A Brief Thought on Immigration

Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.

Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?

If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?

34 Responses to A Brief Thought on Immigration

  • How many come illegally now? Will people be happy with 250k if many more come illegally? Can we treat those who exceed the limit as having violated the law and deport them? Can we take 250k a year now?

  • That’s asking an awful lot from a country that can’t control any aspect of their government? We have another border, to the north, that we don’t seem to have as many issue’s with illegals crossing? Again, there is a right way to become a citizens and an illegal way to be in our country. “IF” we legalize the all the illegals that are currently here, how do we stop the “next” wave of illegals coming in? Has anybody asked that question?

  • This ties in somewhat to points that Radley Balko (of Reason) has been making about immigration. He recently linked to this:

    http://futurity.org/society-culture/drop-in-violent-crime-tied-to-immigration/

    and his thoughts on the border town of El Paso from last year:

    http://reason.com/archives/2009/07/06/the-el-paso-miracle

    It is interesting (given that I live in a town with many illegal immigrants, in a neighborhood with a lot of immigrants, legal or non) to compare the American experience with the more segregated experience immigrants have in Europe.

    European countries also do not have birthright citizenship as an option for immigrants, so there can be non-citizens who were born and have grown up in a country while still being threatened with deportation. Given the essentially underground economy and violence among non-citizens living around the suburbs of Paris and other areas, I don’t think America should repeat the European model here.

  • It looks like the Pew Center has estimated that roughly 275,000 illegal immigrants per year have been entering the US since 2005, with more like 500,000 per year from 2000 to 2005. (That’s from all countries, not just Mexico.)

    Part of the theory of setting a large legal quota would be to make it less worth while to accept all the risks that sneaking in currently involves. Since poor non-skilled laborers currently stand almost no chance of getting immigration visas, sneaking in looks good. If they had a good chance of being able to do so legally within a year of applying (and if the process for applying was simple) it seems less likely that people would go to such risk and expense in order to go around the system.

  • So of the 250k per year that come illegally, can we deport them?

  • (That’s from all countries, not just Mexico.)

    My old neighborhood in San Francisco had a very large number of illegal Irish immigrants–mostly doing contracting work, house painting, etc. The local pub had a bulletin board up for under-the-table job postings until the police asked them to take it down.

  • DC

    The issue is not just the number, but the means of access. The difficulty for many is the cost — it is prohibitive for those who are in desperate need. I think we could do things for reform which include:

    1) greater access
    2) various reasons by which the costs can be reduced or waived
    3) work with those lands, such as Mexico, to help reform them so people will feel less need to migrate (I would question the proportionality of using soldiers and war-like methodologies for dealing with the problems, but I think other means, such as economic help, and perhaps some policing — though again with very sensitive elements here — might be possible).

  • In the end we are going to have to have a COMP Soultion. But having a sane guest worker program is going to have to be part of it.

    We used to have a nice pattern of circular migration now not so much

  • You’re using a much more reasonable tone here Henry.

  • Who set the current quota and visa system?

    Can we sustain such levels of immigration, especially during a recession?

  • “If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates”

    who is ‘anti-immigration’ ? Did I miss something? I thought the law in Arizona applies to illegal immigrants (only if they get stopped for another violation not related to their citizenship status).

    I didn’t realize legal immigrants can be arrested to…

  • Can we sustain such levels of immigration, especially during a recession?

    I’d think so, especially if it were tied with legal worker visas. Immigrants (legal and non) are responsible for a 10 billion per year boost in the US GDP, according to the report “The New Americans: Economic, Demographic and Fiscal Effects of Immigration.” The problem is being able to tie employment to accurate tax status. According to this:

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2006-05-21/news/17295663_1_illegal-immigration-low-skilled-george-borjas/4

    A recent analysis by investment research firm Standard & Poor’s found that the Social Security Administration receives about $7 billion a year in payroll taxes that can’t be linked to valid names. S&P presumed that most of those funds come from undocumented workers.

    A lot of the problems surrounding large numbers of illegal immigrants come from the inability to collect taxes that support state/city infrastructure. More visas could help that problem.

  • Increased immigration would help pull us out of the recession.

  • First of all,

    Jasper is absolutely right. Darwin, you shouldn’t assume that people are “anti-immigration.”

    To the question:

    “If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?”

    Put aside your parenthetical, which I don’t think can be agreed to in a com-box discussion, and I’d say that we could settle on some number and we would have a deal.

    My top concern is the cartels, the gangs, and the criminals who destroy life, liberty and property through violence related to drugs, prostitution (a massive sex slavery ring – don’t forget about that), and even the damage that is done to private property with no restitution during the journey north.

    At my blog I make that clear – I believe the cartels and the gangs are enemies of civilization and should be completely destroyed. I don’t mince words.

    My secondary concerns are the costs of illegal immigration, which can overburden relatively less wealthy states such as AZ.

    If the common good is really the aim of the state, then it would be immoral and insane for it to promise unlimited quantities of scarce resources, which is what an open borders situation brings about by default. The state has a right and a duty to the citizens to regulate and manage costs and social burdens.

  • Jasper,

    who is ‘anti-immigration’ ? Did I miss something? I thought the law in Arizona applies to illegal immigrants (only if they get stopped for another violation not related to their citizenship status).

    I didn’t realize legal immigrants can be arrested to…

    I hadn’t meant this post to be in direct reference to the AZ law, but rather in reference to concerns about illegal immigration in general. As to the question of whether anyone is “anti-immigration”, I am not going to search for citations at the moment but I’ve fairly often heard fellow conservatives of a populist leaning say, “We need to just seal the borders until we have things sorted out for people who live here, and then we can look at allowing other people in.” I don’t think it would be inaccurate to call that an “anti-immigration” stance. I don’t think that necessarily has to be a value judgment term — if people are right that immigration is bad for the existing population, then they’d be right to be against it.

    I tend to accept that analysis that immigration is a net benefit to our country (a very slight benefit to us, a large benefit to the immigrants, and an overall benefit to the GDP since those people are not producing wealth here rather than elsewhere), but I do see illegal immigration as a source of disorder. I think, however, it’s a pretty naturally expected source of disorder if our immigration quotas are so ridiculously low for the poor nations just to the south of us. I think that by increasing those quotas to a reasonable level (and making the application process simple and inexpensive), we could probably both control our borders, provide a humanitarian benefit, and get a better overall quality of immigrants.

    My thought process here is basically this: right now our restriction on immigration specifically from Mexico is so high that it encourages violation, kind of like Prohibition did. If we made the regulation itself more reasonable by taking it to a more enforceable level, it would probably to be possible to combat many of the evils that people associate with illegal immigration more effectively.

    Baron Korf,

    Who set the current quota and visa system?

    The current quota system was created by congress via the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. It allocated 170,000 visas to the Eastern Hemisphere, with no more than 20,000 per country, and 120,000 visas to the Western Hemisphere, to be given on a first come first served basis. There are an unlimited number of visas issued each year to spouses of American citizens, and a number of administrative quotas for admitting other types of family members of US citizens. The combination of these quotas end up admitting a total of 700-900k of legal immigrants per year from throughout the world.

    I would tend to think that we can sustain such levels in a recession, but if we can’t, unemployment tends to be worst for non-skilled laborers who don’t speak English well, so if we had “too many” legal immigrants from Mexico, I imagine they would just go back south.

  • In a nation where one-in-six is unemployed or under-employed, you conflate the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment with the flagrant war being waged on us by undocumented immigrants, to wit: Today, two of the worthies with automatic weapons killed two police officers.

    I welcome all immigrants who have a sponsor; have a place to live; have a job that they didn’t take from an American; live according to our way of life; pay taxes; obey the laws; learn English; and don’t demand that we hand over our collective life savings, i.e., social security funds, medicare/health care, welfare.

    If socialist saints want to do works of charity: do it with your money not my children’s and my grandchildren’s money.

  • Joe,

    Sorry, I took so long writing my previous I hadn’t seen your comment when I posted.

    It sounds like we’re mostly in agreement — I did indeed pick the numbers out of thin air to make a point, not argue the number specifically.

    As for gangs and cartels — I have no problem with going after them hard, aside from the prudential question as to whether certain means might cause more trouble than benefit.

    T Shaw,

    I really don’t think that immigrants are after anyone’s social security — and come to that, if they work legally they’ll be putting money into it just like everyone else, and doing so for a long time since most immigrants are fairly young. I don’t see why we should deny someone benefits at 65 because they didn’t arrive in the country till they were 30, that’s still paying in for 35 years.

    The real threat to such benefits, to those who treasure them, is that so many native born Americans aren’t having many children. And that the bozos who represent us in congress can’t stop their spending and borrowing spree.

    Perhaps we could deport congress? I think everyone could support that.

  • Perhaps we could deport congress?

    Who would take them? “Give me your tiresome, your boors, your befuddled jackasses…”

  • “Perhaps we could deport congress? I think everyone could support that.”

    To the moon!

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/20/lets-send-congress-to-the-moon/

  • Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.

    Umm, no. The military will be armed, the police will be armed, and private citizens who meet the criteria specified in law will be armed.

    Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?

    Are the social benefits from restricting immigration flows worth the costs? If they are, why is the composition of the pool who manage to evade the authorities of concern? It is a given that there are troublesome people in this world; your aim is to minimize the number at large in keeping with achieving other social goals.

    If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?

    No. You don’t bargain with foreign governments over whom you allow to settle in your country. If they would like technical assistance from the United States Government to improve their domestic law enforcement, they are not in a position to insist on additional favors as a ‘price’ for receiving benefits. Our government can contain the cross-border cartels by fortifying the border and arresting and incarcerating those who make it across and commit crimes.

    I have a suggestion. Anyone anywhere who wishes to settle in the United States can apply at a U.S. Consulate and submit to a written and oral examination in the English language. If they pass the examination, they will be issued a place in a queue and derived from that they will be given a schedule of permissible entry dates depending on how many dependents they acquire in the interim. At such time as their entry date arrives, they are clear to enter the United States as soon as each individual in their family over 14 has passed a written and oral examination in English.

    To the foregoing you might append an actuarial assessment designed to inhibit the entry of certain types (e.g. unmarried childless post-adolescents from Saudi Arabia).

    You need no national quotas and can do without the paraphanalia of economic planning the Canadian government uses.

  • Anyone anywhere who wishes to settle in the United States can apply at a U.S. Consulate and submit to a written and oral examination in the English language. If they pass the examination, they will be issued a place in a queue and derived from that they will be given a schedule of permissible entry dates depending on how many dependents they acquire in the interim. At such time as their entry date arrives, they are clear to enter the United States as soon as each individual in their family over 14 has passed a written and oral examination in English.

    Ha. If this had been the law 150 years ago, only the Scots side of my family would have been allowed in. (Or maybe not… they were fishermen, and possibly illiterate.) The rest learned English after moving here.

  • Has any suggested to our southern border friends that perhaps they need to get their economy in order so that their citizens have employment in their own country. Or perhaps build employmnent opportunities in their rural northern sectors near our borders. And last but not least are any of you aware that illegals entering Mexico face a chagre of a felony ( not a hand slap ) and face prison time. Perhaps we need to respond and make illegal entry a felony with jail time for the illegals and those who hire them or abet them and the fences and wall would come down. .

  • Has any suggested to our southern border friends that perhaps they need to get their economy in order so that their citizens have employment in their own country. Or perhaps build employmnent opportunities in their rural northern sectors near our borders. And last but not least are any of you aware that illegals entering Mexico face a chagre of a felony ( not a hand slap ) and face prison time. Perhaps we need to respond and make illegal entry a felony with jail time for the illegals and those who hire them or abet them and the fences and wall would come down.

  • Since someone linked George Borjas, a non-brief lecture on the economic costs of immigration – legal and illegal:

  • Statistics show that Spain’s fertility rate is below replacement. This means if Spain does not open its doors to immigrants, it will go down in population. Spain needs immigrants. Mexicans need jobs. This makes sense, both historically and linguistically.

  • Agreed.

    The only real deterrents are:

    The Spanish economy is not so great.
    Spain is harder to walk or drive to from Mexico.

    Unfortunately, these seem to rate rather heavily with many people.

  • I hear you. But what if Spain fixes its economy? And what if Argentina can fix its economy, too? Then we’ll have two countries that will be welcoming, both economically and culturally, to Spanish-speaking immigrants.

  • That would definitely be to the benefit of all concerned.

  • What if Spain fixes its economy? What if Mexico fixes its economy? What if money grew on trees? What if we could time travel?

    Back to reality. I’m against government rationing but if we’re going to ration, we’d be better off letting in the skilled and educated first. They don’t have to speak English. I’d let in a great Chinese chef before a British bum. I’d rather have a Spanish-speaking nanny than an English-speaking one. Just secure a job (with a minimum salary requirement if you’d like) and you can come.

  • Guns aren’t quite like folks– you can put away a gun for ages, can’t do that with folks taking jobs under the counter– and I don’t know anyone that’s even close to the gun grabbers on restricting immigration.

    If you put “willing to join America and follow her laws” and “will be able to support themselves and any dependents they bring in a fully legal job” as the immigration version of “not a felon” for guns, sounds fine to me.

    Obviously, this makes illegals on the same level as folks who use illegal guns in a crime, but not my metaphor…..

    Now, I would no more allow a higher quota from Mexico to allow us to enforce our laws than I would support allowing a set number of highly armed gangs in order to be allowed to enforce anti-gun crime laws.

  • Back to reality. I’m against government rationing but if we’re going to ration, we’d be better off letting in the skilled and educated first. They don’t have to speak English. I’d let in a great Chinese chef before a British bum.

    At which point you would render the administration of immigration policy rather rococo and also a department of economic planning on the Canadian model. It is not merely that public agencies lack the information set to predict with any degree of precision the evolution of labor demand. People’s properties and dispositions also change. In addition, when you admit someone, you admit all of their descendants.

    When you admit an immigrant, you admit a settler, who may do any number of things with his life. If you are concerned about the admission of ‘bums’, please recall that their is an assessment done of prospective immigrants which seeks to exclude persons likely to be a ‘public charge’; a simple medical examination might do. Please recall also that the receipt of Social Security retirement benefits requires one have paid payroll taxes for a baseline number of quarters and that the receipt of disability benefits has a like requirement and a secondary requirement that one have spent a threshhold period of time in the workforce over the previous decade. Implementing like requirements for the receipt of any sort of benefit of common provision by immigrants should suffice to limit the immigrant population to a productive population.

    Outside of the Anglosphere, there is going to be some corellation between mastery of English and skills and education, but that is not all that important. Any society takes all kinds. A man from Jamaica who slices corned beef for a living makes his contribution to the common life too.

  • Societies have a ” carrying capacity ” to accept immigration without getting in to serious problems, this carrying capacity is not fixed, as it changes as different circumstances change. I am broadly sympathetic to persons wishing to emigrate to the US from Mexico, even when they would chose to do so illegally. I presume that many of the people who choose to emigrate illegally to the US, do so because they are facing catastrophic financial difficulties in Mexico and were they able to obtain a reasonable income through employment in Mexico, that they would sooner stay in Mexico. If one presumes then that many of the people who are emigrating illegally to the US are economic migrants, it is not unreasonable taking their needs in to account, that for immigration in to the US to be useful to them, they need to have better economic circumstances in the US than in Mexico. There are serious structural problems in the US economy and large inflows of low skilled Mexican workers, regardless of whether it is illegal migration or legal migration, will not solve those problems, it will aggravate those problems. The US needs to build a fence on the US Mexican border and reduce the volume of illegal immigration through that measure. If the fence is effective and I believe it will be, then the numbers of persons to be admitted through the legal immigration process from Mexico could be raised but 250,000 is unrealistically high. A fence will also substantially degrade less sophisticated cross border narcotics smuggling operations.There seems to be a lack of comprehension on the part of the person who wrote the item ” A Brief Thought on Immigration “, that one can be a good person, trying to do good people good and it can all go horribly wrong. There is a real risk that the United States of America could implode or morph in to an Islamic state and engaging in well intended but society stressing immigration policies could encourage such an implosion or morphing in to an Islamic state. It is blatantly obvious that Islamists will attempt to target the Catholic Mexican immigrant community in the US for conversion to highly aggressive interpretations of Islam. If one has immigration from Mexico regardless of whether it is legal or illegal immigration, if the US economy can not give those immigrants possibilities of significant social and economic progress, they are not likely to go home to Mexico but rather stay in the US and become increasingly disenchanted with the USA and Islam in an extreme interpretation will likely seem highly attractive as an ideological / religious model to them.

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