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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Musings On Immigration

Is immigration the issue in this year's presidential election?

We see lots of media back-and-forth over whether immigration is a major issue. Some reports (here, for example) see it, indeed, as the great issue for Republican primary voters, and a major cause of the success enjoyed by Donald Trump, the candidate who most clearly has made confronting illegal immigration a major plank in his otherwise still incomplete platform. Other reports (here, for example) see immigration as the last issue voters worry about, far behind the economy, jobs, and government spending.

Lesson to be learned: Polls can tell you whatever you want to hear. I'll tell you want I to hear a bit later.

Let's, for now, put aside polls, and have a common sense discussion about immigration. I point to a prior effort by this humble blog to discuss immigration. That almost three-year-old post (June 14, 2013) noted that much of the immigration debate in the US missed the point, which is,
[W]hether we need none, little, some, or a lot of immigration, and if we do, what type of immigration we should seek. Do we need millions more of semi and unskilled people from Mexico and other poor countries? Absent widespread elimination or reduction in minimum wage, taxation, public assistance, and zoning laws, how will these people contribute to the economic growth of our country? This is not nineteenth century America with small factories and workshops on every street corner, and belching smokestack industries eager for cheap workers. This is the America of EPA regulations, OSHA bureaucrats, job killing minimum wage and health insurance laws, outsourcing, and of a growing ethos that sees single parents living on the public dole as an honorable existence. It is also the America of multiculturalism whereby immigrants are encouraged never to become Americans.
Official US figures show that we receive about one million legal immigrants/year; about 20% of all the world's legal immigrants head here, despite the US comprising only five percent of the world's population. The US legal immigrant population in 2013 stood at about 41.3 million persons in 2013, roughly 13 percent of the total population of the nation. The top three source countries in 2013 for legal immigration were Mexico, India, and China--I have seen preliminary numbers indicating that China has now become the top supplier of immigrants. How many illegal immigrants? Nobody knows. The generally accepted number of illegals residing in the US is roughly 12 million. Very interesting--and we'll get back to this--is that almost half of those 12 million initially arrived legally with valid non-immigration visas, e.g., tourists, students, business people, and simply overstayed--some, uh, like forever .  . ..

Indisputable is that the USA remains far, very far, from being a xenophobic, anti-immigrant horror house. Why do they keep coming? So let's drop that silly argument right off the bat, and understand that America is very plugged into the world, and hope that Canada's lightweight PM Justin Bieber Trudeau gets the memo.

Some very basic basics. The USA is a sovereign country--stated in case people forget. As such, the USA has the right to determine who can and cannot enter. Period. That is not something we have to vet with Mexico, China, India, Bangladesh, Jorge Ramos, the OAS, or the UN. International law, for what it's worth, recognizes as a basic human right the ability to leave one's country, no such right, however, exists to enter another country. Entry control remains with the receiving country. We, in fact, have no obligation to take anybody, and can discriminate as to whom we take or don't; we can say no communists, no fascists, no Muslims, etc.

Before anybody brings it up, I know about the laws on refoulement of refugees; that's different, and does not pertain to this discussion.

As noted above, no recognized right exists for foreigners to cross our borders or violate our immigration laws and procedures. In sum, we can make our immigration laws as we  please. Period. We, furthermore, have the same right as any other sovereign nation to deport foreigners who violate our laws, including our immigration laws, or whom we otherwise find "undesirable." Current US law allows the deportation of foreigners even those with US citizen minor children. Those so deported have the option--Choice! Horrors!--to take their children on the journey back to the old country. So Hillary and the progressives can stuff their lachrymose blather about Trump and Republicans wanting to split families--that's been the law for a long, long time. It was the law under Carter, Clinton, and remains so under Obama, for example.

Trump wants to build a wall along the southern border. Do we have the right to do so? Yes, absolutely. Do we need to clear that with Mexico and Central America? Nope, not at all. If it's built, maintained, and backed up properly will it have an impact on reducing illegal immigration and drug flow? Probably, yes. Can we get Mexico and others to pay for the wall? Yes, at least in part. Put, for example, a tax on remittances and a "special border security fee" on non-citizen consular services (e.g., immigration visa processing and a legal border crossing processing fee), and you will get a lot of money. Will it end all illegal immigration? No. As noted, apparently over 40% of illegal immigrants fly into our airports or come across the border initially legally. To deal with that, you need to do things inside the USA: deny illegals access to public benefits, including schools, hospitals, and voting (just like they do in Mexico); do away with the anchor baby laws (as is the case in most of Latin America); have an employment verification scheme; and, yes, a serious deportation program, to wit, we catch you, we send you home. As the environment for illegal aliens becomes less and less welcoming, huge numbers of illegals will leave or never come, at all. We will not have to deport 12 million people. So progs relax, lay off the Third Reich metaphors for a bit: We will see no drafty cattle cars full of wretched humanity chugging south on icy railroads.

Do voters consider the immigration issue a high priority? I think, yes, absolutely, regardless of what some exit polls suggest. I think voters meld the immigration issue into national defense, national pride, and the national economy. They do so, correctly. It is part of all of these, all part of the return of the Carteresque "national malaise." I don't think voters separate out the immigration issue as some of the pollsters seek to do. Part of the political genius of Trump is that he realizes this. If he can continue to hammer home this message, I think he could pick up considerable support from African-Americans and from the large, legal, Hispanic and Asian communities, as well. Illegal immigration affects the lower ends of the economic scale much more than it does the upper ends. Huge chunks of the populace labelled as poor, are, in fact, illegal immigrants. They also have a huge and disproportionate impact on crime. Not PC to say, but . . .

Beyond all this, we need a good discussion of how much immigration WE NEED. Not how many people want to come here, but how many and what sort WE need. I see nothing wrong with a bit of selfishness when it comes to protecting our national defense, our cultural values, our jobs, and our tax resources. Do WE need one million legal immigrants? Off the top of my head, I would say, no. What types of immigrants are they? By far, today, the majority are of the low-skill "family reunification" type. Do WE need that? I, for example, find it absurd that an adult immigrant can file for his or her adult siblings and their family members. That sets up an endless cascade of "family reunification." We no longer enforce the "public charge" provisions of our immigration law; that needs to restart ASAP. Do WE need hundreds-of-thousands of unskilled and low wage-earning immigrants? Do WE need immigrants who adhere to a totalitarian murderous cult that passes as a religion? Do WE want to replicate the German, French, and Scandinavian experience with bogus refugees? I doubt all that very much.

Engineers, scientists, artists, etc., sure. As far as I am concerned, come on over. People who want to contribute and become American? Genuine refugees? Welcome, and I don't care about your color. That said, however, we do have the right to ask what does OUR country need? While we figure this out, I favor a suspension of immigration for a couple or so years until we get our chaotic immigration system in order. We have the right and even obligation to do this.

It should go without saying and, in fact, prove a most jejune thing to say, but immigrants have made an invaluable contribution to this country. Nobody I know is anti-immigrant. My parents are immigrants; my wife is an immigrant. We, however, are entitled, as are the people of Britain, France, Australia, Germany, etc., to decide calmly without hysterics and getting mau-maued by the grievance and PC industries, what sort of nation we want to have, and whom we want living in it. That is not racist or xenophobic or any other trite label one cares to generate. That is genuine concern for OUR people.

I, for one, care more for OUR poor in Detroit than for THEIR poor in Dhaka.


  1. Ahem, i agree with all you written. This in not rocket science. Mexico is like mexico because of mexicans. Pakistan et al - the same. If you want the US to be more like those countries allow in more of the people that comprise them. In the case of mexico i would argue that their contributions to our cooking warrants an alot of green cards.

    I do wish you had left off that part about not being a racist or xenophobe. We are always so defensive.

    1. OK, let me think about it. Maybe I was a bit defensive there.

    2. From experience I can assure you that your protestations will fall on deaf ears. For even raising the subject, you're a racist.

      In 2008 we were booted from Pajamas Media for posting an essay by an English writer. El Inglés'thoughtful analysis was a *descriptive* (definitely not normative) exploration of Britain's likely future should Muslim immigration continue at its then-current pace.

      Within hours of posting that work, Roger Simon of Pajamas Media called us (on a Sunday, no less) and told us to remove their ads and all links to PJM because we published this:


      In the intervening years Pajamas Media would go on to put out material far more "exreme" than that essay - while at the same time not permitting Diana West equal space to answer her detractors re her book, "American Betrayal". Many sites shut her out.

      The treatment she received from soi-disant "conservatives" was merely the prodromal behavior that would blossom fully when Trump began his campaign.

      My recommendation? Speak plainly and truly. Let the fearful fall where they may.

  2. Simple common sense from end to end. We all agree!

    The problem, of course, is that those running the show, and the swelling cohort they have imported, seduced, or ensorcelled, do not agree, and will not. And they will not go quietly, I'm afraid.

  3. Even if Trump cannot build his beautiful wall, I hope he can (via "standard" executive power) ensure that EXISTING laws are enforced. This would results in deportations and greatly reduce incentives too come here illegally.

    Our Visa programs are in terrible need of technology upgrade. Maybe Carly Fiorina could be Czarrina of Bringing Fed IT into late 20th Century.

  4. Whatever be the laws, if those who administer these laws have a different mindset, then we have no laws. That is the rub-a-dub.

  5. We should also question the need to inport STEM workers at an increasing pace.

  6. Good post-I agree 100%.

    And 110% with the push to stop all immigration for a while, like 10 years at least, to get a handle on this nightmare. In the meantime, just enforcing existing laws and ending welfare to non citizens will reverse the flow.

  7. Mexico made a case today for why we should let their citizens VOTE in this year's elections. Since you live in Cali and we live in Texas and there are both Arizona and New Mexico between us.....we know that this is best called, Mexico retaking its former states and reincorporating added territories in a bloodless coup.
    And who better to help them than the Democrats.
    Dems have in past elections, voted the dead in cemeteries (Duval county 1947) which gave LBJ the Senate seat he longed for and later he'd be President.
    Shenanigans like this have been standard operating practice for Democrats even before I was born.
    Now, today I read that Soros owns several companies which make voting machines. Does that give you any pause for thought? It does me.
    I think, unless we have a miracle we have lost this country.

    1. If Mexicans are to vote in our elections, then perhaps we should make Mexico part of the U.S.? Say about another 8 states? (That would validate Obama's number of states math.) Then we could collect taxes from them, clean out the drug cartels, build a wall on its southern border, teach them English, and stop all this jingo foolishness. How about it?

    2. i don't want it. Canada?

  8. "Engineers, scientists, artists, etc., sure. As far as I am concerned, come on over." -- Diplomad

    "We should also question the need to import STEM workers at an increasing pace." -- pacman

    We should have a firmer assurance that anti-trust law is preventing the anti-"poaching" cartels that have so long depressed engineers' compensation; and that the artificial (regulation-caused) advantages of established large firms over new-product-entrant firms are under control; and that intellectual property is protected to the inventor, not the corporate first-filer; and that university adjunct exploitation is subject to the same controls as labor exploitation in other industries--even if that be none, after all is decided; all before we admit a lot of engineers, scientists, and artists.

    1. Whoa! I'm an engineer and there is NO doubt that immigrant engineers reduce my income and my opportunities. How about someone standing up for American engineers?

      Good point about employer cartels. I saw it at work first hand in San Francisco during the hey day of nuclear power construction.

    2. 75 percent of the tech staff at companies in Silicon Valley are H1B immigrants. Why? Partly to save money, partly because our school system stinks. Schools in China, India and Japan are 100 percent more difficult and require 100 percent more effort and concentration than US schools. Our schools will never get fixed, however if companies simply hire foreign labor.

      I was in a graduate engineering class 10 years ago at USC and out of 20 students, I was the only Caucasian. Anyone who doesn't think immigration is changing our country and not for the better is out of touch - either from PC press censorship or just corrupt like the Republican establishment.

  9. Do away with anchor baby laws? They're anchor babies because the US Constitution makes them such in Amendment 14. Those born in the USA and subject to the jurisdiction thereof (which excludes visiting heads of state having kids here and diplomats, if I recall my consular FAM from admittedly two decades ago correctly) are citizens of the USA and the states in which they reside. We've also had the SCOTUS pronounce on it in the case of an undesirable 9at the time) ethnicity in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark (1896). To end the practice of having an anchor baby, we need to amend the Constitution. Could we drum up the necessary support among the populace and state legislatures for such a measure? And I'm not so sure Uncle Kepha would support such a measure.

    Mr. Amselem, did you ever do a consular stint early in your career in some country with major student visa demand? I saw anchor babies who didn't even know they were anchor babies: "But Dad and Ma took me back home after Dad got his Ph.D.! I was only three!" "Sorry, but you need to go across the hall to either pursue your citizenship claim or renounce it. That's the law."

    Do we have a better way other than jus sanguinis or jus solis birth to define an "American"? Heck, I've been around racist furriners who think that because my last name isn't English I'm not a "real American".

    I hear some of the complaints about universities' exploitation of foreign (and non-foreign) grad students--but consider how labor costs can drive up the cost of a product. Ricardo's insight works with farm labor; it works with higher ed., too. Think of how high-minded increases in minimum wages drive restaurants out of business.

    As for the technology, I've seen them introduce a new passport with glitzier security features that cost the US passport applicant more money--and forged ones were on the street in Manila and Fuzhou in about three weeks. Maybe we need better record keeping and better access to records by authorized personnel rather than fancier tech?

    As for the wall, one Yue Fei defending the land well to the south of the Great Wall was worth a dozen Great Walls manned by easily bribeable and demoralized Chinese troops.

    Otherwise, I'm generally in sympathy with Dip's proposals--not least because I've a wife and daughter-in-law who are non-white legal immigrants.

    1. Great Wall defense, Yue Fei defense,... whatever. I'd be happy with ANY kind of border defense.

    2. I don't think Mr. Mad is arguing with jus solis, as much as the implementation. Indeed the constitution grants citizenship to those born within our borders. *But*, being born here doesn't grant citizenship to one's parents. They're called 'anchor babies' because once born here, the *parents* no long fear being removed from the country.

    3. Anonymous, the anchor babies are also allowed to turn 18 and file petitions for their parents. Why should we distinguish them from any other American with alien parents? Had King Ananda Mahidol lived, there would've been nothing stopping his Cambridge-born kid brother Prince Songklaa of Thailand from setting up shop in the USA, and possibly petitioning for his father, the erstwhile med student Mahidol Alulyadej, from coming over her and, possibly, becoming part of America's medical profession. Sure, we value physicians above gardeners, but are we really allowed to discriminate?

      As for the wall proposal, the fool things don't work unless you have a "shoot to kill" order (such as the one pushed by the humanistic Erich Mielke of now-defunct Demokratik Thuringia-Mecklenburg belt).

    4. Anchor babies, or rather birthright citizenship, came about at first due to a court decision. It is nowhere in the Constitution except as a qualification for being president.

      The concept has proved useful for one political party so it has been expanded by law and by executive order.

    5. Whitehall, birthright citizenship appears in Amendment 14--those born in the US and subject to its jurisdiction being citizens of the USA and of the states in which they reside. In 1896, Justice John Marshall Harlan, in his dissent in US v. Wong Kim Ark, held that the language applied only to the children of the black freedmen, hence the San Francisco-born Mr. Wong could be excluded from the USA under the Chinese Exclusion Act. But Mr. Justice Harlan did not carry the day, and _Wong_ has been referred to in discussions of jus soli citizenship ever since.

  10. I personally know a German immigrant couple who waited years to win the "lottery" for immigrant visas. He is a master plumber and she is a nurse midwife. They had 60,000 Euros saved to start his business. He said he would never be able to do so in Germany. He would always be an employee. He has been in business in Tucson now for six years.

  11. "I'll tell you want I to hear a bit later."
    parse... fail... parse... fail... parse.. fail... :)

    - reader #1482

  12. I think you've hit the nail on the head. By focusing on the border, Trump is giving people something NOBODY else is, a sense that the United States of America has something *valuable to lose*.
    It's like locking the door to your house at night. Does that mean you don't trust anybody? No. That means you acknowledge that the world is imperfect, but that you have *things of value* in your house, whether it's a stereo, an iPad, or your spouse and children.
    If you just leave your door hanging open all the time, you are potentially sending the message: "This place sucks, who would want to live here anyways?"
    Even from the New Testament: "if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, give them your coat too" is not declaring a shirt and a coat to be valueless. It is saying the opposite: these things are of value, and *consciously* giving them away is of even greater value.

    brilliant work, Mr. Mad!

    - reader #1482

  13. Excellent summation thank you.

    Being an English nerd:
    "a major planck in his otherwise still incomplete platform."

    So Trump's platform has black body radiation constantly in it?

    Sorry, just had to go there ;-)

    1. Sorry. My face turns purple . . .

    2. I formally request a revocation of capt steve's posting privileges.

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