Obama Pretends to Put Immigration Reform in Play

I’m reluctant to write about immigration reform, given that when the topic of illegal aliens comes up in posts on labor policy, too often there’s an upsurge of xenophobic, even racist, comments and a dearth of thoughtful discussion. So let this introduction serve as a warning: I’d like to use this piece to serve as a point of departure for discussing what a good immigration reform policy would look like, so we can have benchmarks for measuring what comes out of Obama’s promise that he would move immigration reform reform forward in an address Thursday evening.

But bear in mind that Obama’s speech and proposal for immigration reform is almost all public relations to cover up an action that is hard to swallow: making a bad situation worse by suspending deportations for illegal immigrants. Of course, cynics might argue that we’ve had flagrant non-enforcement of the law as far as elite bankers were concerned; why not extend that privilege to the other end of the food chain?

Obama’s pretext is that this action is a forcing device to get the Republicans to pass a “responsible” immigration reform bill. But the real political calculus is all too obvious. Given the Democratic Party’s floundering performance in the midterms, securing the loyalty of Hispanic voters is the best and most obvious shot in the arm the party has available to it. It also has the advantage of being one of the few places where, in large measure, playing the identity politics card also provides some tangible economic benefits (the Democrats found, much to their dismay, that trying to woo women solely on reproductive rights, sexual harassment, and other gender issues wasn’t a compelling sale; many women turned against Democratic party candidates over the party’s poor performance as far as middle and lower class economic issues were concerned).

The fact that the Democrats have so much to gain from getting an immigration reform bill passed means that the Republicans will make sure that it is dead on arrival.

So on the one hand, it means we can expect a lot of political sturm und drang with not much in the way of additional results. Like it or not, Obama appears to be well within his rights to suspend deportations. And that will likely buy enough loyalty with Latino voters to prove beneficial in the 2016 elections. Whether this is enough to rescue the Democrats’ flagging fortunes remains to be seen.

However, despite the certain non-passage of an immigration reform bill, we’ll be subjected to a huge amount of discussion on a charged issue. I hope NC readers will manage to keep their eyes firmly on the ball of what is factual or a reasonable inference, given the lack of good data about illegal immigrants. And I also hope readers will discuss policy proposals. Even if this one is dead on arrival, this issue is not going away, and it would help to have some criteria for assessing what would make for a decent proposal, given that the complexity of this situation means any remedy will still leave a lot of parties mighty unhappy.

Some things to keep in mind as this debate heats up: a lot of people take position using a hidden bogus counterfactual, that we could get rid of illegal immigrants. That’s at the root of the argument “Illegal immigrants take American jobs and hurt wages.” The fact is that these workers are now part of the economy and throwing them out (even if that were possible) would be insanely disruptive. For instance, Alabama passed the toughest anti-immigrant law in the US. The result? Much of the next peach harvest rotted because farmers couldn’t hire migrant workers or find legal replacements. Police were overburdened by the requirement to arrest people who didn’t have the right documentation (particularly when some of those people included German executives visiting the state), which undermined fighting crime. Routine government activities, like renewing licenses, became huge time sinks. Utilities worried they needed to cut users off if they couldn’t prove they belonged here. Hispanics felt persecuted and quit attending church and reporting suspect activity to police. And an appeals court blocked a provision supporters most wanted to see go into effect, that of requiring schools to investigate students’ legal status.

Ironically, an objective of the Alabama law was to reduce the number of Spanish-speaking students. Instead, the proportion of Hispanic students increased.

Another charge that is exaggerated and has good odds of being untrue is the notion that illegal immigrants don’t pay their worth in taxes. The big reason they might not is due to the low wages they make. They most assuredly do pay taxes: sales taxes, gas taxes, and property taxes through their rents. One reader reported that Treasury estimated that illegal aliens pay $30 billion a year in Social Security taxes when they will never get Social Security benefits (Treasury can tell because certain Social Security numbers are used repetitively, meaning they clearly don’t represent the activity of one person). Another charge is that illegal immigrants use emergency rooms, which is a cost to hospitals and therefore to other users. While narrowly true, undocumented aliens are almost certain to be chary users of hospitals, given the risk of exposure and deportation. And for those who make these arguments, I never see them make the same complaint about homeless people or other impoverished individuals, who are as a group much heavier users (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Million Dollar Murray). I’d take these complaints more serious if they were a component of a general discussion of hospital economics, instead another stick for beating immigrant workers.

One big reason to favor immigration reform is getting these workers out of a black economy would help low-wage workers generally. Illegal immigrants often wind up in sweat-shop type work like meatpacking plants which are subject to frequent safety violations. Workers who are afraid of deportation don’t complain about labor abuses. It’s reasonable to assume that a high proportion of illegal immigrants are subject to all sorts of other mistreatment: below minimum wage pay, wage theft, hours violations. Giving these laborers legitimate status would end employers’ ability to take advantage of them easily. That would amount to an actual or effective wage increase. It would mitigate the “they are undercutting American workers” argument by setting a higher base for the workforce pool.

Having said that immigration reform has the potential to be beneficial, let us not harbor delusions that anything good is likely come out of Obama’s push for immigration reform. This is a cynical play for the Hispanic vote, and the Democrats have toyed with that voter bloc far too long to get away with not doing anything for them on the immigration front between now and 2016. Money in politics maven Tom Ferguson pointed out that Obama promised the Latino community immigration reform in the 2012 election and failed to deliver; leaders are now making threats to withhold support.

Let’s look at what Obama proposed in his speech last night. Here is the key section:

First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders proposed.

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already had live in our country.

As Lambert points out by e-mail, there is a lot not to like about Obama’s first two points:

“First” is money for the police state

“Second” is add-on to H1-B visas, <-- and fuck Obama, there are plenty of techs on the beach. This is a wage and control thing.

Enhanced border control, and all the pork that goes with it, is central to this scheme. It looms large in the speech. For instance, here is Obama’s first mention of his accomplishments, such as they are, on immigration:

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders.

Today we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half.

Although this summer there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years.

Overall the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.

The White House fact sheet on the speech shows that the talking point about “high skill immigrants” is to let spouse of H1-B visaholders work (note there is no guarantee that they are high-skilled), to allow for an entrepreneurial visa category (note Australia had one and shut it down because they found it was abused too often) and allowing foreign graduates of STEM programs to get more “on the job training” which is tantamount to displacing US graduates in already-scarce entry-level jobs.

But let’s focus on what is the truly thorny issue, which is what to do about foreigners now working in the US. The Obama promise that he’ll handle the issue “responsibly” is already a big red flag. His high concept proposal:

So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve with been in America more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens or illegal residents. If you register, pass a criminal background check and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.

How many people will actually pass this bar? The fact sheet suggests that the number that will qualify is five million (although the , out of a total estimated illegal immigrant population of 11 million. And the main mechanism is the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program:

DHS will expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include more immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. DHS will also create a new deferred action program for people who are parents of U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and have lived in the United States for five years or longer if they register, pass a background check and pay taxes.

Notice this differs from past amnesty programs which required applicants to pay back taxes, an almost impossible bar (I have one acquaintance, an illegal immigrant of 15 years with his own Social Security number who has consistently paid taxes who said he’d be the only person to qualify) in requiring taxes to be paid prospectively. But how many people who have been under the radar can prove they’ve lived in the US for five years?

Oh, and as details are rolled out, be sure to look for the exemptions. For instance, you can bet there will be a provision to let “seasonal” as in migrant farm workers, to obtain entry. That could actually be positive if they come in though with a short-term visa and some sort of tax registration, since that has the potential to reduce employer abuses (particularly wage level abuses). But as in other cases, the devil lies in the details.

Obama may have given his presidency a short-term boost by scoring a win for the Democrats outside the legislative process. But the open question is whether this maneuver so enrages the already uncooperative Republican so as to change cross-party dealings in the Beltway from toxic to radioactive. That difference may not prove to make any difference in practical terms over the next two years. But my bet is that this may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory for Obama. His lame-duck status has gone from probable to certain.

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  1. John

    “Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs, businesses, and industries right here in America?”

    Given that universities are more dependent then ever on foreign students for enrollment and paying tuition this is helps them continue to up the numbers of foreign students as U.S. students are increasingly unable to pay and are dropping out or not applying.

    1. PaulArt

      By the way, most foreign students in this country come here for graduate study mostly. Very few come here for undergraduate study since that is 4 years and costs a lot more money than a 2 year graduate program. The other reason they come here is, its the first wide open portal for legal immigration. Students who come here never leave. I should know, I came here with droves of others in the 1990s and stayed. In those days graduate programs were empty of Americans. The 90s was still a time of opportunity with the dot-com boom just starting. I remember in our first class in the M.S program where I was enrolled, there were 3 Americans and 6 foreigners. By the end of the first semester, all three Americans had dropped out because they had received ‘an offer from a company they could not refuse’. This was and is the story of Graduate schools across America. Most Americans who are born here and brought up here pay so much for undergraduate education that they are no longer able to afford another 2 years of graduate school. Foreign students is a different story. Tuition for 4 year colleges in India and China is heavily subsidized and if you went to a top notch school that is government subsidized like the Indian Institute of Technology schools in India then you paid a pittance compared to a state institution here your 4-year engineering degree. This puts the Indian or Chinese student at a distinct cost advantage against the Americans. This uneven playing field has existed for 3-4 decades now. Part of the problem is the Democrat propaganda or even the American naivety that ‘American is the land of immigrants’ nonsense. That might have been true 40 years back but its not true anymore because of one factor alone, i.e. Globalization. This morning there was a laudatory article in ‘The Hindu’ (a prominent national newspaper in India) about Obama’s immigration order. It specifically praised the provision for H1-B’s to become portable and for the wives of H1-Bs to get work permits. I sent in a comment that said, ‘why are Indian engineers coming to America when Google, Intel, Texas Instruments and IBM are in India?’ I think it all goes to that old aphorism that what does not hurt you makes you understand it less. If you are in a cushy tenured job in Defense or Teaching then you are oblivious to whats going on. If you are on Social Security and Medicare then you think more competition is better. Shared pain, that’s the only remedy. Only when immigrants threaten 60-70% of the jobs here we will start thinking of America as a distinct country rather than some corporate protectorate where rules are written by Corporations.

  2. madisolation

    Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders proposed.

    IOW: If the !% like their illegal immigrants, they can keep their illegal immigrants.

  3. Fiscalliberal

    We probably should mention that a minority of Republicans will vote no to anything Obama proposes. The rest of the Republicans are to cowed by their right to do anything effective. So – to think there is any bipartisan hope is just wishful thinking. I would argue that as long as the Democratic base does not vote, the situation will continue. So – maybe it is a good thing that the Republicans are in full display and the media will no longer be able to defend this nonsense. Oh by the way we need to stop big banks laundering drug money which enables the corruption in central America’s. So much of the system is unsustainable and the elite continue to bury their heads in the sand praying for a better solution. We need a Republican Teddy Roosevelt to come to the surface. Does any one see that happening?

    1. Banger

      Be careful for what you wish for–we have a TR type and that is John McCain who is single-minded in his hope for WWIII. Both parties are useless for the general population–both use immigration and alleged threats to our security to enrich their friends and gain power through fear and loathing. Both parties need to be shunned and disgraced for what they are, i.e., con artists.

  4. QuarterBack

    I Am starting to wonder if Immigration Reform is really predominately driven by the cynical desire to manipulate the economic metrics. Making the large volume of under the table work legal allows the administration and lawmakers to point to the recovery miracle they created; instant new jobs and rises in the GDP. It reminds me of Italy counting hookers and blow in their GDP so that they could affect a raise to their debt limit.

    It appears that the struggle that some of the lawmakers have is that they really don’t care about the helping the people in the equation. In fact the whole idea is antithetical to some of the talking points that they used to get elected. They are struggling to find something as close to a semantic trick that raises the job numbers and GDP without doing a damn thing in reality, but solving that riddle has been elusive so far.

  5. Northeaster

    Republicans have been as bad as Democrats on this issue for decades, I would even speculate there is a group of Republicans that quietly support wide-range Amnesty.

    I’m at ground zero of all things wrong, Massachusetts is a “sanctuary” state where non-felony illegals are basically given refugee status along with a documented $2 billion a year subsidy to support the poor end demographic. We were also a recipient of thousands of “children”, some of whom were not children at all, but dumped here nonetheless. Of course, they were all dumped in poor cities like Lynn where school systems were flooded with kids who were illiterate in their own language, nevermind English.

    In my (mostly lower middle class – mostly white) city there’s even more irony. We have factories that hire a certain demographic who will clearly benefit, as their workforce are at the low paying end, yet their products are bought by the wealthy at a nice markup. These businesses are also recipients of “Economic Development” plans, receiving tax breaks and/or subsidies with the promise of hiring “X” amount of people in the future, and “X” amount of local residents. Free markets indeed.

    Now the meat. I work for big pharma, and Lambert is spot on with H-1B’s. The company for years has been cutting FTE positions and using a lot of temps for administrative and lower management jobs. However, for our lab/R&D folks, the higher end at master/Ph. D levels, tons of H-1B holders, mostly from Asia (China) and India. The one FTE hire we did have recently was a young, fresh college graduate, staring pay around $40k – is Asian, nice kid too.

    I think you’re on to something with the “high skilled” demographic. Not many really cares about the lower end, most will remain there, competing for other lower paying, working poor jobs. It’s the middle-class and higher that I can see developing into a larger issue, especially for young college graduates. IIRC, Harvard is being sued by a group of Asians claiming they are putting quotas on Asian entrants.

    So while Republicans ire will be focused on the poor, non-English speaking, South of the border type, who really are not a threat to good jobs, but maybe a watered down public school education, it will be the Asian and those from India that will cause huge displacements. People think young college graduates have issues finding good paying jobs now? Including their ridiculous student loan debt burdens? I think this will be the next shoe to drop – American STEM graduates will be in mom & dads basement for a very long time.

    1. John

      Well, most of us have seen hundreds of highly educated Americans laid off in the past 14 years while the H1-B visa workers stayed on.
      And that is what is driving the hatred of the H1-B visa workers.
      Why are they working with Americans laid off and unable to get new jobs?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        For the record, I am generally not sympathetic to H1-B visa workers, since this is clearly a contract-worker program to give Big Corps cheap foreign labor. With corporate profit share of GDP at record levels, and the industries that are high H1-B visa workers doing well, there’s no policy justification for a stealth subsidy via visas.

      2. James F Traynor

        They’re working, John, because they can, as would Americans; we are, after all, the same species. Read Yves’ article again. She answers your question, a question that political splitters cynically use to split more of that wood they’re so good at piling up. And it’s going to be a cold winter.

  6. TG

    Always we are told that rapid increases in the population will increase living standards. Always we are lied to. Forced population increases always lead to lower wages for the many and higher profits for the few. Always.

    Recently Singapore increased its rate of immigration. Immediately wages fell and rents rose. Duh.

    The Ivory Coast used to be the most prosperous nation in Africa. Prosperity = high wages and that would never do: the elites imported massive numbers of foreign nationals to eliminate a ‘shortage’ of low-wage workers, and by the time that they had doubled the population the resulting poverty tore the nation apart in a civil war.

    Obama is not opening the borders to foreign nationals because he cares about the racist hispanic vote, or because he cares about the Democratic party. Obama is a whore who will do as he is paid, always, and he is simply serving his wealthy patrons whose only desire is ever cheaper labor. The big thing here is not the illegal amnesty for people already here, but the massive increases in legal immigration, and allowing new illegals to settle, watch for it.

    Call me a ‘racist’ if you like, but I think that the American people have a total right to moderate the rate at which foreign nationals are allowed to permanently settle to one that does not depress wages or increase crowding. Sounds reasonable to me. Recall that before 1970, when the laws against illegal immigration were actually enforced, illegal immigration had a negligible impact on the labor market. We still enforce the laws against trespassing on the estates of the rich and, strangely enough, they have few trespassers camping on their lawns. Enforcement works when it is tried. Just ask the Japanese.

    1. Clive

      It’s always worth remembering though the key difference between island nations (like Japan and, say, the UK) and counties with land borders such as the U.S. (with Mexico). It is an awful lot easier to implement border controls with maritime-only access (or, these days of course, airports, which are probably the easiest of all to police).

      1. Larry Headlund

        Roughly half of the unauthorized immigration to the US is by visa overstay, a fraction unaffected by land borders. The UK[*] has around 500 000 illegal immigrants out of a population of 63 million, 0.8%. Japan has 67 000 out of 127 million, 0.05%. Australia has about 0.2% of the population. Compare the US with 11 million out of 330 million, 3.3%, about 1.6% of population visa overstays.

        Given the variation within the no land bordered nations and the big jump to the US, I wouldn’t put too much weight to geography. For example, the US has 120 000 illegal immigrants from China, twice the number of all of Japan’s illegals.

        More telling is to look at legal immigration: the US has 38 million first generation immigrants, 12% of population, Japan a 1.7% foreign population, a 7 to 1 ratio.

        * UK has a land border.

        1. bmeisen

          i have trouble with your numbers. msm estimates the number illegal aliens at 12 million. i suggest that its more like 20 million, can’t prove it but the census bureau can’t do much better. i’m convinced that the actual number would provoke screams if it were ever made public. maybe the nsa has the best guess.

          the determining factor is the degree of freedom available to illegals once they are in a country. whether the country is land-locked or an island is irrelevant. the US and the UK are examples of systems that attempt to control freedom of movement by denying admission. once beyond the border illegal aliens face little if any restriction of their freedom of movement. in the us they can not only work above the table – they can own property, get a license, send their kids to public schools. other systems are relatively easy to enter. because of citizen registration requirements they present illegals with serious obstacles to movement and integration.

          i’d also suggest that the number of illegals in the UK is substantially more than you claim, something like a couple of million, and that the number would be higher but for the efforts of the EU.

          1. MRW

            i suggest that its more like 20 million

            That’s the Lou Dobbs number. He started with 3 million in 2003 and got it up to 20 million by the time he went off the air. Source of his numbers? His various anti-immigration experts.

            1. bmeisen

              thanks, and i’m not anti immigrants. i am anti the “fortress america” dysfunction that tries and fails to control immigration at the border. centralized municipal services with citizen registration would effectively end the immigration scare and improve democ acy in america. sadly the people incharge don’t want to do that.

        2. Clive

          Agh ! Yes, you’re quite right, and my sincere apologies to the good people in the Republic especially with the history there of emigration (not least at the hands of a callously inflicted policy of what we would describe today as austerity but was the ultimate example of the sociopathy of the “liquidate everything” approach to economic problems).

          My mistake has at least allowed a reminder, illuminating of how behind every emigration for economic reasons there is, as an absolute minimum, unfulfilled human aspiration — and sometimes far, far worse than that. On occasions, there is desperate need. I for one refuse to believe that, as with the Potato Famine, that need isn’t always and everywhere entirely needless.

    2. Jason Ipswitch

      Alternatively, put currently illegal aliens fully on the right side of the law, so they and everyone else, can at least receive the minimal benefits of labor law in the United States. Keeping them in “we probably won’t deport you right now” limbo is just ripe for abuse by employers. Which Obama knows full well – it’s a feature, not a bug.

      1. newyorker

        Yes! And once signed up and surfacing, a later republican administration will know just where to find them in order to deport them. I can dream, can’t i?

  7. PaulArt

    Lots of copy being written on the faux immigration fix and very little is said about penalizing employers for employing illegals. That is the source of the problem, right? If people come here and are unable to work then they would head back, right? In that context I would tip my hat to Alabama. The legislators there were at least courageous enough to stand up to the Right Wing business machine which only wants illegal immigrants to work for pennies on the dollar and they want the illegals to stay illegals forever. In the long term don’t you want to criminalize employers who give jobs to illegals? Or are you going to keep saying, ‘they are here, they are here, there are here, let them stay, let them stay, let them stay’? I mean, how fatuous is this argument? The only way to tackle this is to go after the cretins who employ these people and become rich off their backs. I know an Uncle of mine in Silicon Valley who lost his job in the late 90s at a big Silicon Valley company. He borrowed, begged and stole money and invested it in an Indian restaurant. He exclusively employed Indian chefs who would come here as part of the crew of Merchant Marine ships and walk off the pier into his restaurant. Today this Uncle is very well off and has expanded his business to two branches. There are several unofficial branches of his restaurant even in the mid-west where the chefs who worked for him for a few years quit after making some money and moved inland to Indiana and Kentucky to open their own restaurants and they are making good money as well. I personally know two of these chefs. My Uncle never works anymore. He lives in a lovely house, drives an SUV etc etc. He basically lives off the backs of his illegal employees. How is this right? I also know of another case in San Diego where a landscaper employs illegals and charges $45 (in 2001) per month for your hedges to be trimmed and lawn to be mowed. He exclusively employs hispanics. My point is, unless you put these employers and small business people and all other business people who employ illegals in jail you will never get to ‘Close the Border’ as the GOPers are fond of parroting. There is massive collusion in the media about this. You can check the NYTimes and Post this morning. Not a single line about employers who employ illegals. I won’t get started on H1-Bs but I thank Lambert for the f**k he dropped about it.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Looks like you didn’t read the thread. Several readers in fact made that very point.

      As for the Alabama law, while it did target employers, it was much more directed at getting Spanish speaking students out of schools, and effectively amounted to harassment of Hispanics generally. For instance, police were not only obligated to verify the “validity” of the status of anyone they stopped for a minor traffic violation, the law also required them to look into likely immigration violations. Even though it could not bar the illegal immigrants from attending public schools, it required school officials to determine whether students were illegal immigrants. Do you think any white students were subject to inquiries about their immigration status? The illegal immigrants were afraid of deportation and quit attending, even after state and local officials urged immigrant families to keep their kids in school!

      So your enthusiasm for the Alabama law is misguided.

    2. MRW


      There’s another issue. I can’t find the NYT link, but a few years ago at the peak of the Lou Dodds froth over illegal “undocumented” workers, a California pear grower couldn’t find legal workers during the harvest. Pears have to be graded and shipped immediatement or they rot. He offered $200/day for grueling work inside (!) on the conveyor belt. Couldn’t find any. He lost his crop.

  8. PaulArt

    Oh and by the way, do you ever wonder why there are no H1-Bs for Doctors to come here from India? India produces as many Doctors as Engineers so why not import these professionals? It would knock the back teeth out of the Specialty Physician lobby right? That is why, no visas for Doctors.

  9. Bridget

    “How many people will actually pass this bar? ”

    They will have to pay back taxes.
    They will have to pass a criminal background check.
    They will have to provide proof of residence in the US for more than. 5 years.
    If you like your healthcare plan you can keep your healthcare plan.

    It will never happen. “Prosecutorial discretion ” will be used to dispense with all of the pesky details because “the system” will be overwhelmed.

    Question: will the crime of using fake or stolen social security numbers disqualify applicants?

    And what’s up with the false either/ or construct that all sides of the debate seem to have bought into. Either we do comprehensive immigration reform now or we have to deport 11 million people, which we can’t do so we have to do comprehensive immigration reform now. Why is the immediate mass deportation of 11 million people put forth as something we will have to do? Seems like a bit of a straw man to me.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I suggest you respect the suggestions we made at the top of this post. You tell me how we reform immigration. If you don’t like the choices, the onus is on YOU to propose a reform package and subject it to reader scrutiny.

    2. optimader

      “They will have to pass a criminal background check.”
      Australian Rules?… Anyone?.. Skippy?, Anyone…

  10. Steven Greenberg

    I have known for quite a while that this web site as a thing about Obama as shown in all the negative posts about the ACA. I have a thing about Obama for his failure to prosecute the fraudsters on Wall Street. However, I think you are carrying this thing about Obama a little too far in the case of immigration. Sure there are problems with some of the things that Obama has in his plan, but isn’t there anything that Obama can do right by your estimation?

    If I wanted anti-Obama 110% of the time, I could watch Faux Noise.

    1. Banger

      The comments here are particularly anti-Obama but more anti the two party system. Many of us believe that both parties agree on the major issues and differ primarily over cultural issues. Obama happens to be the POTUS ans as such gets fire here. Personally, I don’t really think he is that bad–but let’s face it, his policies have mainly helped the rich and kept the position of oligarchs and their industries in their dominant position. Wall Street is just one constituency he is pleasing all the other major power-players clearly benefit from his policies–the rest of us do not. One thing I do give him credit for is that he appears unwilling to engage in the World War that people like McCain and the neocons in his administration have been trying to get going. On the other hand, he seems quite sympathetic to making sure the MIC continues to get its share of the loot for providing no benefit to society, in my view. The “security ” threats we supposedly face are either bogus or deeply overestimated to inspire fear in the population so they pay up (GWOT).

    2. proximity1

      RE: …”isn’t there anything that Obama can do right by your estimation?”

      That’s a good question. What’s your answer to it? Recently, I watched him as he spoke (on television) about some recent and truly ghastly outrageous deed in the news and, as always, in his every word, his tone, his posture and his entire presentation, he seemed intent–above all else– on appearing to be the epitome of calm and composure. Indeed, if there’s one word that summed up his appearance, it would be “composed.” His voice was the same slow, robotic, measured punctuation which is used no matter whether he’s talking about the wanton slaughter of innocent thousands or the latest Federal Reserve Board Open Market Committee’s interest-rate decision. This is a guy who has apparently been irrevocably convinced that acting calm is the very same thing as being competent in his work, the same thing as discharging his official responsibilities completely, or, if not quite the same then, at least it’s an acceptable substitute for doing those. My own view is that he really cannot and does not distinguish the one from the other.

      He is bloodless and robot-like in public, on camera–eventhough anyone who pays attention knows that, behind closed doors and when the cameras and microphones are away, he can and he does blow up, swear, and use most of the average person’s gestures to demonstrate that he’s angry as hell about something. As far as I have been able to tell, that’s more often done when the matter concerns his frustration with those who’d be expected to be in his own camp rather than in the disloyal opposition. Obama’s most earliest and most pronounced rebukes were for the disappointed who’d trusted him to try to actually defend a left-ist-y agenda and, when it became clearer and clearer that he had no intention of doing that, and his former ordinary voting supporters (not the big money contributors, mind you, to whom he pays attention best) expressed their disappointment, he wasn’t either bloodless, robotic or at a loss for words to express his contempt for them. But that was a long time ago now. Only a really naive observer still holds out any real hope that he’d actually attend to anything serious from that end of the Democratic party. In everything else, he’s an automaton–or, rather, I can imagine a more human-like automaton coming out before very much longer than is the supposedly real flesh-and-blood Obama.

      He needs–or needed, way back when– an acting-coach, someone to help him feign real human emotions as though he had them and felt them. IF he could do that, I’d commend him for it. As it is, I can’t think of anything he does well except to mistake calmness for compentency. That is his most prominent achievement as far as I can tell. For what do you think he deserves great credit?

      1. Steven Greenberg

        Well, admittedly, it is hard to find anything that Obama did perfectly well. However, there must be some things he did better than the average right of center President.

        He did have a stimulus program in the beginning, although it was too small and not well focused.

        He did manage to get a health care plan through although it was full of flaws, over compromised, and too friendly to big pharma and the insurance companies.

        He did avoid bombing Syria over charges of chemical warfare, although he got awfully close to the edge before he pulled back.

        He is negotiating with Iran to come to some sort of agreement on their nuclear program, although he continues to call them names.

        He does disagree with some of Israel’s worst behavior at least until Netanyahu gives him one of his stern lectures.

        See, I can damn him with faint praise, too. Oh, alright, I guess he deserves everything this blog can throw at him.

        1. voxhumana

          He “deserves” far worse. The half measures you wish to credit him for do not, in any way, mitigate, imho, against the criminality he is involved in – the most egregious being war crimes and the abuse of the US constitution regarding due process and his oath of office. For that he ‘deserves” a court date, which is a hell of a lot worse than comments here by individuals whose only recourse is to be aghast at the willing, often self-celebrated, betrayal of his legal, constitutional obligations as POTUS.

        2. proximity1

          Do you think I’m joking about any of that?

          I guess you write from a position of privilege. I admit that that’s only a guess on my part –a hypothesis that, however badly Obama fails–by whatever terms and measures we may choose to decide that–you’ll be generally alright: comfortable, not in any genuine, let alone needlessly life-threatening, hardship, neither without plenty of food or shelter nor seriously lacking anything else that is considered a basic need. So, for that reason, I guess you count among your luxuries the luxury to joke about Obama as a guy who seriously does not understand that there’s a difference between being calm and composed–“looking like one is serious”, “presidential”– and getting serious things done in other than an empty window-dressing manner. But many thousands of other Americans don’t have those luxuries–even if you do.

          I bet you didn’t lose your home–if you have only one–to a mortgage gone bad from the sub-prime mortgage bust. Many others did. Though the crash happened on G.W. Bush’s watch, Obama, coming in later, catered to –and still does cater to–the very people who were its designers and instigators. Many many thousands of others did lose their homes. And their jobs. And, with, their jobs, a great many also lost their health-insurance. In a few years, Obamacare will actually kick in in full and maybe some of them, even without employment, can get not only insurance but actual medical treatment, too.

          Asked seriously for a response to your own question, “isn’t there anything that Obama can do right by your estimation?” you’ve answered with sarcasm rather than doing what ought to be simple for you: pointing out the things for which Obama deserves unreserved credit and praise. I asked and I got sarcasm in return. So excuse me if I suspect that you are also hard-pressed to come up with real examples.

          Now we’re supposed to take up Obama’s plans on immigration reform when, by all indications, his only real plan is, again, to try and look calm and composed about another problem which is a desperate one for millions of others but not for Obama who’ll be fine no matter what is or isn’t done about it and I suspect that’s also true of you, so tired of our criticisms of this president. Don’t worry. Only two more years and you and others who are likely to be fine whatever Congress and Obama fail to do together won’t have to endure the critics’ complaints. The rest of the country–not to mentioned millions beyond it–will still be living with his legacy of failure to do much of anything other than be exquisitely composed in the midst of, really, some of the most serious castrophe in living memory.

        3. Banger

          I think you are right–but these are not “his” policies but the policies of his chief backers, Wall Street and associated corporations–they wanted the stimulus and they do not want war other than the low-level simmering wars that was the chief feature of the Cold War. Obama himself may, indeed, happen to agree with them–who knows? Or not. Anyway it doesn’t matter–I’m of the “school” who believes there are other forces running the State.

        4. sleepy

          Well, mandating continued family healthinsurance coverage until a kid is 26 was nice, if you actually have and can afford family coverage of course.

          But we didn’t need obamacare to achieve that.

  11. Optimader

    Did i hear him add the word tempoaraily at the end of you can stay?
    How many illegal aliens have proof theve been here five years even if they have? This will be a great illegal alien demographic cleaver,no?

    1. afisher

      Actually there was a discussion on your question last night. It was answered by an individual who has worked on DACA since 2012 and they said that applicants had plenty of documentation.

      As stated last night – the registration will begin mid-2015, which will be ample time for people interested in applying to go back through their own papers.

      Are people here saying that they don’t have records?

      1. optimader

        I only saw part of the speech on DW and NHK news, didn’t sit through the whole thing and missed any discussion, so maybe it was kicked to death?
        My perspective, at least hear in the Chicago area, many if not most illegals have false identity documents just to get jobs, so that wouldn’t be the best choice to try and go down as I’m pretty sure that’s a felony. So what will constitute legit documentary history for five years? a credit card? A bank account? Good luck on those counts..

      2. ambrit

        It would depend on what ‘documents’ are acceptable as proof of residency. Photo IDs are a non starter as they are hard to get and too close to Inmigracion for most illegals’ taste. Electric bills, rent receipts, emergency room bills are possible, but ask yourself, how many of those of your own can you dig up. Can you come up with five years of receipts? I’d wager that most people cannot.
        As for the DACA worker, I would suspect that they were creaming the top layers of el pueblo illegal. I have personally worked with plenty of illegals in construction. Generally good guys, almost all men by the way. They generally lived a lower class, or working class if you like, lifestyle. Not the common misconception version of working class, but a by your bootstraps hardscrabble striving for something better. Being low paid, they can not afford much, and most were sacrificing to send money home. Just look at the profits being made by Western Union and other money transferring entities. I read that countries like Mexico can reasonably accurately measure the amount of money being sent home by overseas workers, and differentiate the funds floes of legal from illegal workers. These are generally not the kind of people who save all their bills. Unless of course, the Federal Government accepts receipts from Los Coyotes as proof of date of entrance into the U.S. That would require a diplomatic effort to influence the Mexican Government to issue tax amnesties to Los Coyotes. The fun never ends.
        So, yes, I am saying that a large portion of the illegals working in the U.S. won’t be able to find papers, or, more germane, papers acceptable to the authorities. This could end up being a big boost to the Security State, more for them to do, endless paperwork, jobs for life.

  12. bmeisen

    As Yves notes, this is a play for the hispanic vote. It is not a reform of immigration – more than a tweek of a banof a patch should not be expected. The US, i.e. both Dems and Reps, is all in on the “Fortress America” model. Like the Maginot Line it fails objectively – unlike the Maginot Line it’s supposed to fail – all those illegals keep inflation down!

    The absurdity of illegal aliens paying propterty tax is hard to beat. A true reform would dismantle the barbarity at the borders while introducing citizen registration and centralized municipal services. The US doesn’t know how many illegal aliens are tilting demographics, as it doesn’t know how many eligible voters there are or where the most urgent current need for housing or schools is.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The director of the NSA should know how illegal immigrants there are, or else, we are in a lot of trouble.

      1. bmeisen

        not knowing the exact number of illegal aliens is the norm for any open society. the challenge is modelling the unknown effectively and minimizing the impact of a systematically excluded population. the current census system in the us models the unknown to +/- 25% which would be ok if the estimate were in the hundreds of thousands but obama has just proven that it’s in it’s the tens of millions: his decree is constrained to the relevant margin of error – 5 million.

        a relevant question to ask is, what’s wrong with illegals as long as they spend money here, pay taxes, and work? defenders of “fortress america” dysfunctionality would say, nothing! let em do everything but vote! inclusive democracy looks different.

        surely the nsa has been working on this. of course they can’t tell us because to get good data they have to spy on US citizens in the us, which is embarrassing even with the ok of the shadow bench. snowden might be able to hep us on this.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          My guess is the defenders of Fortress American prefer we continue to blow up the world and leave the victims there to suffer.

          There are two responses to that, at least:

          1. Continue to ignore the global immigration perspective, continue to blow up the world, but be at the minimum nice enough to let the victims come the Exceptional America.


          2. be even nicer and take the global perspective that every nation can Exceptional, that we are E Pluribus Unum, that we should co-exist peacefully with each other.

          And here is one policy recommendation: Third World (US Dollar) Debt Jubilee.

          This is how we can do it:

          We know we can just print dollar money at will. For country X of the Third World, who owes, say, $Y amount of debt, we can print that money and ask them to manufacture a ‘fake Platinum coin’ and we symbolically purchase that fake Platinum coin for $Y, thus cancelling their dollar debt.

          Free from their dollar debts, we will see way fewer economic hardship illegal immigrants

          And we are more likely to home, sweet-exceptional home everywhere.

          1. James

            Good idea. Illegal immigration is the natural blowback from a century of US beggar thy neighbor foreign policy. The illegals have nothing to lose for the most part, so absent gunning them down at the border en masse, and I imagine you’d get a few million US volunteers if you proposed that, they will never be effectively stopped. And why should they? Americans live in a fortress society and imagine all the world’s their possession to exploit at their whim. (Really now, listen to any American foreign policy discussion and notice it’s always about our interests to the exclusion of whatever country we’re “helping”/victimizing) The rats and vermin among us however, know better. The wages of all our capitalist greed and selfishness are coming due. Time to pay the piper.

            As for Obama or whomever eventually replaces him? I could care less! Empty suits all of them.

            1. James

              And besides (and I’m surprised nobody has proposed this), if MMT is actually “all that,” then what’s the problem? Print some money, legalize them all (and more!), and be done with it. We’ve damn sure got unlimited funds for perpetual foreign wars (both military and economic), so why not money to actually take care of people displaced because of them too?

              In short, I reject the idea that immigration is “a problem” in the first place. The “problem” associated with it is that Americans feel like they won’t “get theirs” because of it, and that’s a US Gov problem, not an immigration problem, because believe me, as millions of us are about to find out, they’ll use any excuse in the book to eventually strip us all of whatever safety net we have remaining, regardless of skin color or immigration status.

    2. optimader

      “As Yves notes, this is a play for the Hispanic vote. It is not a reform of immigration ”
      Why would BHO care a whit about “The Hispanic Vote” at this point????

  13. Banger

    Lack of U.S. immigration enforcement exists for a complicated number of reasons. First, illegal immigration lowers wages and working conditions for everyone; second, it gives the RP something to rile up its base–the RP pays lip-service to anti-immigrant sentiment but has never seriously addressed the issue because it needs the issue. Both parties shamelessly use the issue to generate heat and interest in getting various constituencies to get out and vote for them. Both parties really don’t want to solve the problem and don’t see it as a real “problem.” Obama’s posturing is just more pro-wrestling stuff and, as Yves, notes doesn’t mean all that much. It’s like Obamacare–it appears to do “something” but really just shuffles things around.

    One of the things immigration policy has done is increase our the general tendency in society to go towards lawlessness. “Justice” has become arbitrary–laws are sometimes enforced and sometimes not depending on the discretion of the authorities. Scofflaws whether illegal immigrants or those that hire them face occasional justice. Scofflaws like Wall Street con artists don’t ever have to worry about facing justice. If you know the right people and you commit a crime you usually don’t have to worry about jail-time. If you pissed off the wrong person then, even if your infraction is minor, they’ll throw the book at you particularly if your crimes are political in nature.

    Illegal immigration can be and could have been drastically decreased by throwing draconian measures at those that hire illegal workers, for starters. Current and past ICE policy is to look like they’re enforcing the law so they can get their funding–they’re not serious now and have not been serious for decades. Their “enforcement” strategy exists to keep illegal workers in fear and more easily exploitable by the vicious bosses who profit from human misery.

    Of course that brings up the question of should there be immigration laws at all? Should we just have open borders that allow people freedom to travel where they wish. ?I’m inclined to say that yes that would be ideal in part because if would create more chaos which I think we need at this point because change will not come unless the system breaks down. It will be ugly when the system breaks down and it may be uglier if it doesn’t.

    1. Clive

      The kissing cousin of “enforcement” is “people not breaking the rules”. In Japan, contrary to what most people expect, enforcement is pretty lame (there are periodic rounding up and deportation of sex workers, surly immigration officials at the major points of entry, lots of impressive sounding stuff for the cameras on TV etc.) which hides the fact that you can live there as an alien and never be subject to any checks.

      What acts as the main barrier to undocumented immigration is that no-one — absolutely no-one — would ever dream of employing anyone in any sort of legitimate business without the necessary work permits. These are not difficult to obtain if you have a genuine offer of employment.

      It’s the same in the U.K. as in the U.S. (there is some nuance about a hoo-haa concerning legal immigration from the E.U. but that’s not what we’re talking about here) — and I wonder the same thing — if the government wants to limit illegal immigration, you start with the businesses employing them. Earnest attempts to resolve the problem (as opposed to just posturing) would surely be easier to bring about if border controls paid attention to who are the co-conspirators who facilitate illegal immigration by offering a means for the illegal immigrants to support themselves.

      Many enterprises have gotten into a business model which depends on low cost illegal immigration. The agencies supposedly tasked with “cracking down” on it know this all too well.

      1. DJG

        To me, this is the crux of the problem. U.S. business wants a cheap source of docile labor, people who won’t ask for raises, won’t walk off the job, won’t unionize, and can’t quit. Here in Chicago, the restaurateurs (who always cry about low margins and their general unprofitability) have largely Hispanic work forces. Now how could that have happened? U.S. business got what it wanted in NAFTA, which wrecked the Mexican economy and exported U.S. jobs. So my suggestion for immigration reform: Tight monitoring of hiring with real teeth for violators–fine the violators rather than deport the workers. A wages policy that includes higher minimum wage for all, no exceptions, especially no exceptions for food service. No temporary visas for work in the USA (period). In other words, instead of some lame “deal” from Mr. Grand Bargain, always so ready to deal with other people’s money and welfare, some serious law enforcement that protects wages and the work force. At the same time, I do favor a path to citizenship for those here. And it would help to try to foster unionization (wow, sometimes I really do crack myself up–the DLC fostering unionization…)

        1. lowfiron

          I agree and add my direct experience in construction in So Cal- Santa Barbara. While a few Mexican immigrants might have worked for cash I never observed that. All of them paid taxes in the companies I worked for. There are Brit, Irish, Aus. & N. Z. illegals in S.B.

        2. Jess

          I’m all in favor of the theory of prosecuting employers who hire illegal aliens. However, with certain industries the punishment would fall on mid-level management while the honchos got away scott-free. Fore example, meatpacking plants which make the production quotas so high relative to the pay that illegal immigrants become the primary hiring pool. Local managers have to meet the goals set down by corporate management hundreds or thousands of miles away. Boom! Here comes the ICE bust. Local managers get prosecuted while C-suite guys point to the official company policy of only hiring citizens and legal residents with proper work permits. It would be nice if employment law could be crafted like Sarbanes-Oxley and put CEOs in a position where they couldn’t invoke deniability. However, given the way lobbyists work and how shifty lawyers slice and dice laws once enacted, I find it difficult to imagine such a scenario coming true any time soon.

          1. Foppe

            What would prevent the middle management from informing the upper management of that fact in writing?

            Aside from that, I imagine that such laws would quickly make it unappealing for middle management to use illegal immigrants as disposable labor. So at best we would be talking about a transition period in which those managers hadn’t yet learned their lesson:not to compromise when it comes to your principles just because someone with a bigger title says it would be ‘prudent’ for you to do so.

          2. Anonymous

            But what you are describing isn’t punishing employers. It’s just more kabuki – obviously. Who’s fault is it if company policies that are legally compliant are not enforced? Does anybody really believe that middle management went rogue?

            The solution requires only political will.

  14. Chris

    I wish more folks would connect the dots between unfettered immigration and environmental harm. How much wildlife habitat has to be bulldozed, defoliated and “monetized” to make room for another 100 million U.S. residents, legal or otherwise?

    I suspect the reason the Chamber of Commerce types are so gung ho on amnesty is that it means another huge wave of migrants coming over the next decade. That provides them with cheap labor and new “consumers” for big corporations to replace the dying baby boomers. Surely they’re looking nervously at Japan and Europe, where demographics aren’t so hot.

    The real debate we should be having is whether the current citizens want another 100 million new neighbors. There is nothing wrong with shouting “enough!” Preservation and conservation are more important than “groaf.”

    1. James

      The real debate we should be having is how in the world we’re going to manage a human population that’s outgrown the earth’s carrying capacity, regardless of where they choose to call home.

  15. Jim A

    If I thought that Obama was a crafty politician, I would wonder whether the idea was to goad the republicans into another government shutdown.

    1. ambrit

      I’m wondering if the fact that previous ‘shutdowns’ didn’t affect the Security State very much and mainly hurt domestic programs disproportionately comes into play here?

  16. blucollarAl

    I’m sorry if I am a little short on policy prescriptions but perhaps a bit of a larger perspective would be helpful for all of the policy wonks out there to propose some more concrete alternatives.

    It has been my experience (acquired “in the field” so to speak) that there are 4 basic (and variously comingled) reasons for contemporary US immigration. The first, and smallest in terms of actual numbers, is ‘political’, mainly flight from persecution or political conditions that are oppressive and dangerous. This is the primary motivation for a quite small number of immigrants, and I don’t think any reasonable person would argue (and legally, under US law and subscription to the UN conventions relating to refugees it cannot be argued) that there is any problem in general with this type of immigration. Current US immigration law seems sufficient to cover this group and to my knowledge there are no fundamental proposed changes to refugee and asylum law at this time.

    Next there is immigration for purpose of family reunification, mainly spouses and children (but sometimes mothers, brothers, sisters, etc.) coming to rejoin family members already living in the US. However we judge the reasons for coming of the original family members, I think it would be hard to argue against attempts to reunify families members initially left behind. This is also a small percentage of immigration but larger than the first. Almost half of persons granted legal permanent residence each year (LPR) are family reunification immigrants (mainly those with provable US citizen or LPR relatives). It appears that Obama wants to expand those eligible for this category. I really don’t have much of a problem with this, on the basis of human decency and respect for the institution of the family if nothing else (and that is much).

    Third, there is immigration by the highly skilled, educated, or “talented” (or by those students , almost always from the upper classes of their native countries, who aspire to be included in this group ), who intend to remain in the U.S. to pursue advanced degrees, obtain relatively well-paying professional or technical employment, but who will continue to travel back and forth to their family homes providing they obtain some form of permanent legal status that permits free entry and exit. This group includes H1B’s as well as smaller numbers of specialty visas reserved for the privileged and powerful: Q’s, L’s, P’s. J’s, and so forth. About 1 in 7 new LPR’s each year fall into this category (students are by definition non-immigrant temporary residents on “F” student visas but many seek to convert to one of the specialty immigrant-visa status categories that lead to permanent residence after graduation if they can find an employer-sponsor). Expansion of this category is rightly contested by many who contribute this site and for many reasons that make sense. It basically seems to be a giveaway to corporate interests and a real screwing of the American worker.

    Fourth, and by far the largest, is immigration undertaken under hardship conditions for primarily economic reasons. This usually consists of one or several members of a large family leaving the family and home behind to travel to the USD to work in the American economy in order to send money home to support the rest of the family. The immigrant, whether legal or illegal (the majority are illegal entries since they do not qualify for any of the immigrant visa category privileges), would almost always have preferred NOT to immigrate, i.e., to remain with his/her family, but does so driven by a combination of economic and social factors existent in the embedded situation in the country of origin. The act of immigration is usually or almost always conceived, at least in the beginning, as a temporary measure to, e.g., support young children or siblings, provide money for aging parents, earn enough to be able to return to the native country with the means to acquire property or other forms of small capital investment, etc. (contrary to the “American myth” which basically pictures the whole world as filled with billions of people who in their deepest dreams want to be “Americans”)

    This fourth form of immigration, economically driven, cannot be thought and evaluated outside of a much larger context. To mention just a few things, we have the phenomenon of the mass eradication of the peasantry and subsistence agriculture in many or most of the countries that send these immigrants. Of course the economic conditions in these countries for the peasantry was never good. Most land and capital accumulation was owned by a tiny minority, and many peasants lived on what they could grow and raise on very small plots or on land owned by other on which they worked in forms of peonage. But, to take Mexico as an example, despite the long-term gross inequality of Mexican society, between 1994 and 2000 the rate of Mexican poverty (measured by the UN on Mexican economic terms) rose from 21 to 50 percent. During those same years and in fact beginning a decade earlier and continuing into the 21 C., there has been a mass migration of peasants from the countryside to the urban areas, leaving aside the migration across the Rio Grande. That is, a variety of interrelated economic changes has led to the dissolution or Mexico’s (and many, many other countries’) way of life, its traditional family, social, and religious bonds, its geographical rootedness, etc. In Mexico the real value of the Mexican minimum wage dropped by 20 percent in the 80’s and 20 percent more in the 90’s and 2000’s, so that moving off of the land, land being ever more consolidated into fewer hands as the growth of Mexican agri-business (similar to the US phenomenon) led to buying out the smaller owners in order to acquire economies of scale for agriculture export (to satisfy, among other things, the American appetite for fresh fruit and veggies available 12 months of the year), did NOT result in diminishment of Mexican rates of poverty but an INCREASE in poverty. So what you had was families being broken, land being abandoned, traditional ways of life being destroyed, in the name of earning a better living that turned out more often to be NOT a better but a worse economic situation.

    In Mexico this urban flight was encouraged and promoted by government policy (actually a laizze faire approach that Mexico increasingly adopted at the instigation of the Mexico City elites and the American “free-market cowboys”, especially after we “rescued” the peso in order to save the asses of the US banks that had once again recklessly overinvested in Mexico). It was also pushed by the various capital interests in and out of Mexico that were financing a boom in maquiladoras, basically sweat shops, in places like Monterrey, to supply cheap labor for parts and products for export (read “good old USA”) So all of this has to be thought from within a consideration of the globalization of Western, primarily US, capital and the global financialization of economy. That is, we have to think what it means to have had a new imperialism and a new imperial empire in the past 40 years or so, an imperial empire that, unlike the 19 C., did not seek to dominate the non-imperial (“Third”) world politically in order to exploit natural resources for national economic expansion at home (although that was still there as well), but by the capital exploitation of foreign labor resources, foreign capital markets, by the debt servitude imposed by financial markets, most especially the bond markets, and the consequent indirect ability to influence and even at times control the political decisions of foreign governments as a result. Recall that in the heyday of another empire, the Roman, hundreds of thousands of “barbarian-foreigners” from the provinces also flocked to the Italian peninsular and the Great City, and this despite the relative generosity of Roman citizenship offerings in the provinces during many of those years.

    In the same period when Mexican and Central American immigration was increasing so dramatically, from around 1980 to 2000, in addition to rural flight and family decomposition, Mexican exports (agricultural and industrial) to the US went from 50 billion p.a. to 150 billion p.a and foreign “investment” in Mexico with all that this implies, both sometimes good but often resulting in increasing domination and control both of the foreign government and indirectly of the foreign economy and society by the relentless drive of capital(ists) to increase itself, their capital accumulations (read $$$), tripled! Mexico’s economy, from the point of view of, say, the World Bank or the IMF, was “growing” (read “getting better” in their one-sided categories of evaluation) while the typical Mexican peasant family, peasant village, peasant infrastructure, was evaporating, and fathers and often mothers were abandoning their children to work in factories-sweatshops in Mexico or emigrate to the US in order to send $ home so that the abuela could buy food for the kids that used to be grown by the family or clothes for the kids that used to be sewn by the mother.

    In considering what to do (and if there is anything realistically we can “do”) about this fourth category, we should keep in mind America’s role in encouraging this kind of mass migration and hence America’s responsibilities in light of our position. The most powerful corrosive solvent of the 20th C., the solvent that dissolves all other human and social bonds, reducing every human relationship to utilitarian efficiencies and thinking the meaning of Being as a vast web of commodification, was not “communism” and was not “nationalism”, and is not “terrorism” (whatever that might mean). With its roots in Hobbes and with its implications understood by the dark genius of Nietzsche, we 21C. citizens have been given the dubious privilege of listening to capitalism’s ideologues, many of the most vociferous being Americans, preach its gospel relentlessly. To think we can financially colonize the world without creating conditions that lead to the kind of mass immigration we have had over the past 40 years is not realistic. No amount of high walls and fences will be high enough. If we continue to act as if we are the indispensable nation, the “light on the hill” of humanity, the “last best hope of humankind”, then we will have an influx of people from “outside” who are simply following the beacon and naturally seeking the land of milk and honey. America, deal with it!

    1. Eclair

      Bluecollar Al, I am in awe! Thank you for that glorious, passionate, fact-filled rant. If I may, I am saving it for future use.

    2. Whine Country

      Comparative advantage – An economic theory about the potential gains from trade for individuals, firms, or nations that arise from differences in their factor endowments or technological progress.

      What you describe are contrived factor endowments, and a sick perverted interpretation of “advantages”, which theory underlies the basis for our policies governing globalization. Our economists, relying partially on this theory, provide cover for our political leaders to ignore the reality of the consequences and turn the focus to what is theoretically good for us regular folks. Now let’s get the TPP passed!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am wonder what the GDP of, say, a clan of the Neanderthals was if they just hunted, gathered, but did not buy or sell (maybe a little barter)?


        1. ambrit

          I’m tempted to try my hand at a theory.
          Material Gross Product / Costs of Production = Quality of Living
          Luddism is a seductive philosophy. But, nothing in this fallen world being pure, balance is the goal. We can get our more affordable Paradise if we allowed disease to rampage unchecked. The survivors would have vastly more resources available per person, if they could figure out non labourious ways of extracting them. Robots to the rescue? I’m doubtful about that. Too much complicated infrastructure required.
          My favourite take on the overpopulation issue is Frank Herberts book, “The White Plague.” Beware what you wish for.

    3. Whine Country

      Apropos my comment (which I assume is in moderation as I write), “One of the main agendas of neoclassical economics is to give Panglossian defenses of the current order a veneer of intellectual legitimacy.” – Yves Smith

      Well said!

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I second Éclair and will read again later.

      To me, we can’t have any meaningful immigration reform until we take on neoliberalism, imperialism ad neoliberalism. They are all tied together, except to the American-centrics.

      If we truly are just one among many (brotherly) nations, and not blowing up the world, people everywhere should be safe, secure, happy and contend in their own home countries…every nation is EXCETIONAL. Not just this God ordained county here or there.

    5. Banger

      Good comment and thanks for bringing up causes and some historical perspective. However, you miss one critical factor–the U.S. funded and supported dirty wars in Central America aimed at peasants, labor unions and leftist priests and nuns. One of these “wars” is now classified as a genocide by the international community where, at minimum, 200,000 people were killed 86% of which were Mayan people and the rest dissidents or one kind or another–in this genocide the USG was deeply involved and supported it even to the extent of keeping U.S. mainstream reporters from even reporting it. At any rate these radical disruption of nearly all societies in the Central America has radically disrupted traditional society in the region and caused mass migration and the growth of feudal institutions like street-gangs that make life for people without good connections impossible and therefore they move on el norte, We, the public who complain about immigration bear much of the responsibility for misery in that part of the world.

      1. James

        US leaders had better hope they never fall on the wrong side of any future war crimes tribunal (just ask Dick Cheney), because the atrocities we’ve committed and are still committing over the last 75 years or so alone absolutely dwarf anything Naxi Germany or Soviet Russia ever committed. We’ve just learned and applied the fine art of PR, aka propaganda, much better, and learned how to leverage military and economic power so that others do our dirty work for us.

      2. jrs

        Only how much responsibility does a person who loses their job to immigration or something really bear over our unaccountable elites and their secret (and not so secret) wars? Any consequences are born by people perhaps at best slightly responsible, while those who truly the most guilty and have blood on their hands, our elite who foment such things, NEVER ACTUALLY bear the brunt of it.

    6. James

      To think we can financially colonize the world without creating conditions that lead to the kind of mass immigration we have had over the past 40 years is not realistic. No amount of high walls and fences will be high enough. If we continue to act as if we are the indispensable nation, the “light on the hill” of humanity, the “last best hope of humankind”, then we will have an influx of people from “outside” who are simply following the beacon and naturally seeking the land of milk and honey. America, deal with it!

      I said all of that poorly above. You said it most excellently here!

  17. Wolverine

    This is a ‘welcome’ amnesty for illegal immigrants who as you infer are a net benefit to the economy.
    Lets hope he extends this to rapists and murderers reform et al. Lets face it ,they keep cops,social services,hospitals,grief counsellors etc employed and help drive the economy too.
    What they have in common with illegal immigrants is they have broken the law.What seperates them is a matter of degree.The commutation of any legal process by the President is therefore arbitrary rule by decree.
    The USA has now ceased to be a Constitutional Republic .Select laws enacted by Congress have been effectively dissolved and replaced by diktat.

    Most of your arguments are very weak. For instance robotic fruit pickers are now replacing humans,there will be absolutely no need for fruit pickers in the future and this change was driven by the threat of cutting illegal immigration.
    Your piece is in fact racist against low income or unemployed Americans hurt by illegal immigration.You also misunderstand the role of Congress in that the Republicans are fulfilling their mandate as elected representatives and how they use the seperation of powers to block legislation harmful to those who elected them. Dismissal of that fact and support for illegal immigrants by using the power of the USA to aid illegal immigrants in their objectives is a form of facism .Essentially it is racial fascism you are arguing for.

    1. James Levy

      Please look up the word racist–you use it incorrectly.
      If the Republicans were fulfilling their mandate as elected representatives they would have formulated a policy and put it before the American people and put it up for a vote in Congress. Instead, all they have done since January 20, 2009 is try to obstruct and undermine the elected President, who is also duly voted on by all of us citizens. They have shown no interest in formulating policy–they only wish to destroy.

      Oh, and the Constitution gives the power to pardon people for offenses to the President, or did you miss that.
      Since we pardoned a couple of million traitors at the end of the Civil War, I guess we can do the same for illegal immigrants–as you say, violations of the law are by degree, and if we could pardon traitors who fired on the flag of this country and aided and abetted those who did, pardoning people for coming here for a better life is within the realm of reasonable behavior.

      1. DJF

        The problem with pardon power is that it only is good for past crimes. You can pardon someone for speeding, but it does not count if they speed again.

        So you pardon someone for being in the US without a Visa today but tomorrow they are still without a Visa and so guilty again.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are victims everywhere, victims of neoliberalism, imperialism and colonialism.

      And you see refugees and victims from abroad, and you see domestic victims with no jobs to share, but perhaps (or hopefully) sympathy in their hearts.

      Simply a (manmade or more precisely, richman-made) tragedy.

  18. timbers

    Yves, you’ve already made several mistakes right out of the gate by asking readers to limit comment on the obvious anti-human (racist) and pro-corporate component to our immigration policy, and assumptions that limit ideal policy discussion. Here:

    “But bear in mind that Obama’s speech and proposal for immigration reform is almost all public relations to cover up an action that is hard to swallow: making a bad situation worse by suspending deportations for illegal immigrants.”

    How does putting a halt the hundreds of billions the corporate grifters and for profit prsions are making on our inhuman deportations that break up families contributing to USA not contribute to moving us towards ideal immigration policy which you say you want to get to? Or ignoring the clear racist component of anger being directed at brown skinned people?

    “Of course, cynics might argue that we’ve had flagrant non-enforcement of the law as far as elite bankers were concerned; why not extend that privilege to the other end of the food chain?”

    Exactly. Only full citizenship and full restoration of all human rights to all people will solve the problem, and will be mutually beneficial to all of us.

    “Obama’s pretext is that this action is a forcing device to get the Republicans to pass a “responsible” immigration reform bill. But the real political calculus is all too obvious. Given the Democratic Party’s floundering performance in the midterms, securing the loyalty of Hispanic voters is the best and most obvious shot in the arm the party has available to it.”

    Ok so then why didn’t Obama do this BEFORE the election when Dems could have reaped millions more votes? Obama broke his promise of immigration reform at least 3 major times: To do it in first year, then to do it before 2012 election, finally to do it before 2014 election. Obama on at least 3 occasions decided to not address a policy that could have garnered millions more votes for Dems.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You look to have misread my point. What about “xenophobia” was not clear to you? Most of the comments that are made on threads here related to immigration have been subtly or overly racist. However, the prison-industrial complex incarcerates black men way way more than targeting Hispanics, so your adding that into the mix is over-egging the pudding. Hispanics are incarcerated at higher rates than whites, 2.5x, but that pales besides the incarceration rate of blacks, which is 5.8 times that of whites.

      As for suspending deportations, you can’t argue for rule of law in one part of life and wave it away in others. If you want banks to follow the law in foreclosure court, minimum wage rules to be enforced, for debt collectors that beak the law to be held to account, for cops that engage in racial profiling to be held to account, for the police and NSA and Google not to go snooping through your surveillance records and make even more nefarious use of them than they do now, you can’t wave it away when you think it’s inconvenient or misguided elsewhere. All you have is a brawl among powerful interests (which is where we are going in this country, in case you haven’t noticed already) and little people are road kill. So this one time, a group you like gets a break? Trust me, just because you got lucky this time, this is not an approach that is in your or this country’s long term interest.

      And we did point out, which you clearly missed, that Obama chose to ignore his promises on immigration reform. Why deliver on a hotly contentious issue (which the Republicans can use to mobilize their base) when you can get much of the benefit by making pre-election statements and then never getting around to delivering?

      1. DJG

        It’s “interesting” to me that people make the assumption that all illegal immigration is from Central America. There is a joke that has gone around Chicago that the reason we don’t have raids by ICE is that too many Irish and Polish would be picked up. These are two of the classic “visa overstay” groups. I wonder, Yves, if there is a reliable breakdown of undocu/illegal by country anywhere.

      2. Wolverine

        ” However, the prison-industrial complex incarcerates black men way way more than targeting Hispanics, so your adding that into the mix is over-egging the pudding. Hispanics are incarcerated at higher rates than whites, 2.5x, but that pales besides the incarceration rate of blacks, which is 5.8 times that of whites…”

        So does that mean the system is overtly prejudiced against blanks and Hispanics or does it mean they in fact commit more crimes than white people?
        Perhaps they are 5.8 times or 2.5 times more likely to be convicted of crimes they did nt commit!!
        So on a proportionate basis what is the proclivity to commit violent crime broken down by race? or is it racist to even pose such a question.?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I knew the bigots would rear their ugly heads on this thread.

          It is well documented that blacks are prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced at greatly disproportionate rates to white. Tons of solid academic work on this topic. The big reason is that whites, particularly white college kids in college, are virtually never convicted for possession of drugs while black kids are. I have friends who say they paid for college dealing drugs, that’s how sure they were they could get away with it.

        2. James

          You asked and Ferguson MO police have responded. Rather than incarcerate young black men they’ve adopted a policy of just executing them in the street and leaving the bodies as “a message.” “Gang warfare” indeed!

        3. jrs

          The criminal injustice system does systematically discriminate against minorities especially blacks. California prisons just now repealed allowing collective racial punishment *within* prisons (if a black did something wrong in prison, all blacks would sometimes collectively have their privileges revoked within the prison, because and this is true but does not justify it, prison gangs are usually race based). You can’t have a system like this even in prisons without it contributing to a deeply racist society even outside the prison. And I think that is one example of how much racism is alive and well. But it can be a somewhat innocent error to be unaware of how racist society really is.

          But this is not really on the topic of immigration. Sure racism may cloud one’s vision but I think there are plenty of other arguments against immigration, from job loss (at the very least at the high skill level, but not necessarily restricted to that) to overpopulation. Many places in this country are way overpopulated compared to what existing social services can support (but immigrants pay taxes – yes but this is the fallacy of viewing things only through the lens of money, can you really build enough freeways with those taxes to accommodate say the increased cars? Eminent domain is never going to be enough to bulldoze everything for a freeway. Enough affordable housing and where do you even put it when the only choice is to bulldoze the few remaining unbuilt areas?)

  19. Eclair

    I travel frequently from my current home in Colorado to visit family in NYC/NJ and am always struck by the differences in the people.

    Here in the Denver area, I know undocumented people from Mexico, Central and South America. With the exception of some recent immigrants from various war-torn African nations and Asians (thank god, a decent pho place finally opened in south suburban Denver !) everyone else is pretty white/european. Colorado even managed to oust the remaining Indigenous Arapahoe and Cheyenne after the Sand Creek Massacre (150 years ago, next week).

    In Manhattan, riding around on the PATH, subways, buses to New Jersey and out to Flushing, it’s a different world. Flushing could be a small city out of southern China, or a few streets lifted whole from New Delhi. Want live fish, a Mandarin-speaking bank, a sari, a jewelry store that specializes in gold or a veg lunch in the basement of a huge Hindu Temple? No problem. Riding over to Newport, the PATH is crammed with prosperous Asians … from India, Pakistan and China. Last trip, I was amazed at the number of young Chinese, from Beijing area based on their accent, wearing trendy designer clothes.

    Yeah, one sees the migrants from the Americas; you have only to walk down residential streets with town houses being renovated and watch the small brown men lugging out the buckets of rubble or on their knees spreading coats of stucco over the refurbished front steps. All the brouhaha over immigration ‘reform’ seems to be focused on immigration from the southern Americas of the poorer workers, while, as Yves points out, the downward wage pressures on the highly skilled workers probably comes from the visas given to educated Asians who work in the financial and tech sectors.

    As with most politics these days, I always feel like I’m being directed to ‘look over there! crisis!’ while something weird is going on in the shadows. Thanks to Yves and Lambert and NC, as always, for exposing and explaining the weird stuff.

    1. Banger

      I wrote some song lyrics a few years ago:

      Nothing is quite how it seems
      dark shapes are rearranging the scenes

  20. Yellowrose

    Bottom line – this is a diversionary conversation that refuses to look at the underlying causes for the migration northward: U.S. policies and corporations that contribute to corruption, unfair trade policies, and violence. Why don’t we focus on the underlying causes? Because we like our cheap products made in factories south of the border that don’t have to deal with things like fair wages, health insurance for workers, or environmental waste – that’s why those products are cheap. So, will I begrudge the undocumented emergency health care here? Hardly – we should have paid for it with humane manufacturing practices/prices in the first place.

  21. NoBrick

    The “hits” just keep coming and coming… The same old song with twisted words, ending the same way.
    YOU LOSE. Is there a political solution, or is it time yet to hit them where they live?
    That would be the wallet.
    Shrub showed their “ass” big time…”go shopping”, his cure-all in times of “stress”. Graygun gave us a clue,
    “starve the beast”. Survey sez around 70% of the CONomy is related to consumption. What’s that spell?

    Wallettus Interupttus. A nationwide, STOP the MONEY MACHINE, for a day, might get “their” ‘tension.
    Black Friday, could be the day, to show collective “might”, if any exists. Bitching may ease the soul,
    we’re good at that. Defining the stacked deck, is a great feature of NC. How about, WE starve their
    beast, or at least give it a try…It might be hard for some to interupt the salvation of consumption. On the
    other hand, being under the jack-boot of money, is hard too.
    Why can’t we play the “law of supply and demand” game with them? I suspect they need us MORE, than
    we need them. After all, WE are footing the bill. Any and all costs of the “trip” is folded in/passed down to us.

    My “dream” solution may be just that…It might be the same as a “political solution” dream too.
    What’s your dream solution?

    1. James

      I think boycotting Black Friday and then the entire Christmas Season altogether would send a shot across the bow they wouldn’t forget. Will it ever happen? What do you think? Trouble is, a lot of it would just blow back full on us in the form of layoffs and the like. It’s indeed a Full Spectrum Economic Dominance system they’ve created.

  22. andyb

    I have no problem establishing a path to citizenship for those illegals who have been here for a decade or longer. But the key element that is missing is a secure border, which was defaulted upon in the Reagan, Clinton, and Bush adjustments to immigration law. What happened to the fence? Why are the border patrolmen armed only with handguns, while the coyotes and the drug cartels have assault rifles? Is the lack of border enforcement more about the drug trade providing more funds for CIA black ops and the continued bribery of elected officials? Or is the agenda really the continued destruction of America through the incremental decimation of the middle class by undercutting wage rates. Allowing 5, 10, 15 million more illegals (chain immigration) to overburden our entitlement systems is a sure road to ruin, especially given the true unemployment rate which is north of 22%.

  23. Barmitt O'Bamney

    Well I for one think this Executive Action is AWESUM. Now I will be able to sneak in to Canada or France (or another really cool country of my choosing) and if I manage to evade detection for a while, they can’t throw me out but will have to extend all the benefits that come with citizenship. Thanks Obama!

    What do you mean Americans are the only people stupid enough to go for something like this?

    1. Eclair

      Good point, Barmitt O’Bamney. You should have no problem sneaking into France. Since you have no papers, you could start by spreading out your blanket in front of Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower and hawking keychains with tiny cathedrals. Keep a sharp watch for the flics, however; I hope you are a fast sprinter.

      After a couple of years, you will be in excellent shape and probably have made some contacts so that you can get fake papers and, then, amnesty. You can get a ‘real’ job as a “bonne” in a Microtel or Hilton, changing sheets and scrubbing toilets and bidets (this is France!). Of course, you may stand out, if you are not black, African and female. You aren’t’, are you?

  24. ProNewerDeal

    If the true goal was to drastically reduce illegal immigration, the solution is obvious: it is an Illegal Employer problem, so punish Illegal Employers.

    For every company that hires 1 undocumented worker, levy a $100K/per undocumented worker fine. If the company is a repeat recidivist Illegal Employer Criminal, a 3rd time offense is a CRIMINAL FELONY for both the CEO & the hiring manager involved, to be served in a “regular” (e.g. “PITA” (c) Office Space ) prison, as opposed to “low security” “Club Med” Corporate Criminal prison.

    Given this policy, not much funding would be required for the ICE Border Patrol/ or a Neo-Great Wall of ‘Merica on the US-MEX border.

    Of course Obama Reagan Jr & the ReThugz are Whore-ly Owned Subsidiaries of the Illegal Employers, hence they will not even mention ANY punishements for Illegal Employer Crimes.

    as far as Obama’s claim that the US needs more “skilled tech workers”… why not instead support an actual “free market” solution to immigration, here is my proposed Free Market Immigration policy for immigrant workers.

    1. set some annual number per year of Immigrant Worker Visas, like 50Kworkers. No exceptions/loopholes to inflate past this numbers

    2. Make the minimum pay for such workers to be at least 3X the $7.25 min wage, $21.75/hr for a FT/40hr job ~$44K annual salary, & make it automatically update with any change to said $7.25 min wage. The idea if “there are truly jobs ‘Mericans are unskilled or unwilling to do” the Employers need to pay a premium for these Immigrant Workers. This way we know the Employer Worker Shortage Crying is not just Free-Market Hating Employers In Search of Wage Lowering.

    3. Unlike the Current H1-B Visa, it is not an Indentured Servant tied to that company, such that if the Employee is laid off during the Visa period, the Employee is free to work at ANY job at ANY employer for the remainder of the Visa term, & the laying off Employer cannot reuse this Visa for another worker during these amount of time/yrs left on the Visa.

    4. Employers can use the visa for ANY occupation, whether it is an “low skill” currently-flooded labor market occupation like farm worker, “high skill” currently-flooded labor market occupation like STEM occupations such as software engineer, or “high skill” few currently Cartel/Protectionist occupations like physician. Any occupation, but Mr. Employer must respect the MINIMUM ~$44K annual salary. Hey buddy, if your Employer Invisible Hand wants to hire a Cardiologist or a Janitor, we don’t want Regulate you Mr. Job Creator, that is Your Decision, word to Saint Adam Smith.

    5. Have an “silent auction process” where Employers bid a price; the 50,000 highest bids will get the Visa. For example, if the 1st highest Bid was for $70K, that Employer will pay $70K & get the Visa, if the 50,000th highest bid was $30K, that Employer will pay $30K & get the visa, the 50,001th bid will NOT get the Visa – :That Is The Free Market, Buddy, You Get What You Pay For”

    Of course, the US elite pray to the Free Market but actually hate the Free Market, or rather like to rig/Market/Cartelize markets for themselves, & push the Free Market on Others: Free Market For Thee, But Cartel Rigged Market For Me. So you wont see the Free Market Hypocrites, be they Obama, ReThugz, Wall $treet Criminals, US physicians, Silicon Valley Info Tech Mega-Corps, etc ever propose such a Free Market Immigration Solution.

    Very similar Hypocrisy to how many USians claim to be Christians, but Hate the Poor, back-@ssward’s from Jesus’ policy & actions.

    of course the Worker Shortage Crying is a Big Lie. If these Employer Criers actually believed in the Free Market, and in the tiny minority of cases where there are not enough Job Applicants (does this really even exist?) they would Actually Compete by increase the offered pay/benefits and see an concurrent rise in applications.

  25. RUKidding

    Obama is just an empty-suited mouthpiece for one faction of the 1%, just as GW Bush was before him. Bush, as much as I loathed him, had a bit more of a “personality” on display, while Obama appears, as one comment above indicates, robotic. For the past 3 decades, at least, I have pretty much tuned out of watching or listening to the figure headed puppets at the alleged top of our political food chain. I’m of the tin foil hat persuasion who’s long felt/believed that who we see in the District of Criminals are not really who are in charge. So that’s my disclaimer.

    I feel that most of what happens in the District of Criminals is just Kabuki theatre or dog ‘n pony shows, which have gotten more and more cynically manipulating of the vox populii over the past 3 decades. We are inundate with the most powerful of propaganda, and it takes a lot to resist the sirens of the Morlocks. Like in the film “Time Machine,” when the sirens start, most USians dutifully dance to their tunes.

    I have no idea what the intention is behind this latest salvo in the “Immigration Wars” means or what the likely outcome might be, other than, it’s highly likely that it won’t do much or any good for most USians other than those at the top. What else is new?

    The undocumented poor workers from extreme poverty mostly from central and South America pose less of a “problem” for USians in terms of driving down wages and/or “taking away jobs.” Most these poor people end at the very very bottom of the heap doing crummy work that most USians either don’t want to do, or quite frankly, are not capable of doing. Sadly, they’re paid pennies on the dollar and get shafted in many ways. Much is made of these undocumented workers by the giant propaganda machine called main stream media, especially by the alleged “rightwing” side of the media (which anymore is most of the media).

    We are routinely fed lies about how these workers are “stealing jobs” and then, of course, using billion$ of “free services” that somehow only these downtrodden, illegal peasants seem to be able to “get,” while the “real” USians simply are barred forevermore from getting these “free” things. It’s so incredibly bogus and false, but these narratives somehow resonate with USians, esp those who consider themselves to be “conservative” (whatever that debased term means anymore). Yes, such workers and their families do use a variety of goods and services in our country. So what? Mostly they live lives of grinding poverty, the likes of which most USians have no idea. It’s not uncommon, either, for a subset of these workers to be paying into Soc Sec and Medicare, via their jobs, and they’ll never get to receive these benefits due to their status. Many pay taxes, as well, so if they receive some benefits, then good for them.

    There are so many lies bandied about for so many decades that it’s hard to have even a reasonable conversation about Immigration and what it means. That’s not even getting to the fact that, for these low wage jobs – mostly in agriculture, construction, restaurants & meat processing – the business owners often *recruit* these workers in their home countries & bring them here to work at unfairly low wages and often in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. If or when ICE actually comes knocking, they kick out the undocumented workers but do nothing about the business owner.

    A bigger issue for me are the H1(b) visa workers mostly in the STEM fields. I am one of those, who, back in the dotcom boom days, basically could not get a job in technology due to the influx of H1(b) visa workers. I remember Bill Gates whining and crying to Congress and the USians (who often venerate this parasite) about how there simply were not – oh boo hoo hoo – enough trained and educated technology workers, and all the Tech field needed all these highly & better trained workers from Asia and India. My @ss. According to Gates & his ilk, there simply weren’t enough USians to do these jobs. Not true then; not true now.

    And that has definitely driven down wages for professional positions across the board. Of course, these technological guru vampires (and other fields) get away with all sorts of bs, like outsourcing all kinds of work to third world countries bc they simply cannot “afford” to pay US wages… well, if they skimmed even a LITTLE less off the top for themselves, then they might actually be able to pay a decent living wage to US workers, but who’s counting such trifling petty details?

    And so on.

    Color me totally skeptical about whatever shinola Obama is peddling now. I’m beyond cynical. The District of Criminals is populated at all levels by the high level, sycophantic servants of the very very very rich, and their games are very manipulated to the nth detail. The pols have NO interest in serving the needs of the 99%, much less doing anything that is remotely & quaintly & archaically “patriotic” or for the “greater good.” Those notions never really did exist in the USA anyway, but these days? Get real.

    1. Banger

      Good rant!

      Your main point is one we all ought to make. All the actors (and they are all actors) are acting in bad faith particularly the MSM which is the sleaziest and most dangerous (to our welfare) institution in this country. None of this BS means much–Obama’s policy may, however, help a few people but we have no way of knowing the results even in the years to come. Again, both sides profit from having this matter unresolved and in a state of confusion just as it is in the interest of the MIC to keep the ME in chaos perpetually.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Your point about low wage jobs is well taken. When Alabama implemented its tough anti-immigration law, it didn’t result in new hiring in those positions:

      On December 18, 2011, it was reported that Alabama’s unemployment rate had fallen from 9.2 percent to 8.7 percent. Supporters credited the immigration law for the decrease.[21] However, Ahmad Ijaz, Director of Economic Forecasting at the University of Alabama, found that the majority of job growth in 2011 was in the automotive sector – an area of the economy where undocumented workers were uncommon. Ijaz attributed a rise in employment to the retail growth during holiday sales. Contrary to expectation, there was no job growth in sectors where Latinos typically work – construction, agriculture, and poultry processing


      1. RUKidding


        I’m not sure of a more current status on agriculture and the availability of workers to pick crops in GA, but GA farmers suffered losses and rotting crops when the state imposed harsh measures to get rid of undocumented workers. That was around 2012. I have no proof or links, but it sure wouldn’t surprise me if GA farmers & BigAg made some sort of back room deal to bring back the undocumented workers during the past 2 summers. And I’m sure that those workers, if that did happen, were paid crap wages & worked in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

        Anyone wanna bet against me??

        1. Code Name D

          I’ll bet you a nickel. Sucker bet.

          I also noticed that even though there was an acute labor shortage for agriculture, wages didn’t go up. Guess they didn’t really want to harvest those crops after all.

    3. jrs

      So if we have more and more people paying into social security and never getting anything out of it, isn’t that a way of undermining support for social security? But only if they can vote or have other political power. True dat I suppose. What about those who know them who can vote and know their friends and relatives paid for what they will never get? Eventually people will start thinking the whole benefits system is a crock when this nonsense is going on.

      Yes of course I stand to have my job taken over by H1Bs and be unemployable. Maybe people in those fields should start retraining now, but heaven knows in what, and this spend your entire life retraining shtick is really getting pretty tired.

      But I don’t deny that the same thing might be happening to low wage workers just because it isn’t a threat to me. It was glaring to me how Obama mentioned these hard working low wage immigrants who work so hard and thus should be made semi-legal but didn’t also mention how if they work so hard they should have a living wage (sheesh at least enforce minimum wage) and the right to organize.

      1. RUKidding

        Undocumented low wage workers getting a fair shake and a fair wage? Check out my “handle” for my response to that notion.

  26. Vatch

    I’ve found that Norm Matloff’s blog has some good insights about some of the topics discussed in this article:


    Some of the topics that he discusses are the tech industry labor market, especially regarding the H-1B work visa and age discrimination (starting at age 35!), and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education issues.

  27. Katniss Everdeen

    No country, the government of which cannot provide basic services and protections to its existing citizens, has any business accepting ANY immigrants for ANY reason. These services/protections include basic healthcare, public education, adequate shelter and food and living-wage employment. No H1-B visas, no student visas no foreign nationals of any kind allowed to live, work or study.

    I agree that it would be impossibly disruptive to deport the existing undocumented people here currently, including the “dreamers.” But it should be made completely clear that, while they will be allowed to stay here “legally,” they will NEVER be granted US citizenship. They will be expected to pay ALL taxes, including Social Security and Medicare, but they will never be eligible to collect. They will be required to accept responsibility for their “own.” This is the “penalty” for entering the country “illegally.”

    They will also NEVER be granted the right to vote.

    This should be coupled with a stringent policy of asset forfeiture for ANY business of ANY size caught employing ANY “illegal.”

    This is not the 1800’s. This “nation of immigrants” caricature is long past its “Sell By” date.

    1. Banger

      I think it was Edward Abbey that said the solution to illegal immigration over the Mexican border was to completely seal the border and meet every potential immigrant with an AK-47 to take home. His point was that the regimes south of the border were inherently evil and needed to be violently overthrown. Of course, at this point, we know that the U.S. was actively involved in supporting repressive regimes in the region that were ruled by mass murderers, torturers and rapist who made ISIS look like the proverbial boy scouts.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Nations of the world unite!

        When all Third World countries are middle class, there will be no (mass) immigration problem anywhere.

        1. Demeter

          At this point, we would all be grateful if the First World nations were middle class, because they aren’t, any more.

    2. James

      I think we’re just looking at this wrong. Instead of worrying about immigration policy, we should be worried about establishing more and easier routes of emigration for everyone else. Quite frankly, I’ve seen all I need to of this sideshow and would welcome a change of scenery to someplace a great deal slower and easier, if such a place still exists.

      1. jrs

        Haha, yea at this point citizens in this insane asylum play not to lose rather than to win. Play not to lose their jobs to yet more immigration or any other causes. Play not to lose the benefits they’ve already paid into. Etc. But a good life where is that? Certainly not here.

      2. optimader

        So, pack your skillset and move then. People do it all the time, there are many very nice places. Why spend your brief existence in a place you don’t have to be?

        1. lambert strether

          That’s not really fair. Not everybody has a portable toolkit, and some have hostages to fortune, like children, or aging parents, or even spouses who may not be portable.

  28. Paul Tioxon

    You started your post with such high minded promise, then fell down the Fox News well. First of all, let me explain things to everyone here who are ever in search for the mythical policy silver bullet. You know, the policy that is sound and complete, comprehensive, systemic and gets to the point of origin of the problem at hand, and removes said problem root and branch. And of course, removes the scales from the eyes of those who simply can’t see through skull duggery and PR propaganda. This is a not a direct victory for Obama or the National Democratic party. That vote getting ploy aspect will only be a by product of how happy it will make the lives of millions of people in America who will go through a government process that his Executive Order changes to one that does not start with placing people in handcuffs in a holding cell.

    While Yves has successfully summed up a realistic and thorough overview of just what last night’s speech was about, a well thought out take on all of the angles presented to thinking Americans by thinking reporters, as Adlai Stevenson said to the lady who told him he had all of thinking America on his side, My Dear Lady, I’m afraid they won’t be enough.

    The shear amount of hatred exhibited by my Fellow American toward foreigners in our midst, and especially the Mexican people who are by and large, are the largest contingent of people in America without proper documented status, was more than hinted at by Yves as she laid down the ground rules for civil discourse. This necessary warning should serve as the greatest insight into what is going on behind last night’s Executive Order announcement. The political angles that had to played by Obama to placate his doomed dem senators turned out to be a useless exercise in party loyalty. We have seen the principle of “exhaustion” carried out even to the last dead woman walking, Mary Landrieu, who was handed her moment in the sun to appear strong and effective, out of party loyalty, but to no avail. Buh-Buy Mary and dem controlled senate, buh-buy!

    But of all of the important angles not mentioned, let me explain the most important coin of the realm in politics which in our nation revolves around votes for candidates to take the power of office. The Latinos have been hounding and pressing Obama, and the National Democratic leadership as rudely as possible to get what they want. Namely, some relief from the Deporter In Chief and his Homeland Henchmen, who stoop so low as to throw out little children from Central America fleeing for their lives, in some cases, undeterred by rapes and beatings, just to arrive alive in America. How the American people, in numbers larger than I want to admit could well be true, could stomach the sight of children seeking asylum in America from sickening violence in their homeland and just want them thrown back to where they come from? How many self satisfied and just plain tired of it all turn a blind eye or worse, protest their arrival with intimidating shows of animosity that is one more lesson in how rotten America can be.

    The Latinos are not being courted by identity politico consult strategy, they are being rewarded for tenacity in demanding just this unilateral executive action in lieu of the inaction of the rest of the government. They are being rewarded for voting in numbers, not in just the past election, but all of the Obama presidential victories made possible by the Latino vote. YOU REWARD YOUR FRIENDS AND PUNISH YOUR ENEMIES. Sometimes, your friends have to twist your arm to get you to do something you have the power to do, but don’t, because your other friends are twisting your balls to get what they want. Needless to say, there are many other friends with their grasping grips squeezing with rage to be rewarded. What this shows is the strength of the Latinos to get what they want. And how do I know what they want? Aside from the national elected and organizational leaders being extremely happy with Obama finally standing up for them in public, the local reports of Mexican stores holding viewing parties in Spanish from Telemundo among other outlets was testament to the importance of this event. While the networks did not want to disturb the viewing habits of Nascar Ned or Tamika Johnson, Hector and Pillar were glued to their channels, as shown in the evening news and as recounted in anecdotes, even by the likes of Andrea Mitchell who had her Hispanic gym receptionist talk politics to her for the very first time.

    While the MBAs from Barcelona are NOT going to have tear jerk stories as much as the people in neighborhood bodegas, millions of people, mothers and fathers with children will have the relief of police action lifted from their backs. That is not citizenship with all of its benefits, but they are NOT going for that right here and right now. The America of this moment in time is an arena of politics using a fear engine to gain and maintain power. Ebola carrying ISIS commandos sneaking across the Mexican border is the tri-fecta of hate to power algorithm and it is the police on the borders, the ICE task forces in the cities with 10s and 100s of thousand immigrants, who will be called to increase the body count of deportees, raid sweat shops and maybe actually ferret some real gangsters sent up Norte by the drug cartels. And the Mexico that many are fleeing is a nightmare to behold. There is a direct connection between not only NAFTA and broke Mexican farmers with nowhere to go but Norte but also the current political explosion in Mexico right now over the wanton slaughter of thousands of Mexican citizens with no more thought by the Mexican authorities as if they were stray dogs on the street captured and put to sleep. These are more refugees fleeing than get overs looking for federal freebies, the new welfare queen scourge from South of the border with their “anchor babies”.

    Yves makes the pronouncement that “immigration reform has the potential to be beneficial, let us not harbor delusions that anything good is likely come out of Obama’s push for immigration reform. This is a cynical play for the Hispanic vote, and the Democrats have toyed with that voter bloc far too long to get away with not doing anything for them on the immigration front between now and 2016.” Let us not harbor delusions, What do you mean “Us” White Woman? The good is for the people who demanded that he take presidential action in the wake of organized political opposition blocking congress from voting on even pieces of an over all reform act. No politician actually does something, uses power for anything other than votes already cast. This is a reward for loyal voting, not a ploy for future votes. Because, you can’t count on a fickle electorate. Maybe they show up, maybe they don’t. When they do show up, maybe they vote for you, maybe they don’t. But 2 terms in the White House is money in the bank. And that was why despite all of the threatened blood letting to come, a debt was repaid last night. And if it results in more D’s coming to polls in the future, all well and good. Day, by day, the target changes in politics. For now, GOOD JOB PRESIDENT OBAMA, YOU ALMOST LOOK LIKE SOMEONE RESEMBLING AN ELECTED DEMOCRAT. Keep your pen out, you’re going to need to it to VETO a lot in 2015.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      With all due respect, your diatribe is really off base and caricatures our argument.

      First, as for suspending deportations, as we stated before on this thread, you can’t argue for rule of law in one part of life and wave it away in others. If you want banks to follow the law in foreclosure court, minimum wage rules to be enforced, for debt collectors that beak the law to be held to account, for cops that engage in racial profiling to be held to account, for the police and NSA and Google not to go snooping through your surveillance records and make even more nefarious use of them than they do now, you can’t wave it away when you think it’s inconvenient or misguided elsewhere. All you have is a brawl among powerful interests (which is where we are going in this country, in case you haven’t noticed already) and little people are road kill. So this one time, a group you like gets a break? Trust me, just because you got lucky this time, this is not an approach that is in your or this country’s long term interest.

      Second, tell me how much good this will prove to be if we get a Republican president in 2016 and he revokes Obama’s executive order? This win rests on a very fragile foundation, and IMHO even with this effort to secure Hispanic votes, Democratic party prospects for the next election are in question. You’ve got more Republicans controlling state governments, which gives them the opportunity to engage in all sorts of election mischief. For instance, in states where felons can’t ever vote again, like Florida, voter rolls are scrubbed of black-sounding names that bear a dim resemblance to that of convicted felons (start with first names like Lakisha or Tyrone). If Hispanics poll with a similar high propensity to vote Democratic, you’ll see voter-roll-scrubbing targeting them.

      Third, the halt of deportation does nothing to stop economic exploitation of illegal immigrants. It institutionalizes their place in a black to grey economy.

    2. juliania

      I have to take vehement exception to the following part of your comment:

      “No politician actually does something, uses power for anything other than votes already cast. This is a reward for loyal voting, not a ploy for future votes. Because, you can’t count on a fickle electorate. Maybe they show up, maybe they don’t. When they do show up, maybe they vote for you, maybe they don’t. But 2 terms in the White House is money in the bank. ”

      And I ask, what then happened in 2008??

      Seems to me I remember young enthusiasts walking streets, knocking on doors, voting in extraordinary numbers – weren’t those ‘votes already cast’? Flooding the White House website (till it shut down abruptly) with suggestions for improvement, not to mention letters – weren’t those ‘votes already cast’? Seems to me I saw poor people lining the streets in subfreezing weather on Inauguration Day who had voted for Obama. Weren’t those ‘votes already cast’?

      Fickle electorate? Ah no; it’s an electorate that REMEMBERS.

      All I can say at this point is ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’, and if some don’t remember where that comes from, it is from the besieged City of Troy when Odysseus and his military cohort hid inside the Trojan horse set before the gates to tempt war-weary Trojans to participate in their own destruction. Obama is no ancient Greek mythological hero, but he is duplicitous to the nth degree, so I’m going to look this gift horse in the mouth.

      1. nnnd

        Yves, all non-Western cultures wish to preserve their culture and not be minorities, and the West is the only area that allows immigration. Why the double standard and your concern of Westerners reverting to non-Western standards?

        In any event, as someone that is over educated and is now facing under employment, due, in part, to the H1b program–I can confirm that even in a saturated labor market, employers are increasingly using the H1b. Why, you say–because the fee hasn’t increased in years and it allows for an indentured servant. Good luck trying to find another job on that visa (which is tied to the job), and if you quit to look for one, you have to be out of the country in months. The corruption is so thick, that the ‘professional’ board of ‘my’ ‘profession’ changed the law for licensure: No longer will a foreigner have to graduate from a U.S. university, but just have equivalent edcuation–loosely. Now all the INdiain/Pakistani schools have gone to four years to automatically meet this standard.

        Basically, my life is ruined and I do not feel comfortable to have a child. In fact, over a ten year period, I have seen an increase of H1b visa use in accounting/finance, even with decreasing employment. Being serious, I think needing sponsorship is an advantage (if one is a U.S. graduate). This observation is from dating and helping several Chinese students over this time period and seeing the ease of their job mobility soar. In 2003 it was more difficult to attain sponsorship–period.

        Oh, and this is also an education-industrial complex thing: More suckers from abroad, allows even higher enrollment at outrageous fees. A prestigious college education still means something in Asia, where the schools don’t run on the U.S. business model. It’s beyond a Chinese man’s imagination, that the difficult, expensive education from an established university he got in the West was just a scam.

        P.S. Did anyone see the humor in the Obama law for “allowing spouses of H1b workers” to come over? Anyone working with people from the sub-continent has seen this:

        Hindu man equates Western female’s social freedom with a degenerate whore. Hindu man thinks he can clean up in America. He quickly finds out that for a variety of non-racial reasons, the American women are not available. Physical companionship has little to no importance in that culture (arranged marriages, rape-as-punishment, stoning, etc, but we are all human, and years of solace take its toll.

        The corruption of the political establishment, and the conjunction of website ‘moguls’, is unbelievable. You know this was a talking point with Omidar or Facebook. The upshot of this move, other than increased length of indentured servitude, is more anchor babies.

          1. jds

            It is varies; I imagine it’s at least high five figures/year. You have tourist anchor babies (the percentage of Korean women birthing here on their holiday was so high the Korean government had to outlaw it—not the U.S., of course.), there are the Mexican/CA/China illegal people, then there are the whores entrapping U.S. men into marriage or one-night stands. Even H1b people would birth out a kid, usually for cash. Heck, my friend was offfered such a deal last month. He would never do it. He was also insulted the women tried to low-ball him–typical post-Mao Chinese. (She was throwing in the ‘benefit’ of me living with her–sod off!

  29. Bill Frank

    IMHO immigration is a great distraction issue. Fuels division among the masses. Plenty of red meat for the crowd to fight over. In the meantime, the next great theft is being planned.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On the other hand, we can use our imperial currency wisely, for once, with a Third World (Dollar) debt jubilee to address 1) the immigration issue and 2) the theft issue.

      1. ambrit

        Sometimes you make me stop what I’m doing and marvel at someone trying valiantly to promote Right Action. Inspiring is what it is. (No sarcasm intended.)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thank you, ambrit.

          It’s an absurd world and I have lots of absurd rants. If people find some helpful, I am indebted to Yves, you and other posters who have inspired me everyday.

          (That will also be my confession to the NSA when necessary) :<

    2. MRW

      No shit, sherlock. ;-) I remember looking around when the drudgereport went after Clinton and Lewinsky in late January of whatever year it was asking OK, what’s this covering. ;-) Sho’nuff, the BCCI report came out within three weeks and no one noticed.

  30. lee

    Because of personal and familial connections I’ve helped a dozen or so persons gain legal residency status in the U.S. Only one of them was legal from beginning to end of a difficult process that took years. The others were beneficiaries of the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, signed by Reagan in 1986, which benefited about 3 million previously illegal immigrants.

    Now there are many more. When I go to buy construction materials I see throngs of foreign born Hispanics being loaded up by homeowners and contractors who then benefit from their cheap labor. There are street signs declaring the area a “day labor zone”, that seem to indicate that legal status will be ignored by local authorities. Non-Hispanics and native born that I have spoken to have claimed that they are subjected to overt hostility should they attempt join these groups vying for work and that prospective employers tend not to favor them although they are English speakers with legal status. There was a time during my youth when I supported myself as a day laborer. I get the feeling that U.S. citizens need no longer apply for such work.

    1. RUKidding

      I’ve seen the areas where likely mostly undocumented workers gather to do day labor. I agree that there tends to be “turf battles” about who gets to gather where, but I have seen people of various nationalities, including apparent Caucasians, gathered in such places. True, it’s mostly Hispanic workers from south of our border, but I’ve seen Asians, African Americans and whites, as well.

      I have no idea how this works, but my supposition would be that one gets into a certain group somehow (no idea how), and then you get to gather in some spot for the work available. It seems quite likely that there is more competition for less labor, but it’s not just Hispanics/Latinos who offer their services in this way, at least where I live (different areas of CA). Just saying…

  31. Code Name D

    >> (the Democrats found, much to their dismay, that trying to woo women solely on reproductive rights, sexual harassment, and other gender issues wasn’t a compelling sale; many women turned against Democratic party candidates over the party’s poor performance as far as middle and lower class economic issues were concerned)

    I know this is off subject. Still, I am wondering what evidence you have that leads you to this conclusion? I have been looking for some for a while and can’t find any thing compelling.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I will have to find it, but an NYT front page story on the eve of the election had that in it. Of course they buried that finding, too finding to put it in the headline.

    2. jrs

      The suggestion that woman only care about reproductive rights is insulting to women anyway, it always has been.

      It’s kind of a “they’re not full human beings with a wide range of concerns like men are” argument.

  32. MRW

    As far as I know, Texas is the only state to do a formal audit of the effect of undocumented workers on state revenues. Then TX State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn (mother of Bush press secretary Scott McClellan) authorized it in 2005. It was published in December 2006.

    A Financial Analysis of the Impact to the State Budget and Economy

    “This is the first time any state has done a comprehensive financial analysis of the impact of undocumented immigrants on a state’s budget and economy, looking at gross state product, revenues generated, taxes paid and the cost of state services.

    The absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our gross state product of $17.7 billion. Undocumented immigrants produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received. However, local governments bore the burden of $1.44 billion in uncompensated health care costs and local law enforcement costs not paid for by the state.”

    — Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller

    1. MRW

      (the comment this refers to is still in moderation.)
      I meant to add that the paucity of this kind of nuts-and-bolts analysis of the cost of undocumented workers on a state-by-state basis is a major problem. All we have is emotional arguments that like the dip-and-dap switch of a computer. Off. On.

      I admit to no patience with this process. Do the damn analysis. Let’s see the figures. Strayhorn is to be commended for what she did, and she took the sails out of Dobbs’ wind at the time who was trying to cause insurrection, especially in TX, with TV-pulpit nonsense. I remember watching the reaction in early 2007. It was as if the entire state took a deep breath and calmed down.

  33. Min

    “Alabama passed the toughest anti-immigrant law in the US. The result? Much of the next peach harvest rotted because farmers couldn’t hire migrant workers or find legal replacements.”

    I grew up in the Deep South, and I’ll betcha them good ole boys did not increase wages. Too bad that the harvest rotted, but it’s the principle of the thing, you see.

  34. sublimejah

    I believe I’m correct in stating you are out of your depth here Yves, perhaps you should have yielded to your hesitancy to post on this issue. There are several issues with your presentation and substance. First of all what credible policy analyst still uses the term “illegal aliens”? As you must know that progressives and many others have been working to assist the undocumented workers and families here for many years. Since you don’t use the proper terminology your argument is immediately weakened. Secondly, your assertion that this is a cynical move to win votes is specious. Of course, every politician takes the needs of the people they serve into consideration when making law and policy. This is a need that must be addressed and the only way to make some, if limited progress. You also assume that the entirety of the problem could ever be completely resolved with a law, much less an Executive Order. This issue is too deeply embedded in the US practice of empire to ever be resolved by a law. Laws only inform in areas that are ongoing issues for all sovereign nations, resolve is elusive and often comes unexpectedly or after a long protracted citizen movement. When I read that you somehow equated enforcement of the law for financial crimes and entering the US illegally I had to laugh. You want to equate historical geopolitical conflict regarding the fluidity of borders to US individuals and groups who refuse to follow the rule of law in areas that could collapse our economy in the immediate future. You confuse macro historical pressures with micro regulation of individuals within a closed system. The native and mixed race population of the Northern and Central Americas have moved around these parts of the continent for thousands of years. The US only obtained the area near Mexico we refer to as “the border” during the Mexican American war when the US invaded all of what is now the southern tier of states and parts of what is currently northern Mexico. I’m still not sure how you believe that laws keeping our fellow citizens from stealing all they want from everyone can be equated with the immigration issue. Your point also assumes that the Latino community is easily bought, that our Latino friends and colleagues haven’t worked to make this happen, that Latinos are simpletons, pawns in the hands of the Democrats. That is cynical, that is demeaning and feels slightly racist. You should really apologize to the left and Latinos who are outside of the group of that regularly posts on this blog.

    1. ambrit

      As for being “pawns in the hands of Democrats,” well, our Latino brothers and sisters will be joining the rest of us in that degrading category. The elite playing of the immigration issue is similar to and probably as effective as the old “Race Card” of years gone by. I’m afraid that being cynical about the politics of America is a constantly expanding endeavour.
      The term “illegal aliens” is well known and generally understood by the public. The practice of imposing “politically correct” terminology is an ancient and (dis)honoured practice meant to control the discussion. As you will discover by reading some of the threads on this site, political correctness is generally viewed with the contempt it deserves.
      Specious arguments are “laughed out of court” in the rough and tumble of this sites argumentation. Merely calling an argument ‘specious’ is not enough. Likewise, an appeal to authority doesn’t cut the mustard either. Real fact based argument is needed. (We have plenty of fake fact based argument floating around the aether. The fact that it floats in something insubstantial should tell you a lot.)
      Do keep plugging away. This site will refine your gold out of the dross.

  35. Sam Kanu

    “….Like it or not, Obama appears to be well within his rights to suspend deportations. And that will likely buy enough loyalty with Latino voters to prove beneficial in the 2016 elections. Whether this is enough to rescue the Democrats’ flagging fortunes remains to be seen….”

    I would suggest that the author bear in mind her own documentation of the fact that along with the rest of working America, the real incomes of most latino voters are lagging far behind the rich in this new “gilded age”.

    Obama may get a nod from these voters on the way out, but I dont think that nod will come in the form of votes for the Dem cabinet members, congressmen and senators who have sat on their hands and even themselves gotten richer, all this time. And you can include the Clinton “dynasty” in that group…

    Speaking of which when did America become a banana republic: the same names seem to be on auto repeat these past few years. How is that possible in a nation with 300 million people to chose from?

    1. Min

      When did the US become a banana republic? Well, it happened over time. The threshold may have been crossed during the Clinton-Rubin-Greenspan years. But it was a done deal under Cheney-Bush-Yoo.

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