Immigration

All Politics, No Principle

Employers and workers are the victims of Bush's immigration crackdown

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President Bush came into office promising to fix the country's broken immigration laws that, he said, were preventing willing American employers from hiring willing foreign workers. Nothing could be further from this vision than the employer crackdown that his Department of Homeland Security recently announced.

Why has the administration so totally reversed course?

It is not like it does not understand that the "problem" of illegal immigration is purely a function of existing immigration laws, not "evil doers." These laws don't exactly roll out the welcome mat for high-skilled immigrants that California's Silicon Valley badly needs. But they are downright hostile toward "unskilled" workers who form the backbone of the agricultural, landscaping and hotel industry in the Golden State and elsewhere.

On paper, there are two types of visas available for unskilled workers: H-2A for campesinos, or farm workers, and H-2B for other seasonal jobs. But thanks to copious red tape, these visas rarely ever arrive on time for the job. Even worse, they are usually good for less than a year and can only be renewed a few times. Once they expire, workers have to return home because neither they, nor their employers, can apply for a green card or permanent residency. Such a dead-end process leaves workers no choice but to work illegally.

The White House tried to get Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a guest worker component to create a way for future foreign workers to legally live and work in this country—and also regularize the status of undocumented aliens already in the country. But GOP nativists—aided by conservative talk radio and some Democrats—killed the bill as "amnesty," insisting instead on a tough, enforcement-only approach.

The Homeland Security Department's employer crackdown effectively embraces their approach. In 30 days, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will start sending letters to employers alerting them to any discrepancy in the Social Security numbers their employees are using and government records. Employers who discover that employees have given them false numbers—something that undocumented workers often do—will be required to fire them within 90 days—or face up to $10,000 in fines per employee. Repeat violations could bring jail time.

Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the architect of the crackdown, noted that the SSA expects to send 140,000 of these "no-match" letters covering more than 8 million people. But how precisely any of this will enhance national security, the core reason why his department exists, he has yet to explain. Does he really believe that Al Qaeda operatives are holding jobs illegally and will drop their plans to scurry for the border once these letters start rolling in?

This crusade won't improve national security, but it will disrupt the economy. To the extent that it succeeds in slowing the tide of foreign immigrants, it will cause labor shortages and raise prices of produce—and other goods and services in immigrant-dependent industries. California employers, especially farmers, will be among the worst hit given that they employ 2.5 million illegal immigrants—the highest of any state. Even before the crackdown, California's farmers were projecting 30 percent crop losses because intensified border patrolling had already shrunk the labor pool this year. Dianne Feinstein, California's Democratic Senator, expects the situation now to be nothing short of "catastrophic."

Curiously, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who joined Chertoff in announcing the crackdown, doesn't deny any of this. "We do not have the workers our economy needs to keep growing," he readily admits.

So why drive out the workers we have? Employer sanctions have been on the books for years. Why enforce them if there are no upsides for national security—only downsides for the economy?

One explanation is that the administration is hoping that this campaign will prove to Congress how much the economy depends on undocumented workers and force it to once again tackle comprehensive immigration reform. However, it is highly doubtful that the administration can genuinely believe that driving California farmers out of business will convince a determined immigration foe like Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado to see the light.

The only plausible reason is that the administration has not just abandoned rational immigration reform, which would be understandable under the circumstances. It has actually made a conscious decision to embrace its opposite to win back its lost base before next year's elections. In short, its immigration policy now is driven neither by conviction, nor the needs of the economy—but naked political calculation, even if that involves targeting "willing employers" and "willing foreign workers," the very victims of that policy.

That is a new low.

Shikha Dalmia is a senior policy analyst with the Reason Foundation. An archive of her work is here. Reason's government reform research and commentary is here.

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  1. I think more immigration is a good thing. We especially need more Mexican soap opera starlets and Japanese bikini models. They should have their own H classification. Perhaps H-36DD

  2. So we’re just going to gloss over the fact that some of these needed foreign workers are using fake SSN’s? Or using someone else’s SSN illegally? I thought that was called identity theft, but since these folks need jobs and we need the cheap labor, it’s OK. Now if I did it on the other hand…

    Here’s an idea: If you think it’s in the national interest to let illegal immigrants use other people’s identities, go ahead and post your personal information (Name, address, SSN, bank acct. #’s, &c.) on the internet. That way, all these wonderful workers can use your identity instead of stealing someone else’s. Any takers?

  3. I do think the administration has decided to go the strict enforcement route to cause pain to raise the outcry for a more rational immigration policy. While this enforcement plant is pleasing the nativist crowd, I think there is a gamble that their cheers will be drowned out by the cried of agony from those left facing bnkruptcy.

    After all, nobody in the administration is running for office in 2008, so they can force the issue however they want.

  4. If the US closed its border with Mexico, ensured that coming to the United States was difficult enough to become undesirable and the consequences were harsh enough to be deterrant, what then? What will happen that will make everything better for all of the existing inhabitants. Is it beneficial for US citizens to become insulated and fortified from the outside world. Should we make it hard to enter and leave the United States in general to save ourselves from foreign workers and potential terrorists (students from abroad). Do people really think that will make America stronger, happier? Or will it marginalize us, reduce our productivity and see a brain drain from all the people that may have come here, but decided it was not worthwhile anymore. America has plenty of self destructive tendencies and I think this phobia about the illegal immigrant is just another in a string of paranoid reactions America has taken towards the outside world. People complain that Ron Paul would be isolationist, but based on everything I’ve seen developing, Ron Paul would bring America back into the world compared to where we’re already headed right now. I was born and raised here, but I am losing my faith in our direction and I can’t blame politicians for it. If this is to be the continuing path of America, our decline has already begun.

  5. Actually, hmm, an even better idea would be to stop requiring Social Security numbers for people to work!

    The idea that we should have permission from the government to enter into employment contracts is an obscenity. It’s the sort of thing that belonged in a country like the Soviet Union, not in a free country.

  6. tarran,

    Yeah, I know-and I agree. Were I elected president the very first thing I’d do is to do away completely with the Social Security Administration. And having to give your serial number every time you want to do anything has always struck me as pretty un-american. That wasn’t my point though.

    What I take issue with in the article is the fact that so many “open borders” types are all too willing to forgive illegals for the crime of identity theft, and others. While you might say, and I might even agree, that crossing the border is a victimless crime, stealing someone else’s identity is certainly not.

  7. crossing the border is a victimless crime, stealing someone else’s identity is certainly not.

    Oh please. It’s not like these people are using your credit card or cashing in your 401k. The problem is that they can’t work legally. They use other peoples SSNs so they can WORK. That is not even remotely related to the serious crime of identity theft were someone takes out a loan in your name.

  8. Unfortunately the free trade willing buyer/seller rationale does not apply to the importation of prescription drugs from other countries by poorer Americans seeking relief from the highest drug prices in the world, according to “Reason”. Thank Big Pharmas contribution to the Foundation for that.

  9. hmm,

    Shikha Dalmia is not known for her reluctance to post ridiculous claims and arguments if they align with her political views. This is the writer who (apparently with a straight face) tried to convince us that Hummers are more energy-efficient than Priuses.

    Warren,

    If an illegal works using your SSN, and claims 11 exemptions or whatever, they’ll get nothing withheld and as far as the IRS is concerned, you’ll wind up owing taxes on the money they earned. Have fun convincing the IRS that you didn’t really work that job.

  10. Warren,

    Oh, please yourself. People use bogus or stolen SSN’s all the time to open new credit accounts, take out loans, etc. And most people are none the wiser until their credit is destroyed. And crimethink’s point about taxes is a good one as well. I’ve heard stories of both happening, but I suppose that’s just nativist propaganda, right?

  11. People use bogus or stolen SSN’s all the time to open new credit accounts, take out loans, etc. And most people are none the wiser until their credit is destroyed.

    Right, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. People who use someone else’s SSN to gain employment aren’t committing “identity theft”.

  12. Warren,

    You’re being obtuse. How is pretending that you are someone else NOT identity theft? The nature of the intentions doesn’t change the nature of the act. Otherwise, you have no ground to criticize the President’s starting the war in Iraq, since as far as we can tell his intentions were good.

    And you didn’t address my point about the person whose identity is stolen having to pay extra taxes.

  13. Unfortunately the free trade willing buyer/seller rationale does not apply to the importation of prescription drugs from other countries by poorer Americans seeking relief from the highest drug prices in the world, according to “Reason”.

    Got a cite?

  14. Still no mention here on reason about the story in the Arizona Republic about how the new workplace identification law, which hasn’t even gone in to effect yet, is already working. Illegal immigrants are self-deporting in Arizona.

    Undocumented immigrants are starting to leave Arizona because of the new employer-sanctions law.
    The state’s strong economy has been a magnet for illegal immigrants for years. But a growing number are pulling up stakes out of fear they will be jobless come Jan. 1, when the law takes effect. The departures are drawing cheers from immigration hard-liners and alarm from business owners already seeing a drop in sales.

    It’s impossible to count how many undocumented immigrants have fled because of the new law. But based on interviews with undocumented immigrants, immigrant advocates, community leaders and real-estate agents, at least several hundred have left since Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the bill on July 2. There are an estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona.

    Some are moving to other states, where they think they will have an easier time getting jobs. Others are returning to Mexico, selling their effects and putting their houses on the market.

    The number departing is expected to mushroom as the Jan. 1 deadline draws closer. After that, the law will require employers to verify the employment eligibility of their workers through a federal database.

  15. crimethink,

    It’s not about intentions, it’s about consequences. I’ll try typing slower. In the case of unpaid taxes, or unpaid debt or other damages to someone else’s credit, reputation, etc., YES that is identity theft.

    However, if someone uses your SSN to get a job because there is no legal way for them to work here. And you are not held liable for any of their actions, then that is not identity theft in the same sense as someone who uses your credit card.

    Calling it identity theft is just a bullshit scare tactic of trying to equate a very real and serious crime with people who are just trying to get a job.

  16. Unfortunately, most of the the target audience the crackdowns pander to will not be picking up the Los Angeles Business Journal, or any economics textbooks, any time soon. No amount of evidence is going to change the gut reactions of people who firmly believe that them damn illegal aliens are snapping up every decent-paying job while simultaneously wrecking America’s wondrous health-care and education systems for shits and giggles and plotting terrorist attacks.

  17. Still no mention here on reason about the story in the Arizona Republic about how the new workplace identification law, which hasn’t even gone in to effect yet, is already working.

    If by “working” you mean making the US economy worse off, you may have a point.

    Of course, there’s also no mention yet here on reason about the story in the Arizona Republic about how crackdowns based on bogus social security numbers will lead to more identity theft as employees trying to keep their jobs actively seek out and trade real social security numbers that are less likely to be caught by such crackdowns.

  18. From the Arizona Republic article

    New hiring law spurs identity-theft fears
    Authorities expect ID thieves to target real Social Security numbers

    The fake-document trade is booming in Arizona. It’s about to get even bigger.

    Hundreds of operations around the Valley churn out fake green cards, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses by the thousands, authorities say. Their chief customers: illegal immigrants. Some are trying to land jobs in Arizona. Some are passing through Phoenix, a major smuggling hub, on the way to other states.

    Most of the fake documents bought on the street by undocumented immigrants are made with bogus numbers.

    But authorities fear the industry will grow as migrants look for ways to circumvent the state’s new employer-sanctions law and a new Bush administration crackdown on illegal workers.

    The push for more documents, especially with authentic numbers, is expected to spur more identity theft.

  19. I really think today is a tremendous opportunity for the faux libertarians/corporatist shills from Reason to join in a happy alliance with their far-left, racially-motivated, MexicanGovernment-linked brethern:

    fairimmigration.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/august-28-2007-national-day-of-action-for-justice-human-rights/

  20. I wonder if the amount of tax revenue derived from illegal immigration equals or surpasses the amount of government services being used? Anybody seen any studies?

    Also,how are these people buying houses? I had to undergo everything short of an anal probe to get my mortgage. Seems not having real identity would make it easy to skip out on debt.

  21. Screw the illegals,I am in direct competition with them and I see where this is going Right down the tubes,try living in SoCal,try being The Working Poor,come on I dare you.eventually people will take matters into there own hands.

  22. I really think today is a tremendous opportunity for the faux libertarians/corporatist shills from Reason to join in a happy alliance with their far-left, racially-motivated, MexicanGovernment-linked brethern:

    fairimmigration.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/august-28-2007-national-day-of-action-for-justice-human-rights/

    Would you still care to explain what exactly is libertarian about your support of an apologist for internment camps (Michelle Malkin), Tom Tancredo and Little Green Footballs? I noticed you haven’t given a response to that yet.

    And for the record, I don’t support the La Raza types nor do I agree with everything Reason says about immigration, but you’re still you’re an idiot, and an insane one at that.

  23. you’re still you’re an idiot=you’re still an idiot

  24. I wonder if the amount of tax revenue derived from illegal immigration equals or surpasses the amount of government services being used? Anybody seen any studies?

    Also,how are these people buying houses? I had to undergo everything short of an anal probe to get my mortgage. Seems not having real identity would make it easy to skip out on debt.

    Good questions.

    I myself think the best way to deal with “illegal” immigration is to respect property rights instead of trying to protect government-created borders. Of course, TLB supports violating proprety rights in general if it means keeping the Mexicans out, so it’s obviously a foreign concept to him. Yet we’re the ones he calls “faux-libertarians.”

  25. Also,how are these people buying houses? I had to undergo everything short of an anal probe to get my mortgage. Seems not having real identity would make it easy to skip out on debt.

    They same way they are getting checking accounts with out documentation, or drivers licenses, or in-state tuition…

  26. “Why has the administration so totally reversed course?”

    Because the majority of the U.S. population wants it that way. Bush, the Senate, and House finally got the message. Its that simple. The elites can’t win every political battle otherwise, the citizens will rebel and the elites will be left with nothing.

  27. If illegals are using my Social Security number, I presume the employer is already withholding taxes. And I may even get something back. They will never be able to collect on the Social Security anyway.

    It’s really the fault of the system that Social Security numbers are used as a kind of national ID, originally it was only to be used by employers and the Federal Government. Now everyone uses it – banks, supermarkets, insurance companies, homeowners associations. When I had an emergency appendectomy last year, the first thing they asked for was my SSN. Popped it into the computer and there was all my health information.

  28. Those who are not eligible for a Social Security number yet need to report income to the IRS can get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which looks like a SSN, but is not equal to any real SSN.

    An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a 7 or 8 in the fourth digit, example 9XX-7X-XXXX.
    IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
    ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have U.S. tax return and payment responsibilities under the Internal Revenue Code.
    Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.

    It used to be that illegal workers would use ITINs for their employment. The IRS and SSA would look the other way, realizing that what they collected out of payroll taxes, they got to keep.

    I haven’t seen anything reported about ITINs, but presumably those using them today for employment inside the US will be the first that the ICE weasels will go after.

    People using ITINs are in no way explicitly or implicitly, intentionally or accidentally, stealing anyone’s identity.

  29. Yes, they can apply for an ITIN. And they can request it be used by an employer. The employer still needs to see a green card or social security card (and keep a record of that event, with no obligation to check its veracity until asked to do so) so most illegals will not know how or risk asking to change to an ITIN. They’ll get fake docs and use those. But the SSN is not used for much else because each use brings a risk of discovery and once the job is secured, why risk it? You can open a bank account with an ITIN legally although some banks have policy not to do, and will send nag mail asking for other documentation even if they do.

    Most of the identity theft causing problems is by professional criminals who know a good scam when they see it. Some percent may be illegals but if you deport them all, don’t expect much change in the ID theft criminal activity, which is coordinated by offshore gangs harvesting correct and coordinated info for SSN, personal info, and credit cards. That is a whole level of sophistication (and seriously dangerous people) than the selling of a fake SSN card on the street to an immigrant where the number is generated randomly, the true owner is unknown, there is no link to credit cards – it is just a random number generator and a high quality printer on the right kind of paper.

  30. Let’s estimate the revenue of SS donations from illegals. About 8M of the 12M are in work (the rest are dependent family) and lets assume they work an average of 2000 hours per year at minimum wage, about $16k per person. Last time I ran a business and paid mostly hourly unskilled employees seems to me, in my state and locale, that the total payroll taxes were about 15% of the payroll. Rounding down, that is about $2k per person (paid direct by employers to fed/state/local agencies) or about $16Bn per year in payments for benefits which, largely, will never be collected.

    They will not be collected because most illegals have no documentation to collect. They don’t stay long enough (50% return home per year, on average, making 2 years the average length of stay) to collect unemployment much less the various old-age benefits. Most hospitals are much more picky about documentation than employers, you can get emergency care but mostly you’ll need to prepay if your documents are suspect. High schools can’t give you diplomas in most states, community colleges may let you enroll but the feds have been threatening funding for the last couple of years so mostly you can’t finish or get an actual recorded qualification.

    Oh, and of course there may be regular taxes over and above the payroll taxes. Probably the total donation, in taxes intended to fund benefits they will never collect, is north of $20Bn per year. Just back of the envelope calculation but I do know that investigations of the costs to the state of illegal immigrants repeatedly end up calculating that they are a net positive to the gov.

  31. To Grant:

    investigations of the costs to the state of illegal immigrants repeatedly end up calculating that they are a net positive to the gov

    I suggest you look here: http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecentersfa6e
    “That immigration does not help the economy should come as no surprise, since, in a sense, we are importing poverty.”

    Every study I’ve seen that takes into account the full cost of imprisonment, law-enforcement, schooling, hospital costs, govt interpreters, drug-smuggling, remittances sent to immigrants home countries, native unemployment, etc, brings the costs to a big net loss.

    And on top of that, there are the costs that can’t really be measured monetarily: costs to the environment, resource depletion (the SW USA is in the middle of a fresh water crisis) and social unrest (when you have literally a nation inside a nation, it is rarely good for the economy).

    To a man, it seems the editors of reason just want us to sit back and enjoy illegal immigration. But most “reasonable” people know that is a suicidally irresponsible attitude.

  32. Every study I’ve seen that takes into account the full cost of imprisonment, law-enforcement, schooling, hospital costs, govt interpreters, drug-smuggling, remittances sent to immigrants home countries, native unemployment, etc, brings the costs to a big net loss.

    Perhaps you should look at studies that include the economic contributions of illegal immigrants, such as the producer surplus of their employment and the comparative advantage gained by native workers who do not need to do the jobs immigrants can do. You’ll find that the consensus is a mild gain to the national economy of a touch less than 1%.

    See this Cato article for some refutation of the sources of the FAIR article you cite.

    One frequently cited figure on the cost of low-skilled immigrants comes from the authoritative 1997 National Research Council study, The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. The study calculated the lifetime fiscal impact of immigrants with different educational levels. The study expressed the impact in terms of net present value (NPV), that is, the cumulative impact in future years expressed in today’s dollars. The study estimated the lifetime fiscal impact of a typical immigrant without a high school education to be a negative NPV of $89,000. That figure is often cited by skeptics of immigration reform.

    As the NRC study was being written, Congress passed the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, otherwise know as the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. The act contains an entire title devoted to restricting immigrant access to means-tested welfare, limiting access of noncitizens to such public benefit programs as food stamps and Medicaid. When the NRC study accounted for the impact of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, the fiscal impact of a single low-skilled immigrant and descendants was further reduced to $5,000 in terms of net present value.

  33. “crossing the border is a victimless crime, stealing someone else’s identity is certainly not.”

    You folks are goofy. Where do you get your info?

    Look – identity theft = using your name AND SSN, and sometimes B-day. Living your life to get credit and leave you holding the bag.

    So… if they’re using your SSN and Jose Curevo’s name – do you think it’s difficult to convince the IRS that those deductions aren’t yours? The get here and make up a number – or the coyote gives them a number. Do you think they’re psychic?

    Finally – don’t worry about sending them a thank you for all that money contributed to your SS account. Nice and fat that is now, huh?

    Speaking of… $500 billion dollars contributed to SSA fund by people who will never be able to claim it. Good thing, too – since our so-called surplus had to go towards fighting terror or something. My question is – when you send them home… who’s gonna fund my mother’s social secuity check. I hear a huge sucking sound.

  34. “but I do know that investigations of the costs to the state of illegal immigrants repeatedly end up calculating that they are a net positive to the gov.”

    That is correct. The figures vary from state to state (some states have a net loss, some a net gain) but federal figures always show a net gain. Which tells me States should revamp their welfare systems… or maybe re-allocate money from restroom rendezvous to outreach programs that educate the public on how to utilize primary care physicians instead of ER’s for colds.

  35. “How is pretending that you are someone else NOT identity theft..”

    Not pretending to be somebody else pretty much explains how one would not be pretending to be someone else. Not using your name, not using your birthday, not using your address… or other cooberating identifiers establishes the intent to steal your identity.

    ARE you your Social Secuity number? I am not. I HAVE one. I also have a name. And a lot of other info that makes me… me. The day we are reduced to a number and nothing else is the day I start looking for the Four Horsemen.

    The government knows its not you when the name and number and birthdate do not match. Relax.

  36. Here is the deal folks. Illegal immigrants are called illegal because because they are breaking the law. Period. They break it when they enter illegally or when they overstay their visas. Every day they stay they break the law–again. If they take a job, ditto. If they use my SSN to get it–fraud, identity theft. How one enters this country is where all discussions BEGIN. It is not an afterthought. Pure motives and a good work ethic are nice, but completely irrelevant.
    As an American citizen who actually HAS some the rights illegals claim to have, I have the right to demand that our gov’t enforce the laws that MY representatives passed. And these people have the stones to tell me how THEY’RE being dissed. If this SSN enforcement is what it takes–fine.

    Warren, Catch a clue, having my SSN in the hands of someone looking for a job means that it is unsecured. What’s to keep this “employee” from selling it.

    Grant, The numbers I’ve seen say that each illegal alien costs the taxpayers $22K/yr. Remember their children are being educated, they go to emergency room for a cold and how many are being paid under the table?

  37. When the illegals use your SSN, you get their bad credit tacked on to your SSN and you could end up spending thousands if not more to clear up their mess. Two cases in S. Carolina cost the Americans $10,000 each. Plus the bad credit note stays on your SSN for the rest of your life. Plus you can lose benefits you worked for !! No this ID Theft of SSN is VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS AND THAT IS WHY IT IS A FELONY. One 16 year old American is now stuck for life with a SNN ruined by an illegals bad credit.

    Yes Bush wants to create an economic diaster so he can turn around and say I told you so! We need amnesty! Then he will try and get it in order to move forward his agreement for a North American Union between Mexico, Canada and the USA. Gopgle it.

    It is rumored that Bush has agreed to completely open borders by 2010. That explains why the fence has not been built, and when Bush announed his tough enforcement he took 1/2 of the border patrol off the border.

    A Bush memo obtained by Judical Watch in its litigation with the government says that Bush is going to use ” evolution by stealth”, to create in secrecy various policies because if Americans knew about it they would not accept the North American Integration.

    Call your Senators, Congressman, and State reps and let them know that you don’t care what Bush has agreed to, no pathway to citizenshp and no North American Union. America remains America.

  38. I am willing to pay the 5 cents extra per head of lettuce or 5 cents per pound of tomatoes that it will cost for American’s to harvest them.

  39. All true libertarians know that true freedom is importing a permanent Third World underclass that receives huge government benefits and special privileges based on race. After all the point of libertarianism isn’t to fight the state — it’s to destroy the national community. That’s why La Raza’s organizing is pro freedom, but the multiracial Minutemen are racist, facist, and homophobic. That’s also why Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, and Ron Paul are all fascists.

    Libertarians have reconciled themselves to the Civil Rights Act, the welfare state, the military industrial complex, and high taxes, but NO SURRENDER to the disgusting nativists that think they can keep America from becoming a libertarian Third World paradise.

  40. It all boils down to the kind of nation one wants to have. Any nation can grow economically–for a time– by supporting massive immigration. But do we want to be like China, India, etc.? If you study the pro -immigration debate closely, you will find that it is only advocated to make the rich, richer, pure and simple. It impoverishes the middle and working classes. That is the point nutty liberal/progressives never consider, who always say,that these are the very people they want to help.

  41. A, uhhh, Reason-able person, supplied with adequate knowledge of the facts, would understand that it is naive and unrealistic to expect that you can have both open borders and small government. It doesn’t work.

    One reason is because the people swarming across the borders – mostly Hispanics – are inclined to vote for liberals by a 2-1 ratio. 92% of elected Hispanics are Democrats. These people, no matter what fantasy you’d like to conjure up, are natural leftists.

    But that’s not the only reason. The other is that the economic damage and inequality sustained by the middle and working classes in America due to open borders creates pressure for more government spending and more regulation amongst groups that otherwise would tend to be conservatives.

    For the middles classes, incomes have been stagnating and quality of life has actually been shrinking.

    You can have open borders OR or you can have smaller government, less regulation, and more dynamism. You cannot have both.

  42. Open border nonsense is one of the reasons I parted company with libertarian types. The effects of the Mexican invasion are abundantly clear and most Americans are fed up with the way big companies are running this country.

    I do not understand why libertarian types haul water for the corporate fascist ruling class. It ain’t like you’ll get much in return. As the Dead Kennedy’s tune goes, “In the real 4th reich, you’ll be the first to go …”

  43. President Bush came into office promising to fix the country’s broken immigration laws that, he said, were preventing willing American employers from hiring willing foreign workers.

    Willing workers, willing employers. What about willing citizens, willing to endure the burdens placed on their roads, their schools, their watersheds, their justice systems, and the impact on the political process by bringing in millions of new (or potential) voters?

    Nothing could be further from this vision than the employer crackdown that his Department of Homeland Security recently announced.

    Tough shit. Sometimes politicians have to listen to the will of the people.

    These laws don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for high-skilled immigrants that California’s Silicon Valley badly needs. But they are downright hostile toward “unskilled” workers who form the backbone of the agricultural, landscaping and hotel industry in the Golden State and elsewhere.

    According to industry lobbyists, we’re short of unskilled workers, short of high skilled workers, and short of medium skilled workers. Is there any goddamned group of workers we’re not allegedly short of?

    The White House tried to get Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a guest worker component to create a way for future foreign workers to legally live and work in this country-and also regularize the status of undocumented aliens already in the country.

    Nothing is as permanent as a “guest” worker. And any of the children of these “guest” workers who are born here are automatically considered citizens.

    But GOP nativists-aided by conservative talk radio and some Democrats – killed the bill as “amnesty,” insisting instead on a tough, enforcement-only approach.

    Not “enforcement-only” – enforcement first. We’ve seen how far those promises of enforcement go. Once the amnesty goes through they either fall by the wayside or get litigated to death (see the current ACLU lawsuit).

    how precisely any of this will enhance national security, the core reason why his department exists, he has yet to explain.

    No, Homeland Security has several agenies under its umbrella – one of them is Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Neither “immigration” nor “customs” is necessarily a “national security” issue – they could easily fall under the heading of economic issues. Nevertheless, that is one of the repsonsibilities its been given.

    Does he really believe that Al Qaeda operatives are holding jobs illegally and will drop their plans to scurry for the border once these letters start rolling in?

    His job is to enforce the goddamned laws. I don’t have the right to randomly ignore laws. He’s sworn an oath to uphold the laws of this land. Is this what folks at Reason want – to have government bureaucrats who ignore or enforce laws willynilly, depending on who they are, how much they give in political contributions, or whatever? Such is the path to a banana republic.

    This crusade won’t improve national security, but it will disrupt the economy.

    Since when did political issues become all about the economy. When did people become viewed as nothing more than cogs in the vast economic machine. Politics and immigration is about a helluva lot more than economics – it’s about culture, value, and morals, too.

    To the extent that it succeeds in slowing the tide of foreign immigrants, it will cause labor shortages and raise prices of produce…

    The whole point of free trade is that we don’t need to produce everything we consume here. A high-tech economy does not need to produce every leaf of lettuce it eats. Leave that to the “developing” nations.

    California employers, especially farmers, will be among the worst hit given that they employ 2.5 million illegal immigrants-the highest of any state.

    California has become a state where a middle class lifestyle is all but impossible for most people. Government spending is out-of-control, and the schools are now barely ahead of Mississippi’s schools. The commutes are attrocious and the government was facing a $24 billion deficit just a few years ago.

    But don’t dare suggest that has anything to do with immigration (now 35% of its population).

    Even before the crackdown, California’s farmers were projecting 30 percent crop losses because intensified border patrolling had already shrunk the labor pool this year.

    Oh bullshit. Industry lobbyists are forever “projecting” labor shortages in one industry or another. It’s part of their whole goddamned plan to push down the cost of labor and collect profits for themselves. If we have real labor shortages then where are the wage increases?

    Don’t give us projections about crops that will be allegedly lost. Give us actual crop losses due to lack of labor, and then maybe we’ll talk. As it is, I’ll bet the actual crop losses are no different than normal.

    Curiously, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who joined Chertoff in announcing the crackdown, doesn’t deny any of this. “We do not have the workers our economy needs to keep growing,” he readily admits.

    Got news for you: there is a fixed amount of work that the human body can do. In 4 million years or so of human evolution it hasn’t really changed much. Growth in wealth doesn’t come from more hands – it comes from using knowledge and machinery (capital investment) to augment what those hands can do.

    Immigration, therefore, doesn’t do anything to grow the economy in ways that matter to people. Sure it may help growth in absolute terms, but not in per capita terms – which is what matters.

    So why drive out the workers we have?

    Because their presence does not benefit the legal citizens of this ocuntry – and that is the only measure that matters.

    Employer sanctions have been on the books for years. Why enforce them if there are no upsides for national security-only downsides for the economy?

    Because it’s the law. And it’s the law because that’s what the voters want – that’s why they’re still on the books, and that’s why the amnesty failed, you moron!

    One explanation is that the administration is hoping that this campaign will prove to Congress how much the economy depends on undocumented workers and force it to once again tackle comprehensive immigration reform.

    Call our bluff. Please. I can assure you, we won’t see too many Americans begging for the return of the illegals. In fact what we’re likely to see are things Americans will like – wage increases at the bottom and better commutes for everyone. Don’t let ’em get a taste of that, or they’ll be wanting more!

    However, it is highly doubtful that the administration can genuinely believe that driving California farmers out of business will convince a determined immigration foe like Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado to see the light.

    Since when does the government have the obligation to ensure every business with the amount of labor it wants at the price it wants to pay? That’s not a free market – that’s government interference in the market.

    It has actually made a conscious decision to embrace its opposite to win back its lost base before next year’s elections.

    Translation: it’s listening to the voters. In a democracy. How dare the! Who the hell do they think they are, these poltiicians, (pretending) to listen to the voters?

    That is a new low.

    An apt description of the logic used in your column.

  44. “The act contains an entire title devoted to restricting immigrant access to means-tested welfare, limiting access of noncitizens to such public benefit programs as food stamps and Medicaid”

    States aren’t complying with that act. And why should they? Laws are optional.

  45. I do not understand why libertarian types haul water for the corporate fascist ruling class. – bobcat

    Why do you think, Bobcat? Who do you think funds them? People like multi-billionaire David Koch (Koch Industries), multi-billionaire Fred Smith (FedEx), and multi-billionaire John Malone (Liberty Mdeia, TCI, etc.)

    These groups don’t stay in business because they’re the best and brightest libertarians around. They stay in business because they’re willing to play the tune called by he who pays the piper.

  46. If you want the statistics on how mass immigration, both legal and illegal, is impacting our country, go to fairus.org.

    And Americans are not nativists. Unlike the Chinese, Japanese or Indians, they are accustomed to living with people of all cultures. But like the Chinese, Japanese and Indians, they reserve the right to say stop. No more people. If you wish to define a people as xenophobic and nativist, that would be most Asian cultures.

  47. The sad thing is that I can remember how excited I was, years ago as a high school freshman debater, when I first came across a magazine called “Reason.” “Wow,” I thought. How refreshing to have a magazine that uses “reason” to address the issues of the day.

    I was naive, of course. “Reason” was little more than a word chosen as a moral ploy to suggest their way – their ideology – was better than anyone else’s.

    Reason is not an ideology – it’s a method and an approach to solving a problem. It’s like the quadratic formula or the Pythagorean theorem.

  48. Unlike the Chinese, Japanese or Indians, they are accustomed to living with people of all cultures. – Jay

    How dare you, Jay? How dare you mention that there are a whole slew of countries – Israel, Finland, Korea, Japan – that maintain dynamic first world economies without either mass immigration or “diversity?” You have no right to do such a thing!

  49. When will open borders enthusiasts be happy, when we have the population density of India?

  50. Great post thanks! Very good blog!

  51. Great blog very good information!

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