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Immigration: And we disagree for different reasons
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dale is concerned about the inability of the country to absorb and assimilate the flood of illegals entering the country. Jon feels they benefit the country economically.

Me? It's the security question. While I understand the economic argument that "open borders and free movement" are the ideal, in all my years, I've never lived in an ideal environment. There's always some fly in the ointment which precludes implementing the ideal. In terms of borders and security there are actually two flys: terrorists and readily available WMDs. That reality then tells me the old paradigm is no longer applicable.

Previously if a terrorist or two wandered across the border, they had the choice of more conventional weapons. Such attacks we could absorb and survive without major changes in border security. Witness the '93 bombing of the WTC. While horrendous, it pales in comparison with 9/11. And anyone who doesn't understand that 9/11 was a WMD attack isn't paying attention.

We've also become aware of various methods of attack involving WMDs which have become available to terrorists. The "dirty bomb" for instance. Anthrax. Various types chem and bio weapons (don't forget the sarin attack in the Japanese subway).

So the era of "open borders and free movement" in the US ended with 9/11 and a cult of terrorists who will do whatever is necessary to kill as many Americans - in America - as they can.

And terrorists aren't the only security threat to the US. Criminals who've made illegal entry into the US are a threat to the citizens as well. We estimate that there are 12 million illegals in the US. That's about 3% of the total population. But according to prison officials, illegal immigrants make up about 17% of the prison population. Not exactly proportional representation for "good, honest, hard working people".

In May of 2005, the GAO did a study at the behest of some members of Congress on illegal aliens who've been incarcerated:
In summary, for our study population of 55,322 illegal aliens, we found that:

* They were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien. Nearly all had more than 1 arrest. Thirty-eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests, 32 percent (about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests, and 26 percent (about 15,000) had 11 or more arrests. Most of the arrests occurred after
1990.

* They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses, averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien. One arrest incident may include multiple offenses, a fact that explains why there are nearly one and half times more offenses than arrests.[Footnote 6]

Almost all of these illegal aliens were arrested for more than 1 offense. Slightly more than half of the 55,322 illegal aliens had between 2 and 10 offenses.

About 45 percent of all offenses were drug or immigration offenses. About 15 percent were property-related offenses such as burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and property damage.

About 12 percent were for violent offenses such as murder, robbery, assault, and sex-related crimes. The balance was for such other offenses as traffic violations, including driving under the influence; fraud—including forgery and counterfeiting; weapons violations; and obstruction of justice.

* Eighty percent of all arrests occurred in three states—California, Texas, and Arizona. Specifically, about 58 percent of all arrests occurred in California, 14 percent in Texas, and 8 percent in Arizona.
And these are the ones we've caught.

So, it isn't as simple as:
While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to our economy, including lower consumer prices.
It is a much more complex issue.

Take an airplane for example. When we decide to fly we implicitly agree to all the rigors of the security checks by the screeners because we understand that there are unscrupulous people who will try to sneak on board and do us harm - to include killing themselves and everyone on board. We may not like the fact that it is time consuming and intrusive, but, we agree, given history, that it is necessary.

What we would never agree too is everyone ignoring people who didn't want to undergo this scrutiny sneaking into the pressurized cargo compartment, unscreened and unchecked, for a free ride. Of the 10 that do, 9 may be "good, honest, hard working people" who can't afford the price of a ticket, but when they get to Kansas City, will "benefit our economy". But the 10th guy may not be so good, honest or hard working. And he may be the guy who takes down the plane.

We are in a similar situation with border security. We, at present, have no way to sort the 10th guy from the pack coming across the border. So it is critical that we tighten border security considerably and stop the whole pack. While we may not always catch the 10th guy crossing the border, we can make it much more difficult for him to do so. Right now, it is, literally, a walk.

Border security as a matter of national defense is a legitimate Constitutional function of the US government. It has been woefully lax in this regard since 9/11. The fact that it has now finally awakened to that fact, is, frankly, amazing. However, here we are. It is imperative that we get better control of the borders, primarily for security reasons. And yes, it will have an effect on the ability of illegal aliens to cross easily as well, but you know what ... I don't care.

Security of its citizens is the federal government's most important job and if that means - given the recent history of terrorism and WMDs - that the old paradigm of "open borders and free movement" is changed forever, so be it.

Bottom line: I'm not willing to concede my right to be secure in person and property for the pseudo-right of others to come here without being scrutinized. If they want to come here, fine, get in line and go through the process. If they don't want to do that, then I have no interest in letting them in.
 
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...(don’t forget the saran attack in the Japanese subway).


Smothered by plastic wrap. That does sound like a horrible way to go.
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
Ack ... brain f*rt. Corrected, thanks.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
I wonder if the studies of contributions vs. costs of illegal aliens have taken incarceration costs of illegal aliens arrested for crimes committed in the United States into account. At $30,000 to $50,000 per prisoner it adds up fast.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
Jon put it this way in the immigration thread he started, and thereby stated what is also my position far better than I have:


I think we should (1) change the law and (2) not change it in a direction of further restrictionism that will create even more disastrous, counterproductive immigration problems. The best way to solve the economic, cultural and security problems is fewer barriers, rather than more. "We’ll let you in through these points" will allow immigrants to self-segregate and make it far easier for us to find the bad guys. ... I believe that, much like the war on drugs, extensive restrictionism makes the problems worse, rather than better. There are better ways to cope with security problems — policies that preserve liberty without attacking the million+ peaceful migrants in order to stop the potential single terrorist. That’s like using a MOAB to get rid of a mouse. It’s inefficient, expensive and not particularly conducive to liberty.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://
Jon put it this way in the immigration thread he started, and thereby stated what is also my position far better than I have:
I understand, Mona, and all I can say is I’m unpersuaded.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
In May of 2005, the GAO did a study at the behest of some members of Congress on illegal aliens who’ve been incarcerated:
What does this prove? That illegal immigrants who have been arrested have committed crimes? The statistics are not that remarkably different from the criminal statistics of the general imprisoned population — except that the illegal immigrants cited are far more likely to have committed immigration or drug crimes, whereas the general prison population is far more likely to have committed violent crimes. (you know, the kind to which we object)

Of course, a less restrictionist immigration policy would allow us to weed out the criminals far more easily than the current policy. On the other hand, a militarized border policy would almost certainly do more to reduce the influx of generally peaceful immigrants than the more undesirable immigrants.

Of course, then we’d demand to solve that. A little more government, a little more money and surely the problem would go away. Because the government record at "correcting" the free, beneficial pursuit of economic self-interest is just wonderful.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
What does this prove?
It proves that security threats to US citizens don’t only come from terrorists, Jon.
Of course, a less restrictionist immigration policy would allow us to weed out the criminals far more easily than the current policy.
I can’t imagine an ’immigration policy’ which allows 12 million illgals to cross at will being any less "restrictionist" than the one we presently have. How’s that working out in reference to your claim?

And do you suppose the criminals will line up to come in as we’d like them too because we allow more of their countrymen to do so? Or do you suppose they may still find an open border more inviting?
Of course, then we’d demand to solve that. A little more government, a little more money and surely the problem would go away. Because the government record at "correcting" the free, beneficial pursuit of economic self-interest is just wonderful.
There are already a significant portion of us demanding they solve that, because that is actually one foundational function of government. That’s one of the major reasons they exist. There are plenty of areas where the government has no business and we’re both well aware of them. Security isn’t one of them.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
It proves that security threats to US citizens don’t only come from terrorists, Jon.
Yes, poor people—including immigrants—often commit crimes. This argues for keeping out any immigrants — even the currently legal ones — since, after all, "security threats to US citizens don’t only come from" illegal aliens.

Like the war on drugs, I’d note, a lot of the crime is the result of government policy in the first place.
I can’t imagine an ’immigration policy’ which allows 12 million illgals to cross at will being any less "restrictionist" than the one we presently have. How’s that working out in reference to your claim?
I’m sorry, I’d assumed you’ve read the basic approach I’ve outlined. Apparently not. I suggest entry points, at which we could simply check their status for apparent problems and then allow them in.

No, this would not prevent the undesirables from attempting to cross the border. It would, however, effectively eliminate the illegal black market we have now. The security threat covers a tiny, tiny minority of the people coming into the US. Let the "desirables" come in through the designated entry areas and the "needle in a haystack" problem effectively disappears.
And do you suppose the criminals will line up to come in as we’d like them too because we allow more of their countrymen to do so? Or do you suppose they may still find an open border more inviting?
What would the benefit of illegal crossing be, if the legal route were open, inviting and legal? Do you think they pay coyotes, endure the desert or dig tunnels because they just get off on the adventure of it?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Yes, poor people—including immigrants—often commit crimes. This argues for keeping out any immigrants — even the currently legal ones — since, after all, "security threats to US citizens don’t only come from" illegal aliens.
That’s not correct, Jon. In the annual pool for legal immigration there are, IIRC, 20,000 visas for non-skilled workers. Total annual legal immigration is something like 700,000. Not all immigrants are poor (as is implied by your statement). The question is whether the incarceration rate is the same for, say, Chinese engineers who enter on legal work visas as it is for illegal migrants.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
No, not all immigrants are poor, but there is a higher crime rate among the poor. Since most Mexicans are relatively poor, should we simply keep all of them out? Should we establish a group crime-rate and refuse to accept any member of a sociological group that (collectively) has a crime rate above that level?

All this is to say that saying a "group" has a high crime rate is pretty much a non-sequitur — or at least non-responsive to the question at hand. Especially when said groups crime rate is so similar to the crime rate of US prisoners, except less violent. Remember, this was not a study of illegal immigrants in general, but of prisoners. What, exactly, does it prove? That illegal immigrant prisoners are similar to US prisoners?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
It would, however, effectively eliminate the illegal black market we have now.
How do you come to that conclusion? Are the guest workers going to be able to hired at the current illegal work rates? If not, why do you think the controlled entry points would have any effect at all?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
"I suggest entry points, at which we could simply check their status for apparent problems"

How do we check their status? Does the Mexican gov’t. have a reliable database that they would be able and willing to let us access?

" What would the benefit of illegal crossing be, if the legal route were open, inviting and legal?"

The same as the benefit from crossing illegally from Canada; if you don’t meet the restrictions, illegal is the only way, unless you believe their should be no restrictions.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Dale is concerned about the inability of the country to absorb and assimilate the flood of illegals entering the country. Jon feels they benefit the country economically.

Me? It’s the security question.
Well I’m a hybrid of you and Jon. Like you, I believe the security question is the most serious; 9/11 cost us something like a trillion dollars in damages, almost 10% of our annual GDP. It’s not likely that stemming part of the flow of illegal migrant workers will impose that kind of cost to the economy. That being said, however, I believe that you along with many conservatives grossly underestimate the economic disruption that would occur from increasing enforcement efforts while ignoring the underlying economic disequalibrium that is causing the disorder on our border.

What your position doesn’t allow for is the reality of the limits of government power. Every dollar per hour that low-skilled wages are forced up due to contraction in the supply of that labor will simply add additional incentive for Mexican migrants to find increasingly creative ways to defy our law. these methods will also likely get more desperate and dangerous, as well as change for the worse the composition of those willing to undertake illegal crossing.

This is why I believe that to gain the order required for the security we absolutely must have post 9/11, we MUST deal with the overpowering economic pressures that have wrecked our processes on the Mexican border. Like a dam with water gushing uncontrollably over the top, we MUST install checkvalves to regain control of the border. We cannot let ourselves be suckered into the engineers’ fallacy (with a big enough lever we can move the world) by thinking we can simply raise the height of the dam forever. We cannot.

And a process, once in control, can be leveraged to provide all sorts of opportunities that aren’t within the scope of our options when we aren’t in control. We can track legal migrants, screen them for TB, mitigate the corrosive social outcomes produced by so many foreign workers living on the lam amongst us, and control the flow by raising and lowering the cost of admission, much in the same way we can harness the controlled flow of water through a dam to produce hydroelectric power, an option that is clearly unthinkable when the dam is being overwhelmed.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Mexico is our neighbor, we grew up together. But, I am not going to fault anyone who wants to use troops to guard our borders.

Security can be handled with a work visa program that allows background checks. Is that too great an imposition on Mexican workers?

The ultimate solution is to ehance Mexican productivity. They suffer from brain drain, to the US naturally, lessening the return from increased education.

The state pension system is running cronic deficits and eating up a large portion of government revenue. The dependency ration of 5-1, now, was 20-1 when the program was initiated.

The oil and electricity sectors remain in public sector hands, as is the medical industry. Oil output is stable or declining and need capital ivestment.

Mexico and the US have income tax rates more or less aligned, meaning that Mexico, like the US, is suffering a tendency for business interests to shift expenses to government. As long as business sees government as cheap, providing foreign aid just engenders more cronyism.

The solution is for both Mexico and the US to raise the cost of government to reduce corporate reliance on government. Then Mexico can use the released resources for structural reform of the pension plan and shed itself of the electricity and oil business. Along with these reforms, the US can deliver much needed foreign aid for the educational sector.

Do this, along with increased border security and a work visa program in a grand bargain.

Ref:
http://worldpolicy.org/journal/articles/wpj03-2/stracke.html


 
Written By: Matt
URL: http://
Dale is concerned about the inability of the country to absorb and assimilate the flood of illegals entering the country. Jon feels they benefit the country economically.

Me? It’s the security question. While I understand the economic argument that "open borders and free movement" are the ideal, in all my years, I’ve never lived in an ideal environment. There’s always some fly in the ointment which precludes implementing the ideal. In terms of borders and security there are actually two flys: terrorists and readily available WMDs. That reality then tells me the old paradigm is no longer applicable.
You’re infested with flies.

McQ:
The most important point I’d make about a spanish language anthem is not that I think it is disrespectful (I’m talking of the close translation) but instead it goes to my concern about assimilation. It is another among many indicators that a significant portion of those demanding rights here have no intention of assimilating with the dominant culture.
;)
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
I remain unconvinced about the security issue when applied exclusively to Mexican immigration, and I don’t think pointing out that on some level 9/11 was WMD related helps in that regard. If we’re talking serious soup-to-nuts border control policies which include both northern and southern borders as well as port facilities and airports, I’m all ears. But the extensive, perhaps hysterical focus on the southern border reeks of nativism.

Note: I’m not trying to denigrate McQ’s very real and sensible security concerns, but I would like to see the measures proposed be in line with the harms being addressed.
 
Written By: Pooh
URL: http://sethyblog.blogspot.com
You’re infested with flies.
Ah, Pogue, as usual, your commentary is brilliant and biting ... or is that the flies.

Re: assimilation.

Yeah, it’s a concern, but not as big a concern to me as security. My point about the anthem is a Spanish language version simply doesn’t advance the cause of assimilation. But you knew that.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Yes, poor people—including immigrants—often commit crimes. This argues for keeping out any immigrants — even the currently legal ones — since, after all, "security threats to US citizens don’t only come from" illegal aliens.
No kidding Jon ... but the fact is we import the crime with some illegals. Why not cut that part of it out?
Like the war on drugs, I’d note, a lot of the crime is the result of government policy in the first place.
Uh huh and a whole hell of a lot of it isn’t. No illegal criminals, less crime.
I’m sorry, I’d assumed you’ve read the basic approach I’ve outlined. Apparently not. I suggest entry points, at which we could simply check their status for apparent problems and then allow them in.
Well I have to admit that I rejected the hand wave of "we’ll check their status" when I first read it.

They’re called criminals for a reason Jon. One of the reasons is they’re not going to show up somewhere where their status can be ’checked’ because they’re not going to risk getting caught and jailed.

And that leaves them what as an option? Oh, I know ... the unguarded border.
No, this would not prevent the undesirables from attempting to cross the border.
Not only would it not prevent it, it would absolutely guarantee it.
It would, however, effectively eliminate the illegal black market we have now. The security threat covers a tiny, tiny minority of the people coming into the US. Let the "desirables" come in through the designated entry areas and the "needle in a haystack" problem effectively disappears.
You know it remains absolutely unknown to me why you continually conflate "secure the border" with "no immigrants allowed". I have no problem with a process that speeds up the ability of those who want to work here to get a legal work permit. But that doesn’t solve our border security problem.

Here’s the difference in our positions, Jon. You believe, for whatever reason, that if you satisfy the desire of those that want to come into the country and work, you’ve essentially solved the border security problem, because you’ve disincentivized (or so you believe) illegal crossings.

As I’ve tried to point out, from a security standpoint that means zip. You’ve disincentivized nothing for criminals and terrorists. They aren’t going to line up at centers to pick up visas or work permits.

So now you have the same insecure borders as you started with and fewer illegal crossers. Big deal. That does not at all address the criminal or terrorist threat at all nor does it address the security requirements of the citizens of the country.
What would the benefit of illegal crossing be, if the legal route were open, inviting and legal?
To whom? I’m talking about criminals and terrorists, Jon. Who are you talking about?
Do you think they pay coyotes, endure the desert or dig tunnels because they just get off on the adventure of it?
Well unless you plan on letting criminals and terrorists in with the rest, as is happening now, uh, yeah, I think they would.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I remain unconvinced about the security issue when applied exclusively to Mexican immigration, and I don’t think pointing out that on some level 9/11 was WMD related helps in that regard. If we’re talking serious soup-to-nuts border control policies which include both northern and southern borders as well as port facilities and airports, I’m all ears. But the extensive, perhaps hysterical focus on the southern border reeks of nativism.
Pooh ... you have to start somewhere. If you’re in a boat and it has two holes, one big and one small, it makes sense to plug the big hole first then the small hole. I agree with you, we need to look in a lot of areas for security. But it seems our most vulnerable border at the moment is to the south (big hole). As I mentioned before, if it requires the same thing on the north, then we should do it. And ports need a much deeper look.

Let’s not get put off here by falling for the "racist" mantra being sold by opponents of border security. I don’t care if they’re from Ottowa Canada or Bristol England, if they’re illegal, I want them stopped from entering the country for security reasons. If they go through the proper procedures and security checks, I say "welcome to the US and have a nice life."
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
No kidding Jon ... but the fact is we import the crime with some illegals. Why not cut that part of it out?
We import crime with legal immigrants, as well. And we create criminals with children born to low-income parents. Criminals exist within every social group.
No illegal criminals, less crime.
No legal criminals, less crime. No blacks, less crime. No southerners, less crime. No urban dwellers, less crime. No young adults, less crime.
Well I have to admit that I rejected the hand wave of "we’ll check their status" when I first read it.
Why, because the policy that works with regards to putting people on airplanes is suddenly inadequate when it comes to walking across a border? Because we need to know something more than basic identity/background information? Exactly how restrictionist do you think we ought to be?
They’re called criminals for a reason Jon. One of the reasons is they’re not going to show up somewhere where their status can be ’checked’ because they’re not going to risk getting caught and jailed.
See, this is why I really don’t think you’ve made an attempt to understand what I’ve written. That’s exactly the point. You tell me what’s easier: finding a needle in a haystack, or finding a needle on an otherwise empty floor? If the flood of immigrants are only crossing at legal entry points, then there will be far less cover, human smuggling and subterfuge available for the problem foreigners.

Like the drug war, if there was no prohibition, we wouldn’t have violent street gangs, drug cartels and massive smuggling to the extent that we do today. It’s the intervention that creates the problem.
Here’s the difference in our positions, Jon. You believe, for whatever reason, that if you satisfy the desire of those that want to come into the country and work, you’ve essentially solved the border security problem, because you’ve disincentivized (or so you believe) illegal crossings.
I’ve said no such thing. I’ve simply said that (1) welcoming the peaceful people who want to come to the US at entry points makes it far easier to watch anything else, and (2) the notion that we can ever reasonably spend enough effort and money to prevent terrorists from entering our country is, frankly, foolish. Assume, arguendo, that we can seal up the Mexican border tight. Ok, fine. So, any interested terrorist would simply try the norther border — which is, of course, far longer, easier and accessible to interested parties, anyway. So that’s another 4000 miles you have to seal up. (and remember, ’fairly well’ isn’t good enough! You don’t want a nuclear bomb to go off, do you?!?!)

And if you do that? When do you start on the ~95,000 miles of coastline? Terrorists have been smuggled into the US on ships.

This is not like stopping an infestation of ants, where "something" is better than "nothing". This is akin to preventing a super-flu, which, by the way, is far more of a threat than terrorism. Terrorists could destroy a city; a super-flu could eradicate mankind.

It may happen, it may not — and if it does, we may already be capable of coping with it. Mounting a basic defense is one thing, but would you have us "control the border" against the super-flu, as well? Mandatory screenings for anybody — travellers included! — who crosses into the US? If not, why not? The super-flu is certainly more dangerous that terrorism.

The point being, basic security is one thing, but when you try to "control" risks, you’ll end up spending far more than it’s actually worth. The cost of stopping one immigrant is almost nothing; the marginal cost of stopping that last immigrant is beyond our reach.

What you propose is stopping a flood from flowing downwhill, in order to catch a leaf. What I propose is, essentially, channeling the flood, so we can see the leaf more easily.

My fear is that, 20 years hence, we’ll look back on this and wonder what the hell we were thinking — why did the US suddenly become hysterical after decades of relatively harmless illegal immigration? For some reason, we suddenly started begging the government to militarize our borders, antagonize free people and otherwise try to "control" something we couldn’t possibly control. (though we could monitor it better if we had the kind of "send us your poor" immigration policy we ought to have)

Perhaps that’s the difference. You see this as a tactical problem that can be solved fairly easily. I see it as a foolish pipe-dream, which can never be successful, but will — absolutely, positively will — demand more and more resources, leave us with less and less liberty, and continue to create the very economic, social and cultural assimilation problems about which so many of the critics complain. And if we absolutely must play Cassandra at the Border, then the best case scenario is that we’ll simply play border theatre for awhile and then go back to the status quo ante.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net

 
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