Immigration in the US

Don’t think we had a thread dedicated to immigration, but figured this was big enough to merit segregation from the generic “how Trump is fucking everything”.

All our food is rotting, because there isn’t anyone to harvest it.


And in Ohio as well:

And some additional issues about how about half of our harvester labor force is undocumented, and so we are going to see significant increases in food prices due to Trump’s crack down.

Oh come on. We all know that there will be a bumpy transition until the local teens finally say okay, someone has to bring in the harvest – we’ll do it!

Or the retired baby-boomers. They’ll probably go work the fields in 100 degree temperatures.

That’s the spirit!

In seriousness, I’m glad you started this thread. This subject really does need its own home.

Thank you! I was sharing ICE and immigration related stories in the Muslim Ban thread for a while, and then in the America thread (I believe), and neither thread felt like the appropriate place.

There is a reason the can kept getting kicked down the road for the last 50 years or so.

The big problem was that the right-wing media made it a massive critical issue to get eyeballs. Look at Reagan/Bush debating it. Rational discourse where they basically agreed on the end result (which wasn’t ship them all back by any stretch of the imagination, they openly mocked the stupidity of the idea). They sound like modern Democrats, because they understood the issues. Now we chant “Build a Wall” and abduct brown kids and their parents in the night.

The majority of undocumented immigrants who work in the US still work “on the books.” That means that these workers have provided some sort of I-9 fulfilling documentation of their ability to work legally, typically falsified green cards, for which a thriving industry still exists.

This is important, because our implementation of immigration enforcement still sucks, and Trump hasn’t made it better (ICE under Obama didn’t help things, either.)

See, right now, an old law still exists and is still holding sway. That law says that an employer has fulfilled his/her duty to ensure that all workers he/she hires are legally able to work by simply making sure that I-9 forms are properly filled out and stored on-premise for inspection, and that proof that supporting I-9 documentation has been viewed is also available. For most employers, that means a splotchy xerox of a Permanent Resident Alien Card and a Social Security Card of unknown provenance.

“But wait!” you say. “We solved this!” You’re right! Better living through technology. An employer now can call in documentation on a phone, or enter it onto a computer for verification by ICE. And to be fair, there are a lot of national employers who do that.

So…what’s the problem? Well, sometimes that verification can grind slowly. An employer may not hear back from ICE for a week or two. These aren’t tech jobs. These are tight margin jobs where employers aren’t hiring workers unless there’s immediate, often urgent need. Asking the employer to wait a week or more to get verification isn’t a realistic option for some of these employers, so they don’t use it. It’s much easier for them to cover their own asses by xeroxing documentation and getting a worker started.

The other issue is one that was used a few times in the Obama era, got put on hold, but has now emerged as a very big thing in the Trump era: verification becoming grounds for ICE raids. Let’s say you run a meat-processing factory and you submit 20 social security numbers for verification before a busy season arrives. 8 of those SSNs come back as bad ones, do not hire. OK. No problem. You don’t hire those 8 people. But now the bad side: ICE uses the existence of those 8 bad submissions to suspect that maybe they’ll find undocumented workers currently employed at your factory, and they raid you. This disrupts your business, and may result in workers being fairly and unfairly detains, further damaging your operation.

You manage that factory. You pay a fair, industry standard wage to all your employees. You offer benefits. You pay payroll taxes, and withhold income tax, social security tax, and all other social welfare taxes from employees, paying them as required.

So. How are you going to handle your verification of legal ability to work? The old way of documentation and storage and go get 'em tiger…or the way that may end up disrupting your business operations for weeks or months?

When we talk immigration reform, those are the issues on the ground that actually need to be worked out. And they are issues that require nuance and not demonizing, that require careful application and input from all stakeholders in this. Which…yeah, government doesn’t do too well.

And to once again be clear, there’s one more side to this: no one in Washington wants to admit it, but undocumented workers (“illegals”, if you must) are propping up social welfare programs for native born white Americans.

The social security administration in 2014 estimated that “on the books” illegal immigrants had paid over $100 billion into the Social Security fund alone since 2004. That’s free money, since the folks who paid it in won’t ever collect it. The most recent estimates from the SSA are that $12 billion annually comes into their coffers from illegal, ineligible workers.

That right there is incentive enough to not fix the problem for another 5-10 years, until those social welfare programs (like Medicare) get over the Baby Boomer hump.

I mean there is almost literally no one who benefits from trying to close that, really. It’s like this tacit agreement between all parties, we ignore your means of entry and non legal work status, and you ignore those taxes you can’t benefit from. It’s, almost literally, the price they pay for illegal entry.

Yep, exactly. Which is why hoary arguments about illegal immigration being a drag on our society is such a nonstarter for me.

I generally operate under the belief that folks who want to be American should be allowed. That’s how my ancestors came here… Generally penniless hobos from Ireland and Eastern Europe.

America’s strength came from the fact that we were a bunch of mutts whose sole motivation was to try and make better lives.

To me it feels like maybe at the core, immigration in the US boils down to a simple economics problem, one of supply and demand.

Triggercut, very good post on the realities and legalities of illegal employment which is what drives illegal immigration.

I will add this: Triggercut mentioned that we have e-verify to but did not mention that e-verify in the US is not mandatory. E-verify is a system that compares the Social Security Number, date of birth and employee’s name to the federal government records and tells an employer if the SSN is valid and if it matches the name and DOB. It is an excellent way to verify legal eligibility for employment and it overcomes the problem with fake Social Security cards - it is very easy to make a fake SS card as they are very old tech (just a piece of paper with a 9 digit number, basically), but hacking the Social Security Administration federal database and adding a fake number is a horse of a different color.

So, we do have a tool which any employer who wishes to only hire legally eligible workers can use.

But in the low wage job market where you find large numbers of unauthorized immigrants without legal work status employed, the employers are routinely not using e-verify. And, again, e-verify is free and pretty instantaneous for up to 25 names, up to 24 hours for longer lists.

This is just one example of the vast legal loopholes in our immigration and labor laws which allow employers who care more about cheap labor than valid work status to cheat the system.

And those employers who hire illegally are the economic engine that drives this whole train: without those wages from illegal employment, the amount of unauthorized immigration to the US would be miniscule.

To respond to the last few paragraphs of Triggercut’s post, (which I skimmed initially) there is a very easy way to resolve this problem: must make e-verify mandatory with stiff penalties and the employers will sort this shit out right quick.

There is a big but here, which is I don’t want to do this by itself. Making e-verify mandatory has to be part of a comprehensive package that gives “amnesty” and legal status to those already settled here.

But what really gets me on the illegal immigration debate is all the idiots screaming about the wall while completely ignoring the real economic engine which drives this train, which is illegal employment, specifically, employers who avoid and evade their responsibilities so they can hire illegally.

Anyone who actually really wants to “keep the horribad illegals OUT!!” should be in favor of strengthening and vigorously enforcing our labor laws, but instead they just yell about the wall. Dumbasses.

And you will be paying way more for your food, because Americans don’t want to do that work.

That would be the market price under the law.

Yep, and it’s gonna be way higher.

Cause those guys aren’t being paid low wages currently.

Also, you left out the key words “at the wages being offered.”

If sufficient wages and other incentives are offered, Americans will do any work.

Dude, we are approaching full employment already.

I don’t think you are gonna get the millions of extra workers you need to bring in the harvests.