Tuesday, December 25, 2007

But... the illegal aliens are breaking our country!

At least that's what we've been reading and hearing for the last decade.

How could it possibly not be true?:

...it’s more than gratifying when two different entities on two different coasts of the nation, independently release studies that say the same thing: “Undocumented immigrants are not a burden on society.”

This week in California, the University of California’s School of Public Health released a report that found undocumented Latino immigrants do not cause a drag on the U.S. healthcare system as they are always being accused.

In fact, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants don’t even have a regular doctor or healthcare provider and only visit the ER as a last resort.

“Low rates of use of health-care services by Mexican immigrants and similar trends among other Latinos do not support public concern about immigrants’ overuse of the health care system,” the researchers wrote.
“Undocumented individuals demonstrate less use of health care than U.S.-born citizens and have more negative experiences with the health care that they have received,” they said.

It’s a finding that is repeated in today’s released study by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC), the think tank of the American Immigration Law Foundation.

The IPC study found that:

per capita health care expenditures were 55 percent lower for immigrants than for natives in 1998. On average, immigrants received about $1,139 in health care, compared with $2,546 for native-born residents. Although all immigrants are eligible for emergency medical services, they had lower expenditures for emergency room visits, doctor’s office visits, outpatient hospital visits, inpatient hospital visits, and prescription drugs.

But the IPC study doesn’t stop there.

It also addresses the accusations by defamation critics who say undocumented immigrants overuse government services, increase the poverty rate and don’t pay taxes.
Oh my. If this is true, then what on earth are the Republicans going to rally behind?

They've had too many hilariously public sexual exploits to beat up on gays.

They've been caught too many times with their hands in the till or their votes being manipulated by lobbyists to be declare themselves against corruption.

They can't claim they are for family values when they clearly don't care when Foley was hunting underage pages or Bush cuts health care for children.

They can't proclaim they are more popular than Democrats when they have to phone jam, or cage voters, or mess with electronic voting machines to get elected.

They can't say they are for less government when their government is the most bloated and expensive one in recent memory.

They can't declare they are better at governing when every functioning program or system they have diligently tried to break, starve, or neglect.

They cannot claim they are for peace when they make their money with war.

So what can they attack that will rally the masses?




Anonymous said...

Especially love the graphic.

ellroon said...

Thanks! I've used her to harass Morse over at Republic of Sestakastan when he does his movies. She's so perfectly '50s'...

Anonymous said...

I think the situation is more complex than that. For example, illegals take jobs away from legal immigrants and other Americans, and they drive down wages for the most unskilled Americans.

If the immigration laws need changing to let more people in, we should change them. But looking the other way in the case of 10 or 12 million illegals isn't what a nation of laws ought to be doing.

Steve Bates said...

abi, would you care to show your work? I believe ellroon has done that; it seems the least one could do. Yet I don't see a single bit of documentation linked from your comment to support the statement you make in the first paragraph. Is it an opinion off the top of your head, or do you have actual research to back it up?

Oh, and "illegal" is not a noun. Nor is there any intrinsic attribute of a human being that is "illegal" ... we could change the law, and the subjects of your sentences would vanish altogether. How about we call them undocumented workers or paperless workers?

ellroon said...

I agree with you, abi, that it is incredibly complex and anyone who offers simple answers is an idiot. Like the ideas of rounding millions of people up into camps or creating an enormous wall along the south border.

What we need are facts such as this eye-opener:

"In 2001, the Social Security Administration concluded that undocumented immigrants "account for a major portion of the billions of dollars paid into social security that don’t match SSA records," which payees, many of whom are undocumented immigrants, can never draw upon. As of July 2003, these payments totaled $421 billion."

$421 billion dollars that the illegal immigrants cannot claim. We don't hear that in the news.

We need the unvarnished truth to be able to deal with illegal immigrants rather than the tiresome and traditional fearmongering.

What about something so simple as finding out WHY we get so many desperate people from Mexico and beyond? How about taking all that utterly wasted money put by to build the wall and put it into revitalizing destitute villages in Mexico so that Mexicans want to stay and build there? How about helping break the horrific inequity between the poor and the rich in Mexico that drives millions to risk their lives in our deserts?

Nothing will change until we address the source that makes people leave their homes. Like pretending we can hold off a tsunami with tinfoil, if we think we can pass laws, or build moats and walls to keep out those who strive for a better life, we are fooling ourselves. We need to stem the tide but also recognize the humanity of those who come here. And no one has been able to address the complexity of this problem.

The drive for freedom of choice and the ability to better oneself are the very values that have made America great. We should recognize ourselves in these people.

ellroon said...

Thanks, Steve. I'll use undocumented worker instead of illegal alien. Sounds like some sort of intergalactic accidental spawning anyway....

Anonymous said...

It's not like an economy has a fixed amount of work to do, so long as there are unsatisfied needs and wants. The idea that workers should compete for scarce jobs is a maintained fiction for the benefit of the corporate owning class.

ellroon said...

Hey! I've always wanted to pick lettuce in the broiling sun with an badly designed back-breaking hoe while cropdusters spray me with pesticides! But would they hire me? NoooOOOOoo....

Anonymous said...

Our system doesn't even look at circumstances anymore, we criminalize people when it was their parents who broke the law, not to mention other kinds of cases. A baby crossing a border in the care of its parents and growing up here isn't even an illegal worker or paperless worker, right? That child grew up here, but there's no financial aid for them in the US system, no papers for a job, and there's no life in the other country to 'go back to' either! The current US immigration system isn't looking at people as people now, we've dehumanized them, since they're illegal people, don't 'cha know? We should all be ashamed, even the commenter who wonders about depressing US wages or whatever, and anyone who wants to hear some examples will be shocked!

ellroon said...

Anon,I understand the fear. Like Switzerland in WWII describing themselves as a boat that was full, they felt they could not take on any more people without sinking, so many people feel we cannot continue to add countless immigrants without damage.

But no one has come up with a way to deal with the problem, and horrible things have been done in our name.

The ICE raids that swept down on factories in the Midwest and carried off undocumented workers left small children at daycares or wandering the streets. Is that what America is about? We actually separated a nursing mother from her baby.

We have concentration camps... oh, excuse me, 'detention centers' which hold people who have no chance for a trial, a hearing, freedom.

There are ways to help the problem, as I mentioned up thread, such as taking the money for 'The Wall' and making it accessible to Mexico's poor.

The hilarious thing is, when we are 'successful' with raids, large businesses complain that their uninsured and exploitable labor force is impacted and they lose money.

Steve Bates said...

ellroon, I have no objection to the use of "illegal" as an adjective applied to an activity. "Illegal alien" does strike me as a peculiar construct, though; I envision a Martian landing at IAH without permission...

And "illegal" as a noun designating a person does seem offensive to me. Every human being has some aspect other than the illegality of something they do.

Steve Bates said...

Oh, and my objection to abi's statement is not his assertion of complexity; Dog knows immigration is a complex matter. But the statement

"... illegals take jobs away from legal immigrants and other Americans, and they drive down wages for the most unskilled Americans",

while arguable, does indeed require that the argument be made; otherwise, it's just an assumption. That's what I meant by "show your work": one must either link to research studies, or make a credible argument oneself.

Anonymous said...

abi, would you care to show your work?

Sure, Steve. Looks like I need to do your homework for you:

illegals take jobs away from legal immigrants and other Americans

"In 2005, illegal migrants accounted for about 5% of the civilian labor force, or 7.2 million workers..." (http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1482).

Steve, do you think all of these jobs would remain unfilled if there were no illegals here to work them? Sure, some might. But in 2005, there were 9.1 million unemployed souls in the US - 6.1% (http://www.thinkandask.com/2005/20050723bls.html).

they drive down wages for the most unskilled Americans

Between 1980 and 2000, immigration (legal and illegal) forced wages down by an average of 4% for native-born Americans. In the same period, native-born Americans without high school degrees saw there wages reduced 7.4% by immigration (http://www.cis.org/articles/2004/back504.html).

Also, Steve, your grammar lesson is not only snarky and trite, it's wrong (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/illegals).

Ellroon, I agree we should recognize ourselves in these people. But that doesn't mean we should ignore their legal status.

Let me ask you and your commenters two questions:

* Do we need immigration laws, or should we open the borders to everyone who wants to come in?

* If we need immigration laws, why do you defend people who break them?

ellroon said...

Got my computer access back.

Abi, the answers to your two last questions are yes, we need (and already have) immigration laws; and no, unfortunately, we cannot be like Europe and have open borders.

Why do I defend lawbreakers? Because it has come down to vilifying brown people, people south of the border. They are being made to be the scapegoat for our economic ills and a great deal of that is false.

Putting a dragnet across the states and rounding up people catches up legal residents, legal American children born of undocumented workers, people who should not be harassed for papers. Some have lived here for decades. Some have been brought as infants and don't even know their parents' mother tongue. Is this what America is about? Where do we put these now countryless people? (Detention centers at the moment. Will they become corporate owned workhouses? Cheap slave labor?)

Why isn't there an outcry over the illegal Irish or Swedes? We have a few million of those undocumented too, but they blend in easier. So there is blatant racism at work, too. Is this what America is about?

Yes, we need to enforce immigration laws, but how? Do we keep arresting the poor worker, who, while being deported, others automatically fill in his slot? Do we fine the corporations who pay a small fine and continue to hire cheap labor? Do we demand identification from the migrants who do the field work? We have done all these things, are doing all these things. It is like trying to make a hole in wet sand.

It will never be fixed while such a rich country as the US is right next to such poor and unjust countries as Mexico and Central America, with such a huge disparity between the rich and poor. Our economy creates such a powerful pull like a vacuum cleaner that people who wish to work will find a way.

Fix Mexico by helping them create jobs and you will find we no longer have an immigrant problem.

It won't happen.

Anonymous said...

Ellroon, you make lots of good points. Helping Mexico's economy is a good idea for a number of reasons. But it's a difficult thing to do, and it's likely to cause resentment at home (eg, NAFTA).

Another thing that needs to be done is to stop slapping employers who hire illegal immigrants on the wrist, and make the penalty severe enough to get their attention. A tough law against hiring illegal immigrants is about to take effect in Arizona. Let's watch how that works out. (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/viewpoints/stories/DN-harrop_28edi.ART.State.Edition1.36f7ec6.html).

Anonymous said...

Abi, experience shows that toughening laws encourages more law evasion. Better to improve the laws to conform to the reality and try to regulate it somewhat than to try to prohibit what all economic incentives encourage.

ellroon said...

Thanks, abi. That article makes a lot of the same points. Let's see how long that lasts, how much the fines are, and especially whether the businesses fined actually pay the fines.

Michael, when the reality is so muddled, how does one start on such a problem? How much do we rely on cheap labor to keep our costs down? Can we take this kind of hit especially now that the economy is teetering on the brink of a recession? How fair and enforceable is this law?

I'm old enough to know the pattern, when all other scapegoats are gone, bring out the illegal immigrant who is eating bon-bons and tossing innumerable kids into the free schooling system as well as camping out in the ERs. It's a knee-jerk reaction (illegal aliens!), racist (they're brown!), with the sense there is only so much to go around and they are after our stuff (thieves! killers!). It is too complex, too rooted in our society, too expensive to truly deal with it.

So every few years we drag the goat out into the public square and beat it to death.

And then we do nothing.

Anonymous said...

Ellroon, the purpose of laws are to instruct us, not to punish. And what are we instructing immigrants to do? I would have them register and then we can make rules that protect them and native born citizens alike.

ellroon said...

I hear you, Michael. Unfortunately, these laws are to punish because nothing else seems to be working. As I was saying up thread, I really feel this Arizona law will make a big splash, a few businesses will be raided and pay fines; then all will be forgotten and we'll go back to the way we were.

I dislike the idea of the undocumented worker being jailed or deported, it does nothing but hurt families. And more will come anyway. Like bailing out a sink with the water running.

I really don't think the undocumented workers would come forth to register. Times change so quickly from supportive to accusatory, and suddenly the personal information in a data base is turned against you.

At least you have the right idea of protecting them and preventing them from being exploited.

what are we instructing immigrants to do? They can clearly see the double message. Come and work, stay invisible, work hard, don't make waves, shut up, and we'll look the other way. Every once in a while we will have a pogrom against them, but then all will be calm.

There is no easy answer, and I for one am horrified that doors are kicked open and children left screaming for their parents while the adults are dragged off to an unknown detention camp for God knows what amount of time.

That is not the America I know. That is not what we stand for. It is NOT okay.

So if any illegal immigrant laws are pushed into law by the current hysteria, let it be big business that pays the price for egging people on.

I bet it will again be for naught. And we will go back to complaining and blaming the illegal immigrants for all our ills, refusing to truly consider what it will take to fix the 'problem'.

Anonymous said...

Well, as far as registering I mean for such things as health care and social security and everything like that. Why should they not be placed on the rolls?

ellroon said...

Well, the wingnut response to your social security idea would be to turn bright red, swell like a bullfrog and croak that they aren't allowed in the secret Merkin citizen club because they are illegal. So they can pay in..(all $421 billion of it) but they can't take anything out...

And then you're getting into a tiered system of citizenship: bestest class, sorta ok, and untouchables (which we have now in a way).

So then it comes down to the brass tacks. What exactly is an American? What qualifies him to live/be/work here? Who is going to dictate these rules? And will they stand if not every single person here accepts them as fair?

The first test is the simplest. If you were born here, you are an American. After that, it gets really complicated.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, if we want them to register, we should make it easy and rewarding to do so. The only real difference between citizens and non-citizens should be whether they can participate in elections. We should be neighborly to everyone, however.

ellroon said...

Lol, Michael. You are truly a non-zero sum gamer. You are generous to a fault.

I have no real answers to this problem. And no one else does either.

Unfortunately, it is really hard to get plain facts. Are we being swamped by undocumented workers? Possibly. And then again, maybe not. These are workers..people who really want to work and to better themselves. And these people hit the ground running when they are allowed. So we benefit from their drive and energy.

Are our hospitals going under because of misuse of the ER? The health care giants say yes, others say it is the health care giants that are driving themselves out of business. But are we really the type of people to turn our backs on the sick and distressed?

Are our schools being overwhelmed? They are coping with Spanish speaking areas with Spanish only classes, Spanish speaking teachers. When there is a mix, there is a mix of programs. Should we resent this? Not if we remember back to the Norwegian or Swedish spoken in schools along the Canadian border, the Chinese in San Francisco, the Hmong in Fresno, the Creole along the Gulf of Mexico, the whole damned history of the United States has been wave after wave of immigrants greeted with fear and suspicion and hatred. We have been through this so many times and have not yet learned we survive, assimulate, and grow stronger because of it.

In tight times, in economic turmoil, we blame the immigrant who steals jobs from us. In good times we look the other way. Either way, the undocumented worker/illegal alien often gets the worst paying jobs, gets misused and exploited.

Just consider how bad it must be back home to have to leave your family to come here and be sneered at? Yet they still come. These are people who wish to realize the American Dream for themselves and their families, something we all expect to be able to do.

As much as I know their actions are illegal and unfair, I cannot tell them not to try.

Anonymous said...

Life is not zero-sum, Ellroon. It is characterized always by growth, the opposite of which is not life, but decay and death.

America is choosing the latter path at the moment, but that can change easily. It is not expensive to care for people, compared to what it costs not to do so.

The only crime these people are accused of is being undocumented. So document them. Next? :)

ellroon said...

It is not expensive to care for people, compared to what it costs not to do so.

Exactly and amen. But people want their scapegoat. They are in the mood to beat something to death in the public square.

Getting people to stop making immigrants the problem and recognize their humanity isn't happening.

How can we prevent this cycle from repeating itself over and over again?

Anonymous said...

Let who is without sin cast the first stone?

We can confront any problem with honesty and light.

ellroon said...

The problem is getting to those who are throwing stones before they realize they aren't without sin...

Anonymous said...

So, everybody must get stoned.

End cannabis prohibition and it's done.

ellroon said...

Lol. Now I have Bob Dylan singing in my head....

ellroon said...

Paul Krugman talks about illegal immigration (starts about 1:30)

Anonymous said...

Okay, he doesn't want a permanent underclass and I appreciate that. If you come to this country and register as an immigrant, you can participate in the economy but you cannot vote until you become a naturalized citizen. So what needs to be established is a guaranteed naturalization process. This is only hard because people insist on making it hard.

ellroon said...

Exactly. It's hard because people want it to be hard.

If we didn't mind and were actually tolerant of immigrants in general, we'd have open borders like Europe. But there they have finally created a common coin (the Euro) and a set of extremely fine tuned financial brakes and levers to prevent any one country from pulling them all down the drain.

We have a hugely successful economy driven in part by a poverty stricken neighbor that sends a continual stream of undocumented workers to secretly let us keep our production costs low.

So big businesses ask: Why fix the problem?

Anonymous said...

Hugely successful economy or gilded bubble?

ellroon said...

Well.... it WAS hugely successful until ..uh...


Gilded bubbles.. but attractive gilded bubbles!

Anonymous said...


ellroon said...


Anonymous said...

We are allowing the government to frame the immigration problem for us. We must consider that in some cases, such as here, the government is not acting in our own individual best interest.

Thus, the term "illegal" associated with "alien" or "immigrant" is one of the government's invention.

What we as individuals must do is look at the problem from our own perspective. It is my understanding that this has not been done very often and has not been heralded very effectively.

The reality is that foreign nationals are in every recognized nation worldwide, creating a nearly fully integrated polyglot. To somehow require all these people to get their "papers in order" with respect to the local laws of each country is crazy.

There has to be a better, more accommodating, and global solution. Like a national identity card that is accepted worldwide. This different than a passport and should be a smart card with various data on it relevant to the bearer and the country he or she hails from.

Take a look at the end-to-end treatment of the immigration problem that has been prepared by Trigon-International, Inc. This is actionable, affordable, and feasible and more aptly it addresses the problem in situ meaning that the fix goes in without having to reset the pieces on the game board.

ellroon said...

There has to be a better, more accommodating, and global solution. Like a national identity card that is accepted worldwide. This different than a passport and should be a smart card with various data on it relevant to the bearer and the country he or she hails from.

Wonderful points, but you'd freak out the black-UN-helicopters-are taking-over-the-world-crowd.

I will go and google Trigon-International, thanks!

ellroon said...

Omg. Trigon-International. You are like Blackwater!
TRIGON International, Inc. is a true leader in counter-terrorism and counterintelligence. We are one of the foremost organizations in computer and information security, individual and corporate privacy protection, intellectual property protection, and counterespionage and counter-terrorism.