May 19, 2006

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part III

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is the third of five postings which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.


David Frum offers this critique of blogger Matt Yglesias who had criticized Samuelson's comments by referencing an American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF) study on Hispanic assimilation:

...[AILF's] own data show that even the grandchildren of the pre-1965 Mexican and Latino population still lag substantially behind native Anglos.

Their data show that the intergenerational progress for Hispanics slowed to a halt after 1980.

Their data show that today’s native-born Hispanics continue to drop out of school at rates nearly double those of Anglos.

And yet on the basis of this same disturbing data, the AILF authors conclude that the very poor, very rural, very uneducated Mexicans arriving illegally today will assimilate just fine over the decades to come.

I share Yglesias’ wish to believe that the current mass migration from Mexico will end well. Even with the strictest enforcement, many millions of the Mexicans who have arrived in the US since 1986 will probably end up staying here. It would be nice to think that they will emulate the experience of the Italians, Greeks, and Poles who arrived before 1924.

Nobody questions that most Mexican migrants work hard and mean well. What is in question are the results of their efforts - for themselves and for the new society that is accepting responsibility for them and their children and grandchildren . So far, those results are troubling. When writers like Samuelson raise those facts, they are showing genuine, not sarcastic, “courage.” And when bloggers like Yglesias jeer at those who mention unwelcome truths, and accept weak research to justify their determination to hear only what pleases them, they are not acting in the spirit of racial tolerance, and much less of serious intellectual inquiry. They are engaged in wishful thinking compounded with intellectual bullying. Not a pretty sight.


Mitchell Langbert writes about Immigration Reform and the Decline of Education:

Morse raises the important question of whether immigrants from Mexico are equipped to live in a society governed by the rule of law. I think that this is a valid and critically important question, and one that the left wingers on our campuses would not likely ask because it is a politically incorrect question.

The rule of law is fundamental to a functioning economy and a democratic society, and it is likely the fact that many third world countries are corrupt that prevents more rapid development. Mexico is a case in point. My classmate from Columbia University, Utpal Bhattycharia did a study a number of years back where he related the degree of corruption per country to the stock prices per country, and indeed found that corruption has a dampening effect on market valuation.

There are many wonderful things about Mexican culture. These include their wonderful food, the fact that Mexicans are hard working and many other assets. However, a successful political system and economy are not among their strengths. Nor is respect for the rule of law a characterisitc of Mexican culture. Indeed, the Spanish language is hardly associated with democracy. It is only in the past three decades that democracy has appeared in Spanish-speaking countries, and then in fits and starts...

America has faced this problem before. Immigrants who do not share mainstream American values have immigrated here. The past record is mixed...As the great grandchild and grandchild of such immigrants I have concluded that it takes at least three generations, maybe more likely five generations, for Americans to assimilate. However, that assumes functioning school systems.

...the schools are infested with absurd approaches such as multilingual education and identity politics that may result in self-esteem for the students (or not, who knows whether the advocates of these programs are even capable of testing whether they work)but are highly destructive of participation in the American polity. The history of multilingual societies such as the French in Canada suggests that multilingualism is destructive and will make it even more difficult for immigrants to America to adjust. These are concerns that economists and libertarians who are right in their rationality but wrong in their culture overlook.

Immigration reform needs to be associated with education reform. Making English the official language of the United States, elimination of fraudulent multi-lingual education programs and requiring all immigrants to learn English while inconsistent with libertarian purity is likely goood common sense.


Professor Bainbridge references an open letter by economist Alex Tabarrok, including this excerpt:

Immigrants do not take American jobs. The American economy can create as many jobs as there are workers willing to work so long as labor markets remain free, flexible and open to all workers on an equal basis.

Immigration in recent decades of low-skilled workers may have lowered the wages of domestic low-skilled workers, but the effect is likely to be small, with estimates of wage reductions for high-school dropouts ranging from eight percent to as little as zero percent.

While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to our economy, including lower consumer prices. As with trade in goods and services, the gains from immigration outweigh the losses. The effect of all immigration on low-skilled workers is very likely positive as many immigrants bring skills, capital and entrepreneurship to the American economy.

Legitimate concerns about the impact of immigration on the poorest Americans should not be addressed by penalizing even poorer immigrants. Instead, we should promote policies, such as improving our education system that enables Americans to be more productive with high-wage skills.


Reconquista, Here We Come!, which links to an important Washington Times article about Senator Sessions and a Heritage Foundation study commented on earlier by Andrew (see below for link)

The Senate immigration reform bill would allow for up to 193 million new legal immigrants -- a number greater than 60 percent of the current U.S. population -- in the next 20 years, according to a study released yesterday.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican who conducted a separate analysis that reached similar results, said Congress is "blissfully ignorant of the scope and impact" of the bill, which has bipartisan support in the Senate and has been praised by President Bush.

The 614-page "compromise" bill -- hastily cobbled together last month by Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Mel Martinez of Florida -- would give illegal aliens who have been in the U.S. two years or longer a right to citizenship. Illegals who have been here less than two years would have to return to their home countries to apply for citizenship.

As part of the bill, the annual flow of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. would more than double to more than 2 million annually. In addition, the guest-worker program in the bill would bring in 325,000 new workers annually who could later apply for citizenship.

That population would grow exponentially from there because the millions of new citizens would be permitted to bring along their extended families. Also, Mr. Sessions said, the bill includes "escalating caps," which would raise the number of immigrants allowed in as more people seek to enter the U.S.

"The impact of this increase in legal immigration dwarfs the magnitude of the amnesty provisions," said Mr. Rector, who has followed Congress for 25 years. He called the bill "the most dramatic piece of legislation in my experience."

Immigration into the U.S. would become an "entitlement," Mr. Sessions said. "The decision as to who may come will almost totally be controlled by the desire of the individuals who wish to immigrate to the United States rather than by the United States government."

One of the most alarming aspects of the bill, opponents say, is that it eliminates a long-standing policy of U.S. immigration law that prohibits anyone from gaining permanent status here who is considered "likely to become a public charge," meaning welfare or other government subsidy.

This change is particularly troublesome because the bill also slants legal immigration away from highly skilled and highly educated workers to the unskilled and uneducated, who are far more likely to require public assistance. In addition, adult immigrants will be permitted to bring along their parents, who would eventually be eligible for Social Security even though they had never paid into it.

Everything old is new again

The legalization of the millions of illegal aliens who are residing in the United States -- the bestowal of American citizenship on them -- would be unjust and unwise for many reasons. Most Americans believe this to be the case; indeed, it is the sole reason for the refusal to acknowledge the substance of this critical component of the "comprehensive immigration reform" that that the president advocates. When described more accurately, it goes under the name of amnesty. The details of the amnesty program advocated by the administration are even more foolish than the idea of amnesty itself (as suggested by point 4 of the White House fact sheet, but also as elaborated at greater length elsewhere by adminstration spokesmen).

The same applies to the administration's advocacy of a guest worker program. The American guest worker program of 1942 to 1964 appears to be one of those secrets of history that it is somehow rude to mention in polite company...

A True Middle Way, featuring an editorial by Tony Blankley:

...his analysis of President Bush's immigration proposal and of the nature of the compromise that should be acceptable to conservatives. Other things being equal, the proper approach to illegal immigration is to secure (or attempt to secure) the border through security measures at the border. If that works, then we can talk about a guest worker program and perhaps some relief for some illegals who are here now. However, as a political matter a pure enforement first program looks like a non-starter...

Thus, conservatives should think carefully about where there may be room for compromise. The obvious candidate is the guest worker program. For one thing, as Blankley says, under the status quo we have a de facto guest worker program with virtually no border security. Thus, it makes sense to consider a plan that gives us a formal program, with enhanced border security, under which we have some hope of keeping track of alien workers...

The issue on which there should be no compromise is amnesty (or the path to citizenship). Such a path, in addition to rewarding scofflaws, would likely increase the pressure on the border. Unless President Bush is willing to compromise his position on citizenship for illegals, conservatives should not compromise with the president.


In an editorial entitled Hagel-Martinez divides the movement: "Our position is no compromise", the Socialist Worker makes these comments:

As George W. Bush called for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, a split emerged in the immigrant rights movement over so-called compromise legislation in the Senate.

The deal--named for its chief negotiators, Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)--has been sharply criticized among activists because it divides undocumented immigrants into three legal categories and includes a guest-worker program demanded by Corporate America.

Yet when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced May 12 that the stalled legislation would be revived, several major immigrant organizations endorsed the bill, including the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

The National Immigration Forum (NIF)--whose top officers include the political director of the UNITE HERE union, Thomas Snyder--issued a statement which declared that the "Hagel-Martinez compromise includes the right architecture for real immigration reform." The other main union on the NIF board, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), views Hagel-Martinez as "a step forward," according to a union spokesperson.

By contrast, Nativo López, president of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) and a key organizer of mass marches in Los Angeles on March 25 and May 1, called the proposals "nothing less than a categorization of the immigrant workforce into a bantu apartheid system," akin to the old racist system in South Africa. "[Immigrant workers] will languish in those categories for years with no absolute guarantee of legal status," he told Socialist Worker...

Under Hagel-Martinez, undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. more than five years could apply to become citizens after six years, paying fines and any back taxes, and learning English.

Those in the U.S. more than two years but less than five could apply for status as guest workers, but only after exiting and re-entering the U.S. at a port of entry--a setup, critics say, for instant deportations.

The rest of the undocumented immigrants--more than 2 million people who have come to the U.S. in the last two years--would be forced to leave and could only apply to return under the guest-worker program.

Hagel-Martinez could also put immigrants at risk for deportation if they used false documentation to obtain a job, immigration lawyers say.

And as Hagel and Martinez boasted in a recent article, their proposals would sharply increase enforcement. "The bill adds nearly 15,000 new Border Patrol agents over the next six years," they wrote. "It dramatically increases the number of immigration investigators (1,000), immigration inspectors (1,250) and customs inspectors (1,000) as well. And it authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to make important improvements and additions to border infrastructure necessary to secure the border."...

The three-tiered structure of Hagel-Martinez led to opposition from organizations and unions--including the Laborers International Union--that had earlier supported a guest worker plan in a proposal by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). "[Hagel-Martinez] is not good enough for us," Yanira Merino, the Laborers policy director on immigration, said in an interview. "It still leaves a good number of immigrants without a path to citizenship."

Nevertheless, SEIU--with the largest number of immigrants of any union--views Hagel-Martinez as a "step forward," according to union spokesperson Avril Smith.

SEIU, along with the Laborers and UNITE HERE, are part of the Change to Win coalition, a group of unions that split from the AFL-CIO last summer. Now, however, UNITE HERE and SEIU are apparently alone among labor organizations in backing Hagel-Martinez...

By taking this position, SEIU is creating a split in the immigrant rights movement, says MAPA’s Nativo López.

The NIF, National Council of La Raza, LULAC and SEIU are playing a "dangerous game with the Democrats," López said. "This game of 'improving' Hagel-Martinez is a betrayal on its face, because any compromise based on it would mean dividing families, supporting enforcement measures and undermining the rights of all immigrant workers. We take the position of no compromise, and no division of our families. Better no immigration reform bill this year than this bill."

Part IV to follow...

For previous posting information, refer to Parts I and II of this posting.