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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

THE COSTS AND THE BENEFITS

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A few articles have been published today which all strike me as having a similar theme. They all show the important struggle over the question of costs - hard dollar costs of going down the path of zero tolerance enforcement. Do unauthorized immigrants cost more than they benefit US taxpayers? What are the benefits of having a zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration and one that answers this offense with deportation and lifetime banishment? What are the dollar costs of a massive enforcement policy in terms of reduced taxes, dramatic wage and goods inflation, the costs of rounding people up and detaining and deporting them ? And what are the costs in terms of the moral compromises that must be made in tearing families apart, inflicting poverty on both immigrants and the families back home depending on their income, punishing US citizens who are "enablers" and don't participate in moving to the zero tolerance culture (the ones I blogged about yesterday) and many others.



One article forwarded to me is from the Vail Daily in Colorado that discusses Immigration and Customs Enforcement's quandary in not having a detention facility in the area that meets federal standards for housing detained immigrants. The pressure is ratcheting up as the detainee population around the US swells (according to another article in this morning's LA Times). How are we going to pay for detaining all these people in conditions that won't violate human rights law? ICE will face the choice over and over again whether to detain as many people as possible or not detain until it has the resources to do so in compliance with the law. How will we pay the billions required for this? Will Americans pay an enforcement tax or will we pretend trying to round up, detain and deport 12 million people is free?




The question of costs was raised in another article in the Kansas City Star that ran yesterday:

"The average person on the street is seeing the cost of illegal
immigration," said Kris Kobach, the Kansas Republican chairman, who has
made opposition to illegal immigrants his life's work. The cost of
border crossings, he said: Crowded emergency rooms. Overstuffed
classrooms. Declining wages.



Nonsense, said Lynda Callon,
director of the Westside Community Action Network Center. "It's policy
by slogan. ... There are jobs for (immigrants) to do. People don't want
to listen to the truth, the complexity of the issue."

And then there's a piece that certainly ties all these questions together and that is one in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Congressman James Sensenbrenner will re-introduce a bill along the lines of H.R. 4337, an extremely tough, zero-tolerance immigration enforcement bill. I blogged yesterday on the death of a "righteous gentile" who harbored Jews in World War II (who, incidentallly, were considered unauthorized immigrants when the Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their citizenship). My post was mainly intended to remind people of the provisions in H.R. 4337 which would make it a felony to provide any kind of humanitarian assistance to illegal immigrants. That bill was more than just extremism on the part of a few far right members of the House. It passed the House in the last Congress, but moderates blocked it from being considered in the Senate. 



That post, incidentally, has triggered some interesting and emotional replies from anti-immigrants who don't like such comparisons. They like the cover of pretending that this is about law and order and not raw nativism. They love immigrants don't you know? But it is no coincidence that immigration has replaced hatred of blacks and Jews as the main cause promoted by white supremacist groups in the country. And I doubt it is a is a coincidence that most of the vocal opposition in the Senate to any paths to legalization for unauthorized immigrants comes from Southern Senators who have a pretty checkered history in this department. than going after African-Americans.



We should all be worried about the direction the tone has taken. Unless you've been asleep over the last few years, you have seen that the anti-immigration rhetoric is being turned up and statements that would have seemed extreme just a few years ago are now commonplace. If posts like the one I put up yesterday cause people to take a step back and think about the direction the debate is taking,  then that's good. Because if we all sit back and allow things to take their course, we'll have a lot to be ashamed about when we discuss it in future generations.

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  1. Another voice's Avatar
    "We should all be worried about the direction the tone has taken. Unless you've been asleep over the last few years, you have seen that the anti-immigration rhetoric is being turned up and statements that would have seemed extreme just a few years ago are now commonplace. If posts like the one I put up yesterday cause people to take a step back and think about the direction the debate is taking, then that's good. Because if we all sit back and allow things to take their course, we'll have a lot to be ashamed about when we discuss it in future generations."

    When big media corporations add to the fire in their pursue of ratings and spread this hate through the airwaves. This infuences people's perception of reality. It imprints a false belief system and that makes difficult to change people's minds. As it has always been documented in the blog a small vocal minority has won against all logic, pragmatism and reality of the Immigration debate. Racism is hard to defeat specially when you have a blanket to hide behind which is "they are Illegal". I really liked the article from the editorial page you posted a few days ago. It certaintly summarizes the state of the debate right now.
  2. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Interestingly enough, all polls show that African Americans are more likely to recognize the positive side of immigration than whites, even though majority of them can't trace their roots to what is generally considered to be immigrants. I think, it's because they recognize there is more to this struggle that just 'what part of illegal don't you understand'. And I don't think it is because they know more about immigration law or the economy, they just can smell the rat from farther away.
  3. Patrick's Avatar
    Maybe some of the readers and the author should head over to www.ronpaul2008.com and you will see that Ron Paul has raised more than $3.25M in a single day!!! I love the fact that he is going to end birthright citizenship to illegal aliens and stop using innocent taxpayer money to pay for the illegals to get medical treatment and a free ride to college. This country has shed too much blood and sweat for the illegal aliens to now come and get a free ride. Yeah, My forefathers moved here without a visa, but when they did there were no interstates and there definitely wasnt a harvard. We made it what it is. Go build your own country. If you care for the USA visit RonPaul2008.com and DONATE NOW!!

    Greg, Would you like me to donate a few $$ in your name?
  4. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    >>Greg, Would you like me to donate a few $$ in your name?
  5. Another Voice's Avatar
    Yeahh Patrick please liquidate all your assets and donate your money on behalf of this blog I am sure this guy will make it in 2008. You ought to be thanking your parents for making you soooo smart!!! Einstein almost!!!
  6. Dream Act guy's Avatar
    I wonder what will happen to all the money Ron Paul has raised after he loses in the Republican primary? Anybody know?



  7. TX's Avatar
    "I love the fact that he is going to end birthright citizenship to illegal aliens"

    Only people like you Patrick, who can't think for yourselves and have to rely on people like Lou Dobbs to educate you would fall for a line like that. Do you have a clue what it would take to end birthright citizenship? If you think a president alone can make it happen in their 4 or even 8 years in office then you're living a dream. I won't even go into explaining what it would take to end birthright citizenship mainly because you would never understand, so just go on donating your money to Ron Paul, it brings a smile to my face knowing that people like you are wasting your money, but you know what, you deserve it, so go ahead.
  8. L's Avatar
    "We made it what it is. Go build your own country."

    You did not make it what it is , it is people like me who made it what it is with their hardwork and people like you are enjoying on someone elses hardwork.
  9. L's Avatar
    "I wonder what will happen to all the money Ron Paul has raised after he loses in the Republican primary? Anybody know? "
    Its a big busineess dream act guy , they try to spend every penny as much as they can examples are John Edwards spending campaign donations for his $400 haircuts while talking about haves and have nots. Bush and cheney campaign paid cheneys daughter almost $300k for taking care of her dad during the campaign . If there is any money remaining they can donate it to their PACs or transfer it to their next office. BTW this guy Ron Pauls staff is full of people who were working for campaigns of Pat Robertson and Pat Buchannan ... I think I know what this guy stands for ...
  10. Jack's Avatar
    '...trying to round up, detain and deport 12 million people is free?'

    I am trying to give this blog a fair shot but expect more than the old mass deportation straw man. I have come to accept that homilies are irresistible to open border fans so I just got used to it. No points deducted. At least you ask substantive questions (amid some loaded ones) although in the last paragraph you did have to throw in the SPLC-ish 'tone and tenor' foreboding. I'll give it a pass since it's not all you have to say like Luis Guiterrez but it still comes off like warmed over Mark Potok.

    'Because if we all sit back and allow things to take their course, we'll have a lot to be ashamed about when we discuss it in future generations.'

    What exactly do you think is taking course? If you are referring to enforcement of law, that is something to be ashamed of? If you are referring to rhetoric, that, of course, is protected speech even if you disagree with its 'tone'. Not 'sitting back' equals what to you? Just curious.
  11. USC's Avatar
    Jack:

    Due to the crippled nature of my Internet access (Greg, I have free Internet access via the Grand Suite computer which is crippled but to use my notebook via wifi through which I have full unrestricted access costs me 50 cents per minute) I can't cite (no right clicking allowed & too much trouble to re-type your post) the specific parts of your post but why don't you answer the following questions before you start talking about deporting 12 million people:

    (a) Number of Federal Judges required
    (b) Number of Prosecutors required
    (c) Number of defense lawyers required
    (d) Number of ICE personnel required to conduct raids
    (e) Court time per deportation and total number of days to deport 12 million illegals
    (f) Number of aircraft required to deport 12 million

    I don't know the amount of Federal Judges currently on the bench but my suspicion is that there are not enough to process 12 million people!

    Just to put it in perspective, 12 million is greater than the population of America's largest city, ie NYC. I have heard that the number may in fact be closer to 20 million. The population of the entire State of NY is about that figure. So you are talking about emptying out the entire state of NY. I would venture to state those that talk about mass deportations are the ones with a couple of screws loose!


  12. Jack's Avatar
    USC, I was talking about the mass deportation straw man and not advocating mass deportation. There are not only two options of mass amnesty OR mass deportations. You are right, with our procedural requirements it would be a huge undertaking to process that many people. It would also be a huge undertaking to process that many people for Z-visas. When that many people are outside the law it is reasonable to ask whether it is wise to enforce to the letter. But is also reasonable to ask whether it is wise to simply forgive being outside the law and establish that precedent. You can also do limited amnesties like AgJobs but they are arbitrary and the biggest fraud magnets of all.

    Due to the impracticalities of both amnesty and mass deportation, the attrition idea is gaining steam. There are variations/compromises on that too. You could make a distinction between new hires and existing hires. Deter new illegal hires but take a benign neglect approach to those already here and working, i.e., no amnesty but no E-verify requirement for prior hires. This would lessen disruption to the economy during a transition to a more legal workforce (you'll never get all but like with tax compliance you can get most employers to be on the up-and-up).
  13. Dream Act guy's Avatar
    By the same token, a path to legalization as part of comprehensive immigration reform can be seen as the middle ground between mass amnesty and deportation. A punishment has to be commensurate to the crime, and a path to legalization plan achieves this by requiring an offender to pay a fine, undergo background checks, learn English, and go to the back of the line among other stringent requirements. Legal immigrants, in turn, gain a functioning immigration system that greatly reduces backlogs and allows future immigrants a much better immigration channel with which to immigrate.

    Furthermore, CIR would include tougher border security, a fix to the US Visit system, and increased sanctions for employers as well as other tough measures. CIR is the consensus solution to immigration reform among many in Washington, including the top candidates in both parties, and those who believe in "attrition through enforcement" need to broaden their social circles beyond Minutemen hearings and anti-immigration websites prone to group think.
  14. Sid's Avatar
    "Legal immigrants, in turn, gain a functioning immigration system that greatly reduces backlogs and allows future immigrants a much better immigration channel with which to immigrate."

    Can you please point out the provision in the CIR that aimed to reduce the backlog for EB immigration?
    I doubt that the point-based system qualifies for being a "much better immigration channel". A merit based system has to be an approximation of the natural selection that exists in any society. The best students apply to the best universities - the best universities accept only the top students - employers prefer to hire graduates from the top universities - the top graduates prefer to work for the best employers - there are no artificial caps when companies try to expand their workforce. Where were all these issues captured in the point-based system?
    Were there any provisions to speed up the processing of EB GC's? Any service guarantees from the DOL/USCIS/FBI?

    I know that there was a provision to eliminate the FB immigration backlog in 8 years. If by legal immigrants you mean only FB immigrants, then yes, the CIR was great.
  15. Legal Immi's Avatar
    "Legal immigrants, in turn, gain a functioning immigration system that greatly reduces backlogs and allows future immigrants a much better immigration channel with which to immigrate."

    Really , I dont think I was sleeping when CIR was being debated . Can you please suggest me what were the specific provisions of the bill that were meant to reduce the backlog in EB category?. Please let me know if legal immigration for you means family based immigration only?
  16. going back to the line's Avatar
    "go to the back of the line among other stringent requirements"

    I dont think Dream act mandates going back to the line . It gives a preferential treatement for dream act benificiaries over many people who followed the rules and lines. This act eliminates the country based caps for these benificiaries alone while retaining the same for everyone else who want to do it in a right way.
  17. Dream Act guy's Avatar
    Dream Act kids did not come into this country out of our own volition and should not be classed with other undocumented immigrants. It is a humanitarian bill designed to correct a flaw in the immigration system on the basis that kids should not be punished for the actions of their parents. Furthermore, Dream Act kids are already fully assimilated into American society. Tying Dream Act kids into countries that we have no connection with is unnecessary and works against the notion of assimilation.

    As for the other inquiries, a new President, assuming he or she is pro-immigrant, will propose a new form of comprehensive immigration reform. Dredging up old battles and dead bills is an exercise in futility because a new CIR bill in the next session of Congress will take into account what worked and what didn't work in past CIR's. Be part of the solution and propose equitable ways to improve CIR rather than siding with anti-immigration groups whose only goal is to wall off America to all immigration.

    As for me, I will get to adjust my status through the EB immigration system, and I have a stake in making sure the next iteration of CIR provide an orderly and efficient immigration system for all immigrants.
  18. Sid's Avatar
    Dream Act guy,

    I don't have a problem with legalization for illegals. I was pointing out that your comments about EB reforms in the CIR were full of ignorance.
  19. Assimilation's Avatar
    " Dream Act kids are already fully assimilated into American society"

    How do we know if someone is assimilated or not? Is there a way assimilation can be measured rather than asserting that all the dream act benificiaries are fully assimilated compared to everyone else?
  20. Dream Act guy's Avatar
    Sid, please correct your language. Use of the word "illegals" is such a dehumanizing and mean word.

    Again, don't dredge up old bills. Look to the past CIRs only as a lesson on what to bring to the upcoming (hopefully) form of CIR. Sen. Kyl proposed the points based system as an attempt to help legal immigrants. Personally, I disagree with a points based system, and provisions in the 2006 CIR bill would be a better fix.

    BTW, wanting an immigration system that is orderly and efficient is not "ignorant." If you actually read my original comment, I never mentioned EB reforms. Please read more carefully next time.
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