The new bipartisan immigration bill

by on January 29, 2013 at 7:25 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Education, Law, Political Science | Permalink

Here is the proposal.  It is better than nothing, if only to show that something can be done.  The “no path to citizenship until the border is secure” is simply kicking the can down the road, as that standard never will be met.  In the meantime, lots of money will be spent and in due time drones will dominate the border; cult midnight showings of Blue Thunder will increase.  U.S. universities will go crazy inflating the size of their graduate STEM programs, and it will become harder to flunk these people out.  Economists will lobby for inclusion but fail.  (Isn’t it better to simply increase the number of jobs-related visas?)  The passage about the special importance of farm labor sounds like Orwellian satire.  Dairy is mentioned too.  Will this pave the way for a national ID card?  More hi-tech workers will get in.  Productivity will rise, and some individuals will have much better lives, but the country will feel less free.  Republicans are trying to appeal to moderates here, not actual Latinos.  We observe the ever-lingering influence of GWB.

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 7:41 am

I have felt for some time that illegal immigrants would actually be a good way to implement libertarian* policies. For example, imagine you were a Mexican, and you could go to your local mall in Mexico and get a US work permit. You’d have to pay, say, $500 for a (one-time) background check, $1,500 for a year’s permit, and $1,500 for basic health insurance while in the US.

In the US, you’d have to pay ordinary income taxes, but no FICA. You would not be eligible for social security, unemployment insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, but otherwise could work and own property like anyone else. If you are arrested for a crime, you may lose your work permit. If you hold a permit for a given length of time with residency and income in the US, say, 5-10 years, then you can apply for citizenship. (And then you have to pay FICA.)

JWatts January 29, 2013 at 9:53 am

“If you hold a permit for a given length of time with residency and income in the US, say, 5-10 years, then you can apply for citizenship. (And then you have to pay FICA.)”

I’d certainly approve of such a plan. Particularly if I were a 57 year old Mexican.

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 10:17 am

I’m reasonably agnostic about the conditions, be they by age or by defined contribution. Personally, I think the bigger challenge is the public education of children. That’s where the big money will go, and I’m not quite sure how to handle it from a public policy point of view. At what point can someone bring their family over? That’s the more pressing issue, I think.

Be that as it may, I think a simple pay-to-play system would be much, much easier and provide a means to document illegals living in the US very quickly. And I’d like to give them lower services and a better tax rate than for US citizens, as I suspect it will show a positive cost/benefit relationship.

8 January 29, 2013 at 10:36 am

If the government allowed everyone to take that deal, Medicare and Social Security would go bust tomorrow. I’d sign up for it, even if it meant giving up citizenship.

Thanks to chain migration, they can sign up for the family to come over. I think you meant wife and kids, but it means the whole family. Mom, dad, wife, kids, brother, his wife and kids, cousins, etc.

Mr. Econotarian January 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm

“If the government allowed everyone to take that deal, Medicare and Social Security would go bust tomorrow”

Both Medicare and Social Security eligibility requires you or your spouse to have worked for about 10 years contributing payroll taxes.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Mr. E,

“Both Medicare and Social Security eligibility requires you or your spouse to have worked for about 10 years contributing payroll taxes”

No. Social Security requires 40 credits (10 years). Medicare does not. Of great importance, SSI does not.

Of course, the taxes from even a full lifetime of work at low wages doesn’t even come close ot the cost Medicare, SSI, Social Security.

Poor people are expensive. Importing poor people is absurd. Not that hard to understand,.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 11:05 am

“Personally, I think the bigger challenge is the public education of children. That’s where the big money will go, and I’m not quite sure how to handle it from a public policy point of view.”

One low-skill immigrants have children they become a stunning burden on taxpayers. At $15K per ESL kid, the cost dwarfs any hypothetical gains from utilizing imported cheap labor. Worse, the children (and their children, grandchildren, etc.) perform dismally in school. The reality is mulch-generational educational failure. It should be obvious, but America has enough of that already. We don’t need to import it.

However, health care is actually a bigger cost (by far) than education. Health care runs around $8K per person per year in the U.S. That’s $32K for a family of 4. Low-skill immigrant families don’t even earn that much (on average) and they certainly don’t pay that much in taxes.

What you really want is a system where illegals can provide “production without reproduction” (from Steve Sailer and the New York Times). Canada has such a system (apparently) as does Singapore. America’s political system won’t support it.

The real solutions are pretty obvious. Close the border and take away the welcome/welfare mat and the illegals will go home. That’s the economically optimal solution.

rluser January 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm

That healthcare number is nonsense since the money tends to be spent EOL.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 1:15 pm

rluser,

“That healthcare number is nonsense since the money tends to be spent EOL.”

Actually, end-of-life care isn’t that expensive. However, it is true that spending is disproportionately weighted towards the 55+ population.

That’s exactly the point. With Amnesty illegals stay in the U.S. and become any ever greater burden as they get older. If they were large net taxpayers when they were younger, the cost would be (more) bearable. However, illegals and their families will be (net) on the dole (WIC, TANF, disability, Medicaid, Medicare, Section 8 housing, ESL, food stamps, jails, prisons,etc.) for every minute of their lives.

Mr. Econotarian January 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm

“One low-skill immigrants have children they become a stunning burden on taxpayers. At $15K per ESL kid, the cost dwarfs any hypothetical gains from utilizing imported cheap labor”

I would highly question if a free market in education would require $15,000 per year to educate a child. The numbers you are mentioning come form a union-bound socialist monopoly school system.

It should also be noted that ESL really only applies to children born outside the US. Kids born inside the US learn English on their own just fine (thanks SpongeBob SquarePants!)

Finally, you should consider that children of immigrants into the US are not likely to be employed in the same low-skilled jobs their first generation immigrant parents are. For one, they are likely to know English by the time they get out of school. I know plenty of modern second-generation immigrants who are restaurant managers, office managers, security guards. In my own family, second-generation immigrants included accountants, doctors, and school teachers.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Mr. E,

“I would highly question if a free market in education would require $15,000 per year to educate a child. The numbers you are mentioning come form a union-bound socialist monopoly school system.”

The numbers I am quoting are for the education system we actually have… Not a alternative system that doesn’t exist.

“It should also be noted that ESL really only applies to children born outside the US. Kids born inside the US learn English on their own just fine (thanks SpongeBob SquarePants!)”

Not in the “real world”. See “How Many Limited English Proficient (LEP) Learners are There?” http://www.englishlab.net/teflblog/2008/12/how-many-limited-english-proficient-lep-learners-are-there/

“ccording to the US department of Education, there were ca. 5,400,000 ESL students in the USA alone in 2006 and the number is increasing. ESL or LEP students are US fastest-growing population and are expected to make up one out of every four students by 2025.”

and http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101016175008AA18ZYR

“The number of ESL students in US public schools has almost tripled over the past decade (Goldenberg, 2006). In 2004, Crawford observed that one-fourth of the school-age students in the United States were from homes where a language other than English was spoken. The school age population (K-12) will reach about 40% ESL in about 20 years (Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence, 2002). BETWEEN 1990 AND 2000 THE NUMBER OF SPANISH SPEAKERS INCREASED FROM ABOUT 20 TO 31 MILLION (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001)…”

“Finally, you should consider that children of immigrants into the US are not likely to be employed in the same low-skilled jobs their first generation immigrant parents are.”

Were it only true. See “Honesty from the Left on Hispanic Immigration – A provocative new book doesn’t flinch from delivering the bad news.”
http://www.city-journal.org/2008/eon1008hm.html

” A forthcoming book shows just how misguided that policy is, especially in light of the nation’s current economic woes. The Latino Education Crisis: The Consequences of Failed Social Policies, by Patricia Gandara and Frances Contreras, offers an unflinching portrait of Hispanics’ educational problems and reaches a scary conclusion about those problems’ costs. The book’s analysis is all the more surprising given that its authors are liberals committed to bilingual education, affirmative action, and the usual slate of left-wing social programs. Yet Gandara and Contreras, education professors at UCLA and the University of Washington, respectively, are more honest than many conservative open-borders advocates in acknowledging the bad news about Hispanic assimilation.

Hispanics are underachieving academically at an alarming rate, the authors report. Though second- and third-generation Hispanics make some progress over their first-generation parents, that progress starts from an extremely low base and stalls out at high school completion. High school drop-out rates—around 50 percent—remain steady across generations. Latinos’ grades and test scores are at the bottom of the bell curve. The very low share of college degrees earned by Latinos has not changed for more than two decades. Currently only one in ten Latinos has a college degree.”

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 10:31 am

SK,

In real life, America’s political system invariably provides welfare (WIC, food stamps, Medicaid, emergency rooms, Section 8 housing, TANF, disability, etc.,etc.) to more or less everyone in the United States. The mechanisms vary, but the result is basically the same. In some cases, the law simply provides welfare without consideration of legal status (health care starting with emergency rooms). In other cases, handouts are theoretically restricted, but recipients are allowed to “self-certify” their legal status.

Of course, even the law is changed when it gets in the way of handouts. The original welfare reform law in the 1990s, restricted immigrant welfare. After the predictable complaints, the restrictions were eliminated.

However, you have missed the biggest point of all. Once low-skill immigrants enter the United States, they can and do have families (invariably at taxpayer expense). That makes low-skill immigrants a stunning burden on the U.S.

Some simple numbers should make this point all too clear. Consider a poor working family of 4. Health care runs around $8,000 per person per year in the U.S. That’s $32,000 for a family of four. Education runs around $15,000 per ESL child. That’s another $30,000 for an easy total of $62,000 in taxpayer burdens per year. Of course, not all immigration children are ESL (most are) and health care costs less than $8K per year for two young adults and two children. Conversely, everyone grows old (and very expensive) over time.

Say the family earns $30,000 per year and pays 25% in taxes (sales, payroll, gas, etc.). That’s a revenue yield of $7,500 versus taxpayer costs of $62,000. We can’t afford immigrant families that cost $54,500 per year.

For the reasons stated above, my simplistic model is wrong. More careful studies produce lower numbers. One study showed tax revenues of around $10K and costs of around $30K per year for low-skill immigrant families. See “The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to State and Local Taxpayers”

“In 2004, there were 4.54 million low-skill immigrant households. The average net fiscal deficit per household for federal, state and local spending combined was $19,588. This means that the total annual fiscal deficit (total benefits received minus total taxes paid) for all 4.54 million low-skill immigrant households together equaled $89.1 billion.”

“In FY 2004, the average low skill immigrant household received $30,160 in direct benefits, means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services from all levels of government. By contrast, low-skill immigrant households paid only $10,573 in taxes in FY 2004. A household’s net fiscal deficit equals the cost of benefits and services received minus taxes paid. The average low-skill household had a fiscal deficit of $19,588 (expenditures of $30,160 minus $10,573 in taxes).”

axa January 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

stupid question following……can anybody explain all the fuzz about “citizenship”? Why is it necessary? All a foreign worker needs is a work permit. You work, earn lots of dollars, good life. Why citizenship is an obsession? From my unique point of view citizenship is more a load than a benefit.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 4:48 pm

axa,

‘can anybody explain all the fuzz about “citizenship”’

Republicans can still win a few elections. Obama and friends view that as a problem they need to solve. They have plan. A good plan. It will work. They know it.

America will become a one-party state, just as California is now. Reagan’s Amnesty finished off the GOP in California. Obama’s Amnesty will complete the job nationwide.

The interesting question is why any Republican would go along? Of course, it should be obvious that America has an “evil party” and a “stupid party”. Guess which one is which?

The Original D January 29, 2013 at 10:52 pm

It was Pete Wilson who finished off California.

Rahul January 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm

One pretty good reason is that thx to Bill Clinton, if a non-citizen commits even fairly minor crimes, he/ she would be deported with no ability to re-enter for at least 10 years. Given that state of the criminal justice system and the prevalence of plea bargaining …

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Rahul,

You have the law partially wrong and the facts quite wrong. A legal resident (LPR status for example), has to commit a serious crime to be deported. See “Immigration Consequences of Crimes Summary Checklist” (http://www.immigrantdefenseproject.org/docs/10_IDP%20Checklist-6-17-10.pdf). The rules are more complex, but basically you have to be sentenced to a year in prison to be deported. Not exactly a “fairly minor crime”.

That’s the theory. The truth is very different. Until recently, enforcement was nil. You could commit any crime (even as an illegal alien) without anyone checking your immigration status. You could literally commit murder without the slightest question as to whether you were an LPR an illegal, etc. You would still be prosecuted for the crime of course and then just handed back to society to try it again.

Indeed, the GAO (GAO-05-646R) found that a typical illegal had been busted 8 times without any intervention on the part of ICE or any other immigration authority. Quote

“They were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien. Nearly all had more than 1 arrest. Thirty eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests, 32 percent (about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests, and 26 percent (about 15,000) had 11 or more arrests. Most of the arrests occurred after 1990. ”

This has changed somewhat with the Secure Communities program. Local jails are now checking the immigration status of criminals as they are arrested. The number of illegal alien criminals has vastly exceeded what (some) people expected. The myth of the law-abiding illegal should be quite dead at this point.

Of course, the fact that non-citizen immigrants can be removed if they commit crimes is a good thing. Immigration is a debatable topic. Does anyone really think we need (or should tolerate) criminal aliens? Once they get citizenship we can’t get rid of them. Yet another reason not to put the existing illegals on a “path to citizenship”.

After 9-11, the Bush cracked down hard and successfully on Islamic radicalism in the U.S. The program was highly effective and probably the most successful tool employed by the U.S. government to prevent another terrorist attack in the United States.

How was it down? Using immigration law to get rid of anyone with ties to extremism. Because of years of slack (non-existent) immigration enforcement, essentially all of the radicals were in violation of one immigration law or another. The Bush administration took advantage of this fact to boot them.

Of course, the Arab/Muslim community bitterly resented the fact that they were being singled out for real immigration enforcement while Bush promoted Amnesty for Hispanics. They were correct of course.

Amnesty would have made this impossible. Yet another reason why Amnesty was and still is a terrible idea.

rahul2 January 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm

If you think a crime w/ a one year jail sentence is severe (given mandatory sentences, tough on crime laws etc.) and that enforcement of immigration status during criminal prosecution is nil, you need to put down your crack pipe or get back on your meds. I won’t even get started on your fears of islamic radicalism.

Peter Schaeffer January 31, 2013 at 1:05 am

R2,

“If you think a crime w/ a one year jail sentence is severe (given mandatory sentences, tough on crime laws etc.)”

You are ignoring the pervasive use of plea bargaining. In real life, you have to commit a very serious crime to get one year, after the charges are pleaded down. From “Deportations avoided via DA’s plea deals” (http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_4421679). Quote

“The Denver district attorney’s office under gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter approved plea bargains that prevented the deportation of illegal and legal immigrants charged with drug, assault and other crimes.

The office allowed defendants to plead guilty to trespassing on agricultural land instead of the crimes they actually were accused of 152 times from 1998 through 2004. Other counties – Jefferson, Adams and Arapahoe – had only 75 convictions combined for the crime, according to court records.

Former Denver District Attorney Norm Early, who was Ritter’s predecessor, laughed when he heard about the farm charges in urban Denver.

“I reviewed all my case dispositions, and I never remember that coming up,” he said.

A review of 15 of the agricultural trespass cases in Denver showed that heroin and cocaine charges, theft of motor vehicles and domestic violence crimes – miles away from any farm or open land – were transformed into agricultural trespass.

“This plea agreement was reached with the the specific purpose of not pleading guilty to an offense that would subject (the defendant) to deportation proceedings,” wrote a defense attorney in a motion filed in a Denver court Oct. 11, 2000.”

I have already documented the disconnect between law enforcement and immigration enforcement. Here is another quote from the same article.

“The defendant, Ernesto Leon Reyes, was a resident alien who was initially charged with five drug counts related to his possession and intention to distribute 2,000 grams of methamphetamine.

If convicted of the drug charge, Reyes could have been deported after serving time. Instead, after pleading guilty to the trespass on agricultural land charge, Reyes received probation and stayed in the United States.

The review showed that illegal immigrants and a number of defendants whose immigration status was unclear entered into the same type of agreement.

Some were later charged with new crimes in Denver, indicating that they were never deported even after passing through Ritter’s office.”

Probation for selling 2 kilos of Meth. Sounds about right.

Claudia January 29, 2013 at 7:45 am

look at your blog byline and cheer up…small steps. I cannot imagine a real life policy that would be above critique here, rightly so, but I would have thought you’d be a little more encouraging here. compromise on a contested issue is not easy or without mess.

dan1111 January 29, 2013 at 8:04 am

I agree, especially the part about “no path to citizenship until the border is secure”. It is not clear that this is “kicking the can down the road”. A cynic of a different political persuasion could read this quite differently and say, “this is a meaningless standard that only provides political cover to implement a path to citizenship”. Ultimately we won’t know until we see the details of an actual bill.

Sam X January 29, 2013 at 10:52 am

Agreed, multiple reports suggest the secure border requirement will be fudged and the process of legalizing the 11 million will begin shortly.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 11:06 am

Interesting considering 3/4ths of the ‘proposal’ is assurances about the border. It makes me wonder if we can even trust the proposers, some of whom have been in Federal government as long as we’ve had this broken immigration situation.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 5:26 pm

From “Lies, Damn Lies, and Enforcement Promises” (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/339012/lies-damn-lies-and-enforcement-promises-mark-krikorian)

“Even amnesty advocates acknowledge that the enforcement provisions of any package deal are bogus. For instance, over at the Plum Line, Greg Sargent writes about the Senate outline’s proposal for a commission of southwestern leaders to certify control over the border before the “provisionally” amnestied illegals get green cards:

And if this “commission” doesn’t ever decide the border is secure, couldn’t that result in 11 million people being stranded in second-class legal limbo?

That’s a legitimate worry, according to Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a group advocating for immigration reform. But he tells me that on a conference call yesterday, Democratic Senators reassured immigration advocates that this commission won’t be constructed in a way that will hold up the process for too long.

As Sharry put it, Democrats realize that they can’t “allow the commission to have a real veto” over setting in motion the path to citizenship. He noted that Dems see the commission as “something that gives the Republicans a talking point” to claim they are prioritizing tough enforcement, giving themselves cover to back a process that “won’t stop people from getting citizenship.”

In other words the certifying commission is a lie.”

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm

SX,

It is already clear that the Amnesty is day one and the border control / enforcement provisions are “someday far in the future”. Frank Sharry has already admitted that border control will not be allowed to interfere with citizenship.

In other words, this is pure Amnesty/citizenship with barely a fig-leaf of pretense otherwise.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 11:14 am

“Ultimately we won’t know until we see the details of an actual bill.”

That’s a nice theory. However, it’s probably not true. No matter what language is in the bill, the truth will be Amnesty, no enforcement, and massively expanded welfare utilization. Why? The advocates of this bill have always opposed any substantive effort at immigration enforcement. They aren’t going to change their minds after the bill passes. I

Indeed, they will feel emboldened to oppose all future enforcement (after all they won). A new wave of illegals will promptly enter the United States with demands for yet another Amnesty.

The bill may or may not contain restrictions on welfare utilization by the former illegals. These restrictions will either be ignored or minimally enforced (as is the case now). The bill may or may not restrict the ability of the former illegals to import their extended families. If it does, they will bring them in illegally (after all another Amnesty is surely coming0.

My remarks may seem cynical. However, look at the actual record of immigration (and welfare eligibility) enforcement since the Reagan Amnesty of 1986. He said it was “the worst mistake of my administration”. He was right.

Mr. Econotarian January 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

CBP, ICE, and US-VISIT together now cost $18 billion per year.

Exactly how many more billions of taxpayer dollars do we have to waste to “secure the borders”?

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Mr. E,

The vast majority of those dollars are not spent “securing the border”. See “New Report Offers Deceptive Assessment of Immigration Enforcement ”
http://cis.org/Announcements/Immigration-Enforcement-United-States-Rise-Formidable-Machinery

However, two bottom lines should be clear. Compared to the multi-trillion dollar cost of Amnesty, $18 billion is a bargain. Second, if we wanted to enforce our immigration laws it would be cheap, very cheap. Eisenhower removed 1-2 million illegals in 90 days with 1000 Federal agents.

How did he do it? He told them to enforce the law. The same approach would work now as well. Let the Federal government work with state and local police and 90%+ of the illegals will be gone in a few months.

The taxpayer savings and gains for American workers would be immense.

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 7:50 am

* I have been wondering about the classical liberal versus libertarian split in recent times. I am perplexed as to why liberty should be considered such a bad thing.

Perhaps libertarians are handicapped by a lack of willingness to acknowledge public goods and externalities. In the recent fiscal debates, I am never sure whether libertarians are willing to concede the legitimacy of government at all. I think most people accept a certain level of government involvement and do not really want to shut down government just for the sake of it.

By contrast, classical liberals (like myself) are more concerned about the spread of government, its inherent inefficiency (as economists are not willing to discuss the aligning of incentives), the drag large government creates on growth, and the corrosive effect of dependency on culture. But this is not a refutation of government per se, rather the goal is to control the size of government and insure tax dollars are well spent.

Or is this a bad thing, too?

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 9:49 am

How close are we to what you classify as the ideas classical liberalism applying? The government is broke. The entire budget is wars and wealth transfers. Their best ideas are taxes and trillion dollar platinum money printing, and increasing labor costs then papering it over with cheap immigrant labor. Rest assured, the world did not just go topsy turvey- Charles Schumer and Linsday Graham did not suddenly become interested in things other than (1) keeping their job and (2) trying to keep their job a hoot. It seems like we could use a decade or two of radical libertarianism just to get back to even.

So, in Russ Roberts discussion with Pete Boettke about Jim Buchanan, the talked about Buchanan’s theory on why people agree to expanding government. Essentially, if you think everyone else is milking the system, you will accept a little adulteration in the milk you receive. I liken it to why Congress has the approval rating of termites but gets re-elected. People don’t take it out on their Congressman. I wonder if this also applies to individual legislation. This is probably not even a good immigration proposal, and certainly does not even sniff how immigration affects the entitlement problems, the national defense problems, or the public goods problems.

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 10:23 am

If we’re pushing for Federal taxes and spending to be 19-20% of GDP, then we’re on the same page. I personally doubt we’re going to get spending down to, say, 16% of GDP.

To the broader point, I have consistently argued that politicians should be paid for performance, which is, in the US, 0.25% * (GDP growth – Federal debt growth, in dollars) / 535 members of Congress. In a good year, that’s a $2 million dollar bonus per member at a cost of $10 per household. Give me that, and I’ll accept any tax rate you care to impose.

Corporate Serf January 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm

GDP numbers can’t be (are not?) fudged and federal debt growth cannot be hidden (a la greek swaps)? Don’t we have enough lawyers?

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Serf -

You’re right. Numbers can be fudged and you need a score keeper. Personally, I’d use the IMF, for any number of reasons.

Having said that, corporate bonus systems are also gamed, so GDP might be reported a bit higher or debt a bit lower than otherwise. But whether or not we pay $1 bn in bonuses or $2 bn, for the US, it’s immaterial. What matters is an incentive to control debt and maximize growth.

So, here’s what I’d like you to say, Serf: “Let’s try it. Let’s try it in Egypt, or Hungary, or Italy, or Greece, or Gaza or Iraq. Let’s try it and see if it works.”

That’s what I’d like you to say.

derek January 29, 2013 at 10:50 am

There is a very simple way to accomplish this. Make it impossible for government to borrow money. Everything gets financed by cash flow. Revenues and a healthy economy suddenly become paramount, not because unhappy people don’t vote for you, but simply that you can’t do anything without it. Great ideas become money out of pocket for everyone instead of some free lunch.

It was an amazing spectacle watching Federal Canadian politicians cutting ribbons on $100k projects. That was all there was, there wasn’t any money to buy votes with. No more of this taxing the rich nonsense, the money wasn’t there and it hurt growth. If the middle class wanted something, they paid for it, like groceries. A natural limit no matter who was in power.

BintheCT January 30, 2013 at 10:58 am

+1

Getting rid of withholding would help too. Let’s have tax payers start to feel the true pain of the largesse they continue to vote for!

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 11:24 am

SK,

“By contrast, classical liberals (like myself) are more concerned about the spread of government, its inherent inefficiency (as economists are not willing to discuss the aligning of incentives), the drag large government creates on growth, and the corrosive effect of dependency on culture”

If you actually believe any of that, how can you possibly support any immigration scheme that

A. Massively expands the population of people dependent on handouts.
B. Massively expands the population of people who will vote for more handouts.

To put this in perspective, Hispanic Republicans are to the left of white Democrats on expanding the welfare state and the role of government in the economy.

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Peter -

You’ve made the socially conservative case. It’s not without its merits, and an important reason immigration policy is so hard. There is a real risk that Latin America absorbs the US, culturally speaking. I think that’s a key take on the recent election, no?

I might argue that’s why an incentive plan for politicians is so important.

But, in any event, let me concede your point without ceding the need to find a better way to handle undocumented immigrants that is not primarily oriented around the unachievable goal of wide scale deportation.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 1:24 pm

SK,

Even if you don’t think mass deportations are feasible, there is no logic to Amnesty. Amnesty enables the former illegals to be a much bigger burden on America (more handouts, importing extended families, more welfare dependent children, more competition for American workers, more illegals, etc.).

The messy status quo is better than Amnesty for Americans. Remember these people came to America illegally, knowing that they would be here against our laws. We owe them nothing. They have no legitimate claims on our sympathies. They have already weakened our nation, even without Amnesty.

We can just go on ignoring them. Eventually they will either leave or grow old. If we want them to leave we can pass a national E-Verify law and resume substantive interior enforcement. That combination would get the vast majority to go home.

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Let me tell you an experience I had in traffic court in Princeton. I was there contesting (rather pointlessly) a traffic violation, and the guy before me in the queue was an illegal Hispanic. He spoke no English, but he’d clearly been here a while. They caught him driving on a Mexican drivers license.

The judge asked him if he was just here visiting or here permanently. The interpreter poses the question to him, and the guy is just too naive to give the “just visiting” line, and the judge seizes his drivers license. Now, that guy probably had a wife and kids–he looked like a family man to me–and of course he’d continue to drive, completely illegally. And at some point they would catch him and put him in jail or deport him.

And what was his sin? Being born in Mexico and longing to live in a country where he and his family had a future. He wasn’t doing anything bad in the US. He was working.

Now, you may feel this person is somehow less than human and should be treated as some sort of inanimate object. And I can understand that.

But both my compassion and my amibition rebel against that sort of treatment. We can do better than that.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm

SK,

“Now, that guy probably had a wife and kids–he looked like a family man to me–and of course he’d continue to drive, completely illegally.”

Driving on a Mexican license (other than as a tourist) and driving without a license is the same thing, completely illegal.

“And at some point they would catch him and put him in jail or deport him.”

No. The U.S. has essentially no interior enforcement. Unless the driver commits a non-immigration crime, the risk of deportation is within rounding purposes of zero. Look at Obama’s relatives. They aren’t just illegal, they violated explicit deportation orders. They are still here. Zero enforcement is the norm, not the exception.

“And what was his sin? Being born in Mexico and longing to live in a country where he and his family had a future”

According to the Pew Hispanic center, the vast majority (90%+) of illegals had jobs before they entered America. Of course, life is better here. Billions of people would show up if we let them. We have to choose. Protecting our own people or helping the ROW. Not a hard choice in my opinion.

“He wasn’t doing anything bad in the US. He was working.”

He may be working. However, low-skill immigrants impose vast burdens on American society even if they work (see my other comments). However, even if they don’t have families and don’t stay, we have 23.8 million unemployed or underemployed workers.

Compassion is nice, but resources are ultimately limited (you do write about oil…). You need to extend some of you compassion to Americans who can’t get jobs, can’t support their families, can’t send their children to schools that still works, can’t afford a home, etc.

Illegals aren’t inanimate objects. That is exactly the point. The Swiss sociologist Max Frisch, once wrote “We asked for workers, and we got people”. People who can live in their own countries and not here. People who materially impact America and not in positive way.

Claudia January 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Steven, well said. We can do better than that. We can even do better than the proposed policy. No one is less human and our country owes much to immigrants, past and present.

Somewhere in the thread there is an analogy of the US border as a door to a house. Not my favorite comparison, but you know what? Doors open. If they were to be forever shut they’d be a wall. People enter, people leave and its the flow that keeps life interesting.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm

C,

“Doors open. If they were to be forever shut they’d be a wall. People enter, people leave and its the flow that keeps life interesting.”

“Interesting” is a nice way to describe the vast burdens immigration imposes on America. However, Open Borders does provide cheap labor for sweatshop exploiters doesn’t it? Better than paying higher wages. Much better as I am sure you will agree.

Claudia January 29, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Actually let me give you a list to choose from: dynamic, meaningful, rewarding, lively. One thing you have not said in your many comments today is how special immigrants are. These are people who against great odds are willing to uproot themselves and go to a foreign country and work hard, really hard. No where did I mention Open Borders. I am pragmatic and I understand that all things in moderation is best. If a door were meant to always be open, it would be … gee I don’t know, not a border.

Harold Lloyd January 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Immigration in the 21st century is no special feat. If we were not feeding, educating and giving them healthcare for free would it be worth their while to come to the USA instead of staying put?

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 8:03 pm

C,

Yes, we know that you profit from exploiting illegals and that makes them “special” to you. I am sure that every slave owner in the antebellum south thought that his slaves were “special” to. I don’t doubt that many illegals work hard (1/3 don’t work at all) which makes them even more “special” and profitable for their illegal employers.

The same can be said for slaves and slavery. That didn’t make it any better no matter how “special” it was.

If you would actually look at the facts, you would find that the work ethic of illegals isn’t exactly heritable. Their child get neither their willingness to work nor the skills to rise to the middle class. You may be willing to sell out our nation’s future for short term profits, sensible folks are not.

For a totally typical article on the future we are importing, see “Hispanic Family Values? Runaway illegitimacy is creating a new U.S. underclass” by Heather MacDonald (http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_4_hispanic_family_values.html)

Claudia January 29, 2013 at 10:54 pm

No, Peter, you obviously don’t know me. I said “no one is less human” and you compared me to a slave owner. I voiced support for immigrants in the US and you (in an earlier post) compared me to Stalin. I do owe a debt to immigrants. I have some low, working class ancestors from Scotland and England to thank for the huge leap they made to come here long ago. Otherwise, I’d now be living, not pondering austerity (whatever that is).

Just a bit more context on my views about immigrants and really any ‘outsider’ group (this came up last night conversing with Sailer too). I realize I have told this story before, but I spent a summer working on the farm as a kid, essentially shoveling hog manure for hours each day (and helping with pig castrations). After a whole summer of this hot, smelly, boring work my parents explained that I did this job to teach me that I am above no one. Not the person who takes out the garbage, not the one who washes dishes, and not the one who shovels hog manure for a living. I am trying to take a wider view of humanity and history than you seem to espouse, because it makes sense to me. In a ‘we can do better’ kind of way. You are entitled to your opinion, and I willing to admit that you might even be right, but please realize that name calling, lies and innuendo do not advance your cause. You cannot win over or impress the people who you scare away.

Peter Schaeffer January 30, 2013 at 3:17 am

C,

Yes, you hare human. So were the people who exploited child labor in factories were human. That didn’t make it right. You care about illegals doing hard, dirty jobs and want to profit from using them. I care about Americans doing hard, dirty jobs (or who are unemployed) and am willing to pay more (not much will be required) to eat fruits and vegetables and dine out.

We have different priorities.

Claudia January 30, 2013 at 5:49 am

I am not going to check this thread again, so you can keep adding ridiculous comparisons to the list. I am not pro child labor and anti US unemployed. If you need it to be such a good versus evil match fine, but it is not. I actually don’t know how different our priorities are, but I know our methods differ considerably. Carry on and enjoy the silence you have earned.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 7:55 am

“I just don’t see how conservatives get all tied up in knots about president O.”

Ummm, I hope this is satire.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 7:56 am

Actual conservatives are like 14% of the population. I don’t think you guys talk to many actual conservatives.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 8:08 am

Sometimes a little is worse than nothing…such as ‘improving’ healthcare and increasing labor costs during a depression.

JWatts January 29, 2013 at 9:56 am

About 40% of Americans identify as Conservative. However, I do think your second point is valid.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

That is probably when you give them the choices “are you conservative, milk toast, or Satan?” When you do something like The World’s Smallest Political quiz (not an unreasonable level of decomposition) you get about 15% or so. When people make comments like Angus about “conservatives” they are talking about the FoxNews watchers, that is the people in your 40% conservative group EXCEPT the 15% ideological conservatives. Those are probably largely neocons who absolutely should be pleased with much of Obama’s efforts.

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

Fiscal conservatives (classical liberals) are 10-15% of the voting population.

Social conservatives are probably a majority.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 11:28 am

“Social conservatives are probably a majority.”

No, they are not. The polling data show majorities now favor gay rights, illegitimacy, liberalized abortion, etc. 40 years ago this wasn’t true. Times change.

JWatts January 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Yes, I’d agree. I’m pretty conservative and strongly trend Republican in my voting, but in general, I’m socially fairly Libertarian.

Social conservatives are most certainly not a majority.

Steven Kopits January 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm

You know, one of the amazing things about the internet is that the data is pretty much at your fingertips.

According to the article linked below, about 47-50% of Americans agree with the statement “government should promote traditional values in society,” which is how I would describe a social conservative.

About 23-25% count as fiscal conservatives (which I personally think is high).

Here’s the source article: http://reason.com/poll/2011/08/29/reason-rupe-poll-finds-24-perc

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm

And that data is very misleading because you get people who say stuff like “Obama is slaughtering innocents with drones, just like GWB would have loved to do, so I can’t understand why conservatives don’t like Obama.”

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 5:21 pm

SK,

‘According to the article linked below, about 47-50% of Americans agree with the statement “government should promote traditional values in society,” which is how I would describe a social conservative’

Since ‘social conservative’ doesn’t have a universal accepted definition, there is not way to prove or disprove such a statement. However, a more realistic definition might be whether a person supports or opposes gay rights, abortion on demand, illegitimacy as “normal”, etc. By that standard, social conservatives are a distinct minority.

Note that substantial majorities of voters (but not Hispanics) agree that “government does too much and should do less”. That doesn’t make the majority fiscally conservative. Even larger majorities support maintaining or expanding every significant government program (with the partial exception of defense).

Steven Kopits January 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

Oh, for goodness sake, Peter. Find some data to support your view. I can’t be the only person in this subthread with Google.

By the way, I think you’ve done an excellent job of arguing your corner here, notwithstanding some gratuitous shots at Claudia.

charlie January 29, 2013 at 7:58 am

TC is obviously upset that the quality of cheap ethnic food in the US will decline as a result of the proposed bill. More illegals = better food, obviousuly. More STEM also means less attractive ladies.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 8:02 am

So, the government’s best idea is undermine my salary. Oh well. What if they emphasized reduction of carbon type research jobs, at least?

Tyler Cowen January 29, 2013 at 8:06 am

People, I said it is a good idea. It is far from the best bill possible, however, much less the best utopian bill.

Claudia January 29, 2013 at 8:53 am

Read what you wrote: “better than nothing, if only to show that something can be done;” “drones will dominate the border;” “universities will go crazy;” “Orwellian satire;” “the country will feel less free.” It sounds a pitch for a bad, dystopian movie than a description of a good policy idea. Clearly a reading comprehension fail on my part. Thanks for clarifying.

JWatts January 29, 2013 at 9:58 am

+1 to Claudia

TC, you may not have meant to sound that negative, but you did.

Andrew M January 29, 2013 at 10:43 am

You’re misreading him. He intends for you to take each of his assertions fairly independently. In that way, his first assertion that it’s better than nothing should be taken independently of the other points he makes later on. The later points are likely issues that he feels are not or will not be talked about enough during the debate. In addition, they act to show why he thinks the proposal is merely a small positive step rather than a large one. While the majority of the paragraph is criticisms of the bill, Tyler doesn’t intend for you to average his assertions to figure out his opinion. He states it clearly in the first sentence.

I know that many bloggers/authors/editorialists don’t write like Tyler, but this is always how he’s written. I would humbly recommend not trying to read into the tone of any entry Tyler posts. Rather, try to break it down into individual claims and see if they are convincing. Any sense of him being curt or brusque is, I feel, a misreading as he is merely composing his thoughts the way he wishes many others would- straightforward and compact, with a minimum of extra words

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 10:52 am

Profs are too touchy. Noone was criticizing him. The (only) two people who address TC were Claudia positively and the fellow above making a joke.

Claudia January 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Andrew M, thanks for the MR reading tips. Might make a nice side bar. To be clear I was not calling anyone ‘curt or brusque’…I am actually quite use to those types of people. I was just puzzled. Your statement is a bit long, but maybe you could suggest they replace the “small steps” line with a “random bits masquerading as arguments” disclaimer. Again all fine, I like to think for myself. I had this silly idea once about blogs that their purpose was to communicate ideas to a wider audience, to start a conversation. What I have found is that audience ends up being the ones closest to the mental methods/views of the blogger and the conversations have a sadly predictable, though still amusing cycle. In any case, I will keep my thoughts on the interpretation of posts here to myself.

Go Kings, Go! January 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm

“…not trying to read into the tone of any entry Tyler posts

Seconded. Diverse, good authority indicates that Tyler is never deliberately antagonistic but asks incisive questions that cut like insults in mono-cultural chit-chat (albeit, slightly more disarming in person). Next time you meet a Navy Seal, ask him whether he’d be as tough as a Taliban without the world’s best armor, weaponry, night vision, communication gear, intel, training, transportation and health care. That’s a legit question, probably interesting to the Seal, but may startle and worry your friends, as if a gauntlet has been thrown.

(Adults with many closely-spaced siblings of wide experience know what I am talking about.)

Brian Donohue January 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Claudia,

“What I have found is that audience ends up being the ones closest to the mental methods/views of the blogger and the conversations have a sadly predictable, though still amusing cycle.”

And yet, here you are. Revealed preference?

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 10:41 am

Any bill that gives illegals Amnesty is a bad bill. Why? Because it is bad for the United States. Why?

1. Amnesty reduces if not eliminates the opportunity to send these people home. We don’t need them and they are a burden on the United States (wages, jobs, schools, health care, etc.). Sending them home really isn’t that hard. Take away the jobs and welcome mat (handouts of all sorts) and they will leave at their own expense. Immigration crackdowns in a few states have shown this as did the national crackdown in the 1950s (1-2 million illegals removed in 90 days with just 1000 Federal agents).

2. Amnesty enables illegals to become a much bigger burden on the U.S economy. To a degree, illegals are segregated in the work force. With Amnesty they can take any job in the economy. That makes them less complementary and reduces the supposed benefits of immigration. However, the bigger problem is that Amnesty enables them to massively expand the dependent population via more children (at taxpayer expense), importing their extended families (legally or illegally), and consuming more handouts. For example, Amnesty will give every former illegal Obamacare (when Joe Wilson said that Obama was lying, he was telling the truth).

3. Amnesty will invariably bring a new wave of illegals. That American experience and the experience of many countries around the world. Illegals are typically high school dropouts. However, they do know the meaning of a white flag. In that respect, the proposed Amnesty scheme is absurd. it won’t solve the problem of people living illegally in the United States, it will continue it forever. A real solution has to be based on enforcement.

There is an important point here. We don’t have to do anything. We have had illegals living in the United States for many years without (yet another) massive Amnesty. We don’t owe these people anything. Doing nothing will cost America less that an Amnesty that will make our problems worse.

axa January 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm

@Peter, that’s a compelling story. 1 million inmigrants removed in 90 days by 1000 agents. Care to share the details of that amazing story? That would be the efficiency Guiness record for bureaucrats!!!

axa January 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm

oh yes, the big difference between measures and estimates. Operation Wetback, illegal workers measured (captured): 150,000. estimated (left voluntarily): 1,200,000.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Wetback

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm

axa,

You are correct. However, high ratios of voluntary departure vs deportation are the norm. Check out the statistics for the Malaysian crackdown back in 2004/2005. On a smaller scale, the Feds got rid of 1500 Pakistani illegals after 9-11. Another 15,000 promptly left on their own.

If the Federal government announced that illegals were no longer welcome in the U.S. the vast majority would start thinking about leaving immediately. If the jobs and welfare dried up they would pack up and go home.

bob January 29, 2013 at 8:24 am

One of the things I really used to like about America is the absence of exit barriers. This is one of the last few markers of the formerly free society it used to be. Naturally the criminals in charge will soon eliminate that freedom, like they have so many others.

Millian January 29, 2013 at 8:49 am

Reminiscent of David Boaz’s critique of American conservatism, in the essay “Up from Slavery”, that the “freedoms” pined for tend to be partial, non-universal and predicated on membership of elite groups.

bob January 29, 2013 at 8:56 am

Currently anyone located in the US can just drive to Mexico without stopping. I did it a few weeks ago. How is this freedom to exit “partial, non-universal, and predicated on membership of elite groups?”

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 9:08 am

Soon, you will be welcomed to leave, your assets will be welcomed to stay.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 10:56 am

Too late. Under existing U.S. tax law, an American remains liable for U.S. taxes even if they leave the United States and give up U.S. citizenship.

Go Kings, Go! January 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Let me quote Internal Revenue Code 877A: “All property of a covered expatriate shall be treated as sold on the day before the expatriation date for its fair market value.” The IRS is happy to educate you on exit taxes.

superdestroyer January 29, 2013 at 8:41 am

If immigration reform, the all of the wonks and pundits should predict the presidential election that the media will consider the Republicans as relevant. My guess is that 2020, the media will decide that the Republicans will have zero chance of winning the general election for president and will refuse to cover the Republican primaries or assign reporters to the Republican candidate for the general election.

If amnesty, an increase in legal immigration, and an increase in H1B visas occurs, then no conservative political party will survive in the U.S. The Democratic Party primary will become the real election and the few times that an incumbent retires or move up to higher office will be the only relevant election. The only people

The other question is how high will taxes go and what percentage of the GDP will the government consume. Politics will be about collecting taxes to fund the welfare state. It will be interested to see who will pursue a career in poltics in the coming one party state.

Cliff January 29, 2013 at 10:10 am

This. I say stick to #2 and #3. Ever granting citizenship to currently illegals will destroy the country and especially the Republican Party.

bob January 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm

There are many kinds of conservatism that would have little trouble appealing to immigrants, or people that have close connections to immigrants. It just happens that the current brand cannot. It’s perfectly reasonable to be a fiscal conservative and an immigrant: After all, many are used to a tiny welfare state at home.

Now, if your idea of conservatism is the current republican party, then yes, conservatism is doomed, but the number of new immigrants is irrelevant: The republicans get votes mainly on hating the young.Fighting battles in moral grounds against the young is just not smart, as they always win. They’ll lose gay rights, drug controls, immigration… There is no out.

Better soften some views today than lose all influence on public debate.

Rahul2 January 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Let us not forget young Piyush Jindal, a brown skinned immigrant, who is of course the Republican governor of the great state of Louisiana. People’s political outcomes are not so easily predictable folks.

Cliff January 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm

This is a tired canard. The one black Republican doesn’t mean the vast majority of black people are not Democrats. The reality is that Hispanic immigrants and their children are much, much more statist than white people.

Rahul2 January 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Piyush Jindal is neither black nor hispanic.

superdestroyer January 30, 2013 at 6:03 am

Blacks vote for Democrats at a 95% rate. Most black voters have probably never voted for a Republican. Over 90% of elected Hispanics are Democrats. The CBC and CHC are 100% Democrats.

Anyone who believes that Hispanics are “natural conservatives” or that blacks are really social conservatives just needs to go to the CBC and CHC websites and try to find anything that could be considered conservative. If you look at the CHC, it seems that the main concern of Hispanics is getting more set asides from the government.

Bill Harshaw January 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

The farm labor is one way to appeal to conservative Republicans, or rather groups in a position to lobby conservative Republicans, both in the Senate and House. Remember rural America votes Republican, by and large. Remember when Alabama passed new legislation, the first blowback they got was from the Alabama farmers who lost their migrant labor.

Miley Cyrax January 29, 2013 at 9:25 am

Stopping illegal immigration and increasing STEM immigrants would be huge, like a 14 point swing where you catch an interception in your defensive end zone and run it 100 yards for the TD.

However, I doubt the U.S. will be this fortunate.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 9:30 am

Point of info: they are not increasing STEM immigrants. They are increasing people to come here for STEM training. Do we have free lunch STEM training?

Bill January 29, 2013 at 9:43 am

Maybe we can do some good, as a condition for immigration changes.

Like require farmers who hire migrant labor to have schools systems which teach English as a second language to children or their parents.

Like require college graduate programs prefer graduate students from lesser developed countries who commit to return to their country and use what they learned here.

Scoop January 29, 2013 at 9:43 am

I’m usually pretty good at empathizing with folks who disagree with me politically, enough that I not only understand their intellectual reasoning but feel their emotional reasoning, but immigration is just beyond me.

1. I simply cannot understand how more than 5% of the nation’s citizens want any level of low-skill, low-IQ, low-education immigration that’s great than zero. Those who have come since ’65 clearly ruined living standards for genetically disadvantaged pre-65 Americans and basically ended black economic progress. Those immigrants and their kids consume wildly more social services, on average, than pre-65 Americans and so have led, compared to a nation that admitted either no one or only gifted immigrants since ’65, to both higher taxes and lesser quality schools, medical programs, etc.

Looking forward, it only gets worse because machines are about to automate most unskilled work and the indigenous supply of unskilled labor keeps increasing (because unskilled workers have more than two kids per woman) but a majority of Americans wants to keep importing them. What possible occupation does anyone possibly see for a person with a 90 IQ in 2030 other than living off the taxes of brighter Americans?

2. Even if you’re one of the fact-denying Americans who disagrees with everything above, a majority of the population, I don’t understand how you think that among the billions of unskilled workers who would like to come here and live off our taxpayers, the ones who should gain admittance and get to do so are the ones who have aggressively flouted our laws rather than those who have tried to immigrate legally. The assertion that we really have no choice, that there really is no affordable and humane way to send the 11 million illegals home is simply absurd.

Anon. January 29, 2013 at 10:15 am

Global open borders would double world GDP.

QED

Cliff January 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Global open borders would halve world GDP within 50 years.

QED

Hey, this is easy.

The Anti-Gnostic January 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm

That’s a ridiculous metric. The Amish could double their GDP. The hometown of Tom “The World Is Flat” Friedman, could double its GDP. Haitians should beg the French to come back. Palestine needs to get over it and merge into Israel. We live in the real world, not an economist’s thought-experiment.

The bill is political theater. We will continue to admit not less than one million people per year until the current decisionmakers find they no longer control the process. If the national government sees no need for borders then increasingly, people–immigrant and native alike–won’t see the need for the national government. This will all end in tears.

Minority Bolshevism January 29, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Global open borders would cause global civil war.

Hazel Meade January 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

You say “import” as if these people were objects to be used to enhance our lifestyles.

What about the idea that human beings have a right to pursue happiness. Even if they are poor and come from far away?

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm

HM,

Everyone has the right to pursue happiness. They don’t have the right to do it in the USA.

Cliff January 29, 2013 at 12:05 pm

A right to pursue happiness at our expense? A right to enter any private club they like at any time and enjoy all the benefits current members have? I personally think countries should be “run” for the benefit of citizens of that country.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm

It’s odd that the border and the immigration issue are entangled. It evidences what a fraud the war on terror is.

We don’t even have an immigration problem, we have an entitlement and externalities problem, which is why I snicker when liberals tell me I don’t get externalities.

Obviously, the only way to get the government to do the right thing is to give them tribute, thus the immigration tax is good policy and the only good politics that they understand. It is also evidence that immigrants are net producers, otherwise the politicians would be less interested in formalizing them.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm

“Obviously, the only way to get the government to do the right thing is to give them tribute, thus the immigration tax is good policy and the only good politics that they understand. It is also evidence that immigrants are net producers, otherwise the politicians would be less interested in formalizing them.”

Politicians are motivated by votes and campaign contributions. Democrats want cheap votes and Republicans want campaign contributions from the cheap labor lobby.

The Democratic party is more than smart enough to know that Amnesty will make the Republicans permanently irrelevant in U.S. politics (just as they are know in California, New York, Illinois, etc.). Much of the Republican party (the leadership, not the actual voters) craves money from special interests that profit from cheap labor.

Either way the national interest (or more specifically the taxpayer interest) is never considered.

Of course, low-skill immigrants are not ‘net producers”. Every study has shown that they consume vastly more handouts than they produce. Indeed, a typical low-skill immigrant consumes more public services in dollars than they earn en toto (handouts exceed gross income, not just taxes paid in).

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. No one questions that our own poor people are a burden. Why should imported poor people be any better?

Peter January 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm

HM,

How about Open Doors. Hazel should let anyone and everyone sleep in her home. How dare she diminish the happiness of another human being by locking her door.

Hazel Meade January 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Why should I be allowed to force other people to close their doors if they want to let them in ?

There are people who want to employ them, there are people who would be happy to rent them apartments. Where do I get the right ot interfere with that?

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Hazel,

A lot of people agree with your surface principles. But do you think Democrats are doing what they do in the pursuit of libertarian ideals?

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm

HM,

Our country has a “door”. It’s called the “border”. We have the sovereign right to decide who crosses.

“There are people who want to employ them, there are people who would be happy to rent them apartments. Where do I get the right ot interfere with that?”

Their are people who will rob/cheat/rape/steal/murder for hire and other who would be glad to sell them tools to facilitate their crimes. Why would anyone think to interfere?

Your selfishness in closing your door has been duly noted.

Hazel Meade January 29, 2013 at 1:45 pm

How is it “at my expense” for someone to make a voluntary change with some other person – money in exchange for labor.

If you are worried about welfare, fine, get rid of that. Just don’t tell people who they can work for and where they can live, or claim that the mere physical locaiton of their living and working imposes a cost upoin you.

The Anti-Gnostic January 29, 2013 at 2:16 pm

It’s kind of hard to shrink the welfare state when it’s always importing more constituents.

Just like it’s hard to shrink the warfare state when you’ve got immigrants who are essentially foreign agents, lobbying for aid or outright intervention so their tribe can beat up the other guy’s tribe. (This is not limited to Israel, btw.)

The State has gone stark, raving mad, and the libertarians are among its biggest cheerleaders.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Whoa there, don’t blame the libertarians, champ. I’ve been talking to both sides about the problem for years. The underlying problem seems to have to be the funneling of everyone into the two-party bar fight, including something like what Russ Roberts and Peter Boettke discuss regarding Jim Buchanan’s “ratchet effect” ideas.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 2:44 pm

HM,

“If you are worried about welfare, fine, get rid of that.”

Welfare isn’t going away. It’s expanding very rapidly. Perhaps you haven’t noticed. That makes low-skill immigration (legal and illegal) a stunning burden on America.

However, I have a simple proposal. No more immigration until the welfare state is fixed. Somehow I doubt your interested.

Cliff January 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Are you really that dense? Granting another person citizenship and bestowing on them an enormous amount of state welfare is at your expense. “Get rid of welfare”? How about “get real”?

Stephen January 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Do you have any numbers behind this: “Those immigrants and their kids consume wildly more social services, on average, than pre-65 Americans and so have led, compared to a nation that admitted either no one or only gifted immigrants since ’65, to both higher taxes and lesser quality schools, medical programs, etc.”?

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm

There is an endless literature on these points. Everyone agrees that immigrant quality has fallen and illegals are the bottom of the barrel (which is why the Democrats love them so much).

For a sample source, see

“The amazing truth about PISA scores: USA beats Western Europe, ties with Asia.”
http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/12/amazing-truth-about-pisa-scores-usa.html

“What I have learned recently and want to share with you is that once we correct (even crudely) for demography in the 2009 PISA scores, American students outperform Western Europe by significant margins and tie with Asian students. Jump to the graphs if you don’t want to read my boring set-up and methodology.”

Mr. Econotarian January 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm

The same anti-immigration fear tactics are brought out every 50 years (1800, 1850, 1900, 1950, today). Whether it is the those horrible Germans, the dangerous scourge of the yellow peril, the lazy western europeans, the lazy Russians, the lazy and drunk Irish, or the lazy Vietnamese, every time the fears are discovered to be merely an anti-foreign bias.

Let’s not forget the opposition to the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act in 1975. Reps. Walter Huddleston and Frank Sensenbrenner opposed it on cost reasons, and even Rep. John Conyers asked, “Should we be spending (federal dollars) on Vietnamese refugees or should we spend them on Detroit ‘refugees?’”

Anti-immigration activists overly discount the benefits of posterity. People only move to the US to enhance their economic output, to escape bad government, and to give those benefits to their kids. Those kids get a chance to grow up in a country of economic, personal, and political freedom, and thus make a contribution to our GDP, and a to the world’s GDP. They enrich the world with the value of their ideas and work. As Julian Simon said, people are the ultimate resource, and having them in the US means we have better access to those resources than we would if they were shut away in a distant country under a government constrictive on their freedoms.

I am the descendent of unskilled immigrants, and hold advanced technological degrees and have a good paying job.

Harold Lloyd January 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm

People are the ultimate liability, having them in the US means we have to take care of them instead of wherever they came from. Prices are up, wages are stagnant, and the future is not very good for people on the bottom of the totem pole. Why import more labor when unemployment is so high? Especially youth unemployment! Absolute insanity.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Mr. E,

America stopped mass immigration around WWI because it wasn’t working. Americans got fed up with tenement slums, slack wages, radicalism, political polarization, etc. and reformed the system. The reforms works. The prior waves of immigrants had a chance to assimilate and join the American mainstream. Instead of being dragged down by the next wave off the boat, they were able to move up. From 1914 to around 1970 we had very little immigration and our nation did rather well as a consequence.

Since 1970 mass immigration has resumed with all of the inevitable, doleful consequences. Worse, their is little evidence that the current wave will every fully assimilate. From ‘The Congealing Pot – Today’s immigrants are different from waves past” (http://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/article/?q=YjQ4N2EyMTQ4NzZjZmNlOWQwN2RiNTZjMWZiZDY4YzQ=)

“They’re not just like the Irish — or the Italians or the Poles, for that matter. The large influx of Hispanic immigrants after 1965 represents a unique assimilation challenge for the United States. Many optimistic observers have assumed — incorrectly, it turns out — that Hispanic immigrants will follow the same economic trajectory European immigrants did in the early part of the last century. Many of those Europeans came to America with no money and few skills, but their status steadily improved. Their children outperformed them, and their children’s children were often indistinguishable from the “founding stock.” The speed of economic assimilation varied somewhat by ethnic group, but three generations were typically enough to turn “ethnics” into plain old Americans.

This would be the preferred outcome for the tens of millions of Hispanic Americans, who are significantly poorer and less educated on average than native whites. When immigration skeptics question the wisdom of importing so many unskilled people into our nation at one time, the most common response cites the remarkable progress of Europeans a century ago. “People used to say the Irish or the Poles would always be poor, but look at them today!” For Hispanics, we are led to believe, the same thing will happen.

But that claim isn’t true. Though about three-quarters of Hispanics living in the U.S. today are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, a significant number have roots here going back many generations. We have several ways to measure their intergenerational progress, and the results leave little room for optimism about their prospects for assimilation.

….

The children of Hispanic immigrants (the second generation) actually stay in school much longer and earn a considerably higher wage than their parents. In fact, the Hispanic rate of assimilation from the first to the second generation is only slightly lower than the assimilation rate of more successful groups of immigrants. Most second-generation Hispanics make up nearly as much ground as the children of European immigrants would if they grew up in the same disadvantaged situation.

But the good news ends there, and two problems arise. First, the second generation still does not come close to matching the socioeconomic status of white natives. Even if Hispanics were to keep climbing the ladder each generation, their assimilation would be markedly slower than that of other groups. But even that view is overly optimistic, because of the second, larger problem with Hispanic assimilation: It appears to stall after the second generation. We see little further ladder-climbing from the grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants. They do not rise out of the lower class.”

One of the tragedies of the immigration debate is the extent to which it is dominated by tenement slum sentimentality. We don’t need to worship the Statue of Liberty. We need to focus on our nation’s future.

Minority Bolshevism January 29, 2013 at 11:48 pm

One word: KENNEDYs

Troglo January 29, 2013 at 9:52 am

Why in the !@#$ do people think that a path to citizenship is a mandatory element in immigration reform? Expanding visas for people who can contribute, of course. Permanent residency, sure. But citizenship for illegals? What the %^&* for? Apart from vote buying for Democrats I can’t think of a single reason for this.

And something better than nothing? Whoa – that was a big mistake. It’s the kind of thinking that has us change shovels when we should stop digging.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 10:53 am

T,

“Apart from vote buying for Democrats”

Vote buying (and cheap labor) are the only reasons that anyone is talking about this. If the national interest was the issue, we would be discussing how to get rid of the illegals. There is a lot of data on this point. Let me offer just one quote from

“Seeing Today’s Immigrants Straight – Advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” let ideology blind them to the dispiriting facts on the ground” by Heather MacDonald
http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_3_immigration_reform.html

“If someone proposed a program to boost the number of Americans who lack a high school diploma, have children out of wedlock, sell drugs, steal, or use welfare, he’d be deemed mad. Yet liberalized immigration rules would do just that. The illegitimacy rate among Hispanics is high and rising faster than that of other ethnic groups; their dropout rate is the highest in the country; Hispanic children are joining gangs at younger and younger ages. Academic achievement is abysmal.”

JWatts January 29, 2013 at 10:05 am

“Apart from vote buying for Democrats I can’t think of a single reason for this.”

You forgot to add: Stopping the media onslaught of insinuating that Republicans are racist.

I think those two reasons are sufficient enough, regardless of the underlying merits of the debated.

The Only Jim January 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm

>Stopping the media onslaught of insinuating that Republicans are racist.

Are you serious?

Insinuating Republicans are racist consists of roughly 45% of today’s media output. They have very little else to do. It will never, ever, ever, stop.

JWatts January 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Yeah sorry. I actually meant that Republicans will be inclined to vote for the bill to stop the racist insinuations. I didn’t actually mean to imply that it would result in any lessening of the attacks.

Republicans January 29, 2013 at 10:33 am

Ok, here’s the deal. We give the Democrats 10 million new voters and a permanent majority. And they promise to stop calling us big, meanie racists.

Who cares about taxes, liberty, the constitution or freedom? We have to stop the media from calling us bad words.

I’m sure once we make this deal the leftist media will never again call us racists, KKK members, bigots, or nazis. They promised! Not more bad wordsies!

bob January 29, 2013 at 10:35 am

“cult midnight showings of Blue Thunder will increase.”

Thanks for the laugh.

Gus January 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

Our leaders are so full of crap. This bill, I garantee, will include enough loop holes to prevent anyone illegal paying anything in penalties.
Just come on in and take over. The American people are so gulible.

Anyone want to take my bet.

joan January 29, 2013 at 11:17 am

The birth rates in Latin American countries have been plunging and are now near replacement level so in the future there will no longer be a surplus of young male workers. This is likely reduce illegal immigration no matter what we do at the border so any measure of border security we put in place will be judged to be a success.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/fertility-rates-plunging-across-latin-america/2011/12/29/gIQAmRWQPP_graphic.html

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

J,

The wage gap between the United States and Mexico is actually larger now than it was 50 years ago. America’s massive handout state hasn’t lost its attractions. Opinion polls show that 40% of Mexicans would move to the United States if they could. Birth rates south of the border are only one factor.

We either have to tolerate ongoing, large scale illegal immigration with all of the burdens it imposes, or enforce our laws. Mexico isn’t going to solve the problem for us.

Brian Donohue January 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Peter,

Didn’t illegal immigration dry up during the recession? And din’t the recession coincide with massive increases in “spreading the wealth around”?

I’m struggling to incorporate these facts (if they are facts) into your narrative.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm

BD,

Illegal immigration certainly slowed (but never came close to stopping) after 2008 because of the bad economy and crackdowns in a few states. The Obama administration has worked to undermine enforcement and the economy has partially recovered. Illegal immigration is back on the upswing. See http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/29/arrests-signal-9-percent-jump-illegal-immigration/ for a recent report.

Brian Donohue January 29, 2013 at 10:29 pm

OK. I guess my point is: the flow of illegal immigrants seems to move with economic opportunities, not rent-seeking opportunities.

Peter Schaeffer January 30, 2013 at 12:02 am

BD,

Assume for a moment that illegal immigration is 70% welfare driven and 30% job driven. Given that the welfare state is essentially fixed and jobs are driven by the business cycle (particularly the housing cycle), you would expect that all of the observed variation in illegal immigration would be tied to the economy, even if 70% was actually motivated by welfare.

The truth is probably different. Illegals do not (mostly) arrive with the intent of collecting handouts (with one very large set of exceptions). What generally happens is they illegally enter in pursuit of employment. As single men (most are) they work and impose few direct welfare burdens (other than jails, prisons, emergency rooms, etc.). Over time, illegals form “families” (Hispanic illegitimacy is 50+%) and get older. At that point the handout costs explode. As you can see, even economically driven immigration ends up as welfare immigration.

Of course, even single male illegals impose large indirect welfare costs by driving natives out of the labor force and into dependency. See Grogger and Hanson “Immigration and African-American Employment Opportunities: The Response of Wages, Employment, and Incarceration to Labor Supply Shocks” (http://papers.nber.org/papers/w12518). Quote

“The employment rate of black men, and particularly of low-skill black men, fell precipitously from 1960 to 2000. At the same time, the incarceration rate of black men rose markedly. This paper examines the relation between immigration and these trends in black employment and incarceration. Using data drawn from the 1960-2000 U.S. Censuses, we find a strong correlation between immigration, black wages, black employment rates, and black incarceration rates. As immigrants disproportionately increased the supply of workers in a particular skill group, the wage of black workers in that group fell, the employment rate declined, and the incarceration rate rose. Our analysis suggests that a 10-percent immigrant-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group reduced the black wage by 3.6 percent, lowered the employment rate of black men by 2.4 percentage points, and increased the incarceration rate of blacks by almost a full percentage point.”

The big exceptions to the model expressed above are “anchor babies”. It is quite clear female illegals deliberately have children in the U.S. (100% at taxpayer expense) so that they can exploit the citizen status of their children both to remain in the U.S. and drain the handout system in every possible way. It’s the worst kind of illegal immigration and very common.

For a long article on the “tied at the hip” relationship between immigration and welfare, see “Immigration Reversals – City Journal writers long sympathetic to immigration’s economic and social benefits have turned against illegal immigration with a vengeance. Why?” by Myron Magnet
http://spectator.org/archives/2008/02/05/immigration-reversals

“I’m embarrassed it took me so long to grasp the phoniness of the charge that it’s “anti-immigration” to oppose current U.S. immigration policy and the even worse “comprehensive reform” bill, which thankfully failed. I can only plead blind piety. After all, I live in the great immigrant metropolis, lit by the Statue of Liberty’s torch, under which all my grandparents sailed a century ago to reach a land that amply fulfilled its promise to them. I feared that my misgivings about today’s immigrant flood were but a short step from the nativist know-nothingism that dismissed my forebears and their fellow newcomers as defective both mentally and culturally, sure to debase American society with their ignorance, poverty, and crudity. Isn’t the lesson of my grandparents’ generation simply this: that American freedom and opportunity have a special magic, an alchemy for transforming tired, poor, huddled masses into free American citizens whose energy and grateful patriotism, and whose progeny, greatly strengthened the nation? However unpromising today’s largely uneducated and unskilled immigrants may appear, do they really look any worse than their predecessors?

Such was the consensus among the writers at City Journal, the conservative magazine I edited from 1994 through 2006. But some years ago, when I sent a writer out to see how the magic Americanizing machine was working, he came back dismayed. After several weeks in a heavily Hispanic Manhattan neighborhood, talking to Catholic priests and their immigrant flocks, he concluded that the alchemy of assimilation was fizzling out. The priests saw their duty as signing up immigrants for every possible subsidy, especially the child-only welfare benefit available to American-born kids of immigrant mothers, a munificent sum to a newcomer from a peasant village. The clerics also were pressing local schools to teach the newly arrived kids in Spanish, so they wouldn’t “lose their cultural heritage.”

Oh dear, my writer thought: Now we have a system that subverts rather than promotes economic enterprise and cultural assimilation, the twin engines of Americanization. That was a story he didn’t want to write.”

Hazel Meade January 29, 2013 at 11:43 am

I have actually been through the immigration process so I have some direct experience with this subject.

This bill really does next to nothing to resolve the underlying problems with current immigration law.
The main problem with the law is that there is no legal path to immigration that low-skilled immigrants can take, unless they have an immediate US citizen relative. They are coming illegally because it is effectively impossible for them to immigrate legally. The bill doesn’t address that problem. It increases the number of visas available for family sponsorships and work-related visas, which should reduce the backlog, but it doesn’t do anything to alter the labor certification requirement, which forces employers to prove, to the satisfacyion of the Labor Department, that no American can do the job the employee is being hired for. That provision makes it effectively impossible for anyone with less than a college degree to immigrate under a work sponsorship. And this bill does nothing to change that.

As for amnesty, this is a bandaid, which, as you say will never happen because we will never secure the border completely. Secondly, the path to citizenship really should NOT be the priority, the priority should addressing the fact that there’s no way for these people to come here legally. Normalizing their status should be secondary to fixing the legal immigration system. Since that isn’t address this is effectively a repeat of what happened in 1986. In 20 years we’ll see another buildup of “illegals”, and another amnesty effort will be pushed.

Finally, the STEM issue is a red herring as there has always been an easier path to immigration for holders of advanced degrees. That’s nothing new. They may have tweaked the numbers a bit. But (having done this myself) many immigrants already come to the US on foreign student visas and pursue an advanced degree in engineering as a means of immigrating. It’s been going on for a long time.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm

HM,

“The main problem with the law is that there is no legal path to immigration that low-skilled immigrants can take, unless they have an immediate US citizen relative.”

America can not tolerate unlimited immigration. We have to say NO. The people who want to come here don’t like it, but that’s the hard truth. We aren’t suffering from a shortage of poor people. We don’t have “too many” jobs for our own working people. Wages aren’t “too high”. We don’t have a “poverty gap” that needs to be filled.

That last thing America needs is more imported poor people to make the lives of our own people worse. We must either stop low-skill legal/illegal immigrants or have our nation continue its spiral downhill.

” It increases the number of visas available for family sponsorships and work-related visas, which should reduce the backlog, but it doesn’t do anything to alter the labor certification requirement, which forces employers to prove, to the satisfacyion of the Labor Department, that no American can do the job the employee is being hired for.”

Perhaps you haven’t noticed but we have 23.8 million unemployed and underemployed Americans. Any employer can get the workers he/she needs by paying competitive wages. Of course, that’s exactly the point. Imported cheap labor vs. letting market forces raise wages for Americans (an American getting a raise? Unthinkable).

Hazel Meade January 29, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Unless you plan on militarizing the border, there’s really no way to stop low-skilled immigrants from coming to the US.
And the alternative to letting them come here, is that jobs will move overseas. The market is going to seek the lower price for labor one way or another.
Or do you plan on banning imports of foreign goods too?

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm

HM,

Eisenhower stopped illegal immigration and enforced our laws and borders trivially. With just 1000 Federal agents he removed 1-2 million illegals in 90 days. Wasn’t even hard.

If the Federal government allowed local police to work with immigration enforcement, the illegals would be gone in a few months. Do the math. We have around 800,000 police officers. Say each officer busts one illegal a month (one an hour would be trivial in much of the U.S.).

On average 3-5 illegals will leave for each one busted. That’s a net removal rate of 4 million a month. In three months they will gone (and not particularly missed save by those who exploited them for profit).

“And the alternative to letting them come here, is that jobs will move overseas”

Wow is that far off. The vast majority (90%+) of illegals work in producing non-tradeable goods and services (construction, restaurants, lawn care, These jobs can’t go overseas. Got a nifty plan to move busing tables and mowing lawns abroad? Didn’t think so.

“The market is going to seek the lower price for labor one way or another. ”

The “market” is always seeking to raise profits by violating the law. Stealing is always easier than working.

That’s why we have to enforce the law.

By the way, the Israeli fence is a stunning success. A real model for the USA.

The Anti-Gnostic January 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm

That is the traditional role of a nation’s military: to defend the nation’s territorial integrity. It would be nice if our military did that, instead of defending the territorial integrity of Western Europe, Central Europe, South Korea, Iraq, et al.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic are on the same island, and the Dominicans are very serious (and successful) about maintaining their border. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo about how there’s just no way to stop all those dirt-cheap Haitians from coming in or otherwise all the Dominican business owners will just pack up and leave. Apparently the Israelis didn’t get the memo about African immigrants being an unstoppable force either, nor the Indians with the Bangladeshis.

The Anti-Gnostic January 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Actually, Dominican border enforcement is getting problematic:

http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2013/1/7/46283/Tense-border-Hundreds-of-Haitians-push-to-enter-Dominican-territory

The last time Haitian border crossings got out of hand, Rafael Trujillo had the troops massacre Haitians with machetes and machine guns. Danilo Medina looks like the kind of guy who could order some heavy tactics as well.

Good fences make good neighbors.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

It’s kind of hilarious and sad that ‘militarizing the border’ is some kind of nutty concept. What if we stopped killing children collecting firewood with drones, replaced the anti-tank missiles being misused against human targets and replaced them with cameras?

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

So, the actual proposal is (correct me where I’m wrong):
1. “Illegals” go to the back of the line of the formal process in exchange for formalization and probationary status
2. Border border border yada yada security border security yada yada border security…get tough! BitcheZ!
3. STEM students/graduates get the fast track.

Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm

A,

The border security provisions are a fig leaf at best. The people pushing for this bill have always opposed immigration enforcement (cheap votes, cheap labor). They will never allow any actual border control / immigration enforcement (Israeli-style fences, interior enforcement, actual workplace controls, etc.). Don’t believe me. The other side has already admitted that the enforcement provisions are meant to be a joke.

From “Lies, Damn Lies, and Enforcement Promises” (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/339012/lies-damn-lies-and-enforcement-promises-mark-krikorian)

“Even amnesty advocates acknowledge that the enforcement provisions of any package deal are bogus. For instance, over at the Plum Line, Greg Sargent writes about the Senate outline’s proposal for a commission of southwestern leaders to certify control over the border before the “provisionally” amnestied illegals get green cards:

And if this “commission” doesn’t ever decide the border is secure, couldn’t that result in 11 million people being stranded in second-class legal limbo?

That’s a legitimate worry, according to Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a group advocating for immigration reform. But he tells me that on a conference call yesterday, Democratic Senators reassured immigration advocates that this commission won’t be constructed in a way that will hold up the process for too long.

As Sharry put it, Democrats realize that they can’t “allow the commission to have a real veto” over setting in motion the path to citizenship. He noted that Dems see the commission as “something that gives the Republicans a talking point” to claim they are prioritizing tough enforcement, giving themselves cover to back a process that “won’t stop people from getting citizenship.”

In other words the certifying commission is a lie.”

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Interesting how The Feds are not just not doing their job, but in so many words actively facilitating invasion for political takeover. The Democrats are Bane and the Republicans are Miranda Tate.

maguro January 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm

What could be more democratic than a government electing itself a new people?

Jim January 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm

>The “no path to citizenship until the border is secure” is simply kicking the can down the road, as that standard never will be met.

Yeah, right. Why bother even trying then? Might as well leave the border wide open. Because, you know, it will never be closed enough.

Bullshit.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm

What he’s saying is that if they wanted to secure the border they could just do it. If they wanted to sanify the immigration process they could just do it. They aren’t because neither side in DC wants sanity. So, at least we could improve the lives of some poor saps until we can throw all the bums out.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm

We are “securing” the Afghan/Pakistan border. So, we are probably breaking numerous laws to secure multiple borders ostensibly to defend our country while we break multiple laws not securing our own border.

Whether or not you want to secure our border, you should be telling the government to go f themselves.

jacobus January 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm

“Isn’t it better to simply increase the number of jobs-related visas?”

No.

http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/research/studies/underemployment-of-college-graduates

ladderff January 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Peter wins the thread by a wide margin. Honorable mention: “Republicans,” for hinting at just why the extremely simple task of securing the border is a “standard [that] never will be met.” (TC in the OP)

Richard A. January 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I can’t help noticing that those who are pushing the lets screw the STEMs legislation typically have college degrees in the non-STEM fields. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander — but this is bad for the goose and the gander knows it, which is why the gander excludes itself. The gander is a hypocrite.

JWatts January 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I’m an engineer. I still think the US would be better off increasing high-skilled immigration. As long as we remove the coercive incentives in the current H1B program that strongly encourage immigrants to lock in with one company and trap them at the low end of the salary range.

I don’t think bringing in a million high skilled (and highly paid) immigrants and giving them a chance of permanent citizenship would be a long term problem. Granted, you’d have to make allowances for their families and ages, etc. So maybe you target 250,000 high-skilled immigrants around the 20-30 year age range. Assuming that they bring in 3 dependents each. The US has a large enough population to handle that kind of inflow without any large disruptions in the marketplace.

Importing large amount of low-skilled immigrants with our current entitlement benefits would be a disaster on the other hand, IMO.

Matt January 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm

But Tyler is right, securing the border will never happen. That’s why all this enforcement talk should just be disregarded. The US could secure the border, but the political elites have no interest in doing so. I see no reason why they will suddenly have an interest after this bill is passed. We’re basically voting on how to manage our open borders.

Andrew' January 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Then the first thing we should do is take that list of names under the proposal title and let them pursue other interests or spend more time with their family.

JWatts January 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Hmmm, is there someway we can encourage the importation of Politicians. That would seem to be killing two birds with one stone. ;)

TR W January 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm

People who are in favor of open borders like to construct border protection as an all or nothing thing. If the U.S. can’t 100% seal the border it’s no use having one is their argument. That’s wrong. If the border deters 40% then over the long run that is a lot of people who don’t come here.

The reality is these people are bringing their cultures and ways to this country and with more of them it become less like the America they came here for and more like the country they left. People are now leaving California because of the situation immigrants legal and illegal have created over the past 40 years including overcrowding. People are not interchangable. What needs to happen is people struggle to improve themselves and the places they live instead of bailing out to head for the U.S., Europe, Canada, or Australia and live off the successes people their created.

Gran Danés February 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Good post

Tigre de Tasmania February 22, 2013 at 4:31 am

Very good post.

John

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