May 21, 2007

Captain Ed

. . . on why the current immigration bill represents progress, even if it doesn't offer perfection:

"It rewards illegal behavior; the penalty for illegal entry should be deportation."

There are 12 million illegals in the US. Let me explain how difficult that would be. In the first place, the ICE has to find them, usually where they work. They then have to build a probable cause for a raid and search warrants (unless we want to toss out the 4th Amendment). That takes quite a bit of time; it might take months to build that kind of a case against an employer, but at least it will take a few weeks. Then they raid the shop, arrest everyone without proper identification, and start the deportation process—which requires a hearing for each person in court to determine their status. During that period, we have to house and feed them.

Now, let's say we can summon up the vast resources it would take to send 10,000 people a month through that long, laborious process. (In comparison, we have 16,000 murders a year, and it sometimes takes years to resolve the cases.) It would still take 100 years to deport all 12 million illegals in that manner—while clogging our courts, eating up our law-enforcement resources, and disrupting American commerce and politics for a century, all while we're fighting a war with radical Islamist terrorists.

Emphasis added; read the whole thing.

H/t: The Anchoress, of course. She's one of the maybe half-dozen bloggers considered "right-of-center" who still want to give this bill the benefit of a doubt, and keep moving forward. We are very much in the minority right now. (The comments to her post are recommended, btw: there is the usual "we are legal and we went through hell to get here, and we want everyone else to go through hell, too" non-argument, along with some interesting flashbacks to the Dubai Port deal flap, which was hardly the rightosphere's—or talk radio's—finest hour.)

Bottom line: I'm seeing a lot more emotion on the right regarding this issue lately than I am solid reasoning. And it worries me. Very, very much.

Posted by Attila Girl at May 21, 2007 03:17 PM | TrackBack

Well I tiptoe just a bit on this issue, because it looks like what the Right doesn't want to have happen is likely to happen in some form anyway. And I'm not so sure that it will be a wholly bad thing.

Regarding "rewarding law breaking", sometimes it is the law that needs to be adjusted. That's one that too many on the Right have a hard time stomaching. I suppose this is where my libertarian leanings make me part company with the statist Republican mainstream.

As long as what we end up with is an adequate and legal means for employers to hire the help they need, and a stronger enforcement regime against those who continue to enter illegally, I'm likely to be satisfied. My larger concern is getting the border secured, and if that means taking the pressure off the border by creating a legal path to residency for those who previously violated that border, then so be it.

I'm not likely to be completely happy with the final result, but the status quo is worse than anything now being considered.

Posted by: Desert Cat at May 21, 2007 06:51 PM

I have relatives in Asia who've been biding their time, doing
their paperwork, following the law. Suddenly 12 million
law-breakers are going to get in line in front of them.
It will take years to process 12 million sets of papers.
My relatives will die of old age before they get here.
(Hmm, maybe I'll adopt their kids.)

Whatever happened to "equal protection under the law"?

Also, why the left okay with paying illegal aliens low wages,
but Walmart needs to pay citizens higher wages than they do?


Posted by: Bob at May 21, 2007 07:31 PM

Bob the key is to make sure your concerns are heard. IF you have relatives in Asia that are in line then call and fight to get those concerns met in the bill.

It is not a reason to the kill the bill. This is a process and there is alot in this bill. THe 12 million here and the issues to deal with it are just a part of it.

Also remember that groups like FAIR. NUMMBERS USA, and CIS that is behind the opposition to this bill don't won't you relatives to come over either. THey are pretty much against all immigration even those legally. Something to keep in mind when picking alliances


Posted by: jhood at May 21, 2007 11:09 PM


I know. I hate that. I, too, would like a system that doesn't suck. But in order to get one that doesn't suck, we might first have to accept one that simply sucks less.

Theoretically, my friends-of-friends in Eastern Europe would be able to get here just as easily as those who are already in the Americas, through the accident of birth. But they cannot. Those who are born in the Americas have an advantage, just as I have an advantage through having been born here (through, BTW, no virtue of my own).


Took you long enough to weigh in, here! I've been waiting . . . ;)

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 21, 2007 11:28 PM

I hear very little discussion of what instantly legalizing 12 million illegal immigrants is going to do to this country's social services and the costs to the taxpayers.

We are not talking about 12 million skilled workers. For the most part, these people are poor and uneducated. They are going to be a burden on social services as it is, and I do not even want to think what is going to happen once the next recession hits.

Posted by: Mark at May 22, 2007 10:36 AM

Almost all that I am aware of are working in the construction trades. Those are skills that are not hard to pick up on the job, if they don't already have them before crossing the border.

As far as the impact to social services, I'm not sure it would be much worse than right now. Even Arizona, with our propositions that were supposed to prohibit illegals from obtaining social services, still provide them as far as I know. Legal status hasn't been a barrier to benefits so far. Why would legalization change that?

Posted by: Desert Cat at May 22, 2007 06:56 PM

Actually if we can get them on the tax rolls instead of being paid under the table, it might be a wash.

Anyone done that analysis?

Posted by: Desert Cat at May 22, 2007 06:57 PM

At this point--at least in CA--everyone needs a social security card to work, so people simply get fake ones. But the taxes and Social Security are being paid--just into bogus accounts.

Verdon over at Outside the Beltway did an analysis a while back that concluded that illegal immigrants were, in fact, a "net drag" on the economy, but I know for a damned fact that a lot of them do pay taxes--very often without receiving services beyond the routine health care they get at the county (which is a terrible thing: people going to the ER for routine care, which means it takes longer to treat real emergencies).

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 22, 2007 07:50 PM

Not bogus Social Security accounts, STOLEN SS #'s. Stolen from real people--identity theft. Totally made-up numbers are discovered immediately. Numbers from deceased taxpayer also are red-flagged immediately. Real citizens find that someone else is making claims on their SS accounts, and it takes months to unravel. I knew someone who was injured in an explosion at work and found out someone was already receiving disability payments from his account. He was SOL, and it took almost a year to straighten out. The only solution is to let the people whose identity was stolen keep the excess contributions. Congress gives it back to the identity thieves under all plans. Examine those statements SS sends you every two or three years carefully. Report any inconsistencies immediately.

The latest trend with illegals are "hit and run" immigrants People that have no intention of living here permanently, and send 80-90% of their wages back to Mexico. They can only do this because "employers" are giving them room and board, usually in a cheaper single-family home that 15-20 workers use as a flop house. These people don't put any money back into the US economy, like a typical worker would do with normal spending. They pay little or no taxes because their wages are paid under the table, or they claim a large number of dependents on their W-4 to keep withholding down.

Posted by: Darrell at May 23, 2007 10:14 AM

Right, Darrell--and how to we sort out the abuses from the quiet people who are simply doing their jobs, and paying taxes? (And, for that matter, find out about the slaves and near-slaves living among us?--some of 'em actually physically locked into the structures they work from?)

By reducing the numbers of people living in those shadows. There is no way to sort through that population properly without reducing it as we go, by creating a path to citizenship for the ones who are simply looking for work, and otherwise keeping their noses clean.

And for every person you point to who is claiming benefits he/she is not entitled to, I'll point to the ones who pay taxes, but never receive the actual benefits, because they are illegal. The door swings both ways, there.

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 23, 2007 03:01 PM

Why don't we just set a reasonable number for new, legal immigration that we can all live with? If you aren't happy with 2 million/year(2005, including status change), how about 4? 5? 6? Whatever. Make the process quicker/easier too. And advertise it. Illegals spend, what, $25k and up for travel, documentation now. None of that going to US coffers. Make the real deal a bargain. The people who live here now have to be in on that decision. And once made, we have to stop people from getting around the rules. However necessary. Doesn't that sound fair? Keep in mind that 2.5 million is about a 1% growth rate annually. No country in the world allows more. No country in the world has to. You may not want construction/factory jobs, but there are plenty of American-born citizens that consider these PREMIUM jobs. Like most of my family! Maybe that's why when that meat plant in Iowa was raided, 1000's of real citizens applied for those jobs. Including LEGAL immigrants! Heck, 4000 people applied at a new WalMart by my house about a year or so ago--in a single day. It made the national news. Not everyone can or wants to push paper/sell balloon juice for a living.

They all take more than they pay into the system, according to detailed studies that I have read. Schools, second-language demands, medical care are just some of the costs. Those combined with claiming married and 9 dependents for their W-4s, even when they are single, make it a greater burden to taxpayers. The only studies that say differently are agenda-driven, and they are pretty easy to shoot down. The last study from the University of Chicago I remember said it takes ~35 years(of working at their avg. tax rates) to reach payback(actual cost vs. avg annual tax contributions) for a typical illegal alien. And most left the tax rolls before that level was reached.

A local town recently passed a referendum simply stating that it Will follow and enforce Federal immigration law, and various groups are lining up threatening to bury them with ligation costs. The town's lawyers are suggesting that they ignore the referendum. Civil war? You betcha! The real reason behind the problem? You betcha!

You handle the 10-30 million illegal aliens the same way who handle thieves--one arrest at a time. And you don't do it by sending them a letter telling them to show up for a hearing, allowing them to run. Somewhere, every day, someone shows up on the radar in a traffic stop, data check, something. When they do, they should be taken into custody right away. And DNA taken. Maybe that's a way to handle that name-change problem. RFID chips, tamper-proof methods? Maybe. Along with border enforcement/prevention, eventually we can make LEGAL immigration a preferred option. Maybe. Over time. And we have to stop electing people that rope-a-dope us into believing they want to solve the problem. They want you to shut up about it. Like in 1986. After amnesty, did they do 1 thing to seal the border? Enforce the law? To prevent it from happening again? Remember foreign aid? Remember how the number-one gripe of US taxpayers used to be foreign aid in the 60's and 70's? Know how Congress got you to shut up? By transferring $trillions of cumulative revenues (by now to) Europe and elsewhere. Where did the money come from? US industry. They did it with clean air laws, unleaded gasoline bans, and metrification. Ever wonder why green-Europe didn't switch to unleaded gasoline until the mid-90s? Didn't ban most CFCs when we did~1971? Did you know that Japan was ready to switch to English units(inches, etc) if the US banned metric imports? (I talked to the MITI people that were ready to issue $billions in orders to US machine tool manufacturers) if Congress acted.(The US was their marginal market and they would have been driven into an immediate depression if exports stopped). Instead, US manufacturers placed $billion of orders with Japanese/European machine tool manufacturers to get metric equipment. Did you know the US chemical industry had a 90%+ share of the world chemical market? Did you know they actually had people employed to make sure that share didn't rise?(I interviewed for one of those positions). Did you know about the 100s of $billions the oil refiners had to spend on higher-temperature/ higher-pressure processes to produce unleaded gasoline that the rest of the world didn't have to invest? Look up today's US share of the world chemical market... All on US industry's back. Thanks, Congress! Set whatever pollution laws you want. But make everyone join in. Or wait until they do. But you didn't want that, did you? Or to explain foreign aid.

Maybe 30 million quiet, hard-working Americans, along with a token 150 million rural Chinese would like to join me in Mexico, to work for a better life. Under Capitalism this time around. I bet in twenty years, we'll be building a fence. Heck, the way things are going, make that 2008. Note to my Chinese friends, because of concerns with Chupacabras, stop at you local arms factories and pick up some personal protection to bring along. And extras. Don't forget all those specialty places like the "123 Factory," "7103 Factory," and a few of those other places in the Chengdu and Sichuan Provinces. Don't forget the special toys you'll find there. Everyone needs protection to build a dream.

Posted by: Darrell at May 23, 2007 09:40 PM

Darrell, if we make enforcement a priority and make it easier/faster to get here properly, I'll be a very happy camper.

Have you read American Alone yet? There are a number of other ways in which the U.S. subsidizes the rest of the world that you didn't even touch on--but Mark Steyn enumerates.

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 23, 2007 10:40 PM

My usual rant on this subject is the length of a book. And, of course, you have to touch on global warming. If only to show that these things continue. And the real reason for the hysteria. I didn't read Steyn(thanks for the tip), I lived it. All this money involuntarily confiscated from American industry(with a simultaneous windfall profits tax in place, no less) was designed to buy the world's love. That worked out great, didn't it?

In our next lesson, we will talk about when the Euro was issued with its value set at one US dollar. The markets quickly set the real value at 50 US cents. What changed? And we never even got a "thank you!". . .

Posted by: Darrell at May 24, 2007 07:50 AM

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