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« Book-Length Fiction? | Main | The Joys of Creative Destruction »

November 21, 2005

Immigration Elsewhere

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Minutemen on the Mexican border ... Ethnic stress in the Netherlands ... Riots in France ... Since I so seldom get a chance to say "I told you so," I'm not going to resist temptation now: I've been telling you so.

During the three-and-a-half-year life of this blog, I've chosen to make questions of migration-and-immigration my dominant political topic. This was partly a strategic decision: Making one point loudly and getting it heard beats scattering ideas around so profusely that no one takes note of any of them.

But it also came out of a conviction that migration-and-immigration was an enormous and underdiscussed political issue -- perhaps even the most underdiscussed major political issue. In fact, as a topic for discussion in the mainstream media as well as in polite liberal society more generally, it was entirely off-limits. In my hyper-modest way, I wanted to do what I could to help make the topic discussable again.

My preferences where the U.S.'s own immigration policies are concerned? That caution and modesty should prevail; that the issue should be openly recognized as an important one; and that the tastes and preferences of the people currently inhabiting the country should play a major role in an ever-ongoing conversation.

But, honestly, I'm old enough so I don't care much if my opinion prevails. I do think it's outrageous, though, that a topic of such importance still isn't being adequately discussed. News reporters and editors may have no choice but to take some note of the cars that have burnt in the Paris banlieus. But the commentariat has barely begun to acknowledge that many countries have major problems on their hands.

Are you OK with the fact that the U.S.'s population is growing much, much faster than it would without illegal immigration? Are you cool with the fact that the country's ethnic makeup is undergoing a drastic re-ordering? I'd be a much happier man than I am if I heard these questions being argued about openly. Hence my determination to continue raising these topics despite the risk of appearing to be a monomaniac. Let it never be said that it's possible to visit 2Blowhards without encountering the topic of migrations and immigration!

BTW, as far as I'm concerned, the real heroes of this battle have been the Center for Immigration Studies, Steve Sailer, Peter Brimelow and the team at VDare, and Randall Parker -- courageous, informed, and sharp-eyed researchers and commentators.

In immigration/migration-related news recently:

* In Britain, more than 55% of Pakistanis are married to a first cousin. In some British cities, three-quarters of Pakistani marriages are between first cousins. Are you surprised to learn that genetic problems abound? Steve Sailer suspects that cousin marriage may be one reason why Muslims have such a hard time integrating into Euro and Euro-derived societies.

* Steve (and some of his readers) has been wondering if the polygamy that many African immigrants practice has been contributing to the riots in France. Steve suspects that the real problem in France may be immigration itself.

* Fear of Islamic crazies is forcing many public figures in the Netherlands to make use of bodyguards.

* A new study of immigrants in Florida concludes that each immigrant family costs the state of Florida more than $1800 a year.

* Another study suggests that income in California is likely to go down 11% over the next couple of decades as Mexican immigrants and their descendents grow more numerous in the state. Amid all the handwringing in the article, one simple way of dealing with this problem isn't discussed in the article: cutting back on immigration from Mexico, legal and illegal both. Still: how satisfying to see the topic appear at all in a legit newspaper.

* All those medically-uninsured people we Americans are supposed to feel so guilty about? Illegal immigration is a major contributor to the problem.

* France's Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that he plans to tighten immigration rules. Will Americans have to wait until riots break out in multiple cities before our own lawmakers take sensible steps?

* According to Randall Parker, 60% of Americans would like to see a physical barrier erected along the Mexican border. And USA Today reports that support is building for constructing such a fence. It wouldn't be an unprecedented project. Israel has built a number of walls, and India is currently building a 2500 mile fence on its border with Bangladesh.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at November 21, 2005




Comments

Do you have any solutions?

It's a serious queston, solutions.

I certainly have no idea and would be more than willing to listen.

All the best.

Posted by: Michael on November 21, 2005 05:09 AM



Although valuable and interesting, I question the validity of your message because you only suppport it with negative facts about immigration.

You mention the number of "medically-uninsured people we Americans are supposed to feel so guilty about," but you don't take into consideration the thousands of people that pay taxes yearly, and will never get to see a dollar of it upon retirement because of their illegal status.

A wall might stop a few Mexicans but it will only hinder economic international relations with the world. A wall? What are we: The Soviet Union? China? Germany? Are they our role models now? Immigration is one of the keystones of a free society. We're in the age of unimaginable technological advances, globalization. A brick wall does not go in the picture.

The facts that you present do not completely validate your point. The problems that we encounter here are not entirely similar to those of France. Those of France might be more appropriately comparede to the riots in Britain in the 80s. The immigration problems in the United States are different from those encountered in Europe. Arabs there are fighting because they are not integrated into society. Yet, in America we are racists against American themselves in order to let minorities into schools. We try --maybe too hard-- to be politically correct. That the American society is not yet totally integrated, that is true. But that the country tries more than any other to let immigrants succeed, that is also true. And the fact that immigrants here have the chance to integrate and succed is a good thing for the society and economy.

About Florida and the $1,800.00 every immigrant costs the state per year: This state is home to the city that a couple of years ago had the highest percentage of Spanish-Speaking households in the United States (97%.) Of course immigrants will represent a cost to the state. But, in a state where immigrants are the main reason for the economic development of a region during the past decades--South Florida-- the sum of $1,800.00 doesn't seem high enough.

Yes. There is a problem, but the contributions of immigration must be taken into account when issuing a statement about it. Immigration is not the problem. Regulation --or irregulation--might be the problem. It's not about "how to get rid of it," but "how to improve the way of business."

Change is needed. In order for that change to happen, however, one must first focus on what part of the system needs change, not on how to erradicate it.

Posted by: mm on November 21, 2005 08:09 AM



"Although valuable and interesting, I question the validity of your message because you only suppport it with negative facts about immigration."

Although your message regarding the imminent arrival of hurricane Katrina is valuable and interesting, I must question it because you only support it with the negative facts regarding hurricanes, e.g. high winds, massive shoreline erosion, flooding, destruction of life and property. What of the beneficial effects such as the creation and opportunity for dynamic new ecosystems?

Posted by: CC on November 21, 2005 09:52 AM



"Although valuable and interesting, I question the validity of your message because you only suppport it with negative facts about immigration."

Although your message regarding the imminent arrival of hurricane Katrina is valuable and interesting, I must question it because you only support it with the negative facts regarding hurricanes, e.g. high winds, massive shoreline erosion, flooding, destruction of life and property. What of the beneficial effects such as the creation and opportunity for dynamic new ecosystems?

Posted by: CC on November 21, 2005 09:52 AM



"Do you have any solutions?"

How about enforcing the law?

Posted by: cc on November 21, 2005 09:54 AM



"A wall? What are we: The Soviet Union? China? Germany? Are they our role models now?"

A false, emotionalistic argument. Soviet and East German walls were for keeping people in, like a prison wall. The proposed US wall is meant to keep people out, like a fence.

Posted by: hugh on November 21, 2005 10:00 AM



Mm, can you expand more on your example of illegal immigrants paying taxes and not seeing a dollar in their retirement years?

As far as I know, an illigal immigrant by definition doesn't have a Social Security Card=>can't be legally employed => normal payroll deductions from his paycheck aren't possible. What taxes other than sales tax on cigarette purchases he's paying?
He's eligible for emergency medical assistance, though, and his kids can go to public schools and receive free (for them) school lunches.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 21, 2005 10:06 AM



As much of an immigration hawk that I am, I don't think I would want to see a wall go up. Cost and aesthetic reasons mostly. Besides, as Randall has always said, there is a very simple way to end illegal immigation without giving lefty groups a behemoth to protest in front of: Start throwing the people who employ illegals in jail. If there is no incentive to illegally immigrate, there will be no illegal immigrants.

Posted by: Peter on November 21, 2005 10:42 AM



Michael -- I'm a real first-do-no-harm kind of guy, so I'd be thrilled to see enforcement of current laws made serious, then to see the whole system overhauled. As to what to do about the millions of illegals already here, alraedy breeding, and doing their best to bring in all their relatives ... Yikes. Ending the "anchor baby" wrinkle in the law seems like a mighty good idea. ("Anchor babies" -- as long as a baby is born in the State, it automatically becomes a citizen, whether or not the parents are illegals.)

MM -- Thanks for dropping by and joining in. It's a good point that the positives need to be stated too. But, in my view anyway, what needs to be done first is 1) recognize that a big problem exists, and 2) get a legit public conversation about it going. Neither one has really happened yet, or at least not as openly as I'd like. So I keep on doing my little bit to push the subject to the foreground. Interesting that at least the news pages are beginning to crack. Perhaps soon the opinion pages will open up a bit more too.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 21, 2005 10:55 AM



MB, not only anchor baby becomes a citizen, his mother is eligible for citizenship if she applies for it. And if she's married to illegal, he can apply for citizenship claiming "immediate family of a citizen" status.

I know first-hand.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 21, 2005 11:31 AM



How about not only enforcing current laws but also making it possible for would-be immigrants to follow those laws without wasting years dealing with the Soviet-level incompetence of our immigration bureaucracy? AFAIK everyone who has to deal with the INS as a prospective immigrant or temporary resident finds the experience extremely unpleasant. That hurts us as a country. One of the reasons why so many people come here as illegals is that we make it difficult for them to do so legally. I think that we should find a way to let in as many as we can, as long as they work and are not criminals or terrorists, and as long as they are willing to Americanize themselves if they want to be citizens. (Hint: Making people wait years to get a work visa is not a good way to encourage them to follow the rules.)

One point that is too rarely discussed is the fact that enforcing immigration laws is not entirely compatible with catching terrorists. Yet many people discussing these issues casually assume that these are the same. Because there are extremely few terrorists as a proportion of all immigrants, any program that focuses on IDing illegal immigrants is going to have a hard time winnowing out the tiny number of terrorists in the huge immigrant population. (Bruce Schneier is one of the only commenters I have heard make this point.) Most of the "crack down on illegals" arguments ignore these issues.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 21, 2005 11:45 AM



Jonathan: Wow, you've cut right to the heart of the issue.

People by the millions are being rewarded at taxpayer expense for breaking the law; illegals breed like fruit flies, thereby dramatically increasing environmental pressures and degradation; neighborhoods in every city are self-created ghettos in which the residents behave exactly as if they were living in their countries of origin and speak English only if they have to (which they do less and less, since governments now bend over backward to do their business multi-lingually); ethnic gangs and drug dealers are responsible for countless crimes, up to and including rape and murder; et cetera.

Your solution: make all the illegals legal. No more illegal immigration problem! Your brilliance puts the rest of us to shame.

Posted by: Rick Darby on November 21, 2005 12:06 PM



“[E]nforcing immigration laws is not entirely compatible with catching terrorists….”--Jonathan,

Please explain. In one of Neal Stephenson’s books (Diamond Age) a character has the thought that a well-run constabulary actually helps the more clever sort of thief by permitting him to go about his business without fear of petty street criminals. Is this your point; that, perhaps counter-intuitively, a wide-open border situation, by some means, actually results in making counter-terrorism work easier? BTW, is that the Israeli view? Also, how does that view take into account the view, or dare I say the point, of Thomas Sowell, given but a few days after 9/11, that communities of illegal immigrant co-ethnics, co-religious or otherwise co-something may provide dangerous sanctuaries for those –strictly terrorist and other, who might do us harm? Do Paris’ enclaves of apparently anti-French arsonists affect the discussion at all?

Finally, where exactly does Schneier make the argument? I searched his site for a few minutes but stopped when I found this: “Instead, guards at borders and airports should be encouraged to rely more on their instincts than on the technology they're using.” http://www.schneier.com/essay-038.html While he certainly seems impressive, and I might be taking him out of context, nevertheless it occurred to me that his main argument in that essay (“Fortress America” I believe) that tech might engender a false sense of security was somewhat undercut by the fact that, in large areas of the southern border, there are no guards at all.

Posted by: cc on November 21, 2005 12:35 PM



The hypocrisy and deliberate inaction over immigration frustrates the heck out of me. California, where I live, is addicted to illegal immigration and both political parties dance around the issue. There is a major construction boom in the area, and every project, underwritten by the largest banks, depends on illegal immigrant construction workers. Banks are heavily into the remittance business, making it as easy as possible for illegals to wire money back to Mexico and other countries; S&Ls eagerly make home loans to illegals. Elite families let their wives live out their feminist fantasies while employing illegal immigrants as nannies and housekeepers. There are restaurants and coffee shops where every worker except the manager, from cooks to wait staff, is an illegal immigrant. Other businesses, from hotels to car washes, deliberately underpay illegal workers and fire them if they complain.

And yet when a local radio station attempted to target the Republican and Democratic Congressmen with the worst record on immigration for removal with an interesting stunt called “Political Human Sacrifice,” voters would not bite, even though the duplicitous records of these people were accurately laid out. Interestingly enough, even though conservative radio talk show hosts like to talk tough about immigration, only two hosts actually held the Republican, David Dreier, accountable, while every other program went out of their way to shield him from any accountability. The worst was defending Dreier’s craven exploitation of the family of a police officer, murdered by an illegal immigrant who has been protected from extradition by Mexican authorities. Dreier talked about backing bills to encourage authorities to comply, but backed down when promised patronage goodies by the Bush Administration.

Oddly enough, no television station or newspaper examined Dreier’s record, particularly San Gabriel Valley papers within the congressman’s district. Some voters embraced denial and took deep drinks of the Kool-Aid by defending their vote for Dreier with the lame excuse that Democrats would be worse, even though objectively the current result is the same without respect to the lies of either party. And in the upcoming special elections in one district, Republicans have closed ranks against Minuteman and illegal immigrant activist Jim Gilchrist, who is running as an independent, but who has declared that he will vote like a Reagan Republican on all other issues.

On a federal level, Bush, conservative think tanks and the Wall Street Journal continue to push the delusion of open borders and a guest worker program that lacks any enforcement arm which would send workers back to their home countries when their work terms have finished.

Both Democrats and Republicans have declared open welfare on the middle class with their immigration policies. I single out Republicans here only because some conservatives pretend to care about immigration, but then try to deflect their inaction by blaming “liberals.” And I don’t see how border fences solve anything when employers are still free to employ workers without regard to their immigration status.

The bottom line: Politicians don’t want to discuss illegal immigration because their constituencies benefit from it. The public wants to benefit from illegal immigrant labor, but then expect them to magically disappear when their work shifts are over.

Posted by: Alec on November 21, 2005 01:21 PM



I feel compelled to point out that in our past, we have had several national conversations on the subject of immigration. The first was in the 1830s-1850s, as immigrants to the United States became increasingly of Irish and German, rather than English, origin. They were descried as Papists and foreigners, and it was widely held that they were taking jobs away from natives, that their morals were polluting society, and that their customs were to foreign for them ever to integrate into American society. These fears, of course, proved to be somewhat overblown.

Again, the United States had a national conversation on the subject of immigration at the end of the 19th century as the makeup of the immigrant population shifted from northern European to southern (Italian) and eastern European (Polish). Once again, immigrants were accused of taking jobs away from natives, straining the resources of cities, and holding on to foreign customs that were inimical to American values. Once again, within a few generations, it became obvious that these fears were overblown.

On the West Coast, increased Asian immigration in the first few decades of the twentieth century was greeted with a level of hysteria that boggles the imagination. It was routinely claimed if immigration were allowed to proceed unchecked, masses of Chinese and Japanese peasants would swamp the country and turn it into an outpost of Asia. Suffice it to say, despite rampant illegal immigration from Asia, this did not happen.

Looking back, it's hard to understand these previous waves of anti-immigration sentiment as anything other than fear and alarm over the perceived foreignness of the new arrivals, and the perception that they would change American culture irrevocably - and for the worse. But looking back, what seems instead to have happened after a few generation is the accumulation of cultural adornments--pasta and St. Patrick's day, dim sum and Christmas trees--while the essential conflicts over language and religion and jobs and ethnic slums all melted away after a few generations.

People say that it's different now, and cite half a hundred reasons, from racial differences, to the welfare state, to the disappearance of the frontier, to the rise of immigrant ghettos, to the unwillingness of new arrivals to learn English, to their lack of education, but look back at the debates that took place throughout our history and you'll find these same arguments already deployed, and already refuted by the passing of time. Anti-Mexican sentiment now sounds pretty much like anti-Irish sentiment a hundred and fifty years ago, anti-Muslim sentiment much like anti-Catholic sentiment of a hundred years ago.

Posted by: Amy on November 21, 2005 01:33 PM



Rick Darby: Learn how to read. You have completely mischaracterized my argument.

CC: I had in mind arguments expressed in this press release to which Schneier linked. It deals with a specific case -- proposed legislation to deny driving licenses to illegals. However, I think that its central points are generally applicable: measures designed to bar illegals from participating in various State-sanctioned activities discourage "non-terrorist illegal aliens [from participating] in internal security screening systems"; and by lumping together terrorist and non-terrorist illegals such measures greatly expand the "haystack" that has to be searched to find a very few terrorists. I think these arguments are worth serious consideration, yet one rarely finds anything like them, or any recognition that counter-terrorism and immigration policies may conflict, in the many proposals to crack down on illegals.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 21, 2005 02:04 PM



Amy – To cast some responses to the immigrant issue as anti-Mexican evades the central problem. In the past, having to sail to America created some barrier to immigration for ALL incoming groups. Today, both Democrats and Republicans are effectively purely open border, although it is largely Democrats and “progressives” who attempt to depict any opposition to illegal immigration as being somehow racist.

Interestingly enough, many Mexicans also strongly believe that they have an inalienable right to enter the United States for work, and I am not talking about those political activists who insist that the Southwest is part of Mexico. By contrast, these same people also believe strongly that Mexico has a right to control its borders and to restrict immigration and investment by US citizens.

It is also interesting to observe California Latino politicians who openly court illegal immigrants, who believe it is their duty to represent the interests of illegal immigrants, and who refuse to make any distinction between illegal and legal Mexican immigrants, at best describing illegals as undocumented workers. Non-Latino Democrat politicians go along with this charade. The bottom line is that over the past 10 years or so, I have never heard or read a single Democrat ever speak of limiting illegal immigration. Republicans, as I have noted earlier, attempt to waffle on the issue by muttering pro-business or libertarian sentiments. However, the thoughtful middle ground has never opposed legal immigration of Mexicans, Central Americans, Asians or any other people. The attempt to cast opposition to illegal immigration as being anti-Mexican is really an attempt to stifle debate that might lead to a solution to the problem.

Posted by: Alec on November 21, 2005 02:25 PM



Jonathan: Thanks for the link. Somewhat dissappointing I must say. The reason people don't want illegal immigrants to get legal driver's licenses is because they are illegal immigrants. Being illegal immigrants, people want them deported. It's a can't have it both ways kind of thing. A consistency thing. Some people get hung up on that. Sorry.

Posted by: cc on November 21, 2005 02:42 PM



Amy: Very well said! I couldn't have put it better.

Alec: if you really think "both Democrats and Republicans are effectively purely open border", I'm not sure we live on the same planet. Open borders are occasionally popular rhetoric, but the laws restricting immigration don't seem to be going anywhere and I haven't noticed anyone actually trying to /legislate/ for anything remotely resembling open borders. Have you?

Michael, you ask: "Are you OK with the fact that the U.S.'s population is growing much, much faster than it would without illegal immigration? Are you cool with the fact that the country's ethnic makeup is undergoing a drastic re-ordering?"

My answers: yes, and yes. I'm fine with both of those.

I'd also like to point out that given new entry and new births, "average California income" could well decline while the actual income of every single Californian increased. So even if the speculation about income decreasing by 11% were true, I'm hard pressed to see why we should be concerned. Average income only works as a proxy for how well off we are when you hold all else constant, which isnt the case in this situation. The fact that the average drops a bit when more poor people arrive and have kids is mathematically expected and not all that interesting.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 21, 2005 02:59 PM



Alec - My argument is not centrally that anti-immigrant is code for anti-Mexican (though I can't see how you can deny that some responses to the immigration issue are anti-Mexican - there's unfortunately a significant audience for the argument that those of Latin-American descent are culturally and genetically inferior to true-blooded Americans, and hence incapable of assimilating).

Rather, my argument is that all of the many issues that are currently raised as an argument against open borders - they're stealing our jobs, they won't assimilate, they'll overwhelm us, they're a drain on the resources of our cities, they're uneducated and so on - were all used against previous waves of immigration from new places, and have all historically proven to be unfounded. Furthermore the groups that had been previously mistrusted (Irish-Americans, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans) are now seen as integral members of our society and our heritage.

Moreover, I argue that the differences that people offer between the previous situation and the current situation are minimal, at best. For instance, you mention that having to sail to America provided a barrier for immigration. However, if you look at the historical records (for example, accounts of the Atlantic crossing by people fleeing the Irish potato famine) you'll see that it was a very low barrier indeed. Approximately two million immigrants are believed to have arrived from Ireland alone during the 1840's, at a time when the entire country's population was 17 million, many of whom crossed the Atlantic in what were known at the time as "coffin ships" for the crowded conditions, scarce food, and rampant disease that prevailed on board.

Posted by: Amy on November 21, 2005 03:24 PM



Glen -- We have de facto open borders in California. There is no need to legislate them. In addition, Democratic legislators push for legislation that would give illegal aliens or, if you prefer, "undocumented workers," the same rights and privileges that citizens and legal residents enjoy, in effect nullifying all naturalization laws.

We have reached a tipping point in Calfornia where any practical border enforcement may be impossible.

From this viewpoint, the only difference between some Republicans and Democrats in California is this: Republicans want to play libertarian boogie, eliminating all employment enforcement, social programs and public education, and let all workers -- illegal and legal -- fend for themselves in the "free market." Democrats, on the other hand, want to play the socialist cha cha, where they increase taxes on "the wealthy" in order to fund free health care, a guaranteed wage and increased safety net social programs. Neither side believes that there should be any regulation of immigration. They just don't have the guts to say so.

By the way, I think that California is becoming a second rate state economically, but I do not blame illegal immigrants for this. Numerous economic sectors, from manufacturing to retail to aerospace to services, have been steadily declining for the past 20 years and the jobs which have replaced these industries have tended to pay less. At the same time, many voters want to increase social spending. California continues to have a structural budget deficit (we inherently spend more than we take in)a problem which the citizens, by the results of the last special election, apparently think will go away on its own. Illegal immigration, while not the cause of these problems, certainly exacerbates them.

Posted by: Alec on November 21, 2005 03:29 PM



Jonathan: I am not mischaracterizing your argument. I'm just stating it plainly, whereas you embroider it so its fatuousness is somewhat hidden in a tangle of words.

Quote: "One of the reasons why so many people come here as illegals is that we make it difficult for them to do so legally." Any reasonable person reading this would have to conclude that you believe the illegal immigration problem is just a matter of a verbal formula. If we "solved" the problem your way, and simply made legal immigration easier, it would still create the same social and financial costs that you prefer to ignore. It's the numbers. It's the Third World culture we are importing and normalizing.

Quote: "Making people wait years to get a work visa is not a good way to encourage them to follow the rules." Right. It's always our fault, isn't it? How oppressive of us, not to give anyone, anywhere in the world, the right to move here whenever they want. If we're going to be so mean, why should we expect anyone to not to break the law? Besides, you are assuming what is not true, that we need millions of new parking attendants and burger wrappers.

(And please don't come back with that old con about how immigrants bring skills we need. I haven't heard about many brain surgeons and college professors crossing the border packed in trucks in the dead of night.)

Quote: "I think that we should find a way to let in as many as we can, as long as they work and are not criminals or terrorists, and as long as they are willing to Americanize themselves if they want to be citizens."

As many as we can? I've asked the following question to other commenters on 2 blowhards and I ask the same of you: With the United States's population already growing faster than that of any other modern country, what population would you like? Half a billion? A billion? Ten billion? I guess for you, since you want to set out the welcome wagon for "as many as possible," the answer must be "an infinite number."

" … as long as they work and are not criminals or terrorists, and as long as they are willing to Americanize themselves if they want to be citizens." How do you propose to check criminal records of an unlimited number of prospective new citizens from Third World countries all over the globe? Do you think terrorists have "TERRORIST" listed on their passports where it says Occupation? Are we to run background checks on millions of would-be immigrants from every God-abandoned sand pit on earth? And finally, how do you propose to look into the minds of your unlimited numbers of masses yearning to enjoy the benefits of life here, to ascertain which of them genuinely want to "Americanize" themselves? Will it be enough for you if they sign a piece of paper (in their native language, of course)?


Posted by: Rick Darby on November 21, 2005 03:51 PM



This topic always brings out the racists, and the ideologues.

Understand the anthopological view--population pumps always dominate their adjacent neighbors. As long as Mexico's birthrate exceeds the USA's, this material fact is the only law that matters.

American business still has a ceaseless desire for below-market labor costs, so it will continue to pay illegal workers stateside or ship jobs overseas. When you hear the politicos and business leaders espousing radically higher prices for goods and services, or lower wages for all American employees, (and when you start living with those wages and prices) then maybe the economic equation will shift. I'm betting against that outcome.

Tatyana above wonders how illegals contribute to the tax base if they don't have a Soc. Sec. card. Well duh, they simply offer a fake number and fake I.D. to an employer, so they get taxed but can't claim their due upon retirement. It happens in millions of cases. Employers rarely bother to check the validity of SS numbers. And by the way, this practice is hardly limited to Mexican illegals.

The reactionary idea of building a wall to prevent the travel of population is hilariously stupid. Even if a wall is constructed, the effect will be short-lived and ultimately it's doomed to failure. Humans flow all over the damned planet, and neither the highest mountains nor the widest oceans have stopped the movement.

Instead, you must adapt to the new reality. I hope you have trouble doing that, because it gives me a huge competitive advantage.

Posted by: Jefferson on November 21, 2005 04:05 PM



CC: I am merely pointing out that there is probably a tradeoff between anti-illegal-immigration measures and anti-terrorism measures. To borrow a phrase, "It's a can't have it both ways kind of thing." It does not make me pro-illegal-immigration to point this out any more than it makes anyone else pro-terrorism to disagree with me.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 21, 2005 04:06 PM



Yipee! We're all racists! That didn't take long.

Amy (and some jackass named Jefferson): Instead of merely writing-off the arguments --"they're stealing our jobs, they won't assimilate, they'll overwhelm us, they're a drain on the resources of our cities, they're uneducated," why don't you address them? If they're so meritless then they should be easily refuted, yes? Please, have at it. Tell me why we should have open borders; why all immigraton restriction is wrong; and why all and sundry should be welcomed with open arms lest we be meanie poohs.

Posted by: cc on November 21, 2005 04:26 PM



Jefferson, you can't seat on 2 stools: either you say American business continues to pay illegal workers below-market rate, then it make economic sense for a businessman to hire illigals off the books - OR employers (and IRS subsiquently - but that would mean US government agency, employed by taxpayers, don't do its job) don't bother checking SS# and do send taxes to public treasury (then I don't see the incentive for business to employ illegals: they appear to be on equal footing with legal residents).

Let's say I'm an illegal immigrant (not just Mexican; let's say - I'm a Polish cleaning lady): where legitimate worker will expect to be paid $15 p/h I'm employed for $8 and I still pay 25% off my wages to Uncle Sam, and I am supposed to survive on $6/h and still yet to send some money to my family in Poland? I don't think so. That would be, in fact, very effective measure against illegal immigration.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 21, 2005 04:38 PM



Jonathan: Don't misunderstand my disappointment for an accusation that you are somehow pro-illegal immigration or otherwise against law and proper legal systems. Another phrase that comes to mind would be "too clever by half." Your approved idea of bringing illegal immigrants into a certain class of driver's licensing might actually have a net beneficial counter-terrorist result. I'll grant that. However, unlike other, earlier bringings in or tolerations, as flawed as they might have been, for example, hospital emergency rooms not inquiring so as not to scare away people in need or police officers stressing their lack of jurisdiction to obtain cooperation, establishing further exceptions --this time on the very face of the law further corrupts the legal system. There must be a line somewhere.

Posted by: cc on November 21, 2005 04:40 PM



Jonathan: Don't misunderstand my disappointment for an accusation that you are somehow pro-illegal immigration or otherwise against law and proper legal systems. Another phrase that comes to mind would be "too clever by half." Your approved idea of bringing illegal immigrants into a certain class of driver's licensing might actually have a net beneficial counter-terrorist result. I'll grant that. However, unlike other, earlier bringings in or tolerations, as flawed as they might have been, for example, hospital emergency rooms not inquiring so as not to scare away people in need or police officers stressing their lack of jurisdiction to obtain cooperation, establishing further exceptions --this time on the very face of the law further corrupts the legal system. There must be a line somewhere.

Posted by: cc on November 21, 2005 04:40 PM



Rick Darby wrote:
Jonathan: I am not mischaracterizing your argument. I'm just stating it plainly, whereas you embroider it so its fatuousness is somewhat hidden in a tangle of words.

Hmm, let's see what you wrote:

Quote: "One of the reasons why so many people come here as illegals is that we make it difficult for them to do so legally." Any reasonable person reading this would have to conclude that you believe. . .

and

If we "solved" the problem your way, and simply made legal immigration easier. . .

and

Quote: "Making people wait years to get a work visa is not a good way to encourage them to follow the rules." Right. It's always our fault, isn't it?

and

(And please don't come back with that old con about how immigrants bring skills we need. . .

(Emphasis added.)

Yeah, you're just restating my arguments and not putting words into my mouth.

To respond to the serious points that you raised:

-If you actually read my original comment you may notice that I asserted that we should enforce laws against illegal immigration as well as making legal immigration easier.

-You helpfully quoted me as follows, "I think that we should find a way to let in as many as we can, as long as they work and are not criminals or terrorists, and as long as they are willing to Americanize themselves if they want to be citizens", but you (again) failed the reading comprehension test by interpreting "as many as we can" as meaning "an infinite number." It should be clear that the limit has to be determined by experience, public debate and the political process. Got a problem with that?

-You asked: "How do you propose to check criminal records of an unlimited number of prospective new citizens from Third World countries all over the globe? Good question. How about we start by imposing a moratorium on immigration from countries that have a history of exporting terrorists? I don't see why Saudis should have an easier time coming here than Haitians do. Screening for criminals is more difficult, but problems could be minimized if we routinely arrested and deported illegal-immigrant criminals, as we do not currently do in many cases.

-And finally, you asked: "And finally, how do you propose to look into the minds of your unlimited numbers of masses yearning to enjoy the benefits of life here, to ascertain which of them genuinely want to "Americanize" themselves? Will it be enough for you if they sign a piece of paper (in their native language, of course)?" You're the guy who brought up the native-language thing, not me. I think that we should treat immigrants the way my grandparents were treated: Invite them to make their own way, insist that their kids are educated in English, and require English proficiency and substantial civic and historical knowlege about this country as conditions of citizenship.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 21, 2005 04:56 PM



CC: OK.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 21, 2005 04:59 PM



Good to see the conversation flourishing! And kudos and thanks to all who manage to join in yet avoid the name-calling. These are touchy topics -- which is one reason why polite society avoids 'em. But, as with touchy topics in a marriage or relationship, sometimes they need to be addressed head on, and damn the torpedos. Otherwise things just get worse. But let's all remember that we all wish everyone well. Even given that, there's plenty of room to disagree about what if anything to do. For instance: vis a vis Mexico and Mexicans. Bless 'em, of course. But are we really doing them a favor by siphoning off their poor, their ambitious, and their excess? Perhaps all we're doing is being cruel to be kind. With us next door absorbing trouble and energy, they never have to get serious about reforming their own country. Maybe they'd be better off if we put up a wall. They'd finally learn how to look after themselves. Maybe not. But, since it's all speculative anyway, it's all worth exploring.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 21, 2005 05:08 PM



I don't think it's the case that today's "immigrant ghettos" are poorer or more insular (linguistically) than the German, Irish and Italian communities of a century ago. The legal immigration rate in the United States is quite low.

I agree that illegal immigration is a problem. I agree that is can be solved by enforcing work rules. Without a simultaneous increase in legal immigration numbers, though, any crackdown on illegal immigration is a mistake.

Do we want to turn away those who want to work from our door? Do we want hardworking people around the world to be refused the American Dream? No.

Here's my plan: Create a "permanent resident" visa, open to anyone worldwide who can pass a background check. There would be no limits on number aside from the upper limit of bureaucracy to process. Since the immigrants would be on visa status, they could be deported if they committed serious crimes, for instance. States/cities could choose what benefits to give this new class of visa-holders, so, for instance, land-rich states like Wyoming would offer school and full welfare/social security, while land-poor states like New Jersey would not. I would offer some sort of amnesty for illegals in the US already, but then crack down on everyone else (by cracking down on the workplace).

Benefits? Less homogenous immigration (no quotas = more immigrants from asia/africa/etc., not just Mexico). More integration with America. More geographical diversity of immigration. The chance to escape poverty and reach opportunity for millions.

This policy isn't anything strange - it was the functional immigration policy of the United States during the Ellis Island period.

Posted by: cure on November 21, 2005 05:23 PM



Alec wrote: "We have de facto open borders in California."

How do you figure that? If the fact that many people manage to get in despite it being illegal amounts to "de facto open borders", we must also have "de facto pot legalization" no? Silly me: I consider the fact that a law we spend a lot of money enforcing ISN'T WORKING evidence that we might want to get rid of that law, try something different, or at least moderate our estimation of how effective more or stricter laws in that area might be.

See, "nobody immigrates to the US" isn't one of the real-world choices we face. All we can do is make it /be/ illegal or make it /not/ be illegal. If it /is/ illegal, in my book that's not an "open border policy" and you therefore can't claim various unfortunate effects you perceived are caused by an "open border policy", they are caused by a regime in which most of the immigration from Mexico is against the law.

People who want open borders want it to be LEGAL to come here and be an American. The fact that it isn't legal imposes significant costs on would-be immigrants with few corresponding benefits either to them or to us.

Rick: We'd get more "brain surgeons and college professors" from Mexico if the borders were open than we do now. Right now we tend to get people with nothing to lose. The high costs of border passage filter out those who have better options elsewhere. But yes, they do have skills we need. Even if the skills are in fieldwork or assembling burritos. If the job opportunities weren't here for them, they wouldn't come.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 21, 2005 05:25 PM



Jonathan: All right, let's take your points one by one.

"If you actually read my original comment you may notice that I asserted that we should enforce laws against illegal immigration as well as making legal immigration easier." Self-contradictory. If we make legal immigration easier — and I don't agree that there is any reason we should — the net result is the same: lots more immigrants. We just re-brand most of those who are now illegal as legal. That may make it less of a law-enforcement problem, but it won't reduce any of the other problems caused by massive Third World immigration.

" … you (again) failed the reading comprehension test by interpreting "as many as we can" as meaning "an infinite number." It should be clear that the limit has to be determined by experience, public debate and the political process. Got a problem with that?"

Gosh, I guess I do have a reading comprehension problem; I tend to assume plain words mean what they plainly say. Like, "as many as we can" means "as many as we can." If you mean, "as many or as few as prudence and experience teach us is optimum," then say that. I'm sorry if you feel that I misinterpret you, but all I can go by is a common-sense interpretation of your words. I write for a living, and if everything I write had some different meaning requiring the reader's intution to be understood correctly, I'd be looking for a new job soon.

As for the substantive point, I put it to you that the limit has been determined by experience, and experience shows we have already far surpassed the number of uneducated and unskilled immigrants we need; how many more do you want hanging out in parking lots waiting for somebody to come by in a pickup truck and choose them for underpaid labor?

As several other commenters have noted, it is maddening that what should be determined through a political process and public debate is not — politicians and the mainstream media won't allow it. And there are those like the commenter who says all of us who think this ought to be a political issue are a bunch of racists.

"How about we start by imposing a moratorium on immigration from countries that have a history of exporting terrorists? I don't see why Saudis should have an easier time coming here than Haitians do. Screening for criminals is more difficult, but problems could be minimized if we routinely arrested and deported illegal-immigrant criminals, as we do not currently do in many cases."

Yes, we should start doing all that last week. But the potential for terrorist infiltration is only one aspect of the immigration madness.

"I think that we should treat immigrants the way my grandparents were treated: Invite them to make their own way, insist that their kids are educated in English, and require English proficiency and substantial civic and historical knowlege about this country as conditions of citizenship."

We agree on that. But it's not a valid argument for why we need lots of immigrants in the first place.

Posted by: Rick Darby on November 21, 2005 05:55 PM



Glen – there are at least four ways you create de facto open borders: you allow illegal immigration to flourish or only spottily attempt to control the border; you prevent law enforcement from enforcing immigration laws; you remove all obstacles or distinctions between legal and illegal residents; and you provide government services to illegal immigrants. All four of these items are at play in California (and I would not presume to speak for other states). As I noted before, there are Latino and “progressive” legislators who openly admit that they consider illegal immigrants to be their constituents and actively seek to enact laws that will benefit them. Also, there are open border proponents who want Mexicans and Central Americans to be able to come to America and work, but do not care whether or not they become American citizens, or presume that they will retain their original citizenship.

Also, it is not the case that illegals have skills that we need; it is that employers know that they can undercut the wages of citizens and legal residents. I mentioned a restaurant that I used to go to that has an almost exclusive illegal immigrant work force. The cooks, busboys and cleaning crew was always illegal but the wait staff at one time was American, Eastern European and Eithiopian. Now it is all illegal alien. I do not believe that the illegal aliens have superior skills to the previous employees.

Michael – I see your point, but I don’t think it is simply that we are siphoning off Mexico’s poor, ambitious, and excess. People behave rationally, and many illegal immigrants come here because of a lack of opportunity in their home country. For example, a recent Pew Hispanic Center found that “an estimated 32 million adults in Mexico -- about 46 percent of adults -- would come to the United States if they had the means and opportunity. And about half of those people said they'd be willing to move to and work in the United States illegally.” In addition, the study found that 35 percent of Mexican college graduates want to come to the United States, even if they have to work at a job below their qualifications. Many of the college-educated people who want to come to the United States said they would come illegally.

The Mexican economy is hobbled by corruption and elitism, but media examinations of the economic issues related to immigration are meager. For example, although there are some people who like to offer the simplistic notion that illegal immigrants are simply poor people coming up North to do the jobs Americans won’t do, I have not seen a single news story (including Spanish language TV stations) asking what Mexico – a significant oil exporter -- has done with the increased revenue that country’s oil industry has received as the barrel price of oil has increased.

But don’t look for a wall or even pressure on Mexico anytime soon. George Bush is very comfortable with oligarchies, and the current administration is opposed to any immigration reform which might negatively impact business. You can also see the signs of future inaction in the crony nomination of Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security.

By the way, one thing that I find untenable with what I call the “de facto open border crowd” among some Republicans and Democrats is that I do not see how you can have large numbers of illegal immigrants come to this country and tax them (even if it is indirect taxes) but deny them political representation. So for example, I am offended by the paternalism of California Democrats who want to vote for programs to help “poor” undocumented workers, but would keep them in a dependent position unable to vote themselves. Similarly, I am frustrated with the pro-business side who pretend that illegal immigrants will not need health care or education or have any impact on the local economies of the communities in which they live.

Posted by: Alec on November 21, 2005 06:38 PM



Mr. Raphael:

You say:

So even if the speculation about income decreasing by 11% were true, I'm hard pressed to see why we should be concerned. Average income only works as a proxy for how well off we are when you hold all else constant, which isnt the case in this situation. The fact that the average drops a bit when more poor people arrive and have kids is mathematically expected and not all that interesting.

I don't think the notion of per family income dropping is exactly "speculation"--the same phenomenon was plainly measurable during the "boom" 1990s, in which the Los Angeles metropolitan area became the only metropolitan area in the country to experience such a drop in average family income. The consequences of such a drop in an already highly expensive city are visibly strained public services. L.A.'s health-care system would have shut down except for 'emergency' federal aid engineered by Mr. Clinton, per-student spending on public school students is quite low by national standards and would be plainly far lower if discounted for California's cost of living, the region's transportation infrastructure is greatly overstressed and grinding to a halt, poverty is becoming simultaneously more widespread geographically and more concentrated, etc., etc. I think your airy dismissal of such well-documented realities of an area on the front lines of massive illegal immigration is a tad ivory-towerish.

Moreover, since we live in a country with a fairly vigorous regime of progressive taxation, who do you think will be paying to keep our overtaxed schools functioning (at least barely), our roads and public transportation from collapsing, our hospital emergency rooms open, etc., etc.? Not to put too fine a point on it, me. Thanks for your concern for my welfare, bro.

Let me toss out an idea here; has anybody out there ever heard the word 'externality'?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 21, 2005 07:17 PM



It's interesting that all the services you mention are government-supplied. Funny how nobody ever worries that with increased population there won't be enough pizza parlors, gas stations, movie theaters or laundromats around -- privately provided goods seem to automatically scale for increases or decreases in population without too much of a fuss or hardship. Gee, it's too bad there's no way for schooling or health care or transportation infrastructure to do the same...

I've heard the word 'externality', and what's more, I've heard it occasionally takes the modifier positive. I think about that modifier when getting excellent meals from a taco truck or corner taqueria, or when a couple of hardworking guys help my mom do yardwork.

You seem to take it for granted that LA is "an already expensive city", not noticing that the presence of additional cheap labor makes it a less expensive city.

By international standards, California public schools are among the most expensive in the world per pupil. Real spending on schools in the U.S. doubles about every 20 years while the quality of the output is essentially flat. The phrase "good money after bad" seems apt.

What I find really odd is that the same people who think we spend "too much" on health care seem to think we spend "too little" on schooling. If california manages to spend less than the national average, why shouldn't we be proud of managing to contain costs in that area, just as other countries are proud of containing health care costs?

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 21, 2005 08:07 PM



Bryan Caplan weighs in on the question of whether economists think population growth is a net benefit here.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 21, 2005 08:26 PM



Glen – You seem willing only to consider positive externalities, but never negative ones. You also appear to assume that voters are going to magically become libertarians and thus eliminate the problem of government supplied services. But since that’s not going to happen, let’s look at some real world implications, again using California as an example.

You claim that cheaper labor makes LA a less expensive city. But no, the middle class is being crowded out, and what you are left with is a city in which upper class and upper middle class people work, but which is then abandoned to lower classes in the evening. Meanwhile, the middle class is forced further into the suburbs, but then they incur higher transportation costs to commute into the city where their jobs are. Broadway, which used to be the main downtown street is now a vibrant third world street, but a near first world slum. It is not simply that goods are cheaper there, it is that the low quality of the goods keeps a wider range of shoppers away. The tax base subsequently erodes. Further, Spring Street, adjacent to Broadway, has died, and Main Street is the border of skid row. North of Broadway is still dominated by office buildings, but again, after the sun goes down the area is largely deserted. In other words, illegal immigration can indeed reduce the number of pizza parlors, gas stations, movie theaters or Laundromats as it impacts neighborhoods.

RE: What I find really odd is that the same people who think we spend "too much" on health care seem to think we spend "too little" on schooling.

Sorry, that dog won’t hunt. Even though some Californians sometimes continue to vote for increases in education spending, it is becoming clear to others that this is just throwing money down a rat hole. On the other hand, California leads the nation in hospital closings, and a major contributor to this are the laws mandating emergency care for everyone without regard to ability to pay. And since a large portion of those too poor to pay are illegal immigrants, the net impact is not only increased health care costs, but reduced health care availability for everyone else. So, for example, if your mother got poisoned from that cheap meal from the taco truck (health code violations and not enough inspectors), she might not be able to get to an acute care center in enough time to save her life. But at least the illegal immigrant grave diggers would be a bargain.

Bryan Caplan’s article about population growth, while interesting, is not terribly relevant to the issue of illegal immigration and public policy.

Posted by: Alec on November 21, 2005 09:04 PM



Rick Darby: Obviously we have different opinions on how many immigrants to allow in. I think the number should be much higher than it is, because I think that immigrants improve the country. Yeah, they should learn English and American civic values, but as far as I can tell most of the economic problems associated with immigrants are problems of the welfare state rather than immigration per se, and I don't think restricting immigration will resolve them.

WRT labor competition, keeping people out of our country is not going to reduce the pressure on wages that people in competitive trades, from day laborers to computer programmers, are now experiencing. It just means that more of the people who earn those wages, and their employers, will be earning and spending their money outside of the USA. There are lots of hard-working, creative people in the world, and I want more of them to be in this country. I even want the guys who are cutting grass and doing day labor, since they provide important services, and since some of them and their children will go on to found successful companies that create big wealth and employ the rest of us.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 21, 2005 09:21 PM



Alec: I grant the existence of both negative and positive externalities, but happen to think the net marginal effect is currently positive. Both for additional immigration and for additional population growth.

Most "our infrastructure can't keep up" concerns apply to population growth regardless of whether it comes from immigration or from other means, which mnakes Caplan's article relevant.

I don't expect voters to magically become libertarian but if they did it's clear the scalability problem goes away. Any populace that was willing to vote for truly open borders might be willing to consider radical change in other venues. On the other hand if we have to assume the voters won't accept any change when it comes to government-provided services, why assume they'd accept change when it comes to immigration? Why argue about policy at all?

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 21, 2005 09:30 PM



God save us from the libertarians and their "open borders". I for one want America to be a country where there are large numbers of well-paid jobs accessible to native born Americans (white, brown, black, or yellow) with average levels of education and skill. Open borders would be a heavy blow against that. Does anyone remember that we had in effect an immigration moratorium in this country from 1925 through the late 60s, and (the Great Depression aside) those years were economically the golden years for middle-class America? Not only that, those years were critical in allowing for the genuine, deep assimilation of earlier waves of southern and eastern European immigrants. Comparison of today's immigration problems to the early 20th century and saying "it will all go away" (a la Amy above) is wrongheaded, because it ignores the critical role of the immigration moratorium in making those earlier problems go away.

If you are worried about diversity and getting high-skilled immigrants, just allow some legal visas for them. No problem.

Posted by: MQ on November 21, 2005 10:29 PM



Historical analogies with previous experience only work to the extent that current events parallel historical events. Well, lots of today's circumstances are different. It is intellectually lazy to simply assert that some waves of immigration worked out so all will. Details matter.

I've got tons of archives of posts on the details. See my various immigration category archives for tons of facts unfavorable to the rosy view:

Immigration Border Control
Immigration Brain Drain
Immigration Crime
Immigration Culture Clash
Immigration Demographics
Immigration Economics
Immigration Law Enforcement
Immigration Policy
Immigration Politics
Immigration Societal Decay
Immigration Terrorism

Also, it is erroneous to treat Hispanic immigration as something whose consequences can't yet be judged. We have multiple generations of Hispanic immigrants and enough data that social scientists have, for example, compared scholastic achievement of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation descendants of Hispanic immmigrants. The "it'll all turn out well in the end because it always has" argument is false. It is wrong on the empirical evidence when it comes to Hispanics.

Also, the country was very uncrowded in the 1830s. Not anymore. Housing prices in the desirable places have skyrocketed. Why make our lives more unpleasant? What about the future generations?

Posted by: Randall Parker on November 21, 2005 11:19 PM



If anyone with the right credentials is interseted, they might consider signing up here: www.fileus.org

Friends of Immigration Law Enforcement.

Posted by: Rudy on November 22, 2005 01:03 AM



Regarding the question of whether immigration is like population growth of any description; this covers over an exceedingly relevant and important moral distinction. If foreigners here take net public subsidy, that proves them to be hostile. The officials who give them these subsidies are thus traitors, and the immigrant who takes them is accessory to treason. Immigration cohorts increase the aggression on the net taxpayer; everyone should be against this. The nation cannot mean less than that we owe loyalty to our fellow citizen, the net taxpayers and other victims of aggression by foreigners, when they are thus attacked. That the global utility might be increased by larger immigration, cannot stand morally against the consideration of: to whom officials and citizens owe loyalty.

Posted by: John S Bolton on November 22, 2005 06:15 AM



To quote one of Mr. Parker's postings:

In America, cheap labor is subsidized labor.

One thing you need to keep in mind about illegal immigration is that it is not an entirely natural economic phenomenon; it is distorted (i.e., encouraged) by numerous subsidies that reduce the cost of such low-skilled immigrants to their employers. Sure, low-cost immigrants are cheap labor if their wages don't have to internalize the costs of their health care, of their children's education, of the stresses they place on transportation infrastructure, of their retirement, etc., etc.

And the notion that the U.S. can't get by without a supply of cheap labor is crazy; if such labor were all that valuable, it would be competed for avidly and thus paid more. The fact is, huge immigration to the U.S. is driven almost entirely by accident: by the unique physical proximity of a 3rd World nation (Mexico and points farther south) to a 1st World nation (the U.S.).

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 22, 2005 08:15 AM



Hi:

I am the guy who asked for possible “solutions.”

After reading the comments, it all seems to be about money when we are in fact talking about people who are making money.

It would seem to me that some sort of rational re-organization of the tax laws for immigrants, legal or otherwise, to want to pay up would be a huge plus, if we are talking money that is. … I don’t know, maybe just stopping the taxing on savings and the like might catch their fancy as an inducement to place money in US banks. Such a move would certainly rivet my attention and I feel fairly safe in opining that US bankers are not big fans of that tax or any other for that matter.

Certainly, enforcing policy would help but seems to me a stop-gap precisely because folks are talking seriously about the feasibility of creating an umpteen mile long wall on the southern border. I can’t but help wonder if the northern border would receive the same consideration. It will take many, many people to do that.

Yet, if we are talking people, whatever happened to old ideas of planned-parenthood and ZPG (Zero Population Growth). Is this too radical? I certainly would like to know.

Best.

Posted by: Michael on November 22, 2005 09:04 AM



The ZPG case was based on an invalid Malthusian premise that the supply of economic resources is fixed, and that more people means more drain on the fixed resource supply. In fact the supply of resources, and wealth, are functions mainly of human creativity, and people are thus, in Julian Simon's term, the ultimate resource. It's no accident that some of the wealthiest places, like Hong Kong and NYC, have no natural resources but have large and concentrated populations.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 22, 2005 10:02 AM



Not to get in the way of the debate -- roar on!. But can we all at least agree that these points and arguments ought to be taking place in the big, public, semi-official (newspapers, TV, among politicians, etc) venues as well as on obscure blogs? I'll suggest that the oomph with which we all make our points is a sign that these are issues that need airing and discussion ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 22, 2005 11:17 AM



If "open borders" and massive uncontrolled alien flows are good ideas, why doesn't Mexico have such a policy? Do they let any Guatemalan come in who wants to? I don't think so. Or any other country? If even illegal immigrants really contribute, many countries should not just be welcoming them but seeking them out. That doesn't happen. I was in Cairo in 2000 and remember my sister remarking on how many poor Ethiopians were trying to immigrate to Egypt. The Egyptian police would conduct massive sweeps late at night for illegals and deport them all immediately. Once again, the US is the sucker.

Posted by: Robert Speirs on November 22, 2005 11:29 AM



The subject of IQ hasn't come up yet. If theories on group differences are valid, then we're dealing, in the aggregate sense, with immigrants whose potential to assimilate (not commit crimes, not be a perpetual welfare burden) has a natural ceiling. Non-Asian and non-European immigrants' kids aren't doing well in school - that's a bad sign.

Posted by: hugh on November 22, 2005 11:51 AM



John Bolton:

What makes you think native-born US citizens don't receive net public subsidy? I recall a few years back when one study found illegals in Los Angeles were net recipients, that skeptics who ran the numbers found native-born citizens in Los Angeles were also net recipients using the same methodology. As long as some regions are being subsidized by others and many levels of government are running a deficit, it should be possible for creative cherry-picking to find areas where illegals seem like a liability, but unless you do a comparison with native-born it's not a valid complaint.

People tend to immigrate when they are old enough to be done with primary schooling, healthy enough to travel, and at the right age to start work. And many come here to work and then return home to retire. Compared to similar native-born we might reasonably expect recent immigrants to be less of a drain on public finances due to less money spent on their education, their retirement, and yes, even their health care.

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 22, 2005 12:26 PM



I'll second Jonathan's dismissal of Zero Population Growth, or the "steady state" theory. The problem is obvious, namely, the economy becomes a zero sum game where for every winner, there requires a loser in order to maintain the equilibrium.

Posted by: Bob on November 22, 2005 12:42 PM



I think the argument "immigration hurts poor countries" is most likely to gain traction with the liberal elites in this country, few of whom have ever considered the issue from this angle. And it is not just the brain drain, thought that is important. Even in the case of Mexico, from which few of the brightest move to America, the problem exists: those who do move, poorly educated though they may be, are, almost by definition, above average in their motivation, ambition, energy, and enterprise. Inevitably this means that those who are less-well endowed in these ways tend to be the ones who stay behind, and suffer the consequences. Evidence for the validity of this argument is found in figures for real hourly wages in Mexico over the past couple of generations. Admittedly these figures are hard to find on the web -- I wonder why? -- but when you do find them you see that real hourly wages stagnated in the late sixties, after doubling in the two generations preceding.

In other words, countries need the combined effort of the best members of all their social classes in order to achieve broad economic development. That means if you really care about "the greatest good of the greatest number" in poor countries, you should prefer more trade and investment, not more immigration.

Bleeding heart liberals -- among whom I count myself, by the way -- need to broaden their horizons!

Posted by: Luke Lea on November 22, 2005 02:05 PM



News Item: Cheney Ratchets Up Verbal Assault on Majority of Americans

The Bush Administration this week continued to ratchet up its rhetoric against the 63% of Americans who disagree with Administration conduct of the war in Iraq and the 57% of Americans who believe that the Administration misused intelligence to justify their preconceived plans for the invasion of Iraq

Bush has called those who accused him of manipulating pre-war intelligence “deeply irresponsible.” Last week Vice President Cheney emerged from his bunker to label those who disagreed with his views as “dishonest and reprehensible” and further accused them of “cynical and pernicious falsehoods.” Yesterday Cheney, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, took the rhetoric up a notch, describing Americans who disagree with his opinions as “shameless and corrupt.”

Latest polls show Bush’s approval rating among Americans at 34% and further indicate that only 40% of Americans consider Bush to be “honest and ethical.” Cheney’s approval rating hovers at an abysmal 19%; only 29% of Americans consider Cheney to be “honest and ethical.” More importantly, polls this week show that 57% of Americans believe that Bush and Cheney deliberately misused pre-war intelligence to justify the Iraq invasion, 63% think that Bush is mismanaging the war effort, and that these percentages are continuing to increase. A further disquieting fact for the Administration is that most Americans, including even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believe that the Bush strategy in Iraq is creating new terrorists faster than we can kill them.

Critics are split on whether the Bush/Cheney strategy of calling the nearly two thirds of Americans that disagree with them “irresponsible, reprehensible and dishonest, shameless and corrupt” will help their approval ratings.

White House operatives are carefully watching the polls to determine if their policy of lashing out against the clear majority of Americans who disagree with them on Iraq moves public opinion back in their favor. If it does, sources indicate that they may be open to bolder initiatives. They are said to be considering reacting to the 89% of Americans polled who consider Cheney the “human embodiment of evil” by having Cheney call them “witless troglodytes.” Karl Rove is rumored to have suggested an even stronger reaction to the 78% of Americans polled who consider Bush to be an “amiable dunce,” having Bush refer to them as “pustulent whores.” Sources say that there is indecision about whether to have Scott McClellan or Ken Mehlman deliver the White House message that the 63% of Americans who think Bush is mismanaging the war are “gonadally challenged.”

In an increasingly bad sign for the Republicans, 67% of Americans polled responded that they viewed Pat Robertson as the “sole voice of reason” in the Republican Party, though those polling numbers were taken prior to Robertson calling for his close friend God to assassinate the President of Venezuela, to destroy the town of Dover, PA, and prior to this past weekends gratuitous pimping of Jesus by Robertson on the 700 Club to raise money for his political action committee.

Asked to comment on these recent developments Bush, in Mongolia for a joint appearance with an Emu, encouraged Americans to wear the purple heart band-aids “in honor of the 2 purple hearts won by that coward John Murtha.” The band aids, decorated with a purple colored heart, were developed and worn by Republicans at their National Convention to mock John Kerry’s purple hearts, and are a common visual device used by Republicans to poke fun at the bravery of American soldiers with whom they disagree. Bush, sporting one of the band-aids on his forehead, encouraged all Americans to join him in mocking Murtha’s “so-called bravery.” Seeing Bush off at the airport, the President of Mongolia issued a brief statement regarding Bush’s visit which was later translated as “What a pompous asshole!”

Posted by: phil on November 22, 2005 04:23 PM



phil, do you have something to say on the subject? No? Then kindly insert your rant into the dark place closest to you.
Thanks for cooperation.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 22, 2005 04:58 PM



MB, sorry for my previous comment. Taxing day. Idiot overload.

Posted by: Tatyana on November 22, 2005 08:09 PM



MQ wrote:
"Does anyone remember that we had in effect an immigration moratorium in this country from 1925 through the late 60s, and (the Great Depression aside) those years were economically the golden years for middle-class America?"

No, I actually don't remember either of those factoids. We had a moritorium on most /asian/ immigrants for a while between 1924 and the mid-1940s under the theory that - not being white - they couldn't possibly assimilate. (How do we feel about that theory today, now that the best high schools in the country are the ones with the most asian students?) But we allowed immigration from other regions. Plus, we had essentially "an open border policy" with Mexico and the rest of the Americas through much of that period you're claiming was "golden".

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 23, 2005 01:34 AM



Oh, and given the context, that was a hell of an aside. "Apart from the Great Depression" indulging our xenophobic tendencies produced "economic golden years for middle-class Americans." How do you top a statement like that? I'm thinking:

"The civil war aside...1860-1880 was a time of peace."
:-)

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 23, 2005 01:44 AM



Glen: You are flat wrong that there was no moratorium on European immigration. In 1900-1914, imigration averaged over 900,000 per year and in 1920-1924, over 550,000. After the restrictions went on in 1925, immgration dropped to under 300,000 per year in 1925-1930. Asian immigration in 1924 was a whooping 22,000, about average for 1900-1924. European immigration was choked off after 1930, not exceeding 100,000 again till 1948, and never again exceeding 200,000.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on November 23, 2005 03:01 AM



I'm curious as to why no one has responded to Hugh's mention of race and IQ.

We already have a disgruntled, permanent black underclass in this country, the existence of which I feel is owed more to natural difference in IQ between the races than institutionalized racism. (There is a fifteen point gap between the average white and black IQs which appears in early childhood, persists across all socioeconomic levels, and is evident even in cases of transracial adoption. In other words, it ain't environmental!) Now we are importing tens of millions of Mexicans, despite the fact that the IQ gap between whites and Mexicans is usually put at 2/3 what it is between whites and blacks. Yet we just assume that they are going to be as successful as the waves of Europeans and Asians that have come to this country.

Well, what if this doesn't prove to be the case? What if the "racists" are right, and we are basically importing another, larger ethnically identifiable underclass?

Could we please discuss this issue, instead of sticking our heads in the sand and crying "Racism!" every time it is brought up?

Posted by: GayLikeAFox on November 23, 2005 04:00 AM



The reason why these matters can't be discussed publicly in a rational manner, without smears, is because there is no rational argument for mass antimerit immigration into a welfare society. It increases the aggression on the net taxpayer, an obvious evil. Power seekers need more intercommunal conflict, in order to aggrandize their power. With no rational arguments available to them, immigrationists have to use ad hominem smears about racism, xenophobia, etc. Responding to G Raphael, one level of aggression does not justify an increase of the overall level of aggression on the net taxpayer. One doesn't say that because Stalin got away with something, that Bush might emulate him. There can be no pretending that immigrants tend to be net taxpayers; their compression of age ranges, which you admit, makes this very unlikely. One can't pretend that they have no children. Immigrants'children are born to their parents, not to the net taxpayer. Searching "average family income per person by race and hispanic" origin reveals that Hispanic incomes per person are only half those of the majority. Asian per capita incomes are also lower. This is how the net public subsidy becomes unavoidable, their incomes are lower, and they are twice as likely to have children in public school. Search "facts for features: back to school"; the census figures show ~20% children of foreign born in public schools, even though foreign born are only ~10% of the population overall. The low incomes and higher school enrollment correlate highly with average IQ of the groups; low IQ means fewer years of female education and higher fertility. It is only a halt to mass antimerit immigration for many years, which could bring any large percentage of them into net taxpayer status.

Posted by: John S Bolton on November 23, 2005 05:17 AM



Excellent thread, except for the Cheney Derangement Syndrome rant. As to IQ, it might be interesting to see what the facts are about immigration worldwide. It may be that most countries allow immigration of higher-IQ individuals and bar those with a lower average IQ than that of their own citizens. Charles Murray and Steve Sailer would doubtless have some ideas on this.

Posted by: Robert Speirs on November 23, 2005 09:57 AM



Mexico's birth rate has only been mentioned once so far. In general, countries supplying immigrants to North America, Europe and increasingly Russia, have higher birth rates that coutries with majority populations of European descent (and suppliers' infant death rates are higher by a smaller factor). It's hard to see how this disparity can be eliminated in the short term.

In the American case, it might be more cost-efficient for the nation to interfere with the way Mexico is run to create jobs for people who would otherwise move up North. Perhaps (a credible threat of) taking the southern border seriously (the "Wall" option) will deprive Mexico of a safety valve (ejecting its poor and discontented) and make possible a Chavez scenario, which should scare Mexico's white elite into doing something.

Posted by: Alexei on November 23, 2005 11:18 AM



Glen, you're just wrong. First of all, the great depression had nothing to do with our "xenophobic tendencies", to say that U.S. immigration restrictions passed in 1925 caused the most serious worldwide depression in capitalist history four years later shows a lack of intellectually seriousness.

As for the effect of immigration restrictions between 1925 and 1965: they were large. There is a ton of actual data on this, I encourage you to look into it if you're actually interested. AS Rich points out above, European immigration dropped by over 80% during the period. As for "open borders" with Mexico over the period: border enforcement was less because immigration from Mexico was *much* lower. Every estimate we have shows that the Mexican-born population of U.S. residents showed very little growth from 1930-1960. As one example, check out e.g. the Glick and Van Hook (University of Texas) reconstruction of the Mexican-origin population of the U.S. Using the Census, they find the Mexican origin resident population grew by 300,000 from 1930 to 1960, and then by 11.5 million from 1960 to 1990. Of course it's grown by even more since then. Massey (Demography, May, 1995), estimates less than 100,000 illegal entries per year from Mexico in the early 1960s, today it's something like 3 million per year.

The big X factor during this period is how you count the Bracero program, which brought in about 4 million Mexicans as temporary agricultural guest workers during the 50s. But these were temporary workers brought in for defined agricultural jobs who were then deported and not allowed to become residents. Just to be clear, I think that program was a disgusting and exploitative form of indentured servitude, do not favor it at all, but just wanted to note it as a form of "immigration" during what was otherwise by far the lowest immigration period of U.S. history.

Posted by: MQ on November 23, 2005 02:11 PM



MQ: One of several contributing factors to the Great Depression lasting as long as it did was our economic isolationism - cutting outselves off from trade with the rest of the world. Most notably, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. I see that act as part of the same xenophobia that promulgated immigration restrictions at that time.

You said we had "in effect an immigration moratorium" A moratorium is a suspension of activity, not merely a reduction in that activity. We did have a moratorium with respect to Japan instituted in 1924. We also had a moratorium with respect to China instituted earlier still. We never had a "moratorium" with respect to Europe, or with the world as a whole.

If you meant something other than moratorium, you should have said what you meant.

Now, do you still want to call the 1930s part of a "golden economic age", or was that also not what you really intended to say?

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 23, 2005 05:20 PM



All right, if you want to convict me of calling an 80-90% reduction a "moratorium" then I plead guilty.

I don't think Smoot/Hawley had much if anything to do with the Depression, either causing it or prolonging it. This is a tired old talking point of free traders that is at best a substantial exaggeration. There were numerous comparably high tariff bills of various sorts passed in previous decades, including in 1921 right before the go-go decade of the 20s. The U.S. was a pretty protectionist country up through WWII.

I certainly didn't call the Depression a "golden age"....but I do believe that lower immigration levels during the period probably helped ease the burden of the Depression. They also helped strengthen labor at a critical time, and union power did help lay the groundwork for the post-WWII golden era.

Posted by: MQ on November 23, 2005 05:48 PM



RE: GayLikeAFox -- I'm curious as to why no one has responded to Hugh's mention of race and IQ.

The IQ thing is too indirect. Employers eager for low wage illegal immigrant labor don’t care that state and local governments have to pick up the tab for education, housing and healthcare costs; so they would care even less about any alleged IQ-related impact on society because IQ is too abstract and too far down the long term road to register on anyone’s radar. By the way, if IQ is such a big thing, then shouldn’t we open up the borders to high IQ Asians and then pay average whites not to breed? If you can get the best, why settle for just OK?

A little more seriously (but only just) I notice in California, Latino and Asian women are highly prized by a lot of men as mates or sexual partners, though obviously rates of interracial marriage are still not exceptionally high. And among Asian women, Filipino, Vietnamese and Thai women are often seen to be prettier, more sensual, more loyal and overall better wife material than supposedly high IQ Japanese or Chinese women (who are often seen to be more cute than sensual). In fact, I am amazed at some of the web sites devoted to marriageable Filipino women, although this is beginning to be rivaled by sites devoted to Eastern European women. The larger point here is that a hot or sweet-tempered babe is preferred over one who is merely smart, which again works against those who obsess over IQs to the exclusion of other qualities.

Posted by: Alec on November 23, 2005 06:01 PM



MQ, there are a couple of nice charts here of the number of immigrants to the US over time. I don't understand how you picked your date range. Why 1925-1960 in particular? Did you (or your source)widen the range on the high end in order to include more subjectively-perceived good times and inadvertantly get too much low end in the process? No, you didn't call the Depression a "golden age" but you did call a period that included the Depression a "golden age".

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 23, 2005 07:15 PM



Drat, I always forget the 2Bblog requires quotes around href tags. Let's try that link again: here

Posted by: Glen Raphael on November 23, 2005 07:17 PM



Dear Lunatic Liberals:

Amy and so many others above are being sentimental, intellectual fools. “These fears, of course, proved to be somewhat overblown.” Amy is talking about the fears some or most of Americans had about immigrants from various countries in past centuries. Oh my oh my what horrid people! Her premise is an ancestor’s concern about past immigration is evidence that current concerns are unfounded. First, what is her evidence specifically about the immigrants we are concerned about right now? Second, her premise is a country has no right to decide who becomes a citizen. Does she not realize a country is an extended family made up of people who emotionally but voluntarily associate extremely closely? Brashly, without evidence, she emotes that her criteria are the only legitimate criteria for citizenship. Amy’s thinking is so irrational it will be disregarded hopefully. Her fundamental but unknown premise (to her) is we do not have the right to prefer our mothers to Amy.

Refute this. I dare you lunatic liberals.

Posted by: Paul Henri on November 23, 2005 11:21 PM



>>"The IQ thing is too indirect. ... because IQ is too abstract and too far down the long term road to register on anyone’s radar."

IQ is just a tool, an imprecise one but useful nevertheless, for quantifying a group's overall potential for a harmonious coexistance with other Americans. IQ => material well-being. We already have a huge underclass that seethes with hatred of all that is white. To keep a semblance of order, we have instituted mechanisms such al affirmative action, quotas, PC, to mollify the underclass. All of it violates a sense of meritorious competition, fair play, etc. In short, it instills cynicism in the broade3st sense. So the question is, why would we want to pile on, and add more low-IQ / high-breeding immigrants to an already wobbling America? So that our grandchildren would have to live in gated communities if they can even affor it? It's my feeling than most liberals, when they extol open-borders immigration, do it to appear virtuous, to feel superior to otehr whites, than because they actually *like* anything associated with third-world immigrants.

>>"By the way, if IQ is such a big thing, then shouldn’t we open up the borders to high IQ Asians

That would be preferrable to the status-quo, but we'd still be setting ourselves up for future disharmony, just of a different kind. One thing I don't get, is why didn't the US end all immigration after 1989, except for inviting millions of newly-freed Eastern Europeans here? Wouldn't that, well, been a healthier thing to do from our grandchildrens' perspective?

>>and then pay average whites not to breed?"

De-facto, this is kind of what we have in place already, considering the extreme copst of starting a family in areas where schools are predominantly white.

Posted by: hugh on November 24, 2005 06:53 AM



I told you this topic always brings out the racists and the ideologues. I forgot to mention the mentally deranged. The links to Steve Sailer, VDare, and whatnot are important reminders of the motivational power of paranoia.

But just because you're paranoid...doesn't alter the fact that the productive world of real work doesn't need any more high-maintenance social critics with soft pink pudgy hands and massive "intelligence quotients." The market is glutted with well-educated high IQ people; new Ph.D.s are unemployable.

On the other hand, the US military cannot meet recruitment goals, and at least 5% of the current force consists of non-citizens. The few dozen of those types that I know personally all arrived here illegally, from Mexico and Central America (Reagan's legacy) or the Phillipines.

Somewhere between 600 thousand and 1 million illegal Americans are currently in Mexico, spending dollars. Commence handwringing.

Posted by: jefferson on November 24, 2005 12:00 PM



Wow! what creative new form of name-calling! "Racist" Ouch! how does one deflect that zinger?

I don't know if J's post was in reference to mine above it, but I'll try to extricate from its layers of abuse and righteous pique a kernel of something resembling a valid point.

No, we don't need more unemployed sociology PhDs, just as we don't need more of anyone here, really, unless you want to keep paying ever-rising taxes and move ever-farther to the exburbs as you raise your kids.

US Army recruitment goal shortfalls? We have a war and an all-volunteer army at the same time. Whattdya expect? Also, the US is a historic anomaly in that it maintains a world-class military without conscripting young men to sustain it.

Posted by: hugh on November 24, 2005 12:15 PM



Dear Fearless Leaders and Hugh,

We are dealing with lunacy in a sense that is defined less by the psychiatric billing codes than lunacy in a broader sense. Under psychiatric definitions, a mental condition is not an illness unless the condition is having a substantial deleterious effect on the patient's ability to function in work or in society or in both.

The mass-immigrationist's idea has a substantial deleterious effect on his or her ability to function in any society. Their main idea is one cannot prefer one's mother to another. This is the premise for their beliefs because many are just ignorant or brainwashed, but that is another essay. If one were a lunatic, how could one vote for healthcare for the elderly (our mothers) rather than healthcare for illegal immigrants? One would vote on whim, which is a dysfunctional way to function in society. It should be clear our mommies are not cannon fodder.

We should take solace in establishment curses such as racist insofar as immigration is concerned. Every such utterance labels the speaker as a shallow fool not to be feared but to be ridiculed and laughed at. The more fools there are to say it, the more they will be ignored because it has no basis in fact.

This lunatic belief in mass immigration has a substantial deleterious effect on the liberal’s ability to function. Mass immigration has a deleterious effect on a society’s ability to function. The once pearly white Catholic inhabitants (an illegitimate group according to post-modern liberal lunacy) of Spain were offered the choice to convert to Islam or die by the sword. You see there had been a forced mass immigration of peaceful, god-fearing Islamic Moors into Spain prior to this somewhat kind choice. The lunacy has not become less because the Koran ain’t changed in over a thousand years. Need I say Mohammed was a vicious murderer and a pedophile? Just try and refute me on this, please.

Thanks to the two brilliant Blowhards for this opportunity to search for truth. I know this does not interest you to the degree it does me, which makes me all the more grateful.

Paul

Posted by: Paul Henrí on November 24, 2005 11:45 PM






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