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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: TED KOPPEL - JOURNALIST

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When I was 13 years old, the US was facing one of the most demoralizing periods in the country's history. The Russians had recently invaded Afghanistan and the US, unable to do much about it, decided to boycott the Moscow Olympics. Inflation was soaring and interest rates made buying a home or a car virtually impossible for many. Oil prices were skyrocketing and unemployment was high. President Carter was running for re-election and facing a primary challenge from Senator Kennedy, something rare for a sitting President, but not surprising given the mood of the country.



But the number one story in the news was none of these. It was the hostage crisis in Iran. 52 American employees of the US Embassy in Tehran were held captive by militant university students in the wake of a revolution in that country. The crisis went on day after day (lasting for nearly 15 months). ABC News was devoting so much time to covering the crisis that it rolled out a new news show called America Held Hostage that ran every night at 11:30 eastern time right after the news. The show was hosted by a young news anchor with a very distinctive (and much mimicked) voice. It was British-American Ted Koppel. The show later changed its name to Nightline and when the hostage crisis ended, Nightline went on to become an in depth news show covering a single topic each night. Koppel hosted the show for the next quarter century.



Most Americans would be surprised to learn that Koppel was born in the UK. Koppel's parents were German Jews who sought refuge in England after fleeing the Nazis. Koppel was born in 1940 and moved at the age of 13 to the US with his family. In 1963, Koppel became a US citizen. His broadcast journalism began shortly after that with Koppel becoming a war correspondent in Vietnam and then an ABC News foreign correspondent. His tenure on Nightline is well-known, but many people have not followed Koppel since signing off from that show. He's been writing regular columns for the NY Times, working as a managing editor at the Discover Channel and acting as a commentator on a number of National Public Radio shows. I wish he was on the air more given his tremendous credibility and his excellent interviewing skills. Very few journalists on the air today come close to matching Koppel.

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  1. Middle Ground's Avatar
    This seems like an inconspicuous place to continue the discussion on economics - all leading up to if labor based immigration is a subsidy or not, and if so does it matter.

    My last post was simply to define our economy and the global economy. (in regards to the global economy) Are we a single economy, or are we distinct group of economies that are closely connected? I picked the second.

    It's tough to keep the social aspects out of the discussion, but I'll try and for now focus on the economic aspects.

    Before I present my argument, I'd like to arrive at some understanding of the global economy and how they relate to the economy in the United States.
  2. JoeF's Avatar
    MG:
    I recommend two books by NYTimes columnist Thomas Friedman: "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" and "The World is Flat".

    And, BTW, economics has inherent social aspects. It IS a social science.
  3. 's Avatar
    "And, BTW, economics has inherent social aspects. It IS a social science."

    I agree, but it is much easier to discuss the topic, at least starting out, if we leave the "touchy" and human aspects out. Otherwise we won't agree on anything.

    Also, I don't believe Thomas Friedman was qualified to make such bold claims. His book is easy reading and quite entertaining. I wouldn't put too much salt into it. Unless you want to be spoon-fed economics from a billionaire (from birth) who is a journalist. He knows how to sell books.

    My suggested reading is Wealth of Nations - which is just about free (and you can read it online for free). It isn't quite as entertaining as The World is Flat. But this is economics we are talking about.
  4. 's Avatar
    >> if labor based immigration is a subsidy or not

    Definitely not a subsidy, unless you mean a subsidy for domestic workers. Any immigration or licensing law is a non-tarriff trade barrier.

    This may be of interest to you, specially the part on movement of natural persons.

    http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/serv_e/gatsqa_e.htm
  5. Middle Ground's Avatar
    WTO is venturing into dangerous territory - and Constitutional territory. They aren't the governing body on immigration of any form (temporary or otherwise).

    So what is your view on the question regarding the economies. Are we one global economy, or are we many distinct economies that are dependent on each other?

    The answer to that question is paramount to this debate. I would like to tackle the easy parts first.
  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    MG - For trade purposes, we are one global economy since we are signatories to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. I presume you agree that we should honor our agreements. The US has the option of withdrawing from the WTO. Of course, we would have no need to bring in H-1B workers because if we were no longer part of the global market, our economy would collapse and there would be plenty of unemployed workers in every field.
  7. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. I presume you agree that we should honor our agreements."

    We do - and GATT does not at this time control immigration policy in the United States. If it did or does, it is not Constitutional.

    I presume you agree that we should honor our Constitution and not cede Constitutional authority over immigration to an unelected body designed to regulate trade.
  8. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    MG - Are you a constitutional lawyer?
  9. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "MG - Are you a constitutional lawyer?"

    Must you be to read where the Constitution clearly grants Congress the power to regulate immigration? This isn't a grey area.

    Instead of the rhetorical comment, do you believe that an unelected body can dictate immigration law?

    You are walking down a slippery slope here Greg. If you believe we can disregard the Constitution, what on Earth do you believe protects the children of illegal immigrants and their rightful citizenship?

    The two references in the Constitution that specifically mention "naturalization," are found in Article I, Section 8 in creating the authority of the Congress, "To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization." Thus from a Constitutional stand point it is the responsibility of Congress to establish all laws and rules of naturalization or immigration.

    The second reference is located in the 14th Amendment shown above stating that , "All persons born or naturalized in the United States," are, "citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
  10. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    MG - The Constitution grants Congress sole right to regulate immigration, but there are many international agreements that govern immigration. Case in point - the US system of admitting asylees and refugees is governed by our being a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees signed in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust. You're welcome to where your constitutional scholar hat if you want, however.
  11. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "Case in point - the US system of admitting asylees and refugees is governed by our being a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees signed in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust. "

    I don't know the details of that program - ie who authorized it. I assume that Congress voted in favor of it. It may be a grey area, depending on how it was implemented.

    It's not as if we haven't ignored the Constitution as of late. Disregarding the Constitution usually gets us into trouble. Case in point - the "liberation" of Iraq. Congress is suppose to declare war and it is amazing to me how they showed total disregard for the Constitution.

    The further we get away from our Constitution the closer we get towards a fascist state. You claim to be a L(l)ibertarian (not sure of what camp) but most libertarians have a tendancy to side with the Constitution.

    "You're welcome to where your constitutional scholar hat if you want, however."

    I think I will. You don't need to be a lawyer to place a high value on the Constitution. It isn't that complicated of a document. I don't think you need to be a lawyer to understand what it says.
  12. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    MG - No, you don't need to be a lawyer to understand the Constitution. But that doesn't mean you understand it. You're just wrong when you say that international treaties cannot bind the US on immigration policy. The Constitution gives Congress control over immigration policymaking, but that just means Congress has to cede control which they do when they ratify treaties with immigration provisions. Find a new argument 'cause this one's a loser.
  13. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "Congress has to cede control "

    Ask ANY member of Congress what they think about that. There is no document or body that supercedes the Constitution. They may make decisions that don't follow the Constitution out of ignorance or even hubris, but those decisions could be challenged.

    "when they ratify treaties with immigration provisions."

    By the Constitution we are bound to recognize international treaties that we sign. However, if a treaty is found to contradict the Constitution I should think that treaty could be challenged in federal court.

    Nobody is lining up to challenge the inclusion of a refugee program in a treaty because that would be unseemly. Put a guest worker program in one and see what happens.

    It's too early for me to go hunting for the quote, but as I recall some members of Congress were upset that the 65,000 H-1b cap is in a treaty/trade agreement.

    If Congress drops the H-1b altogether and you make the argument that it is in a trade agreement, they are going to laugh in your face. Many of the trade agreements are going to be revisited once this wreckless President is out of office.
  14. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    MG - It's really hard to argue with you here since your basic premise - that the Constitution bars honoring treaties ratified by Congress - is so completely false. There is nothing unconstitutional here. That's why I began the discussion asking about your knowledge of constitutional law. It's obvious that you're misunderstanding that section of the document. So I'll leave the discussion there since this is growing tiresome.
  15. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "MG - It's really hard to argue with you here since your basic premise - that the Constitution bars honoring treaties ratified by Congress - is so completely false. "

    I started the thread in hopes of talking about economics. The Constitutional aspect isn't a part of my core argument or what I wished to discuss. Someone brought up the WTO.

    "that the Constitution bars honoring treaties ratified by Congress "

    That isn't my argument. The Constitution requires you to honor treaties ratified by Congress. Congress always has the power to change their minds. And they don't have the right to cede their Constitutional responsibilities to another body, though sometimes they do (wrongly).
  16. 's Avatar
    >> The Constitution requires you to honor treaties ratified by Congress.

    Not just honor. The Constitution says that the treaty becomes the supreme law of the land.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlevi.html
  17. Middle Ground's Avatar
    Read the second paragraph carefully. The Constitution doesn't render itself obsolete by supporting the enforcement of treaties. If we had a treaty to ban the media, or to do anything against what is protected in the Constitution - it is unconstitutional.

    Our elected officials are bound by oath to support the Constitution.

    ###

    This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution;
  18. 's Avatar
    "The Constitution doesn't render itself obsolete by supporting the enforcement of treaties. If we had a treaty to ban the media, or to do anything against what is protected in the Constitution - it is unconstitutional."

    Sure, but this doesn't change the fact that the Constitution says that an international treaty can become the supreme law of the land.

    Unless it is your position that immigration itself is unconstitional.
  19. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "Unless it is your position that immigration itself is unconstitional."

    How did you make that leap?

    What I am saying is that immigration agreements don't belong in treaties. This is something that Congress should have absolute power over. It is absurd to say that immigration is unconstitutional.
  20. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Last I saw, no one was holding a gun to the heads of Senators forcing them to ratify a treaty. If they don't want an immigration provision in a treaty, then vote no. They've done that recently with CAFTA. On the other hand, the US has nearly 100 bilateral investor and trade treaties with immigration provisions, each and every one passed by the Senate. Some of them date back to the early 1800s.
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