Posted tagged ‘Immigration’

Little Efficiencies

June 25, 2018

President Trump has proposed no longer granting undocumented immigrants judicial “due process”.  If someone is found without proper documentation, in Trump’s world, authorities would simply deport them without any hearing or appeal.  Trump’s world is so simple and easy to understand.

There are two questions, however.

  1. How will Republican Congress members view this?  Will they salute the President or denounce Trump’s proposal as a step down the slippery slope to dictatorship?
  2. And, should this immediate denial of rights not deter further attempted immigration, would the President resort to summary executions and save the expense of transporting the undocumented back to their home country?

Year End In Sight

December 29, 2014

As the 31st draws closer, it is always useful to look at the past 12 months. What type of a year has it been?  What has gone well and what would we wish have gone better?  Should we hope for 2015 to be as good or much better than 2014?

If I were President Obama and I were reviewing 2014, this is what I would think.

I would think 2014 was a grind.  I would also think the outcomes were much better than the media was giving me credit for.

If I were a really honest Barack Obama I would be thinking of all the missed opportunities where I could have convinced Americans that the Administration and its policies were making life better for all Americans.

And if I did not cross my fingers and was straight honest, I would admit that I had blinked or hesitated too long at certain points and as a result provided political opponents ample opportunity to frame the public’s perception.

The nice thing about time is that given a sufficient amount, results become clearer and even the cleverest politicians run out of excuses. For 6 years the GOP has said “no” and denounced President Obama’s actions and policies. Their predictions of doom and gloom simply have never come true and instead, the American economy is steadily improved and now is the envy of the world.

Healthcare has improved access for many Americans.  There are signs that the out of control healthcare cost increases have been slowed. The national shame of Americans being denied basic coverage because they earn too little or are sick too much is still with us but the reasons and occasions  are fewer. The GOP claims of job losses and an upcoming “train wreck” were overstated and essential misleading.

Internationally President Obama can be satisfied that he has read the world situations mostly correctly.  He has followed policies (for the most part) that have kept Americans (most but not all) out of war. The President, however, can still improve his international stage speaking skills. He can do a much better job speaking to international nations. Like why lecture other countries about human rights when you can pick up any US newspaper and read about similar transgressions here. Have you consider the human rights aspects of dome strikes, or holding uncharged detainees for over 12 years, or the US domestic incarceration rate and its racial make-up?

But even more important on the international stage is the public versus private dialog. Making foreign country demands for delivery on the US 6 o’clock news is far less effective than sending messages through normal diplomatic channels. And generally speaking, making demands which have not considered correctly how the other country will respond is foolish. Bluffing with domestic politics is problematic but if things go wrong, the consequences are confined to the US. Bluffing internationally is quite a different story.

The President’s inner circle will continue to advise him and as in the past, President Obama will need to decide which set of advice to follow.  With reflection on these successes, he should be able to make good future decisions.

Next year, Cuba, Immigration and the Affordable Healthcare Act will attract much GOP attention. The President needs to resist the urge to slap down the GOP for their regressive ideas and instead defend his decisions with measurable predictions.

Time will again allow a period to assess the President’s policies at this next year or maybe the year after.

The Border Hot Potato

July 12, 2014

Women and Children, many unaccompanied, are streaming across the south west US boarder. It is reported they are fleeing violence and economic hardship. For many politicians, this situation is a gift from heaven.

For these politicians, there is reason to demand increased boarder security and the golden opportunity to spread fear amongst voters.

In earlier times, immigrants were more welcome. The Statue of Liberty comes with a poem containing these lines,

“Give me your tired, your poor,
 Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…”

What has happened to change public opinion so greatly that what in the past were viewed as potential resources and are now viewed only as a liability?

Of course there have been other times in American history when immigrants were felt unwanted and at times feared. But the overwhelming American experience has been that immigrants helped propel America into global leadership and wealth.

To be sure this current crop of Salvadorian, Guatemalan, and Honduran have no right to self immigrate. There was no US invitation nor are there pre-arranged jobs waiting them. So how does the richest country in the world deal with such a situation?

House Speaker John Boehner said the President should enforce the law. Hmmm. I wonder what law he means?

Currently law requires women and children be released pending an immigration hearing. What?

A law from George W Bush era, ratified unanimously by the Senate, restricts the immediate deportation because of fear that “human traffic-ing” might be involved. But if your goal is to curry favor with xenophobes who in turn might vote for your party, then Boehner’s comments might make sense.

In the recent past, newspaper headlines have been all about Mexican undocumented workers. Congress has failed to deal with this issue and now with women and children entering the country Congress is facing a much more nuanced threat.

Republicans who have consistently tried to deal with undocumented aliens “tactically” have been punished in opinion polls and in the last Presidential election. US demographics shout to Republicans that they need a better “strategy”.  Hispanic US citizens have become a major voting influence.

Immigrants and immigration are now and always has been a mixed bag of opportunity and challenges. Immigrants displace current workers and those displaced workers need to find work someplace else. If these displaced workers find as good or better employment, then all is forgiven. If not, then immigrants are bad.

Immigrants from Central America (including Mexico) arguably represent a special situation. These immigrants are our neighbors and if one thinks about it for a moment, carry with them a number of cherished American values. These would-be immigrants are religious, hard working, and strong family people. In short, they are like most of us.

Of course there is a limiting immigration rate which our economy could support. It is also important that these immigrants show their willingness to assimilate (language, allegiance to the country). I suspect the Mexican undocumented workers have already shown this. Otherwise how could an estimated 11 million be living already in the US?

The immigration issue is a hot potato for both parties. Regrettably, both parties’ willingness to use “tactics” on this issue has had the consequence of failure to form any national consensus. So far Democrats seem to have won the Hispanic vote with their “tactics”.

Unfortunately the undocumented worker problem is not going away, sealing the boarders is inadequate (if not impossible), and ultimately the US needs immigrants to supplement our natural birthrate.

The only question should be is who will be the immigrants?

Immigration Reform Is Dead (For This Year)

February 3, 2014

Over the weekend, Republican Representative Paul Ryan said, in his opinion, immigration reform was dead for 2014.  The sense was that Ryan was reflecting realities, not his personal preferences.  Republicans appear too ideologically divided to settle on any one sensible immigration position.  And, 2014 is an election year.  Ryan gratuitously allowed that too many Republicans believe that President Obama would wink at increased border control and move to open the path to citizenship instead.

I would hope that President Obama or anyone that succeeds him will do the same.  The preoccupation with “securing the borders” is a fools errand.  The US prides itself in being an open country and foreign visitors, for all sorts of reasons, are both a matter of fact and an  economy plus.  Anyone can overstay their authorized entry, with or without a visa.  Our country is large and with a history of privacy, citizens and undocumented visitors can come and go easily.

Taking this point a step further, if there was some way to build a solid, impenetrable wall between Mexico and the US, does anyone think that will stop undocumented workers from entering the US?  Each year documented workers tend our agriculture fields, or visit Disney World, or attend our Universities.  What keeps them from just staying?

Now lets look at this the other way.  Suppose we simply stopped the “secure the border” campaign and stopped building walls and fences.  Instead, we instituted unlimited work visas (for Mexicans) and seriously cracked down on the employment of undocumented workers (including domestic labor).  What do you think would be the consequences?

Securing the border is a copout for not cracking down on vusiness employers (who donate to political campaigns) and the top 2% who employ nannies, cooks, and handymen and do not pay social security.  Hmmm.

So while Representative Ryan’s comments reflect reality, these comments like so many before, really reflect an unwillingness to change the current situation.

Arguably, the current situation does most everyone well, or at least does everyone the least damage.  There is plenty of cheap labor and in boom times we know there is more labor still in Mexico.  So why should this issue concern us?

As Germany and other European Countries have found out, the importation of guess labor has complications when that labor remains for long periods of time.  Most European Countries were content with the presumed temporary nature of “guest workers” but when the guests remained for several generations (and did not assimilate) other issues arose.

The main issue is that a country cannot effectively send “guests” back to their home country after years of residency.  The guests have made a new home.

Of all places, the US is composed of “guest workers”.  Almost all the 320 million Americans can trace their family tree back to immigrants.  Do I smell hypocrisy?

Unfortunately, I do not expect the GOP (or Democrat) positions to mature much in 2015.  Speaking frankly about how to treat guest labor and why it is a good idea to make a path for the guest to become a red, white, and blue American does not seem likely.

For all sorts of economic and social reasons, a rationale path to citizenship for Mexicans and Canadians (our neighbors) will benefit all involved.  When the threat of legal problems are gone, many guests will choose to return to their native country while others will remain and become indistinguishable from the rest of us immigrants.


Bring Back Ear Marks

October 21, 2013

Ear Marks, the time honored procedure where a Congress member writes into legislation some provision that normally brings money to his/her district or often to a specific benefactor.  It makes any reasonable person gag to think that laws can have provisions which hide in the bills verbiage that have nothing to do with bill’s title or intent.  But the ways of Congress are sometimes mysterious.

With the rise of the Tea Party, “ear marks” became a bad word.  For sure many ear marks were ridiculous when isolated and highlighted.  But they served a purpose.

Congress members seek to be reelected.  Reelection usually requires a well off campaign fund as well as local discouragement to other potential challengers.  Bringing home the “pork” was the most proven method.

Ear Marks while sounding awful (and truly were shameful) did not cost a lot when compared to the size of yearly government expenditures or even when considering the annual deficit.  Ear Marks, however, did foster a spirit of “compromise” as well as a focus on must do legislation.  As long as there was an expectation that each Congress member would get their turn to dip into the public trough, Congress members could be kept in line.  Hmmm.  Oh, for the good old days.

Today it is less important to bring pork to the home district (although Defense appropriation still do this).  Today there are PACs which dump huge amounts of special interest money on Congress members desks… providing they are aligned with the ideological bent of their special interest supporters.

There has been much criticism of President Obama.  “He won’t engage with the GOP”, it is said.  These critics predict that there will not be any progress in Washington until the President engages.  Hmmm.

What should the President say?  Should he point out that the US is the only modern country that does not provide health care for all its residents and the health care it does provide is twice as expensive as other countries?  Should the President point out that illegal immigration is in fact a “Mexican” problem and that there are straight forward ways to gain control of new immigrants?  Should he say that undocumented immigrants already living here, say for more than five years and who have no criminal record, ought be allowed to become citizens on both humanitarian and pragmatic grounds (cost to send back and children who are citizens)?  Should the President say (again) the deficit could (and should) be closed with a balanced/shared approach involving government spending cuts (including entitlements) as well as new taxes?  Or, should the President emphasize that those bridges and roads which are crumbling are essential to a healthy economy and we need to find ways to maintain and improve them?

Just saying this again, I agree, is not “engaging”.  There can be no engagement unless others say something back.  In the olden days, the something was “I need this ear mark or that one”.  Today the dialog is written in some special interest’s back room.

The sad part of this is that ear marks are not the answer to the mess President Obama finds himself in.  The President is simply frustrated with the low intellectual level of Congressional discourse.  To his fault, President Obama prefers to say nothing rather than engage in clear demagoguery.  To say, President Obama does not suffer fools well might be an understatement.

I wonder whether Hillary will do better?


Immigration and the American Union

April 12, 2013

Is it time, once again, raise the virtues of a European-like union here in North America?

Such a Union would go a long way to reduce the shear stupidity and wastefulness of most of the current boarder sealing efforts.  It would also allow Congress to base immigration quotas on some more rational and enforceable basis.  I wonder whether the “Bushmaster Crowd” would support such an idea?

The European Union is not the most perfect analogy.  What is appealing, however, is the transportability of labor.  Workers from Italy can enter the workforce in Germany without restrictions.  If the same were true in America, then Canadian or Mexican citizens (documented in their own country) could seek employment anywhere in the US.  And the reverse would also be true.

With documents, taxes and benefits could be monitored.  This is an important aspect.  Potentially many who crossed the borders could fall into the category of “economic immigrant” where the person comes to the US for the purpose of obtaining free healthcare and welfare benefits.  While this presents heart saddening situations, it is not the responsibility of the US to extend unlimited resources for the poor of other countries.

Unlimited immigration is not the goal.  Immigrants must still meet some total quota number.  For the US to grow, we need some increase in total population.   Too low a population growth rate can be offset with more immigrants and too fast a population growth can be controlled by adjusting down the maximum number per year.

The overall intention of an American Union would be to make it attractive for people who really want to work to find the US a great place to live.  Why would it not make sense that if someone worked 10 years in the US, had no criminal record, and expressed interest in becoming a citizen, why wouldn’t that be a good outcome?

The American Union has been criticized on the basis of sovereignty.  The Bushmaster crowd, especially, do not want Mexico or Canada to think they can in any way seek to regulate working conditions in say Kansas or North Dakota or Georgia.  This concern’s solution seems straight forward to me.

Another hitch could be this agreement must be reciprocal.  Maybe Mexico and Canada would not like the idea of Americans coming to work in their countries?

And then there are other nations, such as Cuba, other Caribbean Countries, and if we consider Alaska, why not Siberian?  Should they be part of the Union?


Maybe it is better to just consider the concept of “free flow of labor” and issue documents to all Mexicans.  (The alleged 11 million are mainly Mexican.)  If these people work, they can stay.  If these people do not work or can no longer find work, they must return home.  After 10 years, if they have a good record, they can become citizens with no lines.

Pretty simple.

My New Next Door Neighbor

March 18, 2013

Reince Priebus, Chairman of National Republican Party, has news for all of us.  We are going to get some new neighbors.  The GOP is going to send out into the community paid Republican workers who will provide the GOP message directly to Americans.  Why?  Well, Mitt Romney lost the last election because not enough Americans understood the GOP message.


I’m not sure whether I should laugh at this preposterous notion or scratch my head and wonder how anyone could think the GOP message had not been communicated?  After the carnival which was the Republican primary process, and about $1 billion spent upon the Presidential campaign, one might say I did not like the message, but one cannot say I did not hear the message.

Women, minorities, gays and lesbians, those who respect science, those caught up in voting rules changes, and Hispanics have all heard a clear message.  Rebranding or more intimate messaging does not change the message.

The natural consequences of Priebus’s plan are that the GOP will lose by even greater margins in 2016, and Democrats will not sharpen their game in order to remain competitive.  They won’t need too.

Without two relevant political parties, all Americans are losers.