Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Magic Thinking II

The esteemed Smallholder guessed correctly that I have missed his presence at Naked Villainy, for it has been a while since I had a worthy adversary. So it WAS with great gusto that I responded to his missive on immigration yesterday, and with equal pleasure that I anticipated his reply. Alas, instead of addressing my arguments point by point, Smallholder simply reasserted his earlier claim and then changed tack by making a different argument. Such tactics are beneath what I'd grown to expect from him; they seem more in character for a *ahem* Democrat.

Smallholder writes:
I acknowledge that there are a few bad men who come to this country illegally. But the VAST majority of people are the hardworking types I described above. It takes intiative to cross the border. Working in Harrisonburg, I encounter a huge number of immigrants, legal and otherwise. My impression is that the higher levels of crime associated with immigration is not caused directly by the immigrants themselves.
And it's rapidly being established, at least from the past couple of posts, that Smallholder's impressions take precendence over any statistics or testimony to the contrary (will he bother to read my links, let alone respond to them? The blogosphere waits with bated breath). Apparently, Harrisburg is much more typical of illegal immigrant populations than, say, LA, San Diego, or other border cities. If personal impressions are the standard, I'd be happy to share the impression I get every time read of another case here in Oregon (a state much closer to the border than VA or PA, and with a significant Illegal population) of illegals being involved in drug trafficking, theft, or violations of the Mann Act. However, my intent WAS to stick to the statistics and documented evidence.
However, a fair amount of the crime pronbably results from people preying on immigrants who literally cannot seek protection from the authorities.
I call bull$***. As Ms. MacDonald's terstimony mentions, most state and local police departments have a policy of not questioning individuals on their immigration status, especially if they're the victims, bystanders, or witnesses, and sometimes even if they're suspects in other crimes. To be certain, illegal immigrants do live in fear of deportation, but their fear is not of local authorities.
Giving immigrants legal status would alleviate a small proportion of that crime.
We have a method for giving immigrants legal status. If your argument is that the process of LEGAL immigration is to restrictive, again, as I've said often, I'm on your side. Where you lose my support is when you start arguing that the answer is to condone illegal immigration.
The greatest criminal activity associated with illegal immigration is largely ignored: the American business communties' profit-driven motivation to look the other way and not check "papers" too closely.
On this we are in agreement. In fact, most advocates like myself of stronger immigration and border enforcement advocate stiffer penalties for employers who emply illegals.

The unspoken reality behing the immigration debate is that the only real way to slow immigration down is to convince employers to stop giving immigrants jobs. And, aside from poorly skilled nativist high school drop outs, no one wants that.
Don't discount how important to our economy the impact on "poorly skilled nativist high school drop outs" is. More on that in a moment.

It's at this point that Smallholder deviates from his original point, that all illegals are nothing more than honest, hard-working individuals, to the "Illegals are good for the economy" tangent -- one that, sadly, the Maximum Leader falls prey to as well.
Companies like immigrants because they hold down unskilled wages.
Here Smallholder uses a nifty trick the illegal immigrant advocates employ quite often, and I'm not sure if he's doing it intentionally or not. Notice that he shifts from discussing illegal immigrants to just immigrants. It's a clever ploy -- because much of what he says about the benefits of immigrants is true --but it's true equally of legal immigrants, without the drawbacks associated with illegal immigrants. Furthermore, some of these benefits are ONLY true of legal immigrants. So let's stick to the issue of people who are here illegally, 'kay?
There is no political way that Congress will actually pass legislation that would create enforceable penalties that would actually deter companies from hiring illegals. The Democrats are known for drinking at the corporate lobbying trough, but the Republican's successful conquest of K-Street is even more impressive. Neither party wants to incur the wrath of the business community.
That may be true for the time being, but the angrier Americans get about illegal immigration (and all the polls indicate we are getting that way), the less true this will become.

It's at this point that SH launches full-bore into his "illegal immigrants are good for the economy" spiel, once again ignoring evidence to the contrary:
Additionally, actually taking immigrants out of the labor pool would force companies to compete for unskilled American labor, driving up the cost of production.
Again with the lumping all immigrants together. Knock it the hell off. I can guarantee you that based on the comments and studies I've read, the legal immigrants resent it even more than I do. We're not taking immigrants out of the pool, we're requiring that they obey our laws before they go swimming. Increasing legal immigration quotas is a valid response if the labor pool dries up. Ignoring those who flaunt our laws is not.

With regards to the economy, there's a dynamic involved in illegal immigration that SH overlooks: A significant portion of the money made by illegals is sent back to Mexico and the other countries of the ii's origin, it does not remain in the US economy. US citizens and legal immigrants working towards citizenship, who hae a far more vested interest in keeping their money here in the US.

The higher production costs would be passed on to the consumer.

More of whom would be employed, increasing the consumer base, and mitigating any rise in costs.
Companies faced with a harsher business climate would start looking at their operations. If cheap labor based on illegal Mexicans can't be found in America, the outsourcing trend wil accelerate. Instead of helping poorly educated Americans get higher wages, removing illegal aliens from the workforce will simply result in the elimination of jobs that poorly educated people can do.
As Maximum Leader pointed out, most of the jobs being done by illegals can't be exported -- housekeeping and landscaping; construction; agricultural work, menial labor. And, as the article I linked to above about construction in the wake of Katrina points out, Americans and legal immigrants WILL do those jobs.

Many of our right-leaning readers will object to this. But consider this, my righty friends: this is exactly the same (and valid) argument made by the right against raising the minimum wage. If the logic opposing raising the minimum wage holds, so does the logic of welcoming immigrants.


As I've said, when it comes to legal immigrants, this assertion is ablsolutely correct. I believe in a free market, and healthy competition. But when it comes to wages, illegal immigration hurts the market for the same reason a minimum wage does: One artificially inflates wages, the other artificially deflates wages. How so? Because while illegals may not be afraid of deportation from local law enforcement, they do fear it from the Federal government. And their fear of deportation is used by employers to keep their wages lower than for other workers.

Costs up + lost jobs + sales down = Recession.

Costs Up, but that's where the formula falls apart. Jobs will NOT be lost -- people who are competing for jobs just out of their league (legal immigrants and unskilled Americans) will be able to settle for jobs now filled by illegals. This will ease competition for jobs at the next level up, increasing those wages and taking pressure off of that tier of society, and the effects spread from there. So I reject the jobs lost. As for sales down, with more Americans and legals making the money, it will stay in the economy instead of being wired to Chiapas. Furthermore, the easing of strain on Emergency rooms and other government services will save a good chunk of that $21 Billion mentioned earlier, helping with taxes and government budgets. So what we have is:

Costs up + Jobs (among potential consumers) up + Sales up == Increased profits.

Bush and the Republican leadership know that a recession and disheartened middle class is a sure recipe for electoral disaster.

The Recession conclusion is iffy at best, and as for a disheartened middle class, well:

Harvard economics Professor George Borjas showed that illegal aliens displace American workers out of $200 billion in lost wages annually.

In conclusion:

Support illegal immigration to avoid a recession.

In conclusion:

Smallholder is wrong.

Maximum Leader, at the least, takes it like a man.