Immigration

June 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in law | 5 Comments
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Ok, I realize I’m running a risk here even bringing up the subject, but I’m curious and I just have to know.

This is directed at people who believe this country’s immigration system is broken, and that, more than anything, is responsible to the preponderance of illegal immigrants. I understand that we as a country are in a bad situation here. So many people in this country are illegal, don’t pay taxes, don’t have insurance, use public services, etc. I also understand that some heavy-handed ways that local governments (most notably that of Arizona) are dealing with it can justifiably be considered inhumane, racist, etc.

I don’t want to talk about that. Well, I do, but not in a negative sense. The statements in the above paragraph (paraphrased from what I’ve heard over the past few months) are negative statements. “The system is broken.” “The current immigration laws are archaic.” “Arizona’s policies are unjust.” These are all negative statements. They say what shouldn’t be done, or what needs to be changed.

That’s fine, but I haven’t heard anybody say what we should do instead. The system is broken? Fine, how do we fix it? What is a *sustainable* immigration policy this country should adopt? For all the protests, news broadcasts, interviews, etc. that I’ve seen (I haven’t done an exhaustive search) that’s one thing I haven’t seen. It seems to me that if you (general you) want change to happen, you have to have a reasonable alternative to the status quo. Such an immigration policy needs to include a border strategy, what to do with the illegal immigrants who are already here, etc.

I googled “sustainable immigration policy” and the first few hits were unhelpful. The first link had some reasonable thoughts on the subject, but no concrete suggestions on how to realize them.

Too many articles, blogs, FB posts, etc. are crying about the plight of illegal immigrants who “through no fault of their own” live in America, do not fit into mainstream society, live in constant fear of being deported, and so on. Fine, how do we change the system, or fix the ineffectual enforcement of the current system, that allowed these poor people to be in this situation to begin with? And how do we do it in a way that is in the best interests of the United States?

Yes, I realize I, with this post, have also done nothing to help the situation. But I think I’m asking constructive questions in the right direction.

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  1. You’re right – it’s an economic issue, not an immigration issue. We’ve worked hard to create a system that’s kicking the crap out of some other nations (take a look at NAFTA, for example). So if we stopped keeping some nations down AND stopped making sure there were lots and lots of jobs illegal immigrants when they get to the US, then this issue of illegal immigrants wouldn’t be as much of an issue. If folks didn’t need to come here because they were so damned poor, and if they didn’t know they would be able to get work when they got here, they wouldn’t come here. Folks without work don’t move to places they can’t find work.

  2. But so much of the economy is based on the cheapness of the work these illegals do. The biggest example is probably farming. I get cheap fruits and vegetables due in large part because the farmers can pay illegals to work long hours in the fields for much, much less than minimum wage. If the people doing that work were being paid minimum wage, they wouldn’t be able to afford to buy the vegetables they just picked!

    I agree that if nations, especially Central and South American weren’t so incredibly poor (due in large part to our economic policies starting all the way back with Teddy Roosevelt), I think this would be much less of a problem.

    • Exactly. We’ve built our economy requiring illegal immigration and low cost labor from poorer nations. Then we blame all of our problems on illegal immigrations so that we can continue to look down on someone.

  3. Just kicking around your site after a LONG absense. Probably not something on your mind anymore, but I’ll through in a few cents.

    The solution is called “Comprehensive Imigration Reform.” Surprisingly, it was supported (in one form or another) by none other than the illustrious (cha right?) George W Bush. But his fellow Republicans shot him down, and the Democrats weren’t willing to do all the voting for it, even if they largely agreed with the policies. Now that there is a Dem in the WH, no Republican will go near it (Much like the HealthCare reform law, “Obamacare”. Guess who came up with the idea of everyone being required to buy Health Insurance from private companies, as an alternative to what Bill Clinton wanted, which was Medicare for everyone? It was the Republicans.)

    But I digress. Comprehensive Imigration Reform, as the name implies relies on a number of strategies at once to address all of the issues, and also to give everyone some of what they want. It included stricter boarder inforcement in the form of fences, electronic monitoring, and more boarder agents. (Much of this has since been implimented sepeartely.) It included a rise in LEAGAL immigration to reflect the needs of companies for both low skilled and high skilled workers. (Provide enough legal entry and you cut way down on illeagal entry.) And most controversally (and perhaps most critically) it provided a “path to citizenship” (no, not amensity, which implies a lack of penalty or a forgiveness) for teh 10 million illeagal immigrants already here. Deporting 10 million people from this country is simply not practical, but the requirements placed on them (fines, a return to their country for paperwork, a background check, etc.) were significant enough a penalty for what they had done.

    And it could have worked too.

    Ironically, granting citizenship to millions of low-wage immigrants might be the best way to rasie wages for the low-skill jobs they occupy. Sure it is a lot more “supply” of workers, but what really holds down wages for these jobs right now is their leagal status, or lack of one. Pretty hard to threaten to quick or demand a raise, when your boss can just threaten to call the INS or get another illeagal to take your place. And forget about actually organizing labor and negotiating better wages. Even legally required benefits and protections don’t apply to you when you are already illeagal. So, it seems to me that adding millions of low paid, low skill workers to the workforce won’t keep wages low, as long as these workers are made leagal, and thus can protest and strike and find other work, and who knows, maybe even get an education and a skilled job. Not too shabby.

    • Maybe after this election we have a shot? I can dream, right?


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