Does Tighter Border Security = Fewer Illegal Immigrants?

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The Wash Post reports from the U.S.-Mexico border about the effects of tightened security on illegal entries. The current crackdown began in 1993.

Border Patrol statistics show that while the death toll mounts annually, the number of those apprehended while crossing the border has not changed significantly since 1993. But because federal agencies have tightened the border in urban areas, smugglers who move the men, women and children seeking to enter the United States illegally have funneled them onto increasingly perilous trails where temperatures are high, water is scarce and danger is abundant.

Death toll since 1993? "More than 3,500." More here.

I don't doubt that militarizing the border and/or building a massive wall and/or pulling out all the stops would reduce crossings–though I sincerely doubt that such tactics would withstand any sort of serious cost-benefit analysis. Indeed, restrictionists are hard-pressed to point to specific, serious damage caused by illegal immigration other than the pain of hearing Spanish spoken in good old American cities. Who was it that pointed out that illegal Mexicans really aren't the "pox neo-Know Nothings" make them out to be? Oh yeah, it was Tony Snow, late of Fox News and currently of the Bush White House.

As for the security concerns–you know, the fears that Islamist terrorists and wedging themselves into tractor trailers alongside the poor suckers sneaking in from down South rather than flying first-class–well, let's just say Reason's own Jeff Taylor was right: 'Tis northwards toward Canada we should be looking with the night-vision goggles.

Bonus subscription pitch: Subscribe to Reason Express, our weekly digest of news you can use (to impress friends and relatives), composted for easy argumentation by Taylor, here.

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  1. Indeed, restrictionists are hard-pressed to point to specific, serious damage caused by illegal immigration other than the pain of hearing Spanish spoken in good old American cities

    Statements don’t get much more naive or ignorant than this.

    Lets look at some “specific” and “serious” damage caused by illegal immigration:

    Over 28,000 foreigners in detained in California prisons, costing taxpayers a staggering $500 million to $800 million a year. One-half of these prisoners are illegal aliens from Mexico

    Of 400,000 illegal aliens ordered to be deported, 80,000 have criminal records.

    Based on Census Bureau data, the study estimates that households headed by illegal aliens used $10 billion more in government services than they paid in taxes in 2002. These figures are only for the federal government; costs at the state and local level are also likely to be significant. Among the largest federal costs: Medicaid ($2.5 billion); treatment for the uninsured ($2.2 billion); food assistance programs ($1.9 billion); the federal prison and court systems ($1.6 billion); and federal aid to schools ($1.4 billion). The study also finds that if illegals were given amnesty, the fiscal deficit at the federal level would grow to nearly $29 billion.

    Since 1993, over 60 California hospitals closed because half of the services provided were unpaid. According to the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, these closures are caused by the illegals. About 30% of the costs were for child births for ‘anchor babies’ to illegals.

    Illegal immigration costs the taxpayers of California ? which has the highest number of illegal aliens nationwide ? $10.5 billion a year for education, health care and incarceration, according to a study released yesterday.

    A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater.

    Law enforcement officials estimate that 20% of gang members in San Diego County are illegal, according to the Union-Tribune.

    The L.A. County Sheriff reported in 2000 that 23% of inmates in county jails were deportable, according to the New York Times.

    The leadership of the Columbia Lil? Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around Los Angeles?s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002.

    In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide in the first half of 2004 (which totaled 1,200 to 1,500) targeted illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) were for illegal aliens.

    Roughly 10 percent of Mexico’s population of about 107 million is now living in the United States, estimates show. About 15 percent of Mexico’s labor force is working in the United States. One in every 7 Mexican workers migrates to the United States.

    Of course I’ve left out the subsidizing of Mexico via remittances to the tune of around 20 billion a year. Thats 20 billion that leaves the US which most likely won’t return. Sure some of it is soaked up in banking and transaction fees, but for the most part its money that is sucked out of local communities that host the illegals.

    There really isn’t a fiscal case to be made for the benefit of mass illegal immigration. Their use of social services outweigh the benefits provided by their cheap labor and in most instances, the benefit if realized, if minute. Still further, the current Senate bill would provide even more benefits and social services to illegals by granting them Social Security payments in the future, payments from a system that won’t be able to support the current legal workforce, let alone the massive throngs of illegals that would be allowed.

  2. “Indeed, restrictionists are hard-pressed to point to specific, serious damage caused by illegal immigration other than the pain of hearing Spanish spoken in good old American cities.”

    Nick,

    How about this: an illegal alien comes to the US and is able to get a job earning $10 per hour, that ciphers out to about $20,000 per year. let’s assume that he pays taxes. In California, he will probably pay $500 in state tax, and the feds will nip him for $1000. California will pay $7,000 to educate his only child in the public system. He will make one trip to the local emergency room to treat his child’s frightening fever. That will cost the hospital and the tax payers about $1,000.

    The way I calculate it: the state of CA is under water by $7,500 per year on this one illegal alien’s family. Multiply that by one million and the state of CA is in the red by $7.5B per year. I think my simple analysis errs probably on the low side, so that could easily be 10 or 15 billion per year.

    You can race-bait all you want with the “pain of listening to spanish” crap, but it is you apologists who need to embrace the truth.

  3. Wayne,

    You’re half right. The problem isn’t immigration, though – it’s _poor people_. After all, anyone making ten dollars or less an hour is a burden on the system, immimgrant or not. We need to seriously consider mass deportations of anyone failing to meet acceptable income standards and imposing an undue burden on society. I suggest Mexico as the obvious choice, since individuals making ten dollars an hour there would be comparatively wealthy, and serve as a boon to their economy. And it’ll help them learn English.

    It’s a win-win situation.

  4. Ah, but Wayne, you’re forgetting- the immigrant’s child, who, by right of soil is an American citizen, is recieving an American education; can go on to an American college, get a decent job, and pay the country back (and then some). As long as Mexicans don’t turn into an underclass (and if the Hispanic and Mexican Americans I know- and, for the record, I live in Albuquerque- are any indication, they quickly become as middle class as us “white folks”), they could be a very positive contribution to the nation and the economy.

  5. Wayne,

    You could make the exact same case about legal immigrants. Drop the pretense that you are opposed to the illegal part of illegal immigration.

  6. CML,

    Apples and oranges. America has no obligation to the poor of other countries. Our own poor are a separate issue.

    PMS,

    The child in my hypothetical was not born in the US (hey, it’s my hypothetical), but even if she were then she would be entitled to stay and the parents would not. I favor a constitutional amendment to disallow citizenship to those born here if their parents are illegal. That would close the “anchor baby” loophole.

    Since this is my hypothetical case, the illegals I am talking about speak perfect English, the father is 6′ tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, the mother is 4’8″ tall, black and Lesbian, and the child is adorable and won the US spelling bee in third grade. That ought to satisfy all the quotas.

  7. Happy,

    Legal immigrants are invited, and since they are invited they will only be here in numbers that are manageable and affordable. And since they are invited, they are (presumabl) here because they fill some particular need of the country.

    So, you see, there is no pretense. All of my reasons for opposing illegal immigration are purely based on economics. I know it is difficult to believe, but we are not all racists, and we don’t hate the sound of non-English, and we are not repulsed by the sight or smell of other people. In fact, the only ones who seem to raise such issues are from the other side.

  8. All of my reasons for opposing illegal immigration are purely based on economics.

    Hence you insist on a central planning authority to govern the flow of labor when you say:

    since they are invited they will only be here in numbers that are manageable and affordable

  9. Wayne,

    The economic case against illegals is pretty weak. See this H&R entry citing a recent LA Times column by George Mason economists Tyler Cowen and Daniel Rothschild. They note that George Borjas, “the favorite economist of immigration restrictionists–admits that the net gain to the U.S. from immigration is about $7 billion annually.” That figure includes illegals.

    Borjas objects to the distributional impact of illegal immigration–illegals have a small impact on the wages of native-born high school dropouts–but I don’t think that provides a particularly strong case against immigration.

    And certainly many restrictionists (not you) are plainly bothered by non-economics concerns. Hence Sen. Lamar Alexander pushing non-binding Senate resolutions against saying the Pledge of Allegiance in langauges other than in English, much less pushing constitutional amendments making English the official national language.

  10. If by “central planning authority” you mean the laws of the country, then yes. Should the US not plan and budget for expenditures?

  11. How about this: an illegal alien comes to the US and is able to get a job earning $10 per hour, that ciphers out to about $20,000 per year. let’s assume that he pays taxes. In California, he will probably pay $500 in state tax, and the feds will nip him for $1000. California will pay $7,000 to educate his only child in the public system. He will make one trip to the local emergency room to treat his child’s frightening fever. That will cost the hospital and the tax payers about $1,000.

    You forget that the return rate of illegals was over 50% prior to the tightening of the borders in 86 (96? it’s early and I was up late and I’m not looking it up). Most of them want to go home when they’re done working. Now the return rate is much lower.

    You also forget that the kid is a citizen that will grow up, become productive and add to the machine that is the state of california’s government.

  12. Hence you insist on a central planning authority to govern the flow of labor

    Another hypothetical – suppose the federal government announced it was getting out of the border control business altogether. Tomorrow they announce, “We aren’t going to waste another nickel controlling the borders! If the states and the people want the borders controlled, that will henceforth be their responsibility!”.

    What do you think the consequences of that would be?

  13. Mannix: Apparantally every state would wail and nash their teeth trying to prove their case against illegal immigrants in order to get money.

  14. Nick,

    How about this: an illegal alien comes to the US and is able to get a job earning $10 per hour, that ciphers out to about $20,000 per year. let’s assume that he pays taxes. In California, he will probably pay $500 in state tax, and the feds will nip him for $1000. California will pay $7,000 to educate his only child in the public system. He will make one trip to the local emergency room to treat his child’s frightening fever. That will cost the hospital and the tax payers about $1,000.

    The way I calculate it: the state of CA is under water by $7,500 per year on this one illegal alien’s family. Multiply that by one million and the state of CA is in the red by $7.5B per year. I think my simple analysis errs probably on the low side, so that could easily be 10 or 15 billion per year.

    Yeah, unfortunately those analyses you haven’t read show that two thirds of illegals pay taxes, while only 5-10% consume social services. Do the math again.

  15. I am skeptical of an answer that purports a 7B net gain from illegals. How could that possibly balance the social infrastructure costs that are as plain as day?

    For an earlier story that says much the same thing as Nick cites above, here’s an NPR piece.

    The economic consensus is that the added benefit to the US economy due to illegal immigration runs “a little bit less than 1%” — and that includes the consumption of government services.

    All of my reasons for opposing illegal immigration are purely based on economics.

    Then you should cite some actual economics instead of some made up numbers.

  16. Greg,

    So, only 5% of illegals have kids in the public schools? Have you ever looked at a California public school? I am trying to think of a polite way to tell you that you are full of shit, and I suspect that those analyses are similarly full of shit. Being full of shit is a time-honored American tradition though, so please don’t take this to mean that I think less of you for it.

  17. “You can race-bait all you want with the “pain of listening to spanish” crap, but it is you apologists who need to embrace the truth.”

    We might start beliving that there isn’t a racist/xenophobic subtext to the protectionistists argumnets when you start attacking the inherently unfair nature of the welfare state instead of “illegal” immigrants use of it.

  18. “Have you ever looked at a California public school?”

    How can you tell someone’s immigration status by looking at them?

  19. Dakota,

    That is a separate issue that I admit is worthy of working on, but it is a completely separate issue.

  20. “We might start beliving that there isn’t a racist/xenophobic subtext to the protectionistists”

    Who cares if there is? There have been good arguments for stopping the flow illegal immigrants. Address those not the motivation of the people who develop the arguments. I’ve really only seen the gerneral “well you must be bigoted in some sense” response.

  21. “How can you tell someone’s immigration status by looking at them?”

    Dumb question Dakota. I know you are trying desperately to paint me into the racist/xenophobic corner. Sorry, but it’s not gonna work.

  22. “Then you should cite some actual economics instead of some made up numbers.”

    See the 10:59 post by Chapman for some actual economics.

    There is nothing “made up” about the simple-minded analysis that I did. California does spend about $7,000 per student for its public education. A hospital emergency room visit will probably cost about $2,000. If you can add, then it ought to be pretty plain that California tax payers are burdened by imported poverty.

  23. “We might start beliving that there isn’t a racist/xenophobic subtext to the protectionistists”

    Who cares if there is?

    I agree completely.

    As a violation of individual rights, protectionism is unquestionably bad both morally and economically regardless of the motiviation. For every protectionist law there is and “us” and a “them”, and the law violates the rights of the “them” while economically punishing the vast majority of the “us” who are not in immediate competition with the “them”.

    As blatant protectionism, restrictions on immigration follow the pattern exactly.

  24. let’s assume that he pays taxes.

    Why?

  25. Mike P.

    pro?tec?tion?ism

    Pronunciation: (pru-tek’shu-niz”um), [key]
    ?n.
    1. Econ.the theory, practice, or system of fostering or developing domestic industries by protecting them from foreign competition through duties or quotas imposed on importations.

    2. any program, policy, or system of laws that seeks to provide protection for property owners, wildlife, the environment, etc.

    Do use you the term protectionism in either of these ways? If not what is your definition?

  26. “For every protectionist law there is and “us” and a “them”, and the law violates the rights of the “them” while economically punishing the vast majority of the “us” who are not in immediate competition with the “them”.”

    Those who are not citizens of the US have no “right” to enter the US, hence your statement holds no water.

    If you are asserting your “right” to the economic benefits of immigrant slave labor, then perhaps you ought to also belly up to the bar and pitch in to pay for the added social infrastructure costs for the states that are greatly affected by illegal immigration. Maybe a surtax on the federal taxes with the funds distributed to the states (CA, NM, AZ, TX…) that are deep in the red to subsidize your “right” to the economic benefits of the illegals.

  27. So, only 5% of illegals have kids in the public schools? Have you ever looked at a California public school? I am trying to think of a polite way to tell you that you are full of shit, and I suspect that those analyses are similarly full of shit. Being full of shit is a time-honored American tradition though, so please don’t take this to mean that I think less of you for it.

    I see. Why don’t you just go ahead and say “I don’t want to believe it, so it must not be true.”

    If you are asserting your “right” to the economic benefits of immigrant slave labor

    Hilarious. So conservatives are suddenly preaching the virtues of protectionism for the purpose of “social justice.”

  28. Do use you the term protectionism in either of these ways? If not what is your definition?

    I am using the term protectionism more broadly than the dictionary. I am using it to mean any law which protects from economic competition some class of people from another class of people.

    Examples would be minimum wage laws which protect people whose labor is worth the minimum wage from those whose labor is worth less, historical South African color bars which protect white labor from black competition, and immigration law which protects citizens and legal residents from illegal residents.

    The concept is exactly the same as the strict domestic industry protectionism definition: humanity is divided into two camps. One camp is not allowed to compete on fair terms with the other camp. Protectionism.

    I use the term because it is a real thing, and some term needs to be used. Can you suggest a better one?

  29. Those who are not citizens of the US have no “right” to enter the US, hence your statement holds no water.

    If you are asserting your “right” to the economic benefits of immigrant slave labor

    Since you brought up slavery…

    Would you say that in 1850 slaves had no “right” to be free, so abolitionist arguments held no water?

  30. “Hilarious. So conservatives are suddenly preaching the virtues of protectionism for the purpose of “social justice.” ”

    Who says I am a “conservative”?

    Do you disagree that the business class in America sees the stream of illegals as an easily exploited source of labor that they can underpay and abuse with no consequence?

  31. Would you say that in 1850 slaves had no “right” to be free, so abolitionist arguments held no water?

    Well said. This must be the first “slave labor” force in history to risk life and limb in order to become such a slave.

  32. Does anybody think a private business could be made out of legalizing/green carding Mexicans/lower latin-Americans to work retail and send their money back home?

  33. I guess I’m confused. Control of our land is unfair?
    Unless everyone opened their borders wouldn’t Americans at a disadvantage? Others would be able to come here to compete for jobs and resources but we would have no such option.

  34. Do you disagree that the business class in America sees the stream of illegals as an easily exploited source of labor that they can underpay and abuse with no consequence?

    If by “exploit” you mean enter into a voluntary labor contract with, then yes. If by “underpay” you mean pay a wage mutually agreed upon, then yes. Again, you argue as if the illegal workers are victims, which is utterly absurd. They continually risk their lives to be “exploited”, and obviously gain more via their exploitation than in the state you would relegate them to.

  35. Unless everyone opened their borders wouldn’t Americans at a disadvantage? Others would be able to come here to compete for jobs and resources but we would have no such option.

    No, this does not put the US at a disadvantage. Rather the opposite in fact.

    Do you think that if the US unilaterally dropped all trade restrictions, it would be put at a disadvantage? Of course not. Immigration is the same thing: the more freedoms people have, the better the alternatives for production and consumption they can select from, and the better off economically they are.

  36. Unless everyone opened their borders wouldn’t Americans at a disadvantage?

    Good thing the Founders didn’t think that about Free Speech!

  37. Do you disagree that the business class in America sees the stream of illegals as an easily exploited source of labor that they can underpay and abuse with no consequence?

    By the way, this straw man is more tired than the “people against immigration are xenophobes” straw man. I have seen precisely zero people argue that they would rather hire illegal immigrants than hire the same immigrants legalized. On the other hand, I have seen many unabashed xenophobes.

    How the business class in America sees illegal immigrants is a de facto condition caused by their being illegal, not by their being immigrants. While some employers have probably learned how best to handle the immigrants and skirt the laws to provide an advantage over their competitors, I would guess that — almost universally — they would rather all that hiring be legal.

  38. See the 10:59 post by Chapman for some actual economics.

    If by “actual economics” you mean that collection of disconnected and one-sided facts, some of which are not even facts, color me unimpressed.

    I’ll also note that that same post has this lovely mercantilist thought…

    Of course I’ve left out the subsidizing of Mexico via remittances to the tune of around 20 billion a year. Thats 20 billion that leaves the US which most likely won’t return. Sure some of it is soaked up in banking and transaction fees, but for the most part its money that is sucked out of local communities that host the illegals.

    …demonstrating an extremely poor understanding of economics.

  39. Hey Dakota,

    re: “We might start beliving that there isn’t a racist/xenophobic subtext to the protectionistists argumnets when you start attacking the inherently unfair nature of the welfare state instead of “illegal” immigrants use of it.”

    We’re not racists or xenophobes. We are libertarians who still believe in the 14th Amendment — the same protections for Americans that you advocate for illegal immigrants: freedom from taxation and regulation.

    We’re the ones who have been attacking the welfare state all along, unlike our libertarian brothers and sisters who have been welcoming in illegal immigrants to take advantage of the welfare state. You yourself ought to be attacking the welfare state as vigourously as you are standing up for the rights of illegal aliens.

    That’s the problem we have with you — we would probably be more welcoming of illegal aliens if we weren’t taxed while they lived tax free, and if we weren’t regulated while they lived regulation free. And most especially, if they didn’t receive any taxpayer funded assistance. Period.

    It is the welfare state that divides us, not illegal immigrants. So instead of attacking us for criticizing illegal immigration, you need to start attacking the welfare state before welcoming in illegal aliens to use it — and us.

    Repeal the welfare state then throw open the borders. It’s all about equal protection under the law.

  40. “Who cares if there is? There have been good arguments for stopping the flow illegal immigrants. Address those not the motivation of the people who develop the arguments. I’ve really only seen the gerneral “well you must be bigoted in some sense” response.”

    No. There have been some economic arguments about how a higher percentage of the working poor take more out of the welfare state then they pay in to it.

    Then the logic is, “illegal” immigrants are poor.

    Therefore we shouldn’t let them in.

    That whole line of thinking is so absurd with so many fallacies I wouldn’t know where to begin.

  41. PS — why is there not the same outcry from pro-illegal immigration libertarians over illegal aliens taking advantage of the welfare state as there would be if the issue being discussed were, say, lazy government bureaucrats taking advantage of lavish, taxpayer-guaranteed pensions, or Pentagon contractors inflating invoices for their defense projects?

    You know, there’s nothing special about illegal aliens that should insulate them from the same criticisms that could be made — and rightly so — against others who suck at the public teat.

    Yeah, you’re so libertarian … you’re not exactly helping the rest of us roll back the welfare state by encouraging more people to enter the country to take advantage of it.

  42. Yeah, you’re so libertarian … you’re not exactly helping the rest of us roll back the welfare state by encouraging more people to enter the country to take advantage of it.

    The exact opposite argument can be made.

  43. Economic analysis about the cost of illegal immigration:

    http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscal.html

  44. “It is the welfare state that divides us, not illegal immigrants. So instead of attacking us for criticizing illegal immigration, you need to start attacking the welfare state before welcoming in illegal aliens to use it — and us.

    Repeal the welfare state then throw open the borders. It’s all about equal protection under the law.”

    I agree with this thought. Unfortunately, until we do repeal the welfare state, we must limit immigration.

  45. “No. There have been some economic arguments about how a higher percentage of the working poor take more out of the welfare state then they pay in to it.

    Then the logic is, “illegal” immigrants are poor.

    Therefore we shouldn’t let them in.

    That whole line of thinking is so absurd with so many fallacies I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

    What are you saying? That we need more poor people? That not allowing poor people in the US is discrimination? That they do pay for all of the resources they use?

  46. “The exact opposite argument can be made.”

    The next thing you’ll be telling me is that letting in even more illegal immigrants is good for the economy — and for all those social welfare entitlement programs. As in, more workers means more money for Medicaid and Social Security.

    Oh wait, that’s an argument the liberals use. Funny finding that some libertarians are actually liberals on this issue.

  47. http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/fiscal.html

    First, this purports to be a calculation of impact on the federal budget. The raw economic benefit of the production from illegal immigrants is completely uncounted. Of course this methodology will come nowhere near the 1% benefit for the economy that the economic consensus comes up with.

    Second, almost half the cost to the federal budget found by this study falls under “All Other Expenses.” “These expenditures include highway and infrastructure maintenance, parts of the criminal justice system not accounted for already, subsidies to business, state aid, and all other services provided by the federal government.”

    In other words, the bloated federal government that you “no immigration without welfare elimination” types complain about one minute gets divided equally per household and charged as a “cost” imposed by illegal immigrants — as though they even had a vote in it! — the next. Lovely.

  48. “No. There have been some economic arguments about how a higher percentage of the working poor take more out of the welfare state then they pay in to it.

    Then the logic is, “illegal” immigrants are poor.

    Therefore we shouldn’t let them in.

    That whole line of thinking is so absurd with so many fallacies I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

    I have to agree with Stupendous on this, I don’t have a clue what your point is here.

  49. not convinced,

    The argument David Friedman made in that article was that a lavish welfare system is a cost to a society’s economy. If the society opens its borders while maintaining that system, and the new immigrants really are a burden on the system, it will find it can no longer afford such lavish welfare, and it must decrease the welfare to lower the burden on the economy. That is, immigration may be a force that withers the welfare state.

    Yes, more immigrants — legal or not — are good for the economy. That is obvious.

    Your problem seems to be with the cost imposed by welfare. Friedman offers an argument containing a possible avenue to attack it. How about addressing the argument?

  50. MikeP,

    “In other words, the bloated federal government that you “no immigration without welfare elimination” types complain about one minute gets divided equally per household and charged as a “cost” imposed by illegal immigrants — as though they even had a vote in it! — the next. Lovely.”

    Wow, I never thought of it like that. You have convinced me. Tear down the fences, and call home the troops. Let’s raise the welfare remittances and all get rich as we will soon have all of the world’s poor right here in America working for our benefit. Of course, once all of the world’s poor are here, then the remainder (the rich) will come too, because as we all know, the rich are quick to latch on to a good thing. It will be wonderful.

    A second terrific point that you make obliquely is that we should immediately give the illegals the vote so that they can have a say in how the federal, state and local treasures are divvied up. I can’t wait. Utopia is just around the corner.

  51. A point that I have not seen touched upon is that the illegal invasion is hurting the blue collar worker in America hardest. After all, if you have American citizens who are carpenters and plumbers and other tradesmen, and they earn 30 or 40 dollars per hour. With an illegal happily accepting $20.00 per hour and no fringe benefits then that obviously impacts the local worker.

    I know, I know, we consumers of that blue collar labor now pay less so this is “better” for us. But what about the plumber, Is it good for her? Is there no place in the equation for the bad consequences for the US citizens who are impacted negatively?

  52. Well MikeP, please explain what the flaw in my assumption is?

  53. What is the difference between illegal immigrants using the welfare state and legal immigrants using the welfare state?

    Once again, the problem people seem to have is not with the illegal part of illegal immigration. I wish they’d stop pretending it is.

  54. wayne,

    I am confused by your post. You quote a passage where I refute the methodology of the article you site. Then you say to tear down the borders and raise welfare remittances. I don’t see how that follows from what you quoted.

    Maybe you quoted the wrong posting. If you meant to quote the posting where I suggest that it is possible that the costs to welfare of higher immigration will cause welfare to be too high a burden for the society to bear and thus the society will cut welfare, well, I don’t see how what you said follows from that either…

  55. “What is the difference between illegal immigrants using the welfare state and legal immigrants using the welfare state?

    Once again, the problem people seem to have is not with the illegal part of illegal immigration. I wish they’d stop pretending it is.”

    You are right. For me at least it is the cost associated with the illegals that is a problem, not just that they are flouting our laws.

    Legal immigrants are invited, and since they are invited they will only be here in numbers that are manageable and affordable. And since they are invited, they are (presumably) here because they fill some particular need of the country.

  56. Gabriel Chapman,

    Of course I’ve left out the subsidizing of Mexico via remittances to the tune of around 20 billion a year. Thats 20 billion that leaves the US which most likely won’t return. Sure some of it is soaked up in banking and transaction fees, but for the most part its money that is sucked out of local communities that host the illegals.

    The problem here is that you are putting far too much importance on where the dollars are. The contribution to the local community is the laborer’s production and the production surplus. That is the actual wealth, the actual value added to the economy. The dollar bills themselves are merely tokens passing from one hand to another.

    And even when those dollar bills are sent to Mexico, they have no choice but someday to return to the US to buy goods or services or to be invested. Those remittances are in no way a loss to the economy.

  57. You are right. For me at least it is the cost associated with the illegals that is a problem, not just that they are flouting our laws.

    Legal immigrants are invited, and since they are invited they will only be here in numbers that are manageable and affordable. And since they are invited, they are (presumably) here because they fill some particular need of the country.

    Ok, so as I see it your problem is not that they are illegal, it is that there are too many immigrants, or at least too many of the wrong skill set. That is a workable argument, one that I disagree with. But if this is the position you hold, then talking about illegals is confusing the point you are trying to make, namely that we have too many immigrants.

    And that is my point, that the legal status of these folks is a red herring.

    I think you can make a good argument that raising the legal immigration quota would reduce the overall number of immigrants. This is because you would fingerprint and otherwise document legal immigrants. If someone is deported for illegal status for example, they forfeit forever their right to become a legal immigrant. And that legal status has real value. Thus you would have fewer and fewer people crossing the border illegally.

    And if that weren’t enough, it also increases the ability of INS, or whatever it is called these days, to catch a higher percentage of illegals since they have fewer numbers overall to deal with.

  58. “I think you can make a good argument that raising the legal immigration quota would reduce the overall number of immigrants. This is because you would fingerprint and otherwise document legal immigrants. If someone is deported for illegal status for example, they forfeit forever their right to become a legal immigrant. And that legal status has real value. Thus you would have fewer and fewer people crossing the border illegally.”

    Happ,
    You are kidding, right? Increase legal immigration and illegals will diminish? You speak as if one is somehow connected to the other. I guess if you can make a “good argument” that increasing the quota of legals will stem the flood of illegals I would like to hear it.

    The INS has no intention of “catching” anybody. The only way the INS is going to do anything is if there is a voter’s revolt that the Republicans take seriously. I only exclude the Dems because they are not in power; the Dems are no better than the Rep’s here, just bad in a different way.

    Because the Rep’s are in bed with “business” and because business wants laborers with no rights, there will be no change to the status quo.

  59. “Yes, more immigrants — legal or not — are good for the economy. That is obvious.”

    So, obviously, an infinite number of illegal immigrants would be infinitely good for the economy. I learned in math that infinite is definitely “more”.

    Hot damn, we’re onto something here. Utopia IS just around the corner. I think we ought to set up in-vitro fertilization clinics and breed the hell out of those “huddled masses” so we can goose the process and get this “good for the economy” thing rolling. Hell, we might even have a little fun and do the breeding the old fashioned way; maybe even charge for it so that way we’re making money going and coming.

  60. Puede guardar sus naci?n. No me gusta. Demasiados pendejos.

  61. “I have to agree with Stupendous on this, I don’t have a clue what your point is here.”

    The point is that people who immigrate either by swimming the Rio Grande or standing in line for a buerocrats stamp, do so because they strive to better thier lot in a free(er) country. Poverty is hardly a static condition. There is a several hundred year history in the US with immigrant groups, thriving in a generation or two.

  62. “I have to agree with Stupendous on this, I don’t have a clue what your point is here.”

    The point is that people who immigrate either by swimming the Rio Grande or standing in line for a bureaucrats stamp, do so because they strive to better their lot in a free(er) country. Poverty is hardly a static condition. Since the beging of the experiment called the United States the decendnats of immigrant groups have been thriving in a generation or two, without fail.

  63. “Puede guardar sus naci?n. No me gusta. Demasiados pendejos.”

    Usted tiene raz?n, nosotros tiene bastantes assholes as? que permanezca casero.

  64. “Since the beging of the experiment called the United States the decendnats of immigrant groups have been thriving in a generation or two, without fail.”

    So, in forty years or so the current crop of illegals will be a net positive for the economy? Great news. Thanks for posting it.

  65. Wayne,
    M?xico necesita pendejos. ?Puedes venir aqu

  66. Bobito,

    “M?xico necesita pendejos. ?Puedes venir aqu??”

    Usted debe venir quiz? aqu? e ir? all?. Usted puede conseguir en bienestar aqu? y conseguir? en bienestar all?. Entonces podr?amos ver qui?n come lo m?s mejor posible.

  67. A point that I have not seen touched upon is that the illegal invasion is hurting the blue collar worker in America hardest.

    To see the impact on these blue collar workers, ask yourself why it is that they command such wages in the first place. I’d venture three possibilities:

    1. What they do is skilled or semiskilled and not a commodity.
    2. Protectionist laws such as licensure or forced union rules.
    3. Legitimate union advantages.

    Then ask yourself why poor migrants from Alabama or Arkansas aren’t already bidding these wages down to levels they would be happy accepting.

    Perhaps your jumped-to-conclusion isn’t so accurate after all, and blue collar folks don’t now suffer and wouldn’t in the future suffer under higher levels of immigration.

    If you want to know who gets the short end of the stick under free immigration, it’s the actual or functional high school dropout, as Nick pointed out above — that person who competes directly at the level of survival wages. The negative wage impact on them is estimated to run between 0% and 8%, with the number in Nick’s citation at 3.6%.

  68. I have not seen this argument:
    I am a businessman. I should be able to hire whomever I choose. Bring me immigrant labor. I prefer it. Federal gov’t, stay out of my business!

  69. “To see the impact on these blue collar workers, ask yourself why it is that they command such wages in the first place. I’d venture three possibilities:

    1. What they do is skilled or semiskilled and not a commodity.
    2. Protectionist laws such as licensure or forced union rules.
    3. Legitimate union advantages.

    Then ask yourself why poor migrants from Alabama or Arkansas aren’t already bidding these wages down to levels they would be happy accepting.”

    So, illegals aren’t good carpenters/masons/plumbers, hence they are no threat to blue collar workers in those trades?

    The illegal who is happy to accept $20 per hour to finish concrete is not threatened by the next illegal who will accept $15?

  70. “Bring me immigrant labor. I prefer it.”

    How come you prefer it?

  71. Wayne,
    ?Qu? bueno!

  72. My business is my business. Wayne, you worry about Wayne.

  73. Bobito,

    ?s?, bueno de hecho! Amo las habas y el arroz, pimientas calientes del chile.

  74. “My business is my business. Wayne, you worry about Wayne.”

    Are you just making a rhetorical statement that you prefer illegal immigrant labor, or are you a real business man?

  75. So, illegals aren’t good carpenters/masons/plumbers, hence they are no threat to blue collar workers in those trades?

    The illegal who is happy to accept $20 per hour to finish concrete is not threatened by the next illegal who will accept $15?

    Replace ‘illegal’ with ‘Alabaman’ or ‘Arkansan’ and read those sentences again.

    Why aren’t the wages that low today?

  76. Ok, this is how an increase in legal immigration would lead to a decrease in illegal immigration:

    For starters, let’s make the increase in green cards go to Mexicans only, keeping the same amount for other countries.

    Let’s also say if you get deported you can never get a green card. To the extent that having a green card has value, this is a huge deterrent to being illegal.

    With your green card you can leave the US and visit Mexico whenever you want to, such as holidays and birthdays and funerals of relatives. This is a huge asset. Under illegal status, you have to leave the country and try to sneak across the border again, which is a significant risk.

    Same goes for visiting your wife or girlfriend or children or whatever. You therefore don’t need to smuggle them into the US with you, and they can stay home in Mexico safe. This already cuts down on “secondary” illegal immigration of wives and children, and children who might’ve been born in the US otherwise.

    Your green card gives you protection against predators who know you can’t go to the police and complain due to your illegal status. No more fear is a powerful motivater.

    You can receive minimum wage. If someone offers you below minimum, you can report them. Since legals look the same as illegals, this creates increased risk for offering below minimum wage, and thus negates a big reason to hire illegals. Make deportation mandatory for those working below the minimum wage or “under the table”, and the legals doing so drop to essentially zero. It’s just not worth the risk to your valuable green card.

    The fewer legals there are, the more likely someone will hire an illegal one because there aren’t enough legals to go around. Increase the number of legals, and the risk of hiring illegals goes up since you could simply hire legals instead. Thus it becomes harder for illegals to get hired, thus decreasing incentives to be illegal and increase the incentive to be legal.

    Your green card means you can come work in various parts of the country “in season”, work very hard, and can go home to Mexico the rest of the time.

    Once upon a time it worked like this when there wasn’t any restriction at all. The fact that Mexicans aren’t returning home means that illegal status is making them from doing something they don’t want to do, which is stay here year round. They’d rather go home some of the time.

    If we increased the mexican quota enough so that applicants have a realistic chance of getting in, then the numbers of illegals immigration would go down. The current legal quota is a joke. It is essentially impossible to get in legally from Mexico unless you have a relative here already, since that is where the quotas go.

    As a bonus, decreased number of illegals means fewer border crime incidents as hungry/thirsty/desperate migrants break into homes.

  77. How come you prefer it?”
    “How come” really grates on me. Say “Why do you prefer it?” or “How has it come to be that you prefer it?” “How come you prefer it?” sounds like a ten year old.

  78. How has it come to pass that you are referred to as “Anal Guy”? Oh! never mind.

    What makes you think I am not a ten year old?

  79. Q: (Wayne)What makes you think I am not a ten year old?
    A: Nothing

  80. This thread only further proves that illegal immigration is a non-issue thrown onto the national stage by the drumbeat of Fox News types.

  81. MikeP,

    Then ask yourself why poor migrants from Alabama or Arkansas aren’t already bidding these wages down to levels they would be happy accepting.

    Perhaps your jumped-to-conclusion isn’t so accurate after all, and blue collar folks don’t now suffer and wouldn’t in the future suffer under higher levels of immigration.

    Sorry, but you don’t get it. I’ll try to explain it, but first I have to try and convince you I know what the hell I’m talking about.

    I worked construction for several years before going to college. Carpenter, plumber, electrician, mason, roofer, then HVAC technician [then, fortunately, college].

    These are jobs you get with a high school diploma. Or maybe even without one, though the majority in these fields who are good have high school diplomas. I can say that because I’ve been there.

    I moved to Arizona about eight years ago, and bought two new houses since I moved here. I’m the kind of guy who watches the whole construction process. I get to know the people working on my house. I get to know the construction superintendants too.

    Reality: it’s common knowledge on the street, if you want a job done on the cheap then hire a Mexican crew. They’ll undercut a native crew by 1/4 to 1/3 in cost, routinely. Sometimes more.

    How do they do it? It’s really, really not as simple as “they’ll take $20/hour rather than $40/hour”. That is not what’s going on.

    What’s going on is, the Mexican crews are not paying taxes on everything they earn. They pay on maybe 1/2 of their income. The rest they do “under the table”. They don’t report it. They don’t pay on it.

    And if you get to know them, they’ll tell you all about it just like they did me. Bring them a few beers at the end of a nice hot day in June, shoot the breeze with them for a few minutes. You too can learn how they do it.

    They take a little less per hour, but they pay less taxes too. So they make as much as US citizens when it’s all done, or sometimes more.

    I’ve seen a handful of Mexican crews that pay full taxes. They charge — gasp!!! — just as much as US crews do. Can you imagine that shit?

    I don’t give a crap how many white collar academics publish how many BS newspaper articles about how the illegals are all paying their taxes. I know they aren’t.

    I don’t believe for a minute that 2/3 pay taxes, while only 5-10% use social services. My sister-in-law is a doctor, and I’ve seen the emergency rooms around here. Lots and lots of Mexicans with zero insurance and you can’t turn them away…..

    I know, without any doubt, that Mexicans are in fact hurting the US workers they’re competing with.

    I realize that most people who post here aren’t going to be able to believe this, but it’s true. If I hadn’t once made my living in this field, and hadn’t gotten to know the people who built my houses, I probably wouldn’t have found out about it myself.

    It is true that the root of the problem is the welfare state.

    It is also true that the welfare state isn’t going to vanish tommorrow afternoon. Until it does, I’m not in favor of massive Mexican immigration.

    Though, I also have serious doubts about whether or not we can really stop it in a cost effective manner.

    The smartest move would be to change the tax structure at all levels, so these people can’t evade taxes. And get rid of the welfare state.

    I can only dream….

  82. Since the beging of the experiment called the United States the decendnats of immigrant groups have been thriving in a generation or two, without fail

    Well, except for the Africans.

  83. btw, if anybody here thinks Mexicans worry about getting caught for tax evasion then you’ve missed the boat.

    Ask one of these illegals about it. The IRS is generally polite enough to send you a letter and let you know they’re coming. The Border Patrol doesn’t.

    I believe my own observations over the articles written by all the “economists”, because I haven’t read an article yet that was written by somebody that has obviously spent any real time talking with these illegals.

    I don’t believe we can stop Mexican immigration because I’ve heard them talk about what it’s like to try and live and work in Mexico. The stories of abuse and horror are enough to break anybody’s heart.

    Their motivation is strong and should not be under estimated. Rather than trying to stop a will as strong as this, we really should be looking for smart ways to work with the situation.

    [last night I posted this on the wrong thread, this is a repost in the right place, sorry it was late]

  84. Genghis,

    We have all exhausted our energy on this topic. It is obvious that you are not sufficiently egg-headed to understand the problem though. You actually talked with illegals, when you could have just sat down and pencilled through an analysis that indisputably proves that “…more immigrants — legal or not — are good for the economy. That is obvious.”?

  85. Genghis Kahn,

    Thank you for your first-hand information. What you have written supports the point very well: Immigrant labor behaving legally is not a threat to the standard of living of the skilled blue-collar worker.

    wayne,

    you could have just sat down and pencilled through an analysis that indisputably proves that “…more immigrants — legal or not — are good for the economy. That is obvious.”

    Genghis’s experiences do not falsify this statement.

    However, his experiences do say that illegal immigrants — or anybody else who is able and willing to behave illegally in evading taxes — do have an impact on the economic well being of US workers directly competing with them.

    You already know what I think the solution to this problem is: Legalize all immigration.

  86. Immigrant labor behaving legally is not a threat to the standard of living of the skilled blue-collar worker.

    Sure. And the problem remains that many of them aren’t working legally, in spite of what some people may like to publish in newspapers.

    Making it easier for them to get into the US legally isn’t going to solve the problem of them working under the radar.

    And even at that, the problem of the welfare state will still linger. The welfare state is a Robin Hood scheme, you take from the rich and give to the poor. These immigrants are coming in on the “get from the rich” side of the equation.

    It’s not a moot point to say that we can only afford to add so many people to the “get from the rich” side of the equation before there’s a problem.

    On net balance, I’m in favor of finding a fair and rational way of letting them come here. But I see way too many of the pro-immigrant crowd ignoring the very real problems that exist with letting them just come in now, the way things currently work. You sound a whole lot like one these.

    You know, I’d have thought libertarians could slice through the garbage and come to a rational assesement of this problem fairly quickly. But I haven’t seen it happen yet.

  87. I am not arguing that the only reform that should happen is the opening of the borders. I would hope that a number of other reforms occur at the same time that would mitigate the issues of high welfare burdens or inequitable tax treatment.

    However, I do argue that voluntary immigration is a benefit to the economy. I also argue that governments’ preventing people’s voluntary migration and labor is a much greater abrogation of individual freedoms than the marginally higher burden induced by improperly limited government services.

    Fix the immigration problem — that is, legalize it all — then fix taxes and benefits to suit this freer regime. Don’t hold free migration hostage to a broken welfare state.

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