Thursday, May 24, 2007

Immigration on The Exchange

I participated in New Hampshire Public Radio's program, The Exchange, this morning to discuss the immigration bill passing through Congress. Audio will shortly be posted here.

For the details, I relied a lot on my archive and on some posts by George Borjas at his new blog. There were four questions I wanted to raise on the show:

1) Is immigration from Mexico just like any other wave of immigration?

The historical success of immigration in this country has been based on immigrants who left the old country behind, to assimilate and to blend their culture with the existing American culture. Mexico is right next door. The presumption that most immigrants will assimilate is much weaker, if not plain wrong. We should be very wary of absorbing so many immigrants, even legal immigrants, from a neighboring country whose objectives may not coincide with our own.

2) Is a guest worker program a good idea?

I regard a guest worker program as a form of second-class citizenry, and I do not support the creation of a second-class citizenry. Citizenship to me is not incidental to an economic relationship. Once we legitimize a second-class citizenry, their pleas to be elevated to first-class citizenry will be difficult to ignore, particularly given our national history of inclusion and equality. Once we legitimize frequent border crossings, we take ownership of the social problems that result from explicitly transitory populations NOT rooted to family relationships in a particular place. Show me the shining examples of guest worker programs in other large industrialized countries and I'll change my mind.

3) Are there jobs that Americans won’t do (this one is straight from an earlier post)?

There are no jobs that Americans refuse to perform. There may be jobs that Americans refuse to perform at the prevailing wage rates. This simply means that the wage rates should rise and the number of jobs should fall, until the number of jobs matches the number of people authorized to work in the country who are willing to perform them. If it turns out that with these higher prevailing wage rates, the employer can no longer operate at a profit, then the employer should cease operations--or relocate to a place where labor and other costs are sufficiently cheap as to allow a profitable business.

4) Is there a link between immigration and terrorism?

When discussing immigration from Mexico, this link appears to be tenuous at best. I have not seen any evidence that a porous southern border has contributed to greater vulnerability to an attack like 9/11. The way terrorists from 9/11 (or the recent episode at Ft. Dix) was to overstay visas--that's very different. The southern border may be contributing to law enforcement problems in the Southwest, to which I am not indifferent, but that’s a very different problem.

For the rest, you will need to listen to the podcast. Enjoy!


Mariana M. said...

The problem is not whether Americans do not want to perform certain jobs. Of couse they would do them at higher wage level.

The problem is if Americans are willing to pay a premium (higher prices) on their the goods they consume so that other Americans get higher wages.

Also, I don't know if the fact that Mexico is close to the U.S. means immigrants will not adapt to the U.S. culture. Maybe, the geographic proximity means there is also more cultural proximity (through tv, movies, etc) specially in certein regions of Mexico.

Just trying to be the devil's advocate here.

Patrick R. Sullivan said...

'Show me the shining examples of guest worker programs in other large industrialized countries and I'll change my mind.'

Western Europe, now known as the European Union, was the Common Market or European Economic Community in the 1970s when I was a youngster roaming that continent. Europeans my age could support themselves waitressing, changing bedding in pensiones, working as tour guides, translating. Crossing borders with no one saying 'boo' to them.

As an American, I was shut off from that opportunity.

Superdestroyer said...

you should also look at the effects of technology on maintaining a connection to your home country. 100 years ago the italian immigrants did not have Italian langauge cable television, italian language DVD's, or cell phone to call back to Italy.

It is extremely easy for isolated groups like Mexican, Koreans, Punjabis to keep connected to the old country and to isolate themselves into homogenous communitites through the internet, churches, and cell phones.

MikeC said...

You stated in the NHPR interview that you didn't see any evidence that the southern border was a "national security threat." Three out of six of the alleged Fort Dix jihadists arrived illegally in the U.S. as children by crossing the Texas-Mexico border. They were ethnic Albanians. A few years earlier, we had a ton of Lebanese illegals who were ferried across the southern border by coyotes. We simply don't know what sort of people are coming through that border. We do know that while most are from Mexico and other Latin American countries, they do come from all over the world.

A few things people should consider:

Hispanics have abysmal rates of multi-generational academic performance. Even fourth generation Mexican-Americans fare poorly:

12th grade Hispanics have about the same level of knowledge as 8th grade white students. This is especially bad given the fact that many Hispanic students presumably have dropped out of school before the 12th grade:

Hispanics also have high rates of criminality compared to non-Hispanic whites:

Nearly 50% of Hispanic births in the United States are now illegitimate. The percentage is growing:

Given all these facts, it should come as no surprise that Hispanics have high rates of welfare use:

Th idea that we cannot deport all illegal immigrants is a red herring. We don't have to deport them all at once. We can create the conditions under which illegal aliens will deport themselves. And in fact, Malaysia has reportedly deported a similar number of illegals per capita:

The United States, using only several hundred immigration agents, was able to drive out around a million illegals during an operation in the 1950s:

Today everyone knows that illegals are employed in huge numbers in meatpacking, construction, agriculture, and at day labor centers and yet immigration enforcement in these areas is negligible. The illegals in our society are so much "in the shadows" that they take to the streets to demand rights from a country they have no legal right to even be in without fear of local authorities or immigration agents showing up to check and see if they are even carrying fake identification. Illegals in most of our cities don't have to fear being pulled over for a traffic violation and deported. In fact, they don't even have to fear being deported for DUI arrests:

Only in America.

Obama IS America! said...

oh god. MikeC, you make me sick with your racist blathering. And all of the posts on immigration on this blog to me generally reek of condescending, imperialistic racism in general.

This is my response for now for uneducated racists such as MikeC. For all the people out there who look at any minority group, particularly Latinos or Black people in America and try to cite lower rates of high school graduation, literacy, etc., and higher rates of crime as meaning that these groups of people are somehow less intelligent and more criminal than White people, you obviously have never bothered to read a history book in your life. Or you did, and because you lack intelligence, you immediately forgot what you read.

See, there was this little thing that happened for about 400 - 500 years called slavery and colonization. This was where people from various European nations, who happened to be White (I say
'happened to be', because it was a pretty arbitrary skin color for the conquerors to have at that time, considering all the empowered people that existed around the world in the 1500s--read the history of the areas of the world we now call Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America to find out more). These European White people came to the Americas (and went to other parts of the world), and conquered, killed and subjugated the people of those places. Not because they were better or stronger, but because they happened to be the first ones to invent guns - which was only made possible through a Chinese invention - gunpowder.

The conquerors did not educate the people that they conquered, for obvious reasons - they did not want to empower the people they were trying to exploit through education. The conquerors gave the people they conquered religion - not as a means to help them, but as a means to help subjugate them and purge them of their native religions so that they did not have strong ties to their cultures. There are whole books written on these issues. Please go look them up with as much voracity as you did the quotes that prove your stupid little theories about how Latinos are less intelligent than White people.

The conquerors did not respect the people that they conquered, also for obvious reasons. In fact, they considered the conquered peoples, who happened to be brown, as property, and just bodies to be used for labor at the benefit of the White owners. This thought process to me is very similar to that of the American man in Professor Andrew Samwick's post who moves his farm to Mexico, and looks over the people laboring for him and thinks to himself, "great, they are not illegal". Great, he is now in Mexico and doesn't have to worry about exploiting people or about getting caught for violating human rights.

Slavery ended in the late 1800s, but after that, the US imposed segregation policies on the people of this country, extending the government's commitment to denying people rights and maintaining various levels of equality for citizens, depending on skin color. Do you think this applied only to Black people? NO! It applied to ALL non-white Americans. Segregation here in the US ended less than 50 years ago through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even though segregation ended, in those neighborhoods where forced integration happened, White people moved out into new neighborhoods, causing de facto segregation. Since then, discriminatory educational policies have continued to disproportionately affect non-Whites. So if you wonder why Latinos don't do as well in school and have lower drop out rates and all of that, it is probably because of unequal access to education. Higher crime is likely linked to lower education too, as lower education is linked to having a lower income, and having a low income is linked to crime. To see a movie that does an interesting depiction of the human side of a criminal, and how poverty leads to criminality, watch the South African film Tsotsi.

And in terms of MikeC's crap about higher pregnancy rates for Latinos and such, that may be true, but some of the raunchiest stuff on television is created and promoted by White people. Girls Gone Wild - I have never seen a non-White person featured in any of the informercials for that disgusting series. All the shows on television that promote premarital sex, including premarital sex amongst high schoolers - Friends, Dawson's Creek, the OC, Gossip Girl feature White people. Where are your comments on the deviancy of White people? Please note that I do not harbor any ridiculous thoughts like all White people are deviant. I actually think that all people at heart come from the same place, and that culture is just different ways of expressing human consciousness and creativity.

I think that all the posts on immigration on this blog are totally racist and miss the point entirely of what is going on in terms of immigration and illegal immigration. They sadden me greatly.