Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Good news, courtesy of The Weekly Standard, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sees comprehensive immigration reform as a priority for the next Congress:

Q: With more Democrats in the Senate and the House and a Democrat in the White House, how do you see congressional efforts playing out on such issues as health care and immigration?

A: On immigration, there’s been an agreement between (President-elect Barack) Obama and (Arizona Republican Sen. John) McCain to move forward on that. … We’ll do that. We have to get this economy stuff figured out first, so I think we’ll have a shot at doing something on health care in the next Congress for sure.

Q: Will there be as much of a fight on immigration as last time?

A: We’ve got McCain and we’ve got a few others. I don’t expect much of a fight at all. Now health care is going to be difficult. That’s a very complicated issue. We debated at great length immigration. People understand the issues very well. We have not debated health care, so that’s going to take a lot more time to do

The most recent entry on whitehouse.gov’s comprehensive immigration reform page is from January 2008. Hopefully, under an Obama Administration, it will be more active.

11 thoughts on “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”

  1. The Democrats are not stupid. They know if immigration is still an issue in 2010, they will likely lose the House (b/c all their gains in the South and even some in the West would dissolve).

    They will be helped in this cause by the great flood of Mexicans returning to Mexico b/c they cannot get jobs here during the economic difficulties.

    Thus, some of the emotional anger is out of the debate by next year.

  2. Seerov,

    Obama can either have a new “New deal,” or amnesty for illegals. But he can’t have both.

    As no one is proposing a National Recovery Administration, while bipartisan support exists for comprehensive immigration reform, I think it’s a pretty easy call which way to go!

    Eddie,

    The Congressional Democrats are pretty stupid.

    And not just for passing the Bush-Pelosi bailout… they failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform under Bush, have been consistently against free trade with latin america, and generally seek to undermine America’s ties to Latin America at every opportunity.

    Still, Obama has been pretty sensible [1], and for now I trust him much more than Pelosi.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/11/22/obamas-cabinet-one-bad-choice.html

  3. It’s not so much that the US needs fewer immigrants as a better balance of countries of origin where 60 % of the net legal and illegal immigrants are not impoverished campesinos coming from the dysfunctional and failing oligarchy next door. I think ratcheting that back by at least half is reasonable. I’m not sure why some guy from Veracruz is automatically more worthy of American citizenship that someone from Rangoon, Minsk or Sao Paulo.

    How about optimizing our immigration policy to favor the young, smart, internationally diverse and economically dynamic so the U.S. doesn’t resemble a giant Florida in 2050 ?

  4. “How about optimizing our immigration policy to favor the young, smart, internationally diverse and economically dynamic so the U.S. doesn’t resemble a giant Florida in 2050 ?” (ZenPundit)

    Exactly right, unfortunately the political class isn’t so much concerned about what’s best for the country as they’re concerned about reelection. Bringing in the most talented people would be best for the country but not necessarily best for the politicians.

    Also, bringing in Eastern Europeans or Asians isn’t good when you want a permanent underclass. The managerial elite need this underclass in order to have a constituency of managers to “help bring people out of poverty” or to “help fight discrimination.” The underclass and the managers are automatic votes for whatever party is willing to expand the programs that guarantee further entrenchment of the mangers, and the underclass.

    In fact, its probably in my best interests to support this underclass as well, as I plan on pursuing government service myself. My only apprehension comes when I think about what the country will look like in 50 years after 85 solid years of growing the underclass. My fear of course, is over what may happen to my pension or SS after 85 years of growing an underclass?

  5. “How about optimizing our immigration policy to favor the young, smart, internationally diverse and economically dynamic so the U.S. doesn’t resemble a giant Florida in 2050 ?”

    Yes, Please!

    I would give out a green card (with freedom/mobility of employment) with every natural science, physical science, medical science, math, engineering, computer science, economics, and business PHD along with the fast track path to Citizenship. Maybe at least the instant green card for a like Master’s.

  6. Thanks for the comments!

    zenpundit,

    How about optimizing our immigration policy to favor the young, smart, internationally diverse and economically dynamic so the U.S. doesn’t resemble a giant Florida in 2050 ?

    Back when Bush and McCain were working on comprhensive immigration reform, there was a lot of talk of moving to a ‘point system,’ where there would be points for an advanced education, points for bringing money to invest, points for family reunification, etc. Currently we are operating on a system in which if you’re not reunifying with immediate relatives, not operating through the H- system, and not willing to EWI (entry without inspection), you’re pretty much out of luck.

    Seerov,

    In fact, its probably in my best interests to support this underclass as well, as I plan on pursuing government service myself. My only apprehension comes when I think about what the country will look like in 50 years after 85 solid years of growing the underclass. My fear of course, is over what may happen to my pension or SS after 85 years of growing an underclass?

    Not sure — how is the underclass of ‘ethnic whites’ (Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, Poles, etc) doing?

    PurpleSlog,

    I would give out a green card (with freedom/mobility of employment) with every natural science, physical science, medical science, math, engineering, computer science, economics, and business PHD along with the fast track path to Citizenship. Maybe at least the instant green card for a like Master’s.

    Especially if it’s in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) [1,2]!

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/09/22/obama-captiulates-on-foreigner-bashing.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/11/03/science-technology-engineering-mathematics.html

  7. “Not sure — how is the underclass of ‘ethnic whites’ (Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, Poles, etc) doing?” (Tdaxp Dan)

    There is no specific ethnic white underclass. IOW, the whites in the underclass do not show over-representation in any European ethnic group. Mexicans on the other hand, have not made much progress in this country. Notice I didn’t say “Hispanics,” as “Hispanics” can range from wealthy Cubans in Florida, to poor Mexicans in the SW. But the majority of the immigrants coming are poor Mexicans.

    This issue is all about gambling. You’re willing to take the gamble that Mexicans will end up just like the European immigrants that came here in the past. Sometimes you compare the Mexicans to Italians or Poles. I’ll try to explain why I’m not so sure about this gamble. I will present this argument under the assumption that “all people are equal.” IOW, I will make no mention of the cognitive differences between groups that I’m sure you’re aware of, and that can be found within the psychometric literature.

    Geography is an extremely difficult characteristic that vastly separates the experiences of immigrants past, compared to the Mexicans today. When the Poles, Greeks, or Italians came to America, their old homelands had much less influence compared to today’s Mexicans. In fact, it hard to even call what we see today on the Mexican border: “immigration.” What we see today would be better termed as “migration,” or even better, a release valve for the incompetence and corruption of the Mexican government. Mexicans have proven very hard to assimilate, because of the proximity to Mexico. It’s like a drug user trying to get clean in a house full of drug users. Giving citizenship to millions of Mexicans will only result in Mexico annexing the SW US.

    There are also structural-economic reasons not to give citizenship to millions unskilled workers. The industrial age is over. America needed unskilled workers in the early 20th century because we were a global industrial power. Millions of men with strong backs were needed to make the factories run. As I’m sure you’re aware, this is no longer so. Now we have the so called “knowledge economy,” and with it we need a different type of immigrant. We have millions of unskilled Americans who are harmed by Mexican workers, especially African Americans. Now some will make the “that’s capitalism” argument, and have no qualms about saying “that’s just how the market works.” At the same time, they have no problem supporting anti-market actions like bailing out failing companies, affirmative action, or removing freedom of association. I would have no problem not having borders at all if the racial polices were ended and people were given freedom of association, but this doesn’t seem likely, so I can’t support open borders.

    The Mexican masses also tend to be leftist in their political orientation. And this doesn’t seem to change, even after several generations. They tend to support wealth redistribution, affirmative action, racial quotas, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. To make matters worse, the rightwing principals they do support tend to be the social issues, like being anti-abortion or supporting prayer in schools. Every attempt so far, at making Mexicans into Republicans has failed or has resulted in destructive polices. One more generation, and there will be no more GOP. There will be the Democrat party, and most likely a Socialist Workers party.

    Now that we understand why giving citizenship to the masses of Mexicans is a bad idea, I will now lay out an immigration policy that won’t result in turning more of America into a developing country. To begin, I don’t think we should “close” the border. Mexicans and Americans cross the border everyday for many different reasons. Placing a mine field across the border would disrupt the livelihoods of many people. Instead, the US should have a guest worker program (GWP). The GWP will give Mexicans the right to work in the US. The workers WILL NOT bring their families here, raise their kids here, vote here, or be eligible for any social services, except, for emergency healthcare. When the economy isn’t doing well, they’ll go home. Next, America will offer 100,000 citizenships to anyone in the world. People will apply for citizenship like people apply for a job. They will have to take an IQ test, show their credentials, and try and prove why they’ll make America a better country. There will be no quotas for where these people can come from. If all 100,000 people come from Niger, then so be it. The best people in the world will come to the best country in the world.

    Of course, no matter how sound this policy is, it’s never going to happen. The political class isn’t in to the whole “making America a better place” thingy. Nope, these folks have different motivations for their actions. Ever since the current elite took over from the old WASP elite, their strategy has been to develop an underclass, and grow the amount of people who take care of the underclass (managers). That’s why it’s crucial that the Mexicans be brought in. I suspect this was the reason for the 1964 immigration bill as well? More poor means more social workers. More illiterates mean more reading programs. More ethnic tension means more reason to remove the right to free speech and more “diversity specialists.” All of these managers depend on the various “issues” that-I spoke about-for their paychecks. I too, will become one of these managers as well; I’m just not sure what happens when/if this system becomes unsustainable? Maybe I shouldn’t even ask such questions?

  8. My take:

    Instead of kvetching about the Mexican Government, we pitch in to help improve it. In areas we have strong mutual interests, the US and Canadian Governments work closely with relevant Mexican Agencies to bring their performance up to our standards.

    Border controls aren’t a bad idea so long as we’re careful which methods we use. Fences are easy soundbite material, but they’re also expensive, hard on local wildlife migrations and of limited effect. Finding ways to use the natural or cultural environment to our advantage works better and make better PR to boot.

    I like Seerov’s idea of eliminating quotas, just remember that good potential citizens can even be found among Mexican and Chinese illegals. Someone who is willing and able to serve in our military, meet the conditions of McCain-Kennedy, build a successful (and otherwise legal) business and/or raise honor students make sense as citizens.

  9. Seerov offers a well-thought-out critique of our current immigration system.

    Seerov is right that integration dynamics will be different than in the past. The drop in all forms of communications technologies (email, from unavailable to free on the margin; transportation as a multi-week oddyssee to a quick plain trip and back over the weekend) means that the ethnic Mexicans in America will be much closer to Mexicans than, say, ethnic Italians in America were to Italians. Indeed, it’s likely that today’s son of a Mexican immigrant is more in touch with Mexican culture than older Italian immigrants were with Italy’s culture… before they migrated!

    There is no standing still. Cultural assimilation has to encompass Mexicans in Mexico as well, or it will not work. [1]

    Seerov is also right on the lack of education attainment by Mexican immigrants, and their children. This may be genetically driven. I suspect it owes a lot to the public schools, as well. We have had a system, for several generations, that lowers standards to children who find those standards hard. Low expectations are a soft form of bigotry. My earlier thoughts on this emphasized the harm done to spec ed students [2], but the same is true of english-language learners as well. NCLB is one of the best things ever to happen to American education.

    Seerov obliquely refers to the weird quotas set up by Homeland Security, in which different numbers of people from different countries can apply for different forms of family reunification. This system is wrong, and should end. As I mentioned above, the Bush-McCain plan included a ‘point system,’ with some points for family reunification, some points for technical skills, and so on. Such a system is better for our country.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/04/12/the-manifest-destiny-of-the-american-nation.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/11/14/the-soft-bigotry-of-low-expectations.html

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