Bush the Magnificent on Immigration

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Give George W. Bush mad props for sticking to his relatively unpopular guns regarding immigration. The Wash Times reports the prez saying:

"It makes sense to allow the good-hearted people who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won't do a legal way to do so. And providing that legal avenue, it takes the pressure off the border."

I could do without Bush saying that Border Patrol cops need to be chasing drug smugglers along with thieves and crooks and terrorists–the underlying logic of his statement above applies to currently illegal drugs every bit as much as illegal aliens–but the prez is right. People are coming here, legal or otherwise, to work and they will continue to, short of North Korean-style checkpoints that nobody wants. Anything that can be done to make immigrants legally visible will make their lives better (less chance of them being ripped off and exploited) and the lives of citizens better too (less chance of them being ripped off, too).

The Times piece is a casual masterpiece of fake balanced reporting. I don't mean this as a bad thing–the story is quite informative. But it extensively quotes Dan Stein of the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) as the implicitly commonsensical counter to Bush. Stein challenges Bush to list the jobs citizens won't do and then lays down this pearl of wisdom:

"Mr. President, you frequently talk about allowing the free market to work," Mr. Stein said. "Why not apply this principle to the jobs you claim Americans will not do, and allow the free market to bid up wages for American workers?"

Hmm, let's see. Restrict the pool of possible employees through draconian measures and then let the magic of the free market work. As the old Frank Gorshin Riddler on Batman used to say, it's the perfect plan. If he thought about it for a minute, Stein might also realize that legitimizing illegals would allow them to get more in current labor markets. Last time I checked, people with work papers generally are a little tougher at the bargaining table.

For a picture of the jobs "Americans will not do," check out this great Reason story by Glenn Garvin.

There are serious issues involved in financing the social services (schools, hospitals, etc.) used by immigrants–just as there is with legal citizens. Those are endemic to any sort of welfare state and have little to nothing to do with immigration per se. If the question is whether some sort of guest worker program would help or hurt that situation, you'd have to assume the former. After all, it would turn currently off-the-books immigrants into taxpayers at various levels.

Whole Times story here.

And a while back, Reason's Brian Doherty called bullshit on Time's immigration hysteria and asked the question, what exactly would be worse under a liberalized immigration regime?

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  1. I’m taking my cue from thoreau and cut/paste my previous comment on what is essentially an identical thread. The bit about Rumsfeld is still valid though not tailored to this post.

    Yeah terrific. Bush finally gets around to talking about Social Security and Immigration. I think those may be the only two issues I don’t think he should be hung for, much less actually support his position. Of course, we passed the talking stage with Rummy long ago.

  2. Nick,
    I notice you didn’t question the parentage of the Magnificent Prez.
    Living in DC has turned you chicken?

  3. “Give George W. Bush mad props for sticking to his relatively unpopular guns regarding immigration.”

    I have two things to say here. The first is that giving Bush credit for, finally getting one right is like giving a broken clock credit for telling perfect time twice a day. The second thing I have to say is in regards to the use of the term “mad props”, but I just have too much respect for Gillespie to say it.

  4. Great post, Nick. Bush deserves limited ‘props’ but I’m guessing he’ll back whatever immigration restrictions Republicans in Congress come up with in the new term in order to give his bracero – sorry – guest worker program a fighting chance.

    It’s definitely true that workers who don’t fear retaliation tend to demand more from their employers, but unfortunately, the Bush administration has deadened a lot of those protections. The Supreme Court’s decision in Hoffman Plastics allows employers to fire immigrant union advocates with impunity by holding that employers are not required to even pay the limp penalty of back pay when the employee proves in Court that the employer fired them for union activity.

    Furthermore, the industries that employ most immigrants — agricultural and domestic work — are not covered under our labor laws, and collective bargaining for most of these employees is a Sisyphean fantasy. Reforming these laws would do more for everyone in our domestic labor force than the tough-talk, consumer-price-raising remedy of immigration restrictions.

  5. How is the hard, hard work done by native born Americans explained? Garbage collection is hard, hard work and has no romance, yet it has plenty of applicants. I suggest that the number of applicants has to do with wages and benefits.

  6. Let’s not strain too many muscles as we leap to give Bush those props. Bush’s proposal is that immigrant workers can receive a temporary work visa, which has to have an employer as a sponsor. If the worker leaves the job or is fired, his right to remain in the country expires. A workers bargaining position doesn’t actually improve, if the continuance of his work visa depends on the pleasure of his employer, and the conditions of that work visa preclude him from changing jobs.

    This “guest worker” program is about allowing corrupt employers to have exactly the same power over their immigrant workers that they have now – the power to call INS and have them sent home at any moment. The only difference is, the government will now be sanctioning this behavior.

  7. I’m sure there are some people who would prefer North Korean-style checkpoints at the borders, along with a giant moat with alligators and a million-volt electric fence.

  8. Highway,

    There’s a guy in the other immigration thread that wants to use landmines!

  9. Bad day in Iraq for Bush (and us):

    A rocket attack on a crowded dining hall at a U.S. base in Mosul left at least 22 people dead and more than 50 wounded, U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6727646/

    ___________________________________

    I would guess that a goodly portion are Americans.

  10. I doubt that any of the dead will be Americans.

  11. Let me amend the above post to “American soldiers”. Some of the dead may turn out to be nameless American contractors.

  12. A deal made with a FOX will be the death of our economy for all us too chicken to fight this insane immigration proposal.

    Lets recap, 8 million illegal aliens in last 3 years and 16 million in the last 10 years. Seems like this will only make the illegal aliens immigration problem worse.

    The U.S. is like Wal-Mart always driving the price (of labor) down. The cost is a lower standard of living for those in the service industry. The percentage of upper class citizens will shrink due to the outsourcing of the white collar jobs overseas.

    The end affect of low wages is it will eventually break the housing bubble and finally make housing affordable to all the low wage earners.

  13. How is the hard, hard work done by native born Americans explained? Garbage collection is hard, hard work and has no romance, yet it has plenty of applicants. I suggest that the number of applicants has to do with wages and benefits.

    And the reason for those wages and benefits? It’s a job that needs to be done year round locally. Agriculture is seasonal and migrant. It’s not that native born Americans don’t work hard — it’s just they’re not willing to move away from their families for low pay.

  14. Wheres LoneWacko’s post?

    & LoneWacko wasn’t even the one advocating putting mines on the border.

    I wonder, are the people that are so anti immigrant, against it because they fear the browning of Americans?, or maybe they are afraid of market forces? Maybe they think that in a free market they wouldnt be able to hold onto their great jobs?

    I only got to read about half of the Social Security debate in the other thread. But I believe one of the points made, is that we can always hope that illegal immigrants keep it solvent, because they pay into the SS “trust fund” but they don’t end up collecting on it.

  15. I frankly find these “we do the jobs Americans won’t do” comments romantic, racist, and false-to-fact. In my lifetime I’ve detasselled corn, hoed beans, made hay, painted barns and houses (still do), cut (castrated) lambs, worked on the line in a meat packing plant, picked up garbage after stock car races, and done plenty of rump-work in an office cubicle too.

    I know, and respect, any number of American citizens feeding their families, or attempting to, on minimum or sub-minimum wage jobs, often two or three of them at the same time. Does nobody else find any irony in the fact that productivity statistics of the average American worker have climbed steadily upward through most of the past decade, yet we supposedly are so lazy and shiftless that employers feel they have to weasel around immigration law to get enough willing workers?

    I’m from Iowa, where we aren’t afraid to plainly name the substance we often find ourselves hip-deep in. This open borders/guest worker/liberal immigration policy stuff is unmitigated bullshit, particularly coming from the Right.

  16. And the reason for those wages and benefits? It’s a job that needs to be done year round locally. Agriculture is seasonal and migrant. It’s not that native born Americans don’t work hard — it’s just they’re not willing to move away from their families for low pay.

    For low pay, you are exactly right. If the market were only legal workers, the pay would go up for those workers, or the businesses would fail. I see this as just another example of one set of rules for most businesses, another set of rules for agriculture.

  17. “I wonder, are the people that are so anti immigrant, against it because they fear the browning of Americans?”

    Maybe some of them, ok maybe a lot of them, but there’s a more rational explanation as well; there is a lot of bad stuff associated with illegal immigrants. Lawbreaking (the immigration laws themselves). Crime rings. Trespassing. Depressed wages.

    Just as people see a story about a drug related shooting and conclude “Drugs are bad,” they see problems associated with large numbers of people in the country illegally, and conclude “Immigrants are bad.” In both cases, it’s the prohibition causing the problem, but that’s not immediately obvious. It isn’t a law book that breaks into your car/gives money to organized criminals. It’s a crackhead/illegal immigrant.

  18. joe – Good points, but in tagging your opposition “prohibitionist,” you’re stealing a concept. I don’t see anyone seriously arguing for a complete moratorium on legal immigration. Sure, there are proposals floated all the time for some hiatus, but nobody takes them seriously.

    Those of us with reservations about unrestricted, unregulated immigration, with little or no burden of proof on the immigrant that he is not a threat, much less that he is a benefit, to the citizenry he wishes to join or live among, want only that and nothing more.

    I just think we closed Ellis Island way too soon.

  19. Can’t you all see we are exporting America’s good jobs to the Far East while we are importing pimps, drug dealers, and other criminals who want to destroy America. Something needs to be done and the president is not doing it.

  20. “The end affect of low wages is it will eventually break the housing bubble and finally make housing affordable to all the low wage earners.”

    Home prices are relatively high right now because of low interest rates among other things. Interest rates are relatively low because inflation has been low. Inflation has been relatively low because, among other things, wages have been relatively low. If wages were to rise, inflation would likely follow and interest rates would likely rise, making the size of a home loan relatively smaller but also making the monthly payment and, hence, home ownership less rather than more affordable.

    There are other factors keeping the price of homes relatively high, zoning laws are one example and the scarcity of land (in places like Southern California) is another. I don’t see how any of your suggestions for increasing wages will affect any of those factors.

    “The U.S. is like Wal-Mart always driving the price (of labor) down. The cost is a lower standard of living for those in the service industry.”

    The standard of living is a function of productivity.

    I haven’t looked at the statistics lately, but Germany used to have the highest paid workers in the world. Germany also had the most productive workers in the world.

    Germany also had a very high unemployment rate.

  21. “Those of us with reservations about unrestricted, unregulated immigration, with little or no burden of proof on the immigrant that he is not a threat, much less that he is a benefit, to the citizenry he wishes to join or live among, want only that and nothing more.”

    People who think our system is unregulated or unrestrictive simply do not know what they’re talking about. Our immigration laws are very harsh, especially since 1996, and the immigrant always bears the burden to establish relief from removal (a VERY small percentage win the right to remain before the immigration court) and every immigration application requires fingerprinting and an FBI background check.

  22. WASPB,

    Whether or not our immigration policy is technically prohibitionist, it obviously has that effect because people who want to cross the border for peaceful purposes cannot do so. Presumably this is due to some sort of restriction, likely on the numbers that cannot immigrate legally within a year, or else restrictions on being able to work here without being a full citizen.

    Very few of those who want to alleviate this problem want to go so far as to remove all safeguards against the entry of criminals. But I would say it’s not up to a government bureaucrat to decide whether any individual is a “benefit” to the citizenry.

    Oh, and about the “they do the jobs Americans won’t do” sound-bite, that’s just an oversimplification. Hopefully the people who say that really don’t think that no Americans would do the jobs that immigrants are doing for any pay or circumstance. And I presume that most who say it aren’t trying to call Americans lazy. Americans for the most part just have greater opportunity and therefore won’t work the jobs for the conditions and pay that immigrants from poorer nations will. That’s all.

  23. fyodor – “But I would say it’s not up to a government bureaucrat to decide whether any individual is a “benefit” to the citizenry.”

    You’re free to say that, largely because of the form of government that makes such self-expression possible, and, more importantly, enforceable. You are always free to express yourself, even in the harshest of tyrannys, but who is going to enforce that freedom in such a tyranny, or even in the absence of any lawfully designated authority at all? Remember that one man’s “government bureaucrat” is another man’s “duly appointed agent.”

    “Americans for the most part just have greater opportunity and therefore won’t work the jobs for the conditions and pay that immigrants from poorer nations will. That’s all.”

    And WHY do we have greater opportunity? Is it an accident that our economy, threatened as it is now by shitty monetary and fiscal policy, is the envy of many in the world? It is the political system we enjoy, protected and defended by those “duly appointed agents,” that makes the freest markets on earth possible. Economics doesn’t happen in a political or cultural vacuum.

  24. You are always free to express yourself, even in the harshest of tyrannys, but who is going to enforce that freedom in such a tyranny, or even in the absence of any lawfully designated authority at all?

    It is the political system we enjoy, protected and defended by those “duly appointed agents,” that makes the freest markets on earth possible. Economics doesn’t happen in a political or cultural vacuum.

    And?

    What could be more American than people who say “I don’t care what the government says, I’m going to do what I want and get a job!”

  25. “What could be more American than people who say “I don’t care what the government says, I’m going to do what I want and get a job!””

    A popular sentiment, thoreau, and one that I often share. THEN I start thinkng about things like consequences, as in “What consequences am I signing up for when making these choices.”

    Ever play sandlot ball, thoreau? Sure, you and your buddies were “free” to head over to the neighborhood three streets over and play a pickup game, but in doing so, you risked the consequences of those nasty neighborhood “nativists” who, from their point of view, had a perfect right to play with their bat and ball in their backyard with their rules, and to decide whom to let in and whom to reject. It’s perfectly likely that all concerned might reach an accomodation acceptable to all and play ball happily together, but it helped if some kind of prior negotiation took place rather than just “We’re here, so in your face,” and “We were here first, so get the hell out.”

    You’re mistaking those of us in favor of a rational immigration process for the neighborhood nativists. We’re not. We’re just the proponents of the prior negotiation.

  26. “You’re mistaking those of us in favor of a rational immigration process for the neighborhood nativists. We’re not. We’re just the proponents of the prior negotiation.”

    Having said that, am I biased in favor of the home team? Of course. Those of us who’ve been here at the sandlot awhile have spent a lot of sweat and blood to fix it up nice and keep it going. Those who want to join may be welcome, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to ask what they bring to the table.

  27. Fine. Prior negotiation. Maybe I went a little overboard in romanticizing illegal immigrants.

    I’m still curious what you meant by:
    You are always free to express yourself, even in the harshest of tyrannys, but who is going to enforce that freedom in such a tyranny, or even in the absence of any lawfully designated authority at all?

    What’s your point? We already know that free speech is only possible in a system of limited government. So what does this have to do with immigration?

    (Please, let’s not get back into the whole debate over “Are rights inherent in natural law or are they granted by government?” We all agree that those inherent rights will be much easier to exercise in a system of limited government.)

    It is the political system we enjoy, protected and defended by those “duly appointed agents,” that makes the freest markets on earth possible. Economics doesn’t happen in a political or cultural vacuum.

    And? What does this have to do with immigration?

  28. I can think of a few other sectors of our economy that can be stocked with imported workers, plenty of jobs that Americans *will* do but non-Americans will do for even less money. Retail. Manufacturing. Apparel. And the fact that these positions are permanent is irrelevant: companies can merely rotate in a fresh group of imports on a regular basis. Do we really have enough of the more “advanced” jobs in America into which to move all the Americans who can potentially be displaced by guest workers? Can we really pretend that these guest workers will be “temporary”? And before you accuse me of not liking “brown” people let me point out that my boyfriend happens to be an immigrant who is jumping through all the hoops that are required to remain here legally. I am in no way “anti-immigrant”, yet I question the desirability of what amounts to a massive handout to companies looking for cheap labor and what will radically alter the country if carried out to a logical and forseeable conclusion.

  29. thoreau –

    “”It is the political system we enjoy, protected and defended by those “duly appointed agents,” that makes the freest markets on earth possible. Economics doesn’t happen in a political or cultural vacuum.
    And? What does this have to do with immigration?””

    Everything. You were dissing the immigration system as “bureaucrats,” when they actually perform one of the most fundamental, Constitutional functions of the U.S. government, whose primary responsibility is to look after the interests of U.S. citizens first. In any issue of Federal policy, immigration first and foremost, it is the federal government’s responsibility to ask “How does this benefit or threaten U.S. citizens?”

    My point here is that the freest economies are those which operate within a rational, small-d democratic political framework. Those who wish to help “free markets” thrive by removing the framework which supports them are trying hard to defeat themselves.

    To bring the point home: Improving immigration policy by essentially removing all immigration policy is an irrational contradiction in terms, and abrogates one of the fundamental and least-disputed Constitutional functions of government.

  30. In regard to competition from cheap foreign labor, I say bring ’em on! I recently beat out the competition for a coveted postdoc position in a prestigious research lab. My competition includes a whole bunch of highly skilled people from China, India, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, and other places where people don’t make much money. My wife got a retail job and a promotion in California, a place full of immigrants willing to work for low wages. I’ve had a successful collaboration with an industrial scientist born in China and currently working in the US.

    I’m not scared of the competition.

  31. Bachelor WASP-

    OK, so they’re regulating immigration. My question is, how is this benefiting me? Obviously I benefit when they don’t issue a posthumous visa to Mohammed Atta…oh, wait a minute.

    OK, all joking aside, obviously I benefit if they successfully keep a terrorist out of the country. Or a thief or rapist or Nigerian guy trying to get into my bank account.

    But how do I benefit when they decide just how many agricultural workers are really needed? It’s all well and good to say that they’re keeping things orderly and rational, but what does that mean? What does that accomplish? What, above and beyond keeping out terrorists and whatnot, are they really doing to protect me? What are they protecting me from? Competition?

    Anyway, I see you’ve become smarter about your rhetoric. Last week you hinted that there were cultural issues with letting in too many foreigners. When you started talking about rights vs. tyranny and a cultural vacuum and whatnot, I thought maybe I could bait you into bringing up those points again. I see you’ve become much more savvy.

  32. thoreau – Re “Bring ’em on.” Good for you, and I agree. We shouldn’t be afraid of competition, but any competition has rules, at least parameters, otherwise not only is it not “fair,” it is often impossible to determine who, in fact, wins. Losers, however are almost never hard to determine.

  33. Oh, and that reference to a Nigerian guy trying to get into my bank account is a reference to popular spams, not a stereotype about Nigerians.

  34. thoreau –

    “Anyway, I see you’ve become smarter about your rhetoric. Last week you hinted that there were cultural issues with letting in too many foreigners. When you started talking about rights vs. tyranny and a cultural vacuum and whatnot, I thought maybe I could bait you into bringing up those points again. I see you’ve become much more savvy.”

    Naw, I’m no more savvy than I was last week. It’s just that beating dead horses does me more harm than it does the horses. You obviously don’t give a crap about the history, tradition, ideals and culture of the United States. You are a truly cosmopolitan citizen of the world who sees no differential in virtue between the political ethos of the United States and that of, say, Serbia under Milosevic. Clearly free minds and free markets can thrive under both regimes. I respect that point of view.

    I don’t get it, but I can respect it.

  35. We shouldn’t be afraid of competition, but any competition has rules, at least parameters

    You keep saying things that sound nice but don’t mean much. If we shouldn’t be afraid to compete, why do you want to limit the number of competitors? I hate to sound like a certain French immigrant by being nitpicky about meanings (or the lack thereof) but I don’t see much meaning in your arguments.

    You want restrictions above and beyond keeping out thieves and terrorists and whatnot, but you mostly justify them in the name of keeping things “fair” and “orderly.” Who would be hurt if we kept the regulations to the minimum needed to keep out thieves and terrorists and whatnot?

    You remind me of the local city council that decided to regulate the pedicab business a couple years ago (basically, bicycle-pulled carriages). Nobody was getting hurt, there were no accidents or injuries that I’m aware of, there was no interference with traffic, and in a city that’s very environmentally conscious it was a clean form of transport.

    But the city looked and realized that there was no authority overseeing it, so they put in place a whole bunch of rules (some were even justified on grounds of homeland security, believe it or not, to make sure that there are no terrorists pedaling through the streets) and put most of the pedicab operators out of business. One of the guys is an acquaintance of mine. I don’t know the current status of his business, but last I heard he was struggling to get it back in operation because somebody looked at it and said “My god! There’s no authority monitoring this!”

    So, come up with some concrete objections to my plan (let in anybody who passes a background checks), not just platitudes about how it should all be “rational” and “orderly” and “fair.”

  36. I’ve noticed that Reason has been posting it’s regular Open Borders pieces earlier in the morning than before…

    I’ll also note that there’s a market for illegal workers and a separate market for legal workers. Increasing the number of legal workers will not necessarily end illegal immigration. Increasing the supply of tomatoes will have little impact on the demand for potatoes.

    Here are some interesting links:

    “FAIR Letter to President Bush About His Guestworker Proposal”

    Bush’s Immigration Pet Phrases

    CA State Senator Vasconcellos on Mexico’s “lost territories”: “Since we stole [the southwest U.S.] from [Mexico], why do you say it?s unfair to steal it back from us?”

    “California legislators ask Mexican Senate to intervene [in driver’s licenses for illegal aliens]” (you might be shocked that putatively American politicians would appeal to another country to meddle in our laws. Except, it’s necessary. Rest assured, once Mexican citizens have full rights in the U.S., things like this will no longer be necessary.)

    Badnarik on illegal immigration

    “Is Bush Pandering to the Hacendados?”

    “They were here first” CA State Senator Cedillo on why illegal aliens should get driver’s licenses

    Mexico to begin “propagating militant activities” in the U.S. (that’s a quote from their former Foreign Minister)

  37. thoreau – ” What are they protecting me from? Competition?”

    Another fine question. Problem is, you don’t know all the things you’re being protected from until one of them happens. Crime, possibly. The demographic equivalent of “dumping’ cheap labor into an economy until it collapses? Possibly. A very popular wartime tactic is to flood your enemy with refugees until his resources are exhausted. Are we being subjected to that now? Probably not, but how do you know?

    Do you know ALL the reasons you wear a condom? every bug you could possibly pick up if you don’t? If the condom breaks and you get sick despite wearing it, does that one incident condemn the whole concept of prophylaxis?

    Just because the system screwed up royally in and around 9/11/01 doesn’t mean you scrap it.

  38. WASP Bachelor-

    I certainly do see a difference between the US and Serbia under Milosevic. But my understanding is that most of the people who come here from despotic regimes come here because they admire our system. So I’m not too concerned about immigration causing cultural changes that might upset our system of government. We survived the dreaded Germans in the late 1700’s, the Irish and Chinese in the 1800’s, Jews and Catholics in the early 20th century, and we’re doing just fine in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the current influx of Latinos and Asians.

    (And I hate to sound like a certain French immigrant with so many consecutive posts, but I’m responding to things written after my previous post.)

  39. Ahhhh Nick, we don’t need North Korean style check points. In fact we don’t need anymore people at the border. We do need serious interior enforcement. A few well staged raids in the interior that get well publicized will put the word out. Serious fines for those that hire illegals and jail time for repeat offenders. No jobs, no more illegals. Word will filter back down to Mexico and they’ll stop coming.

    As Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman says, it makes no sense to have mass immigration legal or illegal with a welfare state in place. It’s just not fair to the taxpayers of this country. Plus it drives down wages for working class AMericans; something the elites just don’t care about. Our schools, hospitals, and other social services are being ruined by illegal aliens. Even the very libertarian Doug Bandow is beginning to see the light on this issue in his column today which can be found at http://www.TownHall.com

  40. A very popular wartime tactic is to flood your enemy with refugees until his resources are exhausted.

    Refugees in camps only consume resources. Workers are productive elements of the economy.

    Just because the system screwed up royally in and around 9/11/01 doesn’t mean you scrap it.

    No, but maybe if we let in all non-violent immigrants, the market for coyotes and forgers would dry up, making it harder for terrorists to sneak in.

    And if immigration officials only had to figure out whether each applicant was coming here to engage in violence, theft, or fraud, they wouldn’t have to waste time figuring out whether immigrants are genuinely in love with their spouses. They wouldn’t have to figure out whether students coming here for a Ph.D are likely to seek employment here instead of moving back to China after graduation. They wouldn’t have to waste their time shutting down restaurants that hired illegals (yes, it happened locally), and could instead spend their time doing background checks.

  41. I’m not scared of the competition.

    Well I’m happy that you are stellar enough to beat all the competetion. Those of us who are little less assured of ourselves, however, might not appreciate a sudden changing of the rules that your two-tier utopia would bring about. There *is* such a thing as unfair competition, I submit, and I did not spend most of my free time over the last several years teaching myself my current trade only to have my job replaced by someone imported from abroad at a lower price. The ideologically pure among you sometimes need to take a step back and realize the radical implications of your positions.

  42. Those of us who are little less assured of ourselves, however, might not appreciate a sudden changing of the rules that your two-tier utopia would bring about.

    One reason why I’m not scared of competition is that competition need not be zero-sum. Bring in more skilled people and if enough of them are innovative there will be more opportunities for everybody.

  43. Wacko,

    “Increasing the supply of tomatoes will have little impact on the demand for potatoes.” In this case, we are actually turning potatoes into tomatoes.

    Every New American who is given legal papers leaves one less America Joiner who needs to toil in the black market.

  44. In this case, we are actually turning potatoes into tomatoes.

    When will Lonewacko turn into a pumpkin?

  45. why do you want to limit the number of competitors?

    You make it sound like the current state of affairs (i.e. national sovereignty, limited immigration, protected borders, etc.) is a recent phenomenon, rather than one which has persisted throughout history. Sure, there are historical examples of importing huge numbers of workers, but it is definitely the exception, not the rule.

  46. thoreau – “I certainly do see a difference between the US and Serbia under Milosevic. But my understanding is that most of the people who come here from despotic regimes come here because they admire our system.”

    Agreed!!! And a rational immigration policy empowered by the citizens to make CHOICES about immigration rather than make a blanket choice by default is part of that system immigrants so admire, is, in fact, integral to it.

    The part I don’t understand is that your side seems to award all right of choice to immigrants, and none to citizens. In effect, non-citizens have more rights in the immigration dispute than citizens. How does that compute, exactly, or do I have it wrong?

    What I am most afraid of, and I will have to admit I won’t know what it looks like clearly till I look it in the face, is the possibility that all those folks wanting to get in here, right now, with very few standards, principles, safeguards or precautions against political and economic disruption, will wind up diluting and destroying the very thing immigrants come here to enjoy. You are sanguine that won’t happen. I am not, because I am not one who believes that “Folks are folks, the world over.” Biologically, yes. Otherwise, no way. There needs to be a balance between “Bring us your tired, your poor…” and the need to maintain a political and economic environment favorable to that sentiment. In plainer terms, there are reasons for there to be locks on the doors of doughnut shops, banks and candy stores.

    Give me some rational answers as to how the French ought to handle the influx of militant Islamists, and the ripple effect their disruption seems to be having among the rank and file Muslim population there, and I’ll listen a little harder to your ideas about liberalized immigration here.

  47. Rhywun:
    You make it sound like the current state of affairs (i.e. national sovereignty, limited immigration, protected borders, etc.) is a recent phenomenon, rather than one which has persisted throughout history

    There are lots of arrangements that have persisted throughout history and yet have been detrimental to liberty and economic growth. Restrictions on the free flow of labor is one of them.

    WASP Bachelor-

    And a rational immigration policy empowered by the citizens to make CHOICES about immigration rather than make a blanket choice by default is part of that system immigrants so admire, is, in fact, integral to it.

    Let’s survey our newcomers and ask them to name the 5 things they admire most about their new home. I somehow doubt that the INS will be on that list. Then again, maybe I’m wrong.

    The part I don’t understand is that your side seems to award all right of choice to immigrants, and none to citizens. In effect, non-citizens have more rights in the immigration dispute than citizens. How does that compute, exactly, or do I have it wrong?

    I would support your right not to hire an immigrant, your right not to buy from one, and your right not to rent your property to one. What more do you want?

    Oh, you want the right to keep an immigrant off of somebody else’s property. See, that’s going to be a problem if the property owner is cool with renting to immigrants.

    I am not one who believes that “Folks are folks, the world over.” Biologically, yes. Otherwise, no way.

    Absolutely right! There are differences. The amazing thing about America is that for 200+ years we’ve incorporated people with great success. Forgive my skepticism, but I doubt that government regulation had much to do with it. The openness of our society and economy, and a culture of live and let live, has had a great deal to do with it, making it possible for people to adjust and find their way and live their lives without hurting anybody else.

    Sure, it hasn’t all worked out perfectly, but it’s worked out.

    As to the French: I don’t claim to know all about the situation there, but I do know that in Michigan the Muslims seem to be doing fine, as well as in California. I don’t know what the French are doing wrong, but we seem to be doing fine.

    Now, before you say “What about 9/11?” maybe the best way to prevent that is to concentrate our efforts on the most pressing issue: Keeping out violent people, rather than limiting the number of tomato pickers.

    Final thought: If we can’t trust the government to intelligently regulate the flow of tomatoes out of Florida (see another of today’s threads), how can we expect them to intelligently regulate the flow of tomato pickers from Mexico?

  48. thoreau –

    Aw, man, you were doing just fine until that magnificent flood of non sequiturs.

    “Let’s survey our newcomers and ask them to name the 5 things they admire most about their new home. I somehow doubt that the INS will be on that list.”

    Border control is integral to the system whether or not it is “popular.” You sound like a 60’s hippie trying to defend “free love.”

    “I would support your right not to hire an immigrant, your right not to buy from one, and your right not to rent your property to one. What more do you want?”

    Um, the right to live as a citizen of a nation with principles and the willingness to enforce them. A nation that abrogates control of its borders to chance and universal good will… isn’t.

    “The openness of our society and economy, and a culture of live and let live, has had a great deal to do with it, making it possible for people to adjust and find their way and live their lives without hurting anybody else.”

    Romanticism again. It is just as fallacious to generalize about all the juicy wonderfulness of every and all immigrants as it is to assume they are all evil wicked subversive commie pinko fags. That is why a system that exercises a certain amount of (dare I use the word) discrimination is necessary. Remember, Al Capone was also a son of immigrants.

    “Keeping out violent people, rather than limiting the number of tomato pickers.”

    Immigration official to immigrant: “Are you a violent person?”

    Immigrant: “No, senor.”

    Immigration official: “Do you intend to be violent in the future, and, if so, will you remain nonviolent during your stay in the U.S.?”

    Immigrant: “No, Senor, y Si, Senor.”

    Immigration problem solved.

  49. WASPB,

    There’s lots of reasons why I enjoy the freedoms I enjoy and why America enjoys the economy it does. One reason for the latter is that we keep the powers of the “duly appointed agents” down to a minimum, such as protecting those freedoms. You say we need rules for the free market. Okay, how about you respect people’s personal and property boundaries and make good on your contractual obligations. I think that’s good enough.

  50. “Oh, you want the right to keep an immigrant off of somebody else’s property. See, that’s going to be a problem if the property owner is cool with renting to immigrants.”

    Not if the majority of Americans have decided by democratic majority rule – for any reason they damn well please – that that immigrant is not to be allowed in the country.

    U.S. individual Constitutional rights apply to US Citizens in the U.S. – they don’t apply to non-US citizens who just happen to want to come here.

    There is no global “right” to be anywhere in the world that you want to.

  51. fyodor –

    Hey, agreed. So who’s gonna enforce that, human nature being what it is? That’s why we constitutionally empower the federal government with police powers and control over borders, or, once again, why there are locks on the doors of doughnut shops, banks and candy stores.

  52. WASPB-

    What’s a non-sequitur about observing that immigrants have, for the most part, successfully assimilated into our society? I observed (quite correctly) that we haven’t had the same problems as France despite the presence of some large Muslim communities. I hypothesized that the openness of our society and economy might be connected to it. I admit that my hypothesized mechanism is unsupported, but the fact remains that we must be doing something right.

    I will grant that I did go a little hyperbolic with my statement about “Is the INS something that the newcomers actually like?”

    Um, the right to live as a citizen of a nation with principles and the willingness to enforce them. A nation that abrogates control of its borders to chance and universal good will… isn’t.

    I never advocated relying on chance and universal good will. Nor have I suggested that we take immigrants at their word about their non-violent intentions. I have consistenly suggested that we should have a strictly guarded border but checkpoints that let through anybody who has passed a background check. I suspect that in such a system far fewer people will try to get around the armed guards, and the ones who do will be the guys who couldn’t pass the background check. With fewer people trying to get past the guards, it will be easier for the guards to stem the flow of illegals.

    Anyway, maybe it won’t work as well as I hope at keeping people from crossing illegally, but at least it won’t work any worse than the current system at keeping out the violent types. And it will channel the ones who are only seeking work into the above-ground market rather than the black market.

  53. Gilbert-

    I don’t suppose you’d care to discuss the phrase “republic not a democracy”?

    What do you think of the electoral college?

    You’re the guy who’s singing the praises of “democratic majority rule – for any reason they damn well please”.

    And for the record, for these purposes I’m talking about the rights of the property owner who wants to rent to the immigrant, not the rights of the immigrant.

  54. thoreau – “I have consistenly suggested that we should have a strictly guarded border but checkpoints that let through anybody who has passed a background check.”

    Cool by me, but since you, perhaps rightfully, pinned me down as to specifics earlier, what does that “background check” look like, exactly? And, by what principles do you believe that that is all that is necessary? Again, all I’m getting is unconnected sentiments gooped over with a treacley xenophilia that sounds a lot like Liberals taking their political cues from the EU.

  55. I don’t know what the French are doing wrong, but we seem to be doing fine.

    They’re doing the same thing we are poised to do: letting in too many adherents of a foreign culture who have little to no interest in joining the, uh, “native” culture, and in fact expect the native culture to submit to its demands to change to accomdate their different culture. The reason we haven’t had these problems is because 1) right now there are relatively fewer newcomers here than in France as a percentage of the population and 2) historically, we have demanded that newcomers accomodate themselves to “our” culture, rather than vice versa. This of course doesn’t happen any more, what with bilingual education, requirements to deal with every immigrant in their own language, and the like.

  56. WASPB, you keep making the same mistake. thoreau isn’t opposed to “border security.” He listed reasons why certain individuals should not be let in – that implies a robust system to keep them out. The question here is not whether there should be good border security – defined as, a system that has the capacity to keep out unwanted immigrants – the question is, against whom should that capacity be used.

    Absolutely, it is important to defend the integrity of our borders, just as it is important to defend the integrety of my property lines. But the question is not, should I put up a gate? The question is, who should I let in the gate?

  57. “historically, we have demanded that newcomers accomodate themselves to “our” culture, rather than vice versa. This of course doesn’t happen any more, what with bilingual education, requirements to deal with every immigrant in their own language, and the like.”

    This is misleading. Immigrants today are much MORE likely to learn English, and they do it faster, than they did in the good old days of the early 20th century. Back then, it was entirely possible to live in a Polish neighborhood, work in a store in that neighborhood, and only speak Polish. That is not possible today.

    Even those areas in which some other language is most common aren’t hives of unassimilated immigrants. Census figures show that these areas have the highest turnover rates – people come to the US and settle there, stay for a few years, then move into mainstream neighborhoods, to be replaced by new immigrants, who will do the same thing.

    Ironically, the reason people conclude immigrants are assimilating more slowly than they used to is exactly the same reason why immigrants, in reality, are assimmilating faster: they are no longer isolated in ghettos, but are out and about among the majority culture, speaking broken English instead of their first language and looking around confusedly at road signs.

  58. “I don’t suppose you’d care to discuss the phrase “republic not a democracy”?”

    What for?

    It doesn’t relate to the issue of immigration.

    Yes we live in a Constitutional Republic where certain rights of CITIZENS are supposed to be protected from the tyranny of the majority and the set of things that are to be decided by marjorty rule is limited.

    However, non-citizens in other conutries do not have US Consititutional rights and the decision on whether to allow them into the country or not happens to be one of the things that IS determined by majority rule. Whether you agree with the decision the majority makes or you suspect it’s based on racism makes no difference – they have the right to make it nonetheless.

    “And for the record, for these purposes I’m talking about the rights of the property owner who wants to rent to the immigrant, not the rights of the immigrant.”

    I understand what you said. My point is the same.
    Property owners can indeed be prevented from renting to ILLEGAL immingrants – either by a: keeping that immigrant from getting into the country in the first place or b: prosecuting the property owner for knowingly renting to an illegal immigrant just as someone would be prosected for harboring a fugitive.

    If someone wants to convince me that totally open borders is the way to go, then they’d better approach it from the standpoint of what’s in it for me and/or the US citizens that are already here? If you can make the case that WE will ultimately be better off for it, then do so.

    But don’t try to tell me that those non-citizens have some inherent “right” to be here and that we don’t have any right to keep them out – they don’t and we do.

  59. joe – Thank you, at last, some rationality. Your question goes to one of values, and I’m glad you apparently have some.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the sentiment “What’s in it for me?” After all, that’s the immigrant’s question, isn’t it? It’s all about personal advantage, not the immigrant’s decision to “be of use” to society, and I’m all for that. All I’m saying is that citizens of the United States, individually, and in the aggregate as expressed in U.S. law and policy, have the same right to determine the best interest of themselves and the nation. Not the State, but the nation. There is a difference.

    Having said that, the following questions, I believe, l are legitimate to ask when making the determination “Who gets in?” and “For how long?” and especially “Under what conditions?” The answers to these questions would determine, on an individual basis, the potential immigrant’s fitness to enter.

    ? Is accepting this person disadventageous to the U.S. and/or its citizens by reason of his criminal, political, or military record, health status or other concerns?

    ? Does this person possess skills or training currently sought after by the U.S. and its private/public economic interests?

    ? If this person is allowed to enter, will the nation then be faced with an influx of similar persons which may pose unnecessary challenges to public or private infrastructure, economy, etc.

    ? What, if any, charges to U.S. citizens and taxpayers will accrue from this person’s entering the U.S.?

    ? Can this person reasonably be expected to assume his share of public burdens that citizens and current residents are expected to shoulder?

    Again, probably not a complete list of considerations, and probably not worded the best, but the principle behind it is, frankly, that we have something uniquely valuable to offer in the U.S., and what makes you think you are worthy of it, and ready for the responsibilities that you will shoulder as a result?

    Ideally, the assumption would be one of goodwill on the part of the immigrant, but he would also assume much of the burden of proof. I think Ellis Island had it about right, frankly, but, like today’s system, it was so overburdened and politically hamstrung, mostly by sheer numbers and xenophilic liberals in politics and public life, that it could not properly do its job.

  60. If someone wants to convince me that totally open borders is the way to go, then they’d better approach it from the standpoint of what’s in it for me and/or the US citizens that are already here?

    I have not defended open borders. I have proposed:

    1) Very strict border security to prevent crossings outside of designated checkpoints
    2) Requiring that non-citizens who wish to cross pass a background check to verify that they aren’t terrorists, murderers, rapists, thieves, Nigerians trying to access my bank account, etc.

    I have suggested that the benefits of this are:
    1) If coupled with drug legalization, the number of people seeking to cross illegally would dwindle significantly. This would put a lot of forgers and coyotes out of business, and reduce the attempted illegal crossers to terrorists and other violent types. This would make it much easier to keep terrorists out of the country.

    2) The people coming here to work would be brought into the regular economy instead of the black market. That would at least partially mitigate any negative effects that immigration might have on wages and work conditions. It would also make them more likely to seek out and cooperate with law enforcement when there are thieves, rapists, and other dangerous types in their neighborhoods. We would all benefit from safer cities.

    3) As far as cultural issues, at the moment a lot of people who respect our laws and processes are kept out of the country. Obviously a more liberal approach to immigration would still let in those who don’t respect our laws (they would go through the background check only for pragmatic reasons), but it would also dilute them by brining in the people who respect our laws and want to come here but currently can’t.

    So, Gilbert, what’s your feedback on that?

  61. Back then, it was entirely possible to live in a Polish neighborhood, work in a store in that neighborhood, and only speak Polish. That is not possible today.

    Have you visited NYC lately? It is *entirely* possible. Every conceivable immigrant community has its own neighborhood. My cable television has *two* all-Polish channels. Radically increasing the immigrant population will increase this fragmentation, not decrease it. I know that over time, immigrants happily learn English and merge indistingushably into American culture, but the key phrase is “over time”. If we replace all low-skilled American labor with foreigners in a short period of time, which is precisely what this scheme will lead to, you’re asking for the same troubles that plague France.

  62. “1) Very strict border security to prevent crossings outside of designated checkpoints”

    We should have strict border security in any instance whatever level of immigration is allowed – or not. We don’t have near enough strict system now.

    “2) Requiring that non-citizens who wish to cross pass a background check to verify that they aren’t terrorists, murderers, rapists, thieves, Nigerians trying to access my bank account, etc.”

    Well that’s fine as long as that level of screeing was simply to allow someone in as a “guest worker” status type where they could work but not get on welfare or collect food stamps, etc. There needs to be a higher level of screening for a path toward citizship – evidence that the person already has a marketable skill, etc.

    Remember I’m judging by the parameter of what’s in it for me and those already (legally) here. I want there to be no net increase in taxes imposed on me due to an influx of immigrants.

    We need to ensure that those who are going to be allowed in wind up being net taxpayers rather than tax receivers.

    I don’t want situations where somebody is allowed in with his whole family and he works some minimum wage job paying minimal taxes and the taxpayers who are alread here have to foot the bill for all sorts of social services for him and his family.

  63. thoreau –

    Question: So this “background check” is a one-time only thing? And it would be good for, what, a 30-day visitor visa, permanent residency, you can run for President on it, what?

  64. So who’s gonna enforce that, human nature being what it is? That’s why we constitutionally empower the federal government with police powers and control over borders, or, once again, why there are locks on the doors of doughnut shops, banks and candy stores.

    Only control over borders has nothing to do with the rules I cited. And the state and local police do a fine enough job of enforcing those rules without needing the feds in most cases. In fact, I’d think municipal cops would be especially tough on those who would break the locks on your doughnut shops there!! 🙂

  65. fyodor –

    Was being lyrical with the doughnut shop thing, not literal. Serves me right for waxing poetic here.

    You lost me? What rules, which post? Is there something there that explains how you even have a nation without border control?

  66. WASPB, the issue of immigration doesn’t end with “what would be the ideal number of type of immigrants to let in.” You also have to take into account the impacts of closing the door too tightly.

    The black market and forced lack of assimiliation that have grown up around illegal immigration is far more harmful to our economy, safety, and national unity than the illegal immigrants themselves would have been, had they been allowed to be fully-vested members of our society.

    You could spin a good tale about how much better off the country would be if there was no cocaine, but so what? There is cocaine.

    Rhywun, did you read the second half of my post? Those neighborhoods and institutions you point to function as transitional stages of assimilation. They’re watching Polish TV? Yeah, and seeing ads for Coke and English classes – bully for us!

    Even with twice the number of immigrants, the path to material comfort, social standing, and political power would still lie in structurally assimilating into American culture.

  67. joe-

    “WASPB, the issue of immigration doesn’t end with “what would be the ideal number of type of immigrants to let in.” You also have to take into account the impacts of closing the door too tightly…”

    Agreed. My, your brain is working well today.

    There is also danger in positing non-objective criteria for who gets in and who doesn’t, and not making those criteria widely known. My main criterium, as I’ve tried to make clear and maybe failed, is pure, unadulterated self-interest on the part of U.S. citizens. Some immigrants will be a boon to the country, the economy, and thus to individual citizens, some will be a drag. The message oughtta be you need to bring something to the table. You want in, what’s in it for us? That’s a sentiment that’s as cross-cultural as you can get, or so it appears to me, Nobody expects anything but sheer self-interest from potential immigrants. They want a better life, more money, etc.

    Whatever system we adopt ought not to smack of altruism, but should be aimed at what is and is not in the long-term, rational self-interest of the majority of U.S. citizens. That’s at least a debate with some practical underpinnings.

  68. Some immigrants will be a boon to the country, the economy, and thus to individual citizens, some will be a drag. The message oughtta be you need to bring something to the table. You want in, what’s in it for us?

    Who decides whether an immigrant brings something to the table? Employers, or job seekers who would compete against the immigrant?

  69. “Who decides whether an immigrant brings something to the table? Employers, or job seekers who would compete against the immigrant?”

    Decided by majority rule of the US citizens as they lobby their congressmen and senators to shape the legislation as to what criteria would be written into the law as to who would be allowed in and under what circumstances.

  70. thoreau – “Who decides whether an immigrant brings something to the table? Employers, or job seekers…?”

    Are the two mutually exclusive? I am both capital AND labor, appoint me and I’ll decide. 😉

    Seriously, this is precisely why immigration is a function of government and not subject to a New England town meeting. Neither capital nor labor, as interest groups in and of themselves, can be empowered to make judgements in this regard, and I suspect you understand and threw in that red herring deliberately. It is not strictly an economic issue, although many prefer to argue it as if it were.

    The answer is: Nobody “decides” by fiat. Is it purely impossible to set up some objective criteria and live by them along the lines of the questions I posited earlier? I don’t think so. Now, what about my questions as to your “background check?”

    What would it look like, exactly, who performs it, how often, and what would it entitle the checkee to do?

  71. Hey Gilbert, for an alleged Citizen, you sure don’t know your Constitution. You wrote:

    “U.S. individual Constitutional rights apply to US Citizens in the U.S. – they don’t apply to non-US citizens who just happen to want to come here.”

    The Bill of Rights guarantees rights to “persons” not “Citizens” as provided elsewhere in the Constitution. Read it again.

    And a law forbidding property owners to rent to aliens would be illegal under the 14th Amendment, which prohibits discrimination on account of race, nationality and … wait for it … alienage. You don’t know shit about freedom, and I doubt you’d get into double digits on the Naturalization civics test.

  72. Could we all just agree that Jean Bart should be deported? ;->

    Then again, deportation won’t do any good. They have the internet in France as well.

  73. Didn’t they kick J.B. out of France for saying something derogatory about cheese or something? I thought that’s why he was here?

    By all means, deport him. He’ll give up easily, they all do. 😉

  74. One other thing I think we may agree on is that maintaining an annual quota system by country makes no sense today, if it ever did.

    In terms of equity, (I prefer that term to “fairness.”) and setting a number of annual immigrants that the U.S. can reasonably process and absorb with minimal disruption, it makes more sense to me to set an annual ceiling. Say, a million immigrants a year, with stays to last between 1 year to permanent residency with intent to seek citizenship. Applications taken by mail, internet, telephone, Telex, tell a friend, whatever, during the month of January, to be adjudicated by May 1. Visae granted must be acted upon by December 31st of that year or they are revoked and go back into the pool for the next year.

    Each immigrant to be adjudicated on his or her own merits in order of his or her date of application and with little or no regard to nationality, using an objective set of criteria for all applicants.

  75. WASPB, you sure have a lot of faith in central planning. The government can’t be trusted with deciding how many widgets of whatever are “enough,” but when it comes to immigration, they oughta decide how many people are enough? Why?

  76. Steve, I don’t have “faith” in anything, but the Constitution provides for certain functions to be taken up by the federal government, and establishing criteria for citizenship and residency is among those primary functions.

  77. WASP Bachelor-

    We all know what the Constitution empowers the gov’t to do. The question is what is the best way for the gov’t to do those things, how aggressive it should be, etc.

  78. Agreed, thoreau, I was merely answering Steve’s question about why “central planning” is appropriate for immigration, but not for five-year plans of widget production.

  79. Still waiting for details on that Swiss Army Background Check, the all-in-one tool for immigration and nationalization, by the way… 😉

  80. WASP,

    But just because central planning in the labor market is allowed by the Constitution doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I think it works about as well as central planning in widget production. I’m with throeau: let as many people come here as want to, as long as they’re not dangerous criminal-types. As long as we have jobs for them, they’ll keep coming. It’s almost like there’s an “invisible hand” directing these things.

  81. WASPB,

    Your obsession with the “background check” is a little odd. I assume thoreau means we should do just what we’re doing now in that regard: try to keep out people with violent criminal records, known terrorist sympathies, etc. The problem is, with the current system, we also keep out people based on criteria like, “we’ve got too many people from your country already,” or “we really don’t think our economy needs any more of whatever it is you do.” I say, fuck those considerations. They’ll work themselves out.

    Anyway, if we stop worrying about that other shit, maybe we can make the “background check” more effective.

  82. Steve – “It’s almost like there’s an “invisible hand” directing these things.”

    Yeah, it’s almost like, but yet it’s not. Problem with Adam Smith is he mostly dealt with economy within the context of early industrial age Western European, and by extension, American culture. His famous pin factory would have operated under very different cultural contexts, with differing economic results, had it been located in England of, say, the feudal system rather than that of the time in which the book was written.

    “But just because central planning in the labor market is allowed by the Constitution doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.” Exactly! That’s why the Constitution doesn’t allow for central planning in the labor market, it mandates the federal government to maintain and establish control over national borders, and set up mechanisms for immigration and naturalization.

  83. Steve – “The problem is, with the current system, we also keep out people based on criteria like, “we’ve got too many people from your country already,”

    Agreed, I posted above a proposal for eliminating national quotas.

    “or “we really don’t think our economy needs any more of whatever it is you do.” I say, fuck those considerations. They’ll work themselves out.”

    Will they? Are you sure? What exactly makes you think so? How long will it take to “work themselves out,” and how much damage will be done along the way? NAFTA’s results have certainly been mixed. I’m really on the fence about it, myself. CAFTA’s been getting bad reviews from agriculture folks both in the US and Central American countries such as El Salvador.

  84. OK, let’s try again. When I said “central planning in the labor market,” I meant “border control.” How’s that?

    If you’re limited the amount of people who can come here and work, you’re controlling the labor market. Some amount of control is inevitable, but I think we oughta keep it to a minimum.

    Anyway, I think Mexicans can handle capitalism just fine. And where I live (Southern California), they’re doing just fine handling the culture, too. By the 2nd or 3rd generation, they’re just as assimilated as my 3rd-generation Italian relatives.

  85. Steve has it more or less right.

    My basic idea is this: Foreigners go to a consulate, embassy, or border checkpoint. They present identification (I’ll let the experts worry about what is sufficient ID, and I assume it will vary based on what is available in each country of origin), and a background check is done against US criminal databases, foreign criminal databases, CIA terrorist watch lists, a roster of former Enron executives, known spammers, etc. :->

    If they pass (I don’t know how long it would take), they get a visa which they can use to enter the US and work as long as they maintain good behavior. Good behavior means that they don’t engage in theft, violence, fraud, etc., and that they don’t sing like William Hung on American Idol. I would add applying for welfare to that list, but that might create some legal problems. Anyway, that’s the basic idea.

    We can debate over whether it should require periodic renewal, or if instead people who don’t maintain good behavior should be put on a “do not re-admit” list. But that’s more of an administrative issue.

    I realize that there’s no fool-proof method for foiling forgers, but presumably the visas would be made in a manner that’s difficult to forge. If they include a code that links to a record in a database, the person showing the visa at the border can be compared with a picture in the database. If you want, we can add biometric data to make it more secure, but either way the basic idea remains the same.

    Now, the biggest difference between this and the current system is that the embassy employees wouldn’t have to figure out if we have “too many” people from that country already. They would let the market figure out if the person is economically valuable. (And if the market doesn’t have a place in that person’s chosen profession, there’s always the possibility that he or she will go into some other line of work. Like most other people around the world do.) They wouldn’t have to scratch their heads and figure out if a student is going to try to find a job in the US after graduation. (Currently, if you seem likely to look for work after graduation they are less likely to give a student visa, which is ironic considering that we’re talking about an educated worker here.)

    Was that so hard?

  86. Anyway, WASP Bachelor, your basic concern seems to be “Dammit, this should be regulated! Somebody should be watching! Because, um, well, it needs to be orderly! And there should be fairness!”

    You and joe should talk about city planning some time.

  87. No, thoreau, my major concern is the rule of law, and keeping the U.S. a place people will still want to go in 20 years time. You and Steve seem to place a high value on disorder. Where does THAT come from?

    But I’ll buy your system, provisionally. So anybody gets in as long as their embassy and/or ours decides he a nice guy. So… what’s the purpose of citizenship again… and U.S. nationality means what, exactly…?

  88. Sorry, I’m not interested in that argument. I’m not much of a nationalist.

    To the extent that I am a nationalist and patriot, it’s because I like what this country stands for. I like that people in oppressive dictatorships and third-world shitholes want to come here. I like that people in Mexico — which in the grand scheme of things is far from the worst place on earth — will risk their lives to come here for a better life (even if I wish they didn’t have to risk their lives to do it).

    I don’t think I deserve the fruits of our economy and way of life any more than people who weren’t born here. Anybody who wants to sign on to our way of life — work hard, play by the rules, etc. — should be welcome to come here.

    In my experience, the people who cross the border to come here, either legally or illegally, aren’t doing it to get on welfare. They’re doing it to work, and most importantly, to let their kids grow up as Americans. More power to ’em!

  89. Steve,

    Agreed on almost all counts, and having read your post carefully, I do believe you are quite a bit of a nationalist. Ask yourself why, if, as you say and I agree, people everywhere are deserving and desireous of the sorts of advantages we enjoy in the U.S., why instead of coming here to get those advantages, they don’t work to improve the political and economic situation in their own home country? If economy is completely divorced from politics and government, why can’t, say, Libya boast productivity as high as ours?

    At some point, you’ll come to the conclusion that it is the national character, governmental and political system you give short shrift to which creates the environment that makes these advantages possible, not the advantages themselves that promote the national character, etc.

  90. We seem to be arguing past each other. I agree that our government and political system, even “national character,” are responsible for our prosperity. I just don’t think those things will be jeapordized by letting in more Mexicans. In fact, I think they’ll be enhanced, just like they were enhanced when we let in lots of Irish and Poles and Italians and Jews.

    As for, “why don’t they work to improve their own countries?” Who knows? Why didn’t my ancestors work to make Italy more prosperous instead of hopping on a boat for America? Some people just have it in them to look for better things.

  91. “In this case, we are actually turning potatoes into tomatoes.”

    “When will Lonewacko turn into a pumpkin?”

    Ha!

  92. Steve, “I think they’ll be enhanced, just like they were enhanced when we let in lots of Irish and Poles and Italians and Jews.”

    Again, we agree. We aren’t arguing past each other, you’re just arguing my point. The early 20-century waves of immigration from Europe did indeed bring much benefit, and I am sure the present wave of Latin immigration will too.

    Ellis Island was established as a choke point to screen immigrants, register them, and in some way make certain that they were accountable to law and government. Public health was a major consideration, as influenza, polio and other highly communicable and fatal diseases were rampant in Europe of that era.

    Ellis Island was closed when sheer numbers and enhanced transportation technology made a single major port of entry unfeasible, but the reasons for having such a facility and such a system remain.

    Now the numbers are enormous, both our current population and the influx of immigrants. Public health is still a consideration, with ebola, hanta, and other exotic diseases working their way northward. Transportation and communication are worldwide, realtime, and often nearly instantaneous. And, yes, terrorism is a consideration.

    All Gavrilo Princip had in his day to start a world war was a pistol. Terrorists and assassins today have access to the internet, and all manner of technological horrors that were not available in 1904. If anything, the need is for a moreorderly system of immigration and naturalization rather than a more lax one.

  93. But I’ll buy your system, provisionally. So anybody gets in as long as their embassy and/or ours decides he a nice guy. So… what’s the purpose of citizenship again… and U.S. nationality means what, exactly…?

    Under my proposal the main differences between citizenship and holding a visa would be:

    1) Citizens can vote
    2) Citizens can’t be kicked out of the country for bad behavior

    And you talk about the importance of having something akin to Ellis Island, so that when people come in it’s orderly and stuff. And so that their first experience of America is and encounter with a friendly and efficient government employee.

    Well, that’s the function of my checkpoints.

    In the end, your basic argument seems to be (correct me if I’m wrong) that immigration could drastically change our country for the worse if it isn’t orderly and controlled. There are people who say the same thing about international trade, private gun ownership, gay rights, alcohol, education for women and blacks, free speech, and every other thing imaginable.

    What’s so different about immigration?

  94. Peter James Bond wrote:

    “The Bill of Rights guarantees rights to “persons” not “Citizens” as provided elsewhere in the Constitution. Read it again.”

    Whether it says persons or citizens – it doesn’t grant any right to a non-citizen in another country to come to this country just because they want to. Nor does it grant them a right to stay here if they’ve managed to sneak in illegally. The government can – and has – kicked them out. Nor does it grant any US citizen or other “person” who is here legally any “right” to bring any non-citizen into the country by claimiing some right of “association”

    “And a law forbidding property owners to rent to aliens would be illegal under the 14th Amendment, which prohibits discrimination on account of race, nationality and … wait for it … alienage. You don’t know shit about freedom, and I doubt you’d get into double digits on the Naturalization civics test.”

    Bullshit. A law forbidding property owners rent to ILLEGAL aliens would be perfectly legal just as the law already forbids an employer from knowingly hiring an illegal alien.

    It’s YOU that doesn’t know shit about freedom. The American people have the freedom to decide by majority rule if, when and under what circumstances any non-citizens will be allowed into this country – period.

  95. Gilbert wrote:

    “Whether it says persons or citizens – it doesn’t grant any right to a non-citizen in another country to come to this country just because they want to. Nor does it grant them a right to stay here if they’ve managed to sneak in illegally. The government can – and has – kicked them out. Nor does it grant any US citizen or other “person” who is here legally any “right” to bring any non-citizen into the country by claimiing some right of “association”

    Uh huh, great, you know what the Constitution DOESN’T say — and *I* didn’t say that the Constitution didn’t say any of the above, or that the majority doesn’t have the right to decide immigration policy.

    My post was in response to your howler that the rights provided under the Constitution only apply to Citizens. Glad to see you’ve revised your misstatement. But go ahead, create straw men, pretend that they represent my positions, and have fun in knocking them down.

    BTW, sure a state could make it illegal to knowingly transact any business with a person where that person has knowledge that the other party is out of legal status — but that law would be unenforceable — because immigration status is far too complicated for a non-practitioner — and because of the racist way that it would likely be enforced across jurisdictions, the law would certainly be invalidated by the Courts for having a disparate impact on classes protected under the 14th Amendment.

  96. “BTW, sure a state could make it illegal to knowingly transact any business with a person where that person has knowledge that the other party is out of legal status — but that law would be unenforceable — because immigration status is far too complicated for a non-practitioner — and because of the racist way that it would likely be enforced across jurisdictions, the law would certainly be invalidated by the Courts for having a disparate impact on classes protected under the 14th Amendment.”

    More Bullshit.

    A law against renting property to illegal aliens wouldn’t be invaldated any more than the ACTUAL EXISTING laws against employers hiring them have been invalidated – which is to say not at all.

  97. Take a look at Proposition 200 in Arizona, Mr. Bullshit. Invalidated.

  98. Also, California’s Proposition 187. Invalidated.

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