Five Things Neither the Left nor Right is Willing to Say about Immigration

Few people want to be seen as racist or xenophobic. Few people want to risk being on the wrong side of history. This means that a broad swath of decent Americans who are uncomfortable about rewarding and encouraging illegal immigration keep their views to themselves.  In recent years, immigration advocates have moved to calling the millions of people who cross the southern border or arrive on our shores illegally, simply “immigrants” as if there were no other path to American citizenship. They draw an equivalency between the tired poor who arrived at Ellis Island after applying and waiting for the privilege, and those who paid criminals to falsify visas, modify stolen passports, or sneak them into cargo shipments.

Do nation states have the right to regulate immigration and citizenship? It could be argued that human beings and even other species should be free to live where they will. But unless and until that agreement is reached and we find ways to adapt to the implications, there are solid, non-racist reasons to be concerned about granting citizenship to those who arrive in the United States under false pretexts. I would argue that there are also reasons for every American citizen to want thoughtful policies that limit the flow of even legal immigration and that are enforced rather than ignored.

Growth doesn’t equal family prosperity. Economists and pundits talk as if growth and prosperity were synonymous. By this accounting if immigrants produce or buy anything, immigration is a net positive. That is because major economic indicators like GDP measure aggregate wealth rather than what we care about—the wellbeing of individual families. Parents want to provide for their children: young people just want a decent start in life. If we remember what the economy is for, to promote well-being, then we are confronted with the fact that more money divided between more people doesn’t necessarily make individuals better off. In fact, GDP can grow when quality of life is declining.

America’s savings account is being subdivided. Americans have a kind of inherited wealth that people in most countries don’t share—our vast natural assets. Natural resources are like a savings account, one that we can keep drawing interest off of for generations if we are careful. So are the infrastructure investments that have been made by our forefathers. But like any inheritance or bank account, the more people have to share it the less each has. Our inheritance is finite, and whether we are talking about forests or minerals or farmland or natural recreational attractions and wonders like the Grand Canyon, at some point dividing them among more people means each American child inherits a little less of the vast natural bank account that has fed generations of prosperity.

Crowding deteriorates quality of life. Not long ago one of my friends, a physician, bought a little row house with just enough room for her two kids. It was about the same size and quality as the houses that company towns built for their workers 100 years ago—only farther from town, because she couldn’t afford to live in close. She’s not alone. White collar professionals pay exorbitant prices for houses that once belonged to mechanics. Mechanics are forced to make long drives on stop-and-go freeways.  What has changed? Well, a lot of things, but the bottom line is that crowding drives up land and house prices and means that we all have to pay more or drive farther and sit in more traffic and keep building more roads just to get home.  And the price is real, even if we don’t usually measure it.  Economists Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer found that a commuter who drives an hour each way has to earn 40 percent more to have the same level of life satisfaction as a non-commuter.

Economics are changing. In the late 1970’s, China’s southern neighbors were promoting high birthrates, encouraging women to produce foot soldiers so that they could fend off the northern threat. But today winning a war depends on smart technology, not “cannon fodder,” and they have reversed course. They realized that the combination of large population and scarce resources was a disadvantage. Like warfare, economics are changing. Most jobs that were once done by human or nonhuman slaves are now done by machines. So are many of the jobs that were once done by economic foot soldiers. If we are to compete internationally and to thrive here, we don’t need more grunt labor, we need smarter, more efficient, more productive labor.

Rewarding bad behavior increases bad behavior. The amnesty that Ronald Regan granted to illegal immigrants sent a message around the world: Get to the United States—somehow, anyhow—and if you can just hold on long enough you will get to stay. The current round of conversations about “comprehensive” immigration reform proves the point. Right now illegal immigration is down because of economic conditions, but once conditions improve the message will once again echo loud and clear. All of the same arguments that have been made for why we should grant citizenship status to those who are already here now will be as relevant in the future as they are today. Rewarding illegal immigration now sets up conditions for repeated cycles of amnesty.

Cycles of poorly regulated immigration followed by amnesties disadvantage people who try to play by the rules. They reward an underbelly of traffickers and employers who rely on shady dealings and make honest competition virtually impossible in some sectors.  They obscure important conversations about thoughtful, legal immigration, which can play a critical role in innovation, and in protecting human rights, both at home and abroad.

Each political party in its own way benefits from having more people at the bottom of the American economic pyramid. Democrats benefit because poor, powerless people tend to vote Left because of their need for a social safety net. Republicans benefit because well-heeled corporations who fund them benefit from a glut of laborers, which drives down wages and benefits. Immigrants in particular are often grateful for what they can get, and illegal immigrants are in no position to negotiate, which puts the bosses in the power position. This means that neither party—not the one that is scrabbling for votes at the bottom nor the one that has been bought by big business—can be trusted to represent the interests of ordinary middle-class and working class Americans in the current immigration debate. Nor can they be counted on to acknowledge the inconvenient truth that what serves the Democratic and Republican leadership and their corporate funders in the short-term may not serve our children and grandchildren.

Creating a New Strategy for Immigration

The following article was written by Sally Rodriguez, who is active in organizations opposed to illegal immigration, and appeared in the Santa Maria Times.

The public is not made aware of funding sources for some large organizations that take stands on issues unpopular with the American people. Most of the mainline media seldom touch on such issues, because if the truth is made public, big businesses that profit from cheap illegal immigrant labor could experience losses. Polls show illegal immigration is a very unpopular issue with both Democrat and Republican voters, therefore it is an American issue, not a party issue.

Who is paying for such things as expensive marching banners, picketing signs, flags, voter registration coordinators, ads on Spanish television, and large staffs who put together all kinds of propaganda for public consumption in favor of their cause, and to promote their goal, which is amnesty for all illegal immigrants now here, often referred to as comprehensive immigration reform?

In fact, the word “amnesty” has now been replaced with the word “legalization,” because it sounds better.

Their other goals are prevention of the completion of a more-effective border wall, and in general a halt to all deportations, job-site raids, the E-Verify program and the H-2A ag workers program. However, farmers do have a legitimate claim that some of the H-2A provisions are bad. For example, one worker shouldn’t be locked into one employer, because when that employer no longer needs their labor, they should be able to change employers during the period of their work visas. In addition, farmers should not be forced to provide transportation from the border, or their housing once here.

These laborers have always been able to handle these things on their own. However, farmers should be required to abide by health standards, give work breaks, basic medical insurance, worker’s comp, adequate tools, safety items, etc.

Currently, if workers abide by the terms of their temporary work visa, they can come back again for as long as they are physically able to do the work. Under this system, they can earn money to support their families back home, while American farmers can obtain much-needed harvest labor, which Americans refuse to do because of the low pay.

Aside from the few defects cited in one particular item of the H-2A program, the critics have nothing else to cite as negative in the control of illegal immigration. Yet the narrow minority interests, besides being against all of the issues listed here, are trying to get the public to lump all Hispanics and people with Hispanic surnames as being in favor of their goals, which is untrue.

Most people who have Hispanic surnames are Americans first, and are just as opposed to illegal immigration as everyone else. They want the issue resolved, but not with another unworkable amnesty, like the first attempt in 1986, which, due to lack of enforcement, was a disaster and just made the problem worse.

We need to consider the 1.2 million legal immigrants admitted each year, 125,000 from Mexico alone. Who thinks that they like illegal immigration? For radical organizations to lump everyone with a Hispanic surname as being in favor of amnesty, in my opinion, borders on a criminal act.

Hispanics are interested in jobs, education, raising their families and a whole host of other issues as being much more important than giving lawbreakers amnesty, followed by millions more who will get the message to come quickly with their false documents that the government won’t have the resources nor manpower to properly verify. That is what happened in 1986, as the vast majority were just passed on through, with nothing verified. Think about it. Now there are far more waiting for another easy way to get amnesty.

Importing Foreign Doctors No Solution for Ongoing Healthcare Crisis

The following blog was provided by a public health professional in Washington, DC, in response to a March 7th article that appeared in the New York Times.

It is expensive to produce doctors. It is a significant investment by both the individual pursuing a medical degree and our government to help subsidize their education and residency training. It is also difficult to become a doctor. Fewer than half (43% in 2012) of those who apply to medical school in the U.S. each year are accepted. If you are lucky enough to be admitted to a U.S. medical school, you face four years of school, a mountain of debt, and competition for a limited number of residency spots.

In this climate of heated competition for medical school admissions and even with the opening of several new medical schools, we are still not producing enough doctors to keep pace with population growth, much less the predicted physician shortage of 150,000 to 200,000 over the next 20 years. This shortage is most acute within primary care, an area where foreign doctors are becoming increasingly more common. With the passage of healthcare reform and the retirement of the “baby boomer” generation from the healthcare workforce and into the age where healthcare utilization increases, we are facing a legitimate crisis.

Increasingly, graduates of U.S. medical schools are competing for residency spots, which are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, with non-citizens who completed medical school outside the U.S. In 2010, 13% of residents were foreign graduates of foreign medical schools. As the number of non-U.S. citizens filling residencies increases, we are not only “stealing” these doctors from foreign countries but we are taking away opportunities from U.S. citizens. This constant importing of foreign doctors deters our own citizens from becoming doctors AND discourages the U.S. government from investing in domestic medical education.

U.S. medical schools, for their part, are hesitant to increase enrollment without a corresponding increase in the number of residencies. They do not want to produce doctors who are unable to find work because they are not placed in one of a finite number of residencies, which are primarily funded by Medicare and capped by Congress.

We need to produce more doctors and importing foreign medical school graduates is not a long term solution. We cannot rely on foreign countries to produce our doctors for us and then flood the market with those willing to work for less. The best and brightest from our own country will stop pursuing medicine and create an unsustainable workforce in an area where it is necessary to attract our top minds. By increasing the number of U.S. medical school slots, as well as residencies, and incentivizing U.S. medical school graduates to pursue primary care, we can begin to move our healthcare system in the right direction without resorting to attracting foreign doctors away from developing countries.

Racist … For Enforcing the Laws

The following is a contribution by outside blogger Gregory Sokoloff. Opinions expressed are solely those of Mr. Sokoloff.

Most of these people don’t even have the right to be present in this country, much less to work. And one cannot hire them even for a day without breaking the law. And yet day laborers of League City, Texas, apparently feel so emboldened and sure of their future that they are suing Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the city police department, alleging that it is not them, but the authorities who are breaking the law.

According to a very empathetic report by Univision, the Spanish-language TV network, the laborers used to congregate at a League City parking lot where entrepreneurs willing to take advantage of cheap illegal labor used to pick them up. Police have apparently disrupted this hush-hush black market, but, in doing so, have incurred the wrath not only of the laborers, but also of the Mexican American Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which bills itself as a law firm for the Latino community.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court last year, alleges discrimination and violation of the laborers’ Constitutional rights. No word, of course, about the plaintiffs’ legal status in this country. “In this case, it is very important to know that everybody has a right to work,” Marisa Bono, the lead attorney for MALDEF, told Univision in Spanish. Really? Even those who sneaked across the border illegally?

“In public places, an individual can ask for money for his or her church, and an individual can ask for work,” Ms. Bono went on to say. “And this is part of our rights under the Constitution.” And if an individual does not have a right even to be in this country? Univision, of course, conveniently avoided this prickly question, and so did Ms. Bono.

But when asked if racism was the driving force behind police actions, she answered, as expected, with a resounding “Yes.”

“City police are not focusing on everybody,” Ms. Bono asserted. “They are focusing specifically on day laborers. Okay? And day laborers in League City are Latinos.” And so are most illegal aliens throughout this country. So, it is not difficult to figure out what Ms. Bono and other people at MALDEF think about enforcing our immigration laws.

It’s not the first time that MALDEF is trying to turn our legal system upside down. The scary part is that they have had some successes. In 2010, they managed to strike down an Arizona state law that demanded a really outrageous and discriminatory thing – proof of citizenship before voter registration. And in 2009, President Barack Obama appointed John D. Trasvina, MALDEF’s president the general counsel at the time, assistant secretary of fair housing and equal opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development where he remains to this day.

So, be careful all of you who want our immigration laws enforced. These lawyers have powerful friends in high places.

A Better Life… The Question Is For Whom

The following is a contribution by outside blogger Gregory Sokoloff. Opinions expressed are solely those of Mr. Sokoloff.

As was to be expected, Hollywood has just given another nod to the open-borders, illegal alien amnesty lobby. And it did it in a subtle, subliminal way as only Hollywood masters of fine art can do.

On Tuesday, the Academy nominated Mexican actor Demian Bichir for best actor for his role in the 2011 movie “A Better Life” where he played an illegal immigrant from Mexico trying to make a living in California against overwhelming odds. Nothing against Mr. Bichir, whom we already know from 2008 Steven Soderbergh’s movie ‘Che,” where he played Fidel Castro. But “A Better Life” was aptly described by the Toronto Star critic Greg Quill as “more than propaganda for immigration policy reform.”

Its main character, Carlos Galindo, lives and works in Los Angeles illegally, his life full of trials and tribulations. He is caught and deported and decides to come back by again crossing the border without a permit. The human drama depicted through most of the movie does not eclipse the political punch line that comes at the very end. As they prepare to cross into the U.S., a coyote asks the group in Spanish: “Are you ready to go to the other side?” Carlos responds again in Spanish: “Let’s go home.”

Why is the United States his home? Because he has decided so.

The movie subliminally promotes a fictitious right of an individual to settle wherever and whenever across the world as if humans were migratory geese — flying back and forth across frontiers and then plopping themselves in some nifty pond and declaring it home just because the reeds are green and the moss is thick.

Sorry, it does not work that way in the human world. I just wonder: If a flock of illegal aliens descended on the Beverly Hills or Malibu mansions of Academy members and landed in their swimming pools, would they still support this theory?