What is the Purpose of Immigration Policy?

June 19, 2012

Though there’s scarcely been any mention of immigration policy in the 3-1/2 years since President Obama took office, all of that changed on Friday when he announced that he would halt enforcement action on illegal immigrants who were brought to this country by their parents as young children – growing up knowing no other country than the U.S.  Now the news seems to be about nothing else.  Was the president right?  What would Romney have done?  Will he reverse this decision when (not if) he takes office?  There was also talk of the need for “comprehensive immigration reform.”  Perhaps the most incisive question I heard in the wake of Obama’s decision was “How can immigration policy be made to work for us?” 

How indeed, if it can be made to work for us at all?  It begs another question:  what is the purpose of even having an immigration policy?  I think the answer is that immigration serves three purposes:

  1. It fulfills our obligation as a member of the global community to reciprocate when other nations are willing to accept migrants from the United States.
  2. It fulfills our obligation to accept our fair share of refugees fleeing war and persecution. 
  3. Once the above two obligations have been met, additional immigration serves only one other purpose – to grow our population. 

Others may suggest some unquantifiable reasons and purposes – to enrich the diversity of our people, as an example, or to uphold our tradition as a nation built by immigrants.  All such sentiments are rooted in a deeper concern for immigrants than for what’s best for our country.  The fact is this:  that once we have met our obligations to admit as many immigrants as other countries are willing to accept from us – including refugees – the ultimate question is whether it makes sense to grow our population by admitting more.  Here are some critieria that should be applied:

  1. Are we short on labor?  With 18 million Americans unemployed, does it make any sense to import more workers?
  2. Do we have sufficient resources to support a larger population, including food, energy, metals, minerals and lumber and others?  For example, does it make any sense to import more oil consumers when we already must import the majority of oil that we consume?
  3. Is our impact on the environment below a sustainable level, and have we met all of our obligations to reduce our impact?  For example, given that we have committed to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, does it make sense to import more emitters? 
  4. Given that, beyond a critical level, a rising population density dooms an ever-growing percentage of Americans to unemployment and poverty, does it make any sense to increase our population density with more immigrants?

If the answers to the above questions are “yes,” then by all means, let’s welcome more immigrants.  But can anyone answer yes to even one of those questions with a straight face? 

Every year, America welcomes another 1.5 million immigrants only because that’s what we’ve always done.  No one ever stops to ask whether it makes any sense whatsoever.  We just do it.  We stoke the unemployment lines with unneeded workers.  We drive up the demand for imported oil.  We worsen our impact on the environment and we make life incrementally more miserable for every American. 

Shame on President Obama, not for his action on Friday but for squandering 3-1/2 years of opportunity to inject some common sense into immigration policy.

Furchtgott-Roth: Bigotry Cloaked in Sloppy Economics

March 13, 2009


It seems that there is one ethnic class that is still fair game for the overt expression of bigotry, at least among elitist economists – and that group is Americans.  In the linked piece of drivel authored by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the Department of Labor (our current state of unemployment and the economy as a whole speaks volumes about the quality of her work there), she champions the notion advanced by other like-minded economists that we need to boost immigration because Americans are too dumb to handle the heavy mental lifting required to sustain our economy. 

Here’s a sampling:

If Congress had not imposed a tight lid on green cards, … America in 2008 might have had up to 300,000 more highly educated engineers and graduate students performing path breaking research. They would have added about $23 billion to GDP, and the federal government would have gained about $5 billion more in tax revenues.

In other words, there are no Americans qualified to handle this work, so the jobs are left unfilled and the work is left undone.  Our economy is failing because we don’t have enough immigrants to carry the intellectual load.  How is this any different than saying that a particular major league sports team is failing because there aren’t enough qualified white people to fill the coaching and front office jobs?  Today, such words would be the last ever written by a sports writer in a professional capacity.  But similar  insults and stereotyping directed against Americans are accepted as long as they’re proclaimed by our demi-god economists. 

What is her real motivation?  Ms. Furchtgott-Roth is an employee of the Hudson Institute, one of those “think tanks” that thinks exactly what it’s paid to think by its corporate sponsors, in this case corporations interested in abusing the H-1B immigration program in an effort to suppress labor costs with a flood of cheap foreign labor.  Economists like Furchtgott-Roth rationalize their support for such policies with a blind faith in the use of population growth as an engine for economic growth. 

This is a lazy, sloppy approach to economics that, unfortunately, is all too common among economists lacking the courage to consider all of the ramifications of population growth at the risk of being branded “Malthusians” by their close-minded colleagues.  They never once stop to question how packing more and more people into the same space can possibly yield anything but falling per capita consumption and rising unemployment and poverty.  It’s this kind of superficial economics we have to thank for the economic morass into which we sink deeper every day.

1st Immigration Raid of Obama’s Administration

February 26, 2009


The first immigration raid of an employer under the new Obama administration took place yesterday in Bellingham, Washington.  One third of the work force at an engine remanufacturing company, a total of 28 people, mostly illegal immigrants from Mexico, were arrested.  Three were later released.  The others are awaiting decisions regarding deportation. 

Statements and actions by Janet Napolitano, Obama’s new Secretary of Homeland Security, following the raid, give me cause for concern:

The secretary of Homeland Security has ordered of a review of an immigration raid in Bellingham in which a third of the employees of an engine manufacturing shop were arrested.

Janet Napolitano said she wants to know why Tuesday’s raid took place and said immigration enforcement should be focused on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Uh, yeah, Janet.  Doesn’t this pretty much fit the bill?  Obviously, the raid was justified since it found that a full third of the company’s employees were illegals.  I hope that Ms. Napolitano is just re-stating department policy instead of condemning such actions.  Does she really want to come across as being sympathetic to illegal aliens at a time when 15% of the American work force can’t find a decent job? 

Of course, there’s always the bleeding hearts who come out in support of the criminals:

“Attacking workers, taking away the primary breadwinner, destroying a local business and leaving families torn apart is simply un-American and unjust,” said immigration advocate Pramila Jayapal with OneAmerica.

Nobody is tearing apart families here.  ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is simply enforcing the law and sending illegals home.  Their families are free to return with them.  And no one has destroyed the company.  They will find no shortage of American workers eager to take over.  (Although I’m sure some immigrant advocacy group will claim that building engines is another example of the kind of work that Americans won’t do any more.  Funny, there sure seems to be plenty of laid-off auto workers here in Michigan who would love to be doing that work.)

Napolitano would be better advised to issue strong statements of support for ICE and strong condemnations of illegal workers following such raids, unless she wants to destroy morale at Homeland Security.

Immigration Hearing for Obama’s Aunt

January 28, 2009


The linked article chronicles a series of events surrounding the potential deportation of Obama’s aunt, Zeituni Onyango, his father’s half-sister.  It’s a confusing story, so I’ll try to simplify it here:

  1. Obama’s aunt arrived in the country from Kenya some years ago and then sought asylum status, which would have allowed her to stay.
  2. Approximately four years ago, an immigration judge denied her application for asylum and ordered her deported.  She never left. 
  3. On October 31st, the Department of Homeland Security issued a directive that agents obtain permission from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) field office directors or deputy directors before arresting fugitives.  While not mentioning Obama’s aunt by name, its intent was to avoid negative publicity that would be associated with her arrest, if that were to happen.
  4. On November 26th, the Bush administration lifted the directive, potentially clearing the way for her arrest.
  5. On December 17th, an immigration judge stayed her deportation and ordered a new hearing, to be held in April. 

The question now is whether Obama will somehow intervene on his aunt’s behalf.  Or has he already signaled that he has no intention of doing so?  Perhaps Obama, in consultation with Bush, agreed with lifting the directive following the election.  It will be very interesting to see how events unfold – a good test of Obama’s integrity, his respect for the law and his attitudes toward immigration.  Stay tuned.

Obama Recovery Plan Bars Loans to Firms Hiring Illegal Aliens

January 28, 2009


The above is a link to the House version of the Obama economic recovery plan.  In an encouraging sign that the new administration will maintain a hard-line stance against illegal immigration, the plan bars loans to companies who hire illegal immigration. 

On page 92, you’ll find the following:


(1) ALIENS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES.- A loan guarantee may not be made under this section for a loan made to a concern if an individual who is an alien unlawfully present in the United States –

(A) has an ownership interest in that concern; or

(B) has an ownership interest in another concern that itself has an ownership interest in that concern.

(2) FIRMS IN VIOLATION OF IMMIGRATION LAWS.- No loan guarantee may be made under this section for a loan to any entity found, based on a determination by the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General to have engaged in a pattern or practice of hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the person is an unauthorized alien.

Although Obama’s support for amnesty for illegal aliens already here (a “path to citizenship”) is worrisome, he has prefaced it with the need to gain control of our border and the inclusion of this wording in his economic plan is one encouraging sign that he means business.

I haven’t had a chance to read through the whole thing yet but I plan to do just that and will post more about what I find.  I’ll especially be looking for the reported inclusion of hundreds of millions of dollars for contraceptives.  If you beat me to it, feel free to bring it to my attention!

Postville Meat-Processor Provided Illegals with Fake IDs!

August 8, 2008


This article reports that many of the illegal immigrants arrested in the raid at the Postville, Iowa meat-processor for possessing fake or stolen identification actually received the fake documents from the company’s human resources department!  It’s time to start throwing comany officials and employees – anyone who is complicit in this kind of activity – into jail and it’s time to start shutting down such companies.  And I’m talking about any and every company who does the same thing.  These people are anti-American.  If I was governor of Iowa, I’d hop in a state police cruiser and lead a convoy of troopers down there to conduct an investigation and arrest everyone involved.

Good News: Illegal Immigrants Leaving

July 31, 2008


The linked article is from the Center for Immigration Studies.  It’s a report of their findings regarding changes in the immigrant population.  It concludes that, based upon census results that find that the population of illiterate Hispanic immigrants is shrinking, that it is the population of illegal immigrants that is actually declining, a reasonable assumption.  The CIS is a an organization that is dedicated to influencing national policy toward reduced immigration, so one could argue that this is a self-serving report.  However, one could also argue that such a report tends to diminish concern about illegal immigration; thus, it wouldn’t be in the interest of CIS to publish it if it were not true.  So, all things considered, I tend to believe the report as a factual study.  Decide for yourself.  It it’s true, this is indeed very good news and is solid evidence that enforcement is working and that it needs to be sustained and even intensified. 

The following are the key findings of the study:

  • Our best estimate is that the illegal immigrant population has declined by 11 percent through May 2008 after hitting a peak in August 2007.
  • The implied decline in the illegal population is 1.3 million since last summer, from 12.5 million to 11.2 million today.
  • The estimated decline of the illegal population is at least seven times larger than the number of illegal aliens removed by the government in the last 10 months, so most of the decline is due to illegal immigrants leaving the country on their own.
  • One indication that stepped-up enforcement is responsible for the decline is that only the illegal immigrant population seems to be affected; the legal immigrant population continues to grow.
  • Another indication enforcement is causing the decline is that the illegal immigrant population began falling before there was a significant rise in their unemployment rate.
  • The importance of enforcement is also suggested by the fact that the current decline is already significantly larger than the decline during the last recession, and officially the country has not yet entered a recession.
  • While the decline began before unemployment rose, the evidence indicates that unemployment has increased among illegal immigrants, so the economic slow-down is likely to be at least partly responsible for the decline in the number of illegal immigrants.
  • There is good evidence that the illegal population grew last summer while Congress was considering legalizing illegal immigrants. When that legislation failed to pass, the illegal population began to fall almost immediately.
  • If the decline were sustained, it would reduce the illegal population by one-half in the next five years.