Monday, February 28, 2005

The Illegal Immigration Debate Continues


President George W. Bush addresses the press about immigration policy (White House photo.)

It seems my post below on immigration and national security has ignited a pretty good debate in the blogosphere. An excellent blog, Polipundit, has weighed in. In essence, Polipundit's plan is to make it difficult, if not imposible, to have a fake Social Security number (SSN) and then require anyone who gets a job to have a valid SSN. Michelle Malkin calls Polipundit's approach "humane."

Well, if Polipundit's approach is humane, I'd hate to see what is considered inhumane. Here's Polipundit's reponse to my question, Do you really think the American public has the stomach to see 10 million people deported, many of whom have been here all their lives?

Absolutely! Polls usually show 70 pecent or more Americans want all illegal immigrants deported. Among conservatives, the numbers are even higher.

Besides, the key advantage of my plan is that there won’t need to be trainloads of immigrants being carted across the border by government guards. They will “deport” themselves because they will be unable to find work.

Polipundit cites polls at 70%, and I am deeply skeptical. Better come up with a link to some sources on that one, Polipundit! I also wonder whether people would simply fade back across the border once they are unable to find a job. Indeed, I wonder about a lot of aspects of Polipundit's very simple plan.

My view on this is that of a 25-year Los Angeles resident who also spent several years of my young adulthood living in Central America. I speak Spanish and now work regularly in volunteer and professional affairs with the Hispanic community. I'm pretty comfortable with that community and its culture. I'm also a solid Republican conservative.

The Bush plan requires those who are here already to earn their way to legal status and someday to citizenship. It is not amnesty, nor is it heavy-handed. It requires people to get serious about becoming Americans if they want to stay here and enjoy the benefits of living in the USA. That plan will sell. If the Republican party were to be seen as pushing a plan to kicking real people out of the country, separating children from families, and so forth, we will see a public relations nightmare of epic proportions. In a comment below, my fellow conservative Republican Angeleno Wagonboy speculates, with heavy irony, on what it would be like:

There won't be a single court order from any circuit court ordering a halt to such an operation. As well, the general public will be universally in favor of spending tens of billions of dollars on such a practical exercise. All should go rather swimmingly! Why hasn't any sober person thought of this before?

First, we'll need to double the number of lawyers in this country. That should take a minimum of 5 years so we better get started. There's going to be much for them to do.

We'll have to implement internment camps with tents and barbed wire to process and clarify the illegals from the legals before shipping/busing/marching them back where they came from. This could take months so don't forget to earmark a ton of cash to compensate for lost wages and collateral expenses those legally here who couldn't immediately prove their citizenship to the nice men who dragged them to the internment camp. Food, sanitation and medical services will also be provided of course.

Once processed and fingered as an illegal we'll just send them back to Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Honduras, and, don't forget the southeast Asian illegals. It shouldn't be too hard logistically or diplomatically. By the way, do we send newly arrived illegals without their children born on U.S. soil or with their children born on U.S. soil?

We'll have to process and redistribute much of their property, too. Things they can't carry on the long journey home. Houses, furniture, cars, tools, machinery, etc. These huge auction wherehouses could possibly fund a small fraction of a small percentage of the whole operation.

The world community won't be bothered by this operation, either. They'll gladly go along and won't take any punitive measures against us in the arenas of trade, finance, law, intelligence or hosting our military and defense bases and structures around the globe. They'll all understand and look the other way. And don't forget the cancer of socialism and communism creeping it's way into the governments of South America... sending all these illegals back to their home countries with a good working knowledge and foundation of our democratic principles should turn that commie tide right around.

We need a name for this operation. How about Operation Feverish Lunacy?
Wagonboy continues the debate on his blog.

Are we over-stating the political problems here?
Just ask Pete Wilson, who got re-elected Governor of California by supporting Proposition 187 , an anti-immigrant measure. Since then California Republicans have found themselves wishing they had taken a different tack. Our state is going to be majority Hispanic before too long, and if we are going to be a viable party we need Hispanics with us.

Full disclosure: I voted for Prop 187. I was enraged by photos from anti-187 rallies showing hundreds of Mexican flags flying. Those photos alone ensured the passage of the ballot measure.

In hindsight, I now believe 187 was a mistake. I understand why it passed, but we have to learn from the experience. We need to make Hispanics into Republicans. They won't come our way if we are seen as anti-immigrant. Hispanics naturally tend to be inclined our way-- their culture is that of a hard working, opportunity-seeking people.

Here's a link to what President Bush said when he first introduced his plan. It amazes me that so many conservatives immediately came unhinged. As the former governor of a border state, Bush gets this. We all should get it too!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some observations and questions regarding Polipundit's solutions to illegal immigration.  

Posted by Frank Villon

Monday, February 28, 2005 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In hindsight, I now believe 187 was a mistake. I understand why it passed, but we have to learn from the experience. We need to make Hispanics into Republicans." I think that really depends on what their values are. If they value constitutional government, natural rights, the rule of law, english as a common language for all citizens and capitalism, cool. If they want to recreate Mexico here a la reconquista - no. BTW, breaking our laws while entering our contry is not a good way to start. 187 wasn't a mistake. Failing to impeach the judges who unconstitutionally substituted their personal opinions for the will of the people was our mistake. 

Posted by RKV

Monday, February 28, 2005 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I came late to the polipundit debate and posted a comment (below). We share a that President Bush's plan provides the outlines of a solution.

At this stage of the problem, exclusive reliance upon enforcement is largely unworkable as a solution. Enforcement needs to be combined with realistic economic disincentives. However, there’s too little recognition of how much things would change if there were only a realistic warning of a crackdown, and any changes should be preceded by such a warning to give time for those ready to shape up time to do so.

The reason society works is because 95% plus people are law-abiding, making the policing of 2-3% of lawbreakers a manageable task. This deteriorates when scofflaw attitudes are permitted to become the norm—as has happened here. What is needed then is a reform of attitudes, so that enforcement can begin to be effective.

So, following advance warning to alert the law-abiding and put the scofflaws on notice, we need to create disincentives to promote the kind of de-migration favored by polipundit and others. Along these lines, I understand President Bush has stated he thinks it a “great idea” to require our “guest workers” to return to their home countries to apply for admission to a program.

As for national ID cards, they are unnecessary step to impose upon the law-abiding citizens. First, let’s see what can be accomplished efforts to change attitudes, coupled with realistic threats of enforcement. We also need to send a message south of the border: keep your illegals at home! There are bright people who can work at the details of such a policy—the point is to have a policy.

It’s worse than counter-productive to have Border Patrol Agents work in a “catch and release” farce that further encourages scofflaw attitudes. After a time to return to apply for that permit, turn our Border Patrol loose in a limited but genuine deportation program with lots of publicity to spread the word: a legal avenue is open; illegals are no longer welcome!

Posted by RLG

Monday, February 28, 2005 2:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank Villon has an excellent post describing the breakdown of law enforcement in Phoenix and elsewhere. He favors President Bush’s efforts to create a workable “guest worker” program and so do I because the present practice of ignoring lawbreaking encourages scofflaw attitudes and actions. The opposite can become true.

It’s true, “you can’t legislate morality.” But you can do some “social engineering” to promote socially desirable “conformity” to the rule of law. What’s happened in the area of illegal immigration is a rather sensible adaptation to a corrupt setup that punishes employers, the law-abiding citizens of the U.S., and our frustrated Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies.

We need to follow President Bush’s example and trust people to be capable of change, rather than quickly giving up on people because we assume their present lawless behavior means they won't respond to genuine reforms. To the contrary, an abundance of research on organizational reform supports the idea that they will respond and change. If an authentic “guest worker” program is put in place with a warning preceding a crackdown, we’d all be surprised how many people would suddenly become “law-abiding”!


Posted by RLG

Monday, February 28, 2005 4:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, I'm sorry if there was a misunderstanding, but I don't favor a "guest worker" program. I was only posting that there are problems with Polipundit's solution. His solution won't even begin to affect Arizona's illegal alien invasion.

No offense, but I do not support a "guest worker" program either. Again, I'm sorry if I miscommunicated. 

Posted by Frank Villon

Monday, February 28, 2005 5:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank, I knew you were not in favor of guest workers, but I also know exactly what you are talking about. I drive by a Home Depot every day en route to work and I see the same collection of day workers. Polipundit's solution would not touch those people.

So if you don't favor guest workers a la GWB's plan, what do you think we should do about all the illegals here, including the moms and dads who have given birth to several U.S. citizen kids who speak mainly English and consider themselves Americans? I do not think deportation is a serious plan. What do you think? 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Monday, February 28, 2005 9:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great debate, both here and at Polipundit. I read all the comments at Poli, some more insightful than others.

Full disclosure: I live in the largest intl. border community in the world, which happens to be on the US-Mexico border, so I see first hand the nature of immigration, illegal and otherwise, into this country.

What irks the hell out of me is the continual harping on the cost in services vs. taxes collected of illegal immigrants. Well, this applies to legal immigrants also...

...wait, it actually applies to all LOW INCOME EARNERS! Let's deport all the poor folk!

Besides, if the estimates of 50% payroll tax participation by illegals w/ invalid SS IDs are accurate, illegals are actually creating a $7 billion NET BENEFIT in tax revenue over expenditures for SS & Medicare (after all, you won't be collecting SS etc. if you contribute w/ a bogus ID):

So, on balance, if we control for income, illegal immigrants are LESS of a drain on public finance than legal immigrants and citizens!

Also, I seriously doubt that undocumented immigrants have the same participation rate in social programs as legal residents due to lack of information and fear of deportation.

Pet peeve # 2:

This is a nation of immigrants, and the vast majority of us are directly descended from a post-1776 immigrant. It strikes me as the ultimate hypocrisy to deny current generations of immigrants the opportunity that landed you here.

Pet peeve # 3:

"Closing" our southern border is not a realistic option. Using the military for this task, as is often suggested, would probably require reinstating the draft, and would likely result in a few thousand Ezequiel Hernandez-like incidents (Mr. Hernandez was an American citizen shot by a Marine drug-intediction force near Marfa, TX in 1997).

Pet Peeve # 4:

Already addressed by Wagonboy. Thanks. 

Posted by Gringo Salado

Monday, February 28, 2005 11:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems I was mistaken about Frank Villon favoring President Bush’s “guest worker program. Sorry. I was apparently reading such endorsement into the rejection of simple reliance upon enforcement without changing the circumstances that encourage the present scofflaw attitudes. I believe a “guest worker” program, properly designed and implemented, represents part of such a solution. This is because, as previously indicated, the majority of people are law-abiding, even if they have been corrupted by a setup that promotes scofflaw attitudes. Change the system and you can change attitudes and behavior. I have argued for a combination of approaches that seek to close the border and make use of enforcement, but only after creating a workable alternative to illegal immigration. 

Posted by RLG

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 1:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 1986 "legalization" of illegal aliens is called an amnesty. It included those who had been here 5 years before the law was passed. Since they were here to "work for a better life", 99% of those legalized probably would have met the same work requirements Bush is suggesting.

Thus the only difference with the Bush plan is they get a green card for working 6 years AFTER the bill is passed, instead of for the 5 years they worked BEFORE the bill is passed.

The only reason Bush is doing it this way is because before 1986 it was not against the law to employ illegal aliens. Now it is, so if Bush gave credit for years worked before the bill passes, it means the employers who hired them would have be given an amnesty also. The afterwards work requirement thus gets employers off the hook.

But what I want to know is, how does this minor difference for his campaign contributors make the Bush plan "not an illegal alien amnesty"? You can pretty much bet every illegal alien currently here will be able to line up a job and eventually qualify for a green card, at the same ratio those in 1986 qualified.


Posted by John Bowman

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 6:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pet peeve # 2:

This is a nation of immigrants, and the vast majority of us are directly descended from a post-1776 immigrant. It strikes me as the ultimate hypocrisy to deny current generations of immigrants the opportunity that landed you here."

Actually, the majority of US citizens are primarily descended from pre-1776 residents. This includes me. Also, the US and world population is now 6 times greater than in the 19th century, and resource consuption per capita is 10 times greater. As a result, Americans are currently using resources at twice the rate they are being naturally replaced. Doubling or tripling our population will make this situation much worse.

Now if everyone in open borders lobby was to reduce their resource consuption by 75%, then maybe we could accomodate 2 million immigrants a year. Otherwise it needs to be closer to 300,000.

I suppose if the US had not provided health care and medications to the third world, which greatly increased their population growth rates, then there would not be such pressure to immigrate to the US. Any comments on this?


Posted by John Bowman

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 6:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"what do you think we should do about all the illegals here, including the moms and dads who have given birth to several U.S. citizen kids who speak mainly English and consider themselves Americans? I do not think deportation is a serious plan."

The US had about 20,000 Vietnamese children, who had spent over 10 years growing up in refugee camps, learning English and US history, deported back to Vietnam because their parents could prove political persecution.
Some of them later came to the US by another method, however many of the ones that remained in Vietnam are now running export companies and getting rich.
They have an advantage over other Vietnamese who did not grow up in the refugee camps.

Thus on balance deporting the children of illegal aliens mentioned above would probably be better for both them and their countries.
The only reason people bring up "their children are US citizens" is to try and gain sympathy for amnesty.
Don't think the US could not revoke their citizenship if need be to deport their parents, especially if Americans demanded it.
After all, in the 1880's, the US deported thousands of Chinese LEGAL immigrants and their US born children. 

Posted by Tim Binh

Tuesday, March 01, 2005 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to Mr. Tim Binh - it's kind of pointless to talk about deporting the children of illegal aliens born in the US, because, unless and until the US Constitution is amemded, which would be politically impossible for all intents, all US born people are automatically citizens and have a right to live here, a citezenship that cannot be revoked as a matter of mere political or social expediency.

to Mr. John Bowman - I don't have the statistics at hand, but unless you have something to back up your statement that "Actually, the majority of US citizens are primarily descended from pre-1776 residents". I rather doubt that that's the case. You would only be talking about just the decendents of a few million mostly English settlers in the original 13 Colonies, and you'd be excluding most Americans of any other national origin, such as those of Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Irish, Italian, Polish, Russian, and virtually any other Eastern or Southern Europena extraction, as well as virtually all Asian-Americans, "legal" Hispanics who alone comprise more than 10% of our current population, plus millions more of Anglo-Saxon and Scots lineage who emigrated to the United States post 1776. Most of these foreign-born ancestors emmigrated to the US in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Plus you're leaving out a large proportion of our African American population (who weren't considered as legal citizens in 1776 anyway - so really, you'd have to eliminate virtually all blacks). I just don't see how your statement adds up.

And it's all a meaningless distinction anyway.

Why? Because, bottom line, every single human being residing in the United States is an immigrant or a descendent of immigrants. Even "Native American" Indians, who all emmigrated from Asia in prehistoric times.

So, what IS the distinction that truly makes a difference? One's legal status, I would think, is what matters. And the debate on this page seems to be between those who simply want to deport all of those who are currently illegal (and apparently even a goodly share of those who are constitutionally legal as well!), and those who want to find a reasonable means of converting many of the illegals to legal status through some form of merit-based process, all while properly securing our borders. I subscribe to the latter group.

I would suggest that the pro-mass deportation people in this debate get a grip ... it ain't ever gonna happen. For all the reasons cited by Wagonboy, to start. And of course, the businesses in America that depend upon this critical source of unskilled labor - such as agriculture, construction, travel & tourism, textiles, etc. - will fight to the death (theirs, if they lose) against mass deportation. These are some of our most important industries, by the way.

To be realistic, folks, real forced mass deportation would probably result in civil war, particularly within the border states, and very possibly a shooting war with Mexico. Only unserious people expect the United States to engage in a mass deportation of its poorest and least politically powerful people. So much for Ronald Reagan's "Shining city on a hill" description of the American Dream. There'd be no more high road for the US when it comes to fighting for freedom and economic opportunity anywhere else in the world. We'd have to simply crawl into our shell and ignore the rest of the world, which certainly will not leave us alone - because we've got what they all want! I supppose some of those rabid anti-immigrants would be just fine with complete isolationism. But MY America will never do that.

Instead of this loser debate, it would be far more serious and productive to debate the principles and mechanics of how we most effectively go about the process of legalizing most of our current labor force while also, and simultaneously, eliminating unchecked illegal migration. We can and must do both at the same time.

We can never satisfy the Polipundits who gratuitously demand an impossible solution whose adverse consequences would be orders of magnitude worse than that which we perceive as today's problem at hand.

How can I say that the problem du jour of illegal immigration just ain't that big, in the overall scheme of things? Well, if our current immigration problem is so overwhelmingly terrible in its consequences, how come we have - right now, and for the last 24 years - the world's most productive and successful economy? Our umemployment rate is historically low (4.7% as of today); we've created millions of new jobs in the last four years; home ownership rates and personal wealth accumulation are at all time highs; inflation has been well under control for years now, and remains so; the US leads the world in creation of "quality" jobs, etc. etc. And we're free to boot! Overall, Americans' standard of living is the best in the world. So what's the beef?

As for security, which seems to have given the immigration issue a big boost of late, of course it's a concern. But exactly how many terrorist attacks have we suffered on U.S soil (or anywhere, for that matter) as a direct result of unchecked illegal immigration from Mexico? How many? Isn't that answer pretty close to "zero"?

I mean, we all understand that we're trying to prevent a future attack, and it's much better to prevent attacks than to suffer them, for sure. But really, if we put anywhere near the emotional and political investment (and hot air) into killing the Al Queda terrorists - who killed 3,000 of us awhile back; of whom we know exactly where to find them (Iraq and Afghanistan); and of whom we know have been continuing to kill American soldiers and our allies (i.e., in Iraq) by the hundreds and thousands every year since 9/11 - then we wouldn't have any time for these stupid and pointless arguments over fantasy mass deportations.

So frankly, the security argument doesn't justify the hot air and emotions spent on this topic.

No, I think it really comes down to the fact that a very large proportion of the most rabid soap-boxers, when it comes to the subject of immigration, and their favorite solution, just don't want people of Mexican descent in "their country" any more, taking up space and offending their sensibilities. It's really plain old fashioned nativism, of which we've suffered bouts from time to time throughout our history, at least since the Irish started offending them back in the mid-nineteen hundreds.


Posted by Duane

Friday, April 07, 2006 3:36:00 PM  

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