(Page 4 of 8)
reason: It’s a huge benefit.
Kaus: It certainly benefits the rich. It benefits overall, but it hurts those at the bottom of the wage scale. A classic example, people who put up drywall. A very common job for unskilled blacks in L.A. used to pay, I’m told, about twice what it pays now. OK? That’s a big hit, and those are the people the Democratic Party should be helping. That’s why I’m not for it.
reason: You’d have to put in huge infrastructure, including a wall, including enforcement, including all sorts of drags on the economy. Why not give black Americans better access to education so that they can move up the skill ladder?
Kaus: There will always be somebody at the bottom of the skill ladder, and society has to incorporate those people too and ensure that those people have a decent life. And the only way to do it is to get the situation we had at the end of the ’90s, the best five years black America has ever had. We had a tight labor market.
reason: We also had a lot of immigration, and people were worried about illegal immigration. So it doesn’t seem to me that immigration is the issue.
Kaus: Right, but if you could control immigration, you can get a tight labor market even when the economy is not booming.
I’m not saying stop immigration forever. We just want to have control of it so we let them in when we can absorb them and we don’t let them in when we can’t.
reason: Then there’s the question of whether or not American cities will start to look like South American cities. You do notice South American cities look the way they do even though they’re not big on immigration, right? I mean, it may be something that has to do with South American social, political, and economic structures, rather than American ones which have been on and off accepting huge numbers of immigrants and generally creating a pretty open society.
Kaus: You go to San Diego, you’ll see the beginnings of Latin American–style cities.
reason: What do you do to control the border that doesn’t turn us into another type of Latin American dictatorship where we’re showing papers, where everybody has to be registered in a worker database? You, given a little sun, and me, given a little sun, we’re pretty swarthy. Are we showing papers everywhere?
Kaus: I have papers in my pocket. If a cop stops me on the street driving my car, I’m going to have to show him papers. We’ve already crossed the papers threshold.
reason: And verification for work. That once you’re in the U.S., you should be able to be stopped by police at any point in order to verify your citizenship.
Kaus: No, I don’t think at any point. This Arizona law, for example, that just passed—
reason: You’re for it?
Kaus: I want to give it a try. If I thought it would lead to police sweeping through Mexican areas and asking everybody for their papers, I’d be against it. I’m for letting the people who are in the shadows stay in the shadows. Let them live their lives in peace. But I don’t think it’ll happen. They have to have a reason to stop you and then they can ask for your papers.