May 17, 2007

Immigration Compromise Reached in the Senate

And it looks like the approach is somewhat holistic, which is all I asked. (Well—it's one of the things I asked.) Details so far are sketchy. For instance, when we ask people with high-level skill sets to return to their countries of origin in order to become citizens here, how long do they have to stay there? And who covers their jobs or runs their businesses while they are gone?

This would explain why John McCain wasn't available for his periodic blogger conference call this morning, of course.

The fact is, we had to do something about this, and preferably in a way that didn't create perverse incentives for more people to come here simply because some magical "window of opportunity" might close soon. Not because the system wasn't working previously: in a sense, it's been working all along, in its own messy way. But the "don't ask, don't tell" approach has been expensive in some respects, and—more importantly—it's just too risky for us to have porous borders in this day and age.

The "back door" into this country must close, and part of the solution is to make it easier for people to get here legally. We must cut down on that red tape, or the whole thing falls apart.

Posted by Attila Girl at May 17, 2007 10:29 AM | TrackBack

I would have preferred standalone legislation be passed that everyone already in line - the legal line - be granted citizenship.

After that, and only after, we should be discussing what to do about the illegals here. But handling it this way is a slap in the face of those who have been trying to do it the right way, and sends the message that "hey, it was okay that your first act in our country was to flout the most basic of our laws - those respecting citizenship."

I'm less than thrilled right now.

Posted by: Rocketeer at May 17, 2007 01:37 PM

Come on, now: if you were living a hand-to-mouth existence in rural Mexico, and you knew that this country made it very difficult to get here legally—and yet whole sectors of its economy depended on your coming here—what would you do, if the opportunity for a better life presented itself?

There is nothing more "basic" about citizenship laws than any other laws, and to maintain that a person's responsibility to a foreign bureaucracy trumps his/her obligation to make a better life for his/her children is fundamentally unserious.

Tell me, Rocketeer: have you ever broken the law? Was it okay because it wasn't one that you proclaimed to be "basic"?

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 17, 2007 02:19 PM

"Tell me, Rocketeer: have you ever broken the law? Was it okay because it wasn't one that you proclaimed to be "basic"?"

Speaking for myself, I can't say that I've never broken any law, but then again after I did I didn't expect to be rewarded for my transgression.

Posted by: Sephiroth at May 17, 2007 04:44 PM

"Come on, now: if you were living a hand-to-mouth existence in rural Mexico, and you knew that this country made it very difficult to get here legally—and yet whole sectors of its economy depended on your coming here—what would you do, if the opportunity for a better life presented itself?"

Then where exactly does this obligation end? There's anywhere from 2.0 to 2.5 billion people worldwide who subsist on less than $2 a day - less than even the poorest Mexican - do we have a responsibility to provide "opportunities" for all of them as well?

Posted by: Sephiroth at May 17, 2007 04:55 PM

No. But if we do for our own self-interest (because we need the labor) we oughtn't to turn around and pretend that we didn't.

I'm not thrilled with the idea of blanket amnesty, but I'm against the game of make-believe that we've been playing for decades, in which we offer people a sort of shadow existence here to keep the economy turning, but pretend that it isn't so.

Can't we start by being honest about this?

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 17, 2007 06:56 PM

Of course not. But if we provide opportunities by dint of needing cheap labor, it's rather unbecoming for us to turn around and complain that we've been Victimized! By! Those! Dirty! Illegals!

All I ask for is a little bit of honesty: willing buyers of labor have employed willing providers of labor, and the U.S. Government has looked the other way.

The illegals aren't dissing us--they're operating within the parameters we've set down for working here. "You, there--you give us your labor, and we'll give you a shadow existence in the richest country in the world."

Why does everyone want to lie about this?

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 17, 2007 07:34 PM

"We" didn't agree to allow the illegals to move here, the globalist political and economic elite of this nation did that for us. True enough, the voters are partially guilty insofar as they didn't bother to pay sufficient attention to this issue, but nonetheless society at large never actively consented to the current de facto open borders regime; therefore it's rather senseless to claim that "we're" going back on our word (which we never gave) to the illegals.

Nevertheless, it's a farce to claim that America "needs cheap labor." If the market clearing price for unskilled labor would be, arguendo, $12 an hour without illegal immigrants instead of the current $7, then that's the legitimate price for that commodity. I fail to understand how a state policy that's designed to reduce the incomes of our poorest citizens even lower than they already are so the wealthy and middle class can pay 10% less at the grocery state could possibly be described in any way as "moral." The state goes to great lengths to protect high-income physicians and attorneys from foreign competition, but cashiers and janitors are fair game. It's absolutely insane.

Posted by: Sephiroth at May 17, 2007 08:49 PM

One last thing: the common claim that produce will increase in price fourfold without illegal alien labor is nonsense. Even if we assume that unskilled labor is 100% of the price of food then wages for menial workers would have to increase fourfold as well, to around 20-28(!) dollars an hour. If that labor is 50% of the cost then wages would have to increase sevenfold to around $35-50/hour. (!!)

As it stands, unskilled labor is only 5-10% percent of the cost of most agricultural products. Even if low skilled wages doubled to $15/hour (which they won't of course, but it would be good for the country if they did) grocery prices would only increase by 10-20% or so. It would be a small price to pay to virtually eliminate working poverty overnight, if it were possible of course.

Posted by: Sephiroth at May 17, 2007 09:03 PM

Come on, now: if you were living a hand-to-mouth existence in rural Mexico, and you knew that this country made it very difficult to get here legally—and yet whole sectors of its economy depended on your coming here—what would you do, if the opportunity for a better life presented itself?

Quite a bundle of assumptions you've thrown in there, pell mell. But I'll bite nonetheless. In short, I'd stay the heck home, work my rear off to improve my lot, and fight to change things for the better. Are Central and South America's political and economic dysfunctions our problem to address, here, domestically? They're not.

Can't we start by being honest about this?

"We?" We?

Let me take this oppotunity to correct you - I'm not the one that's encouraged lax enforcement for the last 2 decades. I've been yelling about it for quite some time. I've been honest; those who have winked and nodded at the problem have not. Forcing me and others like me to acquiesce to a horrible solution to the problem others have created despite repeated warnings they were creating it is not forcing me to "be honest," it's coercive and anti-democratic.

Posted by: Rocketeer at May 18, 2007 04:44 AM

Victimized! By! Those! Dirty! Illegals!

Let me also say I'm less than thrilled by the implication that opposing amnesty for those who have violated our immigration laws is somehow xenophobic is offensive, and frankly I'm disappointed in you.

Posted by: Rocketeer at May 18, 2007 04:48 AM


I'm disappointed every time I hear this discussed on the radio, and someone calls in to complain that they don't like taco stands, or people who speak Spanish, and the host or hostess--generally someone whom I feel some sympathy with on other issues--doesn't correct them.


It sounds like you have mixed feelings about capitalism itself--or perhaps I'm misreading you.

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 18, 2007 08:32 AM

"It sounds like you have mixed feelings about capitalism itself--or perhaps I'm misreading you."

No, not really, but all the same I don't want to crash the wages of unskilled workers through the floor, if for no other reason I don't want to see American Hugo Chavez rise to power.

Posted by: Sephiroth at May 18, 2007 11:24 AM

Hm. Is that likely?

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 18, 2007 12:33 PM

In the immediate term, no, it's not very probable at all. However, if the future holds more illegal amnesties (and it will) and the unassimilated Hispanic underclass continues to grow then it certainly becomes a possibility. Whether our Chavez/Morales figure will arise due to a lower-class nativist backlash or if he's a Latino or Afro-American quasi-Marxist revolutionary is unclear. It really could be either at this point.

NB: Those who value a close relationship between the US and Israel (as a "paleolibertarian" I'm fairly ambivalent about Mideast policy) should be in the vanguard of the immigration reform movement.Polls consistently show that Mexican citizens and even Mexican Americans overwhelmingly sympathize with the Palestinian "cause," and as their share of the US population increases politicians will have to adjust their positions on this issue accordingly if they want to stay in office. A similar phenomena occurred in Western Europe a couple of decades ago. Israel in the 50's and 60's had substantially closer ties with Europe than it did with the US (something absolutely unimaginable to most people today); this orientation was slowly changed in the 60's and 70's by massive waves of Muslim, and therefore pro-Palestinian, immigration. Now Europe buys peace with its Muslims buy taking "equidistant" positions on the I-P conflict, and so too we will the Mexican element in our society.

Posted by: Sephiroth at May 18, 2007 04:42 PM


Your argument about the Hispanic underclass growing depends on people coming into this country at a rate faster than they are lifted out of poverty. Which could certainly happen, but please note the unspoken assumption. There are a lot of wealthy Latinos in this country, and bilingual people are in huge demand in the job market.

I guess I'm having trouble reconciling your predictions of a huge "underclass" with the fierce work ethic most Latinos appear to bring with them to this country.

Also, your predictions of weakening ties with Israel depends partly on how these theoretical future immigrants interpret their religious faith, if any. Many Christians (including a good many Catholics) have a special feeling for Israel.

As Mexicans and other Latin-Americans come here they tend to absorb American values in a lot of these arenas, so it's not a slam-dunk that over the next few generations they would retain the same level of sympathy for Palestinians--particularly when they continue to see the Palis bombing innocent civilians.

In case you hadn't noticed, the Muslim extremists aren't doing a great job of P.R. these days.

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 19, 2007 08:24 PM

--In case you hadn't noticed, the Muslim extremists aren't doing a great job of P.R. these days.--

Sure they are, check out CAIR, Conyers bill, the mosque in Boston background and the hold up of protection from the flying imans bill.

The border will not be protected, EOS.

There was a story about the wine makers, they wanted the help to pick the grapes. France uses machines, they could use machines, but no, they must be picked by hand.

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