Immigration

Colorado: A Model for the Nation

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A report on Colorado's bold new tactics for dealing with illegal immigration from the Denver Post:

Colorado's new law banning state spending on illegal immigrants has cost more than $2 million to enforce—and has saved the state nothing.

Less than a year after politically charged debates on illegal immigration, officials are reporting high costs, no savings and unexpected problems with the new laws….

Eighteen departments reported adding $2.03 million in costs while not saving any money. None of the departments could say how many, if any, illegal immigrants were being denied state-funded services.

For more on losing anti-immigration strategies, go here and here.

Via the WSJ's Best of the Web.

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  1. the federalism-o-meter is a valuable tool.

  2. The thing that get my panties in a twist, is how many people chanting “Them Gall Danged imgrunts shouldn’t get no free handouts” over (mostly) hard working immigrants, are perfectly willing to fork over their tax dollars to native-born lazy shiftabouts.

  3. yeah, ‘cmmon. Usually they’ve paid or could be paying more in tax than any average citizen..

  4. “and has saved the state nothing.”

    Sadly the words of the ronery Kim Jong Il from Team America hold here, too:

    “Congraturations, Team America. You have [sorved] nothing”

  5. It doesn’t surprise me that the government cannot save any money by instituting a program to save money.

    OTOH, the fact that this strategy doesn’t work very well isn’t relevant to the question of whether illegals should receive free medical care at the county hospital.

    I don’t think illegals should get any free services. But like Warren, I don’t think you should either.

  6. Dear god, this thing reads like an Onion article!

    A 2005 bill calling for a more sweeping ban on services – including cuts to child welfare and probation, among other services – had an estimated price tag of $4.3 million and would have added 87 workers to the state payroll.

    Okay, let me see if I got this straight, it will take $4.3M and 87 MORE people to CUT services? Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t it usually cost LESS when you do LESS?

  7. I like the itemized breakdown at the end of the article…

    Agriculture: at least $300

    Translation: Well, it was $0, but it took someone 5 hours at $60 per hour to figure out it was $0. So, $300. At least… We may need to double-check.

    Law: no more than $300

    Translation: It was $0. It took less than an hour to figure that out. But we’re lawyers, so we charge for the full hour. We’ll let you know whether it was a lawyer or a paralegal who did the work at the end of the month.

  8. I think it’d be funny if Coloradoans decided, in a massive fed up fit of frustration, to end all state welfare programs altogether, in order to ensure illegal immigrants get no handouts. Only to see the probably economic upturn result in more illegal immigration.

  9. The Colorado strategy makes no sense. It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s not about making sense; it’s about appeasing the kind of people who would vote a bigot-bating schmuck like Tom Tancredo into the House Of Representatives. Making sense? I laugh in your general direction, amigo…

  10. Oh, yeah, shecky. That’s why immigrants are flocking to countries with no welfare provisions. I forget which countries those are. Is Nepal one? How about Liberia?

  11. Wow, I’m with Kwix, there is something very very wrong if it costs that much more to do less. I’m thinking of these Colorado government types and having flashbacks to Brazil.

  12. That’s why immigrants are flocking to countries with no welfare provisions.

    Are there any countries with no welfare provisions? Are any of them doing better than the US economically? Is Nepal? Is Liberia?

    In case you’ve had your eyes closed for the past few decades, people immigrate to the US for the employment opportunities, not to live off welfare.

  13. With unemployment rates or 42% and 85% respectively, Nepal and Liberia are unlikely to attract anything but woe.

    Colorado, on the other hand, around with a rate around 4%, will most likely need warm bodies so much as to look the other way regarding documentation, when push comes to shove.

  14. MikeP

    The immigrants coming mostly from Mexico, a third world country, and in case you’ve had your eyes closed, the welfare they get is a big issue. True, well-educated immigrants don’t need the welfare, but nobody’s worried about them. Oh maybe some less well-educated Americans are, but who cares about them?

  15. The welfare makes it more attractive…… to employers. Why hire lazy old cracker Bubba or shufflin’ Sambo when you have to pay that Social security, workers comp, overtime maybe even health insurance. Pedro doesn’t even have to work as hard to make it a good deal. You can pay him more in cash than those lazy Americans with less overhead- but you don’t have to. He knocks up Maria and their anchor baby brings in enough dinero on the EBT card to keep the whole familia in frijoles and tortillas. Medicaid provides everyone with better insurance than WalMart.If Pedro is using an identity theft SSN he gets paid twice-once on his check and again thanks to Uncle Sugar when he claims the Earned Income Tax Credit on those “8 bambinos” back in the old home place south of the Rio Grande. He might be renting two Social security cards from 1986 amnesty Amigos back home who collect the unemployment when he switches from one to the other.

    Those lazy Gringos need to get off their ass and on the dole just to compete.

  16. The immigrants coming mostly from Mexico, a third world country, and in case you’ve had your eyes closed, the welfare they get is a big issue.

    The welfare they get may be a big issue to somebody, but the magnitude of the problem is quite overstated. And the point still stands: Illegal immigrants don’t come to the US to get welfare. They come to the US to work.

  17. If Pedro is using an identity theft SSN he gets paid twice…

    Aaagh! Where to start…

    First of all, in the scenario where an illegal alien is using a fake Social Security number, to be able to claim plausible deniability later, the employer has to treat that employee as if he were legal. Therefore, the employer pays Social Security (that’s why it’s called a Social Security number), worker’s compensation, etc.

    Second, “identity theft SSN” is a deliberate obfuscation of what actually happens. The illegal employee gives a fake number. If it happens to be someone else’s real number, extra money gets paid into Social Security. Calling it identity theft is a stretch since there is no theft involved. If anybody can be said to be having his money stolen, its the illegal employee.

  18. I love the verbal judo in the summary of the WSJ article above; the article is about Colorado’s attempt to do the fed’s job in enforcing immigration laws and the headline then goes into:
    For more on losing anti-immigration strategies

    Colorado’s attempt had nothing to do with anti-immigrant sentiment, it has everything to do with anti-ILLEGAL-immgrant sentiment.

  19. I love the verbal judo…

    I would say that illegalizing consensual activities is always a losing strategy.

  20. If Colorado’s worried about illegal immigration, imagine if it actually bordered another country.

  21. In light of this news, I no longer support spending cuts. Too damn expensive.

  22. In light of this news, I no longer support spending cuts. Too damn expensive.

    Yeah. When they say, “These tax cuts will cost the government 30 billion dollars,” I had no idea they were being so literal…

  23. Actually, Andy has a point. The legal/ILLEGAL distinction is really at the heart of this debate, not immigration per se.

    Legality, as we know, is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong. If something is ILLEGAL, it is patently wrong and/or immoral. That’s why they put these things in all caps.

  24. Colorado’s attempt had nothing to do with anti-immigrant sentiment, it has everything to do with anti-ILLEGAL-immgrant sentiment.

    It has EVERYTHING to do with being anti-immigrant. If they were anti-illegal-immigrant, then they could just eliminate legal restrictions on Mexican immigration, and our illegal-immigration problem would be solved.

  25. What a bunch of cynics! There is one clear answer to why this plan failed: It was underfunded.

  26. Rex,

    Colorado doesn’t write the country’s immigration laws .

    They do need a pay-as-you-go plan: raise taxes to
    pay for those spending cuts.

  27. On an almost entirely unrelated note, Pajamas Media has their presidential straw poll up for voting now. They decided, thankfully, to add Ron Paul to the list, so you can– and should–go there and vote for him. I know straw polls like this aren’t amazing, but it still would be nice to have Dr. Paul represented there.

    Vote Ron Paul at http://pajamasmedia.com/

  28. It’s always fun to come and visit the deadenders here, the last remaining subscribers who still want to believe in Reason’s ideology despite the mountain of evidence showing it to be jejeune at best.

    As for the current post, someone who wanted to do some real analysis of this issue would ask:

    – given the DenverPost’s history of collaboration with the MexicanGovernment (no, really: they collaborated with the MexicanGovernment), can what they write be fully trusted?

    – could someone in the CO government have monkey-wrenched or cooked the books in order to make this program look bad?

    – are the costs due to the program, or due to incompetent implementation of the program?

    – are there financial gains that are not included? For instance, have these program deterred IllegalAliens from coming to CO, something that would have driving the comparison price higher?

    – and, lastly and most importantly: is every “cost” involved in ImmigrationMatters financial? If this program is simply a wash, aren’t there non-financial gains?

    Those are just some of the questions Katherine Mangu-Ward would ask if she were a real analyst instead of simply an open borders hack.

  29. Banning spending on illegal immigrants: 2 million

    Lonewacko calling someone a hack: priceless

  30. “I thought it was a waste of money when we were doing it,” [St. Sen. Abel Tapia] said, “but I don’t think the general public believed that the state wasn’t spending money on illegal immigrants.”

    Colorado has managed to put a price tag on Do Something; in this case, $2 mil.

  31. and the headline then goes into: For more on losing anti-immigration strategies
    Colorado’s attempt had nothing to do with anti-immigrant sentiment, it has everything to do with anti-ILLEGAL-
    immgrant sentiment.

    Conflating “immigration” with “illegal immigration,” as is standard procedure at Reason, is either very stupid or very dishonest. Most likely both – you get what you pay for, huh?

  32. Conflating “bigotry” with “protecting our borders”, as is standard procedure for Mr. F. Le Mur, is either very stupid or very dishonest. Most likely both – you get what you pay for, huh?

  33. Can anybody tell me what the following quote, taken from the DenverPost.com story, means?

    “The spending ban has also forced some public school districts to cancel keynote speakers from out of state. In those cases, the speakers live in states where the documents required to receive a driver’s license are not as stringent a form of identification as in Colorado under the new law. “

  34. Wayne, probably there’s some silly little public school clause saying that speakers have to be bona-fide qualified for. Some of the speakers probably used driver’s licenses as ID. This ran into another regulation somewhere saying that IDs from other states would not be acceptable in Colorado unless the other state was as stringent as Colorado is in documenting them.

    In other words, one keynote speaker showed up from Florida and one from California, and Colorado is making a fuss about using these driver’s licenses as ID.

  35. I share Lonewacko’s distrust of the Denver Post.

  36. Why is it bigoted to demand that people who want to migrate to the USA actually bother to do this by legal means?

  37. The only widespread anti-legal-immigration I hear
    is American techies whining about H1b visa holders taking “their” jobs and driving down wages.

  38. Why is it bigoted to demand that people who want to migrate to the USA actually bother to do this by legal means?

    Probably because when one looks at how hard it is for lowskilled low wage workers “to migrate…by legal means” when there is obviously a huge demand for such workers some people might suspect that it’s because some people with a lot of political pull don’t like “those kind of people”.

  39. …. when one looks at how easy it is for lowskilled low wage workers “to migrate…by illegal means” when there is obviously a huge demand for such workers some people might suspect that it’s because some people with a lot of political pull like “those kind of people”(and their effect on wages/benefits in the larger labor market).

    edited your post

  40. – are the costs due to the program, or due to incompetent implementation of the program?

    Hilarity ensues…

  41. Samuel Gompers,

    I’m guessing the point of your “edit” of Isaac Bartram’s post is to “correct” him, but while what you say is indeed correct, it’s not in any way contradictory with Isaac’s post and point. In other words, you’re both correct. It’s a lot easier to migrate illegally than illegally, and, well I don’t know about the “political pull” part per se, and employers don’t usually worry about their effect on the market at large, but it’s certainly true that they like the cheaper labor illegals bring. And well they should. Only question is whether the rest of us should like the problems associated with making it harder for migrants to travel illegally than legally.

  42. jejeune at best.

    Jejeune?! You accuse me of Jejeunosity?! I’m one of the least jeune people you will ever meet!

  43. Of course the market will take care of all this extra population when full scale automation comes along- 10 to 15 years. Look at the stats on second generation immigrants from the South Americas, it ain’t pretty. What happens to lowskilled workers whrn there are no lowskilled jobs?

  44. better edit/less work

    Probably because when one looks at how hard it is for highskilled high wage workers “to migrate…by legal or illegal means” when there is obviously a huge demand for such workers some people might suspect that it’s because some people with a lot of political pull don’t like “those kind of people”.

  45. Samuel Gompers,

    You make a fair point. Seeing the principal motiviation behind restrictive immigration law as a diverse collection of protectionist mentalities rather than outright bigotry might be more accurate.

    Does that make it legitimate?

  46. No it does not make it legitimate.

    My point is in the “pragmatic” world of incremental reform there may be more benefit to
    to flood the country with screened high skilled, educated, and wealthy immigrants rather than unscreened unskilled welfare subsidized labor.

    I would prefer doing away with most restrictions and permit anyone without a serious criminal record or communicable disease
    to pay an entry fee and live and work.If the immigrant pays taxes,generally obeys the law,and does not require any significant public aid for some period of time then he can move for permanenet residency, citizenship, bring over family members stc.

  47. What happens to lowskilled workers whrn there are no lowskilled jobs?

    There are plenty of low-skill jobs. They’re service jobs.

    – Josh

  48. My point is in the “pragmatic” world of incremental reform there may be more benefit to to flood the country with screened high skilled, educated, and wealthy immigrants rather than unscreened unskilled welfare subsidized labor.

    Another good point. Pragmatically speaking, opening the borders to high-skilled labor first is an easier row to hoe. The welfare issue vanishes, and, simply by virtue of their higher incomes, they are person-for-person greater contributors to the society.

    And maybe, just maybe, the citizenry will see the effect and recognize that anyone who pays their own way — no matter how marginally — is also a positive contributor to the society and should be allowed in.

  49. What service jobs?

    how about-

    No dishwashers
    No McD’s, Wendys, etc.
    Highly automated restaurant kitchens
    Robot lawn mowers

    The list goes on. Listen to talks/writings from the bigwigs in finance and technology. They are all betting on automation in the short term.

  50. Listen to talks/writings from the bigwigs in finance and technology. They are all betting on automation in the short term.

    How cool! We’ve just time warped back to the Sixties, when everyone just knew that automation was going to put us all out of work.

  51. So what…we have never used an economic model of good-bad law enforcement. Where is the return on not allowing those poor uneducated Bank Robbers that only steal 10,000 dollars and the cost of trial and jail is 400,000.

    Never has computed and never will, wasn’t intended to in the first place.

    You might call it the “its the thought that counts” type of economics. Society has determined what is acceptable and if you want to do otherwise ….there is a cost that society has decided to take on.

    Now obviously many disagree on WHICH ones we work with but…thats how it works.

  52. Probably because when one looks at how hard it is for lowskilled low wage workers “to migrate…by legal means”…

    And it’s not just low-skilled workers. We have a friend in Japan who is shut out by the quota system. She’s a skilled laborer, loves America, and is an upstanding person who would be a great asset to this country.

    Meanwhile, I have a brother-in-law whom you can say all the same things about — and he’d love to emigrate to Japan. Couldn’t we let them trade places, for christsakes?!

    It’s cruel the way we screw with good people’s lives over imaginary lines between these granfalloonish occurrences of the 17th-century concept of the “nation state”. Never understood why I’m supposed to care more about people who happened to be born on the same of the line as me more than people who happened to be born on the other side of the line.

    My loyalty is to decent, hardworking people wherever they come from.

  53. No dishwashers
    No McD’s, Wendys, etc.
    Highly automated restaurant kitchens
    Robot lawn mowers

    Since we are already invoking French films today, Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle will be about as close to this as we will ever get.

  54. No dishwashers
    No McD’s, Wendys, etc.
    Highly automated restaurant kitchens
    Robot lawn mowers

    Ah, the long lost second verse of The Jetsons theme song!

    No…dish…washers! doo du du doo du du doo du du doo du du dududududu!

  55. I missed Lonewhacker and the flemur monkey?
    Nuts!

  56. “How cool! We’ve just time warped back to the Sixties”

    Really!

    Do follow tech at all? Intel has an 80 processor proof of concept chip. You can buy a programmable humanoid robot for a grand. They are developing molecular scale memory chips. Of course these types of advances were projected out a decade 5 years ago.

    But you’re right, none of this will have any impact on society.

    In truth it’s possible that tech advances will follow a very gentle slope but there is much evidence that this will not be the case. Every thing I’ve read says wide scale automation not to mention molecular manufacturing would be very disruptive to economies.

  57. Do follow tech at all?

    Well, actually, yeah. I’m a Software Engineer, so I know it’s going to take years before anybody figures out how to program those 80-processor chips to replace us all.

    But that’s besides the point. Throughout human history, we’ve figured out better and better ways of producing things. Automation is part of that. It’s always led to increased wealth and well-being.

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