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Senate Ponders Immigration Reform


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The US Senate this week is debating an immigration reform bill. There's some background in this article:

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/03/AR2006040301554.html

 

One of the interesting things about the bill is that it enjoys bipartisan support. There are a number of senators who are opposed, but they come from both sides of the isle. Some of them are due to constituency opposition (an interesting confluence of the black leadership and the "bubba" vote), and some are opposed due to pressure from special interest groups (such as organized labor).

 

This is, I believe, the first time that Freshman Senators Barrack Obama and Mel Martinez, for example, have stumped for the same bill in the media. Fascinating.

 

Regarding the issue itself, and the recent demonstrations, I've got a few comments as well. I've met a lot of immigrants, legal and otherwise, down here in South Florida, and most of them seem to be hard-working people, and they all seem to want to become "Americans". Sure they introduce or participate in their own cultural norms here, but that's an American thing to do as well -- we've always been a melting pot.

 

Florida Senator Mel Martinez, a Republican and a Cuban immigrant himself, made a stirring speach the other day in which he said "People don't come to America to change America. They come to America to be changed by America." I thought that was a very powerful point, especially in light of some of the right-wing reaction to the demonstrations.

 

He went on to tell a story about a Florida employer who, just the other day, had told him about how he had tried to fill 250 vacancies in his company, for which he received 800 applications. He could not hire a single one of those applicants, because not one of them had legal documents. And this was no minimum-wage job, either -- it paid $9-14/hr! I can't tell you how many times I've been to a McDonalds or Burger King down here and been served by people making minimum wage, and they have to be legal because there's no way a McD's or BK franchisee could get away with hiring illegals.

 

Getting back to that right-wing reaction, I've seen some conservative web sites and blogs expressing concern about the flag-wavers. I've seen this on TV and I can understand the concern. But what people need to notice is that they're not all waving the same flag. They're not trying to change the US into Mexico, or Guatamala, or Honduras, or Costa Rica. What they're saying by waving that flag is "This is where I'm from, and I'm proud of that." That's really all it is. Where's the harm in that? If they really wanted to turn us into their country, wouldn't they be bashing each OTHER's heads in and stomping each other's flags first?

 

The Senate plan to secure the border and provide a plan to legalization (through penalties/fines, learning to speak English, and so forth), has a lot of merit, and it enjoys bipartisan support. I think it should go forward.

 

What do you all think?

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Simplistically, I wish that we could figure out the number of immigrants we really need and issue labor visas for these individuals. We could provide for a more diverse mix of immigrants if Mexico had no more right to an added share of the mix than any other country. Laborers participating under this program and paying taxes to the government would benefit from some but not all government programs. We would then figure out how many we should admit as US citizens and, frankly, take the best educated and lawful applicants who have learned the language as citizens.

 

While I appreciate your viewpoint, there is a difference between illegal immigration from Mexico and that from countries in the past. Ireland does not have a huge contiguous border. You do not press a telephone and have it say, "press 1 if you speak Vietnamese." I am not encouraging my children to learn French as I now am them to learn Spanish. I doubt that any other source of immigration has had more than 100,000 illegals in a given year.

 

I agree that America changes people but the sheer volume of illegal immigrants threatens to out pace our ability to effect such change. I lived in a neighborhood which transitioned rapidly over about a five year period. I ultimately moved because I needed more living space (4 kids do not fit in 1,700 sq ft) but, I have to tell you, there were significant changes all around. It was like I looked up one day and could not read 1/2 of the billboards and store front signage around my house.

 

Maybe this was the same when the Irish and Vietnamese moved in. However, those were event driven (potato famine, end of the Vietnam war) and do not pose a continuing and irreversible shift in entire cities' demographic.

 

All of that said, you are absolutely right - these are hard working people who can add a lot to the country. By and large, the younger children seemed to be learning our language although much of the older generation did not.

 

However, who is to say that we wouldn't benefit just as much be allowing more African or Brazilian immigrants? We do not have to agree with an entire shift of demographics coming from a single foreign country.

 

There is nothing wrong with this country managing the inflow of immigrants from Mexico as we have with every other country in the past. My fear is that the political power of these immigrants will keep politicians from making the macro decisions that should be made for the best interests of America. That interest does favor control, not exclusion, just as it has with every other immigrant group. Diversity is a value I would like to see given more than lip service in US immigration policy.

 

I had no problem with the protesters holding up flags of their country of origin underneath a US flag. I did rankle at the protesters who only displayed a foreign countries flag in our places of government. I wasn't sure what kind of message they were trying to send.

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"The number of unauthorized migrants living in the United States has continued to increase steadily for several years, reaching an estimated 11.1 million based on the March 2005 compared to an estimate of 8.4 million based on Census 2000."

 

That's a 24.3% increase in five years. Obviously, that increase is not spread smoothly throughout the country but is going to be hitting California, Oklahoma, Texas, etc disproportionately.

 

This debate, at least for me, has nothing to do with race and every thing to do with our right to control exactly the mix of what goes into this wonderful melting pot of a country. If these trends continue, a critical mass will be reached (to the extend that this hasn't already occurred) and the rate of increase in the last five years will only accelerate.

 

For those critical of the proposed law, what alternatives would you propose, if any, to the status quo of 11 million illegals and counting? Would there ever come a point where the United States would say to Mexico as it has to other overseas countries, we will not take any more of your population?

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Let me just touch on a few points as I run out the door, and I promise to drop by again later this afternoon/evening. :)

 

I think you make some good points there, and I might agree with the idea of having no more Mexicans than any other specific country. (You understand that won't change your kids' need to learn Spanish, right? Would you be surprised if I said that I rarely see Mexicans here in South Florida, and there are maybe two or three places in the whole metroplex where I can get a good texmex taco?)

 

 

I agree that America changes people but the sheer volume of illegal immigrants threatens to out pace our ability to effect such change. I lived in a neighborhood which transitioned rapidly over about a five year period. I ultimately moved because I needed more living space (4 kids do not fit in 1,700 sq ft) but, I have to tell you, there were significant changes all around. It was like I looked up one day and could not read 1/2 of the billboards and store front signage around my house.

 

I'm not sure I see the problem here. I don't mean any disrespect, but for the sake of brevity, so what?

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I remember watching an interesting bit on this topic a few months back on the History Channel. This specific case was talked about, and I found it to be interesting to say the least...

http://www.englishfirst.org/elcenezo/elcenezoreuters81699.htm

 

One of the few, if any(iirc) cities that have a declared official language, and it is declared Spanish in the border town of El Cenizo. On top of that they also have policy to hinder the immigration services in the area.

The ``safe haven'' ordinance forbids city staff, which consists of one employee and two volunteers, from helping the U.S. Border Patrol find illegal immigrants or inquiring about any person's immigration status.

 

The intent was to avoid meddling in peoples' lives, Rodriguez said.

 

``We are not protecting them and neither are we turning them in,'' he said.[/Quote]

 

 

I don't really like the new law being proposed, it makes a good gesture to de-criminalize something that costs the US economy millions. Allowing illegal immigrants to become legalized would be acceptable to me if there were a way to make sure they paid back-taxes(yes i know they probably wouldn't be paying taxes anyways) or owed hospital bills and social services costs, but there can't be any good record of these events due to their illegal status.

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Let me just touch on a few points as I run out the door' date=' and I promise to drop by again later this afternoon/evening. :)

 

I think you make some good points there, and I might agree with the idea of having no more Mexicans than any other specific country. (You understand that won't change your kids' need to learn Spanish, right? Would you be surprised if I said that I rarely see Mexicans here in South Florida, and there are maybe two or three places in the whole metroplex where I can get a good texmex taco?)[/qoute']

 

 

I do not know what the make up of Tulsa would be if our share of the 11 million illegals were deported overnight.

 

I'm not sure I see the problem here. I don't mean any disrespect, but for the sake of brevity, so what?

 

One neighborhood changing its ethic character as a result of lawful migration is not a big deal. This was an entire shift of population where English is no longer the most frequently used language. I didn't like not being able to speak the language in shops in my own neighborhood and, frankly, the area overnight became far less affluent and the crime rate increased. It probably cost me around $15k when I sold my house but that's life in the big city if it is the result of lawful actions

 

This was more than one neighborhood, however and it wasn't legal. I didn't see a lot of melting going on in this small "pot." Certainly, people who were living near where the first waves of Irish landed felt the same way.

 

However, as I pointed out earlier, the Irish were motivated by the potato famine and per the 1850 census almost a million US citizens had been born in Ireland. At the peak of the immigration in 1870, as you can see, in most areas of the country, the percentage of Irish was in single digits. With the lessening of immigration, the Country could then go about assimilating this culture into the "melting pot."

 

I wouldn't be as concerned if there was a realistic chance of halting the flow and giving the Country a chance to integrate these illegals lawfully into the country. I fear, however, that we are reaching a critical mass of Hispanic political power which will actively resist efforts to maintain the status quo.

 

I know some resist reading the National Review but here is an interesting article on the subject:

 

Forget the long-running bipartisan concern about creating an educated, highly skilled workforce. What the U.S. economy desperately needs is more high-school dropouts — so desperately that we should import them hand over fist.

 

Such is the logic of the contention by advocates of lax immigration that the flow of illegal labor from south of the border is a boon to our economy. But it doesn't make intuitive sense that importing the poor of Latin America would benefit us. If low-skill workers were key to economic growth, Mexico would be an economic powerhouse, and impoverished Americans would be slipping south over the Rio Grande.

 

The National Research Council reports that an immigrant to the U.S. without a high-school diploma — whether legal or illegal — consumes $89,000 more in governmental services than he pays in taxes during his lifetime. An immigrant with only a high-school diploma is a net cost of $31,000. Eighty percent of illegal immigrants have no more than a high-school degree, and 60 percent have less than a high-school degree.

 

Steve Camarota of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies estimates that illegal immigrants cost the federal government $10 billion a year. State and local governments lose even more. Illegals pay some taxes, but not enough to cover governmental expenses like Medicaid and treatment for the uninsured.

 

According to Camarota, if illegal immigrants were legalized, their net annual cost to the federal government would only increase, tripling to $30 billion a year. Immigrant workers don't earn enough to pay much in taxes, while they qualify for all sorts of governmental assistance. As they become legal, they will get even more assistance — the benefits that they get from the Earned Income Tax Credit, for instance, would increase by a factor of 10.

 

Whatever benefit illegals provide to the economy in general must be minuscule. All workers without a high-school education — illegal and otherwise — account for only 3 percent of economic output. Even if illegal immigrants were dominant in low-skill industries, their broader impact would be small. But they aren't dominant, and that includes job categories associated with immigrants. Nearly 60 percent of cabdrivers are native-born. In only four of 473 job classifications are immigrants a majority of the workers.

 

The U.S. has an ample supply of native-born workers with a high-school education or less, but Camarota suggests they are being pushed out of the labor force by the influx of illegals. From 2000 to 2005, the percentage of high-school dropouts holding a job dropped from 53 to 48, and this trend was particularly pronounced in states with the highest levels of immigration. Illegals compete with the very workers least equipped to thrive in our economy.

 

Pro-immigration conservatives sometimes argue that, through immigration, we are importing social renewal. But the illegitimacy rate among Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. is 40 percent. They aren't coming from countries that are paradisiacal models of social conservatism. The illegitimacy rate in Mexico is roughly one third, and in El Salvador it is 73 percent.

 

With the U.S. population aging, don't we need highly fertile immigrants to replenish our working-age population? Actually, there aren't enough immigrants to change our age structure significantly. According to Camarota, 66.2 percent of the U.S. population was of working age in 2000. If all post-1980s immigrants and their U.S.-born children are excluded, the number falls to only 65.9 percent. With immigrants, the U.S. fertility rate is 2.1; without them, it would be 2.0.

 

Immigration from Latin America, in short, does not chiefly benefit our economy, government or society, but rather the immigrants themselves. Their motives, if not their means, are admirable — they want to improve their lives. Advocates of a lax immigration policy should admit that their policy has a humanitarian, not an economic, rationale, and its beneficiaries aren't Americans but mainly people from rural Mexico.

 

If we really need more poorly educated workers here, we can always rely, unfortunately, on the public schools to produce them indigenously.

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I don't really like the new law being proposed, it makes a good gesture to de-criminalize something that costs the US economy millions. Allowing illegal immigrants to become legalized would be acceptable to me if there were a way to make sure they paid back-taxes(yes i know they probably wouldn't be paying taxes anyways) or owed hospital bills and social services costs, but there can't be any good record of these events due to their illegal status.

 

Well, seeing as you can't rip money out of an empty pocket, if tax revenue is your goal, wouldn't it make more sense to legitimize these workers so we can collect tax revenue from their efforts?

 

If amnesty is your beef, don't these people already dwell under a defacto amnesty? I don't see anybody proposing a way to track them down and send them home.

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One neighborhood changing its ethic character as a result of lawful migration is not a big deal. This was an entire shift of population where English is no longer the most frequently used language. I didn't like not being able to speak the language in shops in my own neighborhood and' date=' frankly, the area overnight became far less affluent and the crime rate increased. It probably cost me around $15k when I sold my house but that's life in the big city if it is the result of lawful actions

 

This was more than one neighborhood, however and it wasn't legal. I didn't see a lot of melting going on in this small "pot." Certainly, people who were living near where the first waves of Irish landed felt the same way.

[/quote']

 

Well I can't address what happened in your neighborhood/city, but I think you're straying into NIMBY territory, which is really another discussion. I think you had an interesting point in terms of rounding things out so that Mexico gets no bigger numbers than any other nation, but I don't see any evidence here to support your claim that we're actually being overwhelmed faster than we can cope. I need something a little more conclusive and comprehensive than the example of a neighborhood in Tulsa.

 

I caught a few minutes of Rush while I was out driving around today and he picked up the NRO "high school dropouts" banner and waved it around a bit. That's all very interesting, but it misses a couple of key points.

 

1) Even if the immigrants in question are "high school dropouts" doesn't mean their kids will be.

 

2) As I pointed out above, they're doing jobs that Americans don't want to do. See above. Rush said something like "if we want more high school dropouts why not just collect them from our high schools", but isn't it glaringly obvious that American high school kids already know exactly what opportunities are out there? If they're poo-poo'ing $9-14/hr jobs to work at Burger King or McDonald's for minimum wage, isn't it obvious that they don't WANT to clean houses and landscape (or whatever), even if it does pay more?

 

3) I believe the assessment of new tax revenue (I've heard numbers as high as $35 billion). But Martinez and others have pointed out that we already derive some economic benefit from their labors, in the form of sales taxes, not to mention just their basic spending, which is far greater than this projected income tax revenue. Remember, these are low-paying jobs, and the tax revenue is only a tiny sum compared with these other two factors.

 

So logically, we are talking about only a slight increase in tax revenue, and only at the federal level.

 

They're already paying for a lot of local services, though arguably they aren't paying for their kids' schooling (but they won't pay that if they're legalized anyway, because that comes from having a higher income, buying a house, and paying land ownership taxes).

 

And you're not going to get that projected income tax revenue if you don't legalize these workers. It's just not going to happen. So if that's what you want, then you need this bill to PASS, not fail.

 

The real picture is just not as simple as the neo-cons want it to be.

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On one hand I fear the security risk illegal immigrants pose, but on the other hand I think it's completely impractical to round up and deport 11 million people living off the grid.

 

I'm not really sure what sort of damage control we can do at this point. The best I can think of would be a combination of:

 

  • Improving border security
  • Begin offering a guest worker program
  • Offer illegals already in the country amnesty in exchange for registering with the state. Add them to the guest worker program, collect taxes, and implement screening procedures to locate potential terrorists. This may sound impractical for 11 million people, but it's much easier to get 11 million people to do something voluntarily that it would be to force it upon them, especially if you don't know where they live.
  • Begin an internal crackdown on all illegals who refuse to register themselves with the government

 

I don't know if these measures could even pay for themselves in terms of taxes collected from illegal workers. Probably not at first but maybe over time.

 

It's an ugly solution, but it's the best I can think of...

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If I were President, I would relocate some of the National Guard from Iraq and at home to the Mexican Border. We will probably need some for another round of hurricanes, so we may not be able to use as many as needed, but it would be a start.

 

The only reason we have a problem is the sheer number that are crossing. The border is the root cause, and until we figure out what we are going to do, we need National Guardsman down there to slow it down.

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Well I can't address what happened in your neighborhood/city, but I think you're straying into NIMBY territory, which is really another discussion.

 

Not at all. I was just giving you a real world example so we could move this discussion out of the level of abstractions. It's all too easy to talk about "melting pots" and "absorbing" 11 million people. But these people aren't abstractions; they are people that rent houses and perform jobs.

 

As I said, I didn't have a problem if a neighborhood changes due to lawful reasons.

 

I think you had an interesting point in terms of rounding things out so that Mexico gets no bigger numbers than any other nation, but I don't see any evidence here to support your claim that we're actually being overwhelmed faster than we can cope. I need something a little more conclusive and comprehensive than the example of a neighborhood in Tulsa.

 

The total number increased 25% in five years. The illegals and Hispanics generally are flexing their political muscle to keep that from decreasing.

 

What objective measure would you use to judge to give you a "conclusive and comprehensive" view of the issue? One easy measure is use of the common language. Since you can't call any 800 service these days without being told to "press 1 for English," I'd say that there is conclusive and comprehensive evidence that at least that objective criteria has not been met.

 

If nothing else, I think I've established that the scale and continuing nature of this inflow is very different from the waves of Irish immigration.

 

I caught a few minutes of Rush while I was out driving around today and he picked up the NRO "high school dropouts" banner and waved it around a bit. That's all very interesting, but it misses a couple of key points.

 

1) Even if the immigrants in question are "high school dropouts" doesn't mean their kids will be.

 

You listen to Rush?! I'm appalled.... ;)

 

Probably most, yes, but so could any other nationality. Why does Mexico get to dictate that our immigrants come from one source that will come into this country as a coherent political block?

 

That, btw, was what the demonstrations were all about. It was an overt reminder to politicians that it may well be hazardous to their political health to regulate our own borders.

 

2) As I pointed out above, they're doing jobs that Americans don't want to do. See above. Rush said something like "if we want more high school dropouts why not just collect them from our high schools", but isn't it glaringly obvious that American high school kids already know exactly what opportunities are out there? If they're poo-poo'ing $9-14/hr jobs to work at Burger King or McDonald's for minimum wage, isn't it obvious that they don't WANT to clean houses and landscape (or whatever), even if it does pay more?

 

Would these be as low paying jobs if the supply of workers decreased? Also, would kids poo-poo $14/hour jobs? That is not my experience.

 

The point of the NRO article, which I think you are missing, is that the argument for immigration is counterintuitive. Bill Clinton made a huge point that we had to upscale the American work force across the board. That we couldn't compete in a global market without better education and skills. Why does that go out the window on this argument? I don't see how you address that point.

 

Also, your argument contradicts itself. On the one hand, you argue (I'll put a few words in your mouth here; please forgive me in advance) we have a need for a permanent underclass that earns a pittance but, OTOH, these are people that are going to integrate in our society and get high school educations. I suppose then we'll need another 11 million illegals to meet this ongoing need for an uneducated underclass.

 

3) I believe the assessment of new tax revenue (I've heard numbers as high as $35 billion). But Martinez and others have pointed out that we already derive some economic benefit from their labors, in the form of sales taxes, not to mention just their basic spending, which is far greater than this projected income tax revenue. Remember, these are low-paying jobs, and the tax revenue is only a tiny sum compared with these other two factors.

 

Quite possibly. As I said upfront, let's figure out what we really need, issue them labor visas and limit the rest. The relative economic impact is not an issue I'm going to have time to solve all on my own. If we need them, fine but why not do so in a lawful means that let's us know how many are in the country and where they are?

 

So logically, we are talking about only a slight increase in tax revenue, and only at the federal level.

 

Beats me.

 

They're already paying for a lot of local services, though arguably they aren't paying for their kids' schooling (but they won't pay that if they're legalized anyway, because that comes from having a higher income, buying a house, and paying land ownership taxes).

 

And you're not going to get that projected income tax revenue if you don't legalize these workers. It's just not going to happen. So if that's what you want, then you need this bill to PASS, not fail.

 

 

The real picture is just not as simple as the neo-cons want it to be.

 

For the life of me, I can't figure out who is a "neo-con." It seems like a polite way of saying "right wing fanatic." Am I a neo-con? I really have no idea.

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On one hand I fear the security risk illegal immigrants pose' date=' but on the other hand I think it's completely impractical to round up and deport 11 million people living off the grid.

 

I'm not really sure what sort of damage control we can do at this point. The best I can think of would be a combination of:

 

[list']

[*]Improving border security

[*]Begin offering a guest worker program

[*]Offer illegals already in the country amnesty in exchange for registering with the state. Add them to the guest worker program, collect taxes, and implement screening procedures to locate potential terrorists. This may sound impractical for 11 million people, but it's much easier to get 11 million people to do something voluntarily that it would be to force it upon them, especially if you don't know where they live.

[*]Begin an internal crackdown on all illegals who refuse to register themselves with the government

 

I don't know if these measures could even pay for themselves in terms of taxes collected from illegal workers. Probably not at first but maybe over time.

 

It's an ugly solution, but it's the best I can think of...

 

Something like this may be the best we can do. NPR had a story about lawsuits aginst employers who actively recruit illegals. The threat of litigation might deter some of the larger employers.

 

An issue we've not yet discussed is a national identity card. The idea makes me gag but I bet we have one after the next terrorist attack.

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Not at all. I was just giving you a real world example so we could move this discussion out of the level of abstractions. It's all too easy to talk about "melting pots" and "absorbing" 11 million people. But these people aren't abstractions; they are people that rent houses and perform jobs.

 

As I said' date=' I didn't have a problem if a neighborhood changes due to lawful reasons.

[/quote']

 

I gotcha. I do see your point here and I don't really have a problem with it personally. I don't have a response to it either.

 

 

The total number increased 25% in five years. The illegals and Hispanics generally are flexing their political muscle to keep that from decreasing.

 

What objective measure would you use to judge to give you a "conclusive and comprehensive" view of the issue? One easy measure is use of the common language. Since you can't call any 800 service these days without being told to "press 1 for English," I'd say that there is conclusive and comprehensive evidence that at least that objective criteria has not been met.

 

If nothing else, I think I've established that the scale and continuing nature of this inflow is very different from the waves of Irish immigration.

 

Ditto what I said above, it's a valid point and I don't have a response to it.

 

 

Would these be as low paying jobs if the supply of workers decreased? Also, would kids poo-poo $14/hour jobs? That is not my experience.

 

The Senator gave a factual example of exactly that. It's also been my personal experience and my wife has similar stories. They eschew jobs like house cleaning and landscaping and similar, even though they pay more.

 

More on that in a sec.

 

 

The point of the NRO article, which I think you are missing, is that the argument for immigration is counterintuitive. Bill Clinton made a huge point that we had to upscale the American work force across the board. That we couldn't compete in a global market without better education and skills. Why does that go out the window on this argument? I don't see how you address that point.

 

Also, your argument contradicts itself. On the one hand, you argue (I'll put a few words in your mouth here; please forgive me in advance) we have a need for a permanent underclass that earns a pittance but, OTOH, these are people that are going to integrate in our society and get high school educations. I suppose then we'll need another 11 million illegals to meet this ongoing need for an uneducated underclass.

 

Ok, I'm gonna address this obliquely in a moment....

 

 

 

For the life of me, I can't figure out who is a "neo-con." It seems like a polite way of saying "right wing fanatic." Am I a neo-con? I really have no idea.

 

I should have been more clear, but when I use this term I'm referring to a very specific political grouping, and it's not a perjorative.

 

You can read more about them here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-conservative

 

 

Ok, getting back to the subject I keep passing on, I called a friend of mine tonight who's fairly conservative and often sides with that grouping, especially on this issue. He pointed out a couple of things that I missed, and pretty much shares your view on it. One of the points he raised was that if that employer (the one I mentioned) not getting any legal applicants at $9-14/hr, then he ought to pay more for the job. He also expressed concerns about whether the playing field would be level even after these immigrants were given what he prefers to call "amnesty".

 

I questioned his use of that term because there's still a $2k fine and 5-year requirement, etc, but he pointed out that a lot of people have to wait a lot longer than 5 years and pay a lot more than that to come to this country, so we're still rewarding these people. His main concern, however, was that the border is just not going to be secured by this bill, which means that this new policy will effectively encourage more people to illegally immigrate to this country.

 

These are good points, and more or less in line with what you're saying, but I think it's also valid to point out that our kids are trundling off to work at McDs and ignoring higher paying jobs. And we have a situation which pretty much calls out for adjustment for the reasons we've discussed above, and there are benefits to both Americans and illegal aliens if this plan goes forward.

 

It's not a perfect solution, I admit. There's no rose garden on any horizon here, not anywhere. Ignoring the problem and just securing the border won't make this thing go away either -- like Bascule says, nobody has a plan to find these 11 million people and/or ship 'em home.

 

So I'm acknowledging your points here, and in my view the Senate compromise is still the best plan. But I'll hats-off your argument -- between you and my friend you did cause me to pause and re-think, and I'm not at all convinced we have any kind of real solution in play here.

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Most people here seem to working with the number 11 million. I believe the number is actually closer to 20 million.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114417580940516769-95db_W6hE23CFZZglrkdjMK1Br4_20060504.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top

 

If illegal immigrants were granted amnesty, the number of them would baloon up to twice or three times that, and that's just in the number of family members allowed to be brought over.

 

29% of the people in our prisons are illegal immigrants and 1/10 of the illegals that come to our country are already convicted felons. Illegals drain our health care, welfare and education systems... and now we want to reward them for illegally breaking into this country? What they hell kind of system is that? http://www.house.gov/gutknecht/issueitems_06/immigration/2006_immigration_lo.pdf

 

I understand all the liberals who want to help the poor illegals... they claim that this is a nation of immigrant with plenty of room. But, when the Europeans first came to the America's many of the Native Americans were helpful to the settlers, or at least apathetic to them... and see where that's lead them?? Granted it's a different situation, but it's still an historic example of what happens when you let illegal immigrants over run you.

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Just for the sake of clarity, I know some folks here have called for amnesty, but the Senate plan does not grant amnesty. It requires illegals to have been in the country for a minimum of five years, pay a $2000 fine, learn to speak English and a few other things.

 

The details are, I believe, still being debated, but given that there are many, many crimes that carry less-harsh sentences, that's not exactly "amnesty".

 

Still valid would be the question of whether it encourages more immigration, because the individuals in question may still find that to be an easier path to citizenship than the current "legal" methods.

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Just for the sake of clarity, I know some folks here have called for amnesty, but the Senate plan does not grant amnesty. It requires illegals to have been in the country for a minimum of five years, pay a $2000 fine, learn to speak English and a few other things.

The Senate doesn't, but Bush does... and that worries me.

 

The details are, I believe, still being debated, but given that there are many, many crimes that carry less-harsh sentences, that's not exactly "amnesty".

 

Still valid would be the question of whether it encourages more immigration, because the individuals in question may still find that to be an easier path to citizenship than the current "legal" methods.

 

That's a good question, but it may not matter, because part of the bill would be (hopefully) to step up boarder security as well as deport illegal immigrants in the prisons. with any luck, the bill wont attrack more illegal immigrants, because illegal immigration will be a lot harder.

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I saw demonstrations in my town yesterday and have to say that they are seriously hurting their case by waving Mexican flags. If they want to be Americans, they have to express the clear desire not only to be Americans but a willingness to give up their allegiance to a foreign power.

 

Earlier I asked what objective criteria could be used to judge the integration of any immigrant group into our culture. We look to immigrants to augment our culture not replace it in total. Failure to speak English and holding up the flags of a foreign country on the steps of our places of government constitutes some objective evidence of an unwillingness to integrate or "melt" into the pot.

 

This, however, begs the question of whether culture is a legitimate topic of discussion. It seems almost racist to suggest that culture matters but, having read Victor Hanson's Carnage and Culture this last week, I cannot deny that it has an impact. Hanson argues that Westerners beginning with the Greeks in 7th century BC have developed an especially lethal culture on the battlefield. While not contending in the least that Western Culture is morally superior, Hanson makes a highly persuasive case that a combination of western cultural traits - civic militarism, a tradition of dissent, discipline, individualism - have made Western powers especially lethal killers. I found him much more persuasive than J. Diamond who actually does find racial differences. Hanson makes clear he does not believe this historical imbalance results from ethnicity.

 

I found it particularly fascinating how he traces the Western culture's acceptance of "shock" total warfare and abhorrence with terrorism to ancient Greece. I'll try to quote some of the book tonight when I get home but I found myself reassessing my own motivations when he compared Western reaction of total warfare (e.g. bombings of Japan, Dresden) to terrorism or the "sneak" attack of Pearl Harbor. I'm not doing Hanson justice but he believes that acceptance of mass, decisive "above board" attacks as a unique Western trait which originated with the phalanxes of the Greek city states. It was odd for me to realize that some of my own feelings might flow back to such an ancient source.

 

I'm still not doing the book justice so let me get to the bottom line:

 

We are talking about integrating 11-20 million people into our country from a country whose dominant culture has not succeeded militarily and economically in comparison to countries with predominantly Western cultures. If illegal immigrants from non Western countries, "integrate" into our historically more successful culture, wonderful. However, the sheer numbers involved makes this a gamble and there is cause for concern in light of their overt refusals on some levels to integrate.

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nice post, Jim. I'm agreeing with you on all points. And it's not an issue of race, so don't worry about sounding racist. It's an issue of culture, which should not be confused with race. America hs the right to protect it's borders, language and culture (to borrow a phase from Michael Savage) from the Mexican "invaders"

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nice post, Jim. I'm agreeing with you on all points. And it's not an issue of race, so don't worry about sounding racist. It's an issue of culture, which should not be confused with race. America hs the right to protect it's borders, language and culture (to borrow a phase from Michael Savage) from the Mexican "invaders"

 

Thanks Ecoli!

 

FWIW, here's Hanson's take on the illegal immigration issue.

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Just for the sake of clarity' date=' I know some folks here have called for amnesty, but the Senate plan does not grant amnesty. It requires illegals to have been in the country for a minimum of five years, pay a $2000 fine, learn to speak English and a few other things.

 

The details are, I believe, still being debated, but given that there are many, [i']many[/i] crimes that carry less-harsh sentences, that's not exactly "amnesty".

 

Still valid would be the question of whether it encourages more immigration, because the individuals in question may still find that to be an easier path to citizenship than the current "legal" methods.

 

That's not punishment. They already pay that much and more to coyotes to bring them over here. I bet people waiting in line to come here legally would be willing to do that in order to jump to the front. Not to mention they're still here in the country, so what's the incentive of them bothering to learn english? There is no way this system would work right now. Such a program would require a local/state/federal collaboration. How else would they be able to try and figure how long a huge group of undocumented people have been here? Hurricane Katrina was a wonderful example of how they work so well together.

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That's not punishment. They already pay that much and more to coyotes to bring them over here. I bet people waiting in line to come here legally would be willing to do that in order to jump to the front. Not to mention they're still here in the country, so what's the incentive of them bothering to learn english? ... How else would they be able to try and figure how long a huge group of undocumented people have been here?

 

Well by your own statement, whether it's punishment or not is moot, right? They'd just ignore it and remain below the radar, in your view. So what difference does it make whether it constitutes sufficient retribution for the criminal act of entering the country? Isn't the real issue whether or not the Senate compromise constitutes *encouragement* for more illegal immigration?

 

Personally I don't agree -- I think if they went to all that effort to get here and then ended up staying for five years, then this would look like a good option to them. But at the same time, I still don't see how the current Senate compromise actually encourages more illegals to immigrate. Assuming (yeah I know this is a big "if") we have a closed border and the "amnesty" requires five years of service, a fine, and learning English, I think a great many would actually think twice about coming.

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