all-encompassingly

we still remember mitch hedberg

A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

Jun 27th 2007

illegal immigration FAQ

“answering 13 frequently asked questions about illegal immigration”

by: john hawkins of RWN
date: 30 march 2006

1) How many illegal aliens are there in the United States? Since they’re not here legally, there’s no way to do a precise count. Most estimates are in the 10-12 million range, but some people believe as few as 8 million illegal immigrants are here and others think the count may go as high as 20 million plus.

2) How do the American people feel about illegal immigration? Time and time again, across numerous polls, the American people have expressed displeasure with our lax border security and illegal immigration. Here’s some info on some of the more recent polling data from a column written by Tony Blankley:

(A) Gallup Poll (March 27, 2006) finds 80 percent of the public wants the federal government to get tougher on illegal immigration. A Quinnipiac University Poll (March 3, 2006) finds 62 percent oppose making it easier for illegals to become citizens (72 percent in that poll don’t even want illegals to be permitted to have driver’s licenses). Time Magazine’s recent poll (Jan. 24-26) found 75 percent favor “major penalties” on employers of illegals, 70 percent believe illegals increase the likelihood of terrorism and 57 percent would use military force at the Mexican-American border.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (March 10-13) found 59 percent opposing a guest-worker proposal, and 71 percent would more likely vote for a congressional candidate who would tighten immigration controls.

An IQ Research poll (March 10) found 92 percent saying that securing the U.S. border should be a top priority of the White House and Congress.

Unquestionably, the American people see illegal immigration as a problem and want the borders to be secured.

3) So, if the American people oppose illegal immigration, why does Congress seem so reluctant to do anything about it? The Democrats look at illegal aliens as an easy way to pad their vote totals. Because Hispanics tend to vote for Democrats in disproportionate numbers, 10 million illegal immigrants could translate into a net gain of 2-3 million potential voters for the Democrats once they become US citizens.

Republicans tend to be hesitant to crack down on illegal immigration because they fear alienating Hispanic immigrants and because the members of the business community who make money by hiring illegal aliens, funnel part of their ill gotten gains into Republican (and to a lesser extent, Democratic) coffers.

This leads to a situation where many Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill talk tough about illegal immigration and border security in order to placate the voters, but in actuality, they work hard to keep the flow of illegal aliens from being cut off.

Here’s Mark Krikorian giving some examples of how our lawmakers often work behind-the-scenes to thwart our immigration laws:

In ninety eight, the border patrol noticed that the work force picking onions in the vidalia onion fields of Georgia appeared increasingly to be illegals, so they did some raids, arrested a few dozen illegal aliens, and all the rest of them ran off. So the farmers were there stuck with onions in the ground and no one to pull them out. It was all their own fault, they knew what they were doing, but nonetheless, they were outraged. They called their Congressmen, and by the end of the week, three of Georgia’s Congressmen and both Senators, Republicans and Democrats, wrote a joint letter to the Attorney General demanding that the Immigration Service stop enforcing the law. Because they said the INS does not understand the needs of American farmers. Which in ordinary English means, “let them pick the onions, then arrest them. Preferably before we have to pay them”. Well, the INS got slapped down and stopped.

So what they tried as an alternative to raids, was something called Operation Vanguard in Nebraska. It was sort of the first effort at something like this to see if it worked. They didn’t do raids anywhere, all they did was subpoena personnel records. And they didn’t just pick one or two employers, they did all the meatpacking plants in all of Nebraska, so that no one of them would be inconvenienced while the others benefitted. They took the personnel records back to the office, checked the Social Security numbers, and came back with a list of people who seemed to be illegal, who did not have authorization to work. They said “we know some of these people are legit and the records are wrong. We want to fix those people’s records and the ones that are illegal, have to leave of course”. They came back with four thousand names. One thousand people showed up and got their records fixed and three thousand were never heard from again. They were illegal aliens. It worked really well and it was intended to be repeated every two to three months so as to wean the whole industry off of the use of illegal aliens.

After one effort like this, the political and business elite in Nebraska went insane. The ranchers and the meat packers teamed up with the governor. The governor’s predecessor, now Senator Nelson, was hired as a lobbyist to put an end to this initiative. Senator Chuck Hagel made it essentially his mission in life to see that this was never repeated and it wasn’t. And the Senior INS official who thought it up in the first place was invited to retire early — and he did. If you’re a bureaucrat and you have kids in college, you’re going to take the hint: Congress doesn’t want you to enforce the law. So the Immigration Service essentially gave up enforcing the immigration laws inside the country. They focused on the important, but narrow, issues of criminal aliens and smugglers. I’m all for that, criminal aliens and alien smugglers are the scum of the earth, but there’s a lot more to the issue than just that. But, going after those parts of the issue doesn’t get you in trouble politically. So that’s what they did, they gave up because Congress told them to stop doing their jobs. They really haven’t changed that much (since) 9/11.

4) What about Pete Wilson, the former governor of California? Didn’t he try to crack down on illegal immigration and wasn’t there a backlash against Republicans because of it? This is a myth that has been seized upon by pro-illegal immigrant forces, but it doesn’t bear up under scrutiny.

In 1994, Pete Wilson supported Prop 187, a bill that cut off government services to illegal aliens. Prop 187 passed with the support of 59% of the voters (including 31% of the Hispanic vote). So, did Wilson get buried by the “backlash?” No, instead he won a 15 point landslide victory.

Fast forward to 2006. The current Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger voted for Prop 187, had Pete Wilson as the co-chair of his campaign, said he would not approve driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, and was still elected in a very liberal state that’s 34% Hispanic.

The idea that being tough on illegal immigrants is guaranteed to cause a massive backlash for Republicans at the polls simply isn’t true.

5) Well, what about an Amnesty for illegals? Didn’t we have one of those before? Back in 1986, during the Reagan administration, illegal aliens who were already here were allowed to become American citizens. Basically, it was supposed to be a one time amnesty for illegals and in return, security measures would be beefed up to take care of the illegal immigrant problem once and for all.

However, in practice what happened was that once the illegal immigrants were made citizens, the enforcement provisions weren’t treated seriously, and even more illegal aliens poured across the border hoping to get in on the next amnesty.

Today? We’re talking about essentially the same sort of proposal in the Senate. Allowing illegal aliens to become citizens in return for security measures, in practice, may or may not actually ever be put into place.

6) If illegals weren’t allowed to become citizens, what would be the problem with allowing illegal aliens who are already here to stay as guest workers? There are at least three major problems with allowing illegal aliens to stay here as guest workers.

Number one, many Americans don’t realize this, but there are countless millions of foreigners waiting patiently to enter the United States the right way. To allow the illegals who are already here to stay rewards lawbreakers and makes the people who respected our laws look like chumps.

Number two, when you reward illegal behavior and treat people who obey the law like chumps, you can expect more lawbreaking. In other words, if we allow the illegals who are already here to stay here, we can expect another massive onslaught of illegals to enter our country because we’ll have shown them that breaking our laws pays.

Number three, if we give the illegal aliens who are already here free passes that allow them to continue working and create a guest worker program, there’s a very real danger that what we’ll end up with is a guest worker program AND massive numbers of illegals pouring into the country. As was mentioned earlier in this FAQ, the politicians in Washington have a heavy incentive to keep the flow of illegals going and they’ve lied before about crack downs on illegal immigration. So, you can’t simply take the Federal government’s word for it when they say they’re going to toughen up security in return for a guest worker program. Americans will only be able to believe it when it happens.

7) Isn’t it practically impossible to deport all the illegal aliens? There is no bigger straw man in the whole debate over illegal immigration than the idea that you have to round the illegals up, one by one. There’s actually a much easier way to do it.

You see, the majority of illegal aliens are coming here to get jobs. If you crack down on the employers who are hiring them, then the jobs will disappear, and the majority of illegal aliens will self-deport.

Will every illegal alien go home if they can’t get a job? No, but the vast majority of them will and having, let’s say, a a few hundred thousand illegals in the US, as opposed to 8-20 million, would be a vast improvement.

8) But, aren’t these illegal aliens doing jobs Americans won’t do? To begin with, in many of the industries most associated with illegal immigrant labor, you find that the majority of workers in those fields are not illegals. As Rich Lowry pointed out in National Review:

“According to a new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, illegals make up 24 percent of workers in agriculture, 17 percent in cleaning, 14 percent in construction, and 12 percent in food production. So 86 percent of construction workers, for instance, are either legal immigrants or Americans, despite the fact that this is one of the alleged categories of untouchable jobs.”

Moreover, it needs to be pointed out that there’s no such thing as a job, “Americans won’t do.” There are only jobs Americans won’t do at a certain price. Consider your job. Would you still do it if the pay were 50% less? For most people, the answer to that question is, “no.”

Well, since illegal immigrants generally come from poor countries with mediocre economies, they’re willing to work for much lower wages than the going market rate because they’re still making substantially more than what they can make at home. So, if there’s a large influx of illegal aliens into an America industry, it depresses wages so much that Americans simply won’t do those jobs any more for the going pay rate.

This harms poor Americans the most, because they’re the group that generally ends up competing with illegal aliens for jobs on the low end of the pay scale.

9) If these illegal aliens were to leave the United States, wouldn’t there be a major impact on the American economy? There’s disagreement about that, but it’s highly doubtful. As Rich Lowry at National Review has pointed out:

“Phillip Martin, an economist at the University of California, Davis, has demolished the argument that a crackdown on illegals would ruin it, or be a hardship to consumers. Most farming — livestock, grains, etc. — doesn’t heavily rely on hired workers. Only about 20 percent of the farm sector does, chiefly those areas involving fresh fruit and vegetables.

The average “consumer unit” in the U.S. spends $7 a week on fresh fruit and vegetables, less than is spent on alcohol, according to Martin. On a $1 head of lettuce, the farm worker gets about 6 or 7 cents, roughly 1/15th of the retail price. Even a big run-up in the cost of labor can’t hit the consumer very hard.

Martin recalls that the end of the bracero guest-worker program in the mid-1960s caused a one-year 40 percent wage increase for the United Farm Workers Union. A similar wage increase for legal farm workers today would work out to about a 10-dollar-a-year increase in the average family’s bill for fruit and vegetables. Another thing happened with the end of the bracero program: The processed-tomato industry, which was heavily dependent on guest workers and was supposed to be devastated by their absence, learned how to mechanize and became more productive.”

If every illegal alien here today currently left America, the immediate economic impact would be insignificant and over the long haul, the impact would likely be negligible.

10) What about other costs to society? On the whole, are illegals a net benefit or net liability to the American economy?

The answer to this question can vary wildly depending on what’s included as an asset and what’s not included as a liability. For example, liberal economist and popular New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says that overall, illegals are an insignificant, positive asset to the economy, although their presence harms poor Americans:

“First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration – especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst- paid Americans.

The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren’t for Mexican immigration.”

On the other hand, according to a conservative group, the Center for Immigration Studies:

“Based on Census Bureau data, this study finds that, when all taxes paid (direct and indirect) and all costs are considered, illegal households created a net fiscal deficit at the federal level of more than $10 billion in 2002. We also estimate that, if there was an amnesty for illegal aliens, the net fiscal deficit would grow to nearly $29 billion.”

Again, estimates vary on how much of an impact illegals have on the economy, but most of the credible ones show the benefits are insignificant or even in the negative range.

11) Is there a crime problem related to illegal immigrants? Absolutely, and in areas where illegals congregate heavily, crimewaves tend to follow. For example, illegals are responsible for much of the serious crime in Los Angeles. Here’s Heather Mac Donald on that topic from back in mid-2004:

In Los Angeles, 95% of all outstanding warrants for homicide target illegal aliens, and over 60% of all outstanding felony warrants. Illegal aliens, and immigrants generally, are a major, and unacknowledged, driver of gang crime.

Moreover, according to Jim Kouri, the vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police:

“It’s widely been reported that illegal aliens comprise upwards of 27 percent of the US prison and jail population.”

Make no mistake about it: illegal aliens are responsible for a very significant percentage of the rape, murder, robbery, and mayhem that occurs in the United States.

12) Do illegal immigrants put a strain on our health care system? In some border states, illegals are straining our hospitals to the breaking point and beyond. Here’s an excerpt from Arizona Senator John Kyl:

“The estimated annual cost to hospitals and other providers of emergency health care nationwide for illegal aliens is $1.45 billion. According to congressionally-commissioned research from the MTG Corporation, the annual cost to just the 24 counties along the border in Texas, New Mexico and California exceeds $200 million, and for Arizona’s four border counties alone it’s $32 million per year.

These unreimbursed costs, and other health-related issues, have put Arizona hospitals in a state of dire fiscal emergency. As a result, some have closed, or are in danger of having to close their emergency rooms and other services.

Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee, for example, closed its ob/gyn department for several months because it had to provide labor and delivery services for illegal immigrants on an emergency basis and received no compensation. Maricopa County Hospital incurred uncompensated costs of over $1 million just to treat two burn victims.”

Furthermore, because illegal immigrants often come from Third World Countries with poor health care systems, diseases like Tuberculosis, Chagas disease, Leprosy, Dengue fever, Polio, and Malaria that had practically been wiped out in the United States are being reintroduced here by illegal aliens who were infected in their home countries. The percentage of illegals infected is small, but when you consider, for example, that Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis can cost $250,000 to treat and Americans are picking up the tab for each case illegals bring into the US, the bills can add up in a hurry.

13) Some people say that it’s impossible to secure our border? Are they right? No, they’re not. The reason why our borders are not secure today is because the border patrol has been dramatically underfunded, undermanned, and not given the technology they need to do their jobs.

For example, we only have 11,000 border patrol agents working on both the US and Canadian border combined. On the other hand, New York City alone has 39,110 officers. How can anyone expect us to secure both our Northern and Southern borders with 1/3 of the personnel used to handle a single city?

Furthermore, we don’t give our border patrol agents the technology that they need to do their job. As Congressman Tom Tancredo has pointed out, with the proper technology our borders can be locked down tightly:

“The marines did a little (exercise) just North of Idaho. One Hundred marines with three drones and two radar stations controlled 100 miles of the most rugged border you ever saw in your life. While I was there, just one week-end while I was there, they intercepted four people coming across on ATVs carrying four hundred pounds of drugs, we got a light plane trying to come in under the radar, and so it can happen. We can control our borders, we just choose not too.”

If we properly staff our border patrols, build a wall, use sensors, remote controlled drones, and radar stations, we can slow the raging flood of illegal aliens coming over our border down to a trickle. It’s not “impossible,” in fact, it probably wouldn’t even be all that difficult, we just haven’t made the effort.

7 Responses to “illegal immigration FAQ”

  1. N Chung

    That is some major cherry-picking.

    Again, estimates vary on how much of an impact illegals have on the economy, but most of the
    credible ones show the benefits are insignificant or even in the negative range.

    This is an irresponsible statement by rightwingnews.com. The CIS study cited about illegals having a negative impact is NOT ABOUT THE ECONOMY. IT’S ABOUT THE BUDGET! Either RWN isn’t birght enough to know the difference, or it’s lying to its readers into believing that there is a study out there that shows immigrants to have a negative economic impact. I guarantee you it doesn’t exist. A hundred years of solid economic theory holds that closer economic integration benefits all economies involved.

    According to a new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, illegals make up 24 percent of workers in agriculture, 17 percent in cleaning, 14 percent in construction, and 12 percent in food production. So 86 percent of construction workers, for instance, are either legal immigrants or Americans, despite the fact that this is one of the alleged categories of untouchable jobs.”

    Because Americans work in those sectors doesn’t mean we can get enough Americans to fill those jobs,
    which is the issue at hand. There’s more absurd statements in Lowry’s article, which I won’t go into.

    “Phillip Martin, an economist at the University of California, Davis, has demolished the argument that a
    crackdown on illegals would ruin it, or be a hardship to consumers. Most farming — livestock, grains, etc. — doesn’t heavily rely on hired workers. Only about 20 percent of the farm sector does, chiefly those areas
    involving fresh fruit and vegetables.

    The average “consumer unit” in the U.S. spends $7 a week on fresh fruit and vegetables, less than is spent
    on alcohol, according to Martin. On a $1 head of lettuce, the farm worker gets about 6 or 7 cents, roughly 1/15th of the retail price. Even a big run-up in the cost of labor can’t hit the consumer very hard.

    Don’t forget the other sectors:

    illegals make up 24 percent of workers in agriculture, 17 percent in cleaning, 14 percent in construction,
    and 12 percent in food production.

    This harms poor Americans the most, because they’re the group that generally ends up competing with illegal
    aliens for jobs on the low end of the pay scale.

    Every conservative I’ve talked to tells me that economic inequality isn’t a problem that needs to be fixed. (It’s inevitable, don’t punish achievement, everyone
    prospers according to his genius
    , etc, etc.) Now that Latinos are coming with lower wages, the
    government suddenly needs to protect the low-wage earner. Anyhow, the CEA study shows that immigrants make 90% of Americans’ wages go up because they complement rather than substitute for workers.

    Gallup Poll (March 27, 2006) finds 80 percent of the public wants the federal government to get tougher on illegal immigration. A Quinnipiac University Poll (March 3, 2006) finds 62 percent oppose making it easier for illegals to become citizens (72 percent in that poll don’t even want illegals to be permitted to have driver’s licenses). Time Magazine’s recent poll (Jan. 24-26) found 75 percent favor “major penalties” on employers of illegals, 70 percent believe illegals increase the likelihood of terrorism and 57 percent would use military force at the Mexican-American border.

    An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (March 10-13) found 59 percent opposing a guest-worker proposal, and 71 percent would more likely vote for a congressional candidate who would tighten immigration controls.

    Those polls are meaningless and are determined more by how the questions are worded than anything else.

    Here’s a gallup poll showing how almost 80% of

    Americans want to give illegals a chance to be citizens. Another poll from the LA Times/Bloomberg saying 63% of Americans and 65% of Republicans favor amnesty.

    There’s other flaws with this RWN article, but my advice to Travis is to stick to rule-of-law arguments.

  2. travis

    Because Americans work in those sectors doesn’t mean we can get enough Americans to fill those jobs,
    which is the issue at hand.

    americans would fill those jobs if they paid more. just as the free market adjusted after the republicans freed the last batch of slaves, the market will adjust this time, too.

    Every conservative I’ve talked to tells me that economic inequality isn’t a problem that needs to be fixed. (It’s inevitable, don’t punish achievement, everyone prospers according to his genius, etc, etc.)

    do you agree? IOW, are you for or against a permanent slave class?

  3. N Chung

    americans would fill those jobs if they paid more. just as the free market adjusted after the republicans freed the last batch of slaves, the market will adjust this time, too.

    False analogy alert. Slaves weren’t paid their market wage, illegals are.

  4. travis

    Slaves weren’t paid their market wage, illegals are.

    illegals are paid a black market wage. just like the underground, illegal market for cocaine manipulates the price of the drug (right now, your neighborhood junkies are paying about double the price of gold for the stuff, and possibly murdering people because the illegal status of the substance creates an artificial scarcity), certain american workers’ wages sag under the weight of the the illicit labor market, which unnaturally depresses wages by creating a glut of illegal workers.

    and hey, at least the other slaves got free room and board. i bet a lot of illegals in los angeles (median home price approaching $1/2 million) are wishing they had the plantation housing arrangement right about now.

  5. N Chung

    another false analogy. illegal immigrants make prices go down. black-market drugs make prices go up. i’m tleling you man, stick to your rule-of-law arguments, you’ll appear a lot smarter that way.

  6. travis

    another false analogy. illegal immigrants make prices go down.

    ….and wages, too. it’s like a party at the bottom! (whoops, sorry for analogizing poverty to a party.)

  7. […] Illegal Immigration FAQ Mexifornia, Five Years Later Shocking TIME Article on Illegal Immigration Open Letter to Congress […]