May 16, 2006

On The President's Immigration Plan

Share
Left: Illegal immigrants walking across the Arizona border

President Bush addressed the nation last night about the issue of illegal immigration, and in some aspects of the plan I am in agreement with him. He recognizes that rounding up and deporting many millions of illegal immigrants is not a practical idea, and that any legislative solutions must include a path to citizenship.

I question the cost effectiveness of hiring another 6,000 full-time Border Patrol agents, and the creation of the high-tech virtual and physical fences that President Bush believes will secure the border.

I am sure that these ambitious plans will make it more difficult for people to illegally cross the border, but these defensive measures do not address the true source of the problem: the vast economic inequities between the lives of people living on opposite sides of the US-Mexican border.

Irrespective of the amount spent on border security, people will continue to come to this country seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families. Build a fence, and people will climb it. Install a camera, and people will disable it. Erect a wall, and people will tunnel under it. Create new ID cards, and they will be forged.

So long as there is such a glaring difference in opportunity between the two countries, there will be people who will not be deterred by obstacles, bureaucratic or physical.

Left: Immigrants scaling a wall on the Texas-Mexico border

The NAFTA crowd tried to convince Americans that outsourcing US jobs to Mexico would help improve the problem of illegal immigration, as new opportunities in Mexican factories would reduce the number of people seeking a better life in this country.

The "giant sucking sound" predicted by Ross Perot did indeed occur, and not just in the United States. Many of the outsourced production facilities found cheaper labor in places like China and Malaysia, and the promised benefits to Mexico as a result of NAFTA turned out to be short-lived in quite a few cases.

We are living in an era that I like to call "hypercapitalism," in which capital flight can occur with breathtaking speed. Entire national currencies can be wiped out in a matter of days if currency speculators get panicky, and corporations can move complete production facilities in a blink of the proverbial eye.

Mexico has suffered both massive currency runs and production emigration in the past 12 years since NAFTA was passed. Instead of curing Mexican economic woes, the agreement simply made it easier for corporations and speculators to extract profits, and to quickly flee the country if better opportunities arise elsewhere.

Until stable national currencies, greater permanency in production, and human beings become the primary focus of world leaders - instead of rubber-stamping the multinational corporate agenda - we will continue to be faced with the prospect of millions of illegal immigrants arriving in America.

That is, until such a point when the standard of living for Americans has fallen to match that of people living south of the border. The real agenda of global elites is to reduce all of us to a common level of poverty and servitude, with wealth and power concentrated in the hands of a global aristocracy.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Illegals CAN be rounded up and deported, and the border CAN be made secure.

Kate said...

You remark in your blog: "...the true source of the problem: the vast economic inequities between the lives of people living on opposite sides of the US-Mexican border."

I agree with you. Also to the south of Mexico - people are living in dire circumstance of poverty - and some are living in a post civil war age - living with the tension between guerilla's and the official government. (San Salvador). This President and prior Presidents have worked with the Mexican government and NAFTA was intended to help and we all see how this has turned out. Some of them had great foreign policy and still the situation has not greatly changed in the last 20 years since our most recent major immigration policy overhaul.

Economic development in those countries is needed. We, as the US, can encourage and facilitate those improvements to the best of our ability - but it concretely outside the scope of our control. And that has a direct impact upon us here in the states.

Along with hardworking and worthwhile people who want to make a life in the US that cross our southern border - we also have the large portion of the Colombian drug cartel's pipeline into the US (as well as the Supernotes/counterfeits they are making to facilitate their drug trade). Also - the entire world is well aware of the border crossing situation so I don't think it's prudent to assume that no one who intends to harm the US will use that border to cross.

In that light - I fully support every measure to secure that border - allow people in who have no criminal background and facilitate the immigration process. ICE needs a big time shakeup.

You have to ask yourself why any person who, like most of our own forefathers, have a dream of making a life in America - would rather face the prospect of being left to suffocate in the back of semi at the hands of merciless smugglers than our immigration office? Or the US Embassy in their own country?

That makes me ill to consider the needless death of these people.

liberal_dem said...

I listened to a small debate between Sen. Lindsay Graham [R S.C.] and Chris Matthews on this topic. Graham used that Republican spin phrase, "they're doing the jobs that Americans won't do."

Matthews said, "Isn't that because the pay for these jobs is substandard? If you raise the pay, the American worker would be interested."

Graham had the deer in the headlights look.

Maggie Thurber said...

LD - another common sense issue in which are in agreement. I do not like the use of the phrase "doing the job Americans won't do." I believe it's more of "working for pay that Americans won't take."

Again, we come at the issue from two opposite perspectives. I believe that the free market would dictate a higher wage for many of those jobs if there weren't illegals who are so desperate to take them. Allowing illegals to "invade" our market and dilute the pay is wrong. I just don't understand why the unions aren't more opposed to this...

Anonymous said...

As a regular reader here, I am compelled to offer a rare comment on this clearly divisive issue. I think the first annonymous poster is completely out of touch with the national discussion; every thinking citizen, pundit, and politician--right, left, and center--realizes that an Orwellian 'round-up' and mass deportation is not only ludicrous in size and scope, but financially impossible. On a more critical note, however, I feel the immigration debate inevitably leads us, as a people, to question the very nature of capitalism itself, which as Mike eloquently asserted, deceptively makes the rhetoric focus on 'profits' and 'workers' rather than human beings and human rights. Bush's proposal for a 21st century 'Great Wall' and border monitoring system seems like a horribly literal embodiment of the xenophobic nationalism that plagued this country during the 1920s before the Great Depression. I commend Mike for is thoughtful analysis, and pray that in the months and years to come, people around the world finally take a stand against global monopolies, corporate greed, and political brokering, which are the true purveyors of poverty.

historymike said...

In a shorter-term sense, I am in complete agreement that reducing immigration will benefit American workers.

Logistically, I think we would need a force of a half-million people to "secure" the border.

There is a 2,000-mile border, and even if a person was stationed every 50 yards, that would mean 210,000 Border Patrol for 3-8 hour shifts a day.

Add in support personnel, vacation coverage, supervisors, and administrators, and you are looking at a $20 billion or more cost to "secure" the border.

I agree with Maggie that American workers would gladly pick tomatoes, wash dishes, clean homes, or perform any of the other "unwanted" jobs performed by illegals if the wages were sufficient to live on.

I think that truly unfettered markets, however, are only a prescription to build a society like 19th century Britain, where small children displaced skilled artisans in industrial settings, and corporations could act without fear of reprisal.

While Karl Marx's vision of a post-capitalist world had some serious holes in its utopian dreams, his criticisms of 19th-century industrial Britain are deadly accurate. Chapters 10 and 25 are among the best, and show Marx as a journalist exposing some of the worst abuses of an unfettered capitalist system.

Multinational corporations have loyalty only to profits and shareholders (shareholders, of course, are in a distant second).

I doubt that even Adam Smith - who himself was critical of powerful corporations, monopolies, oligopolies, and cartels - foresaw the megalithic corporate monstrosities that seem poised to rule the world.

The days of benevolent entrepreneurs with a vision are numbered, and in their place are multinationals with revenue streams greater than many nations and with the power to dictate the terms by which they will operate.

We have to look no further than DaimlerChrysler and the corporate extortion/welfare that the company fleeced from Toledo, Ohio, and the US government.

Carty did what he had to do, and while some may criticize our Mayor, the fact remains that DCX has the ability to relocate a plant anywhere on the planet.

Until we reign in the power of multinationals to act beyond the law, we will watch our prosperity continue to shrink.

historymike said...

Thank you, anonymous, for your very kind words. While I am unconvinced that previous socialist and communist "solutions" to the inherent contradictions in capitalism will work, I think that Marx was right that something must follow capitalism.

For those who place their faith in the perpetuity or perfection of capitalism, remember that this has been the dominant form of socioeconomic organization for only about 200 years.

Many people who lived under feudal, mercantilist, imperial, or fascist systems (for that matter, Soviet-style communist syetems, too) believed that their way of life was the alpha and omega of human existence.

What will transcend capitalism? Phew - that's for another essay (or for further debate in this thread).

:-}

McCaskey said...

"There is a 2,000-mile border, and even if a person was stationed every 50 yards, that would mean 210,000 Border Patrol for 3-8 hour shifts a day.

Add in support personnel, vacation coverage, supervisors, and administrators, and you are looking at a $20 billion or more cost to "secure" the border."---HM earlier post


Let's see now. What have we spent so far on the Iraq debacle? What do we continue to spend per month that could be better spent here at home?

The figures are about 280 billion and 5 billion a month...there's your secure border and lots and lots of other things.

Anchorage Activist said...

Mike - Your economic analysis is on target. The objective of the elite is to transform this world into a giant plantation, with a small group of haves (or "super-haves" like former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond) presiding over a huge gaggle of "have-nots" constantly diverting their energy towards economic competition. Combined with the "circuses" on TV, this "bread and circuses" approach is envisioned to keep the masses distracted and politically quiescent. You call it "hyper-capitalism"; Edward Luttwak, in his book by the same name, calls it "turbo-capitalism". Same difference.

However, the value of a fence is symbolic; it is designed to be a negative incentive. As a father, you've undoubtedly used negative incentives from time to time to reinforce your child-rearing strategy. The same analogy applies here. The fence will send a message to the Mexican plutocracy that they cannot preserve their privilege forever by exporting their surplus population elsewhere. However, the fence cannot be an "end-all" solution; it must be accompanied by contiued investment in Mexico and essential political and social change down there.

No American should lose a job to a foreigner inside the USA.

WomanHonorThyself said...

Hey there...sent a TB and linked..hope I linked the right post!

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

Actually, I don't have time to look up my source, but I read the other day that increased border security has actually doubled the proportion of Mexicans who stay in our country as opposed to being migrant workers. In the late 1980s, about three in four workers would come up, work, and return to their family in Mexico...now the proportion is less than half.

As to rounding up the 10-15 million or so illegals in this country...the first anonymous was right, there has been at least one country that has been successful in rounding up a dozen million people over the span of a few years.

But we defeated them in 1945.

Any solution to slowing the tide of illegal immigration is going to have to be more long-term than a wall and patrols...and we're still going to have to find something more practical than a mass round-up to deal with those already here.

Brian said...

Mike,

If I might wax philosophic a little. .

I think Capitalism is the Alpha and Omega. Capitalism, in its purest form, relies on rugged individualism which was certainly the hallmark of prehistoric society.

I think it will be the Omega. It is based on freedom. You just can't stop the natural urge of human beings to be free to acquire their hearts desires.

Capitalism isn't perfect because it is a human institution. But it has been improved and has outlived feudalism, imperialism, mercantilism, and Soviet Communism. It will go on ad infinitum.

Of course, I could be wrong, but I'm probably not.

liberal_dem said...

...and the boxcars, loaded with the illegals, doors bolted shut, slowly ground their way through the desert heat to their destination...

Dariush said...

AA: "The objective of the elite is to transform this world into a giant plantation, with a small group of haves (or 'super-haves' like former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond) presiding over a huge gaggle of 'have-nots' constantly diverting their energy towards economic competition. Combined with the 'circuses' on TV, this 'bread and circuses' approach is envisioned to keep the masses distracted and politically quiescent. You call it 'hyper-capitalism'; Edward Luttwak, in his book by the same name, calls it 'turbo-capitalism'. Same difference."

I think you've got it nailed here, 100%.

Although there is a small bit of irony in quoting a court intellectual like Luttwak to buttress your point.

MarieLora said...

Regarding: Mexicans do JOBS Americans will NOT do...at a much lower pay scale...

REALLY...what about the cost of Social Services provided...this is VERY costly to all of us...in REALITY when adding what may be used in Social Services by the Illegals...how CHEAP is that Gardener, Maid, Field Hand, Construction Worker...

I, too...do NOT understand how the UNIONS can support using Illegals for JOBS...I don't understand how "Mexican ID" cards are legal...

-Sepp said...

...more like the president's LACK of an immigration plan would be a more fitting title.

M A F said...

You have done it again MIke. I'd like to invite you to come by and check out my take on the issue of Amnesty (& Immigration Reform).

Brian said...

Dariush,

Sounds like somebody has a real case of class envy. Are you a failure or just horribly insecure?

John Spalding said...

Actually the next step is capitalarchy- The fusion of the individuality of capitalism and the anarchistic notion of no bosses. Instead these companies will use self managed teams (http://irism.com/selfteam.htm) with little leadership hierarchy.

This step in capitalism will create organizations that remain small, networked with other like minded companies as partners and suppliers, managed in a cell structure where all parts work to better the whole.

The organizations will stand for something more than "good business" and actually work with others to change the face of the current world.


Here are a few clips from Margaret Wheatly--
We see the world through who we are, or, as expressed by the poet Michael Chitwood: "What you notice becomes your life." Since no two people are alike, no two people have exactly the same interpretation of what's going on. Yet at work and at home we act as if others see what we see and assign the same meaning as we do to events. We sit in a meeting and watch something happen and just assume that most people in that room, or at least those we trust, saw the same thing.

But if we stopped to compare further, we'd soon discover significant and useful differences in what we saw and how we interpreted the situation.

As we work with this principle, we begin to realize that arguing about who's right and who's wrong is a waste of time. If we engage with colleagues to share perceptions, if we expect and even seek out the great diversity of interpretations that exist, we learn and change.

Dariush said...

John,

What you describe above sounds an awful lot like "anarcho-capitalism".

Google that term for more info.

Kate said...

You all have good comments. Capitalism - socio-economic conditioning and big business. I can't get past the point of the newstory I saw a few years ago. Of a uniformed officer (border patrol possibly) choking back the tears as he stood next to a trailer they'd just unloaded dozens of bodies from. Children too....

I know in my heart that money is at the bottom of it - but again I ask - what is it about our governments' immigration process that people are more willing to risk a suffocating death in an anonymous trailer out in the desert than to go into one of our ICE offices? That needs to be fixed - and immediately.

historymike said...

Kate:

I think it is not so much fear of the INS as it is simply immediate need.

People coming here are looking to keep from starving, and the months (or years) that go into formal, legal citizenship must seem like impossible barriers to someone who might not know where their next meals are coming from.

John Spalding said...

No it doesn't. The word you suggest eliminates any sort of "state" or government. That is why the "anarcho" comes first in your word. In my word, "capital" comes first, because we won't be eliminating the "state", we'll work around it.

John Spalding said...

Besides my word kick more ass than "anarcho- capitalism" I at least made an attempt at fusion. That other word just sounds shitty!

LOL

Hooda Thunkit said...

Mike,
”I am sure that these ambitious plans will make it more difficult for people to illegally cross the border, but these defensive measures do not address the true source of the problem: the vast economic inequities between the lives of people living on opposite sides of the US-Mexican border.”

These inequities are due to conditions that are beyond our control. They lie more with Mexico and the Mexican government, such as it is.


”Irrespective of the amount spent on border security, people will continue to come to this country seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families. Build a fence, and people will climb it. Install a camera, and people will disable it. Erect a wall, and people will tunnel under it. Create new ID cards, and they will be forged.”

Exactly! The US is still perceived as “the land of milk and honey,” but the luster of that image has long since faded…


”So long as there is such a glaring difference in opportunity between the two countries, there will be people who will not be deterred by obstacles, bureaucratic or physical.”

The border is a concept, not a reality, unless it physically exists.


”The NAFTA crowd tried to convince Americans that outsourcing US jobs to Mexico would help improve the problem of illegal immigration, as new opportunities in Mexican factories would reduce the number of people seeking a better life in this country.”

However, from the viewpoint of Mexico, NAFTA meant more low paying jobs and nothing more.


”The "giant sucking sound" predicted by Ross Perot did indeed occur, and not just in the United States. Many of the outsourced production facilities found cheaper labor in places like China and Malaysia, and the promised benefits to Mexico as a result of NAFTA turned out to be short-lived in quite a few cases.”

Ah yes, Ross Perot; funny how history has made him out to be the genius the we failed to acknowledge so many years ago. Who’s the fool now?


”We are living in an era that I like to call "hypercapitalism," in which capital flight can occur with breathtaking speed. Entire national currencies can be wiped out in a matter of days if currency speculators get panicky, and corporations can move complete production facilities in a blink of the proverbial eye

Mexico has suffered both massive currency runs and production emigration in the past 12 years since NAFTA was passed. Instead of curing Mexican economic woes, the agreement simply made it easier for corporations and speculators to extract profits, and to quickly flee the country if better opportunities arise elsewhere..”


The worship of MONEY can cause things like that to happen. All Hail corporate GREED!


”Until stable national currencies, greater permanency in production, and human beings become the primary focus of world leaders - instead of rubber-stamping the multinational corporate agenda - we will continue to be faced with the prospect of millions of illegal immigrants arriving in America.”


But the corporation is your friend; what’s good for the corporation is good for you… Somebody better tell those millions of immigrants that the land of milk and honey is no more, the cow has gone dry and the bees are dead.


”That is, until such a point when the standard of living for Americans has fallen to match that of people living south of the border. The real agenda of global elites is to reduce all of us to a common level of poverty and servitude, with wealth and power concentrated in the hands of a global aristocracy.”

We used to have wherewithal to overcome this. But those were far gentler times. That was a time, now long gone, in which America stood for self-reliance, loyalty, fair profits and sure steady growth. Now, the quest for extreme profits, and valuing of human lives as insignificant and expendable is the norm.


”That is, until such a point when the standard of living for Americans has fallen to match that of people living south of the border. The real agenda of global elites is to reduce all of us to a common level of poverty and servitude, with wealth and power concentrated in the hands of a global aristocracy.”

And our public school system is playing right into the hands of the global aristocracy by churning out barely literate, lazy, but compliant cogs for their money machines. The biggest threat to their way of life is an enlightened, educated, achievement oriented middle class, striving to become upper class.

America and Americans need to return to thinking for themselves and educating themselves or learn to tolerate the status quo. . .

We the Sheeple. . .

Kate said...

and to answer the question of what follows capitalism? I believe history bears out that civil unrest and then tyranny typically follow a free populace. :-)

Kate said...

"jobs that Americans won't do" welcome to end of the great melting pot experiment.....