Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lobbying The Legislature That Should Be Helping To Deport You

I wrote this post yesterday--and today it was gone! I'm not sure what happened at all, but I'll attempt to recreate it here.

The major Sacramento newspaper reported on some college students that have a lot of nerve:

Like generations of citizens before them, California State University, Chico, students Alba Miranda, Hector Najera and Rene Ochoa descended Monday on the Capitol in Sacramento to petition members of the Legislature.

Except the three honor students aren't citizens -- they're illegal immigrants, who under state law have a right to in-state tuition at California state colleges and universities but are not eligible for financial aid.

So let's see if I have this straight, even though we all know I do. These people are here illegally, and they're already getting a tuition discount that's not available to 90% of Americans (non-Californians), and they're asking for more?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees there's something wrong with this picture.

"I just don't believe in rewarding those who have entered our nation in defiance of our laws and sovereignty," (State Senator and Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Tom) McClintock said. "That not only encourages illegal immigration, it's an insult to the millions of legal residents who obeyed our laws."

That seems pretty clear.

I admit there's some validity to this next point:

"I can see this from the other side of this issue," she (one of the illegal alien student lobbyists) said. "But by helping us, you're helping us contribute to the country."

However, if instead of giving her a highly-discounted education, we gave that education to an American, one whose mere presence isn't an affront to our laws, we'd be helping an American contribute to his or her own country. Isn't that at least as good?


Anonymous said...

That is the real problem here. Even Paul Krugman, bleeding heart lib columnist for the NY Times, accepts the economic argument against illegal aliens: these people are essentially parasites, who take out much more than they put in. Read on...


North of the Border

By PAUL KRUGMAN (NYT) 702 words
Published: March 27, 2006

''Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,'' wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I'm proud of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia.

In other words, I'm instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration. But a review of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular. If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.

First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration -- especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration.

That's why it's intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do ''jobs that Americans will not do.'' The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays -- and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

Finally, modern America is a welfare state, even if our social safety net has more holes in it than it should -- and low-skill immigrants threaten to unravel that safety net.

Basic decency requires that we provide immigrants, once they're here, with essential health care, education for their children, and more. As the Swiss writer Max Frisch wrote about his own country's experience with immigration, ''We wanted a labor force, but human beings came.'' Unfortunately, low-skill immigrants don't pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive.

Worse yet, immigration penalizes governments that act humanely. Immigrants are a much more serious fiscal problem in California than in Texas, which treats the poor and unlucky harshly, regardless of where they were born.

We shouldn't exaggerate these problems. Mexican immigration, says the Borjas-Katz study, has played only a ''modest role'' in growing U.S. inequality. And the political threat that low-skill immigration poses to the welfare state is more serious than the fiscal threat: the disastrous Medicare drug bill alone does far more to undermine the finances of our social insurance system than the whole burden of dealing with illegal immigrants.

But modest problems are still real problems, and immigration is becoming a major political issue. What are we going to do about it?

Realistically, we'll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants. Mainly that means better controls on illegal immigration. But the harsh anti-immigration legislation passed by the House, which has led to huge protests -- legislation that would, among other things, make it a criminal act to provide an illegal immigrant with medical care -- is simply immoral.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's plan for a ''guest worker'' program is clearly designed by and for corporate interests, who'd love to have a low-wage work force that couldn't vote. Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no incentive to become integrated into our society.

What about a guest-worker program that includes a clearer route to citizenship? I'd still be careful. Whatever the bill's intentions, it could all too easily end up having the same effect as the Bush plan in practice -- that is, it could create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.

We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I'd rather see Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.

EllenK said...

I have a question, in Georgia there is an issue being pushed by the Atlanta Constitution, that all ballots will be printed in English and other foreign languages. While this would seem innocuous on the surface, IF all voters MUST be citizens and IF in order to attain citizenship a person MUST learn and be proficient in ENGLISH, WHY should the ballots be printed in any language other than English?

As for the comment in the article that immigrants are treated worse in the border states, that may be due to the sheer numbers that are impacting every government systems from education and welfare to fire and police. As a teacher I cannot ask if a student is here legally,yet the student can be required by the federal government to be given free meals, access to medical services, special programs in their native language as well as special education programs in general. And as for the assumption that all the people coming to the border states are just disenfranchised and not given aid, the ESL teacher at my school who is a native of Mexico City told me that many of the students who are currently in the system and have been for years are not only out of the loop in English, but don't speak Spanish well enough to survive in Mexico. Many of these students come to us YEARS behind educationally and to say they are treated harshly is far from true. I love it when people who are not in the middle of a crisis are willing to judge those of us currently going through it.