Memo to the netroots on immigration
Elana Levin of DMI has a great post on the netroots and immigration.
DMI's recently-updated report on progressive immigration reform makes some points that aren't repeated nearly often enough.
First, immigrants contribute a lot to the American economy, regardless of their status. We hear a lot about the costs of immigration, but the real picture is a lot more complicated.
On average, undocumented workers pay more in taxes than they consume in government services. Their payroll taxes help subsidize Social Security and Medicare because they pay in without collecting benefits.
As progressives, we can't ignore the ways in which the immigration system hurts the most vulnerable members of our society. A large pool of illegal labor drives down standards for everyone because in-status workers have to compete with counterparts who operate without benefit of minimum wage laws, health and safety regulations, or the right to organize. As usual, draconian prohibition creates a lot of problems of its own.
"Open borders" is a straw man. Nobody advocates that. Obviously, the immigration system is supposed to help some people come in and keep other people out. We can debate the criteria and the numbers, but ultimately that's what immigration is about. "Open borders" is a canard.
What we have now is an immigration system that doesn't even succeed at its stated purposes. We are not in control now. It's absurd to think we can regain control by mass deportation or a multi-billion-dollar border fence. These are simply not practical solutions to the problem.
Americans hate to be told "no." We assume that if there's a will, there's always a way.
Some people just won't believe physically securing the borders of our vast country won't deliver the results they're looking for. If you want to reduce the number of people who sneak into the country illegally, a fence is just a bad means to that end.