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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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The media is just starting to report on what our drunken anti-immigrant binge is reaping. The AP reports that fewer Mexicans are coming north and there is a steady flow going south as the "the United States purges itself of its illegal population."

Some of the consequences we can expect:

The end of the American family farm and Americans having to rely on food being imported just as we rely on foreign oil. Get ready for the $10 head of lettuce.

Big jumps in the costs of clothing

Dramatic hikes in the costs of construction (and, hence housing prices, as labor costs soar)

Paying five-star restaurant prices any time you want to eat out

And you can expect to pay exorbitant hotel prices, watch the country's landscaping go to pot, see road construction projects canceled, have to live with asbestos in all our buildings - and these are just examples of employers I've spoken to in the last week or so. People have no idea just how many areas of our daily lives are affected by the work of unlawfully present workers.

And that's to say nothing of the social chaos that will follow.         

The 2004 comedy movie A Day Without A Mexican parodied the scenario of how the country would fall apart if all of a sudden immigrants disappeared. Some how I don't think we'll be laughing while this really happens.

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  1. Jun's Avatar
    Are American Citizens willing to toil the farm for 7.5$ an hr.? They may demand higher rates to about 15$ per hr....that means, higher prices for our commodities...

    Immigrants should hold a one week protest so that these anti-immigrants realize what they want...
  2. In Immigrtion Limbo's Avatar
    The Senators had better get off their butts and start passing some legislation to allow the workers the U.S. needs to come across the border in a legal and orderly fashion. The hardliners in both parties need to do a reality check.
  3. guyfromsg's Avatar
    Wondering what's the influence of radio talk show hosts on this new enforcement laws. I listen to Savage every day back from work. I don't have a choice there is nothing else at 7 PM EST. He bashes immigrants (legal or illegal) and he always talks about enforcement as the key to drive illegals out.

    I also remember Chertoff saying he will go with tough enforcement if CIR fails and nobody in congress or senate took him seriously!

  4. The Avenger's Avatar
    The saying goes: "You don't know what you've got until you lose it". It is unfortunate that this seems to be the only way to fix this mess, by making it much bigger a mess than it should be. The surviving immigrants will reap the "benefits" in the near future. Some other immigrants, however, will pay the price. We don't need all the hardliners to get a grip on the situation... just some of them. I'm certainly not expecting Tom Tancredo to change his views no matter how bad this gets, but you know, he's just like an annoying fly you can learn to ignore without killing it. Anyway, this all reminds me of a scene in the movie "Road House", when Patrick Swayze's hired as the Cooler to "clean up the bar" and he tells all the bouncers "it'll get worse before it gets better". Well, just be prepared to weather the storm... it's going to be ugly. From the bottom of my heart, I wish all "illegal immigrants" the best of luck. God knows it is well deserved.
  5. 's Avatar
    This country is going back to the 50's-60's , how stupid can you be if a person who can barely or cannot speak English can take your job ? , even birds and wild animals migrate it's the law of nature.
  6. Anonymou's Avatar
    Great News!!! Wages to rise!!!
  7. TX's Avatar
    I agree with Avenger, this will never satisfy the Tancredo's or the Malkins of the world - saw her fill in for O'Rielly on Friday and she stated that this enforcement is too little too late - what is Fox news thinking putting her on? I can't believe she actually is a daughter of immigrants. Anyway, some of the undocumented will pay the price so others can finally achieve their dreams. What concerns me though is that once the hardliners begin to hear the news that the undocumented are leaving they might never want to provide any relief to the rest that stay thinking that soon the others will leave as well. I have always believed that it really is not about "breaking the law," it is about racism and hate. No matter how much enforcement is in place, the anti-immigrant will never want to accept those that do not look, talk and walk like them.
  8. Anonymous's Avatar
    "it really is not about "breaking the law," it is about racism and hate. "

    For some, yes. But it is bull-crap to make a blanket statement like that.

    For some it is about living conditions, poverty, and stopping the decline of wages of American workers. America is very diverse. There are many people who don't look, talk, or think like me that are American citizens and legal permanent residents. These people are harmed by illegal employment practices.

    We are the most welcoming nation on Earth when it comes to immigrants - we accept more than any other nation. Some people like to tread to heavily on the welcome mat, unfortunately. There is a right way and a wrong way to immigrate here. Some people have chosen the wrong way - and circumvented our laws.

    Even still, corporations should be held responsible for that. They ignored the laws and will soon pay the price. Our government didn't enforce the law - so all this anarchy is catching up.

    Welcome to our country. If you don't like a law, you don't have a right to break it. You do have a right to make your voice heard and try to change it.
  9. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Anon - Were you an adult in the late 70s and early 80s? Wages rising is only fine as long as general inflation doesn't outpace it. The answers I've heard from your crowd are that greedy corporations are hoarding all the cash and there's plenty of money to spare before passing the costs on to consumers. That's pretty naive if you ask me and when you start hearing the plant closing and offshoring announcements picking up, you can see how far the greedy corporation argument gets us. In a globally competitive world, wage inflation is not an option if foreign competitors can keep their prices down. If foreign competitors are not an option, then companies will pass the costs to consumers. Lose, lose.
  10. TX's Avatar
    Anonymous, or Roy...your argument of declining wages it really getting old. You reply on almost every headline that Greg posts with the same sorry argument that immigration of all kind leads to declining wages. First it was the H1-b and now it's the undocumented.

    You can disagree all you want, the argument about illegal immigration has 90% to do with hate and racism, go listen to you hero lou dobbs or hannity, you'll understand what I mean.
  11. Anonymous's Avatar
    "The answers I've heard from your crowd are that greedy corporations are hoarding all the cash and there's plenty of money to spare before passing the costs on to consumers. That's pretty naive if you ask me "

    Born in the 70s - so missed the inflation period.

    That said, if you look at the distribution of wealth between now and early 80s you can see that the rich have become richer. The poor - poorer:

    This is an academic site - not driven by political persuasions. Immigration debate aside - do you agree that wealth in the United States is heavily concentrated at the top? Do you agree that the bottom 40% of the population survives on less than 1% of total wealth? Do you agree that the wealth has moved more towards the top since the 1980s?

    So when we talk about illegal immigrants, in most cases we are talking about the bottom 40%. And we are usually talking about people on the low end of THAT curve (field workers). We are talking about people who eat the crumbs of people already eating crumbs. Abject poverty.

    Given that the bottom 40% survives on less than 1% of the nation's wealth - would it be so bad if they survived on 1.5% of the nation's wealth? Is that too much to ask for?
  12. The Avenger's Avatar
    Welcome to capitalism AnonyRoy. Nobody claims it is perfect, but it is what drives this country, allegedly your country. Perhaps we should switch to communism to have a fairer distribution of wealth? Hmmm.... there's an idea!
  13. Anonymous's Avatar
    "Perhaps we should switch to communism to have a fairer distribution of wealth? Hmmm.... "

    Perhaps people can stop making such absurd and pointless comments. Hmmm....
  14. Another Voice's Avatar
    Give me a break with this Anonymous guy what don't you tell us your real name Tancredo or Lou Dobbs what ever you call your self. If those statements help you sleep at night be my guest but it's all BS.

    You fail to address the fact the there are many industries dependent on these migrant workers. This will affect them no doubt.

    You fail to see that an economy at full employment can not just appear 12 million workers from the sky at will. This will put pressure on the economy.

    You fail to address the fact that blue collard workers do not have a legal way to immigrate legally to the US because the way the system works. Is not like they had a choice to come here legally or illegally and they chose the illegal way. Is not a walk in the park to be illegal in the US is a harsh life.

    Corporations will pay the price for these but so will consumers and society as a whole. Don't be blind take the blinders off.

    Stopping the decline of wages of American workers. Outsourcing of jobs to other countries takes care of that Labor costs are mobile in a globalized world of the 21st century. I can tell that you have not worked a day in your life in any of the affected industries that is an ignorant and protectionist statement. The society enjoys the benefits of cheap labor look at the Wal-Marts of the World.

    Stop reading Lou Dobbs man or may be it is you Lou and decided to visit this Blog.

  15. 's Avatar
    "You fail to address the fact the there are many industries dependent on these migrant workers. This will affect them no doubt."

    Give us a break Anonymous Voice. Industries BECAME dependent on ILLEGAL workers from years of disregarding the law. When you break the law for years, your problems tend to grow proportionally.

    Nobody has a problem with LEGAL migrant workers. The H-2A program allows for unlimited numbers. The farmers don't like it because they are required to provide shelter and seek American workers. Where are the workers suppose to sleep in 90 + degree weather during the summer months? Outside??

    You're the one siding with corporations who abuse and use these people. I don't see how you sleep at night.
  16. Another Voice's Avatar
    Ok and with an economy at full employment where are you going to get the Americans or legal workers to do this jobs from? Unemployment rate at 4.6% that means the only people not working are retired people and children. I do not side with corporations for abuse of workers but if they wanted to provide relief to the workers then CIR or AgJobs bill would have done that. They did not pass neither.

    At the end of the day this will be a lose lose for workers, consumers and business. The only people that feel vindicated are anti-immigrants like you even though you will pay the price along with the rest of us.
  17. Another Voice's Avatar
    Another thing you fail to address the part where Blue collard workers do not really have a chance to immigrate to the US legally my guess is that you have never gone through the process. Therefore they had to make they choice to feed their families first and worry about the repercussions of the immigration laws later. Just like Irish, italian and many other immigrants through out the history of the US.
  18. Another Voice's Avatar
    May be we can kill the agricultural Industry in the US. Let all of those jobs go else where and import all the food we eat in the US to get it at a better price. That will lose the US millions of dollars and people like you would be happy. No Immigrants, No job and millions of dollars in lost revenue for the US economy. THE SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA!! People let's give it up for anonymous he is a genius!!!!!!!ARE YOU RUNNING IN 2008 you are that is right Tom Tancredo people.
  19. Anonymous's Avatar
    "May be we can kill the agricultural Industry in the US."

    There is a 3000+ acre farm in my family. I'm not losing any sleep. Wages are a small portion of total farm expenses. Equipment, property taxes, pesticides, FUEL - did I say FUEL, and of course mother nature. She can make or break you.

    A legal program will raise wages, and that will be passed along, but it isn't like the cost of fruits and vegetables are going to double. I can't imagine more than a 10-15% increase.

    Actually, because of the increased demand for bio fuels corn and grains are going up. That will probably hit your pocket more than increased labor costs. Corn requires very little labor - rather machines. Cotton - same story. It's mostly fruits and some vegetables that are labor intensive.

    But really, how much of your total budget is on fruits and vegetables? Now compare that to gasoline.
  20. Another Voice's Avatar
    You are so short sided you focus on this petty little parts of the arguments but fail to see the big picture of the Immigration dilemma. By the way your arguments are still not addressing any of the issues raised in the blog. NONE

    According to you only a small 10-15% increase in prices is the only effect of the rule, how blind can you be. Hey man stick your head in the sand like the rest of the people in your camp. I guarantee it you have this all wrong. But will see time will prove me and the others right. Agriculture is not the only immigrant dependent industry. Increasing the unemployment rate in the US by 12 million people will have economic consequences.
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