DOJ and places like Boston are based on census figures.
Do these counts consider how many "citizens" can't read and write English, or how many "people" can't? I don't know the threshold (it's got to be pretty low given the number of different languages) but the level on non-fluency has to be lower for native-borns than for immigrants. (I can believe that there is a community in Boston where 5% of the people can read Chinese but not English; I find it hard to believe that even in that community 5% of the native-born adults (the citizens who didn't have to pass a test) can read Chinese but not English.)
I bemoaned the lack of assimilation in the current immigrants. I suppose there is enough bilingualism that there are American-born folks who got schooled in Spanish, but is that also the case for Chinese and the dozen other languages in which ballots are printed?
6.28.2007 7:33pm
Ironcross88:
first of all i dont like this bill even coming up. Anyone whos here illegally should be thrown out. I dont care that they are lookin for a better life or whatever , they get kids into are school and they cant speak english so you cant understand them then they mix with the wrong crowd and start up in a gang or something. Now I know this isnt with all of them but it is with some. Next you got people taking away some of are jobs because they will work for low pay and will not argue with the boss and stuff like that. these are just 2 things that really bug me but thats just a few reasons i dont agree with the bill and am glad they voted it down
6.29.2007 12:44am
occidental tourist (mail):
If I may delicately begin what may characteristically be one of the last posts in this thread, never to be read except by aliens who find the hard drive of Eugene's computer in the distant future, by addressing the previous post by Ironcross88:

FMM (I like that 'For My Money slightly better than IMO)this type of outlook is the reason the bill didn't pass. Whether this is a caricature of that mindset with the automatonic threadwriting substitution of "are" for "our" (I do "their", "there" or "here", "hear" all the time) or whether this is actually indicative of a certain laziness in literacy, coupled with the entirety of the post I tend to think it is a most culturally legitmate and contextually articulate expression of the types of concerns felt to be ignored by arguments over legalization, guest workers or more esoteric arguments over economic cost/benefit of immigration.

That the Senate could have swum so far against these strong currents is perhaps a quintessential example of how bicameral republican government works, and the process oriented purposes of such a structure.

I can only conclude following the result that some combination of actual concern regarding the legislation combined with obvious concern about getting relected, individually or as it relates to the electoral hopes of ones partisans, ultimately guided the results.

I am not purely skeptical of the attempt to reduce the human experience to numbers to be manipulated in some macro-economic spread sheet to attempt to explain why the obvious costs of some institution, e.g., immigration, are actually outweighed by its benefits. But the more complex such ideas become and the more obscure, i.e., nebulous or indirect, the economic arguments for one or the other are the less useful they become in defending the contemplative republican instinct over the precipitous democratic impulse.

I wrote that sentence without meaning any irony toward how partisans of the capital "R" and "D" flagwaving crowd behaved in this particular circumstance, but irony, as I have said before, is a full employment plan. It comes unbidden as Sophocles wrote what would give rise to our highest literacy and vitrolic slang in Oedipus's denouement in all likelihood without an understanding that this tableau would have such impact 2500 years later.

That said, I think it absurd to lay this out in partisan manner. The defeat of the measure was as 'bipartisan' as its support:

33 Democrats, 12 Republicans and independent Joe Lieberman, Conn.

vs.

37 Republicans, 15 Democrats and independent Bernard Sanders, Vt.

Thus it seems pretty damn silly for Howard Dean to have said the vote on the immigration bill was "a reminder of why the American people voted Republicans out in 2006 and why they'll vote against them in 2008."

This is particularly so given Jim Webb's flip, i.e., voting to bring the bill back for reconsideration but voting against cloiture, and given that these are the types of personalities in close call political demographic states that the capital "D"s are trying to use to pick off. Does he really think that maybe this bill will lead to Susan Collins losing her seat in Maine say because she was unable to persuade more of her Republican colleagues to pass it. I think that rather unlikely - not that that (perhaps happily) endangered species, the northeastern Republicans don't face difficult challenges in future elections, but the failure of the immigration bill I think will is a best a wash for such races while allowing Jim Webb style democrats seeking to knock off Republicans in redder territory to disavow the immigration amnesty issue as some kind of Democratic litmus test. Thus the bills defeat might indirectly help such efforts but for exactly the opposite reason that Dean implies, not because voters wanted it passed but because they didn't and 'new' Democrats will not be saddled with it.

Some will object that those favoring the bill crossed partisan lines to compromise whereas those opposing the bill had mutually exclusive reasoning.

The bill more carefully split the Senate into conservative and progressive factions, those unwilling to yield the status quo to something they did not perceive as a solution vs. those who believe the legitimacy of the legislative id rests on whether they pass legislation. If there is a problem, it is unaddressed if legislation is not passed.

Returning, aria da capo, to the blithe ignorance turned by the republican body on democratic concerns of the sort articulated by Ironcross88 -- while I saw flashes of the libertarian impulse regarding immigration in this thread, noone -- perhaps favoring polite quips over wordiness to keep the discussion moving, a trait for which I have no skill -- spelled out the Friedmanesque caution as fully as Ron Paul has recently.

There is not a thing in the bill that would address these concerns, it was a trade-of of border enforcement and guest worker provisions for hispanic empowerment. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with people seeking these ends. But in a way these ends are as intellectually exclusive as those of the opponents. They are not logically related other than that the great bargain struck them in while striking other priorities out. Thus the alliance of procedurally conservative Senators who defeated the bill is just as bi-partisan. If there is any message for the parties here, it is which factions hold the dominant position within their caucuses.

Brian
6.29.2007 10:25am
bittern (mail):
Ironcross is rite, oxidental. anyone whos here and they cant rite or speak english good shud get thrown out of the country rite now. This means you! you shuddint be riting forrin wurdz lik nebulous, precipitous, irony, Oedipus's denouement, tableau, Friedmanesque, aria da capo, and bicameral when you are in this country. it iz verry hard to unnerstand what you are saying with all those forrin words so I will probly go mix with the wrong crowd and start up in a gang or something.
6.29.2007 3:33pm
occidental tourist (mail):
Bittern,

thank goodness somebody read it before the aliens, or are you.... Nevermind.

As to my vocabulary exercises, it just gets two things done at once by writing a post at the same time. I suppose its a good thing I didn't find a way to work in the word niggardly or the Volokh conspiracy would have been shut down.

Also I think somehow I referred to the 'grand bargain' as the 'great bargain' -- my apologies all around.

OK, so you were a little harder on ironcross88 than I. But all the grammar and spelling corrections in the world aren't going to undermine the very real sentiments expressed -- whether, as I wonder, they are caricature or honest sentiment in the case of that post.
6.29.2007 9:01pm