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January 29, 2013 1:07 PM   Subscribe

President Obama called on Congress, in a speech today in Las Vegas, to advance an immigration overhaul that includes a plan “that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in this country right now.”

We’ve got to -- we’ve got to lay out a path, a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally, that’s only fair. All right? So that means it won’t be a quick process, but it will be a fair process and it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to green card and, eventually, to citizenship.

Though he didn't mention it in the speech, Administration officials said that in contrast with the Senate framework, the president will call for immigration benefits to be extended to same-sex couples when one person is an American.

The complete transcript of President Obama’s remarks on immigration on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
posted by chavenet (135 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is the plan called "Soylent Green"? Cuz that's the only way he gets Repubs behind amnesty.
posted by spicynuts at 1:08 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Glad to see congresscritters from both parties working together on immigration reform. It's always nice when they take time off from petty bickering to ACTUALLY DO THEIR FUCKING JOBS.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:09 PM on January 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


The best part of President Obama's plan, IMHO

Keep Families Together. The proposal seeks to eliminate existing backlogs in the family-sponsored immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing annual visa numbers. The proposal also raises existing annual country caps from 7 percent to 15 percent for the family-sponsored immigration system. It also treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner. The proposal also revises current unlawful presence bars and provides broader discretion to waive bars in cases of hardship.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:11 PM on January 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


From the (sigh) comments on the NY Times piece is a line that really just sums up the hamhanded grasp of American history many of the opponents of such legislation have:

"But when in the course of history has a sovereign nation let in so many people of one ethnic group and given them the opportunity to become citizens?"
posted by griphus at 1:16 PM on January 29, 2013 [39 favorites]


Cuz that's the only way he gets Repubs behind amnesty.

The bit where applicants have to pay all their back taxes first, plus a penalty, seems like at least part of the way; they get to "support amnesty" while guaranteeing that virtually nobody will be able to afford to get it.
posted by ook at 1:19 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Paying a penalty? God damn. Why don't we make them pull their pants down and eat a bug while we're at it.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:23 PM on January 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Administration officials said that in contrast with the Senate framework, the president will call for immigration benefits to be extended to same-sex couples when one person is an American.

En route to Las Vegas aboard Air Force One:
QUESTION:
Gay rights advocated were disappointed that the Senate framework did not include extending immigration benefits for same-sex couples. Is that a problem for the President and the administration?
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY:
The President believes that it should be included and that should come as no surprise. As we've said all along, this is consistent with the principles he has laid out over the last four years. And the President has long believed that Americans with same-sex partners from other countries should not be faced with the painful choice between staying with the person they love or staying in the country they love. And the President's position on this is consistent with how we've approached prosecutorial discretion at DHS and others. So I think it should not be a surprise and it would be entirely inconsistent not to have that position.
posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]




...they get to "support amnesty" while guaranteeing that virtually nobody will be able to afford to get it.

There's a chance it is a slightly more optimistic scenario. How much is the average undocumented worker making? Assuming a generous $5/hr cash wage, and a breezy 60-hour workweek, that's $15,600 per year. Assuming there's a spouse and kids in the picture, they may very well fall under the minimum for taxable gross income.
posted by griphus at 1:26 PM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah the "penalty" and "back of the line" bullshit seems like it's there just to be tuff on immigration, which is a shame for a president who's reveled in never needing to run for office again. At least we're not saying illegal.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:27 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Paying a penalty? God damn. Why don't we make them pull their pants down and eat a bug while we're at it.


Why would America copy Australian immigration policy?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:28 PM on January 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


This is America..we pull our pants UP...by our own...bootstraps...or something.
posted by spicynuts at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just like the Violence Against Women Act (which at least already existed), this will die in the House because of Teh Gayz.

Family values party!
posted by zombieflanders at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The bit where applicants have to pay all their back taxes first, plus a penalty, seems like at least part of the way; they get to "support amnesty" while guaranteeing that virtually nobody will be able to afford to get it.

What makes you think most undocumented immigrants will owe back taxes?

If they were working with (false) papers, they'll have been having taxes withheld. If anything they'll be owed refunds.

If they were working for cash under the table, well, how is the immigration service going to be able to prove that or figure out how much they owe in back taxes?
posted by enn at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


how is the immigration service going to be able to prove that or figure out how much they owe in back taxes?

Exactly.

"What, you don't have documented records of income for the five years you've been resident in the US? Sorry, amnesty application denied, NEXT PLEASE"
posted by ook at 1:34 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the (sigh) comments on the NY Times piece is a line that really just sums up the hamhanded grasp of American history many of the opponents of such legislation have:

"But when in the course of history has a sovereign nation let in so many people of one ethnic group and given them the opportunity to become citizens?"


The Brits into North America, 1607-1775. The Irish, after the Potato Famine. And so forth.

People's willful ignorance of the history of immigration out of Europe pisses me off so much. Earlier today, I was listening to a debate on immigration policy in Britain, and I was thinking that if the British keep complaining that too many people are moving to the UK, I'm going to support every other country in the world kicking out people whose ancestors emigrated from Britain and sending the hundreds of millions of us out there home.
posted by jb at 1:45 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Holy God that Lindsay Graham link makes my skull hurt.

"Why don't we just put legalized abortion in there and round it all out," Graham said to reporters.

????
posted by goethean at 1:45 PM on January 29, 2013 [17 favorites]


if the British keep complaining that too many people are moving to the UK, I'm going to support every other country in the world kicking out people whose ancestors emigrated from Britain and sending the hundreds of millions of us out there home.

Or you could support forceful removal of everyone who has ancestors who aren't in the Domesday Book. (Also of everyone who responds with 'what's the Domesday book?', no matter who their ancestors are.)
posted by jacalata at 1:57 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


The bit where applicants have to pay all their back taxes first, plus a penalty, seems like at least part of the way; they get to "support amnesty" while guaranteeing that virtually nobody will be able to afford to get it.

Actually I think it's the opposite. Looks tough, sure, except that virtually no-one on a working class income actually owes additional taxes at the end of the year above what's already been withheld.

The Brits into North America, 1607-1775. The Irish, after the Potato Famine. And so forth.

The Irish, yes. But population movements before 1776 were not "into a sovereign nation" and the earliest English inhabitants of North America came as settlers or colonists rather than immigrants - they didn't seek to join existing state or non-state societies but to found new settlements and societies.
posted by atrazine at 1:58 PM on January 29, 2013


Or you could support forceful removal of everyone who has ancestors who aren't in the Domesday Book. (Also of everyone who responds with 'what's the Domesday book?', no matter who their ancestors are.)

Normans out!
posted by atrazine at 1:59 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


No one who's opposed to amnesty has actually come up with any workable alternatives. You can't bus 11 million people back to their countries of origin. Romney had that goofy self-deportation idea but I haven't really heard much else.
posted by octothorpe at 2:02 PM on January 29, 2013


But population movements before 1776 were not "into a sovereign nation" and the earliest English inhabitants of North America came as settlers or colonists rather than immigrants - they didn't seek to join existing state or non-state societies but to found new settlements and societies.

Well, arguably 1776 is too late a cut-off for that standard. If you turned up in Massachusetts or wherever in 1775, you were joining an existing society.
posted by hoyland at 2:07 PM on January 29, 2013


Ahahahaha... Right, it's OK to invade and take over if the natives don't have the socio-political organizations of society that we have.

(and yes, I realize that's in response to a question regarding that specific political organization called "country" in the first place, so the question embeds within itself the defense of the socio-political structures of the person who asked it in the first place)
posted by symbioid at 2:08 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Normans out!

Hate to get pedantic*, but the Normans wrote the Doomsday book. William I wanted to know how rich his new kingdom was.

But I'm sure the Scots could get on board with kicking out everyone whose ancestors immigrated into the UK from Saxony, etc. But then the Welsh could kick them out and back to Ireland.

*I'm lying, of course. Everyone loves being pedantic.
posted by jb at 2:10 PM on January 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


My point re the Brits into North America is that it's ridiculous to say that there have not been large waves of immigration from one ethnic group - and it is just that immigrant group who are now among the most xenophobic.

Noting that, of course, Hispanic immigrants are not even one ethnic group. Americans like to pretend that everyone is from Mexico and/or all Spanish speaking American countries are the same, but not only are many illegal immigrants not from Latin America, but within the Latin American population there is a lot of diversity. (I once read a good academic paper on the tendency to just elide over this diversity, showing how people from Guatemala, Belize and even Laos(!) were all just described as "Mexicans". Another friend of mine has told me how the idea that Hispanic people have a shared heritage isn't something that people in Latin America would have thought until relatively recently -- the idea is actually being imported into Latin America from the USA.)
posted by jb at 2:17 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


And now to get pedantic on myself: I seriously never noticed that it was spelled Domesday. Is this recent, or am I just unobservant? I've even seen the original, and never noticed. (Though I don't think that there's a title page or anything).
posted by jb at 2:19 PM on January 29, 2013


Ahahahaha... Right, it's OK to invade and take over if the natives don't have the socio-political organizations of society that we have.

Do you have a flag?
posted by jedicus at 2:29 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I seriously never noticed that it was spelled Domesday. Is this recent, or am I just unobservant?

Well, I don't think it's recent.
posted by dubold at 2:30 PM on January 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


And now to get pedantic on myself: I seriously never noticed that it was spelled Domesday. Is this recent, or am I just unobservant? I've even seen the original, and never noticed. (Though I don't think that there's a title page or anything).

No, and yes.
posted by Atreides at 2:32 PM on January 29, 2013


Why would America copy Australian immigration policy?

Because Rupert Murdoch
posted by srboisvert at 2:33 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm feeling grateful toward President Obama for stating that same-sex couples with one U.S.-citizen-partner should be treated just like heterosexual married couples with one U.S.-citizen-partner for immigration purposes. Lindsay "LGBT People are Icky Like Abortion" Graham and John "LGBT Issues are a Red Flag We Can't Deal With" McCain can go fly some kites.
posted by DrMew at 2:40 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Why don't we just put legalized abortion in there and round it all out," Graham said to reporters.

You know that scene in the Simpsons where the Sea Captain's showing off a boat to someone, the boat sinks, and he confesses, "Arrr, I don't know what I'm doin'" with a sad shake of his head?

I'm starting to think every Republican member of Congress should preface her or his statements with that admission.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


atrazine: Normans out!
(Wrong group. the Domesday Book was a Norman idea.)
posted by IAmBroom at 2:47 PM on January 29, 2013


If they were working with (false) papers, they'll have been having taxes withheld. If anything they'll be owed refunds.

That is the infuriaiting thing about this debate. Undocumented individuals and families pay taxes. The IRS receives thousands of tax documents filled with a TIN but no social security number. Property taxes are built into rent. Sales tax is paid no matter what your status.

Undocumented workers pay more in taxes than some of our most profitable corporations.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:50 PM on January 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


and now to get pedantic on myself: I seriously never noticed that it was spelled Domesday. Is this recent, or am I just unobservant? I've even seen the original, and never noticed. (Though I don't think that there's a title page or anything).

IIRC, it was originally called the Book of Winchester, as that's where it was stored (being the King's capital) and it does not name itself in the original - as you say, there's no title page.

I don't know when they started referring to it as the Domesday Book, but it's pronounced 'dooms day', so is often mispelled.

My favourite factoid is that for the 900 year anniversary in the 80s, the BBC produced a modern version, mainly in collaboration with schools, that used custom hardware and laserdisc to store the interactive maps and videos. Which became utterly obsolete and at risk of being lost entirely after barely 2 decades. After hacking most of the data out with hardware emulation, it's been web published now, but copyright restrictions mean some of the data can't be republished for another 100 years or so.

In other words, we're far more useless at recording and saving information for the future than an 11th century French Viking robber baron with a bunch of scribes.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:02 PM on January 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


I didn't know what the Domesday book was, does this mean I am being deported or something
posted by sweetkid at 3:21 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lindsay "LGBT People are Icky Like Abortion" Graham and John "LGBT Issues are a Red Flag We Can't Deal With" McCain can go fly some kites.

Being candid here, I'm relieved to see this from the GOP. With the whole backdown on the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff, I was starting to worry that they were starting to see that seeming sane and reasonable is a tactic that works, but NOPE! Still crazy! Keep it up GOP!
posted by young sister beacon at 3:28 PM on January 29, 2013


the GOP will eat this one too. And the taxes part will get dropped, you watch. Seriously, the GOP has no hand and has got to change soon and they know it. So Boehner will do the same thing he did with the last two things they had to eat and let this pass with Dem votes. He'll tell the Right that they will destroy the dems by attacking them on it. Which they most definitely will not.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:40 PM on January 29, 2013


I wish they'd fix skilled immigration while they're at it, watching my highly qualified friends who have been living and working in the US for years have to fly 12 hours home and 12 hours back with their babies just to renew a visa is heartbreaking.
posted by xiw at 3:41 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Senate framework proposes that the path to citizenship part will only start once new border security procedures are implemented, and deemed satisfactory by a commission. I'm kinda skeptical the commission will ever give the go-ahead. At least undocumented immigrants will be able to obtain a probationary status in the meanwhile.

The framework does have an expedited path to citizenship for those who came here as children, those with advanced degrees in science or engineering, and farm workers. This alone would make passing the bill worthwhile.

young sister beacon: "Being candid here, I'm relieved to see this from the GOP. With the whole backdown on the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff, I was starting to worry that they were starting to see that seeming sane and reasonable is a tactic that works, but NOPE! Still crazy! "

It's hard to imagine, but some countries actually have multiple sane options! I would be happy to have that in the US, as well, even if it meant my preferred option won slightly fewer elections.
posted by vasi at 3:41 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, his rhetoric is old and predictable, the ideas not terribly original, and it'll likely have Republicans grinding their teeth in their sleep. So maybe not all is lost.


But for folks who feel immigration is a far more important issue than usually credited... baby steps... baby steps... probably the best to hope for.
posted by 2N2222 at 3:51 PM on January 29, 2013


My point re the Brits into North America is that it's ridiculous to say that there have not been large waves of immigration from one ethnic group - and it is just that immigrant group who are now among the most xenophobic.

So if that's the wave of immigration we want to consider, I assume the lesson is "the immigrants will eventually overtake and exterminate your culture, so get over your internal differences and kill them immediately, burn their corpses and belongings, enter into no treaties with them, definitely don't trade with or buy their stuff, and you're probably fucked anyway. Cheers."

I suspect the Aztecs and the Inca would probably support the "kill all mysterious strangers on sight" rule, too.

[This is a roundabout way of saying that I'm not sure arguments from history are especially strong here.]
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:54 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hm. I don't see anything in there about severe penalties with iron-fisted enforcement against employers hiring illegals. I understand the political reasons why nobody ever proposes that. Nevertheless, it's disappointing to see someone as smart and who I like as much as Obama leaving out what I think is probably the only way to address illegal immigration in any meaningful way.
posted by The World Famous at 4:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't see anything in there about severe penalties with iron-fisted enforcement against employers hiring illegals.

Not only that, but there's a special exception carved out for big agribusiness, basically so they get a little guest worker program all of their own. They already have an exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act, so it looks like their supply of easily-exploitable human labor should be safe for the foreseeable future.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:08 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ahahahaha... Right, it's OK to invade and take over if the natives don't have the socio-political organizations of society that we have.

Of course not. But killing the existing population and settling on their land is not immigration. When I see that word I think of people moving from outside a state to inside it and joining the existing society. I'm not sure it even makes sense to use "immigration" outside of a state context.
posted by atrazine at 4:29 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The biggest problem with our immigration policy is that we can't decide if we want to be all Emma Lazarus kicking down the doors to admission or if we want to apply serious cost/benefit analysis to allowing certain people in and not allowing others and, really, "family reunification" is a bit disingenuous when we're "reuniting" families that were split up because one or more members decided to enter the United States, you know, completely illegally.

That's the thing about all these plans: They seem to take as a given that, welp, they're here, how do we go about reuniting this poor broken family? when the question might be asked: well, you, " Joe Undocumented Alien," broke up your family by scooting across our border, so why don't you head back to your home country and heal these familial wounds?

Instead of a coherent and consistent immigration policy, we have one driven by those interests who have a voice in Congress *coughtheIrishandtheKennedyscough* or by short-term "symbolic" political interests (exceptions carved out for "displaced Tibetans" and those Salvadorans who were displaced because, you know, our brilliant Central American policies in the '80s destabilized their countries to the point where they were streaming across the borders like rush hour on the Beltway).

I've never never never understood why we can't have a rational immigration policy that makes our economic and other needs paramount and leaves behind the Ellis Island fantasy. I guess the optics of the U.S. actually looking at its needs and forming an immigration policy based on that would be too much of a disconnect for those who still think it's 1895.

Urgh.
posted by the sobsister at 4:59 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


the GOP will eat this one too. And the taxes part will get dropped, you watch. Seriously, the GOP has no hand and has got to change soon and they know it. So Boehner will do the same thing he did with the last two things they had to eat and let this pass with Dem votes.

I think this strategy falls down with the gun debate, and abortion (which is going to become a bigger issue over the next few years) and anything more to do with health care. They're letting these things pass for political capital so they can dig their heels in deeper on some of the bigger issues.
posted by young sister beacon at 5:10 PM on January 29, 2013


No one who's opposed to amnesty has actually come up with any workable alternatives. You can't bus 11 million people back to their countries of origin. Romney had that goofy self-deportation idea but I haven't really heard much else.
Self-deportation is the plan. Along with "E-verify" to prevent them from getting jobs which is the stupidest idea ever. People who hire undocumented workers know they're undocumented. They'll just pay them under the table.
Nevertheless, it's disappointing to see someone as smart and who I like as much as Obama leaving out what I think is probably the only way to address illegal immigration in any meaningful way.
Uh, you're kind of missing the point. The purpose of this bill is to "address" the problem of stupid laws making it difficult for undocumented workers. The goal is not to make things harder for them, which is what stricter requirements on employers would do. The "border security" nonsense is just there to placate rubes.

That's like asking why we don't have mandatory drug tests for everyone all the time in a bill to legalize marijuana. Both of those would "address" illegal drugs, but they do so by going in opposite directions.
or if we want to apply serious cost/benefit analysis to allowing certain people in and not allowing others and
There is no "serious" cost/benefit analysis that indicates we should keep people out. Any serious economic analysis shows it's great for the economy to have lots of young, healthy people immigrating. The reason we have all these immigration laws is due to people's xenophobia and fear of being taken over by other races. But, now that America is moving in the direction of not having a single ethnic group dominating society, the majority of voters will no longer care, and in fact be offended by appeals to xenophobia on the part of politicians.
Instead of a coherent and consistent immigration policy, we have one driven by those interests who have a voice in Congress *coughtheIrishandtheKennedyscough* or by short-term "symbolic" political interests
Not giving a shit about undocumented immigration is a completely coherent and consistent position. The incoherence comes from trying to placate the aforementioned rubes who still fear the country being "taken over" by non-whites, despite the fact it's basically already happened. (I can see you're quite butthurt about all those Hispanics having a "voice" in congress - that's what happens when people vote.)
Normans out!
England for the English! Saxons go home!
In other words, we're far more useless at recording and saving information for the future than an 11th century French Viking robber baron with a bunch of scribes.
Except, actually, all the data is usable and all the hysteria about obsolete media making data irrecoverable was just paranoid nonsense.
posted by delmoi at 5:36 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not giving a shit about undocumented immigration is a completely coherent and consistent position.

Umm...okay. Does just saying it make it so? Because as someone who worked in the field for a number of years, I have no idea what you're talking about. It's not just about WASPs shaking their fists at the Irish/Italians/Cubans/Salvadorans/Nigerians. It's about being able to control one's borders, which is a condition of sovereignty and national security, and about being able to direct one's economic growth rationally. What does your "serious economic analysis" say about devoting resources to empowering those groups that are already in the United States to take the jobs, do the work and have the opportunities that we're giving all these "young, healthy people" who are immigrating? Oh, and not spending local monies to provide infrastructural support to scores of thousands of illegal, sorry, "undocumented," aliens that could be used to educate, train and provide care for those who are already marginalized by economic change?

No offense, but you honestly sound, politely put, uninformed.
posted by the sobsister at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2013


Uh, you're kind of missing the point. The purpose of this bill is to "address" the problem of stupid laws making it difficult for undocumented workers. The goal is not to make things harder for them, which is what stricter requirements on employers would do.

No, I get that he wants to help the people who are already here. But the way to do that is not to keep up the demand for more undocumented workers to enter the workforce, but instead to 1) Document the current undocumented workforce, 2) Crack down on wage and hour, OSHA, and other labor/employment laws that protect workers, and 3) Eliminate demand for more undocumented workers, so that the newly-documented workers will be the ones who have jobs. Undocumented workers are just one of a whole list of symptoms of country with ridiculous employment laws that are impossible to comply with fully and where the most significant motivation to try to comply is the threat of a class action.
posted by The World Famous at 6:04 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never never never understood why we can't have a rational immigration policy that makes our economic and other needs paramount and leaves behind the Ellis Island fantasy.

humanitarianism?
posted by jacalata at 6:15 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


humanitarianism?

Really? Is every case of every person who wants to emigrate to the United States to be considered "humanitarianism"? Even those who are coming out of sheer economic self-interest? Not fear of persecution or relief from disaster. Sorry, but that's not an immigration policy. That's an open door. And an open door is not a rational immigration policy.
posted by the sobsister at 6:25 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


no, of course it's not the case for every immigrant. However it is certainly the case for some of them, and it looks to me like you advocate ignoring any potential needs of the wannabe immigrants, and judging only on the economic benefits to america. If that's not correct, you may not have communicated what you intended.
posted by jacalata at 6:28 PM on January 29, 2013


The number of immigrants who come here for purely humanitarian reasons is a small fraction of the total number of immigrants, documented or otherwise, who cross our borders. Of course, there would always be consideration for asylees and refugees, but I think the discussion centers around the vast bulk of immigrants, those who come here out of, as I noted, economic self-interest.

The question, then, is: whose self-interest takes precedence? the intending immigrant's or the country's? The country does need immigrants in certain fields and in certain areas, but this need does not equal that of the intent of many, not to say "most," of those who come to the United States.
posted by the sobsister at 6:36 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even those who are coming out of sheer economic self-interest?

Why is that a bad thing? People come here, get jobs, pay taxes, buy stuff, build stuff, have kids, etc. I believe that's known as The American Dream. A whole bunch of my ancestors came here out of economic self-interest. Apparently a slate mining job in the hills of Pennsylvania was better than living in Wales.
posted by octothorpe at 6:38 PM on January 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think the discussion centers around the vast bulk of immigrants, those who come here out of, as I noted, economic self-interest.

Why is it an "open door" to allow people to come even if motivated by economic self interest? And as octothorpe mentions, this has been a driver for immigration for hundreds of years. So why is this a problem?
posted by sweetkid at 6:45 PM on January 29, 2013


Also: whose self-interest takes precedence? the intending immigrant's or the country's

When an immigrant becomes a citizen those interests combine.
posted by sweetkid at 6:46 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why is that a bad thing?

It's not inherently a bad thing. But it's in the country's self-interest to determine the number and type of immigrants we allow. Everyone's ancestors came here out of economic self-interest or to escape persecution. The question is: At what point does the aggregate of individuals' self-interest begin to work to the detriment of our national self-interest? I would argue that when federal and state governments throw up their hands because of unchecked illegal immigration despite the negative impact of so many illegal aliens on local infrastructure, it's time to reexamine the romanticized notion of "my grandfather came here from the Old Country to find a better way of life" as the foundation of a national, rational immigration policy.
posted by the sobsister at 6:49 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


this has been a driver for immigration for hundreds of years. So why is this a problem?

Because we no longer enjoy the sort of economy that can absorb unchecked immigration.

When an immigrant becomes a citizen those interests combine.

Yes, but that's the end of the process. We need to look at the beginning of the process: Should person X be allowed into the United States based on our situation now?

One of the problems with U.S. immigration policy--putting aside the blatant xenophobia of the first half of the 20th century--has been that, as more and more different immigrant groups have come to this country since, say, the '60s, more and more interest groups have formed around them that prevent a dispassionate and objective evaluation of our immigration needs. So, the nationality Z interest group pressures Congressman Jones to make exceptions for Z-ites, and the nationality W interest group pressures Congresswoman Smith to make exceptions for W-ians, and so forth and so on.
posted by the sobsister at 6:56 PM on January 29, 2013


Can you explain this "negative impact on infrastructure?" It's my impression that the situation is much more complex than that, given the fact that there are a lot of people paying illegal immigrants less money because they can (also, "illegal aliens" or "illegals" is an outdated way to talk about this).

Also what do you mean by "type"?
posted by sweetkid at 6:57 PM on January 29, 2013


Umm...okay. Does just saying it make it so?
No. I'm pointing out something that should be obvious. You understand what consistency means, right? It means not having any intrinsic conflicts or contradictions.

If you think there are any conflicts or contradictions in the "I don't care about undocumented immigration" what are they?
It's about being able to control one's borders, which is a condition of sovereignty and national security
Lol. So now who thinks "just saying it make[s] it so"? The vast majority of borders in the world are totally uncontrolled. Many countries will kick you out if you're there illegally, sure, but most don't actually put up walls and fences. If you look at the EU, most countries no longer have any border control at all with other EU countries. Does that mean they've all lost their sovereignty?
and about being able to direct one's economic growth rationally.
What does that even mean? Most people want as much economic growth as possible, and more people = more growth (obviously there may be environmental concerns, but that's an orthogonal issue)
What does your "serious economic analysis" say about devoting resources to empowering those groups that are already in the United States to take the jobs, do the work and have the opportunities that we're giving all these "young, healthy people" who are immigrating? Oh, and not spending local monies to provide infrastructural support to scores of thousands of illegal, sorry, "undocumented," aliens
*shrug* that block of text is kind of mostly just jargon filled nonsense "those groups that are already in the United States" includes the 11 million undocumented immigrants we're talking about, so that first sentence was actually completely meaningless. Now, we can assume you meant something like people here legally - but it's still just jargon filled nonsense. No one can tell you what the economic impact of something as nebulous and non-specific as "devoting resources" to "empower" (how much and what kind of resources? What exactly do you mean by "empower"? What do those words even have to do with immigration?)

So really, it's impossible to respond to that because despite all the jargon you obfuscatory jargon you managed to come up with - you didn't actually say anything.
Oh, and not spending local monies to provide infrastructural support to scores of thousands of illegal, sorry, "undocumented," aliens that could be used to educate, train and provide care for those who are already marginalized by economic change?
The same is true of all people in the economy. It costs money to support them (provide roads, police, hospitals, education, and so on) and in turn you get economic activity out - they take jobs, they hire people, patronize local stores, pay rent, and so on. If you kick those people out, you have fewer people shopping at local stores, fewer people paying rent, fewer people to work in jobs, and in fact you will actually be getting rid of some of the business owners, as some undocumented immigrants do actually own businesses.

Furthermore, you're the one who wants to make the argument, so why don't you actually make it instead of whining about how it's not being made? You haven't used a single number in any of your comments, so you're not making a real economic argument at all. Numbers are kind of a requirement (I'm not using them because I'm simply pointing out your arguments are wrong, which is fairly easy to do.)
No offense, but you honestly sound, politely put, uninformed.
Lol. What exactly is it you don't think I know? I've certainly heard these kind of brain-dead anti-immigrant arguments before.
That's an open door. And an open door is not a rational immigration policy.
I actually don't think you understand what the word "rational" even means.
But it's in the country's self-interest to determine the number and type of immigrants we allow.
That's what people are doing. They've decided that the number and type includes everyone who's already here. You just don't like it. Also, no laws are made rationally - all laws are the result of compromise between interest groups (or straight up defeat by one group over the other)
... I would argue that when federal and state governments throw up their hands because of unchecked illegal immigration despite the negative impact of so many illegal aliens on local infrastructure
And they won't be illegal once they get amnesty. Problem solved! And again, you have zero numbers. If you're making an economic argument, you need to have numbers. For all we know the "costs" of illegal immigration are less then the "costs" of not having high-speed rail. It's just that some people are obsessed about it because they are xenophobes.
So, the nationality Z interest group pressures Congressman Jones to make exceptions for Z-ites, and the nationality W interest group pressures Congresswoman Smith to make exceptions for W-ians, and so forth and so on.
Yeah. That's because this is a democracy, and that's how democracies work. As I said, All laws are the result of that process. If you don't like it there are plenty of dictatorships you could move too where it's not a problem.
posted by delmoi at 6:58 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


No offense, but you honestly sound, politely put, uninformed.

Not to be all "nyaa nyaa," but since you opened the door, sorry, you sound extremely uninformed. I think it's important to note for the record that your opinions are in the minority among people who deal in data and reality and actually have to work within the context of policies and their effects.
posted by threeants at 7:04 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


When they address the businesses that hire and pay people that are undocumented, then I think I'll start to believe there's going to be a solution.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:04 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The negative impact of infrastructure to which I refer, as seen in the capital area and others around the country, comes when illegal immigrants' medical, educational and general welfare needs tax local governments beyond their ability to provide basic services to these immigrants, not to mention the legal immigrants and native-born Americans whom these programs were budgeted to serve.

By "type," I refer to skilled, unskilled, rich, poor, self-sufficient, in immediate need of relief. The U.S., assuming a growing economy can use skilled and self-sufficient workers. It does not need people who have no marketable skills or personal resources who turn to public relief, vagrancy or, in some cases, crime to support themselves. It's a reality in this area and, to a much greater extent, in parts of the country that see much higher levels of legal and illegal immigration.
posted by the sobsister at 7:05 PM on January 29, 2013


A whole bunch of my ancestors came here out of economic self-interest. Apparently a slate mining job in the hills of Pennsylvania was better than living in Wales.

Because at the time, there was a labor shortage in the US, and so we needed immigrants, even unskilled ones. (Although a lot of Welsh and Scottish and German and Czech immigrants weren't unskilled, they were miners, which requires a lot of skill.) But anyway, it was a win-win. Today, it's not. we have a vast labor surplus, especially of unskilled male laborers - basically the same demographic as the typical undocumented worker. The only "win" in the US goes to big agriculture, slaughterhouses, and other industries that benefit from high structural unemployment and low wages (and its second order effects, like weak union bargaining positions).

There's nothing in this for the current un- or underemployed American worker, except more competition. That ought to be a deal breaker, over the interests of non-citizens.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:06 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's important to note for the record that your opinions are in the minority among people who deal in data and reality and actually have to work within the context of policies and their effects.

If you can provide cites, great. Otherwise, as I mentioned, I worked in this area for a number of years and live in a part of the country that has been impacted by relatively high levels of immigration and have formed my opinion based on that experience.

So, yes, it does sound a bit like "nyaa nyaa."
posted by the sobsister at 7:06 PM on January 29, 2013


If you can provide cites, great. Otherwise, as I mentioned, I worked in this area for a number of years and live in a part of the country that has been impacted by relatively high levels of immigration and have formed my opinion based on that experience.

So, yes, it does sound a bit like "nyaa nyaa."


Yes, it's an unsubstantive response to an utterly unsubstantive comment, so I'm not really sure what your objection is other than a vague appeal to authority; I feel it important that your strongly minoritarian opinion not have the imprimatur of consensus to people reading this conversation who don't know much about the issue.
posted by threeants at 7:14 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


delmoi

I've made my points in the preceding, and I don't really want to restate them one by one. So, I'll just pick one of your points and ask you to read a bit more carefully.

The vast majority of borders in the world are totally uncontrolled.

Uh, yeah. My point is not "longer and taller fences!!" My point is that we need to have a rational policy in place that counters the fact that we have incredibly long land borders with two countries, one of which has been a staging area for illegal immigration from every part of the world due to its own lax (not to say "corrupt") immigration policies. We lose our sovereignty when we are unable or unwilling to enforce or enact laws that counteract the effect of having porous borders. If anyone at all who can come in does come in, then we don't have a national immigration policy in anything but name.

Oh, and "more people != more growth." Where the hell did you get that idea?
posted by the sobsister at 7:16 PM on January 29, 2013


your strongly minoritarian opinion

"Strongly minoritarian"? Do you mean among your friends? If you can't make the argument, that's okay. But it's not particularly useful or, frankly, convincing to say, "Yeah, well, nobody agrees with you!" Obviously, a number of people in this country hold some version of the views I'm espousing. I don't pretend to represent any faction or school in my arguments. I simply base my opinions on my personal and professional experiences. But, really, get over yourself. How is it even vaguely useful to say, "it's an unsubstantive response to an utterly unsubstantive comment"? If you don't have facts, that's also okay, but don't act as if "well, you didn't bring any facts to the party, so I don't have to!"
posted by the sobsister at 7:21 PM on January 29, 2013


The negative impact of infrastructure to which I refer, as seen in the capital area and others around the country, comes when illegal immigrants' medical, educational and general welfare needs tax local governments beyond their ability...
No number, no argument. Try again. How is that so hard to understand?

Illegal immigrants pay about $11 billion a year in taxes. In 2010 a study found that legalizing current immigrants would generate about $1.5 trillion over ten years added to the GDP (so about $150 billion a year in GDP). The same analysis indicated a loss of $2.6 trillion of we deported all of them, so $260 billion seems like a reasonable annual estimate of the GDP contribution - about $23,000 per immigrant - about half the $48k per resident overall.
Today, it's not. we have a vast labor surplus, especially of unskilled male laborers - basically the same demographic as the typical undocumented worker.
Except those people tend to be the most ardent supporters of immigration reform, as they tend to be poor minorities themselves and in the case of Hispanics, are actually friends or even family members with undocumented immigrants. Those people don't want harsh immigration restrictions.
There's nothing in this for the current un- or underemployed American worker, except more competition.
Except the part where their friends and family members get to stay in the country, you mean?

Oh, and "more people != more growth." Where the hell did you get that idea?
Econ 101.
posted by delmoi at 7:23 PM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


How is it even vaguely useful to say, "it's an unsubstantive response to an utterly unsubstantive comment"?

You've contributed absolutely nothing in this thread except for your opinions. Truly, not a shred of data. Matching your opinions with other, more mainstream opinions isn't exactly award-winning discourse, but it at least saves the conversation from being a wholly futile exercise.

I mean, you've appealed to authority based on your professional experience three times and haven't even mentioned what your job is. If you're going to bring out a logical fallacy at least go big.
posted by threeants at 7:30 PM on January 29, 2013


Econ 101.

Hey, I took that same course. I guess I must've been out the day the teacher discussed how unchecked growth in the labor pool must necessarily result in increased economic productivity, even factoring in the drain on resources. It's 2013, not, as I mentioned, 1895. We no longer need huge numbers of unskilled workers in our economy. And, of course, this unchecked growth in the labor pool is concentrated in a relatively small number of cities and areas in the country, so it can't even be directed to those areas--how many are there that don't involve agriculture?--where there's a shortage of unskilled or semiskilled workers.

And, yes, illegal immigrants do pay taxes in some cases. Now, do the math in terms of what illegal immigrants cost federal, state and county governments in terms of unbudgeted expenditures for processing, detention, removal, medical, educational, relief and other expenses.
posted by the sobsister at 7:31 PM on January 29, 2013


We lose our sovereignty when we are unable or unwilling to enforce or enact laws that counteract the effect of having porous borders.
You seem pretty worried about "sovereignty" - which doesn't particularly make much sense, unless you're just worried about the possibility of immigrants coming in, becoming citizens, and diluting the vote of people like you.

Otherwise, what you're saying doesn't make any sense.
Hey, I took that same course.
I kind of doubt it.
Now, do the math in terms of what illegal immigrants cost federal, state
Actually that's your job, I'm not going to do your math for you. Which means I win since you don't seem capable. I've pointed out over and over, if you're going to make an economic argument, you need numbers. You haven't provided a single one. I can only assume it's because you don't know how to figure it out.
posted by delmoi at 7:34 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've contributed absolutely nothing in this thread except for your opinions.

I know. I'm shamed when I see the reams of statistics and terabytes of presentation material you've shared.

And again: "more mainstream opinions." Yes. Very much more mainstream if we define "mainstream" as "people in your social circle who nod approvingly when you speak."

Oh, and, sorry, I don't particularly feel the need to post my CV to share my minoritarian opinions. If what I have to say doesn't sway you, then please do not in any way feel compelled to attempt to rebut my nonsubstantive opinions with your nonsubstantive-but-obviously-majority opinions, 'k?

Let's end our dialogue there.
posted by the sobsister at 7:36 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except those people tend to be the most ardent supporters of immigration reform, as they tend to be poor minorities themselves and in the case of Hispanics, are actually friends or even family members with undocumented immigrants. Those people don't want harsh immigration restrictions.

Um, no. Although there are undoubtedly substantial numbers of un/underemployed Hispanic people who are willing to overlook their personal economic well-being in order to get more people like themselves into the country, there are more poor non-Hispanic white people (and more non-Hispanic white children, so this is unlikely to change in the near future); they are the ones who stand to lose the most from an open-borders immigration policy and unsurprisingly are some of the most against it (cf. the Republican party's support among non-college-educated white males). But since they get written off as racists in virtually all liberal discourse, it's apparently trivial to just throw them under the bus.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:39 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Delmoi and Sobsister: very nice debate. Keep it civil both of you two because so far it's been a good read. Sobsister although I don't agree with you it's nice to read more or less non racist sounding arguments against immigration for once. Most people who are against large scale legalization end up being racists at the bottom, in my experience.

I think Delmoi's point that large scale immigration of young, healthy and motivated foreigners is great for the economy needs to be underlined. There is certainly an element of extra competition for jobs which is a downside, but overall, immigration is what has kept this country demographically healthy while Europe and Japan are in serious trouble. Both because of the immigrants themselves, but also because for the first generation at least, they tend to have more kids than us so called natives.

One good point that Sobsister makes (at least implicitly) is that immigration policy should be jiggered to better favor increased 'brain drain' from the third world. We should be sopping up as many engineers and scientists as we can get!
posted by jackbrown at 7:41 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's end our dialogue there.

Yes, I think that will suffice. I've enjoyed this rich debate between "we need to deal with a policy issue that exists in reality" and "undocumented immigrants are bad because I have a job and live in a place."
posted by threeants at 7:41 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Which is not to say that the Republicans aren't throwing the same people -- working-class and lower whites -- under the bus too, they just don't need to go through the machinations of constructing some sort of race narrative in order to do it. I assume they just cash their checks from ConAgra and drown any feelings of hypocrisy in expensive Scotch or something.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Half of my great-grandparents immigrated from Europe into Ellis Island at the end of the 19th century. The other half were born here but their ancestors immigrated not that far ahead of them. It is kind of a bummer what happened to the original natives but immigration is part of our essence.

There is a lot of empty space between the Mississippi River and the Sierra Nevada Ranges -> Cascade Range. With some cheap energy technology and some cheap water desalting technology (theoretically trivial) we have got room for all the unwanted huddled masses yearning to be free that the rest of the planet can throw at us. If you make a requirement that they or some sponsor pays their ticket here and they have to pass a properly proctored English Exam at grade 12 level we could probably easily get away with starting a new American century next month.

(A lot of immigrants have conservative family values. The Republican Party ought to welcome the opportunity to compete for their votes.)
posted by bukvich at 7:46 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but that's not an immigration policy. That's an open door. And an open door is not a rational immigration policy.

Most people in the USA are descended from ancestors who entered the USA while its doors were open. The children of those immigrants made the USA the greatest country in the world; in fact the USA's decline can be plausibly dated around the time that it ran out of immigrants' children. Why? Well, immigrants are self-selected for initiative and tenacity, and immigrant parents are notorious for driving their kids to succeed. This doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with children from later generations; they just don't have the advantage that made so many of their predecessors excel.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:48 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


[A few heated comments deleted, let's try to keep it civil.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:50 PM on January 29, 2013


(A lot of immigrants have conservative family values. The Republican Party ought to welcome the opportunity to compete for their votes.)

I've never understood why the GOP doesn't do precisely this. Well, I guess I do, but come on. It just seems like such an easy solution for them to embrace immigration.
posted by young sister beacon at 7:50 PM on January 29, 2013


delmoi: Illegal immigrants pay about $11 billion a year in taxes. In 2010 a study found that legalizing current immigrants would generate about $1.5 trillion over ten years added to the GDP (so about $150 billion a year in GDP). The same analysis indicated a loss of $2.6 trillion of we deported all of them, so $260 billion seems like a reasonable annual estimate of the GDP contribution - about $23,000 per immigrant - about half the $48k per resident overall.

I fit into about that economic bracket myself (I have an excuse, I'm a graduate student) and I think it should be noted that someone making $23,000 pays next to nothing in taxes. While I do hope to improve my income someday (although the future's not looking good for anyone of my age cohort) I'm pretty sure that if everyone paid as much into the system as I do, it would collapse in a week.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:50 PM on January 29, 2013


This is America..we pull our pants UP...by our own...bootstraps...or something.

Not since the health reform mess.
Now our pants are permanently on the ground. Immigration reform will only make our pants problem worse.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:53 PM on January 29, 2013


There is a lot of empty space between the Mississippi River and the Sierra Nevada Ranges -> Cascade Range.

Heck, you don't need to get that far out. A huge number of cities in the US have lost population over the last half century. My city, Pittsburgh, used to have 650,000 people in the exact same space that now holds a little over 300K. Lots of other rust belt cities with dwindling and aging populations would love to get people to move in and pay taxes.
posted by octothorpe at 8:01 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Um, no. Although there are undoubtedly substantial numbers of un/underemployed Hispanic people who are willing to overlook their personal economic well-being in order to get more people like themselves into the country, there are more poor non-Hispanic white people (and more non-Hispanic white children, so this is unlikely to change in the near future);
From your link:
Although blacks represent 13.1% of the general population, they represent 27.6% of the poor population. Hispanics, who make up 16.7% of the population, represent 25.3% of the poor population.
27.6% + 25.3% > 50% Hispanic or black. From what I recall, African Americans are typically supportive of immigration reform as well. And this isn't about poor people generally, but rather poor people who are unskilled laborers, rather then poor people on welfare, social security disability, or are just elderly poor people who no longer work (or children who haven't started working).
I fit into about that economic bracket myself (I have an excuse, I'm a graduate student) and I think it should be noted that someone making $23,000 pays next to nothing in taxes.
There's a difference between GDP output and what you earn. Either way, 11 million people and $11 billion dollars comes out to $1k in taxes per immigrant. Are you really paying less then that in social security, medicare, state and local sales tax, etc?
posted by delmoi at 8:09 PM on January 29, 2013


There's nothing in this for the current un- or underemployed American worker, except more competition. That ought to be a deal breaker, over the interests of non-citizens.

Bingo. And guess which Americans have the hardest time finding a job? (You probably know the answer before you click.)

From what I recall, African Americans are typically supportive of immigration reform as well.

Rich ones, you mean.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:18 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]



Bingo. And guess which Americans have the hardest time finding a job? (You probably know the answer before you click.)


Are you saying that if white men are having the highest unemployment rates, that means they are having the hardest time finding a job?
posted by sweetkid at 8:24 PM on January 29, 2013


My city, Pittsburgh, used to have 650,000 people in the exact same space that now holds a little over 300K. Lots of other rust belt cities with dwindling and aging populations would love to get people to move in and pay taxes.

You know what I bet they'd like more? Jobs.

You know what I bet they wouldn't like? More people competing for the few enough jobs that are still there, particularly the even smaller subset that a man with nothing but a high school diploma can do.

If I were a young Hispanic guy, the last fucking place in the universe I'd want to go is a region that's chock full of permanently unemployed people living literally in the shadows of factories that once provided single-income-family, lifetime (hell, multi-generational) employment.

Although western / central PA are sort of in a weird moment right now because of the shale drilling; pity it won't last and most of the money is going elsewhere. But hey, everyone will get free gas right out of the cold water tap when all's done!
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:27 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are you saying that if white men are having the highest unemployment rates, that means they are having the hardest time finding a job?

Um? If white men had the highest unemployment rate it would indeed mean they had the hardest time finding a job. But they don't have the highest unemployment rate and thus aren't having the hardest time finding a job.
posted by Justinian at 8:28 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


are you saying that if white men are having the highest unemployment rates, that means they are having the hardest time finding a job?

No, that's not what it means, but I'm not sure why that's relevant. There just aren't enough jobs in our economy for the people here today, full stop. This is different from the periods in which I suspect many people's ancestors immigrated. And given this, allowing lots of additional low- or unskilled workers in right now seems insane.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:34 PM on January 29, 2013


Rich ones, you mean.
You should really try to understand things before you link to them.

The chart you linked too shows only compares poor and middle class African Americans, not "rich" anything. And it also shows that most policy options are predicted to be less popular with middle class blacks, it still shows only one policy option "Amend the constitution" is predicted to get 51% support from poor blacks, while the other options are predicted to get 20% and 26% support among poor blacks compared 10% and 13%.

It's true that 20% is more then 10%, but either way, those polices would be deeply unpopular in both cases, assuming that the prediction is correct.

In any event, your anchor text completely characterized what you linked it too.
No, that's not what it means, but I'm not sure why that's relevant. There just aren't enough jobs in our economy for the people here today, full stop.
And if you deport the undocumented immigrants, there would be even fewer jobs. I don't know why that is so hard for people to understand. You take immigrant kids out of school, teachers lose their jobs. Restaurants and grocery stores close.

There was actually a city that instituted tough immigration rules at the local level, and as a result most of the undocumented immigrants left, and the town was economically devastated.

There is no basis for believing that you can change the number of people living somewhere without changing the number of jobs available.
posted by delmoi at 8:54 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


You should really try to understand things before you link to them.

I do. Perhaps you don't, since you still seem to think that African-Americans support a massive influx of unskilled labor.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:00 PM on January 29, 2013


delmoi: There's a difference between GDP output and what you earn. Either way, 11 million people and $11 billion dollars comes out to $1k in taxes per immigrant. Are you really paying less then that in social security, medicare, state and local sales tax, etc?

Nah, it's about 1.5-2x that if I remember correctly, not counting sales tax (which is hard to calculate). Still, I can't imagine it's enough to sustain the government. Back-of-the-envelope calculations (dividing the total federal expenditure for 2012 by the population) suggest that federal spending is about $12k/person/year. So it seems unlikely that a person making $20k/year or thereabouts is going to be paying more into the system than they are taking out, and that's not even considering the state and local level.

Of course, more people doesn't always mean more expenses (having more immigrants here doesn't make the military more expensive, for instance). However, enough of the government spending is based around things that do (social services and medicine, for instance) that I think the principle still applies.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:20 PM on January 29, 2013


Two thoughts.

1) I've got mixed feelings about the brain drain as a strategy (e.g. doctors from sub-Saharan nations, Filipina nurses) but if you really want to lure all the smartypants into the U.S. of A. we ought to fund the tertiary education system. Anecdata - the majority of my parents' cohort who left 1970s/1980s Korea to pursue graduate degrees in the U.S. stayed on as permanent residents or naturalized citizens.

2) From the first relevant article that popped up in Academic Search Premier, here are a few snippets from a 2010 Social Science Quarterly article, "Is Immigration Responsible for the Crime Drop? An Assessment of the Influence of Immigration on Changes in Violent Crime Between 1990 and 2000" Any proof that immigrants are more likely to engage in crime?."
The findings offer insights into the complex relationship between immigration and crime and suggest that growth in immigration may have been responsible for part of the precipitous crime drop of the 1990s. (p531)

...The association between immigration and crime, while remaining strong in the public consciousness for over a century, has never received consistent empirical support. In fact, studies showing that immigrants participated in crime at a lower rate than their native-born counterparts began to emerge as far back as the early 20th century (Immigration Commission, 1911). Despite a lack of empirical evidence for the relationship, the public’s perception of the connection has changed little over time. (p532)

...Martinez (2002) has argued that relatively low levels of violence in the Latino community, despite high levels of poverty, may be driven by higher than expected levels of (often informal) employment, the result of strong ethnic job networks. Kotkin (2000) has suggested that niche markets and the existence of large numbers of immigrants to work in and support them can have a stimulating effect on other local industries. (p536)
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:07 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do. Perhaps you don't, since you still seem to think that African-Americans support a massive influx of unskilled labor.

Here are the stats from the link. The predicted probability of support for restricted immigration policies by class membership among African Americans and whites, 2006 PEW.:
Support for "Constitutional Amendment" 51% for working class blacks, 33% for middle class blacks.

Support for "Increase federal oversight" 20% for working class blacks, 10% for middle class blacks

Support for "Decrease immigration" 26% for working class blacks, 13% for middle class blacks.
I can't make it any clearer. If you're not capable of understanding how percentages work, there is nothing I can do. The only policy that has majority support among working class African Americans is "constitutional amendment" (I assume partially repealing the 14th, which I doubt they would support if they knew why it existed)

Also, the poll doesn't query about things like pro-immigrant polices like a pathway to citizenship.

Furthermore you said something about "rich" ones and the link says nothing about rich blacks, just middle class and working class. And, by the way, it finds very low support for "decreasing immigration". Just 26% among working class blacks.

The numbers are right there in the charts. They say the opposite of what you seem to claim they show.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on January 29, 2013


Back-of-the-envelope calculations (dividing the total federal expenditure for 2012 by the population) suggest that federal spending is about $12k/person/year. So it seems unlikely that a person making $20k/year or thereabouts is going to be paying more into the system than they are taking out...
Only if you assume that each person draws the same amount from the government. Which we know is not the case. Most federal government expenditures are medicare and social security, along with the military. Illegal immigrants don't get social security or medicare, and their not being here wouldn't reduce military costs at all.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 PM on January 29, 2013


I'm not quite sure why it is just accepted as truth that immigration reform would only attract unskilled workers. Seems to me there's still an awful lot of well educated people who would love to live and work here a while. The current system isn't easy to navigate for them, either.
posted by wierdo at 10:26 PM on January 29, 2013


More specifically, can you name the specific federal spending programs you think undocumented immigrants are benefiting from? I can name the ones I think are not, primarily medicare, social security, and military spending.
Seems to me there's still an awful lot of well educated people who would love to live and work here a while. The current system isn't easy to navigate for them, either.
Specifically lots of DREAM act kids who grew up here and went to college.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


They do benefit from military spending, it's just not a kind of spending that goes up on a per-person basis. And they do drive up medicare pricing, even if they don't use it; they use emergency rooms and such, driving up health care costs across the board.

On a more serious note, they benefit from infrastructure spending. They benefit from research spending (another kind of spending that doesn't go up on a per-person-served basis). They benefit from the forms of homeland security spending that are actually useful and not security theatre. They benefit from programs that improve public health, like the CDC and NIH. They benefit from the justice system, sometimes (not the immigration part obviously, but the parts that don't let murderers run rampant and such). So they do use a significant number of services.

Most of what they use probably falls on the local government, though. The big one is probably education, but public health resources are probably a significant one as well. And of course, they use the fire and police departments (I know the police don't always treat them decently, of course).

Anyways I'm not totally sure they use more money than they put in, I just think it's likely based on a quick running of the numbers (and still think it is likely, although I think most of the impact is likely to be local). You'd need a much more complex study to know for sure.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:40 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


There just aren't enough jobs in our economy for the people here today, full stop. This is different from the periods in which I suspect many people's ancestors immigrated. And given this, allowing lots of additional low- or unskilled workers in right now seems insane.

If having more people meant having more unemployment then New York would be a howling wasteland, while small towns would be booming. Of course this isn't the case: the causes of unemployment are complex, but everyone seems to agree that labor mobility is one way to reduce it. And working migrants, by definition, are the most highly mobile workers around.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:13 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


They do benefit from military spending, it's just not a kind of spending that goes up on a per-person basis.
How much any lower-class person benefits from military spending, other then by getting a job by joining it (which many undocumented workers actually do), is debatable. Either way, the fact that their leaving wouldn't reduce military spending is the key point. You can't claim their presence is increasing military costs, and thus you can't claim that they are "taking out" money from the "system" - which was your initial claim.

Again, the real question should be how much does the average undocumented worker add to the economy compared to how much of drag they are on it. The secondary question is how much they add to the government coffers compared to how much they cost.

Yes, emergency room treatment is an issue, however, Mexican nationals can get health insurance through their government (yes, insurance that covers health care in the US - before Obamacare, undocumented immigrants actually had better access to health insurance in the US) In this article this the costs are around $4 billion a year, or $363 a year. Going by our estimate of about $1k/immigrant that still leaves $700 in taxes.

But the real issue is GDP contribution. If the immigrants are adding $23k to the GDP, that's only, the $363 isn't much. And of course, the average healthcare costs for normal citizens is around twelve thousand dollars, making undocumented workers far, far cheaper to care for then American citizens (again, most likely because they are young and healthy types)
Most of what they use probably falls on the local government, though. The big one is probably education,
Education is an investment. One that will be paid back several times over if we, you know, allow the kids we paid to educate to stay in the country and contribute to the economy as opposed to being completely insane and self-defeating.
Anyways I'm not totally sure they use more money than they put in, I just think it's likely based on a quick running of the numbers (and still think it is likely, although I think most of the impact is likely to be local). You'd need a much more complex study to know for sure.
Dude, your quick "running of the numbers" includes spending that only applies to American citizens (Medicare/SS) , and spending that's unrelated to population (military)

I'm saying, if you want to argue that undocumented immigrants are a net drain on the federal budget, you have to specify which programs you think they are actually benefiting from how much.

Education probably is a decent side chunk of change, but 1) that's local not federal money 2) my position is that's an investment in the future, not a sunk cost.
Of course this isn't the case: the causes of unemployment are complex, but everyone seems to agree that labor mobility is one way to reduce it. And working migrants, by definition, are the most highly mobile workers around.
That's a good point. migrant workers go where the jobs are. If there is a lack of jobs in some area, they'll just leave (which is one of the reasons why so many just left after the '08 crash).

This is one area where America's general lack of a social safety net works in our favor - if people can't just come to the US and go on welfare (and they definitely can't, regardless of what rush Limbaugh might say) then there isn't really any reason not to have a completely open-door policy. People can come to the US. Look for work, and if they can't find any they'll have to leave. Of course, there's the issue if their possibly having children, and having to pay for those kids. But ultimately if those kids have access to a good education that investment will (as I said) pay off several times over.
2) From the first relevant article that popped up in Academic Search Premier, here are a few snippets from a 2010 Social Science Quarterly article, "Is Immigration Responsible for the Crime Drop? An Assessment of the Influence of Immigration on Changes in Violent Crime Between 1990 and 2000" Any proof that immigrants are more likely to engage in crime?."
It is true that immigrants are less likely to break the law then citizens. (And a big part of that, I would bet, is that the penalties for even a minor crime would be much harsher - a citizen first-time offender caught with weed or getting into a bar fight might get probation, while an undocumented or even documented immigrant might get probation too. Just that they'd also get deportation along with it)

But you should check this out: the most likely explanation of the crime drop is the removal of tetraethyl lead from the environment. If you look at the statistics, not just nation wide but on a city-by-city basis and even on an individual level for people who were tested for lead exposure as kids childhood lead levels actually explain, from a statistical standpoint 90% of the increase in violent crime in the 70s/80s/early 90s - just shift the curves by 23 years they match perfectly.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's an FPP about the lead/crime thing.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 AM on January 30, 2013


That's a good point. migrant workers go where the jobs are. If there is a lack of jobs in some area, they'll just leave

This is something that immigration restrictionists never seem to figure out. People migrate because the prospect of a better life. Oddly enough, because of the US restrictions on immigration, the labor market for undocumented workers is the closest thing to a free market in existence. What that means is that people come when there's work. And leave when there isn't. Policy discourages longer term investment on the part of the immigrant, encouraging mobility.

One irony here is that American immigration policy, in punitive fervor, has made border crossing progressively more onerous, that immigrants are less likely to leave in lean times, because coming back is harder to do.

I've not been impressed with the notion that the law should crack down on employers, for several reasons. Most importantly, it destroys opportunities for immigrants themselves. It also destroys economic activity outright, which is a brain dead thing to do even in good times.

The idea that allowing more immigrants will squeeze the labor market ignores the complex dynamic of supply and demand in favor of a simple, intuitive, and wrong conclusion. The example of New York is excellent. Additionally, consider the entrance of women into the workforce. The addition of human capital in the long run is a net gain for all involved, particularly when allowed to expand or recede as necessary.

I'm also not impressed by "get in the back of the line" rhetoric when meant seriously. Undocumented immigrants exist outside the law not because they cause harm, but because government policy decided they should be outside the law. They didn't "cut in line". They're illegal because there was no line to cut into. When there's no opportunity for legal immigration, but opportunity for employment regardless, it becomes government policy that encourages law breaking. So there are two paths to go in dealing with immigration. Create a path for legal status that reflects the actual labor market as it is (and not the labor market you wish you had). Or remove the employment opportunity. Again, go the constructive, growth inducing path, or the punitive, prosperity destroying path. The pitifully sad thing here is that way too many Americans would choose the latter, for reasons reasons that are at best well intentioned but wrong, to woefully repugnant.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:50 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't make it any clearer. If you're not capable of understanding how percentages work, there is nothing I can do.

If you're not capable of understanding that it's no longer 2006, there's nothing I can do. If that's what the numbers look like in a good economy, you really have to wonder what the numbers are when the unemployment rate among African-Americans has increased by two thirds.

The only policy that has majority support among working class African Americans is "constitutional amendment"

That's the only one without majority support among working-class African-Americans. In 2006, a majority of working-class African-Americans supported mandatory ID cards, a government verification database, and a decrease in legal immigration.

Furthermore you said something about "rich" ones and the link says nothing about rich blacks

Sorry, I should have said richer. For various reasons, most super-rich people in the U.S. are white. The fact is, as the study shows, that support for legal immigration decreases as you go down the wage scale. This is probably because, out of economic self-interest, most people don't want other people coming in to compete with them.

The numbers are right there in the charts.

Yes, they are, but you seem to be misreading them. They say exactly what I've said above. Please actually read the study and understand what the charts are saying.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:00 AM on January 30, 2013


you really have to wonder what the numbers are when the unemployment rate among African-Americans has increased by two thirds.
No, you really have to have an actual citation. That's how it works. If you are going to have an argument about data, you need to show data. You can't just imagine in your head what you think the data probably is. If you think things have changed, then show us the data from 2013 or 2012.
Yes, they are, but you seem to be misreading them. They say exactly what I've said above. Please actually read the study and understand what the charts are saying.
I was looking at the graphs in the article you linked too, as opposed to the PDF they'd been taken out of. The "Predicted probability of support" table shows fairly low probability of support, which is what I was talking about. Perhaps if you'd been more specific then just saying "Rich ones, you mean." (which was clearly false) and actually linked to the correct thing it would been a little more clear.

There's are no questions on stuff like the DREAM act, pathway to citizenship and so on, which is what this thread is about (and, obviously amnesty would not result in an "influx" of new workers, those people are already here)

---

Anyway, 2006 was a long time ago, so lets look at some more recent data. This poll, ( PDF crosstabs conducted January 7-10th, 2013 shows that
* 70% of African Americans think Immigration is a good thing for Americans today, compared to 13% who say it's a bad thing

* 52% say the democrats (who support amnesty/dream act/etc) would do a better job on immigration, compared to 4% who say the republicans would

* 64% say it's important to ensure immigrants who came to the united states illegally become legal and have the opportunity to work towards citizenship

* 61% say it's important help unite families here that have been separated by our current immigration laws

* 84% of African Americans say they agree more with the statement "We would be better off if people in the country illegally became legal taxpayers, so they pair their fair share and can works towards citizenship in the future" while only 14% agree more with the statement "We would be better off if people who are in the country illegally were forced to leave the country, because they are taking away jobs that Americans need." when the two statements are paired up.

* 77% approve of a proposed plan that includes Amnesty along with border security and e-verify, as well as tying immigration levels to to the unemployment rate.

* 89% agree with the "only after registering for legal status, learning english and paying taxes illegal immigrants could work towards citizenship" component of the plan. Interestingly, the tying immigration to the unemployment rate is the least popular component with all groups, getting just 57% overall (as well as exactly 57% for both blacks and whites)

* only 3% say that if their congressperson voted for the bill, they'd be less likely to vote for them, while 46% say they would be more likely

* 88% of African Americans say that immigrants, if they are allowed to stay should be given the chance to earn their citizenship, while only 8% say they should not.

* 69% agree with the statement "this is not amnesty, it's accountability. The plan requires those here illegally to pay taxes, learn English, and pass a criminal background check before they can become legal and stay in the United States" while only 24% agree with the statement "This just amnesty for illegal immigrants. The plan rewards millions of illegal immigrants who broke the law, at the expense of others who waited in their home country and played by the rules." when those two statements are paired up.

* 58% agree with the statement "it's not realistic to deport twelve million immigrants. And this plan requires immigrants to go back to the line and wait their turn behind immigrants who came to the US legally, before receiving citizenship" while only 28% agree with the statement "it is not fair to let illegal immigrants become legal ahead of people who followed the rules and applied to come here legally. If they found a way to get here, they can find a way to get home and then apply to come to the US the right way." when those statements are paired up.

* 60% / 31% African Americans agree with another rephrasing of the "supporter" statement over another rephrasing of the "opponent" statement - neither of which I feel like typing out again (copy and paste doesn't seem to work properly with this PDF)
This poll also found support among African Americans (and over all) for "tough" things like employer verification, border security, and preventing future illegal immigration, along with things like support for a pathway to citizenship and reuniting families. It found low support for deporting all undocumented workers, though.

When you poll "moderately tough" measures like verification, border security (which are part of the deal) you get high support. When you poll the "pro-immigrant" polices that are also part of the deal, you also get high support.

If you only poll "moderately tough" measures, create a false impression that people are not supportive of broad-based immigration reform. That's the problem with the 2006 pew poll data you somehow managed to fail to accurately link to or characterize. It was also taken at the height of the Lou Dobs/minuteman hysteria (minuteman project started in 2005, for example), which might explain why only "tough" measures were polled.

It doesn't break things down by race and income level. People at lower income levels and with without any college experience (HS diploma or less) are less likely to say immigration is a good thing for the country, but more likely to agree with the "supporter" statements over the "opponent" statements, and more likely to support the proposed plan. The differences are very slight: 80% of the under $25k support the compromise plan, while only 78% of those making over $100k support it. 81% of HS graduates support the plan, compared too 76% of college graduates. You can look through the crosstabs yourself if you want to see more.

________
Anyway, my original claim is that African Americans are supportive of immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship and that seems to be the case as far as this data is concerned. Then again, this poll shows that support for the specified plan is high among all demographic groups, with little variation between ethnic groups and income levels.

If you have any recent and comprehensive data that shows otherwise, feel free to link to it.
posted by delmoi at 6:19 AM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, you really have to have an actual citation.

You missed the part where I linked to BLS statistics for late 2012. I was just comparing them to the same thing from six years earlier (which, admittedly, I didn't link to). The fact that the 2012 number is much higher than the 2006 number is not up for debate.

obviously amnesty would not result in an "influx" of new workers, those people are already here

Unless it attracts other people who expect another amnesty in the future. Which it would.

Anyway, my original claim is that African Americans are supportive of immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship and that seems to be the case as far as this data is concerned.

No. And I'm not sure a poll published by SEIU, linked from an opinion piece written by an officer of SEIU, is a good or non-biased way to try to debunk the correlation shown in the 2006 data.

You've decided you're permitted to pick and choose what the facts are, so I'll let you get on with that.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:04 AM on January 30, 2013


You missed the part where I linked to BLS statistics for late 2012.

Which, of course, had nothing to with the issue that is being addressed: support for immigration policies among African Americans. Quoting BLS statistics was somewhat of a non sequitur.

No.

You've been proven wrong on this several times already. If you're going to state that African Americans aren't supportive of immigration reform, you're going to have to provide something other than random BLS numbers.

And I'm not sure a poll published by SEIU, linked from an opinion piece written by an officer of SEIU, is a good or non-biased way to try to debunk the correlation shown in the 2006 data.

Yes, let's all discount a poll that released crosstabs, formulations, and the original phrasing of the questions (which is (a) still fairly rare, and (b) delmoi specifically wrote out), was conducted by pollsters from both sides of the party divide, and quoted by Jeb Bush, as totally biased Because of Reasons.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:28 AM on January 30, 2013


"sponsored by Service Employees International Union, America's Voice Education Fund, and National Immigration Forum"

Totally unbiased.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:37 AM on January 30, 2013


If the large numbers of illegal immigrants were not needed for the economy, they wouldn't be here. They are an essential part of the American economy.

Regularizing their status could only help other workers, because then employers would be obliged to pay them legal rates. Right now, immigration restrictions is helping to depress salaries by taking away legal protections. But that's probably what the Republicans was anyways.
posted by jb at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right now, immigration restrictions is helping to depress salaries by taking away legal protections.

Flooding the market with large numbers of foreign workers also depresses wages. Which is probably why Senate Republicans are OK with it, and why unskilled laborers are probably in for a nasty surprise.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:48 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


"sponsored by Service Employees International Union, America's Voice Education Fund, and National Immigration Forum"

Totally unbiased.


Those "totally biased" SEIU-sponsored polls during the election turned out to more accurate than most of the big names.

Also:
conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and Hart Research Associates, a Democratic firm.
We can go back and forth on this for hours. But those are the numbers. If you can find a unbiased poll that is acceptable to you, you're free to post it at any time, but until then you're just making unsupported arguments.

Flooding the market with large numbers of foreign workers also depresses wages.

Could immigration reform suppress wages for U.S. workers?
"Once you wait long enough, the economy has already adjusted," says Pia Orrenius, who has studied the effects of immigration on wages as a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Besides finding minimal impact on low-skilled Americans, she says highly-sought-after engineers and other skilled immigrants can actually spur wage growth at the companies that hire them.

"If you bring in more technically trained immigrants," she explains, "then the more generally trained native-born worker might move into a management or supervisory position."

The last big reform, during the Reagan administration, brought higher wages across the board, says Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor and immigration expert at UCLA. As immigrants became less vulnerable to being exploited, he says, even native workers benefited.
Immigration and Wages: Methodological advancements confirm modest gains for native workers (emphasis in original)
In the ongoing debate on immigration, there is broad agreement among academic economists that it has a small but positive impact on the wages of native-born workers overall: although new immigrant workers add to the labor supply, they also consume goods and services, which creates more jobs
[...]
Our analysis finds little evidence that immigration negatively impacts native-born workers.

A key result from this work is that the estimated effect of immigration from 1994 to 2007 was to raise the wages of U.S.-born workers, relative to foreign-born workers, by 0.4% (or $3.68 per week), and to lower the wages of foreign-born workers, relative to U.S.-born workers, by 4.6% (or $33.11 per week). In other words, any negative effects of new immigration over this period were felt largely by the workers who are the most substitutable for new immigrants—that is, earlier immigrants.
Yes, Immigration May Lift Wages
Immigration in the 1990's, they estimate, raised the wages of native-born high school graduates, college dropouts and college graduates by at least 2.5 percent. By contrast, they estimate that the wages of American-born high school dropouts fell by 2.4 percent because of immigration.

In an interview, however, Professor Peri noted that Americans are increasingly well educated, so that high school dropouts make up a small, rapidly declining portion of today's native-born work force. In 2000, he said, only 9 percent of American-born workers did not have a high school degree.

"If you look at the U.S. labor force," he said, "those people born in the U.S., I am talking about a negative effect for about 9 percent of the population and a positive effect for 91 percent of the population."
posted by zombieflanders at 8:09 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Flooding the market with large numbers of foreign workers also depresses wages.

Not below minimum wage, and illegal immigrants are already working for below minimum wage.

The immigrants are already in the United States. Legalizing their status just takes away the opportunity for employers to abuse them.
posted by jb at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2013


zombieflanders, the issue is that indiscriminately granting across-the-board amnesty to millions of people just because they happen to be in the country already is pretty much the antithesis of bringing in "highly-sought-after engineers and other skilled immigrants."

"In other words, any negative effects of new immigration over this period were felt largely by the workers who are the most substitutable for new immigrants—that is, earlier immigrants." And men with a high-school education or less, who are already less likely to be employed.

The idea that your physical presence in a country (where you aren't a citizen) implies that that country owes you the right to stay indefinitely or citizenship, and the idea that a country is not within its rights to pick and choose the types of immigrants it will accept, are so far out on the fringe I don't know what to say.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, those goalposts sure gotta nice set of wheels on them.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:35 AM on January 30, 2013


We can go back and forth on this for hours. But those are the numbers.

Bipartisan does not imply unbiased. This is worth remembering.

If you can find a unbiased poll that is acceptable to you, you're free to post it at any time, but until then you're just making unsupported arguments.

Well, you can see that support for increased immigration is at a whopping 21%, which is the highest it's been since 1966, and since 1966, it's never been nearly as popular as decreased immigration.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:54 AM on January 30, 2013


Cynical me sez immigration reform will never happen because agri-business, home construction, and other labor-intensive industries are too dependent on paying undocumented workers substandard wages. If they become documented, they fall under labor laws, including minimum wage.
posted by Doohickie at 9:16 AM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The idea that your physical presence in a country (where you aren't a citizen) implies that that country owes you the right to stay indefinitely or citizenship, and the idea that a country is not within its rights to pick and choose the types of immigrants it will accept, are so far out on the fringe I don't know what to say

Yeah, it's as crazy as the idea that just coming out of someone's womb while in the USA implies that the country owes you citizenship.
posted by jb at 9:24 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If they become documented, they fall under labor laws, including minimum wage.

Why would you think that? It's not like we're enforcing employment laws right now with regard to them, so I'm not sure why that's going to magically change. They'll just be documented workers getting paid under the table, as opposed to undocumented workers getting paid under the table.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:25 AM on January 30, 2013


Bipartisan does not imply unbiased. This is worth remembering.

And the transparency of a poll and the accuracy of the pollsters often mitigate bias, also worth remembering.

Well, you can see that support for increased immigration is at a whopping 21%, which is the highest it's been since 1966, and since 1966, it's never been nearly as popular as decreased immigration.

Remember that this isn't about increased immigration, this is about increased legalization of existing immigration. So, combine the two and we get 63%, not too far from the 55% who want a plan developed to deal with immigrants who are here illegally that is also contained in your link.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:26 AM on January 30, 2013


Yeah, it's as crazy as the idea that just coming out of someone's womb while in the USA implies that the country owes you citizenship.

That one's actually part of the Constitution. Physical presence automatically leading to permanent residence is not really something that exists on this planet at the moment.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:46 AM on January 30, 2013


They'll just be documented workers getting paid under the table, as opposed to undocumented workers getting paid under the table.

We should deny them rights just because someone else might break the law? Might as well scrap minimum wage for everyone else too. Also traffic laws, while you're at it. People are going to drink and drive, so there's no point in making it illegal.
posted by jb at 9:55 AM on January 30, 2013


That one's actually part of the Constitution. Physical presence automatically leading to permanent residence is not really something that exists on this planet at the moment.

Maybe it should. What has a baby done to deserve living in the US? At least illegal immigrants have made a great deal of effort to immigrate and then worked very hard to support themselves under difficult circumstances. Seems to me that natural justice would give them more right to live in the US than someone who just had the good fortune to be born there.
posted by jb at 9:56 AM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


No. And I'm not sure a poll published by SEIU, linked from an opinion piece written by an officer of SEIU, is a good or non-biased way to try to debunk the correlation shown in the 2006 data.
Who cares about the correlation? Pew only polled on stricter immigration policies, not about pathways for citizenship for those already here. What you actually see is support for both a more secure border and a pathway to citizenship are strong. If you only poll on one side, you get a distorted image.
Well, you can see that support for increased immigration is at a whopping 21%, which is the highest it's been since 1966, and since 1966, it's never been nearly as popular as decreased immigration.
Yeah, and according to Gallup, Mitt Romney is president! Furthermore, you'll note that in 2006, when your Pew poll was done, the percent of people wanting decreased immigration was around 50%. And, since then it's tanked to it's lowest level since 1966, at 35%.

The highest scoring option now is to keep immigration at it's present level, and combined 63% of people want either increased immigration or constant immigration. And, we can assume since this is Gallup that the methodology is crap and it's probably over-sampling conservatives.

So even your data shows that most people don't want to reduce immigration levels and support for immigration is increasing, and has increased a great deal since 2006.
Why would you think that? It's not like we're enforcing employment laws right now with regard to them, so I'm not sure why that's going to magically change. They'll just be documented workers getting paid under the table, as opposed to undocumented workers getting paid under the table.
They'll be able to enforce it themselves by taking people to court. Something they can't really do if they're working illegally.

Anyway, it's pretty obvious that this policy has broad support - and given the fact it's popular and supported by both parties it seems fairly obvious that it will pass and most people will be happy about it.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can Obama's Immigration Reform Stop Silicon Valley's Brain Drain? -- "As the US inches its way toward a more liberal visa policy, other countries are opening their doors."
posted by ericb at 2:46 PM on January 30, 2013


Worried about the economy? Then pass immigration reform
[C]onsider a few facts about immigrants in the American economy: About a 10th of the U.S. population is foreign-born. More than a quarter of U.S. technology and engineering businesses started from 1995 to 2005 had a foreign-born owner. In Silicon Valley, half of all tech startups had a foreign-born founder. One-quarter of all U.S.-based Nobel laureates of the past 50 years were foreign born. Right now, about half of the PhDs working in science and technology are foreign born.

Immigrants begin businesses and file patents at a much higher rate than their native-born counterparts, and while there are disputes about the effect immigrants have on the wages of low-income Americans, there’s little dispute about their effect on wages overall: They lift them.

The economic case for immigration is best made by way of analogy. Everyone agrees that aging economies with low birth rates are in trouble; this, for example, is a thoroughly conventional view of Japan. It’s even conventional wisdom about the U.S. The retirement of the baby boomers is correctly understood as an economic challenge. The ratio of working Americans to retirees will fall from 5 to 1 today to 3 to 1 in 2050. Fewer workers and more retirees is tough on any economy.

There’s nothing controversial about that analysis. But if that’s not controversial, then immigration shouldn’t be, either. Immigration is essentially the importation of new workers. It’s akin to raising the birth rate, only easier, because most of the newcomers are old enough to work. And because living in the U.S. is considered such a blessing that even very skilled, very industrious workers are willing to leave their home countries and come to ours, the U.S. has an unusual amount to gain from immigration. When it comes to the global draft for talent, we almost always get the first-round picks — at least, if we want them, and if we make it relatively easy for them to come here.

From the vantage of naked self-interest, the wonder isn’t that we might fix our broken immigration system in 2013. It’s that we might not.

Few economic problems wouldn’t be improved by more immigration. If you’re worried about deficits, more young, healthy workers paying into Social Security and Medicare are an obvious boon. If you’re concerned about the slowdown in new company formation and its attendant effects on economic growth, more immigrant entrepreneurs should cheer you. If you’re worried about the dearth of science and engineering majors in our universities, an influx of foreign-born students is the most obvious solution you’ll find.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:32 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


We should deny them rights just because someone else might break the law?

Don't be obtuse. I'm saying that the idea that we should hand out citizenships because it'll suddenly result in formerly-illegal workers getting paid minimum wage and overtime is stupid, because it won't happen. So insofar as that's the justification for making them citizens, which is what I was responding to, it doesn't work.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:38 AM on January 31, 2013


Don't be obtuse. I'm saying that the idea that we should hand out citizenships because it'll suddenly result in formerly-illegal workers getting paid minimum wage and overtime is stupid, because it won't happen. So insofar as that's the justification for making them citizens, which is what I was responding to, it doesn't work.

It does, though, and delmoi has already pointed out why--undocumented workers have a hard time enforcing labor laws. If you're undocumented, there's massive incentive to not call attention to yourself, even if you're being exploited. I'm also unclear why you think that undocumented workers being paid less than minimum wage because they're working under the table would not seek to change that were their presence in the US regularised.
posted by hoyland at 1:06 PM on January 31, 2013


jb: What has a baby done to deserve living in the US?
Without citizenship in the country of birth, some children would literally be born without a legal nationality at all.

Or, to put it another way, what has a baby done to deserve being fed and protected? Changing diapers is a lot of work; let's only do that for incontinent retirees...
posted by IAmBroom at 2:47 PM on January 31, 2013


I'm saying that the idea that we should hand out citizenships because it'll suddenly result in formerly-illegal workers getting paid minimum wage and overtime is stupid, because it won't happen.
Why not? Once people are here legally, they'll be able to sue employers who don't follow the law.
Without citizenship in the country of birth, some children would literally be born without a legal nationality at all.
That's actually something that happens in a lot of countries. In many places, they can become citizens of their parents country, but not always.
posted by delmoi at 4:19 PM on January 31, 2013


Without citizenship in the country of birth, some children would literally be born without a legal nationality at all.

Loads of countries don't confer citizenship automatically on people born there. You can be born stateless. (Canada even has a form to resolve this, except you have to make it to Canada first, so I'm not sure how that's supposed to work.)
posted by hoyland at 4:57 PM on January 31, 2013


Citizens? They Want to Be Citizens?
House Republicans convened their first hearing on immigration reform on Tuesday and made clear that they were scared to death of immigrants actually getting the vote. Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia set the tone when he made clear he was looking for a mid-range position somewhere between deporting and granting citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. A nice, safe legal “resident” status, he suggested, never to be upgraded to that of citizen and voter.

San Antonio’s Democratic Mayor Julian Castro took understandable exception to this idea in his testimony before the committee. “I just cannot imagine an America where we assign these folks to an underclass status,” he told the congressmen. Then again, Southern whites—the core of the modern Republican Party—have had historically high comfort levels with just such arrangements. Perhaps they should propose counting these non-citizen residents as three-fifths of a person in the next census.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:08 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I like this Castro guy.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:58 PM on February 6, 2013


hoyland: Without citizenship in the country of birth, some children would literally be born without a legal nationality at all.

Loads of countries don't confer citizenship automatically on people born there. You can be born stateless. (Canada even has a form to resolve this, except you have to make it to Canada first, so I'm not sure how that's supposed to work.)
Yes, that's true, but I thought it was too obvious to require saying: just because some countries do it does not make it OK.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:49 AM on February 8, 2013


WaPo Poll: GOP Backs Path To Citizenship — Unless Obama’s Name Is Attached
Seventy percent of those surveyed, including 60 percent of Republicans, said they favor a path to citizenship. But GOP support for the measure took a steep drop when the measure was linked with Obama.

With the President's name included in the question, only 39 percent of Republicans said they support a path to citizenship.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:17 AM on February 12, 2013


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