Illegal Immigration and the Democrats

Uhh wrong.

As to the various points brought up: the illegal-immigration problem is at its peak in Southern California, that’s true but is also a growing nationwide problem and the stats and demographics that if we don’t reverse the trends, then the structural problems of a weak labor market and over-extended public services will spread to more parts of the country.

As to the issue of magnitude, I respectfully disagree. The decline of labor unions is a factor but is also a 2 way street: as the labor market (especially the bottom tiers) grows weaker, the bargaining of power of unions (and their ability to help members) is reduced. So weak unions are both a cause and an effect of a weak labor market. However, I don’t think you can ignore the impact of illegal employment on the weakness of the labor market. Paul Krugman recently linked to a study that showed that low-end labor wages have been reduced by 8% by illegal immigration. Another study I saw linked shows that US high school drop-outs have seen a 7% reduction in wages as result of illegal immigration. And when you are living on $6/hr, 7% or 8% makes a BIG difference, since almost all your money goes to the basic necessities. Also I think most studies on the impact of illegal immigration make a huge error: they don’t factor in the cost of the children of illegals, who are US citizens if born here. Although they are US citizens, the cost of educating those kids, the cost of health care and infrastructure for those kids is a consequential cost of illegal immigration. So you have to analyze that impact on our infrastructure and public programs as well as the direct costs of the illegals themselves. (Please note I’m not advocating we deny citizenship or rights to the kids; under the Constitution they are full citizens with full rights - I’m just saying that mathematically the costs for the kids of illegals are part of the cost of illegal immigration, which is typically not counted in most studies.)

Although I don’t agree with everything he posts, Michael Lind of TPMCafe has been making some points that are in line with some of my ideas:

On cheap-labor liberalism.

On what progressives should do about immigration.

This immigration issue is just a part of what I see as a failure of the Democrats to really focus and articulate a worthwhile vision.

One of the common complaints about the Democrats is that they lack a core message. In Crashing the Gate, Kos & Armstrong talk about how the Republicans have a simple core message, an identifiable “brand”. Even though they routinely enact policies that make a laughingstock of their brand, Republicans still claim to be a party of “lower taxes, economic growth, less regulation, and strong national security”. It may be a near-total lie, but it’s still a powerful brand.

I was thinking of how the Democrats could articulate their own brand, in a way that would attract votes and stay true to their core values. The problem is, any real Democratic “brand” that I would agree with would have to gore a few of the precious Democratic interest group’s oxen.

Here’s how I would articulate my version of a worthwhile Democratic brand: Democrats are for higher wages, better education and health care, economic growth for all American, protecting your personal rights, and a stable foreign policy.

Economically, I think “higher wages” is a key plank. And to really shift the labor market toward higher wages for a lot of Americans, you would have to BOTH do the traditionally liberal measure of raising the minimum wage and also bring market forces to bear by strengthening the labor market (reducing illegal immigration is one part of this) and also by loosening the credit supply (which might frighten large investors but has to be done IMO). One of my key ideas is that government intervention alone is rarely enough to get a major job done: its too static, too bureaucratic, and too subject to corruption and political manipulation. However, I don’t agree that government has NO role: I want a mixture of reasonable regulation and market forces. So higher wages via both a higher wage and a stronger labor market is my goal.

Second, better education and health care would require a strange reversal: for education I think we have too much bureaucracy and government intervention - too many earmarks, too much top-down micro-management, too much administrative costs, and not enough flexibility and reward for performance. Better education to me would mean taking on the old-school teachers’ unions and enacting merit pay, (not solely test-score based, but based on actual performance reviews), and also taking on state and local bureaucracies to equalize funding on a per-student basis and getting as much funding as possible into the class room. Charter schools, and well-designed voucher programs could be a part of this. The reversal is that in health care I want to see more government involvement. I’ve come to believe that our current hodgepodge of public/private health care is highly inefficient. I don’t support a Canada or UK-style socialized medicine system (too monopolistic and bureaucratic for my tastes) but there are several good single payor (single payor is different than socialized/nationalized medicine, a distinction most don’t understand) and also multi-payor / mandatory coverage plans in various countries. I would like to see us move to a single payor system with a common risk pool of government insurance, but with the actual health care provided by private providers (something like Medicare), but with an option for citizens to purchase additional coverage and services. Again a mix of public and private tools.

Economic growth for all Americans means revising the tax code in a way that makes the tax system more efficient and is more fair to most Americans. I would move towards a tax system that is simpler, with fewer brackets and less deductions, and no preferential treatment for dividends, capital gains or inheiritences (ie ALL income from wages, inheiritences, captial gains, dividends, etc would be taxed the same way). Both Demos and Repubs hate this idea b/c tax perks are one of the main pieces of meat they can throw to their contributors, but a simpler, less perk and loophole-filled tax code would be a LOT better for America.

Protecting personal rights means of course the common liberal rights associated with democrats (gay rights, abortion rights, minority rights etc) but I would try to be as inclusive and non-judgemental about this plank as is possible. (IE calling Christians a bunch of morons is both offensive and counter productive). Also, this plank should include privacy rights and financial records rights which are increasingly important. Opt-in rules as a default for most financial records, more personal control of credit scores, etc, are both good for the average citizen and political winners IMO.

Lastly, a more stable foreign policy is already being articulated by the Democrats . The Senate Democrats have an even more hard hitting piece.

Articulate something like that, with reasonable policies to back it up and the Demos have IMO a strong winning platform. You’ll note that it doesn’t focus on whining, victimizimation, PC, abortion-at-all costs, where’s my hand-out-for-my-identity-group-BS. The Demos need to refocus, and immigration is one of the issues I’d like them to start on.

Allow me to summarize my rebuttal: without a 60% majority in both houses, I don’t see how the Democrats can reform immigration without either getting politcally killed in the process or pandering to racists.

Let the GOP tear themselves apart over it.

Again, I respectfully disagree. Improving enforcement vs illegal employers is actually quite easy. One thing to keep in mind is how pitiful our enforcement efforts are right now. Improving enforcement is easy b/c we spend so little and do so little right now.

According to the LA Times :

The number of federal workers who focus on finding illegal immigrants on the job has dropped in recent years, from 240 in 1999 to 90 in 2003.

Think about that. We have a minimum of 12 million illegals, about 2/3 of whom work. That’s about 8 million illegal workers spread out over several hundred thousand employers. To regulate them we had at peak 240 personnel (thats 1 federal agent per 33,000 workers) and now we have 90 (thats 1 federal agent per 90,000 workers). Imagine being a federal agent with a 90,000 file case load to investigate the identity and documentation of those employees. You can see why the following is true:

Along with the drop in staff numbers has come a decline in employer sanctions. The number of notices of intent to fine issued to companies that knowingly hired an illegal worker or improperly filled out an I-9 form plummeted from 417 in 1999 to three in 2004.

Last year, 127 employers were convicted for hiring undocumented workers — a small fraction of the thousands of businesses thought to be using illegal labor

And here’s the capper:

And less than 1% of the money devoted to immigration enforcement is directed to crackdowns at the workplace, with the overwhelming majority spent at the nation’s borders.

Right now we are only spending 1% of our immigration enforcement funds on illegal employment. You could increase that tenfold and only increase immigration spending a mere 10%. We are doing such a poor job now that its easy to do better.

We don’t need 60% majorities, we just need a willingness to bite the hand of the big illegal-employer contributors. And if the Demos are too greedy for campaign money to do that, then they are not the party of middle and working class Americans.

Just a note here (haven’t read the whole thread yet), this is an issue in any major, and many not so major, city in America. I drive a truck OTR, and while making pickups and deliveries all over the country, I would estimate that 20-25% of the time, I will go into a factory of some sort or another where the question of “Where is the shipping/receiving office?” will be met by a blank look and shrug of the shoulders. And where 95-98% of the workforce “on the floor” will be Hispanic.

On to read the rest of the thread.

I can tell you, I have seen the english speaking people who can’t find jobs unloading trucks in this country. If we had to fire the Mexican guys and hire those assholes, this country would grind to a fucking halt.


Hold on. So if companies replaced all their illegal workers with legal workers at higher wages, won’t prices rise? Won’t our exports fall? How is that a good thing for me?

If I believed the government would reduce my taxes or use the extra $$$ to pay down the 8 trillion debt, maybe I would agree to this, but that’s not what is going to happen, is it?

I guess rywill’s words are just going WOOSH over my head.

Increasing the cost of our goods makes us less able to compete in global markets, and thus hurts our GDP. Yes? No?

Is the argument that expelling illegal workers will free up billions of extra tax dollars that the U.S. government won’t have to spent on social services, and that this money will somehow trickle down to benefit american citizens directly instead of being siphoned off into the defense/nation rebuilding budget?

I realize I am hated here (it’s not paranoia if it’s true), but what does that have to do with this thread?

I wouldn’t categorize the general distaste as hate, Cindy. Don’t oversell yourself.

Semantics, but OK.

If you need to communicate with people where you work, take a lesson from yourself, do what you are suggesting those Mexicans do. Learn the language. If they are illegal aliens as you suggest, you have a lot more time and money to devote to becoming bilingual than they do. Capitalize on that. Buy some Spanish tapes and listen to them on the long haul. Make yourself more useful and worth more money than the next guy.

Not really. Why can companies not raise their prices now, but can if their prices go up?

What? While I agree that being bilingual is always a good thing, I don’t think it should be a requirement for an American, born in this country, so that he/she can accomodate an illegal alien. Please explain the rational behind your suggestion?

Jaysus, I realize I am not the brightest bulb in the room, but sometimes replies such as your’s leave me reeling.

Roger Wong sez

How is that a good thing for me?

And therein lies the problem-“meism”, not what is good for the country, as a whole.

You do know that we don’t have an official language in America, don’t you?
So there’s no “requirement” that aliens learn English to accomodate YOU, oh natural-born citizen.
The rationale behind Flowers’ suggestion seems to be that being able to speak Spanish is a skill that would set you apart from your peers and hence make you more marketable and able to command a higher wage.

He never suggested that it was a requirement. Being a natural-born citizen doesn’t protect you from the realities of American demographics; you have no “right” to expect English and every reason to broaden your horizons.

How I’m perceiving this is that our manufacturing industries today are able to survive because they are able to get cheap labor. At an increased labor cost, which is what the end result is when you get rid of the cheap labor, the businesses would be unable to survive unless they raised their prices to offset the increase in labor costs.

So, will dissolving the cheap labor pool push them above this limit?

What’s good for me is good for the country as a whole.

Things good for Roger:
[li]No national debt[/li][li]More exports than imports[/li][/ul]

Things bad for Roger:
[li]Paying more for groceries[/li][li]Watching the tax money saved from social program budget cuts go into the general fund and get disproportionately allocated to the defense budget[/li][/ul]

Those two lists comprise the entirety of the concerns I expressed in my previous post.

FYI, I am “marketable” enough right now, and this appears to have gone from an “an illegal immigration and the Democrat’s response” thread to a “rant on Cindy” thread.

“You” guys will NEVER win an election if you keep marginalizing workers.

edit: American citizen workers, that is. Unless you are going for what all the “right wing pundits” say, you are just pandering to the Hispanic community to try and gain that voting block. Now, that wouldn’t be true, would it?

Cindy- Like 95% of the jobs that illegals take are terrible, terrible jobs. I didn’t want to pick lettuce for $6/hr, so I don’t really give a shit what language the guy that picked that lettuce speaks. People whose lives would be improved if they could get a lettuce picking job don’t vote.

Sure, it will raise the cost of manufacturing and shift jobs from that sector to other sectors, but that’s not the same thing as “immigration limitations will raise the price of everything.” I don’t see how that would even work - it’s not like customers are going to say “ok, we’ll happily pay more money for your stuff because you tell us your costs have gone up.” The most profitable price point is independent of production costs.