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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

THE NEW FAULT LINE IN IMMIGRATION REFORM

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My friend Tamar Jacoby of ImmigrationWorksUSA joins former Mexican Foreign Secretary Jorge Castenada in writing in today's Washington Post about what could be the biggest area of division in the coming reform debate - how to handle future workers. Some are proposing to put off discussions of this topic until the economy improves or to set up a commission to deal with the issue. Here is what Jacoby and Castenada have to say on the subject:




When the economy begins recovering, U.S. housing starts will climb,
restaurants will fill up again, Americans will take the vacations
they've been putting off and more. Revitalized businesses will once
again need foreign workers for jobs that increasingly educated
Americans do not want.


Meanwhile, in Mexico, for five to 10 more years at least, the
working-age population will continue to grow faster than the number of
decent-paying jobs, and young workers will continue to want to go where
they can make a better living. It's supply and demand -- to the benefit
of both countries.


The United States can recognize this reality and harness it -- or
pretend it doesn't exist and live with the costs of denial. If these
workers cannot enter the United States legally, they will find ways to
enter illegally, no matter how much border and work-site enforcement is
in place, no matter how dangerous the trip or how high the price.
Hoping that people will stop coming is as illusory as thinking that
those already in the United States will pack up and go home.


The bottom line is that the only way to stop illegal outflows from
Mexico is to legalize them, adapting the law to reality, not the other
way around.


Some have suggested a "third way": creating a commission to
determine how many workers are needed in the United States. But it's
hard to see how that would work. Discredited as markets are today,
they're still the best way to match supply with demand. Though markets
must be regulated, they don't work very well when they're micromanaged.
Will a commission be able to determine how many Mexican workers are
needed from month to month -- and then ensure that only that number
enters the country? Not very likely. 


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  1. Another voice's Avatar
    We should set the ground rules on CIR for future immigration of any kind, which we do not have right now. This will avoid any future CIR of any kind in 20 years. This effort needs to be clear practical and humane, clear rules for supply/demand and the free movement of labor forces in sync with the economic needs.
  2. George Chell's Avatar
    "The United States can recognize this reality and harness it -- or pretend it doesn't exist and live with the costs of denial. If these workers cannot enter the United States legally, they will find ways to enter illegally, no matter how much border and work-site enforcement is in place, no matter how dangerous the trip or how high the price. Hoping that people will stop coming is as illusory as thinking that those already in the United States will pack up and go home."

    A police state (as some would call it) such as Singapore cannot stop illegal immigration (although they control it better as they use market solutions instead of cozying upto the unions), how does the US intend to stop it, short of becoming another Soviet Union? Is wiretapping, spying on Americans and foreigners alike, harassing folks who look different from the norm, building a Berlin Wall south of the border, nationalizing banks, socialized medicine, a prelude to communism in America? Are we slowly slouching towards communism?

  3. john's Avatar
    look i am not sure why every one is pushing for CIR. its impossible to do this year or next year. why dont people work towards peacemeal immigration bills.
    Obama is going to have a tough time selling his healthcare plan. And at the end he is going to have more and more democrats standing against him. my feeling is that if you have any peacemeal bills now before the year end, you have a good chance of passing. if not it will be another george bush jr. (may be worse because obama's chance for second term may be slim.)
    these stupid obama advisors should learn some lesson from history. immigration one of the best issues to inject some cash into the system.these people will invest in houses/cars/business etc. then atleast you can show to media that so much cars have been sold etc. if they keep on listening to unions.. good luck.
  4. Jack's Avatar
    Jorge Castaneda?! A former minister of a foreign government and presidential candidate of that country is lecturing the U.S. about how much control it should exercise over its territory? And that particular foreign country just happens to be the source of the majority of U.S. illegal immigration. And wouldn't you know it, Castaneda is also an advocate for continental government. Why should we listen to someone so extremely biased?

    I recall an article where he said that U.S. immigration enforcement should ONLY take place at the border, you know, where only a small percentage is apprehended and if you're unlucky, you can just try again. He is anti-U.S. sovereignty to the core and obviously wants any immigration limits, at least for one country, to fail miserably.

    Tamar 'I am so Realistic!' Jacoby has an extreme 'business should make the rules' political philosophy but is a smooth (some might say slippery) writer.


    'If these workers cannot enter the United States legally, they will find ways to enter illegally, no matter how much border and work-site enforcement is in place, no matter how dangerous the trip or how high the price.'

    No matter what? Come on, Tamar. The more barriers and deterrents in place, the fewer people will do something. Why is immigration different? To deny something so obvious entails swallowing open borders dogma whole and ignoring the science of choice and human behavior. After all, if truly NOTHING makes a difference, if there is total lack of control, why bother having immigration law at all? Tamar's own example actually disproves the 'inevitability' claim--obviously if the price to cross (for a coyote, drug cartel bribe, etc.) is greater than the amount of money a potential crosser has or can borrow, it makes a difference, just as it affects the decisions of poor people who are continents away who simply cannot afford to get here. Cost sure as heck DOES keep people from doing things, Ms. Jacoby.

    However, I agree with Tamar that worker verification, work site enforcement (including worker verification, audits, etc.) is not a cure-all. A much wider net is housing and focusing on that would be much more effective than employment alone.

    'as illusory as thinking that those already in the United States will pack up and go home.'

    Wait, isn't 'go home', by definition, central to temporary guest worker programs she insists be part of CIR? Yet she's admitting people won't leave. They're trying to have it both ways: won't go home in support for amnesty; will go home in support for guest worker.

    'the only way to stop illegal outflows from Mexico is to legalize them'

    True, the only way to guarantee any activity is legal is to not have a law concerning it. The only way to stop illegal speeding is to legalize driving at any speed. That doesn't mean it's good policy to do that and the same is true for abolishing limits on immigration. You can legalize the outflow but in the Tamar plan you'll still have the outflow (which the citizenry may not want). In fact, polls have been consistent that Americans overwhelmingly don't want higher immigration in general. I imagine the lack of support would be even more pronounced if the majority of the higher immigration is to be from a single country.
  5. David's Avatar
    I think the punishment is not harsh enough to stop illegal immigrant flow
  6. George Chell 's Avatar
    "You can legalize the outflow but in the Tamar plan you'll still have the outflow (which the citizenry may not want). In fact, polls have been consistent that Americans overwhelmingly don't want higher immigration in general. I imagine the lack of support would be even more pronounced if the majority of the higher immigration is to be from a single country."

    They may not want it. The same way someone whose house is being foreclosed does not want to loose his or her home. But, a nation with trillions of dollars in debt has no control over its destiny whether it likes it or not. Beggars cannot be choosers! When America ran up its debt to other countries it forfeited its sovereignty just like a man who wilfully commits murder forfeits his life (death penalty). So what American people want is immaterial until they pay up their debt.

  7. Legal_Alien_from_Roswell's Avatar
    With the way things are getting screwed up with the Health Care bill, i have my doubts on anything ever happening to the CIR, its a lost cause now.
  8. George Chell's Avatar
    "With the way things are getting screwed up with the Health Care bill, i have my doubts on anything ever happening to the CIR, its a lost cause now."

    Perhaps not until 2010 or 2011
  9. George Chell's Avatar
    This is what I mean when I say beggars cannot be choosers..in return for purchasing US debt folks will ask something in return..like purchase of property or business in the US...or simply a green card...now if we did not have all that debt run up in the past three decades, we would not have to do any of this do we?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2009/07/20/2009-07-20_geithner_is_americas_.html

    Sure, Americans want everything as we all know from the California mess, but that does not mean it is a viable economic policy..and it definitely does not mean they are going to get what they want, poll or no poll!
  10. Legal_Alien_from_Roswell's Avatar
    [Perhaps not until 2010 or 2011]

    If it doesn't happen or fails now (which is more likely the case, as a bill IS being introduced in fall) CIR is then permanently 6 feet under. It will never be taken up again in Obama's tenure or ever.

    We might get a piece-meal legislation for Legals, but i doubt that happening either.
  11. janson's Avatar
    commision is gud...u can see in AUS&NZ they are well managing immigration and shorterm visas with thses commissions..
  12. Veto and Hypocrisy's Avatar
    why dont people work towards peacemeal immigration bills.


    Simple John, It's because the Hispanic caucus vetoes any smaller bills. And the GOP is only too delighted at the opportunity to pay lip service but never have to vote on such bills.
  13. George Chell's Avatar
    "If it doesn't happen or fails now (which is more likely the case, as a bill IS being introduced in fall) CIR is then permanently 6 feet under. It will never be taken up again in Obama's tenure or ever.

    We might get a piece-meal legislation for Legals, but i doubt that happening either."

    Mark up by the sub-committees may be..but beyond that I dont believe anything will happen this year.

  14. Adi's Avatar
    "This is what I mean when I say beggars cannot be choosers..in return for purchasing US debt folks will ask something in return..like purchase of property or business in the US...or simply a green card...now if we did not have all that debt run up in the past three decades, we would not have to do any of this do we?"

    Even now (with debt or no debt) you can get a green card if you invest money in US. There is very little restriction on foreign investors buying properties in US or buying businesses.

    All these gloom and doom scenarios always prop up during recessions. World (especially US) was coming to an end in 70s, 80s. See where we are today. What are chinese going to do if not export to US? With recent small decline in exports chinese standing in line of unemployment overwhelmed Chinese govt. All these debt holders have no choice but to keep on buying more debt. It they start selling their debt then it brings down value of their total holdings. Its doubtful if there is much twisting that can be done by these "banks". Banks can easily twist arm of someone with 100k mortgage but are extremely careful to someone with 10million mortgage. Even in today's times US Govt is the safest investment available in the world. Some months back people were ready to buy 10yr treasuries on negative yeild.
  15. Another voice's Avatar
    They may want to address Immigration after Healthcare you know that immigrants and specially undocumented one will be used as scape goats and punching bags by the Healthcare enemies saying that insuring everyone in America will mean to insured undocumented immigrants....I have already heard a couple of comments by various republicans on TV.
  16. Mike's Avatar
    Providing Amnesty for illegal aliens is wrong. They are ILLEGAL. Let's look at it like this... what you are proposing is making an illegal act, legal.... then you might as well turn all of the drug smugglers that are currently spending time in our jails loose.... all they did is cross the border "ILLEGALLY".

    You are suggesting that there are different forms of LEGAL.

    Are you saying that the impact that an illegal without insurance who drives drunk and kills or maims someone here is OK?

    Are you saying that it is OK that the millions that extract funds directly from our health care, welfare, judicial system etc, etc, etc by their very existence in this country are any better than the guy that smuggles 20 kilos of cocaine into the country so a bunch of country club politicians can get high and he can buy a flat screen TV and a new Camaro? I ask you this.... who provides more economic stimulus... the illegal immigrant painter who gets an American Worker laid off because he will work for half the salary (who sends half his pay back to his country and lives in a house with 20 others).....

    ..... or the guy that smuggles drugs into the country, buys all kinds of things with the money he makes, hires servants, drivers, a workout coach, gym membership, cell phones, computers, has is own personal physician, etc etc etc....

    I think you see my point.... You can't say that illegal immigrants are helping our economy. They hurt it. Not only has the Illegal Immigrant who displaced a LEGAL worker drawing from the DOLE on our country, the LEGAL worker has to go and get unemployment and food stamps and healthcare from the government now because he is out of work.

    Is AMERICA not ALLOWED to defend itself? Do we just have to take all comers, whether we want them or not? I think not. I think we should be a bit more selective in those whom we grant citizenship to. a Nicola Tesla or an Albert Einstein would be OK, but some guy from a 3rd world country with no education and no skills who plans to get a job in construction so he can pay for the shack his family lives in back home does nothing to help us here in the USA. It's just Government Sponsored Welfare for people in other countries.

    The great philosopher, Jesus of Nazareth is quoted as saying "For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always."

    What this MEANS is, be careful who you spend all your time on, there are other things that are more important than trying to help everyone else.

    We have been given such a wonderful thing by the blood of our forefathers and we need not squander it on those who do not have the desire to follow through with the LEGAL path to citizenship that has served the MILLIONS of immigrants that have come to this country through NATURALIZATION.

    Mike

  17. Adi's Avatar
    "all they did is cross the border "ILLEGALLY"."

    Care to explain under what visa your great great grandfathers came here?

    What law did US use when killing Mexicans and take away California, Arizona etc?
  18. Federale's Avatar
    The failure of the economy is not a reason to either tolerate illegal immigration or amnesty current of future lawbreakers. If Mexico privatized its public monopolies and ended the culture of corruption, Mexico would take off economically. However, some people, like the author, have a vested interest in the status quo and no amount of rationalizing it will change the facts.
  19. George Chell 's Avatar
    "The failure of the economy is not a reason to either tolerate illegal immigration or amnesty current of future lawbreakers."

    When it comes to the human law and the law of economics the latter always wins out..You cannot eat human law or the American constitution..these two things are not going to give you two square meals a day or put a roof over your head..you have to accomodate the human law to the reality of the economy or else the economy will eat you alive! As I said that when it comes down between the economy and the law, to hell with the law!
  20. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Mike - I'm not going to address all of your post, but one of the sillier arguments I've seen is saying that we can never forgive illegal behavior. Chances are your grandparents boozed it up during Prohibition, yet the behavior was forgiven when the government figured out that market forces were too strong. We're seeing the same thing now with marijuana laws. And we'll see the same thing with immigration policy. Bad laws eventually fall by the way side.
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