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February 28, 2007

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What union activists?

Unions have traditionally opposed immigration on the grounds that it dilutes the wages of their members throught greater competition. Admittedly, the more sophisticated unions (e.g., the AFL-CIO) have switched from a hard opposition to a soft opposition, in which they state that they are in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, but only if a range of new laws and restrictions are passed and only in the absence of a guest worker program. (If you are serious about dealing with immigration, however, you must include a guest worker program to address workers who desire to work seasonably and/or have no intention of becoming US citizens but to work for a time and return to their country of origin.)

Strictly speaking, the proposition isn't that we're a poor, crime ridden society because of immigration. It's that we're a poorer, more crime ridden society than would otherwise be the case, because illegal immigration means that English illiterate, poorly educated laborers with a relative indiference to our laws are displacing English literate, highly educated law abiding immigrants.

The alternative to illegal immigration isn't no immigration, it's legal immigration by other people.

Illegal Immigrants Bring Disease and Crime

Illegal immigrants are bringing new and exotic diseases to the American Continent. Additionally, legal residents often have little or no immunity to the diseases these immigrants are bringing.

In addition to disease, these immigrants are taking jobs and land from native born citizens, and are blamed for the introduction of gun crime to many areas. While generally illiterate, most make no effort to learn the native language here. Many also maintain allegiance to foreign leaders, represent violent and oppressive religions, and have no interest nor understanding about protecting the environment.

In addition to smallpox, plague, and flu, all of which wiped out much of the native population, the new immigrants are bringing drugs such as alcohol and tea that are capturing and destroying generations of the native population.

Conservative groups are calling for a restoration of the borders, and have organized into vigilante bands to send all Europeans back to their homes.


World News Daily Dateline, 1693...

Brett Bellmore: Strictly speaking, the proposition isn't that we're a poor, crime ridden society because of immigration. It's that we're a poorer, more crime ridden society than would otherwise be the case, because illegal immigration means that English illiterate, poorly educated laborers with a relative indiference to our laws are displacing English literate, highly educated law abiding immigrants.

So the idea is that we are accounting for illegal immigration in determining our immigration quotas? Do you have a source for this? It sounds pretty far-fetched.

As other have pointed out, the proposition has been recycled from past debates on immigration (about once a decade for a least a couple centuries).

My reaction is...a) are we sure that the crime is because of the immigration, or is the crime there because the country has made it illegal, and b) what's the difference now as opposed to past decades?

von: "If you are serious about dealing with immigration, however, you must include a guest worker program to address workers who desire to work seasonably and/or have no intention of becoming US citizens but to work for a time and return to their country of origin."

I don't see why this is true. I offer myself as a counterexample. I think guestworker programs are an odious first step to having literal second-class citizens, and I do not see why the problems with people who don't want to stay here shouldn't be addressed by some combination of higher wages and looser immigration requirements.

"So the idea is that we are accounting for illegal immigration in determining our immigration quotas?"

Obviously, yes, for all that it's done informally. High levels of illegal immigration make higher legal immigration quotas politically infeasible.

I don't see why this is true. I offer myself as a counterexample. I think guestworker programs are an odious first step to having literal second-class citizens, and I do not see why the problems with people who don't want to stay here shouldn't be addressed by some combination of higher wages and looser immigration requirements.

I'm confused. Let's say that, through some mechanism, higher wages are provided while loosening immigration restrictions -- with the caveat that an immigrants under the looser restrictions need to maintain certain residency requirements and/or desire to (and be working toward) becoming full US citizens. Won't (1) the higher wages draw even more immigrants here, (2) many of whom will have no interest in becoming US citizens or maintaining a permanent residence here, (3) but who will nonetheless be required to lie, cheat, or dodge the system so that they can stay in the country?

Maybe I've misunderstood, but it seems that your proposal would result in more problems, not fewer.

If you read the details of the LA Times story, you would have to conclude that the only reason to stick with your prejudices on the issue is, well, prejudice.

For example, the conclusion that illegals raise wages for the rest of us? Well, the legals fill the higher paying jobs thus allowing legals to move up from the lower paying jobs held by illegals!! Voila -- legals are making more because of illegals.

There is zero analysis of the impact of having 10 illegals willing to work for half wages for one job that would otherwise have to pay more to attract legals. It's as if the labor market is immune from the normal economic rules of supply and demand.

Also, in analyzing the impact of immigrants, the study did not differentiate between those who arrived legally or not.

Garbage.
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I think guestworker programs are an odious first step to having literal second-class citizens...

Amen.

Do guest workers get workers comp and/or unemployment? Are they covered by minimum wage and work hour laws or OSHA? Can they sue for job related wrongs? Where do they live while working and can they live and travel freely while here working? Can they unionize? Do they get medical care?

If this is such a great idea, let's just undo this burden for legal jobs, and we'll all be better off!

If you are serious about dealing with immigration, however, you must include a guest worker program to address workers who desire to work seasonably and/or have no intention of becoming US citizens but to work for a time and return to their country of origin.

This accounts for almost none of the illegals. They do not now work seasonally and return. It is much too hard an expensive to do so, and they would prefer to bring the rest of their relatives here rather than struggling to return to visit them.

Under most plans:

Do guest workers get workers comp

Yes.

and/or unemployment?

No.

Are they covered by minimum wage and work hour laws or OSHA?

Yes and yes.

Can they sue for job related wrongs?

Depends.

Where do they live while working and can they live and travel freely while here working?

Where they can afford and yes.

Can they unionize?

If they want to, although attempt to coerce them into a union needs to be prevented.

Do they get medical care?

Depends on whether their job provides for it.

This accounts for almost none of the illegals. They do not now work seasonally and return. It is much too hard an expensive to do so, and they would prefer to bring the rest of their relatives here rather than struggling to return to visit them.

What? If you provide for a guest worker program, you give migratory workers the opportunity to return home to see their families. Many want to bring their families here simply because they do want to go 3-5 years without seeing them (something that occurs under the present system).

Cynic of duty reporting for same:
Are there no prisons? - Are there no workhouses?
There already are second class citizens, who needs another group? [/snark]

From a European perspective: guest worker programs suck. Switzerland uses them to do the dirty work and deports them the day their contract runs out (and generally treats them as third class humans), Germany first tried to discourage them from integrating (resulting in Turkish ghettos) and now has to deal with 3 generations of people who are insufficiently integrated but are now clearly rooted here and would be homeless, if thrown out (and it would not improve our image, if we started to deport about 4 million people).
Either take them in permanently, treat them as equals and encourage assimilation or keep them out completely.

Hartmut, there are differences between the US and Europe in the nature of immigration and the types of guest worker program. The US already has a very significant, and relatively well-assimilated, Latino population. The same was not true of the EU w/r/t the Turkish guest worker program. European countries also still tend to contain a particular ethnic identity. Although this is changing, it has never been the case in the US, which has historically been more focused on skin color as an in/out decider.* The guest worker programs being proposed also try to rectify the problems faced in Europe; essentially, folks who want to work in the US should be required to make a choice: either guest work (largely without families) and go home, if all you're interested in is making some money or start on the path to citizen, with all the duties that entails. I want to keep the first option open, for those who desire it.

*Yes, yes, there were the Irish; as a descendent of their Scotch-Irish oppressors, I make the ritual sacrifices. And, obviously, there are some religious issues as well, e.g., Jews and Catholics (the latter was, of course, a factor in the Irish experience as well).

I am aware of the different situation in Europe/US. What I think would be best would be a temporary "closing of the border" until the legal/illegal situation with those already in country is resolved and establishing a clear status that will actually be enforced (more against the employers than the employees).
In order to keep guest worker programs from simply becoming a wage downing tool for neo-Manchesterists that status would include heavy penalties for wage dumping schemes involving guest workers. At the same time the prison industries would have to be stopped from doing essentially the same.
Of course that would make neither the nativists nor the exploiters happy and thus blocking any chance of a rational solution.
My knowledge on the topic is of course quite limited, so I can't judge the theoretical applicability of any such scheme.

Or we could follow Gore's (satirical) proposal to solve the problem by giving California to Mexico (and let them elect Ah-nold as president) ;-).

Just run into http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/030107F.shtml>this
Prison inmates as farmworkers for 60 cent/day replace immmigrants as result of stricter laws.

I largely agree with von that a guest worker program, with some major stipulations, is a good idea.

Guest workers should be people who want to work temporarily, not reside permanently in the US. Otherwise we do get the second-class citizen problem.

They should have all the benefits and protections available to American workers, and pay appropriate taxes as well.

Under those conditions it seems reasonable to me. Given the economic disparity between Mexico and the US, and the nature of the border, I think it is unrealistic to suppose we can stop the flow of illegal immigration. So I think we should try to deal with that pressure in a sensible and humane way.

In other words, to my mind the question is not, "What should we do about illegal immigration?" but rather, "What should we do about the fact that lots of people want to cross a long and porous border to work in the US?"

Establishing a legal regime under which this is possible would, I think, protect the immigrants from abusive practices (I believe strongly that we have a moral obligation here, "illegal immigrant" or not) and quite possibly reduce some of the pressure on US workers.

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