Thursday, May 13, 2010

Run For the Border

After spending a week in a vinegar bath (see below) I am ready to attack an issue of relevance to millions of U.S. citizens, as well as our brethren to the south. I am, of course, not alluding to the terrible state of Mexican-American cuisine brought about by Taco Bell, but rather the immigration debate, which has come to a head after the draconian law (IMHO) passed in Arizona recently.
Arizonans, feeling the pain of the recent recession and fearing the loss of jobs to cheaper labor coming from south of the border, have decided to subject their residents to carrying their documents with them wherever they go or face the consequences of deportation if they are found to not be citizens.
The fear is that the law (click here to read the legislation) will lead police to pull over anyone they want and check for documents based on a mere suspicion of being illegal - causing many to believe there will racially profile - anyone of brown skin, legal or illegal, Latino or simply Latino-looking will be persecuted as a result.
Obviously, this law is an over-reaction - and although it will probably achieve the desired effect of ridding the state of illegals, it goes about things in the wrong way, likely hurting thousands of innocent Arizonans and the state economy to boot. Many people believe our constitutional liberties may even be at stake if such legislation is allowed to take effect. Superman is mega-pissed, stating that "this law has nothing to do with truth, justice, or the American way."
Opposition to the law isn't confined to usual hippie suspects like the ACLU. Even typically conservative organizations like the baseball and basketball players' associations have come out against the law. A movement to move the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game out of Phoenix has been gaining traction. Prominent conservative and Arizona Senator John McCain's daughter Megan called the law, "a license to discriminate."
Rarely do I claim to have the answers for such complicated issues, but to me the immigration question comes down to a simple matter of economics. We have a supply of jobs here and the countries to our south have a demand for jobs and a huge supply of labor. My grandfather came to this country legally shortly after WWII looking for a job because there weren't any available in Scotland at the time. He had three children and a wife who needed to be fed and looked after - he had a responsibility and he took care of it. I imagine if he had needed to enter the USA or another country illegally to take care of his family he would have done so. I understand the mentality of the people coming here and doing what they feel they have to do to look after their loved ones.
On the other hand, as great as our economy is, there are only so many jobs available, the whole world can't move in next door quite yet. The American government has a responsibility to look after its own citizens and protect their jobs. So far they have done so by trying to close the border with fences, wires, sensors, and manpower.
A similar game plan in our "War on Drugs" has led to profound failure. They can cut the supply of labor/drugs in this way, but as long as there are jobs available, people looking to support their family will try to find a way of reaching those jobs. Money not spent on electric fences, policing, etc. could be used for job creation as well or to cut our massive deficit, whatever your personal political priority may be.
Shakespearian Aside: The drug war effort is even more insane from an economic standpoint - the more drugs you cut off, the more cost to the consumer is driven up and the more lucrative the economic gains for those who get drugs through the defenses, making producers even more likely to continue with their illicit business.
The only sensible solution is to cut off the supply of jobs at the source, by fining companies such a significant amount for using illegal labor that they will think more than twice about doing so. The economic penalty must trump the economic gain of using cheap labor. Current fines of between $100 to $1000 dollars are so puny as to discourage very few employers. If job providers are threatened with fines that attack their livelihood they will change their policies. With no supply of jobs, their is no reason for the aliens to be here. Superman excepted of course - he is one illegal alien we can always use.


Diva said...

I agreed with you until this, "The only sensible solution is to cut off the supply of jobs at the source, by fining companies such a significant amount for using illegal labor that they will think more than twice about doing so. The economic penalty must trump the economic gain of using cheap labor."

By fining the company you interrupt the wheel of free-markets. It only shuts down businesses. You only cut them out of the market, thus enabling the corporate giants to survive: giants who stock their shelves from products produced in warehouses in China, who enslave children through taxes (as of today American Children are born with a $30,000 dept clock around their neck.. The same China, who produces toys which contain toxic levels of lead.. so I've heard.. Thus, furthering the destruction of American jobs by destroying companies that thrive off American soil. The regulation and taxing you speak of, seems to me to be the certain death of American companies. The Mexicans may be in the fields and construction sites, but they're competing in a crooked market. They get jobs that don't pay well and work their asses off (but meanwhile collect welfare and food stamps provided by out-of-work Americans). They produce a service that is needed in our twisted, over regulated, barely viable free market. When you look at immigration deep enough it leads you to an overeaching govt that's can't tax and spend any more, who's only solution is "fences, wires, sensors, and manpower."

What I feel are the two necessary steps are:
1) as you say, drug regulation never worked, it's a mess and the major reason why Mexicans are fleeing into Arizona. It's a war zone down in their country because of prohibition of marajawana in the US. We caused it by over regulating drugs and we need to under regulate. It's time the for American citizens to help these people by first fighting for the end to prohibition in this country but in-turn, the end to the war in their country. The American people need to step up and right this wrong, to send them back is to send them to their death, we must give of ourselves as individuals to make sure they can go back to their homes. Why isn't the news talking about the riots and killings and murders going on down there? Why wouldn't they want the American people to know about the Mexican Drug Cartel that has taken over the Mexican govt and the govt's too corrupt and too broke to stop it? Would it be because the same people who are suppressing Mexican families, is suppressing American families.. I'm just saying..
This leads inevitably to my next belief..
2) The federal government has been entitling illegals in this country for too long and it's broke the bank. The American dollar is in a chaotic state right now. The only way to stop it is two swallow some harsh medicine and cut back spending. Not only on the Drug War but all spending.I've been through a bankruptcy before, it's bad but it's not undo-able. If I were to have ignored it and kept spending money I didn't have, I surely would have been thrown in jail.. But yet our govt continues to spend what isn't there.
Unfortunately, cutting back means many will suffer, but we are Americans and we have a long history of fighting back intrusive government and taking care of our own. Lets bring our American Soldiers home and stop forcing a failing system around the world.. Don't get me started on Afghanistan and our "very successful war in Iraq" which by the way has only successfully succeeded in causing pain and anguish to Muslims around the world. No wonder the radical diehard Muslim few hate us.. How 'bout we mind our own business for a while? Get our spending out of control (much like us little people have had to do).
Lets get back to center-right. If we don't, the whole world may collapse and many will suffer horrendously if it does.. and it will be our fault.. and this will be the legacy of our generation.

Alastair McCandless said...

I'll keep myself short since I agree with much of what you said Diva. I never suggested regulation, unless you consider fines a form of regulation (if so then okay) and I said zero about taxes. I don't care to hurt businesses, especially small ones. The large fines are meant as a deterrence to companies wanting to hire aliens. They don't really need to actually be imposed very often if they are high enough - people will know its just not worth it to hire undocumented folks.
While we are solving all of the country's problems at once,give small businesses the tax breaks and subsidies that large businesses have been receiving. Even that playing field and give us true capitalism rather than the current farce.

Unknown said...

First off - have you read the legislation or are you passing judgement from what you've heard spewing from the mouths of the liberal media. If you haven't read the law you are in good company. Seems Attorney General Eric Holder and Janet Napalitano have decided to parrot the same talking points without actually reading the legislation.
I agree with some of your points. I disagree with soe as well. If the state of Arizona decided to pass a law that would enforce the already existing law the makes crystal meth illegal would you stand up for the rights of skinny people with bad teeth and think that they're being profiled.

You say "they have decided to subject there residents to carrying their documents with them wherever they go or face the consequences of deportation if they are found to not be citizens." If you or I were to be pulled over for a traffic violation what would we be asked to produce? Drivers license? Registration? Proof of insurance? These are what the pundits and far left have labeled "Papers". Nothing different than any other state in the union.
The new law does not say "The police can pull over anyone they want and check for documents based on a mere suspicion of being illegal". It says that after normal and legal contact with the police that if there is suspicion that they can check on the persons citizenship.
Quick fix: Take away the economic incentives given by our Gov't. Welfare, tuition, food stamps, medical.
In closing (you are going to hate this but sometimes the truth hurts) the first and foremost reason that the left fights for the ILLEGAL immigrants is that they are a huge slice of their voting base. The left can't win elections without them.
I could go on about how these people are enslaved by the people who pretend to care about them. Republicans and Democrats alike allow them to keep coming because it is an endless supply of cheap labor for their corporate buddies,

Alastair McCandless said...

1. I always read it before I talk about it bud. I put a link on the story so now everyone can!
2. As far as your comments on the quoted portion I was merely trying to convey the way the law is being viewed, which is relevant to whether it is a good law or not. I tried to correct the language of that paragraph to make that clearer.
3. Not all skinny people with bad teeth do meth so I would support that law. Obviously law enforcement should use common sense - elderly people shouldn't be subjected to strip searches at the airport, for example. The point is that the 24 million Mexican tourists this year + Latino or Latino-looking tourists are going to be put off by the way this has being treated in the press regardless of whether the media is portraying the law justly. The economic repercussions of going about immigration reform this way will be much more than the gains. Arizona is throwing out the baby with the bath-water. (And don't confuse me with idealists when you read my stuff I strive to be a realist -although the law stinks morally and perhaps constitutionally -the courts will decide that- on the surface that is not my objection to it).
4. I think the Liberals can win elections without illegals. There voting block is mainly in the Northeast and Midwest, hardly bastions of Latino populations. If so they would sure be kicking ass in Texas. Reality? Not so much. I doubt many illegals vote at all since not having citizenship they are unlikely to have registration cards. I suppose you are suggesting there is massive voter fraud. That was smart of the Dems to get them to register 15 years ago illegally, when most Latinos were voting Republican. The must be able to predict the future. On the other hand, now legal Latinos will be voting Dem down the line without a doubt, so there certainly is a percentage in it, but that is I believe how Democracy works, you try to please people so they vote for you.
5. As far as your closing statement I guess you were just making an observation as I never said that illegals should be allowed to stay - in fact I mentioned the only way in which they will leave and I will stick by my guns.

Cheers, Alastair

mike said...

Voter fraud? Yes. The far left faught hard for Motor Voter and said it was discriminatory to require ID at the polls. Union thugs round these people up by the van load and take them to polling places to vote several times.
AZ would not have had to pass the law if the Federal Gov't were doing their job. One can only conclude that things are the way they are because this is how the stinking bastards in washington (Right and Left) want things to be.
It's almost like they want to get us so divided and so angry that we'll revolt. Then what? Declare marshall law, disarm the people, cancel any upcoming elections....
Anyway the law is no different than the federal law so why the big hoo ha?
One night I was driving a dishwasher home from a restaurant where i worked. He lived in a nasty part of town and it was late. After dropping him off at his house I was pulled over by the police. The officer asked for my license and registration (my papers) and proceeded to tell me "The only thing a white boy is doing in the hood at 2:30 am is looking for p*ssy or dope.' I was profiled. But you know what? He was right. 99% of the time that is what a white boy is doing in the hood at 2:30am. Profiles, stereotypes all exist for a reason. Usually because they are true. To say that Canadians are bad tippers - sterotype? Sure. True? Yes. Why do we have to be so politically correct that we give away everything? Do you really want to live in a place where you are chastised for the truth?

Diva said...

RE: Northeast and Midwest, hardly bastions of Latino populations..
Honestly, I lived in Cleveland, OH.. Manchester, NH.. Boston, MA.. NY, NY.. and Chicago, IL and I will tell you there are MANY, MANY latinos in these areas, and outskirts of these cities have heavy populations not unlike Greenville's west side area, and Latino sanctuary city, known as Berea.

R. Mera Velásquez said...

I'll be short on this:
1.) I'm an immigrant that recently became American. Been here since 1990 and legally thanks to a job for my father.
2.) I was out of status for about a year into grad school when UNCA and NCSU messed up my papers.
3.) I was just in Arizona last week. Tucson is ghetto-as-hell and I was more afraid of scary people than the po-po. Oh, I still don't have my passport so this worried me a bit.
4.) Never been fond of illegal immigrants. It made my life hell in junior high.
5.) Violence due to some drugs crossing over is ridiculous. These drugs will be legal sooner or later.
6.) Have we not seen the movies or read history books? These things never end nicely.

Alastair McCandless said...

At least this topic isn't controversial.

Alastair McCandless said...

But seriously -

1. I didn't say there are no Latinos in Cleveland or the Northeast. Considering you came nowhere near attacking my main point there I will assume you have conceded that one, but I would love to argue it further if you choose.
2. I imagine if you looked at the news over the last few election cycles you would see both sides accusing each other of election fraud, rightly or wrongly. Just a matter of perception and the tint of one's political glasses may cause one to believe a side to be more corrupt than the other. The belief in liberal circles is that Bush's people stole the 2000 election by supressing African American and Jewish voters in Florida. We could probably play tennis with that issue for a while if you would care for some pointless verbal exercise.
3. I would hope the police doesn't racially profile me either. I would hate for them to catch me buying my month's crack supply that way. A man has needs.
4. True Mike it is all a distraction to keep us from focusing on the fact that we wouldn't even have much of a jobs problem if the free trade crowd hadn't sent our industry to China and other countries over the past twenty years. Perot may have been right, who knew? No jobs problem and no need to scapegoat the illegals who have been here in numbers for quite some time as Congress has failed to successfully deal with the issue.
Cheers, Alastair

adam smith jr. said...

I agree with Alastair that the problem of illegals is best dealt with by fining the employers substantially for violations. This is a problem of supply and (effective)demand, to borrow from Adam Smith. The demand for cheap labor will always exist, but if we can make it less attractive (heavy fines, maybe even a little time in the cooler)it will becomne less effective, because the price will be too high. As long as the jobs are available, the illegals will come, and the Arizona law will be like trying to sweep the sea back with a broom. Putting aside all the stated problems with the law, it will not work. The analogy with Chinese imports is valid. Consumers want cheap imports like employers want cheap labor. We also want cheap oil. It's human nature perhaps to want to save money, or maybe just a common desire. And that has its good sides. But the drive to increase profits or cut costs often has huge hidden costs. Someone commented that we can't fine employers heavily because they need cheap labor to survive. But if you send all the illegals home, how will the employers get that cheap labor? It rerminds me of the factory owners in the industrial revolution who said they could not survive without working little kids 70-80 hours a week.

Anonymous said...

I also have to agree on the fines point. I was watching a documentary recently that spotlighted a slaughterhouse in my beloved homeland the Tar Heel State.
The company relies on cheap labor from illegal immigrants because no one else would want to do endure such dangerous, dehumanizing work, fingers and hands being the precious commodities they are these days. However, in this scenario, the business had worked out a little wink/nod agreement with law enforcement. They will occasionally hand over some of their illegal immigrants in exchange for not having them do full scale raids or shutting the company down. Meanwhile the law looks the other way as they continue to cycle in more illegal immigrants to take the place of those "traded away" so they keep a steady incoming supply of cheap labor. Thus there's no discouragement here whatsoever. It's a vicious cycle. Seriously, where would our conveniently mass processed meats and chicken come from if there were not illegal immigrants to do the grueling grunt work?
And I'm certainly not condoning illegal immigrants being here, but again I agree that you can't lay the blame solely on them. It's a complex issue, as far from black and white as is possible, and no one I've talked to is anything less than passionate about it regardless of their viewpoint.
The fact of that matter is that most illegals who risk their lives coming here are so desperate and poor that the prospect of working in a slaughterhouse and living in a slum with 20 other people is appealing compared to the existence they fled. Until the root causes of their misery are addressed, they will keep coming here. You guys addressed a big one, drugs, but also many farmers lost their jobs because they couldn't compete after the passage of NAFTA. Many people live in abject squalor and they are just looking for a way to survive and feed their families. The US offers them the best chance of a better life right now, so they come here.
I would be in favor of reforming laws on legal immigration to make it easier for people to become a legal citizen and also expanding temporary work visas and other guest worker programs that would allow more people to come here legally.
And in response to comments about illegal immigrants being a drain on our government programs and contributing little to our economy: Remember that although they are "aliens" they still have human needs such as food, beverage and cheap plastic shit made in China. They go to Wal-Mart and pump money into retail just like any Joe Q Public. With an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants here at last count if I recall, that makes for a decent contribution. Anyway again I'm not condoning it, I'm just saying they do spend some money here. Anyway enough rambling, I'm hungry and it's time to go eat some processed meats.


Alastair McCandless said...

Some interesting points Colin, you also highlight nicely the fact that NAFTA hurt Mexico as well as the USA, we tend to focus on how the agreement has hurt US manufacturing, but NAFTA also removed Mexican tariffs on US agricultural products and their farmers had no chance to compete against our heavily government-subsidized corporate farming machine.