Mickey Kaus has an excellent discussion of how the immigration issue may play out this year. Though it is only speculation, it seems to lay out the best course politically for Republicans to play. A big problem, of course, is that it still leaves unresolved the issue of 12 million people here in this country illegally. My guess would be that some sort of amnesty is included in any final bill.

The immigration issue seems to have come to a boiling point this year for whatever reason. I guess credit should be given to Tom Tancredo for raising the issue. I have my disagreements with the anti-immigration movement, mainly that I'm for immigration and I think large numbers of immigrants can be assimilated. However, I don't disagree that we should control the borders more forcefully. There is, of course, the issue of rewarding those who did come here illegally to stay. Many on the right would throw them out just for that reason, but I would say that just because somebody does break the law doesn't mean that the most extreme punishment should be used. It has been 20 years since the last amnesty and I don't see where this country has gone to hell. Quite the contrary, the last 25 years have been fairly extraordinary.

The issue is quite complex with many books written about the issue. To try and step into the economics of it is just as difficult. I'm not even going to try and debate the famous line "there are some jobs Americans won't do." If you disagree, you're more than welcome to try and debate my family members at the next reunion. But as I've said, immigration is consistent with free markets and free people.


How illegal immigration into Texas was handled once before:

Before 1819, two groups of Americans migrated into Texas, which was part of Mexico at the time. The legal immigrants paid for land granted them under the Mexican government's Emprasario system. The illegals were squatters who just wandered in and found good places to farm.

The Mexican government became alarmed after looting and a small insurrection in 1818 and 1819, led by Americans Phillip Nolan, Col. James Long, and the pirate Jean Lafitte. So they evicted the illegal Texans in mass, executing some. Other immigrants from the U.S. left in fear.

One thing Mexican authorities ignored was how dependent its towns had become on the immigrant farmers. For several years after the deportation, San Antonio and east Texas faced food shortages.

Our economy today relies on low income immigrants from Mexico. We wouldn't face food shortages, but we might get a good dose of recession if immigrants were deported.

One hears broad, sweeping assertions like "our economy today relies on low income immigrants", but I have never seen this quantified. Moreover this clearly assumes that immigrants provide only benefits, and do not impose any costs (or rather, that there is a net benefit to their presence). Again, this has not been proven to my knowledge. Sources?


Studies by both conservatives and liberals have provided important insights about the immigrant population:

- the late conservative economist Julian Simon calculated that native U.S. citizens receive more in government benefits than do immigrants;

- a Cato Institute study found that immigrants paid 48% as much in taxes as the average American family, but received only 32% as much in government benefits;

- the Urban Institute estimated in the mid-90's that immigrants contributed $30 billion more in taxes than they receive each year, a number that has no doubt risen since then;

- Rachel M. Friedberg of Brown University and Jennifer Hunt of Yale University determined that immigrants create more jobs than they fill;

- economists Paul Krugman and Elise S. Brezis concluded that immigrant expenditures in the U.S. encourage investment and, over time, increase the number of jobs in the U.S.;

- the National Academy of Sciences determined that immigrants provide a net economic benefit to the U.S..

A few recent studies have concluded that immigrants use more in government services than they contribute in taxes. Two major problems with those studies:

Costs to educate immigrants' children are shown to be less than school taxes collected. But that's true for at least 75% and maybe 90% of all households with schoolchildren. The cost of educating our children is spread across all households, including the many that have no schoolchildren. A large portion of school taxes also come from businesses.

The studies which fault immigrant contributions usually assign to immigrants a pro-rated share of all government services. In those studies, a portion of immigrants' consumption of government services include such items as: agriculture subsidies to companies; fire protection of national timberlands; inspections of plants and refineries by the EPA; and much more that has nothing to do with immigrants. I believe such allocations to be faulty analysis.

Immigrants help make our economy stronger, and we should appreciate their contributions.


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This page contains a single entry by Bob published on March 27, 2006 5:43 PM.

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