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June 28, 2007

Comments

touchback says "hey, cool that you made it here once. now let's see you do it again, smart-guy!"

I don't see a legitimate point either. I waver between thinking it's (1), (2), or (3) (well--actually just 1 or 3--2 is obvious but it also depends on 1 or 3 being true). If we want to make a point about breaking the law having consequences, why don't we simply charge them the money these trips would cost?

I also don't know if occurs to the geniuses in the GOP caucus that not all immigrants are from Mexico or any country they can return to cheaply or safely. What if they're from Sudan, or Iraq? I've heard vague talk of those people being allowed to apply in offices in Canada or Mexico instead, but nothing confirmed. And even if that were allowed, I don't know why, say, Canada would let them in without valid papers or a guarantee from the United States that their stay would be temporary.

AFAICT, the touchback provision is pure idiocy. If the government wishes to impose a cost on immigrants it should just increase the imposed fines. Compared to imposing an additional $1000 fine the touchback proposal has at least three deleterious effects:

1) With 12,000,000 estimated illegal immigrants, it means $12 billion less for the treasury. Yeah, we're so rolling in dough we're just going to throw a few billion away. Good thing the Iraq war is profitable, like Bush predicted!

2) Since travel to Mexico is cheaper than travel to India, this favors immigrants from Central America over others. This tilts the proportion even more in favor of Central Americans, while basically everybody agrees it would be better if immigration were more evenly distributed.

3) It ensures there will continue to be large numbers of illegals in the country. Lots of people won't trust the US government to let them back in. With good reason - after lying about WMD in Iraq and illegally wiretapping Americans, now the government's going to be honest about a hotbutton issue? I suppose a cynic might say this is a deliberate attempt to make sure there will continue to be illegals and maintain an underground infrastructure to support illegals (which will allow them to continue to come in).

Who's resposible for this lamebrained proposal anyway?

Picture it, you're here illegally and have been for say 10 years. Despite your illegal status you have thrived. Good job, place to live, pickup with your name stencilled in gothic script on the rear window.

Why on earth would you voluntarily go back to your country of origin? What's in it for you. And do you really trust the government when they say you'll be allowed back in?

The whole American right-wing movement is built on spite.

How else can gay reactionary Christians and atheistic imperial racists and the Sons of the Confederacy Dixiecrats find common cause?

I also don't know if occurs to the geniuses in the GOP caucus that not all immigrants are from Mexico or any country they can return to cheaply or safely. What if they're from Sudan, or Iraq

That's a really good point

It sounds like a really bad idea to me. From a procedural point of view could it be to avoid the hassle of deporting someone if they won't get the visa? (Not that that would work very long once people heard about that happening a few times.)

Seb: as compared to the much greater hassle of locating and deproting people who might want to be here legally, other things equal, but don't waqnt to uproot themselves for a year, and/or worry about whether they'll get a visa, and don't want to make this kind of gamble on it?

Won't the touchback provision, without a guarantee that a visa will be issued, be a guarantee that we won't resolve our problem with undocumented employees? They won't leave. Their employers won't do anything different. They won't be able to defend their employment rights.

In some ways, it seems that this will make the whole 'reform' into a farce.

What we need is a real carrot for compliance: You can register and get your work visa within the United States, but it will be a special visa that requires you to become a citizen within ten years or leave the country.

Looking at the farce that is the State Department's attempts to hand out passports, does anyone think that the DHS's ICE will have a clue how to deal with such demand? I wonder if the immigrant-bashers are relying on incompetence at DHS.

Yeah, I wonder about this. "Oh sure, just leave, & we'll be happy to process your visa application--just as soon as we deal with this 12 year backlog...oh look, they just cut our funding! Sorry."

Hilzoy, I didn't say it was a great explanation. ;)

Seb: I know; I almost added something like "I know you don't think this ...", but decided I was getting wordy ;)

With the way this bill is being put together; don’t be surprised if in the final bill what it really means is that the undocumented worker receives the ball on their own 20 yard line.

The external argument I would guess is the following: people here illegally have cut in line - they have to go back to square 0 and do the procedure over legally, so we don't have to countenance lawbreaking.

Presumably the real point is that some percentage of those at square 0 wouldn't manage to get back here.

Bizarro World is reporting that the bill didn't survive a cloture vote.

You notice how the GOP Senate just filibusters basically *every* major vote they oppose, without either themselves or the press agonizing about how obstructionist they look? Why the f*ck couldn't the Democrats manage that when it came to Alberto Gonzales or the MCA?

Touchback was apparently invented by Mike Pence:

There is no support back home in my district for amnesty, and this has nothing to do with race or ethnic discrimination. It has everything to do with the fundamental belief of every American in law and order...

Amnesty is allowing people whose first act in America was an illegal act to get right with the law without leaving the country. Allowing twelve million illegal aliens to stay in our country instead of leaving and coming back legally is amnesty, no matter if fines or back taxes are paid, or how it is otherwise dressed-up or spun by its proponents. The only way to deal with these twelve million people is to insist that they leave the country and come back legally if they have a job awaiting them.

Katherine - you watch, they will run in 2008 on the basis that the current Congress is a "do nothing" Congress, despite their being responsible for the nothingness.

"Amnesty is allowing people whose first act in America was an illegal act to get right with the law without leaving the country."

Yow, Pence said that??

So, if I understand correctly, if we make people pay enormous fines, serve several decades in jail, get a Ph.D. in English, etc., etc., before becoming citizens, but don't force them to leave the country, that's amnesty?

Sheesh.

Well, of course my illegal son-in-law can't leave his 4 US citizen children here for a year, while he goes back to Mexico to apply for a visa. It's a way of ensuring that amnesty doesn't work.

Mike Pence? Well, there's the answer to my question about Iraq and Sudan:

At a news conference shortly after their outing, Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, and his three Congressional colleagues described Shorja as a safe, bustling place full of hopeful and warmly welcoming Iraqis — “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime,” offered Representative Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican who was a member of the delegation.

Also note that they're going to have to show they have a job waiting for them in the US. Lots of them are minimum-wage agricultural workers, meatcutters, and the like--the sort of job where you get fired for being late two days in a row. Do you think Tyson foods is going to hand anyone a letter promising them a job once they get their shiny new visa?

Also note that he refers to touchback as "self-deportation."

I get the sense that Pence isn't too worked up about immigration personally, and didn't want to piss off business interests, but felt he had to make some sop to the nativists.

But touchback may have backfired on him; Pat Buchanan called it "stealth amnesty" and a "one-week vacation" for lawbreakers.

Touchback is an attempt to turn it into a deportation bill.

1. If illegal residents don't "touch back," they remain illegal and subject to deportation.

2. If they do touch back, I suspect that they will have a difficult time getting a Green Card.

In either case, they are forced out of the country.

"With some things, such as the English language requirement, everyone knows what it's about, but it at least has some plausible explanation."

Yeah, and everyone whose starting premise isn't that opposition to illegal immigration is motivated by some form of malignant bigotry knows that the plausible explaination IS what it's about.

True, "touchback", as it's formulated in the bill, is a bit of idiocy. Keep in mind that the bill was being written by the people on your side, not ours. Or else "touchback" would have consisted of "Go home, and we'll let you apply for legal entry as though we didn't know you'd been violating our laws for years.", instead of, "Here's a de facto green card, we'll pretend that some time down the road we're going to require you to stick a toe over the border for an instant to renew it."

The fundamental problem with this whole immigration compromise is that compromise requires trust, and after the last 20 some years of militant refusal to secure the border or enforce immigration laws, there is no trust. Advocates of the amnesty might suspect that, if given enforcement first, enforcement advocates won't really sign on to a later amnesty, but everybody knows with as close to absolute certainty as is available in human affairs that if the amnesty comes first, the enforcement will never happen.

Secure the border first, enforce the law first, because that's the only way to rebuild the trust necessary for an amnesty to be politically feasible.

" Keep in mind that the bill was being written by the people on your side, not ours"

Oh, right, "people on my side" like Jon Kyl. Jon Kyl seems to actively seek out obscure issues that I care about a lot, and very few people have even heard of, and get on the exact opposite side of me. Ted Kennedy was on the committee too, but he made a bad bargain. The Senate passed a better and more pro-immigrant bill last year by a filibuster proof majority.

You don't have the first clue about either my motivations, "my side" or how the immigration system actually works.

The fundamental problem with this whole immigration compromise is that compromise requires trust, and after the last 20 some years of militant refusal to secure the border or enforce immigration laws, there is no trust. Advocates of the amnesty might suspect that, if given enforcement first, enforcement advocates won't really sign on to a later amnesty, but everybody knows with as close to absolute certainty as is available in human affairs that if the amnesty comes first, the enforcement will never happen.

Enforcement won't happen because the last law was a joke. No immigration law is going to work if it doesn't address the real internal demand for immigrants and the real cost of enforcing the law. The '86 law failed on both counts. Today, we have a vast conspiracy, abetted by the Federal Government, to ignore that law. Those who claim that they want to see reform seemed singularly uninterested in looking at the needs of business or of those who live here under our "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Many of them now can tell their most nativist voters that they stopped a bad reform while another million or two undocumented workers come into the country. Should I respect such people?

Yup, that's me, totally clueless about how the immigration system really works. How I managed to guide my wife through it sucessfully without the aid of an immigration attourney is beyond me; Must have been random chance that I filed the right forms in the right places at the right time.

I see a difference between touchback the way policymakers think of it, and touchback the way members of the public think about it.

To the public, touchback is a clear, simple requirement. It sounds easy. It seems fair. You wonder why somebody would be against it - and your explanation might be, "Well, they just want to get citizenship without having to go through the normal process."

I have had many conversations with members of the public who don't deal with immigration much. They don't tend to have the time or interest to understand the implications of touchback. Things like:
- How do you touchback when your home country is in the midst of a war?
- How do you touchback if you left home because you were being persecuted?
- How does a household survive if the head of household (= chief wage earner) is going to disappear on them for a period of time?

Those questions only become salient if you scratch the surface of how touchback would actually work. Otherwise, touchback is a very seductive concept becuase it sounds like a fair compromise. You want 'something for nothing' (i.e., legal status)? Well, you have to go back home first, like everybody else did.

Fairness is incredibly persuasive to Americans. This doesn't excuse policymakers, but I think it explains why provisions like touchback are so enduring.

Freelunch, one of the wisest remarks from my Econ prof came in the first minutes of our first class: "We will not speak of 'needs' here, only 'wants'."

Business does not need cheap labor with strong motives to avoid reporting abusive employment conditions. But their wanting such labor to be plentiful is perfectly understandable. I think you'll understand my response to that understandable desire: "Go pound sand."

Brett,

For someone who tells us that you helped your wife through the immigration gauntlet, you seem surprisingly harsh toward other immigrants. If the entire economic system is set up to make the current immigration system fail, are you surprised that it has failed? I'm not. The law is unenforceable, very likely intentionally so.

Enforce the law today? It's being done. The enforcement was deliberately hobbled. If you want today's law to be enforced, new laws have to be written and enforced. You need to find someone who is willing to spend $100 billion a year to keep the undocumented from working here. It won't happen. There aren't enough people who think the way you do to get your ideas passed. The only way reforms will happen is as part a broad restart. You, effectively, are supporting doing nothing.

"you seem surprisingly harsh toward other immigrants."

No, I, like most people, distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. A distinction which an enormous amount of effort has gone into futily trying to elide.

"There aren't enough people who think the way you do to get your ideas passed."

Well, there aren't enough people who think this way in Congress, that much is true. Which is only to say that, on this topic, Congress is wildly unrepresentative of the general population.

"The only way reforms will happen is as part a broad restart."

And that broad "restart" is going to have to include serious, credible efforts at enforcement, to stop future illegal immigration, or it will be a political non-starter.

I repeat again: What killed this compromise is that compromise requires trust, and there was, entirely justifiably, no trust that the paltry enforcement elements of the compromise were ever going to be enforced.

There will be no compromise until amnesty advocates earn the trust of opponents by action on enforcement. And if you can't bring yourselves to do that, you shouldn't be trusted, you're just planning another '86 style bait and switch.

There will be no compromise until amnesty advocates earn the trust of opponents by action on enforcement. And if you can't bring yourselves to do that, you shouldn't be trusted, you're just planning another '86 style bait and switch.

I'm not sure the second person is appropriate here. I think that acknowledging cases like this does not make one an "amnesty advocate". (I also note that the $1 an hour wage increase has been seized upon by anti blogs as evidence that things would be fine if the company paid an appropriate wage. It is my understanding that not only is the town still empty, the poultry factory has only replaced half the work force.)

The "touchback" scheme was just that--a ruse, a non-starter, put together by a RINO Congressman and an equally stupid RINO Senator when they knew full well that most Americans wouldn't buy the ploy. Americans are smarter than these two members of Congress think they are, and these two got HAMMERED by grass roots conservatives and millions of anti-Invasion folks on BOTH sides of the isle. The defeat of the Amnesty bill and the defeat of this ridiculous amendment showed clearly that both the left (who love illegal aliens for future votes) and the gazillionaire RINO country clubbers in checked pants and golf shoes (who love the cheap labor to wter their yards while they're out on the greens at their clubs) are simply not listening to the American people. Most Americans are law-abiding and want the laws of the country enforced.

Now that Bush and the other open borders idiots are feeling the heat, ICE/DHS are starting to finally do their jobs. They could do even better if they arrested 80% of the illegal alien marchers at these public rallies. No doors have to be knocked down to arrest them! They could further doing their jobs by hitting every single MacDonald's and Burger King and IHOP in the country, each having (I would venture to guess) at least an 80% illegal alien workforce!! With such visible raids, ICE/DHS would go a long way towards finally forcing illegals to self-deport--which is what most Americans would like to see. There are 15 million illegals in CA alone 30 million-plus in the U.S. Think of the home price and rental price reductions Californians would enjoy if over a third of the "residents" were to go back to Mexico!

Nobody would ever bring up such a silly scheme as "touchback" again.

There are 15 million illegals in CA alone 30 million-plus in the U.S.

And we have trouble enlisting enough soldiers! When every one of those illegal aliens who can get into the army can get citizenship!

If we just lower our standards enough, we could enlist 15 million more soldiers. We mainly need enough spanish-speaking officers, so we could have a lot of only-spanish-speaking companies, and only-spanish battalions, and so on.

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