No Human Being Is Illegal
January 30, 2018 8:24 AM   Subscribe

“Perhaps best of all, mass amnesty is quick and effective. No more fussing around with some elaborate tiered system or stuffing millions of people through a decades-long bureaucratic hell that will cost the government billions. Just one quick step, and we can move on to other problems.” - The Case For Full Amnesty “Being a white nationalist in an extremely diverse country is to effectively hate that country. Immigration haters want to destroy the oldest, most distinguishing, and most interesting characteristics of our nation in favor of an invented tradition of chintzy white bread garbage.” The Myth Of America’s Immigration Problem - Ryan Cooper for The Week
posted by The Whelk (57 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
 
From the second link: "But broadly speaking, Mexican immigrants are disproportionately less educated and poor... " Relative to other recent immigrants? Sure. But compared to past "scary" groups? Were the despised Irish and Poles of the 1800s and early 1900s mostly doctors and engineers? Okay, I'm not a historian but as far as I know, no. They were mostly unskilled manual laborers. Like the article says, they were quickly and fully assimilated and there are plenty of highly educated, highly skilled descendants of Irish and Polish immigrants (and Italians and Greeks and so on).

There are many current issues but immigration restrictions and deportations is the one making most furious these days. It's not personal - I'm a descendant of Irish and German people who have been here for a couple centuries - but it's morally abhorrent. ICE camps = concentration camps, full stop. I'm heartened to see that people are starting to fight back but we need more. We need to protect our neighbors, friends and coworkers.

I've been banging this drum on social media but you do not have to let ICE into a private workplace or dwelling without a warrant signed by a judge. I asked an ACLU attorney specifically about my apartment building, which has a locked lobby and houses some immigrants, and he confirmed that I do not have to let them in without a warrant. If you are a privileged white citizen, you must take this risk to be on the right side of history.
posted by AFABulous at 8:40 AM on January 30 [95 favorites]


Perhaps I'm just ignorant about this, but is there any real purpose to the idea of citizenship beyond diluting the political power of the masses? That certainly seems to be the case in US history at least. There seems to be this consensus that achieving it should be some long involved process but I can see hardly any moral justification for that.
posted by ghharr at 8:50 AM on January 30 [12 favorites]


Repubs don't want to give amnesty to undocumented workers, because then they'd be entitled to the wages and protections of other workers, such as they are.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:53 AM on January 30 [19 favorites]


I've been banging this drum on social media but you do not have to let ICE into a private workplace or dwelling without a warrant signed by a judge.

Is this still true within 100 miles of the border? I thought ICE’s excuse for most of their gestapo bullshit has been “100 mile rule!”
posted by schadenfrau at 8:55 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


I’ve been writing my reps daily calling for the total abolishment of ICE, we need to all be calling for much stronger positions on immigration systems than the current bullshit we’re getting from Democrats.
posted by odinsdream at 8:56 AM on January 30 [13 favorites]


> Is this still true within 100 miles of the border

According to the ACLU, yes. Also according to the ACLU, ICE agents often do whatever they feel like they can get away with.
posted by rtha at 9:35 AM on January 30 [14 favorites]


here's an article about the 100-mile border. as far as I can tell, it does not cover homes, just methods of conveyance, and it lowers the bar for search and seizure but not completely. it's why we have border checkpoints and ICE patrols

no-knock raids occur fairly frequently in Atlanta and one of the ways we've been fighting it has been passing out Know Your Rights cards with numbers to call and clarifications on the law. it's useful to have these cards esp if they're translated into a language that is comprehensible to you. if you feel so inclined to do so, local businesses will usually gladly accept these cards and put them somewhere for people to use - immigrant owned businesses doubly so because of their clientele. it's great to be posting on social media about this but that's not likely reaching the kind of people who are actually going to be affected by raids. your best bet for getting involved is to reach out to local non-profit orgs that focus on different communities of color. Latino groups tend to be especially active on this front - so too are African groups in Atlanta because of who the raids have recently been targeting

we also have efforts to document the abuses and have a safe spot for families to visit loved ones detained at the abusive, privately-owned prisons (ie detention centers) where they house undocumented folks. visitation is limited but it's helpful to get an idea of what life is like inside of those walls, to make other folks aware of the abuse by getting the word out, and then to help local groups fight oppressive, restrictive legislation that go through your state and municipalities

*note that the groups I linked to are local to Atlanta. there are likely groups local to your area that are working on these issues. these are just the ones that I've worked with and can vet for
posted by runt at 9:36 AM on January 30 [28 favorites]


I’ve been writing my reps daily calling for the total abolishment of ICE, we need to all be calling for much stronger positions on immigration systems than the current bullshit we’re getting from Democrats.

Absolutely this is what we need. I despair, though, because I can't even picture today's Democrats calling for cutbacks in ICE, let alone abolition.
posted by indubitable at 9:37 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


I despair, though, because I can't even picture today's Democrats calling for cutbacks in ICE, let alone abolition.

Claire McCaskill made a statement the other day supporting the hiring of tens of thousands of additional ICE and Border Patrol agents.
posted by Jacob G at 10:02 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


is there any real purpose to the idea of citizenship beyond diluting the political power of the masses?

If resources are limited, then sort of yes - it's reasonable to say we can't afford to support everyone who manages to cross the border. We budget for firefighters and education and road repair and various safety nets based on the number of taxpayers and the number of residents, and if one of those numbers is suddenly way off, our costs get out of whack.

If newcomers start paying taxes, that alleviates some of that concern, but citizens have been paying taxes their entire adult lives, and sales taxes before that, and so on.

However, a lot of our costs are out of whack because the gov't has refused to do any efficiency planning, and "we can't afford two thousand extra students in a small border town" is not the problem being faced in most situations. We *can* afford the road repair caused by extra non-citizen taxi drivers who buy business licenses and pay their taxes. We *can* afford the health care costs of migrant workers who harvest the food that feeds us, at least as much as we can afford health care for citizens.

The current process is ridiculous, and was developed to support racism. A three-year plan of "confirm they intend to stay here; make sure they understand the basic rights & responsibilities of citizens; give a few agencies the chance to check that they're not actually a serial killer fleeing justice in some other country" is plenty.

TL;DR: There are reasons not to grant insta-citizenship to anyone who manages to cross the border. There is no reason to make the process long or difficult.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:12 AM on January 30 [27 favorites]


There is one thing often left out of these utopian formulations: Is it politically possible? If the answer is currently no, then reboot and try again. Do not let perceived future perfection be the enemy of possible current progress, no matter how incremental. [Warning: This may require compromise.]
posted by jim in austin at 10:23 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


The more I hear about the current immigration and refugee rules, the more I'm in favor of general amnesty and removing limits on numbers of immigrants. There should be some security checks, probably some paperwork to make sure they are who they say they are, and maybe they should provide a plan for getting a job/contributing to society, but we need more workers and diversity here, not less. It is also unconscionable that we are turning people away who are escaping war and famine.
Agh! just had to get that out there.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:50 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


In addition to the moral concerns mentioned in the article, the frustrating thing about immigration is it's a net good for America. There's literally no downside. It grows the economy and creates new jobs. (They are going to buy groceries somewhere. They are going to pay rent to someone. They are going to need haircuts and shoes and transportation and a jillion other things. We get so blinded by referring to rich people as "job creators" that as a nation we lose sight of the truth that jobs are created by demand for goods and services, and that comes from customers.) New immigrants commit fewer crimes than anyone else. There's no support for fear-mongering about failure to assimilate. Everyone assimilates eventually. It's so odd that the people who most strongly believe that America is the greatest country with the best culture on Earth also tend to believe that new people who chose to move here can resist fitting in with the world's best society.

Are there any anti-immigrant arguments that don't also apply to babies? They don't pay taxes. They don't speak the language. They are a drain on resources. Heck, every new baby is going to take at least sixteen years to get a job, and then it's going to be menial, unskilled labor. Very few people want to restrict childbirth, but if you're going to be anti-immigrant, it's hard to make a solid pro-baby case. Yeah, they might master English faster, but other than that, if we're going to add a new person to our country, a baby is going to be less useful than an adult who is eager to work and purchase goods--unless you're driven mainly by xenophobia, which the current Republican party seems to be.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:54 AM on January 30 [71 favorites]


David Brooks, presenting the extreme moderate position: "Every few years I try to write a column staking out a reasonable middle ground on immigration. ... And every few years I fail. That’s because when you wade into the evidence you find that the case for restricting immigration is pathetically weak."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:11 AM on January 30 [21 favorites]


Now I'm pro-immigrant and anti-baby.
posted by el io at 11:11 AM on January 30 [32 favorites]


Now I'm pro-immigrant and anti-baby.

Well, you can be anti-both, in a way: "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:15 AM on January 30


from that David Brooks article (which is unusually self-aware for him)...
Progressives say Republicans oppose immigration because of bigotry. But it’s not that simple. It’s more accurate to say restrictionists are stuck in a mono-cultural system that undermines their own values: industry, faithfulness and self-discipline. Of course they react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.

ummm...so it's envy and jealousy expressing itself as bigotry?
Mr. Brooks, that's still bigotry
but hey let's still not use the word racist because we might hurt their feelings
posted by kokaku at 11:15 AM on January 30 [8 favorites]


It's complete bullshit that we can't afford to take in more people. A lot more people. How many people could Jeff Bezos alone support at a living wage? Not even necessarily through jobs, just giving the money away would support 200,000 families for a year ($10 billion net worth / median household income of $50k). And that's one rich dude.

In our current oligarchy/kleptocracy, it's not politically feasible to confiscate that much wealth, but it's bullshit that we can't afford it.
posted by AFABulous at 11:20 AM on January 30 [15 favorites]


Pater Aletheias: "Are there any anti-immigrant arguments that don't also apply to babies?"

Nope. And in their racist ways they also rail against the "wrong" kind of babies.
posted by Mitheral at 11:20 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


US immigration policy has been completely FUBAR for decades, creating this enormous underclass to be exploited for cheap labor. What I don't understand is why the principal crime responsible is never brought up: it's also illegal to employ undocumented workers. If we stringently enforced those laws, with serious fines and even jail sentences for flagrant offenders, the labor market for low-skilled citizens would instantly improve, and many undocumented workers would quickly "self-deport."

I, of course, know exactly why immigration haters don't bring up this obvious solution. What puzzles me is why no one else does. Maybe I'm missing something?
posted by johnny jenga at 11:40 AM on January 30 [12 favorites]


Speaking of the bullshit "100 mile rule", here's a story about people boarding a bus from Bangor to Boston -- for non-Americans, this crosses state lines but no international boundaries -- being asked about their citizenship status by CBP. You don't even see that in Arstotzka.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:40 AM on January 30


Axios: GOP congressman calls for arrest of undocumented SOTU attendees - urges Capitol police to check papers. DACA recipients were planning to attend as guests. There are no words for my sheer hatred of him right now.
posted by AFABulous at 11:42 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]



Of course they react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.


This is some pretty bitter medicine to swallow for many folks. I've been saying for years that if you can't compete with someone who isn't well acquainted with overall culture, may have a difficult to impossible to verify work history, may not speak English well if at all, you've got to ask yourself some very hard questions. What exactly makes you such a good catch to an employer, that you should be given preference? And if you want to appeal to patriotism and argue that being American makes you that important, you have to ask yourself again, what exactly makes you such an asset to your country if your performance can't compete with someone who may have no interest in the overall well being of the country?
posted by 2N2222 at 11:48 AM on January 30 [12 favorites]


It’s more accurate to say restrictionists are stuck in a mono-cultural system that undermines their own values: industry, faithfulness and self-discipline. Of course they react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.

I don't buy this at all. Americans are industrious and self-disiplined so long as they're making enough money. Capitalists are forcing wages down by hiring new immigrants and Americans are blaming immigrants for driving wages down and taking those jobs. Everyone has a common enemy here, but most people are too lazy, racist or indocrtinated to direct their ire where it belongs. If they succeed in blocking 100% of immigration, exactly the same thing would happen only maybe slightly slower.
posted by klanawa at 12:03 PM on January 30 [14 favorites]


I have to say that for Democrats with a conservative disposition like myself, ideas like abolishing citizenship, borders etc., seems completely untethered from reality and a recipe for chaos. I can more easily imagine the end of capitalism than the nation state.
posted by fraxil at 12:08 PM on January 30 [6 favorites]


So, on a slight tangent... isn't it a bit contradictory to title the thread "No Human Being Is Illegal" and then use the term "amnesty"? Amnesty implies a pardon for a crime.

This has stood out to me in particular as it's been used in the context of DREAMers, because they're essentially introducing the concept of criminal babies when they use the term "amnesty" to refer to citizenship for someone brought to the U.S. as a baby.
posted by XMLicious at 12:16 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


I don't think immigration drives wages down though, otherwise those same capitalists would be spending a ton of money on political activism and advertising on how free trade deals should include freedom of movement, and how that's so wonderful for everyone.

My bet is that it's much better for them to be hiring people in Mexico with Mexican wages and employment protections than have people come over here looking for American wages and employment protections.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:20 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


isn't it a bit contradictory to title the thread "No Human Being Is Illegal" and then use the term "amnesty"? Amnesty implies a pardon for a crime.

First, the "no person is illegal" refers to the fact that actions are illegal, not people. In football, having too many people on the field is "illegal formation," a bad hit is "illegal contact," but we don't refer to "illegal football players." In criminal matters, we might have "unlawful possession of a firearm," but that person would be a felon, not an "illegal."

Amnesty is a synonym of "reprieve," and refers to the cancellation of a punishment. It refers only to the punishment, and has no implication of whether it was deserved. Amnesty International fights for the rights of political prisoners with an implication that their punishment is not deserved; they're asking for amnesty, not pardons.

Finally, let's not forget that illegal immigration is a civil infraction, not a crime. That's why sanctuary cities don't want to waste police on this kind of stuff and why it's so monstrous that ICE is rounding people up into jails. It's a civil infraction, like a parking ticket or a breach of contract.
posted by explosion at 12:46 PM on January 30 [23 favorites]


I don't think immigration drives wages down though

Well, for some kinds of jobs it does, though the overall benefit is positive. I should more properly have said, "Capitalists are saving enormous amounts of money by employing immigrants." That benefit is not fairly distributed or reinvested, as it would be if it was paid out as salaries.
posted by klanawa at 12:46 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


My bet is that it's much better for them to be hiring people in Mexico with Mexican wages and employment protections than have people come over here looking for American wages and employment protections.


Yeah, but you can't outsource your landscaping or dishwashing to Mexico if you live in Missouri, and everyone is looking for an angle.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:46 PM on January 30


This is so smart and good. We have to push our own bold proposals or else we're stuck compromising endlessly with increasingly fascistic Republicans.

The Democratic platform for 2018 and beyond should be this: full, immediate amnesty for immigrants, massive infrastructure spending on transit, housing and green energy (ie: jobs), large scale prison reform and enfranchisement for prisoners and former prisoners, and Medicare for all.
posted by latkes at 12:46 PM on January 30 [15 favorites]


Capitalists are forcing wages down by hiring new immigrants

You've probably heard this all your life, and it makes intuitive sense, but it isn't so.

Here's a map of foreign-born population by state. Here's a map of per capita income by state. Which way does the correlation lie?

A hint: New York is 22% foreign-born, New Jersey 21%, California 27%. All are in the top 15 states for income. Very low-immigrant states include Mississippi 2%, Alabama 3.5%, West Virginia 1.4%— all in the bottom 4 states by income.

You don't want to be in an advanced country without immigration. It means a declining population and choking off growth— see Russia, Japan. Immigrants are a gift for a country: prime-age workers we didn't have to raise and educate.
posted by zompist at 12:53 PM on January 30 [33 favorites]


Immigration will no longer be an issue when I can move among countries as easily as capital can.

Until then, it's all just pretending that laws like immigration are only intended to prevent the poor and weak from moving from one place to another. Notice that the rich can move from country to country easily.

Yet, I would likely be denied if I tried to enter Canada under the auspices of seeking asylum from economic policies which could kill me. Yet rapists and war criminals just get to go where-the-fuck-ever when-the-fuck-ever, because they've got a shitload of money to back them up, money they can move from country to country at essentially the push of a button. (Lookin right the fuck at you George W. Bush)

Until I can leave this god-forsaken shithole of a country that's been bought out by robber barons intent on murdering half the population with economic starvation as easily as the robber barons can, it's all just fucking talk.
posted by deadaluspark at 1:08 PM on January 30 [24 favorites]


I can more easily imagine the end of capitalism than the nation state.

I don't think that many people are so naive as to think that [insert dramatic transformative change] is something that can happen now/soon/in our lifetimes/ever or would be easy but I think it is worthwhile to keep the goal in mind. So then I can say "I think that people should be free to live where they want and should have full rights and representation in those places" and then consider what can be enacted now to move reality closer to that ideal. And white nationalists are doing the flipside of that right now. Their stated goal is to make America a permanently white-majority nation with white domination of power and Republican / Trumpist policies are being enacted right now in furtherance of that goal.
posted by ghharr at 1:11 PM on January 30 [6 favorites]


I firmly support a robust cradle to grave safety net, but I also accept the reality that America can't afford that, even with fair taxation, unless we have a serious discussion about population growth, and that discussion must include the impact immigration has on both our population size and cost of housing and rent. Also whether we can sustain the current level of immigration in a near future where millions of American workers are displaced by robots, machines, and computers.

PS, If I were a Mexican citizen, living in hardship, I would move heaven and earth to immigrate to America, one way or another.
posted by Beholder at 1:54 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


First, the "no person is illegal" refers to the fact that actions are illegal, not people.

This is kind of the point, though... the babies in question did not carry out any illegal actions; in fact I'd think you'd have to get pretty far up into tween and teen ages before you could reasonably even suggest in some cases that the person who in this framing needs amnesty actually carried out an illegal action.

I'm sure there are sources that could be marshaled to support an argument for the technical meaning of "amnesty" you describe there, but I don't think we should presume that's the actual impression conveyed by the right-wing messaging people who pushed for that term to be used in the context of immigration and naturalization decades ago.

For example, the corporate "repatriation tax" holiday that was part of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017" aka the "tax reform" would appear to be a textbook case of tax amnesty but from a cursory Google News search only a handful of even left-leaning sources are using the latter term.
posted by XMLicious at 1:56 PM on January 30


I have to say that for Democrats with a conservative disposition like myself, ideas like abolishing citizenship, borders etc., seems completely untethered from reality and a recipe for chaos.

I don't think anyone's mentioned that in this thread? There are certainly some people who advocate for that, but I do think nations (and states) are important otherwise you'd have someone in a central government in Moscow making decisions for... oh wait :P

It's often not true in practice, but in theory a nation/state should have shared values and interests. Montanans care about different things than Rhode Islanders because the landscape, economic concerns, even weather is different. I don't want someone in Providence making decisions about hunting wolves or how to handle mountain wildfires.

However, I think there should be freedom of movement, just as there is between states. I don't see a good argument why it should be more difficult for me to move to Canada than it is to Maine.
posted by AFABulous at 2:06 PM on January 30 [8 favorites]


I don't see a good argument why it should be more difficult for me to move to Canada than it is to Maine.

Well if you were Canadian wouldn't you want to keep Americans out
posted by Automocar at 2:14 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


I don't see a good argument why it should be more difficult for me to move to Canada than it is to Maine.

The level of social benefit provided is certainly a part of it. Canada's pretty strict about immigration in part because of healthcare. Even within Canada, 'freedom of movement' is restricted, to an extent, when it comes to social benefits; people can move between provinces, sure, but there's a wait before they can access health services in the new province. Cost-sharing means the old province will cover their healthcare in the meantime, which can be complicated and confusing. It'd get even more complicated and confusing trying to work out reciprocity of benefits between different countries, though, particularly when you've got countries which have some level of universal social benefits (like Canada) and countries that have few or more limited benefits (like the US).

Some newcomers to Canada get access to healthcare with their entry permits, while they're waiting for paperwork to come through. If Canada drastically increased the numbers of people entering, though, that might become more difficult to sustain -- particularly since people who are entering don't or can't always get jobs right away, so they may not be paying into the system for a while. And because the US is terrible at healthcare, freedom of movement would mean a lot of US citizens with health issues that they can't afford to deal with in the US wanting to move to Canada, which would unbalance their system. (Heck, you can be turned down for admission to Canada for health reasons, if you're deemed likely-too-expensive from a health standpoint.)

I'm not saying this is a particularly humane argument, so I don't know if it qualifies as 'good,' but figuring out how to provide a social safety net while allowing freedom of movement is going to be difficult when there aren't comparable standards of living / benefits between countries, and we're pretty far from that at present -- and the way the US is going, we're getting farther all the time.
posted by halation at 2:35 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


I missed this tidbit from one Scaramucci ago: Trump Administration Wants to Arrest Mayors of 'Sanctuary Cities' (Newsweek)
posted by AFABulous at 2:39 PM on January 30


halation, I think most understand why that's a valid argument, even if it is not "good."

I think more of us are wondering, when Apple computer has more wealth than our own country, what the fuck is wrong with how we allocate resources. (Short answer: capitalism. Anyone who says markets are the most efficient allocator of resources should be promptly knocked the fuck out.)

I think, when we're on the cusp of a world where robots literally could take our jobs, where driverless delivery trucks and robo-concierges greeting you at your restaurant or hotel are technically already here (Jack in the Box has replaced cashiers with ordering machines, and Olive Garden already has tablets at every table that make their wait-staff redundant other than actually delivering the food.), we wonder why we're working harder than ever, for less pay, less rights, less freedom of movement, less access to education, less access to healthcare, the list doesn't fucking end.

The truth of the fucking matter is the entire planet absolutely has the wealth to attain that future where quality of life and services is fairly similar and fairly good, all around the world. Bill Gates isn't wrong when he says "we can all look forward to longer vacations," except that the "we" means him and his fucking rich-ass cronies who don't seem to give a damn about giving back to the societies that gave them their seemingly limitless wealth.

We're wondering, this long after the fucking so-called "Enlightenment" in Europe, decades after cartoons and moguls told us we'd be working a few hours a week in the future, why the fuck we keep getting sold a pile off bullshit and keep getting told it's gold.

The wealth to make that world exists exists already in our world. Currently, based on societal laws built hundreds of years ago by men who claimed to support equality yet owned slaves and restricted voting to only those who actually owned land that massive wealth lies in the hands of a few, and we're all too polite to take their wealth, make them fucking choke on it, and create a world fucking worth living in.

No, we're too busy repeating the arguments that they've sold us while telling us all "we couldn't possibly afford it!" while giving the richest man on the fucking planet more tax breaks than you can shake a stick at just to get him to build his new headquarters in their city. While his employees subsist on food stamps.

So, we understand the argument. The argument is also total fucking bullshit.

We abso-fucking-lutely can afford it. We have to first grow the fucking cajones to stop giving fucking handouts to people who don't fucking need it every god damned day. (To be clear, the people with more wealth than they will ever fucking need.)
posted by deadaluspark at 3:17 PM on January 30 [29 favorites]


Report from Oxfam: https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-reward-work-not-wealth-220118-en.pdf

The thrust of this is that billionaire wealth grew enough to stamp out poverty worldwide seven times over in 2017 alone. And that's just new growth in 2017, doesn't even include what they were already fucking sitting on!

We have enough money. Can we stop pretending we don't have enough money yet?

(Also, since money isn't technically real, and is just little slips of paper that we've deemed to have value to make a bartering system less confusing, I mean, the idea that we don't have enough "money" for anything, is and always has been fucking absurd on its face. It literally is made up fucking numbers, don't tell me you can't fucking make up more! I've seen plenty of crypto-nerds create all kinds of numbers that apparently have been accepted as having value lately.)
posted by deadaluspark at 3:26 PM on January 30 [22 favorites]


that discussion must include the impact immigration has on both our population size and cost of housing and rent. Also whether we can sustain the current level of immigration in a near future where millions of American workers are displaced by robots, machines, and computers.

Only if that discussion can also include the astronomical wealth inequality enshrined in our system as well. The lack of financial regulation, low levels of taxation, and ability of billionaires to extract and hoard the wealth of this country are infinitely more responsible for the inequality, mismatch of housing costs to income, and displacement of American workers than the immigrants coming here. American jobs are lower paid and more precarious than any time since the Great Depression, and guess who's responsible? It's absolutely not the immigrants.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:47 PM on January 30 [10 favorites]


This is the most interesting thing I've seen recently on immigration: despite the rightward shift in policy, opinions among democrats have shifted drastically to the left in the past few years. Trump is perhaps not a bad thing in this regard, in that by putting a scary face on policies that are only somewhat to the right of Obama's, he's solidifying political opposition.

Immigration is a hugely complex topic (self link) and I think there are plenty of legitimate reasons for not wanting to get rid of borders entirely. There are reasonable arguments being made that low-skill immigration holds down wages for low-skill native workers, for example. But I do think the current debate boils down to racism, fear, and strong daddy law-and-orderism. These being the ways that right-wing media and Trump have made people forget that other people are human beings, and made them feel like they are victims of convenient, powerless scapegoats.
posted by ropeladder at 4:31 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]



If newcomers start paying taxes, that alleviates some of that concern, but citizens have been paying taxes their entire adult lives, and sales taxes before that, and so on.

Are there any anti-immigrant arguments that don't also apply to babies? They don't pay taxes. They don't speak the language. They are a drain on resources.
Umm ... I'm an immigrant who doesn't have citizenship yet and I've been living here since I came here for university (basically my entire adult life) and been paying excise taxes and income taxes and social security (and now that I own a home: property tax, too) Where's this special immigrant card that gets me out of paying for sales tax?

Can we stop perpetuating this myth that immigrants, even undocumented ones, don't pay taxes? I know that we're trying to rebut the arguments of the other side, but don't be so wrapped up in the tit-for-tat that you start believing that the argument has any basis in fact.
posted by bl1nk at 6:29 PM on January 30 [26 favorites]


Kinda obvious here, The Pinky Show said that the "problem" with "immigration" was "racism".
posted by ovvl at 6:30 PM on January 30


Can we stop perpetuating this myth that immigrants, even undocumented ones, don't pay taxes?

Indeed, immigrants are yet another group that still has "taxation without representation".

Even tourists pay sales tax. And even undocumented immigrants generally pay income tax, etc. They just get much less in return.
posted by thefoxgod at 6:41 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Let's not forget that undocumented immigrants are often paid below the minimum wage line, which is basically an income tax levied by their employer because.... I guess for no good reason other than because their employer doesn't want to pay minimum wage because the employer is a fucking selfish piece of shit.

Anyway, the idea that undocumented immigrants aren't taxed is an absolute farce.
posted by deadaluspark at 7:14 PM on January 30 [8 favorites]


"Being a white nationalist in an extremely diverse country is to effectively hate that country."

This is the best single sentence I've read in a long time.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:24 PM on January 30 [15 favorites]


Well, you can be anti-both, in a way: "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."

Being "American" is a set of IDEAS, not a race, language, or birthplace.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:06 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Like, I just don't get how those of us who happened to be born here are somehow more "American" than people who made a conscious decision to come here (often at great cost) and deliberately join American society.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:16 PM on January 30 [7 favorites]


I don't see how you can do anything humane without a general amnesty and I've thought so for a while. But I also think there needs to be some control of borders. Somehow the amnesty needs to be coupled to some credible way not to be in the same situation 20 years from now, because the situation we're in now involves inhumane treatment of millions.

True, you could avoid this by making all immigration legal but realistic hope for stronger unions, UBI, single payer, etc. goes out the window. (I appreciate the "just redistribute all the billionaire's wealth" sentiment here as a nice, easy, simple solution, and if people get that done there sure will be egg on my face.)

There's literally no downside [to immigration]. It grows the economy and creates new jobs.

This is true in exactly the same way that there's no downside to free trade, outsourcing, liberalized markets or capitalism. In principle and within reason it's a net win but there are a lot of losers.

I get that the dialogue now is dominated by open racist sentiments, so it's like any argument against racism feels like it must be valid. But here, on a site where people understand there's a cost to communities within just having middle class types move around within a city, going all simplistic on cross-border migrations feels like picking the conclusion you want and finding arguments to match.

I don't think immigration drives wages down though, otherwise those same capitalists would be spending a ton of money on political activism and advertising on how free trade deals should include freedom of movement, and how that's so wonderful for everyone.

Oh, they basically do that. That you personally haven't been exposed to that lobbying says more about their PR strategy, and your (prudent) choice in reading material. But the capitalist cronies at the Wall Street Journal famously want a constitutional ammendment saying "there will be open borders" and there's constant lobbying to increase quotas, loosen enforcement, etc. They are too canny to sink a free trade deal by adding it directly there, but even so you get op-eds suggesting it.

We had 100 CEOs this month sign a pro-immigration petition, which people on the left welcome as a voice of sanity because, yeah, for once it's not racist. But that as a group CEOs have shown they will pretty much literally watch the world burn in the quest for higher profits I think it says that Blackstone, GM, Amazon, Hilton, etc, etc, in lobbying for this expect some benefit for themselves too.

A hint: New York is 22% foreign-born, New Jersey 21%, California 27%. All are in the top 15 states for income. Very low-immigrant states include Mississippi 2%, Alabama 3.5%, West Virginia 1.4%— all in the bottom 4 states by income.

I know the line about correlation and causation is a cliche, but there are sort of two hypotheses here: immigrants move someplace randomly and in places they settle they drive wages go up, or immigrants who have chosen to travel thousands of miles then go a few hundred more to settle in the places that already have the most demand for labor and highest income.
posted by mark k at 9:25 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Somehow the amnesty needs to be coupled to some credible way not to be in the same situation 20 years from now,

Make the process of becoming a citizen transparent, unbiased, and widely available. Reduce incentives for businesses to use non-citizen labor by reducing penalties for non-citizens: allow them to count verifiable time in the country as part of their application waiting process; create an application process for unauthorized immigrants; penalize business owners exactly as they would be if they were mistreating citizens - same penalties for paying lower than minimum wage, not providing health care in the places that require it, penalties for unsafe working conditions, etc.

There is no "seal the borders" solution that doesn't wind up right back where we are, because the practice is always going to be "... except for mass labor and personal servants for the wealthy." So give those people either a path to citizenship, or a process for a legal work-visa that comes with legal protections. (There is one now; it's a pain. Make it as easy as applying for a driver's license: fill out some info, and let us check you against a database to confirm you're not wanted for serious crimes; pay an administrative fee; get your photo & thumbprint taken; here you go, authorized for work in the US as long as you obey the law and pay taxes.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:02 PM on January 30 [7 favorites]


We abso-fucking-lutely can afford it. We have to first grow the fucking cajones to stop giving fucking handouts to people who don't fucking need it every god damned day. (To be clear, the people with more wealth than they will ever fucking need.)

I’d like some “fucking” stats to go with that rhetoric, please. Eliminating world poverty is very different from elevating people to an American standard of living— the global “middle class” is much closer to American standards of poverty to anything we would consider an acceptable quality of life. Let alone to an acceptable quality of life with a safety net, which is what I think most leftists talk about when they talk about eliminating poverty.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 12:50 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Let’s DREAM bigger
posted by The Whelk at 7:15 AM on January 31


Are there any anti-immigrant arguments that don't also apply to babies? They don't pay taxes. They don't speak the language. They are a drain on resources. Heck, every new baby is going to take at least sixteen years to get a job, and then it's going to be menial, unskilled labor. Very few people want to restrict childbirth, but if you're going to be anti-immigrant, it's hard to make a solid pro-baby case.

The difference is that in most cases, people choose to have a baby and support the baby on a one-on-one basis. The analogy works OK if you consider it to be a comparison to a legal immigrant, where the legal immigrant's sponsor needs to sign an Affidavit of Support declaring that he or she will support the immigrant, who will not have legal authorization to work right away.

Whereas illegal immigration is not chosen by the citizens, and it imposes its costs across society in the form of various social service expenses paid for by taxpayers.
posted by theorique at 1:27 PM on January 31


No one has to prove they can support a baby to have one. You're free to have as many babies as you can regardless of your income.

So no, its not comparable to "legal" immigration, where you actually have to prove you have enough money _and_ put yourself on the hook for reimbursing the government for any expenses they incur (At this point, even if my wife divorced me, I'd be liable for reimbursing any money the government spent on her for life --- I-864 is a permanent contract).

Whereas no one, even the government, has any control over how many babies you have, nor can you be compelled to reimburse the government for services they incur as an adult, nor do you have to prove any income or assets to have one.
posted by thefoxgod at 2:31 PM on January 31 [6 favorites]


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