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2007-06-14 21:08:42.729165+00 by ebradway 24 comments

In another thread, we digressed into a conversation about (illegal) immigration. I was asked to bump it out as a new thread. Here are some sources I posted.

Here's a good overview of the effects of economic integration on immigration but it stops before getting into empirical data on the 21st century. And here's a later revision from Martin. An the more "objective" side, here is a pure economic treatment of migration using optimization techniques. Here Botz (a migration advocate) tries to frame current migration trends in terms of historical patterns.

[ related topics: Civil Liberties Education Economics Immigration ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-14 21:27:43.627455+00 by: ebradway

I haven't had the time to dig deep enough to find an academic source for research on immigration since 2001. Most sources I've found are reports prior to 2001 (like based on 2000 Census, impact of NAFTA, impact of amnesty programs from the 60s and 80s). Part of the problem is that Academic publication is a painfully slow process. You'd think the advent of the web would speed it up. But it's the process of peer review that really slows things down. There are only just so many people who can critically review the content of a new paper in a specific discipline like migration demographics. These people are also busy teaching classes and doing their own research... Oh, wait, I forgot! University faculty only work maybe 12 hours a week (here's a great study that refutes that belief)....

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-16 14:53:42.58694+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Eric--I won't be able to read your sources in detail until Sunday night, but in the meantime here is some very recent snoped data which highlights in a microcosm some of the unfairness of illegal immigration. This is but one small example of what is happening NOW. For some Americans, they might as well give up their US citizenship and become illegal to avoid all of the necessary paperwork and other requirements for free healthcare. On the flip side, low-income Americans might start to pay their bills.

No one has ever said that "life is fair." All of which begs the question whether American citizens should start having babies at twice their current rate.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-16 15:51:38.978768+00 by: ebradway

So now you want to turn this into a healthcare debate? Dan might start limiting the number of threads I'm allowed to start ;)

You say "life is not fair" and I say some people's lives are more fair than others.

We can pretty quickly boil down to a question of the true value of human life. Americans, on one hand, tend to take the view that "all human life" is sacrosanct - this is clearly seen in public opinion about end-of-life care (Dr. K. just got out after 8 years in the pen) and abortion. But I guess I should clarify, Americans tend to view "all Christian life" as sacrosanct. If you happen to commit murder, then you don't deserve to live. If you happen to come from the wrong side of a line drawn in the sand, you don't deserve medical care. Personally, I think most Americans are very racist in their determination of who gets the chance to live.

From a purely economic point of view, the best way to slow immigration is to improve living standards on both sides of the border (it's like osmosis - it's too salty on one side for people to stay). One of the best predictors of economic success is good health in early childhood (it's why the UN tracks things like infant death rates). So maybe the best way to help the economy on the salty-side of the border is to start helping make sure they have good healthcare early in life. Education might be good too.

The thing is: we can't just build a giant wall across the border and pretend Mexico doesn't exist. We a wasting billions of dollars attempting to stop the "thieving, criminal illegal immigrants" from "plundering our scant wealth". The border is a very porous membrane and the only way to stop diffusion across the border is to balance the pressure on each side.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-16 16:54:29.66089+00 by: jeff [edit history]

No, not a healthcare debate here Eric, but this single example does point out part of the depth and breadth of the effects of illegal immigration. It affects all Americans multi-dimensionally. The effects are both implicit and explicit, far-reaching, and likely extend far beyond the analysis done for recent decades, due to recent trending.

In threads both in and outside Flutterby I've stated that "a wall" is not the answer; on that point we are in total agreement. While that is true, I believe the effects of NAFTA and other trade agreements will actually make our borders less secure, and will also displace millions of American workers (or affect them negatively in some economic terms).

If one takes away the corporate cheap illegal labor incentive (through fines that truly hurt, and prison terms for repeat offenders), then the incenting of this humnan tsnumai might ebb back to a trickle. It might also help IF the country of MEXICO (and others) ever get their together. Why can't they seem do that?

Also, what are your thoughts about the tens of thousands of "legal" immigrants "legallly waiting in line?" Should we grant them citizenship more quickly?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-17 00:18:07.98601+00 by: ebradway

I believe somewhere it is written:

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Yes. I think we should grant citizenship just as quickly as George Bush has been having the BLM grant permits for natural gas drilling in Colorado (i.e., as fast as humanly possible).

You see, the basic premise of "keep the illegals out" or "NAFTA is costing us jobs" is that this line in the sand drawn at the edges of what we call Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, (well, actually it's river for part of the way) has some magical property. On one side of the line, are the people we want to protect economically and on the other side are people we really don't give a shit about. What's interesting is that as you get closer to this imaginary line, and you start speaking to the people who live there, you realize that the line is not as well defined as you thought. This is why Governors in those bordering states (including our President Bush) seem to have a very different view on immigration than the rest of the nation.

But the same idea can be extrapolated across all the fiat boundaries in the world. These lines might separate us from them but they really don't separate the human species. Just as pollution in China is having a negative impact on air quality in California and coal plants in the Northeast cause acid rain in Canada, the human species is a more an Earth issue than a USA or Mexico issue.

So yeah, we should open our borders. And the borders should open both ways. Yes, jobs are going South but they are quickly going West to the Far East and then bouncing around out there with amazing rapidity. The thing is Americans want the lowest price they can get. Look at the success of Wal-Mart - they sacrifice EVERYTHING including quality and moral values in order to keep prices as low as possible. And it works.

To sound more like a capitalist than a socialist, this drive for profit actually benefits everyone in terms of economic balance. People in Mexico and the Far East experience a higher quality of life because the jobs are shipped out there. And the increase in quality of life there is much more significant than the decrease in quality of life here.

But that's the trigger point - quality of life does decrease a little here in the process and those people who experience that decrease scream and holler. And those people are on OUR side of the line in the sand.

So should we all scream and holler about problems with the line or should we just keep pushing forward as our brothers and sisters on the other side of the line catch up?

Once there is greater parity across the fiat boundaries that separate humanity, we'll see less "wretched masses". People will migrate for the same reasons that people currently migrate between the US and Canada.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-17 02:58:41.08306+00 by: jeff

Eric, you're sounding more capitalist with each post. ;^)

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-19 23:46:57.443832+00 by: Larry Burton

Had the US just pressed a little harder in 1848 instead of signing the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo there wouldn't be a problem with Mexicans having to move north for jobs and should they want to they wouldn't be illegal doing so. But we did sign that treaty, we even dictated the terms of it, so what's done is done.

Since we are stuck with Mexico being the corrupt place that it is we now have Mexicans fleeing their country to live amongst us. I really have no problem with that, I just wish they were here legally rather than illegally. I think the majority of people would have no problem with Mexicans living amongst us if only they spoke English out in public.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 13:52:15.506008+00 by: jeff

Quoted: "What the critics have really been worried about all along is giving legal status to illegal immigrants and whether it might hasten that which terrifies many Americans: the Latinization of the United States."

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the editorial board of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 15:51:08.343136+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

Re: improving life on both sides of the border.

Perhaps we should start outsourcing high-paying jobs to Mexico? I recently read about a company that was shutting down the Indian branch of their company because wages had grown since they opened it to 70% of a U.S. Worker's wages. It wasn't worth it any more for that company to go to India for cheap labor.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 17:30:29.13244+00 by: ebradway

Hey Jeff - can you give a link to that quote?

I find the "Latinization" of the US to be a very interesting problem and if that quote came from the San Diego area, I'd like to read me. San Diego is about as "Latinized" as anyplace in the US. The city's economy depends heavily on a good relationship with Tijuana. It's also in Southern California - an area thas a much longer "Latin" history than it does Anglo-American.

Larry: As far as language goes, I think the majority of White Anglo-Americans don't like it when they hear ANY language they don't understand. This is a common element of xenophobia and is especially endemic in the US.

At the same time, we see a very different educational class of immigrants from our Southern Border than anywhere else. Immigrants coming from Canada mostly speak English (with the exception of the occasional, stubborn Quebequois). Immigrants undertaking more challenging migrations usually have a higher level of education.

Language acquisition is difficult. If the immigrants coming in aren't really even literate in their own language, just imagine how challenging it can be to acquire a new language.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 17:40:17.981978+00 by: ebradway

(separating out my responses)

Mark: IT outsourcing to India is the perfect example and I'd love to hear sources for what you quote. I do know of people who have managed IT groups in India and I've also heard presentations by geographers who study the Bangalore area. What you site is a real problem: IT wages in India are approaching levels comparable to wages paid to Indians on H1B visas in the US (around that 70% of US wages figure).

But India has been reinvesting in infrastructure and education to the degree that their IT industry is about to start driving itself and not just leaching off ours. They are now able to educate and keep many of their brightest people.

Yes, it would be fantastic if we could do the same with Mexico. Unfortunately, Mexico is starting from a position of greater disadvantage. They were colonized by Spain rather than the British. Spain didn't quite take it upon themselves to try to change the natives into Europeans whereas Britain invested heavily into educating and "civilizing" India.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 20:15:34.185188+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger [edit history]

ebradway: I don't have the specific page ready. It was anecdotal, in any case. But I was able to find this: Indian wage spiral forces TCS to outsource in Mexico.

But also see The yawning Salary gap, especially the comments. 15% growth of Indian Salaries in the last year vs 5% growth in the U.S. As one person points out, the Rupee is really starting to take off against the Dollar as well as the Euro. I have no doubt that outsourcing to India will help us as well as India in the long run.

The real problem India (and China and Mexico) face is systemic: corruption in government, obstacles to business formation, lack of personal rights. [Edit: And I only say this because I read the fascinating "Maximum City"]

And comparing the colonization of Mexico vs. India is definitely a good point. How does China figure in? According to what I've read, China is different than India because China has a larger supply of qualified people, so the cost of paying them doesn't run up so quickly. China has a history of valuing education, so I see that as helping to provide a better supply than Mexico.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-22 20:38:14.796703+00 by: jeff

Eric--here is a link to the article where I obtained that quote.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-27 01:14:45.933748+00 by: jeff

The broad phenomenon continues. After my bike ride tonight I was in a hurry to get something to eat, and stopped at a nearby Wendy's. A young woman took my order through the carryout system, and I had to repeat it three times before she got it right. When I pulled up to the first window, a sign read to pull to the next window--in Spanish!

Lest we think this phenomenon is localized to border states, we need to think again. Ohio lives by the moniker as being "the heart of it all." Both the young order taker and her co-worker at the window were of Mexican or Latin American descent. Other than the signage (which was new), I've seen this scenario time and time again at fast food places.

And we need to look no further than our own borders for abject political corruption. Most of America doesn't want to be in Iraq, and wants US to focus instead on securing our OWN borders (much of our National Guard and Reserve forces have been burned out in Iraq, while the silent invasion from Mexico continues unabated). Our politicians couldn't be further disjointed from reality, and from the electorate which placed them in power.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-27 02:16:25.506756+00 by: Larry Burton

>> Larry: As far as language goes, I think the majority of White Anglo-Americans don't like it when they hear ANY language they don't understand. This is a common element of xenophobia and is especially endemic in the US.

Eric, I find it difficult to believe, with the news of scarf banning in France, suggestions of people wearing religion identifying clothing in Iran and a reputation of being less than accepting of non-Japanese in Japan that xenophobia is especially endemic in the U.S. Xenophobia seems to be endemic among humans.

One of the things that brought my attention to the fact that Spanish being spoken so prevalently might be the cause of so much of the backlash against illegal immigration was a visit to a McDonald's near my house one Saturday. Things were slow but the store was not empty and all the employees were up front talking to each other in Spanish. This wasn't because they only spoke Spanish (I heard three of the five speaking a very polished English to customers before I left) it was because that was just their native language. This was in Gwinnett County, Georgia which probably didn't have more than a dozen Spanish speaking families in residence twenty years ago.

This got me to thinking about how common incidences like this had become over the last few years. I sort of like the fact that I can hear four languages from three continents in a fifteen minute visit to a grocery store but I know this affects others differently. From a purely political standpoint so much of the animosity toward illegal immigrants could be averted by the immigrants speaking English when in public.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-27 09:39:27.250339+00 by: jeff [edit history]

>> Larry: As far as language goes, I think the majority of White Anglo-Americans don't like it when they hear ANY language they don't understand. This is a common element of xenophobia and is especially endemic in the US.

I think this is a vast oversimplification of the phenomenom and reactions to it; it has no basis for me and doesn't resonate with me in any way. For example, I don't cringe when I hear Russian being spoken in public. Or Spanish. Or German. Or any language for that matter. What turns me away is when I see wholesale or disproportionate worker substitution to one ethnic group. This ethnic group just happens to speak Spanish.

Larry--you brought up the classic McDonald's example. Before the current company I work for moved to its new location, our former office was located within 100 yards of a McDonald's in upscale Dublin (OH). When the need for fast food precipitated a walk across the parking lot, we found a staff that on many occasions was exclusively Latin. In fact, during one week, one could easily spot a "regional trainer of Latin descent," complete with a tie and nice fitting clothes, running and monitoring the entire operation. Oh, and yes, he was speaking Spanish to his subordinates.

Not coincidentally, at the same location, there was once a life-sized stand-up placard in the dining room advertising the need for workers. It depicted a young, teenage Latin woman. Why not show a group of workers representing a mix of ethnicities? McDonalds was clearly FOCUSED on hiring Latinos at this location, and no doubt at many other locations.

The argument about American kids not wanting to work in McDonald's and other jobs such as landscaping? To that I reply: bullshit, and I've got a bridge to sell you. And I think that good portion of animosity towards illegals is rooted in the fact that they're providing ill-gotten gains to employers (i.e. lower employment costs), displacing American workers, and placing downward pressure on wages. And the abuse of H1-B visas is simply another manifestation of this, just at a different level.

#Comment Re: Where to begin? made: 2007-06-27 16:05:39.836906+00 by: BC

Boy, I have read a lot of red herrings in posts above.

Mexican illegal immigration-irrelevant, illegal immigration-relevant

Spanish speaking illegal immigrant-irrelevant, illegal immigrant-relevant, etc.

We cannot simply open our borders to any and all who want to live here. We would soon become another Mexico City or worse. Have any of you been to India lately? You get the idea then.

As stated above, all we need to do is enforce the laws on the books. The key is to make hiring an illegal immigrant so painful for an employer that an employer will never contemplate it. Once this is done the problem will cease.

If one is sympathetic to the illegal immigrants they should view Roy Beck's Immigration by the Numbers video. It will sober you up quickly.


#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-28 15:49:43.138305+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Recent news on the illegal immigration front. This doesn't solve the massive problem. It only defers it until after the 2008 elections, which will no doubt make it a MAJOR campaign item.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-06-30 02:17:28.41511+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Wow. I just watched that video BC, and it paints an incredibly compelling argument against the current inflated levels of "legal" immigration. And it's not surprising that the completely inept Mexican government (which has unique double standards of immigration of its own) is deriding the votes of our congressman yesterday.

My only complaint with the video is that the chart presentation magnifies to a degree the overall effect immigration has on our population, and I disagree somewhat with the premise that legal immigration levels should be pulled back to arbitrary pre-1965 levels (it should be a percentage of population, much like percentage of GDP). Still, one can't argue against many of the facts and analogies presented. Every politician and registered voter needs to view this video for a better understanding of immigration problem--both legal and illegal. Both will remain a HUGE issue in 2008 and beyond.

Wasn't there a thread at Flutterby which spoke to "how many people the world could effectively support?" I think answers ranged from 10B to 100B. I'd like to ask the question: "how many people can the US effectively support, and how does immigration and all of the premises of capitalism and resource allocation play into that." There's no way in hell I'd move to Las Vegas, and deal with all of the population growth that is taking place there, for example.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-05 04:22:22.564703+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger


#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-05 07:11:50.955764+00 by: ebradway

Man... Where did that guy come from? Since when was the purpose of immigration to solve population crises in Periphery countries? Since when has water polution in the US been directly related to population (every Superfund site I'm aware of is due to industrial contamination)? Since when is California so fucked up because of immigration (seems to me that real estate sky rocketed because parts of their economy was doing very well)? Been to India lately (nope but according to the CIA, 8.5% of the total global GDP increase came from India whereas the US only contributed 3.4%).

So lets play the numbers. He claims that the cap of something like 178K immigrants from 1965 was appropriate. This level was put in place in 1925. That year there were about 2B people on the planet and about 110M people in the US. So 178K represents about 0.17% of the US population and 0.009% of the World Population. So lets be generous at say that the US currently allows in 1.5M people. That makes the math easy because we just topped 300M - it's 0.5% of the US population and 0.027% of the world population (using a 6.6B figure). We are currently allowing in three times as many immigrants.

However, people in the US have stopped having as many kids. In fact, our native population has stopped growing. I can't seem to find good figures on this, but I bet our overall population growth rate hasn't changed that much.

But what happens to an economy when a basic resource, like workers, is in decline compared to other countries? We eventually have to either import workers or import more goods. Hmmm...

But I think the real question isn't whether or not immigration is bad - the real question is "Do you think life is good or bad?"

As an optimist, I can point at many positive aspects of immigration. By my nature, I think those aspects outweigh the negatives.

If you are a pessimist, then maybe you think think the world is coming to an end. Maybe doomsday is WW3... Maybe it's Y2K... Maybe it's CO2... Maybe it's the Russians, or the Mexicans or the Chinese...

#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-06 11:23:56.307836+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Yes, our native population has stopped growing. Illegal immigration (at its present rate) will lead to increased cultural and economic polarization of our country. I don't view that as a benefit in any way.

By extension, should the entire world become borderless? What effect on culture would that have? The pros and cons of current Latin culture (central, south America) is another thread topic by itself. Are we allowing more illegal immigrants into our country because we explicitly "want" or "need" more Spanish speaking people? Hardly.

If capitalism is ultimately guided by the metric of "growth for the sake of growth," then we all should be reminded that cancer operates on the same premise. This is one of the reasons why large corporations "turn a blind eye" to the cultural and economic illegal immigration issue. Capitalists view the higher birth rates of illegal immigrants as a "positive input to the system," as it fuels "growth" and positively affects their "bottom line" in a way that would not be possible otherwise.

Yes, life is good for many of us at Flutterby. However, most of our culture is geared towards short-term (next quarter) economic gains and instant gratification. Just like "cheap money," the short-term "cheap labor" syndrome and ill-gotten gains from it is simply one unhealthy manifestation. This approach does not lead to a preferred long-term homeostatic system, however. I'll expand on a transistor "thermal runaway" analogy at another time.

Do we wait to allow capitalism to bring US to the breech where mother Earth says "enough is enough?" Or do we proactively take a look a the "numbers" in advance. How many people should live in the U.S.? 300M? 300B? Our current economic system could care less (until supply/demand catches up), but supply will painfully matter someday. Let us not forget that we live in a largely closed-loop (Sun-Earth) system. We're not faced with the impending end of our world by any stretch, but I want US to preserve what we have and not let "growth for the sake of growth" rule our daily lives--and our future generations.

Measured legal immigration is quite healthy. Unabated illegal immigration isn't in the best long-term interests of our country, and we shouldn't allow the two to be blurred out of political, social, or economic convenience. Lumping the two together without explaining the long-term ramifications of each is the trap that so many people fall into. It has even happened in this thread.

#Comment Re: Switzerland or India. Where would you rather live? made: 2007-07-06 20:32:53.163272+00 by: BC

I always find it peculiar when people argue that X number of businesses will go out of business if they cannot hire illegal aliens. Put another way, these businesses would not be profitable if they did exploit cheap labor. Therefore, these businesses should not be in existence in the first place.

Switzerland is a beautiful country. Well regulated, clean, open spaces, uncluttered, scenic beauty abounds. India, by comparison, is a nation teeming with people, refuse is everywhere, waterways are discolored and polluted, animals wander unattended freely. I have no doubt India is growing at a much more rapid rate than Switzerland. However, I would much prefer living in Switzerland than India. If we continue down the path of essentially an open border policy we will become yet another India. We will no longer be the sanctuary we once were and Switzerland still is.

Why are people so desperate for us "to grow?" So what if we are short of certain age groups for periods of time. We will make do and things will cycle through. However, if we allow illegals into this country freely there will be no turning back.

I just don't get it why so many out there are hell bent on bringing in illegal immigrants. It is myopic thinking, a short term solution to longer term trends and problems. We must develop a much more measured approach.

#Comment Re: In response to a question above... made: 2007-07-06 20:38:00.80791+00 by: BC

"But what happens to an economy when a basic resource, like workers, is in decline compared to other countries?"

Pulling from a quote above, more importantly, what do we do when a basic resource, such as water (and numerous other commodities), from overcrowding is in decline or in short supply? Many, many more problems will come from overpopulation than underpopulation.