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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

BRIDGE CONTRACTOR INDICTED FOR IMMIGRATION VIOLATIONS

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In light of the horrible bridge disaster in Minneapolis from earlier this week, we're all concerned about the maintenance of the country's bridges. So the arrest of a Mississippi bridge construction subcontractor for hiring illegally present workers from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala certainly isn't good news. Those who study immigration in the US - no matter how you feel about the subject - know that the construction industry in this country is completely dependent on immigrant workers. I've seen the figure 40% thrown around for the proportion of new workers in the field who are born outside the US. As the government steps up enforcement in the construction field, I worry that contractors will attempt to cut corners to make up for the lack of workers and that costs for construction projects will skyrocket so much due to labor shortages that government agencies will not be able to properly fund the maintenance necessary to ensure public safety. At some point, the game playing on immigration needs to end and Congress needs to realize that little issues like the economic future of the country, public safety, the defense of the country and more depend on immigrants - including the ones who are not legally in the US.  As long as we don't provide a legal way for employers to hire a sufficient number of unskilled, skilled and professional immigrant workers and as long as Congress remains fixated on the impossible goal of deporting 12 million people, we're all in danger.

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  1. Dependent on undocumented workers's Avatar
    Out of courtesy, I'll use the word undocumented. When I was younger, I made good money in construction (electrical). You can no longer do that because the drastic increase in undocumented workers. When employers hire undocumented workers, it drives wages down. Many are paid under the table - so that is a disadvantage to anyone on the books.

    Disregarding the law is not right. No matter which way you cut it. The law is the law and you either obey it, or you don't. Employers are the real winners here, while workers are the losers. It must stop.
  2. sam's Avatar
    Yeah... I knew it! It was the illegals' fault the bridge collapsed! While we're at it, we should also blame them for the war in Iraq.
  3. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Yes, and if those dirty piligrims did not come to this country, American Indians would have had the highest wages in the entire world!
  4. Dependent on undocumented workers's Avatar
    The stats don't lie. In occupations where there are high levels of undocumented workers, wages go down. Nobody disputes this. If you do dispute this, please present evidence to support such a claim.

    I think it is a stretch to link undocumented workers to bridge collapses. These bridges are inspected and constructed by companies who are responsible for the final outcome.

    That said, there is no doubt that undocumented workers lower wages. And we aren't talking small declines in wages either.
  5. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Roy, you have never been introduced to the notion of false correlation? Well, congratulations, now you know that correlation does not mean causality. There is very little evidence immigration (legal or otherwise) leads to decline of wages, but there is plenty of evidence it leads to increase in wages. Check your stats better.
  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    >>In occupations where there are high levels of undocumented workers, wages go down. Nobody disputes this. If you do dispute this, please present evidence to support such a claim.
  7. Dependent on undocumented workers's Avatar
    "There are many more jobs in this country than citizens."

    Prove it. Enough of the authoritative data, prove it with quantitative data.

    Even if there is a shortage, which has not been proven in this discussion, the answer to the shortage is not ignoring laws. There is nothing wrong with a legal process for workers to enter the country who want to fill a PROVEN shortage. But we aren't talking about a legal process here, we are talking about an illegal process.

    Studies have shown that legal foreign workers make more money than illegal foreign workers. The reasons why are obvious. You won't hear me say "kick them out" but you will hear me ask for a reasoned debate and that the laws be obeyed.

    You aren't offering a reasoned debate, rather talking points.

    I spoke with a farmer recently - his exact words were that he prefers illegal workers because legal workers won't show up to do the work and they are cheaper.

    He opposed the CIR because he prefers the current way - which is the entire disregard for the law.
  8. Dependent on undocumented workers's Avatar
    "There is very little evidence immigration (legal or otherwise) leads to decline of wages, but there is plenty of evidence it leads to increase in wages."

    PROVE IT!!!
  9. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/cea/cea_immigration_062007.html
    http://www.gcir.org/new/reports/pdfs/infocus_10306.pdf
    http://www.gcir.org/new/reports/pdfs/TF18_Murray.pdf
  10. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Look up the unemployment rate yourself. ANd then subtract out the estimated number of jobs filled by illegally present workers. Done. If you can't do simple math yourself, you have bigger problems to work on.
  11. Calouste's Avatar
    >> The stats don't lie. In occupations where there are high levels of undocumented workers, wages go down. Nobody disputes this. If you do dispute this, please present evidence to support such a claim.

    You're a funny man Roy. You make a statement without any source or evidence, and then demand of other people that they have to provide evidence to dispute your unsupported claim.

    Try again, and this time provide your own evidence first.
  12. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    To anyone interested in the science of labor economics - this is an excellent article.
    http://www.statistics.vwl.uni-mainz.de/downloads/unprotected/Paper_Peri.pdf
  13. Dependent on undocumented workers's Avatar
    "Look up the unemployment rate yourself. ANd then subtract out the estimated number of jobs filled by illegally present workers."

    Unemployment rates aren't what is important. What is important is the growth or decline of salaries when adjusted for inflation. I don't have time right now to provide stats and sources. Tonight I will.

    Also, if the unemployment rate is so low why aren't salaries skyrocketing? How can you have both high demand, a low supply, and salaries remain stagnant when adjusted for inflation?
  14. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Roy, you need to take Econ 101 again (if you ever had, kind of doubt it). Salaries are not skyrocketing because there is only so much a human being can produce. Real salaries are just a way to distribute what's being made.

    Hate to tell you, you can't make goodies out thin air, that's just not how the economy works. Labor is in the basis of everything being produced in the economy, and you can't compensate labor for more than it makes.
  15. Calouste's Avatar
    Everybody,

    I have seen the tactic Roy uses quite a few times before. It consists of making an undocumented statement (pun intended), and then attacking others when they can't disprove it, and discrediting all the sources they use to proof their claim.

    Rather than trying to disprove these kind of people's claims and so falling in their trap, ask THEM to provide proof for their claim. I have done this a few times, and the results invariably along the lines of the following :
    Them: "I don't have to proof this, everybody knows this"
    Me: "I don't knows this, can you tell me where I can read this"
    Them: "It is easy to find, look for it yourself"
    Me: "I still can't find it, please provide me with a link"
    Them: Give a link to a truth-bending, rumor-mongering website with no credibility whatsoever.
    Me: "We are discussing a major news item/government statistic here. Can you give me a link to a major news organization/government website that states this?"
    Them: Either disappear or start a rant about the left-wing bias of major news organizations and/or the government, spiced up with some conspiracy theory.
    Me: "You still haven't provided me with evidence of your statement"

    Sometimes these people realize that mommy Dobbs and daddy Limbaugh have been lying to them all the time about the existence of Santa Claus, but usually the denial just continues. Life is so much easier if you shut yourself off from reality.
  16. TX's Avatar
    Mommy Dobbs and daddy Limbaugh....LOL, good one. I needed a good laugh this afternoon, thanks for that )
  17. Dependent on undocumented workers's Avatar
    Ad hominem attacks. Typical response.

    Do you want to debate this or not? I said I will provide citations and support for my side tonight - when I have time. There is ample INDEPENDENT data supporting my statements - which will be provided tonight.

    Calouste, your comment was so incoherrent I don't know what to say. I can think of a number of people who would gladly debate - in a moderated format - Siskind or anyone he wants to bring along. Who would like to see that on YouTube?
  18. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    >>Ad hominem attacks. Typical response.
  19. Legal and waiting's Avatar
    Roy, you must be illiterate, if you could not read even the first page:

    First, foreign-born residents are relatively abundant in the educational groups in which natives are scarce. Second, their choice of occupations for given education and experience attainments is quite different from that of natives. This implies that U.S.- and foreign-born workers with similar education and experience levels are imperfectly substitutable. Accounting carefully for these complementarities and for the adjustment of physical capital induced by immigration, the conventional finding of immigration's impact on native wages is turned on its head: overall immigration over the 1980-
    2000 period significantly increased the average wages of U.S.-born workers (by around 2%). Considering its distribution across workers, such an effect was positive for the wage of all native workers with at least a high school degree (88% of the labor force in year 2000), while it was null to moderately negative for the wages of natives without a high school degree.

    http://www.statistics.vwl.uni-mainz.de/downloads/unprotected/Paper_Peri.pdf
  20. 's Avatar
    More from Econ101 - higher cost of inputs do not simply convert to higher prices. The last thing you do is to increase the prices, unless you are in control of the market, e.g. hold a monopoly.

    Profit margins would have to shrink first and that is something the richest, hence most influential, will fight.

    And 'the cost of goods will go up' is not acceptable argument, anyway... you could use it to defend slavery just as easily.
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