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September 20, 2007

Jeff Crosby on immigration

Jeff Crosby describes how our current immigration policies are making jobs worse for everyone, including legal residents and citizens.

With ICE stepping up enforcement, employers are getting rid of their permanent staff and hiring from temp agencies instead. That way, the employer isn't legally responsible for hiring undocumented worker. Also, if ICE happens to snatch up a large percentage of your staff on any given day, the temp agency will just send more.

Temp jobs are worse than the permanent positions they are replacing. Temporary workers get paid less and get fewer benefits than staffers doing the same work. 

In other words, ICE is taking people's jobs!

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The solution? Put a halt to illegal immigration altogether.

Why is it that of all the countries in the world, the de facto assumption is made in many quarters that the United States is the only one who has no right to regulate its borders, and to control who is allowed the rights and privileges of citizenship and legal residence?

Of all the hypocrisies of the liberals and conservatives, this is one of the most suspect, to me.

I don't care if the illegals are brown, black, lily-white, blue, green, puce, mauve or ocher -- the fact is that the US has a fundamental right and duty to regulate who enters, leaves and takes residence within its boundaries. Denying this is telling its citizens that they have to accept a a reduced standard of living and a culture that is oftentimes being altered against their wishes and best interests.

For business interests (Republicans) who want cheap labor at all costs and liberals who want to believe in the fantasy of a happy rainbow world with magic ponies and no hard choices, this is fine -- but for the average person, an inundation of illegals means nothing more than increased job competition, reduced wages, and for this and other reasons, a reduced quality of life.

Sure, the US has been built on immigration -- but that doesn't necessarily mean that all immigration is by nature desirable, or that we should wish for more, with our population already exceeding 300 million. Saying that the US should welcome more immigrants now because many people in the past were immigrants is nothing more than the logical fallacy of an appeal to tradition, with all the logical validity thereof -- which is to say, none.

ICE is not taking anyone's jobs. Illegal immigrants are taking people's jobs, aided and abetted by Republicans who want porous borders for the cheap labor, and happy pony rainbow world liberals who believe everyone in the world is exactly equivalent in all ways and anyone who wants should just be able to waltz into the US, of all the countries in the world, no matter their talents, abilities, and proclivities.

The American worker, especially the lower-class American worker, loses because of these asinine beliefs and practices.

Jeff Crosby describes how our current immigration policies are making jobs worse for everyone, including legal residents and citizens.

Duh! Ask a union member.

And sorry, but you have to start enforcing the workplace laws somewhere.

ICE's actions may be "taking jobs" but if their policies are effective in the long run in discouraging unregulated immigration, I suspect most American workers would be all for it.

Not many of those here illegally are competing for freelance journalist jobs though LB so I suspect that, coupled with the fact that you probably pay little in American income taxes to support the social benefits needed by the unregulated quantities of newcomers, may affect your thoughts of ICE's work.

This is kinda silly though: In other words, ICE is taking people's jobs!

Talk about treating the symptoms.

the fact is that the US has a fundamental right and duty to regulate who enters, leaves and takes residence within its boundaries

Yeah, but that doesn't mean that a tight immigration policy is a good idea.

(And what the heck do you mean by "regulate who...leaves"? Are you saying that people shouldn't be able to leave the country without permission? Like in North Korea? You didn't mean it that way, right?)

ICE is not taking anyone's jobs. Illegal immigrants are taking people's jobs

Immigrants, legal or not, aren't taking anybody's jobs. If you're working for me, and I decide to let you go and hire an illegal immigrant, it's not because he took your job. It's because I gave him your job.

As long as I'm paying for the job, it should be mine to give to whomever I want. No one should have the right to threaten me with armed government thugs just because they want me to hire their friends instead of mine.

Windy:

Are you for real? OK, once you start paying the education, healthcare and other societal costs related to BREAKING THE LAW, and make sure you escorted back home those workers you've so generously exploited for peanuts and maybe their lives -- if it's a safety related job where illegal citizens have no rights -- when you're through using em, maybe you'd have a point.

That's what the above commenter probably means about "regulating the comings and goings."

Otherwise, just get in line and apply for the damn work visas like all other legal employers.

C'mon now LB. If WP is for real, you reaaaaalllllly think it's wrong to go into those workplaces to fairly enforce the law, just because it might mean a temp job shopped out or two.

The problem with unregulated open borders immigration is it's not balanced. You get an influx of those neighbors living in poorer countries, and clearly it's already overwhelming the public resources and private (often religious) charitable organizations meant to help the community.

Plus, when you had regulated immigration, you had a better mix from ALL OVER the world, and not one demographic suddenly affecting the language and culture to the point that some current residents fear there's no assimilation taking place, but balkanization.

I really wish you'd come back in and better explain your last comment in the post. Do you think there should be no enforcement at all in the workplaces, and if so, what kind of immigration solution would you propose? Also, could you please clarify if you're a Canadian citizen, and if so, how that works for you working here? Are you "regulated", or limited by the laws in how long you can stay without re-applying, that is?

(Apologies if you were born in America and I'm mischaracterizing -- not sure if I ever saw any mention as this part of your personal background.)

Senator John Kerry's Families First Immigration Enforcement Act.

"If a detainee has humanitarian grounds for release, such as a medical condition that require special attention, or pregnant women, nursing mothers, parents who are the sole caretakers of their minor children or elderly relatives, parents who function as the primary contact between the family and those outside the home due to language barriers, parents who are needed to support their spouses in caring for sick or special needs children, parents whose spouses are ill or otherwise unable to be sole caretaker, and minors, within 72 hours of their apprehension, if they are not subject to mandatory detention, or pose and immediate flight right, they shall be released on their own recognizance, on minimum bond or placed in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP)."

Are you for real? OK, once you start paying the education, healthcare and other societal costs related to BREAKING THE LAW, and make sure you escorted back home those workers you've so generously exploited for peanuts and maybe their lives -- if it's a safety related job where illegal citizens have no rights -- when you're through using em, maybe you'd have a point.

The only reason anyone can exploit illegal workers---with low pay or dangerous working conditions---is because they have no rights. Or at least they have few rights they're willing to exercise when the cost could be deportation.

This is also why legal immigrants are so willing to work cheaply. If H1-B holders become unemployed, they are supposed to leave the country. This makes it kind of hard for them to use the threat of quitting to negotiate for a better salary.

Otherwise, just get in line and apply for the damn work visas like all other legal employers.

I don't think work visas are that easy to get, otherwise we wouldn't have millions of people working here without them.

Look, I'm not saying we should continue to have millions of illegal foreign workers. I'm saying we will have millions of foreign workers, and we should make it as easy as possible for them to be here legally, for them to work safely, and for them to pay taxes.

Otherwise, just get in line and apply for the damn work visas like all other legal employers.

I don't think work visas are that easy to get, otherwise we wouldn't have millions of people working here without them.

No duh. That's why I said "Get In Line". And don't break the law while you're waiting. That's illegaly, and the ICE is finally enforcing.

Look, I'm not saying we should continue to have millions of illegal foreign workers. I'm saying we will have millions of foreign workers, and we should make it as easy as possible for them to be here legally, for them to work safely, and for them to pay taxes.

Well, most of us disagree. Let's see -- now that there are workplace checks and enforcements -- how many decide to jump the line and come here illegally, if there are no employers willing to employ them illegally.

You paint a pretty picture. I'm sure all the low-paid workers will help your business. But there are more workers than business owners out here voting, and I suspect that's why Mr. Bush's immigration plan was voted down. Congresspeople know their constitutents, and most don't want open borders and employers like you rewarded for breaking the law and passing on the costs to the rest of us.

In the late 1990s, the Clinton Boom years, I suspect we didn't notice or care. But America today simply can't afford such a massive influx of poor young immigrants, with great social needs such as English education and healthcare. More and more of our own citizens are seeing rises in their healthcare premiums (if they have it), and crappy educations offered in their public schools due to budget-tigtening measures.

I am a humanitarian. I don't want to see the exploitation. But to suddenly "grandfather" in all these Mexicans and small percentage of others will simply overwhelm the local resources of so many governments currently struggling with budgets -- trying to do more with less.

The sad fact is: these are low-end and laborer jobs, not generating any new products or technologies for the economy. The exploitative businessman benefits, and the rest of us bear the costs, which is becoming harder and harders as the belt tightens across the country.

There's a good reason for regulations -- whether they be environmental or immigration.

The only reason anyone can exploit illegal workers---with low pay or dangerous working conditions---is because they have no rights. Or at least they have few rights they're willing to exercise when the cost could be deportation.

This is also why legal immigrants are so willing to work cheaply. If H1-B holders become unemployed, they are supposed to leave the country. This makes it kind of hard for them to use the threat of quitting to negotiate for a better salary.

And my life experience and common sense and knowledge of immigrant communities tells me that regardless of if the immigrant is awarded a H1-B or any other "official" paperwork, he/she won't suddenly become empowered to stand up to the boss, demand higher wages and safer working conditions.

Immigrants, particularly those whose accent gives them away, tend to keep their heads down and accept what they are offered and make no waves. Legal or not, you're still a newcomer and you tend to know your place if you work low-end jobs. You're replaceable -- with all the personal consequences that accompany it. Rarely is their any kind of nest egg built up to live off of when you lose the job because you were demanding more.

Uh, just for the record, I don't really employ anybody. My "If you're working for me..." bit was just hypothetical. And if I did employ people, I'd obey the law. Heck, I had to incorporate my one-man software consulting business, and I have an I-9 on file for myself.

I just can't get upset at Mexicans and others who come here for jobs. All they want is what I've got, and they're willing to work to get some for themselves.

If local governments have trouble providing services to immigrants, perhaps they need to stop doing that. However, I suspect that they would welcome the additional taxes that legal workers would pay.

You're right that the exploitive businessman benefits. But the reason he can exploit foreign workers is because the laws treat them differently.

Finally, don't forget about consumers. In a competitive market, inexpensive foreign labor produces inexpensive goods for Americans. That means consumers can get more for their money, which is a good thing.

If local governments have trouble providing services to immigrants, perhaps they need to stop doing that. However, I suspect that they would welcome the additional taxes that legal workers would pay.

You're right that the exploitive businessman benefits. But the reason he can exploit foreign workers is because the laws treat them differently.

Finally, don't forget about consumers. In a competitive market, inexpensive foreign labor produces inexpensive goods for Americans. That means consumers can get more for their money, which is a good thing.

I don't think local schools and hospitals, even if they could, would turn away a child asking for an education, or a woman about to give birth. There is a moral obligation to provide, and there is also an obligation to know when resources are dwindling and to treat the underlying illness, not just the symptoms.

I too absolutely understand the desire to work and immigrate. But it must be done legally, regulated for reasons described above.

That some would pay less for lawn care or babysitting is beside the point. When "consumers" understand the long-term costs, they reject the short-term benefits. Some, like the businessman or mother desperately seeking a nanny might hire, but they should not be allowed to provide this "false hope" that the immigrant can forgo the legal process. Otherwise, it's all the more painful when parents are eventually sent home, and families split up if the children were born here and stay.

Keep watching, and try to think long term. Open borders are no solution.

Anonymous,
You make more sense than most of the people who have ever posted here including the site's host. Emotional sob-sisters who subsitute feelings for reason and too many of whom have no conception of long-term thinking...much less delay of gratification....are all too frequent in the blogosphere. What a refreshing change!

Reg,
Thanks, but apparently I'm too much a threat to the hostess to continue posting my thoughts here.

Please read the "atheist" thread below, and you tell me if LB's last remark would have been better directed at "mudkitty". I thought I was being respectful and intelligent in my responses there too.

re. the ICE enforcing the laws:
Sometimes when you have experience in the workplace, and a working-class background, you can consider things that those with more privileged backgrounds like LB just miss. My father was a legal immigrant, and just like in the a.a. debate, those do-good liberals often can't see those who bear the disadvantage of those favored policies intended to help the more favored disadvantage group (whether it be racial minorities regardless of economic/educational status, or here legal immigrants and workers.)


You can find me at subsumed.blogspot.com though, if you like what you read here. And thanks again -- your kind words are much appreciated! Mary

"That some would pay less for lawn care or babysitting is beside the point."

Of course a more open immigration policy seems like a bad idea if you ignore some of the benefits. Here, let me try: Doctors are a bad idea because the charge so much money; that they heal people is beside the point. Fire engines are loud and have poor fuel efficiency; that they make it easier to put out fires is beside the point. See how simple that is?

Maybe you don't think the benefits to consumers are worth the other problems you see with an open immigration policy, but I don't see how you can just dismiss the benefits like that.

"When "consumers" understand the long-term costs, they reject the short-term benefits."

Just because lots of people say something doesn't mean they're right. Besides, I'm not sure consumers really reject cheap immigrant labor. How many people make sure that everyone working on their lawn is legal? How many people try to buy produce only from companies that have a farm inspection process to insure illegal workers aren't used? How about the people who come in at night to clean the buildings where we live and work? How about the guys who bus tables at restaurants and can't understand a word we say to them? How many times do consumers actually check? I think not very often at all.

Lots of people may talk about the evils of cheap foreign labor, but when they're spending their own money, they don't seem to mind so much. (Of course, there are exceptions.)

On another note, anonymous, obviously I disagree with you and I think your way of looking at the issue is messed up, but based on what I've seen here, unless you're doing something goofy like sock puppetry, you're well withing the bounds of propriety for blogosphere debate.

As long as I'm paying for the job, it should be mine to give to whomever I want. No one should have the right to threaten me with armed government thugs just because they want me to hire their friends instead of mine.

Windypundit, I'm not sure this is really what you mean--because it would suggest that as long as you are paying for the job, if you decide you want to hire only white people, that's OK. Is it really your position that laws making race or gender discrimination in employment illegal are examples of governmental overreaching?

As long as I'm paying for the job, it should be mine to give to whomever I want. No one should have the right to threaten me with armed government thugs just because they want me to hire their friends instead of mine.

Windypundit, I'm not sure this is really what you mean--because it would suggest that as long as you are paying for the job, if you decide you want to hire only white people, that's OK. Is it really your position that laws making race or gender discrimination in employment illegal are examples of governmental overreaching?

As long as I'm paying for the job, it should be mine to give to whomever I want. No one should have the right to threaten me with armed government thugs just because they want me to hire their friends instead of mine.

Windypundit, I'm not sure this is really what you mean--because it would suggest that as long as you are paying for the job, if you decide you want to hire only white people, that's OK. Is it really your position that laws making race or gender discrimination in employment illegal are examples of governmental overreaching?

Apologies for the multiple post

Is it really your position that laws making race or gender discrimination in employment illegal are examples of governmental overreaching?

Technically, yes. As a matter of libertarian theory, I don't think the government has any right to tell people who to hire for a job, who to rent an apartment to, or who to marry.

However...there are three important qualifications I'd like to emphasize:

First, I do disagree with the part of your question where you describe this as "as long as you are paying for the job, if you decide you want to hire only white people, that's OK."

It's not OK. It's not OK at all. If you have a business and you refuse to hire some people because of their race, I don't even want to know you. I just don't think the government should punish you for it.

Second, of all the government overreaching I'd stop if I were in charge, the anti-discrimination laws are far, far down the list. I bring them up here only in answer to your question. People who call themselves libertarians but can't seem to think of any other issue besides affirmative action make me nervous.

Third, for the most part these days, the government uses its violent powers to oppose discrimination, but keep in mind that it hasn't always been that way.

There have been times and places in this country when it was illegal for whites and blacks to have sex, to play the same sporting events, or to mix together at a theater. There was a time when Japanese Americans were thrown in prison camps.

To bring this all back around to the topic at hand, note that anti-immigrant labor laws are using the violent force of government to require discrimination.

There are many parts of life where we'd all be better off if the government left us to make our own decisions.

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