Immigration

Lurching Toward Immigration Reform

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It looks as if a bipartisan group of senators have come up with immigration reform legislation that might actually pass that body. From the AP:

Key senators and the White House reached agreement today on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States and fortify the border.

The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the United States. A separate program would cover agricultural workers.

New high-tech enforcement measures also would be instituted to verify that workers are here legally….

The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a "Z visa" and—after paying fees and a $5,000 fine—ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first….

More here.

The details are sketchy, so it's hard to evaluate the proposed law. And it's hard to know how the House will play along, since pre-Dem takeover, House Republicans were the real hurdle to clear in immigration reform (they didn't want no stinking guestworkers).

Anything that brings people into the official economy is a good thing. It's not clear that this reform will do that, especially give the touchback provisions.

Reason on immigration here.

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  1. Institutionalized second-class citizens? Oh hurray!

  2. Oh, drat. I thought my indentured servitude idea had real merit. Darn Congress, anyway.

  3. “Those workers would have to return home after work stints of two years, with little opportunity to gain permanent legal status or become U.S. citizens. They could renew their guest worker visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time.”

    so, they fly home, apply for probationary work visa, return for two years, go back for a year, return for 2 years, then go back for 3-5 years while they’re being processed? Why in the world would anybody submit to this? If you hate migrants, end their incentive by taking down all the companies that emply them until theres no reason to come over. Or, if you don’t want to kill the economy, just issue them work visas, let them work, pay taxes and move on with their lives. Compromise is another word for “the worst of both schools of thought”

  4. i just have to ask, what do we expect immigrants to do in their one year back at home. sit and watch tv and drink cervesas?

  5. The W$J article on this refers vaguely to “New high-tech enforcement measures [that] also would be instituted to verify that workers are here legally.”

    National tamper-proof ID cards? Chip implants? The Hell with either one.

  6. Anything that brings people into the official economy is a good thing.

    That may not always be true. For example, legalizing the status of illegals will price most of them out of the job market, and they’ll be replaced with a new wave of (cheaper) illegal labor. As a result, bringing them into official economy will put them into the unemployment benefits/social security bucket, which is not such a great thing.

  7. Maybe then we’ll realize the minimum wage is not what it’s cracked up to be.

  8. I’m surprised by this. I don’t think it has a chance of getting to the president’s desk, but I’m surprised it got this far.

  9. “sit and watch tv and drink cervesas?”

    I’m curious, can’t the market work it’s magic in Mexico? Why aren’t industrious people starting new businesses there. I understand there are problems with corruption in government etc. But there are roadblocks in every country.

  10. I wonder if LoneWacko hasAnything toSay aboutThis…

  11. Yes, indeed, I do. Comments on how this will fail at the link.

    As for “touchback”, LuisGutierrez was on CSPAN laughing about it and discussing how someone could travel from Chicago to Canada, stay in Canada for an hour to “touchback”, and then be home that evening. That’s under his bill, not the Senate one, but we can probably assume they’re similar.

  12. the squeaky greaser gets the wheels turning

  13. Right on Jozeph. All that amnesty will do is make working, illegals into unemployable, free-loaders. They need the illegal status to be exempt from minimum-wage laws.

    If this inches us closer to national insolvency then it is probably a good thing. Nothing gets fixed until we’re bankrupt.

  14. What the hell is the logic behind the “touchback” provisions? I mean, from the proponents’ point of view; not trying to find actual real-world logic in the actions of Congress.

  15. Why aren’t industrious people starting new businesses there. I understand there are problems with corruption in government

    You answer your own question. The free market can not work in Mexico because the corrupt government will not respect peoples property rights. The US WOsDs is keeping much of this hemisphere in poverty. The US Government will not permit any American country to establish a legal drug market. Organized crime will not permit any American country to prevent the trade in illegal drugs. Therefore, every country from Mexico to Chili must accept money from, and wield power to assist, both sides. Legal markets can not flourish under such conditions.

  16. Can anyone cite anything that demonstrates that illegal immigrants work for less than minimum wage? All I have heard is that their wages are generally greater than minimum.

  17. It’s just that their minimum is lower than the minimum that us white christian anti gay and anti abortion folk are willing to work for.

  18. “Legal markets can not flourish under such conditions.”

    That was what I was hinting at. Can’t illegal markets increase peoples’ standard of living. I’m not talking about drug markets, more underground markets- might mean police pay offs, etc.

  19. Anonymo the Anonymous asks: What the hell is the logic behind the “touchback” provisions?

    In the CSPAN interview I mentioned above, LuisGutierrez suggested that we ask JeffFlake why, and said that it was in there to placate conservatives.

    Obviously, they think you’re even dumber that you thought they thought.

  20. MikeP: I don’t know whether the wages are greater or lower than minimum, but there are other costs for employers, such as tax witholdings, reposting burden, insurance cost, etc., which are not present when the worker is not documented.

  21. On the bright side, let me point out some of the pro-libertarian features of the compromise:

    – a National IDCard; even if it’s just for foreigners at the start, it will eventually be for everyone

    – massive subsidies for cheap labor employers

    – importing massive numbers of people from countries with absolutely no libertarian tradition of any kind

    – a potential cost of $2.5 trillion

    There are many other pro-libertarian features, but that should be enough for now.

  22. Can anyone cite anything that demonstrates that illegal immigrants work for less than minimum wage?

    I know from personal experience that educated illegals here in NYC make considerably more than minimum wage, but less than the government-dictated minimums per field that is required to remain here legally. For instance, a person with a masters in business must find a job paying, say, $50K (I don’t know the exact figure – but it’s higher than an entry-level graduate can expect to make). In other words, the system is rigged against people who want to immigrate legally.

  23. importing massive numbers of people from countries with absolutely no libertarian tradition of any kind

    Maybe that’s why they want to come here in the first place. Y’know, masses yearning to breathe free and all that.

  24. 12 million, that’s more than the average state,
    yielding 20 congressmen, 3 or four senators.
    This compromise is akin to those before the Civil War. It’s a beginning of a bigger problem to solve.
    Someday someone is going to say,
    “get out,”
    and someone will answer,
    “or what?” “NO!”
    They’re here to stay, and more are on the way, from the south and from Asia.

  25. More like “Slouching toward immigration reform”.

  26. I don’t know whether the wages are greater or lower than minimum, but there are other costs for employers, such as tax witholdings, reposting burden, insurance cost, etc., which are not present when the worker is not documented.

    The citizen or legal immigrant is also free to work off the books as the illegal immigrant to some degree must. You would be hard pressed indeed to find employers who want their employees to be illegal residents except for the cynical reason that they can’t run to the authorities if mistreated.

  27. Seems that there are really only two choices in regard to those who are already here illegally. 1) Round them up and deport them all, or 2) give them green cards and let them stay and work and make progress toward becoming citizens. Either choice, combined with strict enforcement of border crossings, would be simple enough to at least have a chance of working.

    Leave it to the Feds to devise a plan that requires them to go, then come back, then go again, then apply and wait eight years, then pay $5,000, plus back taxes. This, of course, will result in a tangle of red tape so long no one can get through it, and will probably be basically unenforceable anyway.

  28. Either choice, combined with strict enforcement of border crossings, would be simple enough to at least have a chance of working.

    See, Pug, by mentioning “strict enforcement” in an immigration debate, you tag yourself as being some kind of racist authoritarian.

  29. I don’t think it has a chance of getting to the president’s desk

    From what I can tell, Bush is in love with it.

    Let’s face it, it may be his last chance to do something worth a shit before leaving office.

  30. Anyways, it seems to be a much better solution than anything Paul has promoted so far. I think it is about as close to decent immigration reform as we are going to get.

  31. Y’know, it might be cheaper to just buy Mexico from the corrupt assholes that own it, pension them off to Miami, and turn Mexico into a real, functioning country.

  32. Protect the border.

    Stop the Mexican Invasion.

  33. Chris0,

    Someone should really suggest that, just so we could watch Tancredo’s head explode.

  34. Rhywun says: “Maybe that’s why they want to come here in the first place.”

    I suspect they have different motivations. Say, are you considering the impacts of all possible motivations, or are you just a mindless booster? I suspect the latter.

    Pug also offers the standard FalseChoice that I’ve heard over and over. He forgets another choice: enforcing current laws so many will leave voluntarily over time.

  35. Pug also forgets the fourth, and best, choice:

    Let them have yellow cards that allow them to enter, exit, reside, and work in the country at will. They will still need to queue up for green card “permanent” residence and eventual citizenship.

    And, by the way, anyone showing up at the border or at a US consulate who passes the background check should be able to get that yellow card.

  36. “- importing massive numbers of people from countries with absolutely no libertarian tradition of any kind”

    Wow, you really don’t know anything about Latin America, do you?

  37. “Warren | May 17, 2007, 4:44pm | #

    I’m surprised by this. I don’t think it has a chance of getting to the president’s desk, but I’m surprised it got this far.”

    Hi, Warren.

    I agree with you, this is not over. The Republicans no longer run Congress, so the fact that the leadership supports this bill no longer guarantees its passage.

    Still, it’s a pretty big step.

  38. I suspect they have different motivations. Say, are you considering the impacts of all possible motivations, or are you just a mindless booster? I suspect the latter.

    No. I’m being just as glib as you in asserting one single motivation for everyone who wants to come here–in a pointless attempt to get you out of your TheMexicansAreComingToGetUs mentality.

  39. I have friends who have been trying to legally migrate into the US for 13 years so far.

    I guess his mistake was

    1. Being a highly educated professional

    2. Following the rules

    As someone who was a strong supporter of the 1986 amnesty program I can’t help but notice every time the congress attempts to fix the “immigration problem” they always make it worse.

    The 1986 amnesty agreement was supposed to fix the problem. As citizens we got three things out of the 1986 agreement.

    1. A requirement to show ID to get a job.

    2. A massive underground economy to forge the documents required to get a job

    3. Steadily increasing population of illegal aliens.

    This bill will give us a requirement to

    1. Have a national ID card

    2. Show it in order to get work

    3. On the plus side it probably won’t take long for the forgery proof national id card to get forged.

  40. The US immigration system gives us the worst of both worlds. It harasses the daylights out of those who are trying to enter the country legally and do high value work.

    It tends to wink at those who illegally enter the US to do low value work.

    If the comment made by Mark Steyn is accurate it neatly illustrates this problem.

    Larry makes a good point about high-skilled workers being tied to individual employers. As I understand this new bill, a low-skilled illegal immigrant will have more employment mobility than a high-skilled legal immigrant – and his Z-1 visa will last a year longer the E2 Investor visa for foreigners who come here, start a US business and employ American citizens.

    Hmm.

  41. MikeP lives in a fantasy world, thinking that we could allow anyone who applies to come here just as workers. The real world doesn’t work that way: those millions of serfs will acquire representation, will push for voting rights, will march in the streets demanding “rights”, etc. etc. Hey! What does that sound like?

    Cesar: which libertarian paradise should Badnarik move to?

  42. Temporary worker status is unsustainable. This is a democratic society, and having a class of people without the rights of citizenship is abhorrent.

    If we let people in, we have to let those who wish to become citizens do so after a period of time. It can’t work any other way, unless we’re willing to live like Sparta and Rome, and we’re not.

  43. If we let people in, we have to let those who wish to become citizens do so after a period of time.

    I find it less abhorrent for them to bide their time waiting for citizenship as free residents rather than third-class persons waiting in a quota or lottery to enter the US.

    If society’s worries are welfare rolls, then make the queue for welfare privileges long. If society’s worries are too many new immigrants becoming citizens too quickly, then make the queue for citizenship long.

    But don’t pretend that abrogating the rights of individuals who happen to have been born elsewhere to travel, reside, and work in the US makes society more free. It doesn’t.

  44. Chris Kelly, Im not going to be your history professor here but there have been plenty of classical liberal movements in Latin American history, if you are really interested (you aren’t) you can go read some books. To say they have no classical liberal tradition at all tells me what I’ve long suspected about you–you are an ignoramus of the first order.

    ICanTranslateMyWholePostIntoChrisKellySpeakIfItWouldHelpYouToUnderStandItBetter.

  45. They come here and work legally, then have to leave and stay out for a year, then they come back for a year, then they have to leave and stay out and pay back taxes and a fine before they come back.

    Who knew it was so simple to solve this problem?

  46. Since they are here legally now, and have all the right documents, then employers will have to actually pay the full bill for their services: workmen’s compenation insurance, payroll tax, etc.

    Yeah, that is going to work. Finally, all of these valiant small business owners who are “providing two out of three jobs in America” are going to actually obey the law.

  47. The hordes of illegals following the hordes of now-legal immigrants will be turned away by America’s moral, caring employers.

    “No, no, Jose don’t bother offering to work for less than Juan, or to work, “off the books”. That would be illegal. I can’t be involved in hiring people illegally, and dodging the societal costs.

    Yep, problem solved!

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