Free Markets, Free People
One of the most useful things I’ve learned about communication is the importance of stating things plainly and concretely.* But thinking about that lesson frequently makes politics maddening.
Euphemisms are the health of politics. If a government really wants to get away with murder, even secrecy can be less useful than making that particular murder sound unremarkable, justifiable, sensible, or even dutiful.
This week, Bruce Michael, and Dale record talk about China, illegal immigration, and Egypt.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
Perhaps I’m missing something here but hasn’t the main argument of this administration about the various immigration laws passed by states been that immigration is the solely the job of the Federal Government?
Isn’t it true that they’ve challenged various state level immigration laws on those very grounds?
Nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants could live and work openly in California with little or no fear of deportation under an initiative unveiled Friday by a state legislator and others. Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, a Democrat, is helping spearhead the measure, called the California Opportunity and Prosperity Act.
The proposal was filed Friday with the state Attorney General’s Office, marking a first step toward a drive to collect the 504,760 voter signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. Fuentes called the measure a "moderate, common-sense approach" necessitated by the federal government’s inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
"I hope this shows Washington, D.C., that if they fail to act, California will take the lead on this critical issue," Fuentes said in a written statement.
I’m sure Eric Holder’s DoJ will be asking, fairly quickly, by what right California assumes the right to do such a thing. You know, in other states, they were at least trying to enforce existing federal law when they were challenged. Here’s a guy trying to circumvent it. I would assume that would give the chief law enforcement officer, who has been so quick to jump on those states trying to enforce existing federal laws, to be on this guy like white on rice.
Regardless whether Californians would support such a measure, implementation would depend upon the federal government agreeing not to prosecute participants.
Well, lets see … didn’t California legalize medical marijuana and didn’t the feds say it didn’t matter because it was against federal law to engage in such activity? And didn’t they continue to prosecute marijuana cases and raid supposed “legal” providers?
So what about circumventing federal law in this case?
Oh, and of course, nothing could go wrong with this could it? A “million” illegals get amnesty. California becomes a magnet for illegals. Pay taxes? Why? They’re illegal and there’s no penalty for that. Why fess up and pay taxes? California has already said it’s not going to deport them. That doesn’t mean they’re then going to pay taxes for heaven sake.
Another brilliant idea brought to you by a … Democrat.
According to the NYT, Obama’s MTV appearance wasn’t as “light” as those who proposed it hoped it would be and essentially he was on the defensive for most of it.
I didn’t watch, so I can’t say, however if true, it simply validates the overall feeling of frustration and dissatisfaction with the present state of affairs. He was hit with a question of unemployment and DADT. Probably the most interesting, at least to me, was this:
A graduate student, citing Arizona’s immigration law and the opposition to an Islamic center in New York, said race relations in the country seem to have deteriorated since the idealism inspired by Mr. Obama’s election, and he asked, “What happened?” Mr. Obama said racial progress has been fitful throughout history, and “oftentimes misunderstandings and antagonism surfaces most strongly when economic times are tough.”
What has “race” to do with either Arizona’s immigration law or the Ground Zero Mosque? Seriously – if those coming across our border and wanting to build a mosque next to where Islamic extremists killed 3,000 Americans were lily white, would it change the argument?
If they were white Muslims would everyone say, “oh, well, never mind – build your mosque where ever you want”?
If those coming into our country illegally were blond haired and blue eyed, would the prevailing consensus be, “hey, that’s fine, no problem”?
No. It wouldn’t. This is more of the left’s attempt to create the narrative that any opposition to radical Islam or illegal immigration is based in race hatred. Would I guess that’s probably the case for a small minority? Sure. But is it the case for the vast majority?
Consider the questions I’ve asked and whether or not you’re concerned because the majority of those coming across our border are Mexican or because they’re doing so illegally. Or whether your opposition to the GZM is based in race hatred or the inappropriateness of the attempt to build such a structure representing the religion of the zealot killers next to the site of those they killed?
Certainly there is still some work to do in the area of race relations – but it is not at all helpful to try to invent it where it really doesn’t exist. Of course you can’t call your opponents “Nazis”, “brown shirts” or “racists” if you don’t do the groundwork first, can you?
It may soon no longer be cool among Democratic legislators to call those that show up here illegally “undocumented workers”. Polls tell them to say “illegal immigrants”. Because that’s what the vast majority of Americans call them.
And drop the “earned path to citizenship” stuff too. It should be “unacceptable” that 12 million illegals are living here. Government should “require” them to “get right with the law”. That means “Obey our laws, learn our language and pay our taxes” or they’re out of here.
Those are the recommendations of some Democratic operatives that have been studying the issue since the 2007 defeat of comprehensive immigration reform. They’ve done extensive polling and what that has told them is, well, Republicans have the lead on this one.
Here’s the new Democratic pitch:
“This time around, the message starts with a pledge to secure the borders and crack down on employers. It then moves to this: “It is unacceptable to have 12 million people in our country who are outside the system. We must require illegal immigrants to register for legal status, pay their taxes, learn English and pass criminal background checks to remain in the country and work toward citizenship. Those who have a criminal record or refuse to register should be deported.”
Of course the devil is not only in the details but in the implementation. We’ve heard all the happy talk about securing the border before. And yet it remains terribly porous.
I can’t wait to hear these yahoos try to spin this as the plan all along. I can’t wait to hear the reaction of tha part of the Latin community that looked to the Democrats to ease their path. And, of course, I can’t wait to here Mexico’s reaction.
The Massachusetts Senate delivered another message yesterday about illegal immigration and demonstrates, again, why I think it is the Democrats who are in hot water on this issue, not the GOP:
The measure, which passed on a 28-10 vote as an amendment to the budget, would bar the state from doing business with any company found to break federal laws barring illegal immigrant hiring. It would also toughen penalties for creating or using fake identification documents, and explicitly deny in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants.
The amendment would also require the state’s public health insurance program to verify residency through the Department of Homeland Security, and would require the state to give legal residents priority for subsidized housing.
Why, you wonder, would deeply blue MA pass anything like that? Why would Democrats there go along? Here’s why:
Democrats had resisted such a sweeping proposal, but spent last evening negotiating today’s measure, shortly after a new polled showed 84 percent of the liberal-leaning state’s voters supported tough immigration rules barring state services to illegal immigrants.
Taxpayers are dead freakin’ tired of paying for services for people who have entered the country illegally. They’re dead freakin’ tired of watch the laws of the land being ignored. And they’re especially dead freakin’ tired of those doing the ignoring.
You’re going to see more and more states do this until they force the Federal government and the Obama administration into doing its job.
Anyone who reads this blog for more than a day or so is probably familiar with the fact that I’m not a big fan of hypocrisy. Especially when it presents itself as self-righteously as it did yesterday in the words of Mexican President Calderon. Specifically, this paragraph:
In Mexico, we are and will continue being respectful of the internal policies of the United States and its legitimate right to establish in accordance to its Constitution whatever laws it approves. But we will retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals. And we oppose firmly the S.B. 1070 Arizona law given in fair principles that are partial and discriminatory.
Take sentence one – a country that allows the wholesale illegal immigration of a large part of its citizenship into the United States is respectful of nothing concerning the internal policies of the US or it’s “legitimate right” to establish its laws.
Second sentence: pure bovine feces. It’s a strawman – no law that I know of, either federal or state “criminalizes migration”. It make it a crime to try to immigrate ILLEGALLY. I.e. not go through the proper procedures as outlined in those law Calderon claims to so highly “respect”.
Last sentence – SB 1070 does not introduce “partiality’ or “discrimination”. It enforces federal laws already on the record (for instance, federal law requires all legal immigrants to carry their immigration identification paperwork with them at all times).
The real hypocrisy, however, comes from Mexico’s own immigration laws. If Arizona’s SB 1070 is “draconian” come up with a good description of these:
• Mexico welcomes only foreigners who will be useful to Mexican society:
- Foreigners are admitted into Mexico “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” (Article 32)
- Immigration officials must “ensure” that “immigrants will be useful elements for the country and that they have the necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents. (Article 34)
- Foreigners may be barred from the country if their presence upsets “the equilibrium of the national demographics,” when foreigners are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” when they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, when they have broken Mexican laws, and when “they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy.” (Article 37)
- The Secretary of Governance may “suspend or prohibit the admission of foreigners when he determines it to be in the national interest.” (Article 38)
• Mexican authorities must keep track of every single person in the country:
- Federal, local and municipal police must cooperate with federal immigration authorities upon request, i.e., to assist in the arrests of illegal immigrants. (Article 73)
- A National Population Registry keeps track of “every single individual who comprises the population of the country,” and verifies each individual’s identity. (Articles 85 and 86)
- A national Catalog of Foreigners tracks foreign tourists and immigrants (Article 87), and assigns each individual with a unique tracking number (Article 91).
• Foreigners with fake papers, or who enter the country under false pretenses, may be imprisoned:
- Foreigners with fake immigration papers may be fined or imprisoned. (Article 116)
- Foreigners who sign government documents “with a signature that is false or different from that which he normally uses” are subject to fine and imprisonment. (Article 116)
• Foreigners who fail to obey the rules will be fined, deported, and/or imprisoned as felons:
- Foreigners who fail to obey a deportation order are to be punished. (Article 117)
- Foreigners who are deported from Mexico and attempt to re-enter the country without authorization can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. (Article 118)
- Foreigners who violate the terms of their visa may be sentenced to up to six years in prison (Articles 119, 120 and 121). Foreigners who misrepresent the terms of their visa while in Mexico — such as working with out a permit — can also be imprisoned.
• Under Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony. The General Law on Population says,
- “A penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand pesos will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally.” (Article 123)
- Foreigners with legal immigration problems may be deported from Mexico instead of being imprisoned. (Article 125)
- Foreigners who “attempt against national sovereignty or security” will be deported. (Article 126)
There are scads more you can read through that make what Calderon is squealing about seem like child’s play.
Calderon and Mexico are part of the problem, not part of the solution. And feting this crew who come here and mischaracterized immigration in general and what is going on in Arizona while doing nothing to stop the problem is simply nonsense. Until they begin to be part of the solution, they don’t deserve the time of day, much less a state dinner. Until they step up to stem the tide of ILLEGALS we owe them nothing. And the irony of having a immigration code of their own that is much more draconian than anything we have shouldn’t be lost in this either. They don’t put up with what they demand we put up with and we ought to call them on that.
But we won’t. Instead this administration will call out Arizona which has only attempted to enforce the laws the federal government refuses to do all the while Obama smiles and fetes the source of the problem and refuses to demand Mexico do anything on its end.
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, Bryan, and Dale discuss the controversial Arizona immigration law, and the squeeze public employee unions are putting on state budgets. The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
Let’s run through the main problems associated with illegal immigrants: state welfare costs, crime (or is it?), lack of assimilation (particularly if they’re allowed to vote), and suppressing wages for poor natives.
I think we can mitigate a lot of these problems with solutions far more realistic (in the short-to-medium term) than mass deportation, amnesty or ridding ourselves of the welfare state.
First, let’s recognize that the security threat becomes more complicated when you place wishful restrictions on immigration. When there’s a flood of mostly non-threatening people crossing the border outside of any official process, it’s a lot harder to pick out the few really malicious ones. And it’s really hard/expensive to stop that flood along such a long border.
We should be striving to funnel as many of them through official processes as possible, so we know who’s here, we know their backgrounds and we can separate the villains from those who just want to observe a basic civic peace and take advantage of opportunities in a freer country. That means offering carrots and sticks to both prospective immigrants as well as those who are already here, and I’ll get to those incentives below.
Second, minimize how much the welfare state serves and controls non-citizens.
- Uncompensated care makes up only 2.2% of medical costs in this country, and a good chunk of that doesn’t come from illegals, so the fact that many illegals wait until they need to use the emergency room, while irritating to some, isn’t a political hill to die on. As long as it’s mostly limited to taking care of communicable diseases and real emergencies, which can be enacted into law, it’s tolerable.
- Education is a much bigger problem. I recall reading that there are 1.6 million illegal immigrants under age 18 in the States, and being from Southern California, where the largest budget item by far is education, I know that they (and natural born citizens born to noncitizens) represent a big cost. Here we can do a bit of political jiu-jitsu: target guest worker families with a school voucher program.
- They’re already in public schools, so it’s a win if they instead form the basis for a larger private school market. The larger the market, the more the market can work its magic.
- It can come with strings attached, like a requirement that any school accepting vouchers be able to show an improvement in English language skills at least as good as nearby public schools.
- It’s not like Democrats have a good argument against it: it’s nearly the opposite of cream-skimming. And when guests get this, naturally other groups are going to want it too.
- Transfer payments (Social Security, unemployment, welfare, etc.), obviously, should be off the table for non-citizens. I have no problem with people who want to take risks in a freer market; a host country owes them nothing more than securing their rights.
The idea here is to weed out those who aren’t seeking opportunity so much as handouts. Those seeking opportunity are naturally more eager to assimilate.
Third, take the prospect of adding tons of dependent immigrants to the voter rolls off the table. Instead, we can get most of what we want by creating a liberal guest worker program that virtually all prospective immigrants and current illegal residents can join simply by identifying themselves to authorities, as long as it’s clear that they’re going to generally be paying their own way, so that people with a dependent mindset are weeded out by attrition.
So what are the carrots and sticks here? Without doing anything that would turn stomachs (and thus make reform politically impossible), we can get rid of the bad apples while not incurring the large costs associated with trying to throw 12 million people out of the country.
- A program allowing people to easily enter the country without being harassed should increase suspicion of anyone who’s still trying to immigrate the hard way — and that would increase public support for border security.
- Deport illegals who fail to register under the guest program and then commit serious crimes — violent crimes or big property crimes like auto theft. Those who commit petty crimes and can’t prove their status can either apply for guest status and take their punishment here or accept deportation.
- No sweeps or “asking for papers” for those who are just here peacefully. Only those charged with another crime can be asked to prove their status within a reasonable time frame.
- Come to an agreement to build cheaper-run prisons in Mexico to hold illegals during their sentences — no sense in keeping them in expensive American prisons if we’re planning on deporting them anyway.
- Illegals can’t access the school voucher program, but guest worker families can.
- Perhaps also allow vouchers for English-language and Civics education for adults.
I’m open to any other ideas, but that seems like a good foundation, accepting (in the neolibertarian fashion) that the welfare state won’t disappear tomorrow, but offering a positive agenda that tends to increase liberty.