April 9, 2009

Illegal Immigration: Why I don't really care

I was reading an article about Obama's plan for immigration and the controversy over the issue. I started thinking and feeling some of the same things that I think and feel each time I hear the issue discussed on the news or by others: simple indifference. This may strike some people as odd. For many, the issue of immigration is strongly emotional and frustrating. But as far as I am concerned, I am not personally affected by "illegal" immigration. Let me give some reasoning as to why this is such a non-issue for me.
Those who oppose illegal immigration often claim that the immigrants are taking jobs that could be filled by Americans. Thus, immigration is bad for the economy. First off all, this is a simple non-sequitur. Someone "taking" someone else's job does not make the economy weaker. Economic growth happens because of the division of labor and the law of comparative advantage. Producers continually seek ways to cut their costs so that they can make profits. Profits are invested as capital in future production of goods so that more can be produced. The effect is that we get lower prices--a good thing, because we can buy more stuff with the same money. Part of lowering costs means that a producer seeks employees that give the highest marginal benefit/cost ratio. Immigrants will often work for lower wages or benefits, thus increasing the benefit/cost ratio of the producer and increasing profit. This will result in cheaper goods in the end.
Now, immigrants sometimes work for wages below the minimum wage limit. This makes it more difficult for "Americans" to get the same job because of tax laws. However, this is not a problem of immigration, but a problem of the government's regulation of wages. It is a simple economic law that price floors create surpluses. That is, a minimum wage will create unemployment since some workers have a benefit/cost ratio that is below the minimum wage. If this seems too confusing, I am sorry. Feel free to comment/ask questions.
There is another economic factor related to immigration though that I think is more influential but almost totally ignored. Immigrants come here almost exclusively for economic reasons: they can earn more money. But as I explained above, immigrants who are willing to work for lower wages is good for the economy. They don't object (or else they wouldn't come) and we shouldn't either. However, there is another economic incentive that draws immigrants to the US. It is our welfare state.
I don't have any statistics, but anyone who cares to can find them without too much difficulty. The fact is that many immigrants come here because we give free healthcare, food stamps, education, and other forms of welfare. Emergency rooms are often overwhelmed by illegal immigrants. Hospitals are required by law to give free emergency care to immigrants and there are even Federal programs for people who are not US citizens. A large percentage of people who receive food stamps are illegal immigrants and public schools are loaded with their children.
So why don't I care about all these outrages? Well, I do care, but I don't see why these problems are the immigrants' fault. First of all, if we don't want them to come here for the free stuff, we should stop offering it. It acts as an effective subsidy on illegal immigration, while at the same time we are taxing our people to prevent it.
Secondly, I don't see any difference between a US citizen who participates in welfare and an illegal immigrant who does. Either way, the money they receive was taken from another by force or the threat of force. Thus, I don't care so much where you come from. I consider an illegal immigrant just as entitled to welfare as a US citizen, i.e. NOT AT ALL!
Other common points of opposition are issues of security and national sovereignty. I can understand these objections, but I feel they are not based on solid Constitutional principles or principles of liberty. The issue of security is best handled by the states, or, even better, by the land owners themselves who have an incentive to protect their property from trespassing. Should a threat of invasion occur, there is authority within the states and even Federal government to deal with it. Immigration, however, is not an issue of invasion because it is a matter of individuals or very small groups who are acting independently in their own economic self-interest. They do not constitute a security or military threat anymore than the criminals who already reside or were born in the US (such as those in Washington D.C.).
Besides that fact is the reality that stopping "illegal" immigration is hardly something that can be realized by force. Patrols and fences have done little to really prevent the majority of immigration that happens illegally. See John Stossel's recent piece on this issue here.


Taylor and Stephanie said...

Well I agreed overall but the issue is much more complex than that which I'm sure you already understand.
One thing to think about is the fact that mexicans (yes the vast majority are mexicans) don't pay a lot of the taxes that citizens do yet they still take the handouts. Yet having personally seen life in mexico I can understand much better than others the reason for doing so.
Interesting to note that the church has release official statements encouraging the LDS in Mexico not to cross the boarder illegally and to stay with your families and try to improve the economy of Mexico.

I think you might want to look at how many are crossing the boarder every day. It might change your definition of what an invasion is. 12,000 plus every day! One of the reasons California is more handout and welfare friendly than other states is BECAUSE of and in RESPONSE to the enormous immigration problems.

I'd have to agree more with Romney's approach of turning off the "magnets" that attract so much fence jumping in the first place. He said we should stop the handouts (food stamps, education in general, etc etc) to those who are not u.s. citizens and get more serious with businesses who hire tons of illegals and reward business who have clean records with tax breaks. If we just did those things alone there would never be a need for a fence. It would simply encourage foreigners to migrate the legal and normal way. You know, the way that ALL OTHER immigrants do it besides our friends from the south.

Just my thoughts

BEN said...

The point I was making about invasion was not the number per se. The point was that these people are largely coming across as individuals or small groups rather than a part of a single organized force meant to take away property from its rightful owners or violently occupy territory. They do not qualify as an invasion in the sense that there is a violent threat from the fact that they are coming anymore than there is a threat from the people that are here "legally".
I think you may want to go back and check Romney's position on illegal immigration. To my knowledge, he never said anything about stopping incentives like welfare per se. His position was more like that of most Neo-Conservatives: punish the employers of the immigrants because they don't conform with tax laws etc. I do not see this as a solution in the least, besides the fact that it creates all kinds of slippery slopes for government to invade privacy and take away liberties.
Do you really want to have the Federal Government issue biometric IDs to all citizens and "legal" immigrants? This "solution" has no part in a free society. This is part of what the government is trying to do with the Real ID Act. It is quite scary.
Lastly, the reason I don't see immigrants taking welfare as any different is because generally US citizens who take welfare don't pay any or much taxes either (except for sales tax which immigrants DO pay). This means that the only real "problem" unique to immigration is artificial. If there were no medicare tax, social security tax, and income tax, there would be no need to "enforce" labor laws upon employers who are simply trying to stay competitive while the government is regulating them into oblivion.

Taylor & Stephanie Cane said...

Yeah but you can't change things overnight. Not only is it impossible but it would be irresponsible to make such drastic changes in the "system" so quickly. The consequences would be enormous. We took several steps over the years to get to where we are now and it will take several more steps over the years to get us back to where we need to be.
I wouldn't call Romney's or other "neo-cons" ideas bad ones, they are however more realistic answers to the issue. And actually Romney's solution to immigration was the most comprehensive than any of the other candidates. He included things like a more fair workers program that would help get rid of this "illegal" issue we seem to be dealing with so much. He was asked about Real ID's by glenn beck and said he was opposed to the idea entirely. But enough about Romney.

I agree that it's really the states fault for having such high taxes hence the reason for outsourcing as well. But like I said, these problems must be taken one step at a time. It's that nasty word compromise. Compromise can be a good thing as long as the direction you are going in is a good one. Arguably we've compromised ourselves into this situation but unfortunately the only way out is through compromise. The founding fathers understood this principle all too well.

Liz said...

This is an issue I've thought and wondered about a lot. I haven't come to any definitive conclusions, but there are a few things that seem to stick out to me.

I think the biggest thing about illegal immigration that bugs me is that it is illegal. We live in a society governed by rule of law, and so it seems important that the laws be enforced (although i acknowledge that there are far too many laws in general and many are misguided-- nevertheless, the principle applies). While most illegal immigrants live here peacefully and are just trying to make a better life for themselves, they nevertheless have committed a crime by entering (or staying in) the country illegally, and I have a hard time ignoring that. One caveat to this issue that I'm not sure how to deal with is children who are brought here illegally-- it seems they are not and should not be held accountable for the actions of their parents; although i'm not really sure how to deal with this.

To me, one of the best solutions to the problem of illegal immigration is to make immigration much easier to do legally. There is obviously a demand for them as employees and I don't see why it should be so hard for them to come. As cliche as it sounds, we are historically a nation of immigrants-- each wave has been despised to a certain degree when they first arrive for being dirty, speaking a different language, taking jobs, etc., but within a few generations they generally assimilate somewhat and become an integral part of our society (e.g. Irish, German, Jews, Poles, Chinese, etc.). I just don't see why people are so anti-immigrant; although i guess each wave of immigration historically has also been opposed by the slightly less recent immigrants...

BEN said...

The question for me is not whether it is legal or not because there are plenty of "legal" things that shouldn't be and "illegal" things that shouldn't be. The question is whether or not the laws are just.
I don't see any justification for it in the Constitution. Like I said, economically the issue would regulate itself. The only reason the government wants to get involved is for tax purposes. That is what all these labor laws are about: taxes. Take away those taxes and the laws are simply unnecessary. That is the problem, not whether or not bad laws are enforced.
As far as compromise, read the Declaration of Independence. The issue is not compromise, it is that there has been a long string of abuses of liberty that is reaching the point that can no longer be withstood.

S. Logan said...

Migration is never a problem until you make it one. Americans, we love our social-ist programs. Public school, medicare, medicaid, social security, government grants and loans, unemployment, subsidized living, food stamps, WIC, etc. Heck, the government will even pay for people to have kids! The list is exhausting. More Americans receive government money than don't (you can read about this on my own blog).

I could go into a long explanation of law, but suffice it to say that I would argue the "nation of laws" that we say we are has little or nothing de jure to say about immigration beyond what the Constitution states (which is a mere blip of inconsequential significance).

I think "the issue is much more [simple] than that which I'm sure [Taylor and Stephanie] (T&S) already understands". There are many illegals that don't pay taxes, yes, but not nearly as many as most groups say. Since T&S already used the fallacy of experience, so will I. I've worked with many illegals before. I worked commercial roofing construction for nearly 3 years, and during that time I worked with dozens of illegals. Against popular opinion, they all had their taxes taken out of their paycheck -- just like everyone else. There are, to be honest, many illegals that come to the United States and take on cash jobs that pay $2 - $3 dollars an hour. So what? They're keeping the cost of your food down. Once you do the math you'll find that the money that is going to illegals in socialist programs is less than what Americans would pay in increased food prices should we create worker-job programs or just merely kicked them out! You grateful for the price of your Strawberries? Thank an illegal.

There is absolutely no conclusive and absolute data whatsoever concerning how many illegals are crossing the borders every day. Each guestimate varies depending on what agency you're looking at and their own political agenda. The government's own numbers, in fact, are much lower than the overwhelming majority of most corporate findings. Not saying the government is right, but just that we have no idea.

Romney is a neo-con loving, legally-force-a-man-into-responsibility-supporting, flip-flopping, God help us if he's ever elected, prestige seeking phony. Now that I'm done with my ad hominem, let's talk about his plan. There is absolutely no way to track down the illegals to know who-is-who without turning America into a Russian or German copycat: "Papers please". Illegals get valid American IDs as easily as any one else. Romney's plan -- while it has all the warm and fuzzies of a cuddly little bear -- is full of the sharp teeth of a Great White, and can only happen with REAL ID type measures. Unless you want to go to extreme measures to identify all American citizens with biometric scanners (retinal scanning and DNA signatures), mandatory birth certificates, multiple forms of ID, and location registering -- there is no amount of shutting government money off to illegal aliens that will really help the situation. In order for that idea to work, government would have to dramatically increase its size and reach into everyone's individual lives -- even more so than it already has. While the government's at it, they could also introduce bio-chips for proof of absolute identity too! No thank you.

Do I get mad when I have to press 1 for English? Yeah. Do I get upset when 10 Mexicans come walking into where I'm working and only the 5 year old knows any English, and then translates for the rest of the family? Yeah. Do I get mad at the illegals mooching off the system? I get mad at anyone mooching off the system. My good Christian feelings usually end when I encounter someone on welfare -- but that's just me. Get a job and live within your means. If you're struggling and doing everything you can, then God bless you; I'll be there to help you in any possible way -- but don't participate in legalized plunder. Interesting enough, not even the people "paying into the system" are actually getting anywhere either! The system is a black-hole where money goes to disappear! The reality is that the entire system is one black-hole of debt, and in order to get any money from the government you have to instantaneously rob your other tax-paying neighbor's property to get it! I honestly couldn't care less if it's a Mexican, my gay-neighbor, or the slothful waste-bucket who can't/won't get a job -- anyone taking out of the system is a drain to society. If we're going to kick the all the illegals out (or do the "humane thing" and let them stay on guest worker permits), let's first start with kicking everyone out on government assistance, and then let's see how much more prosperous our system becomes. There is about as much success in that happening as in Romney's "let's just shut off government money to illegals" idea coming to fruition without seriously infringing on the rest of the American populace.

Let's return to freedom and start shutting down government programs. We can keep the illegals for our cheap food; after all, we're making money in the decreased price of our commodities at home. We don't have to force or compel anyone to be accountable (like what Romney's voting record proves is his way of handling things), but things will naturally take their course over time. Just like T&S said, it took time for us to get here, but let's not "compromise" ourselves into a larger more ignorant mess.

Taylor & Stephanie Cane said...

of course of course Romney is a crazy "secret" neo-con who actually wants to create a one-world government but doesn't even know it. I'm sure he's in on "it" and when I say "it" I mean the hundreds and hundreds of conspiracy theories out there several of which simultaneously contradict each other.

I don't agree with Romney on everything as I'm sure you (Logan) don't agree with Ron Paul on everything. But he is an amazing leader in the private sector (business). He effectively cut government agencies in Mass. more than any other governor in any other state the past 20 years, he is a free market capitalist. Anyway enough about my favorite neo-con.

I (nor Romney) advocate kicking out the "illegals." Anyone with half a brain could easily see why from an economic standpoint,it's totally unrealistic as they are already an integral part of our economy (and society for that matter).

With regards to the numbers of people crossing the boarder, which number is right is kinda irrelevant because they are all high numbers anyway. Which does put a strain on the system. And I agree anyone on welfare is a strain on the system. Let's start with Americans, lets start with Mexicans... what's the difference? You might as well start removing it from people who didn't bother crossing into America the "legal" way. p.s. sorry if that was politically incorrect.

But the whole discussion is an interesting one. I appreciate Logan's comments.

S. Logan said...

The only thing I've ever disagree with Paul on in his view of getting rid of birth citizenship for "anchor babies". Natural born citizenship should have no regulation. Otherwise, it's been extremely refreshing to actually have someone to vote for who has stayed consistently conservative and hasn't changed with the political wind.

Another thing this string might consider is the fact that the actual natural fertility rate for the US is below replacement level. The only reason why the United States is still showing positive growth in the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) above 2.14% is because of the heavy influx of immigrants (mostly illegal). The 2000 immigration report issued by the UN stated that immigration will be the primary tool used to stem the drop in fertility. Is it any wonder why our government is not even taking the steps to build a facade of effectiveness? What is more frightening to the American people: We're going to be lax on illegal immigration... or, if we don't let them come in illegally and have kids, then our workforce is going to dry up, because we're already experiencing a slow-growth fertility rate that will result in the greying of this country and put the masses in severe debt-servitude to the hundreds of millions of senior citizens who have developed an entitlement mentality? I dunno, at least for me, the illegal immigration seems like a fine red herring.

Migration brings a slew of demographic problems. Latino cultures are still producing a high TFR above 2.14%, and their cultures are affecting the United States in the places and communities they congregate. This is a double edged sword in that the children are being taught to learn how to get money from the government, but also in that a strong portion of these 2nd generation latino children are growing up to be good taxpaying citizens. This is certainly better for the United States than for many parts of Europe that are experiencing heavy immigration from cultures that do not have the culture of big families.

Either way, I agree with ya Ben. I don't really care at this point. Although I have been outraged by the drain that illegal immigrants are to our economy (as well as many of the legal immigrants who are simply riding off our socialist programs that support new immigrants), I've moved on to more poignant matters. Yes, I know the jails are crowded with illegals; yes, I hate pressing 1 for English; yes, I hate having to talk to adults through the poor translation of their 5 year old kid; that our hospitals are spending billions on non-paying illegals (and thus are hiking prices up for the rest of us); and that they are siphoning off taxpayer dollars through socialist programs. But until we build a fence and shoot-to-kill every man, women, and child that seeks to get into our country illegally, we'll just have to settle for getting rid of our socialist programs. Good luck that happening. We're between a rock and a hard place; we don't want to kill the drain on our economy, but we don't want to get rid of our socialist programs that are destroying us anyway. It's as though we're drinking our own tonic of arsenic, and are upset because the illegals want a taste... Is there really a good answer to this problem? The best one I can see is just to get rid of the arsenic and get to work.

Furthermore, even "non-taxpaying illegals" are still spending money. Very few Latinos actually save (although the one's that do are penny-pinchers galore). These illegals like to spend their money, that's just their culture until they learn better (which is unlikely to happen soon). Even if they go to a hospital and the government pays the tab, the doctor still gets the money and then spends the money himself, right? ..laughs.. Isn't that exactly what the current Admin is promoting? Gotta love the socialist answer to the socialist mess.

BEN said...

Well I think on the main points we have found some common ground. Maybe one day I will post something on Romney and we can discuss him exclusively.
There is one thing I wanted to mention about this whole Romney thing though. Given that he is a successful businessman, shouldn't that be where he stays? If he wants to do the most good, he should use his talents where they belong. Good businessmen aren't anymore beneficial as politicians than good painters or singers or actors (Reagan). The point is not how well they did in the private sector. When you put a businessman in the public sector, you have removed the incentive of profit. He is no longer dealing with his own money, so there is not the same incentive to invest and manage wisely. There shouldn't be and can't be. If this were true--that good businessmen make good politicians because they can manage well--then socialism would work because we could just make all the best businessmen our leaders and they would lead us to prosperity.
It just doesn't work that way. I don't care what talents a man has; if he is not honest, wise, and freedom loving in the tradition of the founding fathers and the Constitution, he is not fit to be a leader. Besides, given that Romney is LDS, I hold him to a much higher standard than anyone else. He should truly understand the principles of freedom. I think he may get a couple, but in my opinion, he sorely lacks in some important areas.

Taylor & Stephanie Cane said...

you can do a Romney article if you want, I'd rather talk about more interesting stuff like the war on drugs. That would be fun. That's one thing in particular that I totally disagree with Dr. Paul about.

p.s. if Dr. Paul is such a good doctor maybe he should just continue delivering babies muhahaha.
I'm kidding, I actually wish there were more Ron Pauls in government.