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Originally from Gus Van Horn,

I must confess that I have not been following the recent debate over immigration legislation terribly closely, but I did find these three articles particularly worthwhile for bringing up things that those in favor of tighter controls on immigration for America (of all places) ought to consider. I'll tick them off along with some thoughts. The first two I heard about courtesy of TIA Daily .

(1) There's lots I disagree with in this Peggy Noonan piece, but her central point is excellent.

[Another thing driving the immigration debate is]the broad public knowledge, or intuition, in America, that we are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically. And if you don't do that, you'll lose it all.

We used to do it. We loved our country with full-throated love, we had no ambivalence. We had pride and appreciation. We were a free country. We communicated our pride and delight in this in a million ways -- in our schools, our movies, our popular songs, our newspapers. It was just there, in the air. Immigrants breathed it in. That's how the last great wave of immigrants, the European wave of 1880-1920, was turned into a great wave of Americans. [bold added]

This would be part of why we keep seeing Mexican flags flown over American ones during these protests -- by folks who fled Mexico to get here.

Peggy Noonan's point is, furthermore, made in spades in France, where hoardes of unassimilated immigrants rioted recently.

(2) And as for the economic "arguments" for limiting immigration, Tony Snow does a good job demolishing many of these. I particularly liked what he said about foreign consumption of social services.

Princeton University sociologist Douglas S. Massey reports that 62 percent of illegal immigrants pay income taxes (via withholding) and 66 percent contribute to Social Security. Forbes magazine notes that Mexican illegals aren't clogging up the social-services system: only 5 percent receive food stamps or unemployment assistance; 10 percent send kids to public schools.

On the work front, Hispanic unemployment has tumbled to 5.5 percent, only slightly above the national average of 4.7 percent and considerably lower than the black unemployment rate of 9.3 percent. Economist Larry Kudlow praises Hispanic entrepreneurship: "According to 2002 Census Bureau data, Hispanics are opening businesses at a rate three times faster than the national average. In addition, there were almost 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses generating $222 billion in revenue in 2002."

Skeptics counter that immigrants have clogged our hospitals, which is true -- but primarily in places that offer lavish benefits to illegal immigrants. [bold added]

The argument that immigrants use lots of social services and that therefore immigration should be greatly curtailed is exactly backward. It is not immigration, but social services, we should be talking about drastically curtailing.

It is worth noting the similarity in this aspect of the immigration debate with that of the drive by the left to penalize Wal-Mart for taking advantage of existing government programs to provide medical and other coverages to some of its employees. As I said back in August -- and you could just about do nothing else but swap "immigration" for "Wal-Mart" here:

In the great Wal-Mart debate, I have so far seen no one point out that the costs (in taxation) of Wal-Mart in terms of its employees' reliance on Medicare are not Wal-Mart's fault. Its workers, after all, are free to seek other employers and other medical plans. It is the government, by guaranteeing medical coverage to certain income groups, that is in fact, adding to the "cost" of Wal-Mart to the public. Worse still, it does this not just to customers of Wal-Mart, who would (and should) be the only ones affected were Wal-Mart to offer comparable medical coverage to workers currently accepting Medicaid, but to every non-customer taxed to support Medicaid. [bold added]

Hmmm. In fact, later in that same post, I noted this very similarity!

(3) Finally, via RealClear Politics , is an article by Dick Morris on a security issue you might not have thought of (unless you have wisely been following this blog over the past year) with respect to national security.

In its debate over how to change the U.S. immigration system, Washington neglected the impact in Mexico - which faces a crossroads election this summer.

And Mexico's choice could not be more important to the United States.

On July 2, the Mexican people will decide whether to elect ultra-leftist
(known as AMLO) as their next president.

Rumors have abounded for months that Lopez Obrador's campaign is getting major funding from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. And last month Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz)., a moderate Republican, told several Mexican legislators that he had intelligence reports detailing revealing support from
Hugo Chavez
to AMLO's Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Chavez is a firm ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro. Lopez Obrador could be the final piece in their grand plan to bring the United States to its knees before the newly resurgent Latin left.

Between them, Venezuela and Mexico export about 4 million barrels of oil each day to the United States, more than one-third of our oil imports. With both countries in the hands of leftist leaders, the opportunity to hold the U.S.
will be extraordinary.

Think we have security problems now, with Vicente Fox leading Mexico? Just wait until we have a
2,000-mile border
with a chum of Chavez and Castro. [links added]

Morris warns that AMLO is positioning himself to take advantage of a significant anti-immigration shift in our policy. I don't necessarily agree that we should cast our votes based on what people in another country think, but the Morris piece helps illustrate how events in Mexico could compound what already looks like folly to me, curtailing immigration.

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Forbes magazine notes that Mexican illegals aren't clogging up the social-services system: only 5 percent receive food stamps or unemployment assistance; 10 percent send kids to public schools.
Only 10% send kids to public schools? I wonder if this is true. I suppose it could be if a huge majority have left their kids back in Mexico.

Another argument that's raised about illegal immigrants is that they "jump the line", thus hurting the legal immigrants. Actually, the metaphor is flawed.

The typical line-jumper goes to the beginning of the line, and by doing so increases the number of people between me (the legal guy) and the entrance. Not so of illegals; they don't "jump the line", they just avoid it altogether. If they stood in line, that would actually make the line longer and hurt the legal immigrants who come after them.

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The criticism I've heard referring to illegals hurting legal immigrants by "jumping the line" is that if the current illegals were to get amnesty, it would be unfair to those who waited through the legal process. On some level, its true that you would be angry about somebody skipping the process and getting the same results as you did with less hassle.

But this isn't really a valid argument against amnesty in my book. The fact that some people will feel slighted if illegals are granted a more rational status isn't a good reason to continue to call them criminals. The "unfairness" would be the fault of an arbtrarily restrictive federal government, not of the immigrants who sought to avoid it (without violating anybody's rights).

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I'm curious to know where you immigrated from, and what your experience was like - it's always good to have first-hand accounts when discussing the immigration system.
India. My experience would only reflect a certain slice of immigrants, because each is treated differently. Of immigrants, my particular US government category is probably one of the best to have. Not without it's hassle, mind you; but relative to the real problems some immigrants have, it would embarrassing for me to mention any little hassles like being "tied" to an employer for 5 years.

I have friends and relatives, though, who have had a rougher time.

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Of immigrants, my particular US government category is probably one of the best to have. Not without it's hassle, mind you; but relative to the real problems some immigrants have, it would embarrassing for me to mention any little hassles like being "tied" to an employer for 5 years.

H-1B I'm assuming then?

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A practical plan: Every Objectivist would like open immigration and abolishment of public support. We're not likely to get either for decades. So, while it is perfectly fine to lay them down as goals that help us find our way, it isn't reasonable to assume we'll get either anytime soon. Having put these forth as the ultimate goal, we should aim to do two things: pushing for an ambitious but politically viable step toward less public support, while at the same time pushing for an ambitious but politically viable step toward open immigration.

I think the best way to acheive this is to implement a work-permit style program. As long as people can still go on public support, do not open the borders to the moochers. Instead, open it to people who will work and pay taxes. The simplest way to implement this is to stipulate a minimum earning level that qualifies a person as someone who is coming to work. Such a system already exists for work-permits. So, this is nothing new; it is just a question of applying the principles in existing laws to other lesser-paid occupations. Some law-makers want to use length of stay to decide who is allowed to remain. I submit that income is a better criteria.

Secondly, people who are on work-permits and earning less than a certain amount can be made to pay some type of fee or tax.

Allowing legal immigration for people earning more than a certain amount a year (and their families) would at least not be worse than the status-quo. Allowing legal immigration of this type would more clearly identify the others (i.e. illegals) as moochers. Asking some immigrants to "pay back" part of the money as tax would also at least not be worse than the status-quo.

The Status Quo: The status quo on immigration is bad. Having 11 million people breaking the law is a sure way of undermining the rule of law. So, the status quo cannot stay. The only alternatives are either doing something to get the illegals out, or doing something to let the better ones stay.

The status quo is also a minor security risk, particularly seeing how ineffectively the U.S. is fighting against militant Islam. The number of people crossing the border illegally needs to be reduced drastically, so that real criminals find it more difficult to hide among the throngs at crossings, at border-patrol interviews, in detention centers, at routine police stops. With a long, shared border the practical thing to do is to work out a scheme that allows the better Mexicans to come here in a controlled and documented way.

Once a law gets more strict than reasonable people are willing to obey, the mass begin to break the law. Then the bad guys hide among them.

More important changes: With the current immigration debate the focus is on the poorest of immigrants. It is essentially a pessimistic debate, in which the discussion seems to be about holding fort, and how not to lose too much more wealth. However, like a good businessman who looks for "top-line growth", the law should look elsewhere: to the best and brightest of the world.

For years, the U.S. has drawn extremely competent immigrants from all over the world, who end up as some of the richest and most qualified within the middle-class. Many of these people did not want really want to leave home. They did so because the options in their home countries were so poor. Living in Ireland in the early 1990's, I saw the first generation of people who no longer planned to immigrate to the US en masse. In the early 2000's I saw the same trend begin with my ex-countrymen from India. The Chinese can't immigrate very easily; but there too, many alternatives are opening up at home. The U.S. still has an edge; but, the gap is narrowing. This is a good thing, of course, because it is those countries than are opening up to the world and improving.

While some improvement is required to the current status-quo of low-income immigrants, a very different approach is required with regard to high-earning immigrants. Instead of putting them through a grinder, U.S. law should be constructed to welcome them. In a couple of generations, the better folk will no longer put up with even the small inconveniences and uncertainities that U.S. immigration law puts in their way. If I was graduating from my Indian college today, I doubt I would aim to immigrate. I would probably want to go abroad to see how the world works, for a couple of years, and then return "home" where the economy is booming from such a low start.

If you want to understand how the worst outliers in this group are treated, read this story of a friend who is planning to return to India. If economic value is to be the measure of worth, he earns about three times the median income of the typical U.S. citizen. I weep when I think of his story. [some on the forum may recognize him; but he wishes to remain anonymous.]

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