Walls of Paper

The "smart" solution to illegal immigration would create 12 million deadbeats

“There is a smart way to protect our borders, and there is a dumb way to protect our borders,” Hillary Clinton explained at a February debate in Austin. Obama agreed. The smart way, he added, involves “deploying effective technology.” The “dumb” way, which both Obama and Clinton voted for, involves building a hideous steel barrier on land taken from inconveniently situated Texans.

Thus has advanced our immigration debate since the great failure of comprehensive reform in 2007. Walls are for neanderthals. Civilized people do not try to keep poor, entrepreneurial, much-needed workers out of the country with bricks and mortar; rather, they achieve this through the use of technology. On this, all three prospective presidential candidates agree. Each supports an expanded employment verification program, which would involve a hugely expensive surveillance apparatus and bureaucracy in order to monitor the employment choices of every American and foreign national. What an appalled ACLU calls “a permission slip to work” has come to represent the middle ground, though it’s likely to be far more devastating than any fence.

A bill known as the SAVE Act (Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act of 2007) represents an extreme version of this fantasy, a barrier built of paper and databases rather than mere concrete. The bill’s co-sponsors, Democrat Heath Shuler and Republican Tom Tancredo, are currently attempting to force a vote on the issue by collecting signatures for a discharge petition. If they succeed, they’ll force reluctant legislators into the awkward position of voting on an unworkable bill that seems, at first glance, a reasonable attempt to enforce the law.

Fewer than one percent of American employers currently use the E-verify system, which checks the immigration status of American and foreign workers against imperfect federal databases. By all accounts, the Social Security Administration is struggling under this burden; SAVE would increase the number of users by around 13000 percent (pdf). Every employer would be forced to send information about every potential hire, citizen or otherwise, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which would send the information on to the Social Security Administration, which would send the information back to USCIS. In cases where either agency finds a discrepancy, USCIS will issue a “temporary non-confirmation” that the worker can in theory contest within eight days. Given the 4.1 percent error rate of the SSA database, millions of legal workers may have to fight for the right to accept a job. According to the agency, 17.8 million of its records contain discrepancies, and most of those pertain to citizens.

Employers are not supposed to act when presented with a “temporary non-confirmation”; they’re supposed to relay information to employees, allow employees to contest the finding, and wait for another response from DHS. But the costs of E-verify are significant even when it functions properly, and waiting around while potential hires wrestle with data snags is even costlier. From the perspective of an employer with a bunch of interchangeable potential hires, it's most efficient to simply run everyone through the system and fail to hire people with problematic records. Pre-employment screening is illegal, but a study commissioned by the DHS last year found that nearly half of participating employers were ignoring at least some mandated worker protections.

While undocumented workers probably contribute more in federal taxes than they consume in federal services, no one doubts that they pose some fiscal burden to border communities where they arrive. Still, you’d have to take an improbably extreme view of these costs to deem the SAVE Act fiscally rational. According to the Congressional Budget Office (pdf), the act would decrease federal revenues by $17.3 billion between 2009 and 2018 as formerly tax-paying workers go underground. The costs of expanding E-verify and a bunch of other goodies stuffed into SAVE (thousands more border agents, a program to recruit former members of the armed forces to join the border patrol, more SUVs and unmanned aerial vehicles, hundreds of full time immigration investigators, expanded immigration detention centers) come to $23.4 billion in discretionary spending during the same period. And that doesn’t touch the cost to individual employers, who are being slapped with a huge regulatory burden in the midst of impending recession.

No presidential candidate has come out in favor of Schuler’s bill, most likely because the bill includes no avenue for undocumented workers who wish to become legal. Herein lies the ambitious stupidity of SAVE: If the bill works as intended, it will instantly turn the population of 12 million undocumented workers with no way of becoming legal into 12 million unemployed undocumented workers with no way of becoming legal. For a political constituency constantly worried about “anarchy,” this does not appear to be an ideal situation.

The SAVE Act may or may not come to a vote this session, but employment verification will almost certainly be a part of future compromise legislation on immigration reform. That's worrying. Walls offend us aesthetically and symbolically; they’re clumsy and primitive and cruel. But they’re also easy to tear down; far easier than a slowly metastasizing system of total employment surveillance, of growing databases and expanding bureaucracies.

In the end, E-verify will not “turn off the tap,” “dry up the pool of jobs,” or “turn off the magnet.” It will simply encourage workers underground, where they will be more vulnerable to abuse and less likely to pay taxes. But SAVE’s supporters may be doing more than they know to slow the flow of willing workers into the United States. Rises and falls in the flow of undocumented immigrants do not track enforcement efforts; they track the state of the U.S. economy. If legislators manage to quicken the onset of recession by reducing the flexibility of American employers, draining billions in tax revenue, and preventing Americans from going to work, they'll get exactly what they've been wishing for.

Kerry Howley is a senior editor of reason.

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  • ||

    As a writer, do you feel more proud of yourself when you write crude propaganda, deliberately omitting all the good arguments for the other side while you set up straw men to knock down with comic-book flourishes (Take that! Pow! Whack!)?

    If we make it harder for illegal aliens to get jobs, many of them will just go home. That's what we (70% of Americans, in what's supposed to be a democracy) want: we want illegal aliens to go home.

    (We wish them nothing but joy, reunited with their families in their native lands where their local bartenders know their names and all the TV stations broadcast in their native languages..)

    If you wish the respect of fellow thinking people, the kind of respect a title like "Senior Editor of Reason Magazine" ought to command, then you should explain just why you believe the border is like a one-way turnstile, that lets in illiterate peasants to wield the short hoe for Gucci-shod corporate farm execs, but can never let them out to return to their homelands.

    Since the Federal government will even provide free transportation home for illegal aliens who surrender to authorities, your vision seems ill-informed.

  • ||

    " 'smart solution' will simply encourage workers underground, where they will be more vulnerable to abuse and less likely to pay taxes"

    I'm pro-immigrant, anti-wall in general so I'm not in favor of "smart solution"..however, wouldn't all libertarians agree that it would be a good thing to expand the underground tax-free economy? I'd lose no sleep if one of Clinton or Bushes government pension checks bounced or Haliburton revenues fell a couple percent.

    In fact his strikes me as mere wishful thinking.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...The "dumb" way [to protect our borders], which both Obama and Clinton voted for, involves building a hideous steel barrier on land taken from inconveniently situated Texans.



    Then there's the Lonewacko way: build a hideous steel barrier on land taken from inconveniently situated Mexicans.

    After shooting them.

  • Robert||

    wouldn't all libertarians agree that it would be a good thing to expand the underground tax-free economy?


    Not this libertarian. Not if the expansion occurs by forcing persons into non-compliance. Otherwise narcotics prohibition and various other anti-freedom policies become "a good thing".

  • The Democratic Republican||

    I really don't understand why everyone around here gets a Vicadin-style high off of the latest privacy-invading gadgets and technology (see the DNA database thread from earlier), but gets so pissed off when a database is used to enforce the rule of law.

    I was sitting here wondering why it is that, as a juror, I would nullify a law, but why when it comes to employment verification I get very interested in the rule of law. I think it has to do with my feeling that I would nullify in the case of someone who was doing nothing to harm anyone else. In the case of employers, you have people skirting tax laws, taking public services, and evading employment laws, all for their own gain. So you have the big men taking advantage of the little men.

    And don't kid yourself that the e-verify system is going to push illegal immigrants underground. They are already underground. They can't ask protections for their rights and can't demand better wages. That's why they are so attractive in the first place.

  • Orange Line Special||

    The comment above from BakedPenguin is not only a lie, it's libelous. In fact, my position is similar to that stated by Vercingetorix.

    And, needless to say, those coming here aren't just "workers". They also form a PoliticalPower base for homegrown racial demagogues and the MexicanGovernment. FelipeCalderon recently encouraged his citizens and others of MexicanDescent to push his country's agenda inside the U.S. That has a cost, yet hacks like Kerry Howley consistently refuse to discuss that and all the other costs.

    And, the privacy and other issues Howley complains about would not be an issue if there weren't so much IllegalImmigration. As long as there's MassiveIllegalImmigration, the great majority of Americans will oppose it, and that makes plans like SAVE highly sellable. The only way to make plans like SAVE unsellable is to support enforcement of our laws. While they have minor flaws, they're also highly rational and necessary and the great majority of Americans will always support their enforcement.

    Clearly, when forced to choose between cheap labor and privacy and Howley's other concerns, the "libertarians" at this site will always fall on the side of corporate welfare.

  • ||

    Agreed Robert, I should have read the article first.

  • Henry||

    i, for one, thought this article was great. all of you who are against immigrants coming over here seem kinda scared and racist. they want to come here for the opportunity! doesn't that attest to the greatness of our country that they want to leave their own and come to ours?! we should be happy to have mexicans come here and work our shit jobs for us. we should welcome them with open arms!

  • ||

    In the case of employers, you have people skirting tax laws, taking public services, and evading employment laws, all for their own gain. So you have the big men taking advantage of the little men.

    So if you were a juror where the illegal immigrant was on trial for his employment activities, you would acquit because he "was doing nothing to harm anyone else."

    But if it's his employer on trial, you would vote to convict?

    How odd.

    Let's say the law instead covered employer drug testing.

    Do you still acquit the drug-using employee but convict the employer who skirts drug laws and evades employment laws?

  • ||

    Does anyone else think the immigration issue in the libertarian community is the equivalent of the gay marriage issue in the broader political world?

    It keeps us arguing about trivial things instead of focusing on big issues like less government vs more government... less war vs more war. How to bring about changes toward less government, less taxes and less war?

  • ||

    I'v got an idea to bring about smaller government. Lets start a smear campaign talking about how racist the most popular libertarian leaders are. People will eat that up.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    1) Henry: "all of you who are against immigrants coming over here seem kinda scared and racist."

    How stupid and unfair. By the same token, I should call you an opportunistic capitalist who wants to keep 12 million illegals working in sweatshops or on farms or even in normal jobs without paying them a decent wage. How very enlightened of you!

    And in fact, that's not an unfair accusation. If employers paid the same wage to illegal immigrants as to American citizens, then you would create a normal equilibrium. As it is, the black market in labor creates a subsidy for illegal movement. So in your ideal, lollipop world, I guess the thing to do is just get rid of ALL labor laws so that ALL workers can get paid $3 or $4 dollars an hour. Sounds to me like you're just some kind of capitalist swine.

    2) MikeP: Your analogy about drug testing doesn't work, I don't think, because if an employer is issuing drug tests they are forced to do so by federal law. If they choose to ignore this law, then yes, I vote to acquit both the employee and the employer. Why? Because they broke the law in order to prevent harm to an employee. But in the case of illegal immigration, businesses are breaking the law in order to gain profit for themselves, not to provide "good jobs" to immigrants that "just want a chance."

  • ||

    Because they broke the law in order to prevent harm to an employee.

    No. They broke the law to save themselves the trouble of enforcing it and to not exclude any viable candidates for stupid reasons.

    But in the case of illegal immigration, businesses are breaking the law in order to gain profit for themselves, not to provide "good jobs" to immigrants that "just want a chance."

    No. They break the law to save themselves the trouble of enforcing it and to not exclude any viable candidates for stupid reasons.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    I'll go ahead and answer the main issue with my first argument:

    If immigration laws create a black market in labor, why not just get rid of those laws and let people move freely?

    In concept, I agree. But a few points:

    1) The USA is a sovereign nation with the right and responsibility to defend its borders. No economic arguments overturns this fact.

    2) The USA has a security interest in knowing who comes in and out of the country. This may not seem immediately relevant to economics, but consider this. Tomorrow, the law says that there is free immigration into and out of the USA, so long as you simply acknowledge your presence. Well, there's no guarantee that either illegal employees or employers have any incentive to take up on the offer. Why? Because then you have to pay taxes and a minimum wage. And even if all the people here became legal, the possibility of maintaining the black market is made real by the continued subsidy of under-market wages.

    3) The USA, through its foreign aid to Mexico and its prosecution of the drug war, is propping up a failed regime in Mexico -- the same failed regime, by the way, that has its own version of open immigration that allows gangs from central and south America into the United States. The present flood of immigration is a symptom of problems that extend well beyond our own borders.

    So long as these various conditions persist, we cannot assume that immigration levels will reach a natural equilibrium.

    However, I hope we can create a hemisphere that will make free movement possible. But we should be focusing on what that means rather than just poo pooing any effort to make it happen.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    MikeP: You mean stupid reasons like having to pay minimum wage and payroll taxes?

    Like it or not, those are the rules, and when employers break them they are harming everyone who chooses to play by them. Very different than the individual behavior of a drug user.

  • ||

    Every day I spend hours alerting American citizens and legal patriots of the illegal alien invasion. However I have never demonised anybodies nationality, race or religion? That is for bigots and xenophobes and it really smell of the race card.

    I do warn people The Democrats are playing on the publics fear of the $30 billion dollar actual cost to implement a federal immigration enforcement law. They note that while the CBO analysis estimates the cost of implementing the SAVE Act, it fails to take into account the costs of doing nothing because it "ignore(s) education, medical, and incarceration costs for illegal aliens that our government absorbs every day.

    The 37 million immigrants in the United States, both legal and illegal, cost the federal government more than $346 billion last year, twice as much as the nation's fiscal deficit, according to a report released yesterday by the Hudson Institute THE SAVE ACT, will be a great innovative tool to stop the millions of illegal aliens stealing employment from the American people.

    In addition The E-Verify program provides employers with an inexpensive, quick, and accurate way to verify employee eligibility. Last, but not least, the SAVE Act would address interior enforcement by employing more ICE agents, training additional state and local law enforcement personnel, and expediting the removal of illegal aliens.

    For more information, that is suppressed by the National newspapers is numbersusa

    To petition to fund and completely complete the border fence go to grassfire

    Please copy and paste or otherwise freely distribute any of my information.

  • ||

    You mean stupid reasons like having to pay minimum wage and payroll taxes?

    Working off the books is viable for citizen workers as well. If it is so very advantageous to employees and employers, they would be (are?) working that way.

    But every enforcement measure thrown at illegal immigrants makes them less and less likely to pay taxes. Note the numbers from the article: $17 billion less revenue over the next decade due to the SAVE Act. Blaming illegal immigrants and their employers for not paying their taxes when they can't is disingenuous.

  • ||

    The 37 million immigrants in the United States, both legal and illegal, cost the federal government more than $346 billion last year, twice as much as the nation's fiscal deficit, according to a report released yesterday by the Hudson Institute

    Have you got a more precise citation than that? Finding this dollar cost an order of magnitude higher than even the most egregiously poor estimates I have seen before, I went hunting and came up empty.

  • SIV||


    Working off the books is viable for citizen workers as well.


    One of the problems I have with our defacto immigration policy is that it encourages hiring "illegal aliens" over "citizen workers". If you want to pay off the books it is much safer to restrict your hiring to a group much less likely to dime you out.

  • ||

    Since the illegal worker is more likely to be picked up by authorities and questioned about his employer, is he really less likely to dime you out than the legal worker?

  • ||

    Are you kidding, Howley? The big reason to forego enforcing the immigration laws is so the Federal government can collect more taxes? You call that a libertarian position?

    Anyway, for every $1.00 the Federal government collects in taxes on immigrant workers, it spends at least $1.25 on welfare payments to immigrants and their dependents (that's overall-- of course doctors and computer programmers pay more than they cost, but they are vastly outnumbered by (largely-illegal) peasants who cost MUCH more than they pay).

    The immigrant taxes/payments ratio for State and local governments is much worse because illegals and their spawn crowd schoolhouses and hospital emergency rooms. The Feds offer derisory subsidies to a few border states for some of those costs, but the deficit is measured in many tens of billions.

    The National Research Council (part of the National Academy of Sciences, a Federal agency) did a big study ten years ago. They found that even then the average immigrant household cost the Federal government $2,682 more annually (1996 dollars) than it paid in taxes. Overall, immigrants cost about 25% more in Federal welfare expenditures than they paid in Federal taxes. (State figures are worse). The NRC hasn't updated the report for a decade, but the Census bureau reports that we have literally millions more illegal immigrants now than then, and they are poorer on the average so their fiscal impact is even more severe. See: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=5985


    Here are some Federal cost estimates updated for 2007-2008:
    http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc_18_2/index.shtml

    (Note, when you start reading up on this stuff, beware of one sleight-of-hand trick favored by propagandists like Howley: writers will tot up taxes supposedly paid by illegal alien workers, but neglect social spending on their minor dependents. If challenged, they point out that many of those minor dependents are US citizens by birth. However, those kids would have been born in their parents' home countries if we enforced our immigration laws. Since the costs of feeding (Food Stamps, TANF, SSI), educating (public schools), and doctoring (Medicaid, CHIP, emergency rooms) those kids is DIRECTLY attributable to their parents' illegal entry and presence, you can't make a valid estimate of the costs and benefits of immigration without considering them.

    (Also, be sure to note that illegal aliens often displace black American citizen workers from construction and service jobs. Those citizens and their families then absorb a lot of social spending. The costs of paying welfare to black ex-janitors replaced with illegal alien Mexicans and Salvadorans (as happened in Los Angeles) should be reckoned as a cost of immigration. Even if you deduct employers' savings in wages (that is, replacing $8/hour black janitors with $4/hour Mexicans), importing low-wage service workers is still a bad deal for ordinary taxpayers.

    (And finally note that illegal immigrants cost Americans a tremendous amount in losses due to common-law crime (burglary, robbery, dope dealing), plus the costs of arresting, trying, and imprisoning them for such crimes.)

  • SIV||

    MikeP,

    In most(all?)jurisdictions, local cops aren't enforcing labor laws.

  • ||

    yet

  • Travis||

    "I should call you an opportunistic capitalist who wants to keep 12 million illegals working in sweatshops or on farms or even in normal jobs without paying them a decent wage. How very enlightened of you!"

    You obviously care so much more about this poor exploited class being that you're trying to have them deported back home where they will work in sweatshops & get paid a fraction what they get paid here in America.

  • ||


    Anyway, for every $1.00 the Federal government collects in taxes on immigrant workers, it spends at least $1.25 on welfare payments to immigrants and their dependents (that's overall-- of course doctors and computer programmers pay more than they cost, but they are vastly outnumbered by (largely-illegal) peasants who cost MUCH more than they pay).


    You have to straighten up your ideas. You said above that immigrants cost more to the FedGov, and later you mentioned *illegal* immigrants. So which one is it, immigrants or illegal immigrants? Because they are not the same - the word "immigrants" would imply those that enter the country with a valid work visa.

    The immigrant taxes/payments ratio for State and local governments is much worse because illegals and their spawn crowd schoolhouses and hospital emergency rooms.

    First, immigrants (the legal kind) also crowd schools and hospitals. Second, the argument is specious, considering it is mandatory for children to go to school. The culprit is not immigration, but government.

    They [the NRC] found that even then the average immigrant household cost the Federal government $2,682 more annually (1996 dollars) than it paid in taxes. Overall, immigrants cost about 25% more in Federal welfare expenditures than they paid in Federal taxes.

    Again, illegal immigrants or just immigrants? Because you cannot ask for welfare if you do not have a Social Security Number, and most illegal immigrants do not have one.

    The NRC hasn't updated the report for a decade, but the Census bureau reports that we have literally millions more illegal immigrants now than then, and they are poorer on the average so their fiscal impact is even more severe.

    Most of welfare recipients are actually American Citizens, not illegal immigrants. Most illegal immigrants find work in the US, most of the time. It is likely the report is talking about immigrants, not illegal immigrants. If such is the case, then again the problem is with the welfare system and not with immigration per se.

    [W]riters [like Howley] will tot up taxes supposedly paid by illegal alien workers, but neglect social spending on their minor dependents. If challenged, they point out that many of those minor dependents are US citizens by birth. However, those kids would have been born in their parents' home countries if we enforced our immigration laws.

    Again, the point is moot - it is not the fault of immigration, but of the welfare state. Most illegal immigrants, in fact, do not bring their families to the country, because of the perilous crossing - they send money back by Western Union.

    Since the costs of feeding (Food Stamps, TANF, SSI), educating (public schools), and doctoring (Medicaid, CHIP, emergency rooms) those kids is DIRECTLY attributable to their parents' illegal entry and presence, you can't make a valid estimate of the costs and benefits of immigration without considering them.

    Do not forget the benefits of the goods and services that immigrants provide. You make the mistake of only looking at the taxes they pay versus the local or federal government expenditures, but their contribution to the economy is much greater than those expenditures.


    Also, be sure to note that illegal aliens often displace black American citizen workers from construction and service jobs.

    They do not "displace" anybody, that is a misconception stemming from an economics fallacy: that there is a limited number of jobs out there. The fact is that immigrants are willing to accept jobs that most are not, at salary levels that are deemed too low for many citizens.

    Those citizens and their families then absorb a lot of social spending. The costs of paying welfare to black ex-janitors replaced with illegal alien Mexicans and Salvadorans (as happened in Los Angeles) should be reckoned as a cost of immigration.

    Again, the culprit is welfare, not immigration. Most able body citizens that could take those jobs receive more revenue by filing for welfare, so their is a totally economic decision.

    Even if you deduct employers' savings in wages (that is, replacing $8/hour black janitors with $4/hour Mexicans), importing low-wage service workers is still a bad deal for ordinary taxpayers.

    Uh, this is ignorance of economics - at $4.00 per hour, a service provided by an immigrant LEAVES more money for the consumer to be spent in other needs. At $8.00 per hour by a citizen, either the consumer of that service would have to forgo another expenditure or simply avoid such expenditure, leaving the $8.00 per hour worker without a job anyway. Face it: immigration makes more services and goods cheaper, leaving more money for the taxpayer. The only culprit when it comes to burdening the taxpayer is the government itself, and not immigrants.

    And finally note that illegal immigrants cost Americans a tremendous amount in losses due to common-law crime (burglary, robbery, dope dealing), plus the costs of arresting, trying, and imprisoning them for such crimes.)

    This is an unsubstantiated allegation.

  • ||

    ... If employers paid the same wage to illegal immigrants as to American citizens, then you would create a normal equilibrium.

    Actually, what would happen is that even more immigrants would come to the States enticed by such high wages, and those American Citizens you are thinking about would ask for even higher wages, since "only immigrants work those jobs".

    As it is, the black market in labor creates a subsidy for illegal movement.

    There is no subsidy, or rather, you do not understand what "subsidy" means. It is the need for low pay, low skill workers which drives the demand for immigrant workers. A subsidy is a direct payment made for an activity that, in other circumstances, would not be cost effective or profitable.

    [...] I guess the thing to do is just get rid of ALL labor laws so that ALL workers can get paid $3 or $4 dollars an hour. Sounds to me like you're just some kind of capitalist swine.

    Rather getting rid of all labor laws would actually be most beneficial for first time low-skill workers, like students, single moms, the elderly, et cetera, since they would not become too expensive to be hired by most companies, like retailers. As it is, most labor laws are designed to keep competing low-skill workers out of the job pool.

  • ||

    Dave,

    The 37 million immigrants in the United States, both legal and illegal, cost the federal government more than $346 billion last year, twice as much as the nation's fiscal deficit, according to a report released yesterday by the Hudson Institute[.] THE SAVE ACT, will be a great innovative tool to stop the millions of illegal aliens stealing employment from the American people.

    Your comment stems from the economics fallacy that there is only a very limited number of jobs, and that these have to be "protected". In the first place, nobody, *NOBODY*, has a right to a job: someone has to be willing to offer you one, first. In the second place, immigrants actually make more companies profitable, releasing MORE resources for hiring more people with the more desirable skills, precisely those that Americans can do. The relatively LOW unemployment rate in the US is evidence of this fact.

    The problem in the US is not immigration but currency debasement - that very thing is the main culprit for the fall of civilizations. If you as Americans do not wake up to the fact that the USGov is stealing your money, then you will continue looking for mythical bogeymen all your life, to blame for your failures.

  • ||

    Blaming illegal immigrants and their employers for not paying their taxes when they can't is disingenuous.

    Well said, MikeP.

  • ||

    The Democratic Republican | April 21, 2008, 5:54pm | #

    If immigration laws create a black market in labor, why not just get rid of those laws and let people move freely?
    In concept, I agree.


    Good start.

    1) The USA is a sovereign nation with the right and responsibility to defend its borders. No economic arguments overturns this fact.


    Nobody disputes that.

    2) The USA has a security interest in knowing who comes in and out of the country.

    Really 1a) but whatever.

    This may not seem immediately relevant to economics, but consider this. Tomorrow, the law says that there is free immigration into and out of the USA, so long as you simply acknowledge your presence. Well, there's no guarantee that either illegal employees or employers have any incentive to take up on the offer. Why? Because then you have to pay taxes and a minimum wage.

    The flipside of course being that the potential "illegal" has a massive upshot to registering, including a "minimum wage" as well as other societal benefits like not being raided by ICE.

    While you are correct that there is little benefit to paying taxes, short of the usual high quality infrastructure that we have come to expect from the Government, this doesn't change whether you are a born and bred American or not. People pay taxes for two reasons, because they feel it helps them and their fellow man live a "better life" and to keep the Government goons out of the house. Some people pay taxes for the former, but almost everybody pays taxes because of the latter.

    And even if all the people here became legal, the possibility of maintaining the black market is made real by the continued subsidy of under-market wages.


    There is no such thing as an "under-market" wage. There are however artificial wage floors like "minimum wage" which you seem to support. The reason that illegals currently work for less than "minimum wage" in many instances is that they a)dont' enjoy the legal protection of being able to negotiate with their employer or protest their "below legal wage status" with the government, b)employer's can take advantage of this disparity and c)it is still better than the $1 a day job they had selling Chicle Gum at the border. Remove the threat of deportation and watch how fast that wage rises to equal what that of a natural born Citizen doing the same job.

    Of course, wage-floors are still not "market wages", but from most reports I have read recently, the US "minimum wage" is below the natural market wage in most areas/job fields anyway. Of course, the ideal situation would be to remove the "minimum wage" floor anyway and let the employee and employer negotiate just how much a day's labor is worth. When both enjoy equal legal protections, the negotiations are much more fair, don't you think?

    3) The USA, through its foreign aid to Mexico and its prosecution of the drug war, is propping up a failed regime in Mexico -- the same failed regime, by the way, that has its own version of open immigration that allows gangs from central and south America into the United States. The present flood of immigration is a symptom of problems that extend well beyond our own borders.


    Though not incorrect, this is a completely different matter. Regarding Mexico's "open immigration" I am sure you were being factitious so I don't need to address it.

    Now, onto the meat of your comment. A drug kingpin is not looking to come to America to pick oranges and therefore has Zero incentive to register. These people, along with "real terrorists" will be, and should be, the only ones sneaking across the border. When you get rid of the chaff of workers looking for jobs it becomes much easier to spot the wheat kernels that are the real problems with Border Security.

    There is a simple solution to the problem of drug gangs, just remove the black market restrictions on drugs and they will fold like wet paper.

    So long as these various conditions persist, we cannot assume that immigration levels will reach a natural equilibrium.


    Agreed! Regardless of country of origin, I say remove the welfare draw for those who don't want to work, remove the arbitrary wage-floors for those who do want to work and remove the "war on drugs" infrastructure that drives gang crime and black market profits.

  • B||

    Is there any method of enforcement that won't, according to Kerry Howley "drive these people further underground". These people are breaking the fucking law. I have read a dozen bullshit articles by Ms. Howley on immigration and everyone of them seems to take the viewpoint that these individuals should be able to break the law with impunity. However I must give credit where credit is due. You mamaged to write an article on illegal immigration without explicitly stating that its opponents are unrepentant bigots, opposed only to illegal immigration because of naked racism.

  • ||

    Basically we should just revoke citizenship and deport everyone who uses federal funds to survive because it is costing this country too much money.

    Next on the list:
    Stop paying for all government services of any kind. No police, no fire department, no Military...

    The private sector can do those jobs, as long as they don't hire illegal alliens.

  • Mad Max||

    I'm interested in enforcing the laws against illegal immigrants - subject to the Bill of Rights - and in postponing "comprehensive reform" until there's actually some signs that enforcement is being seriously attempted. I'm also in favor of a physical wall across the border - of course it won't stop *all* illegal immigration, but who ever said it would? It obviously will make illegal immigration more difficult, as indicated by the screams of the anti-wall people.
    ]
    I say all this to establish my credentials as a right-wing troglodyte on this subject.

    Where I get off the bandwagon is where they start talking about internal passports. Of course, they don't *call* them internal passports, they call them "employment verification." It means that if I apply for a job, the boss sends my papers to the federal government, and until the feds tell him that my papers are OK, he will probably be afraid to hire me.

    Does this sound like something Thomas Jefferson would have endorsed? Did George washington spend the winter at Valley Forge for *internal passports*? They'd slap you silly for even asking the question - that is, if they were in a generous mood.

    I don't care for open borders (not when combined with a welfare state), but if it should turn out that the choice is between open borders and internal passports, I say "Viva Mexico!"

  • Herr LWCKO||

    Mex Raus!

  • Heinrick||

    You all seem to forget that this is a democracy. The elected represenatives of the people have set an immigration policy. Who are these people that think they can just come here in violation of our laws.

  • GILMORE||

    I say we go with lonewackos plan to destroy our knowledge economy and pay 5 times more for food and housing

    oh, and let all the software companies move to india

    and have a bunch of underskilled, overpaid doctors and research scientists

    http://www.kauffman.org/items.cfm?itemID=906

    http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/executives/docs/usa-today42606.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/02/us/politics/02penn.html?scp=1&sq=immigration+tomato&st=nyt

  • GILMORE||

    Heinrick | April 21, 2008, 10:14pm | #

    You all seem to forget that this is a democracy. The elected represenatives of the people have set an immigration policy. Who are these people that think they can just come here in violation of our laws.


    How dare they wash our dishes and pick our fruit and mow our lawns and keep our economy afloat while Americans get older and have fewer and fewer kids, living off the hard working illegals who keep our small towns and rural areas from descending into economic collapse

    How dare they come here and teach in our universities and start software companies and win nobel prizes and stuff.

    Think American!

  • GILMORE||

    http://deltafarmpress.com/news/061016-immigration-reforms/

    I want my fruit picked by your children. That is, in mexico.

  • Heinrick||

    Make fun of it all you want but either we are sovereign or we are not.

  • GILMORE||

    Why make fun when you can just study macroeconomics instead of insisting on self-destructive, ignorant policy

  • GILMORE||

    The Democratic Republican | April 21, 2008, 5:54pm | #

    1) The USA is a sovereign nation with the right and responsibility to defend its borders. No economic arguments overturns this fact


    Ok, how about the fact that most 'illegals' come here legally and simply overstay their visa, and are obstructed by the current system from ever achieving 'legality'.

    We could have border fences and a bubble over the country and this would still be the case. So, good luck with that 'border' thing. You're basically saying let's enlarge an already totally ineffective system, and achieve nothing positive at all. Contrarily, we could make the system simpler, offer uncapped #s of H1b visas, and temporary worker permits, and save ourselves the trouble of fighting a non-problem

  • Douglas Gray||

    If you want to see how well such a system will work under the new proposed bill, just look at Medicare. It is estimated that up to 20% of the total Medicare budget, a huge amount, goes to corrupt individuals milking the system.

    The Medicare fraud experts themselves admit that the total number of transactions is so enormous, they can only catch a small fraction of the transgressors.

    The same thing would be true of the SAVE Act; It will create another huge, inefficient, expensive bureaucracy with lots of cheating slipping through the cracks.

  • ||

    I don't care that much about immigrants but I do care about bureaucracy. This kind of law will just create a whole load of it.

    No American will ever be hired by a company again. Good luck waiting for approval from the government for new employees. Fuck I worked at Merrill Lynch and they took over 4 fucking months to go through their own internal bullshit approval process (not for me but for some other hires). For government I don't expect approval will ever come.

    All of you stupid fucking conservative morons commenting on this fucking site. When it comes to guns, taxes you seem to understand who fucked up and bureaucratic government is. Why the fuck can't you understand the same applies to immigration. Governments aren't some how better with immigration then they are with other parts of society. They pretty much fuck everything up. The green card is the stupidest fucking idea. I don't know how you stupid little piece of shit fuckers can call yourself free and yet you need a special card just to be able to work. That freedom. You call yourself free. Please your society has become bureaucratic as fuck and you don't seem to have fuckin realized what fucking shit your in.

  • ||

    BTW, I don't have any problem with immigrants.

    Also I don't have a problem with the wall. If you really want a good way of keeping out illegals then use that. It is far more simple and direct than creating a new employment approval process

  • Kolohe||

    wow, first time ever in an immigration thread I've disagreed w/ MikeP.

    The 7:14 is wrong; any differential caused by illegal immigrants 'being more likely to picked up by authorities' is overwhelmed by the fact that any legal immigrant or especially citizen will more readily go to those same authorities (or proxies) if their employer is doing something wrong. (of course, all whistleblowers put themselves in a quandary)

    But for someone in the country illegally, it's the "no snitchin'" logic, but with a far more rational and real basis. That's why most police dept's rather prefer having some sort of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy because it's the only way they would be able to get through a community's 'wall of silence'

    And as a thought experiment, who is more ready to file a police report that someone broke in and stole their laptop and dvd player: Joe Homeowner the tow truck driver, or John Homeowner who has a meth lab in the basement.

  • ||

    To be fair, I did pose the idea as a question. The answer may well be "yes."

  • ||

    Pursuing the question of who actually does enforce labor laws, I came across an interesting statement...

    The California Department of Industrial Relations - which enforces the state's labor and workplace safety and health laws - will not question workers about their immigrant status. The department will:
    ...
    * Investigate retaliation complaints and file court actions to collect back pay owed to any worker who was the victim of retaliation for having complained about wages or workplace safety and health, without regard to the worker's immigration status



    But I must concur that the investigation of retaliation by your employer is small consolation while ICE is deporting you and doesn't care a whit that the state DIR is pursuing your case.

  • ||

    Did anyone ever notice that most poor third world countries have three things in common? They usually have a predominately Catholic or Muslin population, corruption is a way of life, and they breed like rabbits? Of course, the Catholic church realizes, that even as it encourages them to breed and not used birth control that many of the children will starve or die from childhood disease, but as long as they are Catholic that is OK, enough will survive to make more Catholics. After losing members in the USA the Catholic church is now making a comeback due to the millions of Illegal Aliens pouring across our borders. Its an ideal plan, let the Catholics Latinos pour across our open borders and Breed like Rabbits while forcing American tax payers to pay 9,000 per year for each one to provide for them, that is why the Pope spoke about taking care of Immigrants and why all Catholic Churches are for breaking the law and encourage Illegal Aliens and open Borders! When the next president gives the 20 to 30 million mostly uneducated Illegal Aliens citizenship alone with chain migration there will be 100,s of millions of new fast breeding, educating hating, criminally inclined , welfare loving Catholic Latino citizens and the Nation will soon join the Third World as they breed us into poverty, like they have Mexico and Latina American. But the Democrat Politicians will have the welfare votes and further their Socialist Agenda, the Republican Politicians an unlimited supply of nearly slave labor for their Pay Masters in the Corparations and Businesses and the Church more millions of good docile Catholics to preach their dogma , past the collection plate, and lots of children for the priests to play with. The only losers are current American Citizens and either Party or the Catholic church gives a damn about them!

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Kwix | April 21, 2008, 8:51pm | #

    I don't disagree with the general jist of Kwix's comments from last night; I just apply certain concepts in a different way.

    The first thing I'm trying to do is cut through the polemics:

    a) I do not support a physical wall, and anyone who thinks it will work is silly.
    b) I am not saying that SAVE is the best system, but I am saying that we have had citizen status verification laws on the books for some time and it is time that we enforce those seriously -- FOR EVERYONE

    That is the main point about employment verification: it makes sure that everyone is playing by the same rules. I never said that minimum wage = market wage. Whatever the rules are, everyone needs to be playing by them.

    Unlike a lot of people, I am assuming that most illegal immigrants are coming here to work. That's why I focus on getting rid of defectors from the labor laws rather than focusing on the "welfare magnet." So I don't fault any one individual for being here. I do, however, look at the macroeconomic system and say that wholesale black market labor is the source of the current situation. And enforcing these labor laws seems to be the most just and least intrusive way of getting everyone to play by the same rules.

    (And, unlike most people, I recognize the value of immigrants. My state recently passed immigration statutes that will most likely cost the state economy $2 billion in the near future. But we cannot sell out the rule of law for dollars.)

    The general tone of thought around here seems to be that, gee, all these labor and welfare laws are unjust anyway, so why enforce them for illegal immigrants?

    The answer is the rule of law. If you enforce it for the citizen you enforce it for the immigrant. If you think the law is unjust, then work on it, but all that getting rid of labor laws would accomplish would be to push wages and working conditions down for everyone. So the answer, despite what some utopians feel, is not just to get rid of all laws.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Bl: poor people EVERYWHERE breed faster than wealthier people. It appears to be a law of nature.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    As if I haven't typed enough, I want to clarify my comments:

    My position on enforcing employment laws isn't necessarily specific to immigration. Even if we sorted out all the immigration issues, you still would have plenty of black market labor.

    But regardless, the key to changing the situation with immigration is to enforce the rule of law among employers, see how costly this will be to the economy, and create a path for people to gain citizenship.

  • ||

    The answer is the rule of law. If you enforce it for the citizen you enforce it for the immigrant.

    Only one person here has said that it was a good thing that illegal immigrants evade common labor laws, and that person retracted that statement quickly.

    The only "labor law" at issue in the immigration debate is the law against employing anyone you want to regardless of his residence status. And since immigration law does not apply equally to citizen and immigrant, it cannot be enforced equally for the citizen and for the immigrant.

    So, for exactly the reasons you argue, labor law enforcement should not include immigration law such as the SAVE Act, and employers should not be required to know or care what their employees' immigration status is.

    If what you really care about is the equal protection of workers under labor laws, that seems to be the only position you can take.

  • ||

    Bl: poor people EVERYWHERE breed faster than wealthier people. It appears to be a law of nature.

    Well, no, that's not true at all. Cuba's fertility rate is among the lowest in the world. Russia has a lower TFR than the United States. Poland has a lower TFR than Sweden. And so on.

  • ||

    Ripping apart bad ideas or bills is like shooting ducks in a barrel, and it is a fine beginning to promoting a better methodology. So, where's the beef?

  • ||

    Hey, Francisco Torres:

    * Illegal alien crime is an "unsubstantiated allegation?" What, are you some kind of hermit who never reads a newspaper? According to Cal-DOJ More than 15% of California state prison inmates are illegal aliens. (Many more are first-generation offspring of illegal aliens!) Try Googling "illegal alien crime"! Or try reading:
    http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_1_the_illegal_alien.html

    * Why do you hold state mandatory-education laws sacred (to the point where you want taxpayers to educate kids who don't even belong in this country) but regard immigration laws with contempt?

    * If you have more than a sophomore libertarian's grasp of economics, why do you fantasize that low-skilled immigrant labor is worth much much than the wages it commands? Employers' margins on low-skilled labor are small. If margins were large, they would be competed away.

    * The total cost of goods and services to society includes both direct costs-- prices paid to providers-- and indirect costs-- taxes paid to subsidize providers. Free medical care in emergency rooms, welfare and education for illegal aliens' families[1], etc. act as subsidies to those aliens' employers (because otherwise the employees would demand higher wages to subsist upon). The costs of crime and welfare caused by both illegal aliens and the natives (mostly black) they displace are deadweight losses, borne by taxpayers in general.

    * Consumers/taxpayers would be better off paying more for, say, restaurant meals (if employers were forced to hire citizens) and less for police and prisons. The deadweight losses caused by low-wage immigrants greatly exceed their value to the economy.

    * In a democracy it would be much easier to control immigration than to abolish social-spending programs. As a practical matter, your proposal to do the inverse is really a call for both unlimited immigration AND social spending, which is to say, a call to destroy the high-per-capita-GDP capitalistic society of the United States in order to replace it with an impoverished quasi-socialist oligarchy like, say, Egypt.

    * Despite your assertion, in the medium-term at least, there really is a limited supply of jobs. This is easy enough to show mathematically[1], but perhaps an example would be more helpful: if there were infinite demand for labor, Mexicans would all have good jobs at home-- after all, Mexico has every natural advantage (mineral and agricultural wealth, fine natural harbors, good communications, peaceful neighbors) that the USA has. The only difference between the USA and Mexico is the character of the population. Importing Mexicans, to a first approximation, is the same as importing Mexico's poverty. If you think that is so great, why don't you move there?

    [1] Labor is complementary to capital. Capital is not unlimited, therefore demand for labor is not unlimited. The price of labor never goes to zero because laborers require at least subsistence wages.

  • ||

    If you have more than a sophomore libertarian's grasp of economics, why do you fantasize that low-skilled immigrant labor is worth much much than the wages it commands?

    The producer surplus of low skilled labor may not be very high, but by doing the work that anyone can do, low skilled immigrants free up higher skilled native workers to do higher paying work. Permitting native workers to exercise those comparative advantages is an enormous contribution to the economy that is all too often ignored.

    Labor is complementary to capital. Capital is not unlimited, therefore demand for labor is not unlimited.

    In case you haven't noticed, the types of jobs that low skilled immigrants take are exactly those jobs that don't require -- or even admit -- much capital investment. Think fruit picking, landscaping, housecleaning, child rearing.

    But by doing those jobs, immigrants allow higher skilled natives not to do those jobs and to do higher valued and higher paying jobs instead -- making us all wealthier in the process.

  • ||

    MikeP:

    "...by doing the work that anyone can do, low skilled immigrants free up higher skilled native workers to do higher paying work..."

    What is to become of the NON-higher-skilled native workers?

    Right, they commit crimes or go on welfare, because those pay better than peasant-illegal-alien wages (factoring in the idiosyncratic values of leisure time).

    By admitting low-skilled immigrants, society spends, say, $3 in welfare and crime to save $1 in wages paid to low-skilled workers.

    Our society doesn't actually have difficulty employing higher-skilled workers. We have trouble getting low-skilled workers employed, thanks to minimum-wage laws, taxes, welfare programs and criminal opportunities competing with employers for workers, etc. It is the height of folly to import more peasants to make the situation worse (and to breed more unskilled labor).

    Also, your supposition that low-skilled jobs don't require capital is incorrect (or at best, overoptimistic). The demand for farm labor (and many other kinds of stoop labor, like office-cleaning) is limited by the supply of farmland (or offices) and by the seasons. (If you think you can grow fruit without capital, take a look at the prices of farmland and irrigation equipment).

    Landscaping? That's silly: landscaping wages are already at untaxed illegal-alien sleeping- in- bushes- under- freeway- ramps subsistence level. Everyone who can afford landscaping services even at rock-bottom prices already buys them. Adding peasants will not increase the number of home or businesses that hire landscapers, though it may increase the number of illiterate underfed men loitering outside Home Depot stores or at "day labor" pickup points. Men who will resort to burglary or robbery when they get desperate enough.

  • ||

    By admitting low-skilled immigrants, society spends, say, $3 in welfare and crime to save $1 in wages paid to low-skilled workers.

    ...plus society gets the added surplus of the native workers who do not have to do the jobs done by immigrants.

    This is not trivial. As an extreme example, a $15,000 per year nanny who allows a $45,000 per year parent to work is not contributing your supposed $2,000 more to the economy, but $30,000 more.

  • ||

    Perhaps we should put aside these "microeconomic" arguments for a moment to look at the big picture.

    Q: Where do low-skilled, commonly-illegal immigrants come from?

    A: From countries poorer than the USA, that's where. Generally much poorer.

    Q: If we had open borders, when would the influx of unskilled immigrants cease?

    A: When wages for unskilled labor plus social benefits ("free" education, "free" medical care) in the USA fell to nearly the level of unskilled-labor wages plus social spending (nearly zero) in immigrants' home countries.

    Q: What would the USA look like when unskilled-wage-equilibrium was achieved?

    A: Like a poor country.

    Q: Would today's American citizens be happier when everyone who preferred living in the USA to say, in Guatemala or in Egypt, had moved to the USA?

    A: No. If today's Americans preferred to live in a 3rd-world sinkhole, they could move to one now.

    Q: Couldn't unskilled immigrants boost the US economy so much that all of today's Americans would be better off in the long run?

    A: No. That is both theoretically impossible (see http://borjas.typepad.com/the_borjas_blog/2007/06/an-oddity-in-th.html ) and empirically unsupported.

    Consider: with open borders, in the long run the USA wage must end up fairly close to the world wage (that is, propped up only by transportation costs and so-forth). We can be pretty sure of this, because labor moves freely between US States and as theory predicts, differences in wages (adjusted for local cost of living) between States are small. But the rate of economic growth in most other countries is far below the US rate. We do not know how to boost economic growth in poor countries. To equilibriate net wages, then, labor's per-capita share of economic growth in the USA would have to fall.

    Q: Would the political culture of the USA survive mass immigration from poor countries?

    A: Hard to say. Would you let the immigrants vote? If so, would you expect them to vote for more socialism, or less? After all, envy is a potent motivator.

  • ||

    Would you hire an illiterate man in his twenties who speaks broken English to look after your little children?

    No? So you want to restrict immigration to people who would make good nannies?

    No, no. Of course not.

    Your nanny example is "extreme" because it hardly illuminates the problem at all.

  • ||

    Don't neglect the effect of immigrants' optimism or untested ambition on immigration rates either. So long as people in some poorer country expect USA net wages to exceed those at home, open borders will admit at least a few more immigrants than the USA labor market really demands. Some immigrants will arrive here and find they can't command even subsistence wages in the short run[1]. Those "marginal" immigrants will increase crime and welfare costs. Indeed, having blown their savings on transportation to the USA, marginal immigrants may not even be able to leave without assistance.

    [1] Even if economic expansion will eventually demand all available labor, in the short run supply can exceed demand (even at the subsistence or minimum wage). The short run is long enough to cost American taxpayers dearly.

  • ||

    Q: Couldn't unskilled immigrants boost the US economy so much that all of today's Americans would be better off in the long run?

    A: No. That is both theoretically impossible ion raises the lots of all who immigrate and (see http://borjas.typepad.com/the_borjas_blog/2007/06/an-oddity-in-th.html ) and empirically unsupported.


    That reference you point to tells us that today's Americans are better off in the long run. The people who are "penalized" by new immigrants are prior waves of immigrants.

    Incidentally, the formulation of this "penalty" is seriously bogus. Not only does it not allow for prior immigrants to join the complementary cohort of natives, it measures a drop in the prior immigrants' wage as a loss when, in fact, their gain is still massive compared to their pre-immigration status. So, yes, closing the borders is an effective protectionist measure allowing the consolidation of gains to those lucky enough to have just made it across the border. But open borders only helps native workers in the long run.

    And I would say that the entire freaking history of the United States is empirical evidence that large scale immigration raises the standard of living of all who immigrate and raises the standard of living of the vast majority of those who are native born.

  • ||

    Consider: with open borders, in the long run the USA wage must end up fairly close to the world wage (that is, propped up only by transportation costs and so-forth).

    No. It mustn't.

    The wage in the US is set by the ability of labor to use the capital of the US -- material, human, and institutional. Wages between states are roughly similar because that capital and those institutions are roughly similar. People migrating from elsewhere who are able to get a job that pays enough to cover the rents competing with that capital are taking advantage of that capital. There is nothing about their appearance that suddenly or over time drags down the wages of anyone except possibly those competing directly against them in low skilled labor.

  • ||

    Incidentally, I completely concur that open borders must mean that immigrants get no individualized welfare. Immigrants are presently coming to the US in order to work and make a better living for themselves. That must remain their reason.

    The 1996 welfare reforms removed all individualized welfare for newer immigrants. I would welcome further strengthening of those restrictions. Furthermore, the welfare rules should be changed so that citizen children of immigrant parents are on the same welfare schedule as their parents, not on the schedule of a long term citizen.

  • ||

    * Illegal alien crime is an "unsubstantiated allegation?" What, are you some kind of hermit who never reads a newspaper? According to Cal-DOJ More than 15% of California state prison inmates are illegal aliens.

    I did google "illegal alien crime" and instead of getting statistics, I got rants. Where did you get the California statistics? Because most of the violent gangs in California are not precisely illegal aliens, but drug dealers who in SOME cases happen to be illegal aliens, and that is a direct consequence of the war on drugs, not immigration per se. You are using an unrelated situation to argue against immigration, something called Fallacy of Composition.

    Why do you hold state mandatory-education laws sacred (to the point where you want taxpayers to educate kids who don't even belong in this country) but regard immigration laws with contempt?

    I am against mandatory schooling. However, your argument that it costs too much to educate the children of illegal aliens is specious, since by law they are obligated to send their kids to school lest the professional kidnappers (a.k.a Child Services) takes them away from their parents. So your argument should be with mandatory schooling, not immigration per se.

    If you have more than a sophomore libertarian's grasp of economics, why do you fantasize that low-skilled immigrant labor is worth much much than the wages it commands?

    Because if it wasn't, silly, employers would not hire them. What an employer is looking for is the level of productivity that a certain employee will bring according to the skills for the job, at the margin - which means that he could value more the productivity of a Harvard professor against a brick layer, but if the brick layer can lay bricks much cheaper, then the employer will hire the brick layer.


    If margins were large, they would be competed away.

    I do not think you have an understanding of what you are talking about.

    The total cost of goods and services to society includes both direct costs-- prices paid to providers-- and indirect costs-- taxes paid to subsidize providers.

    You are confusing things, Yikes. Goods and services are not a cost - they are an increase in wealth. What you could be talking about (maybe) is the cost of purchase, which is not a cost to society. You are looking it from the wrong side. The advantage of immigrant labor from an economics point of view is that goods and services can be *PRODUCED* at a LOWER COST than if using the more expensive and highly regulated "legal" labor. This allows goods or services to have a lower PURCHASING price, which releases more purchasing power for other needs. This can more than compensate the "subsidy" that the employers supposedly receive by way of "free" health care for illegal immigrants.

    Free medical care in emergency rooms, welfare and education for illegal aliens' families[1], etc. act as subsidies to those aliens' employers (because otherwise the employees would demand higher wages to subsist upon)

    Your quarrel is with the Welfare system and the State. You are looking at the wrong enemy.


    The costs of crime and welfare caused by both illegal aliens and the natives (mostly black) they displace are deadweight losses, borne by taxpayers in general.

    Actually, the amount of crime you allege is related to the war on drugs, which actually is dime for dime more costly, much more so, than other crime done by immigrants (like mugging or rape). So again, you are looking at the wrong culprit.

    Consumers/taxpayers would be better off paying more for, say, restaurant meals (if employers were forced to hire citizens) and less for police and prisons.

    Oh, it's a good thing you know exactly what it is better for people you do not know. Such conceit. In general, it would be better to leave people to make their own decisions, and stop the war on drugs, which is a truly costly mistake, both in money and lives.

    In itself, your ignorance of economics is fascinating. You fail to see the underlying problem when thinking all it takes is for restaurants to hire WASP employees and for Americans to dole out more for a meal: Economic Law states that if something becomes more expensive, people tend to buy less of it, and in the case of restaurants, if people are made to pay more for their meals, they would simply stay home, sending all of those wonderful WASP employees you are so fond to the streets.

    The deadweight losses caused by low-wage immigrants greatly exceed their value to the economy.

    I have demonstrated that this is a fallacy, and that you have no idea of what you are talking about.

    In a democracy it would be much easier to control immigration than to abolish social-spending programs

    Why would it be easier? The issue is that nobody has tried - you cannot know that. At one point, unrestricted welfare gave way to welfare with provisos, as in the case of asking people to actively look for work. This was back in the 1990's, so it is just a case of wanting it.


    As a practical matter, your proposal to do the inverse is really a call for both unlimited immigration AND social spending

    That's a lie. Read my comments again - I do not ask for more spending.


    which is to say, a call to destroy the high-per-capita-GDP capitalistic society of the United States in order to replace it with an impoverished quasi-socialist oligarchy like, say, Egypt.

    Egypt is not an immigration heaven, so your comparison is incorrect.

    Despite your assertion, in the medium-term at least, there really is a limited supply of jobs

    Despite my assertion? In the medium term? Do you know how jobs come to be, or are you just guessing?

    This is easy enough to show mathematically[1], but perhaps an example would be more helpful: if there were infinite demand for labor, Mexicans would all have good jobs at home--

    This is false, as I should indicate below.

    [A]fter all, Mexico has every natural advantage (mineral and agricultural wealth, fine natural harbors, good communications, peaceful neighbors) that the USA has. The only difference between the USA and Mexico is the character of the population.

    Nope, wrong. The difference between the two is how property rights are protected in each country. In Mexico, by Constitutional law, the land is owned by the State, and only the State can grant property usage to people. In the States, at least until 1913, property is the right of each individual and land ownership is protected as a natural right.

    Importing Mexicans, to a first approximation, is the same as importing Mexico's poverty.

    Actually, no - it is importing Mexico's labor. You think that just because the workers are willing to work for less money than Americans, that they are the poorest of the poor in Mexico? The smugglers charge from $2000 to $5000 per person to smuggle a guy to the US, and that ain't cheap in Mexico. Don't assume without knowing.

    If you think that is so great, why don't you move there?

    I do not understand your question. If I think WHAT is so great?

    Labor is complementary to capital.

    No, labor is NOT complimentary to capital. Labor CAN be capital.

    Capital is not unlimited, therefore demand for labor is not unlimited

    Ok, but that is like saying that demand for milk is not unlimited.

    The price of labor never goes to zero because laborers require at least subsistence wages.

    Uh, nope. Price of labor never goes to zero because of the laborer's opportunity costs, not because they need a subsistence wage (what is that, anyway?)

  • ||

    Many states are joining the ranks of the very few, to fight to unburden the taxpayer of the illegal alien occupation of our nation. Most political candidates cringe in dark corners like frightened mice, when the term illegal alien becomes manifested. Many state potential lawmakers realize this is what the majority of the American public want, not the tainted hierarchy of Republicans and Democrats who bow down to special interest groups.

    It just goes to prove that using Oklahoma as a good indicator, that once that an untainted legislator enacts strict laws against pariah employers. That not only will the percentage of unemployment drop, but also they are saving massive revenues throughout the whole state. It makes logical sense that when illegal immigrants and family members choose to flee states, such as Oklahoma, Georgia, Arizona and others with disrupting employers sanctions. US citizens and legal residence no longer have to compete for jobs. President Bush's old adage, "that Americans won't do...?" is far from the truth. You only have to read the articles of arrests around the country. Such as a illegal aliens, working in a shipyard in Newport News, Virginia, earning $28.00 an hour.

    The fact that anti-illegal immigrant states is gaining ground, against the usual suspects like big business, organized religion and a host of other radical special interest organizations, means we can win this war of American survival.

    Many of us complain and do literary nothing, except sit on our hands. Those of us who do translate our thoughts into anger and write, email or call their constituency representative. Do have a lasting impression on the lawmakers. One or two calls from irate voters make little difference, but when thousands of us call Washington or the their local office and jamb the switchboard. The outcome to such voters pressure cannot be ignored?

    The conclusion is we must raise the stakes against the very well bankrolled, special interest lobby. In the Congress right now pending is the Federal SAVE ACT (H.R.4088). It must be enacted before the new president enters the White House. Already leading Democrats are trying to erode it's enforcement power, as they are also trying to gut the border fence funding.

    However, overall their is a bipartisan effort of commitment by the majority of Republicans to bring the SAVE ACT (H.R.4088) to a vote.

    State enforcement laws are working very will, but a Federal law is all encompassing and can reduce the illegal alien occupation of our nation by ATTRITION or self-deportation. Once the spigot of jobs is cut off than the foreign nationals will leave or suffer the consequences when caught. This will include very heavy fines and imprisonment for parasite employers. The hierarchy of Democrats are trying to confuse the issue, stating it will cost $30 billion dollars, but the Hudson Institute says the Federal government is already spending $345 billion dollars a year subsidizing these illegal low wage earners. It is estimated that every American taxpayer paid more than $9,000 for each immigrant in the country, a third of whom are believed to be in the U.S. illegally.

    Keep calling your Congressmen today, toll free numbers include 1-877-851-6437 and 1-866-220-0044, or call toll 1-202-224-3121 AND REGISTER YOUR OUTRAGE at ongoing efforts to keep our country from enforcing its immigration laws!

    Please copy and paste and distribute freely.

  • ||

    State immigration legislation is working real well, but Federal laws has more teeth.


    Fourteen House Democrats are taking the federal government to court in an effort to halt construction of the security barrier between the United States and Mexico. It turns out that environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife are more concerned over displacing a few animals than in protecting our borders from potential terrorists and the unchecked flow of illegal immigrants, and the Democrats are more than happy to help. Right now as we speak thousands a day and crossing our border. Attacking land owners and US border agents. In some places trash is knee deep, discarded and left to rot. Environmentalist gripe about the border fence and their beloved tortoises and lizards, but not a word about the hills of filth and despondent property owners whose homes have been vandalized.


    The Democrats led by Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, including eight committee chairs filed a brief with the Supreme Court which calls into question the constitutionality of the DHS waivers. Rep. Charles Sensenbrenner was asked today by Lou Dobbs investigative journalist (CNN) cable news, why are the Democrats, using the courts to stop any further construction of the fence. Sensenbrenner said that they are trying to pacify the Mexican government. Not only are thousands of their countryman being repatriated because of new American immigration laws. They said they are having to house and feed them, and they are not getting the massive remittances going back to families that they have welcomed over many years. Lou said their remittances were more than the cost of petroleum from our neighbor.


    Democrats need to think of the massive cost on taxpayers, not that all Republicans are without blame. Many of our politicians are in bed with the special interest groups.


    Mr. Rubenstein, a former director of research at the Hudson Institute, a nonpartisan policy research organization, said U.S. taxpayers paid more than $9,000 for each immigrant in the country, a third of whom are believed to be in the U.S. illegally.


    In addition, more than 37 million immigrants in the United States, both legal and illegal, cost the federal government more than $346 billion last year, twice as much as the nation's fiscal deficit, according to a report released yesterday. The loss estimates, the report said, included $100 billion in federal taxes lost "from the reduction of native incomes caused by immigrant workers." He also stated that even programs that are not usually associated with immigration, he said, have actually added financial burdens to the taxpayers.


    In California Assemblywoman Mimi Walters, a Republican from Oceanside, said illegal immigrants cost California taxpayers an estimated $9 billion each year.


    Each and every voter have a substantial interest in the progression and success of constructing the border fence. It will slow the movement of smuggled drugs into our country, restrain millions of illegal aliens many being convicted felons.


    All patriot Americans no matter their political affiliation should DEMAND YOUR BORDER FENCE IS COMPLETED! In addition Demand your Democratic representative co-author the SAVE ACT. Go to NUMBERSUSA to read the raw facts.

    Keep calling your Congressmen today to co-author THE SAVE ACT! KEEP CONSTRUCTING THE FENCE! Toll free numbers include 18778516437 and 18662200044, or 12022243121 AND REGISTER YOUR OUTRAGE at ongoing efforts to keep our country from enforcing its immigration laws!

    Please copy and paste or otherwise freely distribute this information.

  • ||

    Mr. Rubenstein, a former director of research at the Hudson Institute, a nonpartisan policy research organization, said U.S. taxpayers paid more than $9,000 for each immigrant in the country, a third of whom are believed to be in the U.S. illegally.

    Mr. Rubenstein currently appears to be the entirety of ESR Research (Dare to guess his first two initials?), under whose auspices this study was done. The home page of ESR Research lists exactly one link to a site of political or economic interest. VDare to guess what that site is?

    In addition, more than 37 million immigrants in the United States, both legal and illegal, cost the federal government more than $346 billion last year, twice as much as the nation's fiscal deficit, according to a report released yesterday.

    I could read articles about this report, but I could not find the report itself nor any mention of its methods. Have you got a link to it?

    The loss estimates, the report said, included $100 billion in federal taxes lost "from the reduction of native incomes caused by immigrant workers."

    But at least this tidbit is utterly comical when put in light of the debate above where Borjas is cited for his argument that the effect of immigration on native incomes would trend toward zero while I contend the effect on native incomes would remain positive. Mr. Rubenstein, quite to the contrary, finds that the effects are so negative that the lost taxes on native incomes amount to $100 billion? Any reason I should even imagine believing that?

  • ||

    Folks, this tax debate is silly. It is self-evident that illegal immigrants can't be carrying their own weight. Here is why.

    There are 300 million people in America. Our budget is about 2.5 trillion dollars, or about $8000 per person.

    YOU HAVE TO MAKE MORE THAN $60,000 TO PAY ENOUGH FEDERAL TAX AND FICA TO COVER YOUR OWN BUTT. And that's assuming you have no kids!

    Few illegals make anywhere near that much money, and fewer still pay taxes on that much.

  • ||

    Folks, this tax debate is silly.

    Indeed. Note that those arguing for freer migration didn't bring it up.

    It is self-evident that illegal immigrants can't be carrying their own weight.

    For "illegal immigrants", replace the large majority of the variety of cohorts of American citizens you can put together.

    A significant part of what governments do is to take money from the wealthy and transfer it to the poor. What a surprise that the poor get more from the government than they pay in taxes. The interesting question is whether it is more than they contribute to the larger economy.

  • ||

    The loss estimates, the report said, included $100 billion in federal taxes lost "from the reduction of native incomes caused by immigrant workers."



    But at least this tidbit is utterly comical when put in light of the debate above where Borjas is cited for his argument that the effect of immigration on native incomes would trend toward zero while I contend the effect on native incomes would remain positive. Mr. Rubenstein, quite to the contrary, finds that the effects are so negative that the lost taxes on native incomes amount to $100 billion? Any reason I should even imagine believing that?

    Incidentally, as we discover on a later thread, the answer is no. There is no reason.

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