Who, Exactly, Are the “Illegals,” Anyhow?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

As readers know, I deprecate the (informal: disparaging and dffensive) noun “illegals,” not only because it’s a slippery slope to “frugals,” “orals,” “regals,” and so forth, but because I can’t think of a good reason to insult people who are, often courageously, trying to improve their own lives and those of their families. (“Scab,” of course, is another pejorative for people with similar motives. So, for that matter, is “banker.” It’s complicated!) In any case, it’s these migrants[1] presence that’s illegal, not they themselves, so, heck, maybe it’s all just an innocent case of metonymy…. In this post, I want to straighten out not these, but another small kink in our political discourse, which shows up when you read this story from the Times carefully. The headline:

An ICE Raid Leaves an Iowa Town Divided Along Faith Lines

Parenthetically, and just for the record, allow me to insert this photo of a church congregation that became a crossroads for families and supporters of the men detained in the workplace raid in that small town:

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I have the nagging feeling there’s something about that picture inconsistent with an important liberal Democrat construct, identity politics. Close parenthesis.

Immediately I asked, as one should ask, why is faith the chosen dividing line? After all, you can slice and dice a human population as many ways as you can a pineapple, or a cake. Could it be that there’s another, more interesting “divide” that the reporter’s choice elides? Why, yes. Yes, there is. The lead and the next three paragraphs set up the conflict the reporter wishes to highlight:

In the days after immigration agents raided a dusty concrete plant on the west side of town, seizing 32 men from Mexico and Central America, the Rev. Trey Hegar, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, got into an impassioned argument on his Facebook page.

“The Bible doesn’t promote helping criminals!!!!” a Trump supporter [here a novelist like Sterne would add “for a Trump supporter it was”] wrote.

Mr. Hegar answered with Leviticus: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

The Trump supporter came back with the passage in the Gospel of Mark about rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and added for good measure: “Immigration laws are good and Godly! We elected our leaders and God allowed it.”

Leaving aside the idea that Leviticus is a good guide to public policy on immigration, any more than it’s a good guide to public policy on gender issues, and leaving aside a brain-bending theodicy which posits that [The] God[(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any] doesn’t allow evil in this world, I’ve underlined salient topics: “criminals”, “laws.” The reporter, slicing the pineapple by faith, ignores the question of law. We know who is subject to the law: The migrants, caught up in the raid. Is there anybody in the story who is not subject to the law? Why, yes. Yes, there is:

No charges have been filed against the owners of the Midwest Precast Concrete plant in Mount Pleasant that was raided. An ICE spokesman declined to comment, citing a continuing investigation.

So, the elite have impunity when they break the law; et in Mount Pleasant ego. We know this, of course, from the Crash, so no surprises here. Oddly, or not, the reporter, when interviewing business owners, doesn’t raise this point:

The view that immigrants take jobs from citizens or depress wages was a common one, but it was disputed by local business owners. The unemployment rate in Henry County is 2.9 percent, and many factories display “Hiring” signs.

Gary Crawford, who owns Mt. Pleasant Tire (“We keep you rolling”), said he paid tire installers $16 to $24 an hour, with full benefits. “I know most of the people who run the factories,” he said. “They just can’t find help.”

It’s illegal to hire illegal immigrants. Would it have been so hard for the reporter to ask “Should the business owners who hire illegal immigrants be arrested too?” Apparently the answer — “Hell no!” — is so obvious that the question doesn’t need to be asked. After all, they need “help.” The pineapple (or cake) is sliced along faith lines, not along class lines. Just to ram the class perspective home, the reporter, in the final paragraph, consults a professional:

Her father was released on bond in early June to await a deportation hearing in immigration court, which has a five-year backlog of such cases, according to Bram Elias, a law professor at the University of Iowa. “By doing this raid,” he said, “the federal government has turned two dozen folks who were undocumented and living in the shadows into people definitely safe from deportation for five years, and possibly able to work lawfully.”

Unexpected consequences aside, would it really have been so hard for the reporter to ask — as long as he had the good professor on the line — “Should the business owners who hire illegal immigrants be arrested too?”[2] It seems so. Oddly, employers are never “illegals.” Perhaps, of course, the reporter, a fully paid-up member of the 9.9%, has just as much reason to seek impunity from prosecution as the 0.1% do. We’ll look at the question of nannies in our next post. Meanwhile, it’s almost as if “illegals” are only to be found in the working class, isn’t it? Why not slice the pineapple upside-down cake along class lines, besides faith lines? A question that answers itself, once asked.


[1] Yes, with “migrants,” just like everybody else, I’m glossing over the differences between “asylum seeker” (displaced person), “refugee” (displaced person granted state status) and “economic migrants” (living standards). The global human supply chain is complicated! For example, into which bucket do you throw people fleeing to the United States because of terrible conditions that the United States itself created? None, apparently, or any; the categories themselves seem designed to obscure this question. Anyhow, whoever said avoiding torture or death didn’t constitute an improvement in living standards? For some definition of “living,” of course.

[2] One might almost think that the reporter was as slavish in their devotion to the existing order as the Trump supporter, whose name the Times originally misspelled, and had to correct.

UPDATE Today’s story from the AP on the same topic fails to ask the same thing. Even though hiring illegal immigrants is illegal, there is no such thing as an “illegal” employer.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Jean


    What’s the difference between local politicians advocating for “diversity”, “multiculturalism”, “equity” and other religious tenets and some group demanding that The Ten Commandments be placed in our courthouses as a statement of common sense?

    1. RMO

      You mean aside from the fact that the things you mention do not require any religious justification and are supported and opposed by people who are atheist or agnostic as well as people who are religious?

    2. Notorious P.A.T.

      The US Constitution does not prohibit diversity, multiculturalism, or equity. It does prohibit establishing a religion.

      1. Jean

        Or favoring one religion over another in public taxpayer funded spaces?

        Diversity, multiculturalism and equity are doctrines preached by the lips of Lutheran pastors and reform Jewish rabbis. No one on our society ever voted for them, nor were they mentioned in the Constitution.

      2. synoia

        Is Capitalism a religion?

        Oxford Dictionary defines religion as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power…but Christianity does not believe in a controlling superhuman power, because the Christian God gave mankind free will

        So: Christianity: religion as the belief in and worship of a non-human

        Capitalism definition, an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations,

        Belief – Religion – Capitalism – (I’d say yes)
        non-human power – Religion – Yes with god, and yes if karma is nonhuman – Capitalism – only if markets are nonhuman, certainly yes either if if controlled by AI, or if subject to by chaos theory.

        Is chaos theory or chaos itself nonhuman? (I’d say yes) For example a volcano or hurricane sows chaos, and neither of those are human.

        Conclusion: Capitalism is a religion; ergo under the US constitution the Government must remain neutral to it’s demands.

        1. Alex Cox

          I think Belief/Trust in Science may be a religion, even more than Capitalism, since it unites Capitalists and Communists, all of whom believe that growth is limitless and that science will find a solution to everything. The Religion of Science, which has brought us extended life expectancy (without quality of life) plus divers benefits such as GMOs and Nuclear Weapons, may be the last religion we will ever need!

    3. Stelios Theoharidis

      I have tried to do some thinking on what some ‘objective’ standards would be regarding immigration.

      1) One could suggest we are a nation of laws, but as a nation we generally apply laws based mainly on socio-economic status. There is nothing objective about that, it is arbitrary. The comparison of the immigration circumstances of Trump’s wife and the current plight of ordinary immigrants shows that.

      2) One could say that ‘their ancestors’ came here legally, but that is a bit of a farce because the standards during that time were not having disabilities or communicable diseases and not being part of certain ‘undesirable’ racial categories. The latter being the arbitrary portion there.

      3) You could suggest that we want ‘educated’ immigrants, but what we are really doing in those circumstances is pushing down the wages of skilled workers while concurrently draining developing countries of human capital that they desperately need, and that is neither beneficial for our citizens or the people in those countries (unless they are refugees). It would save us money both here and abroad to just work on improving the skills of low income citizens to get them into the middle income category, invest in education where skills gaps exist, rather than push the wages of middle income folks down with ‘expertise’ based visas.

      4) So the only ‘objective’ thing I can find is that most central American and Mexican folks of indigenous and mestizo origin actually have closer genetic characteristics to the original inhabitants of the continent. The circumstances that have led them to immigration are intimately tied to our war on drugs, trade policy affecting rural communities, and the flow of arms via string purchases across the border. Our destruction of indigenous populations and fomenting warfare in Latin America are all an embarrassment to what I believe our ideals are as a country.

      All things considered, I believe that immigrants of indigenous origin should actually have special consideration over immigrants from elsewhere. So give us your tired, your poor and your hungry. It seems both the moral thing to do considering our nation’s history as well as the correct thing to do as far as the distribution and mitigation of impacts is concerned.

      1. tongorad

        So give us your tired, your poor and your hungry. It seems both the moral thing to do considering our nation’s history as well as the correct thing to do as far as the distribution and mitigation of impacts is concerned.

        As US working class lives viciously and relentlessly become more precarious, organizing for the rights and uplift of non-citizens seems like a political non-starter, if not dead end.
        I reckon the Trumpians understand this aspect and will continue to win the day.

        1. marym

          Trumpians “won” an administration that hasn’t advanced a single policy to make working class lives less precarious, and is “viciously and relentlessly” eliminating the possibility of the crumbs that occasionally dropped from the liberal side of the capitalist table.

          1. Stelios Theoharidis

            I’m not talking about uplifting non-citizens. You let the non-citizens do what they have to do and just leave them alone. They appear to be working the low wage jobs, paying taxes, contributing to economic activity, and reducing the cost of goods and services.

            But, rather than throwing potentially hundreds of billions of dollars down a hole of human misery to put families and children in cages, disrupting businesses and communities, setting up a police and extrajudicial system, building infrastructure that has not demonstrated efficacy to send hard working tax paying undocumented folks to places that they either no longer know or never knew. You just leave it the hell alone and take that money to uplift the citizens that are struggling with adapting in the modern economy.

            They are literally suggesting $700 a day per person for this obscene incarceration. I’m not sure that people realize that its the damn drug war all over again, spending huge amounts of money for what? Its just pound foolish, I don’t even see the penny-wise aspect of it. That is way more cost than the economic impacts of just leaving undocumented immigrant alone.

            What was the drug war about according to its authors? Locking up lefties, hippies, and individuals involved in organizing efforts in black communities.

            What is the immigrant war probably about? A fear of losing power among conservatives due to demographic shifts affecting the US political landscape.

            We are burning money so that conservative reactionaries can fear-monger to maintain political advantage. History doesn’t repeat itself but it certainly does rhyme.

            1. Stelios Theoharidis

              History is full of fools freaking out, thinking they just ‘have to do something’ about crises promoted by pundits and the private interests, that consequently make vast sums to treat symptoms.

              If you don’t actually deal with the root cause of a problem you are just burning money to treat symptoms. Our next step in this nightmare of cascading policy stupidity is treating the symptoms of the ‘policy’ medicine we use to treat the initial set of symptoms.


              1) We have a drug war to treat the symptoms of a drug addiction problem.

              2) Then we have an immigration war to treat the symptoms of the drug war

              Undocumented immigration is a symptom of the drug war, generations of poor US foreign policy towards our southern neighbors, NAFTA’s affects on rural poor, a steady supply of drugs coming north creating profits for cartels, and arms going south.

              All it has led to is untold destruction of communities on both sides, in order to make policymakers feel good about their epic policy failure. The drug war doesn’t work. It never has. It was just politically expedient for a class of people that don’t have the empathy to help people, but rather make things worse.

              We aren’t going to stop undocumented people coming north, they are literally risking their lives crossing deserts because life down their has become so awful because we just can’t leave these damn people alone. The only way to start unraveling this mess is to stop the things that we are doing to contribute to the chaos down there.

              And, surprise!!! It would save us huge amounts of money to leave them alone. It would actually save us vast sums of money to deal with the drug epidemic from a public health perspective and legalize the drugs that are recreational. It would save us huge amounts of money to cut off aid funding to Latin American countries directed at fighting the cartels that our recreational drug users and addicts supply with piles of cash. We would save gigantic sums of money from removing non-violent drug offenders from our prison populations, and expunging their records so that they can work and vote.

              But, drugs are bad, mckay. McGruff the crime dog said so somewhere.

              1. rps

                “The drug war doesn’t work. It never has. It was just politically expedient for a class of people that don’t have the empathy to help people, but rather make things worse.”

                The War on Drugs does work. It’s a very profitable feature not a bug. Not only does it work but a multi-job creator too. Let me quickly count the ways:
                1. Black market moneymaker without the tax burden.
                2. Creates community jobs such as the seller/dealer/buyer with the added feature of….
                3. Prisons- another job creator. Think private prisons and the never-ending recidivist rate of filling the profitable beds/cells (read somewhere long ago Cheney was a stockholder in one).
                4. Law enforcement jobs with the added bonus of cities receiving federal dollars for the ‘war on drugs.’
                5. Judge jobs and all the administrative and clerical jobs necessary in maintaining the legal machinery.
                6. DEA
                7. War on Drugs Armament sales. Guns for lawful and unlawful purposes
                8. Public health facilities, hospitals
                9. Drug addiction treatment centers
                9. Morgues
                10. Funeral home

                Drugs are a multi-job creator. But more importantly, a tool to control the masses through highly restrictive Drug laws legislated at state and federal levels to ensure a never-ending poverty class circulating through the legal systems and prisons.

                1. rps

                  Edit for the Top 3:
                  #1 Banks laundering cartel monies – Its a feature
                  #2 Tax havens to stash foreign and domestic ‘drug’ monies
                  #3 Bankrolling CIA

                  What was the point of invading Afghanistan other than to boost production and take over the heroin trade?

                  Interesting viewpoint on the neoliberalists US war on drugs in the Western Hemisphere by Dawn Paley –How the War on Drugs Advances Transnational Capitalism

            2. b1daly

              Totally, the level of irrationally is even more extreme than usual with regards to this fiasco of a policy.

              People have a hard time with ambiguity, they want to know what is right and wrong, who is legal or illegal.

              The reality is that we need a “fudge factor” on the issue of illegal immigration. I don’t support doing away with all border controls, but I do support letting peaceful immigrants live in peace, however they got here.

              I think one of the issues here is that to accept being a US citizen, one knows on some level that much of the success of the US was built on savage exploitation and genocide. And that being born a US citizen is no sign of virtue, simply luck. There is an arbitraryness inherent in the concept of a sovereign state, and arbitraryness runs throughout law.

              This cognitive dissonance leads to the contortions of American Exceptionalism, whether expressed basely, or eloquently. It is this psychic tension that prompts people into unthinking tribalism. My side is good, your side is bad. It’s hard for people to accept the unfairness of so many aspects of human life, and in this sickened psychological soil, evil weeds like the current madness of our treatment of immigrants thrive.

    4. dcblogger

      based on the portion that lambert quoted it was a Presbyterian minister, not a politician. Presbyterian, so I hardly see how you can take exception to his quoting the bible.

    5. dcblogger

      diversity, multiculturalism and equity are English translations for e pluribus unum.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > e pluribus unum

        IIRC, this does not imply a melting pot. The Latin tag referred to a salad recipe; distinct ingredients held together by the dressing (and the taste combinations/contrasts themselves).

        Didn’t apply to slaves, of course, but you can’t have everything.

  2. Arizona Slim

    And why can’t the factory owners find help? Could it be that, maybe-just-maybe, those jobs used to be union jobs, the unions were busted, and now the wages are so low that the jobs have become ones That Americans Won’t Do?

      1. JohnnyGL

        And the factory work doesn’t get that dangerous without OSHA and union leadership being sufficiently neutered or eliminated entirely.

    1. jrs

      and maybe years earlier any young person who saw the writing on the wall left for college and never came back because they saw there was no future there (or maybe in their minds in blue collar work at all) anymore … these things sometimes are years in the making,

      1. JohnnyGL

        “…these things sometimes are years in the making”

        you betcha….flyover country wasn’t decimated in a day! It took an entire generation to smash it!

    2. john buell

      ” The view that immigrants take jobs from citizens or depress wages was a common one, but it was disputed by local business owners. The unemployment rate in Henry County is 2.9 percent, and many factories display “Hiring” signs.

      Gary Crawford, who owns Mt. Pleasant Tire (“We keep you rolling”), said he paid tire installers $16 to $24 an hour, with full benefits. “I know most of the people who run the factories,” he said. “They just can’t find help.”

      I wish the reporter had done more to explore this line of thought. Perhaps in an expanding economy with a living wage job guarantee, the arrival of new economic immigrants would not drive working class wages down. And what if unions and labor activists worked for adequate minimum wage and labor rights standards on both sides of the border?

      1. Yves Smith

        To know if the unemployment stat is giving the right picture, you’d need to have labor force participation figures. Discouraged workers aren’t included in unemployment computations. It is widespread that businesses won’t hire people over 45. I’d like to know how many older discouraged workers there are in that county before I buy the claim that these businesses can’t find local workers.

        1. funemployed

          I’m only 36, and recently decided I needed a career change. I don’t even bother applying for “entry-level” positions anymore. Even though I’ve got 3 decades at minimum left of top tier work left in me, and nobody stays in a job that long anymore anyway, the preference for 22-25 year olds in those positions means I mostly can’t even get a phone interview.

          I actually have better luck applying for jobs demanding experience that I most definitely don’t have (but could gain quickly in a 12-18 months in an “entry-level” position).

          1. fajensen

            Someone like me being on the hiring side already knows that a person of your age and experience will just not be happy in an entry-level position, whatever you think about it. Entry-level mean that there is not a lot of flexibility and authority, wages are not high and this will chafe on an experienced person who is used to have autonomy and signing off on things.

            To a recruiter it will look like either that you are looking for a stepping-stone to something else entirely (but, this is not the “slot” we actually want filled now) inside the company or there is some underlying problem that will manifest later.

            It is better for a recruiter to hire an experienced person, not necessarily experienced in that area, because having experience shows that the person can learn and adapt themselves (if they couldn’t do this, they would be fired and thus not experienced).

            The recruiters experience is that the actual job is *never* whatever the hell it is that they advertised in the end (job ads often sit on the end of a pipeline of “stakeholders”); quite often the job adverts get “padded” with things that the organisation thinks looks attractive and the actual reality is very different.

            So, my advice is to “go for it” if it sounds interesting and possible even if some of the requirements are not fulfilled.

            The main problem of course is that today many organisations use “machine learning” tools to grade CV’s so when job adverts gets embellished by the “make us look good”-crowd, a lot of perfectly competent people are excluded on things that does not actually matter but the robo-cruiter’s (and the on-bording contractor too) are all too stupid to see that.

            In former times, one could figure out a bar or conference where the people one actually need to talk to about the about-to-be-advertised job hang out and then ask them directly. This is not so easy today because there is no social life left, almost, in “professional circles”

            1. Rod

              First–I thought the article and commentary were about Employers Illegal Employment Practices not religion or immigration.
              I must have been wrong because the first 23 comments addressed other issues.
              Secondly my personal experience with illegal employees in the construction industry is that most all of them have found work through word of mouth. In my experience all a employer need do is speak to one of their illegally employed employees about what type of employees they need and the informal employment network kicks in and in no time you will meet any number of potential employees that can be illegally employed. And you can vary your Payroll style to suit your needs–overt to covert.
              And they will come personally recommended or screened to boot.
              No need to advertise-even with a yard sign.
              Of course your new illegally employed employees may need to share a bit of their hourly with their friend who recommended them–to show their appreciation of course.
              Just a smidge of my experience.
              I could go on–because I thought of and asked questions about stuff that I thought was curious.
              Something that surely has not happened to any reporter I have heard over the last three weeks.
              But Lambert asks a good one. Conspicuous in its MSM absence.

            2. funemployed

              Thank you for the helpful insights. I do chafe at lack of authority, honestly, unless I’m working for someone who listens well and sees the big picture, anyhow. My wife likes to joke that I’m always miserable in easy jobs and happy in really hard ones. She’s not wrong.

    3. Jerry

      Exactly. I bet if they advertise a higher wage then people will apply. The factory owner knows this but they get to play dumb because the reporter does not ask this important follow up question.

  3. Altandmain

    Presumably in regards to the “who”, they are those who illegally crossed the US Mexico border.

    As for the whys, a lot of this is self inflicted. The NAFTA agreement bankrupted a lot of Mexican farmers who had little choice but to go north. Similarly, the US has made a number of coups (an example being what Hillary Clinton did in Honduras), and destabilized a number of different nations causing people to flee.

    If Conservatives were serious about “self deportation” and similar talk, they would go after employers that hired illegal immigrants. This would also have the benefit of increasing wages for Americans and forcing employers to treat their workers better.

    They are not. Hence employers will not be attacked. Other programs, like E-Verify should be mandated. It is not a perfect system, but if the conservatives were serious about stopping this, they would take appropriate action. It would be much harder for Liberals to oppose E-verify than deportations.

    However, conservative ideology says that workers are to be treated with contempt, so in practice,, conservatives seldom do anything that might benefit the working class. The simple solution for jobs Americans will not do is to pay more and treat people well. This is at odds with conservative ideology.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Yes. That’s why “left” and right as defined in the mainstream media are such baloney. The doyens of both sides are united in their love of down punching. Like Lambert insinuated, the writer and editor of that article likely pay undocumented immigrants to do their housework and childcare. Any they are – guaranteed – surrounded by peers who do so.

      It’s like our endless wars. If we forced every US citizen to serve some part of their lives in our military, we wouldn’t have forward operating (can’t call them) bases all over North Africa. If we put every ten percenter caught with an undocumented gardener in prison for even 1-2 months…… our world would change. So fast it would make your head spin. If we made the professional classes pay according to the letter of the law, like working class slobs, the much greater impunity of our true elite would come under attack.

    2. Jerry

      We don’t have an illegal immigrant problem. We have an illegal employer problem. Once we realize that then we will be able to solve this problem.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        This is the shortest and best answer to the question posed by Lambert’s title.

        Thank you.

      2. funemployed

        Yes, my repub acquaintances hate when I point out that if your goal is to make most illegal immigrants leave, you could do so with less than a tenth of the budget of ICE and a Wall by simply imprisoning a few random chief executives of employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

        Their inability to articulate why this suggestion frustrates them so much (when it does) makes me do much wondering about our culture.

        1. Altandmain

          Make the CEOs, board, and shareholders pay.

          An example might be:

          – Big fines
          – Repeat offenses mean that the CEO goes to jail along with the Human Resources lead and other parties. Members of the Board are to be fined and banned from ever holding a Board position for x years (repeat offenders go to jail and are banned for life)
          – Shareholders face a penalty too (say higher capital gains taxes, capital losses are no longer tax deductible, higher taxes on dividends, and if the stock dips, the “rebound” will be heavily taxes).

          Problem solved. Any conservative who was smart would realize that would be hard for any Liberals to defend.

      3. rowlf

        Why does everyone think the US must have slaves, indentured servants, coolies, undocumented aliens, some form of exploitable underclass to exist? If we can’t enforce the Reagan amnesty act by going after employers provide Bracero type documentation so the workers can call OSHA, call the police or unionize?

        The politicians, employers and the media are talking out of both sides of their mouths. If you really support undocumented immigrants, give them status. If you don’t want undocumented immigrants, go after employers.

        What other countries allow undocumented immigrants or visa overstays?

        1. JBird

          Why does everyone think the US must have slaves, indentured servants, coolies, undocumented aliens, some form of exploitable underclass to exist?

          Most people, certainly most Americans, do not think that.

          However, the American economic elites have always been actively promoting, creating, and maintaining an underclass beginning with indentured servitude, which started in the earliest American colonies, using what the British thought of as “waste people” (think humans as living fertilizer) usually very poor, often condemned men, and women, and yes children, with the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam importing the first black slaves.

          For the first few centuries, regardless of race, whites, blacks, or Indians were all indenture. True, at least half died before they were free, but those who survived had to be given supplies, equipment, and freedom. They also had those pesky legal protections and rights however pathetic and the entire indentured/freed class thought of themselves as the same, intermarried, and worked together against the wealthy and powerful. So the system of imported, and yes bred, black human cattle developed in the South to get around all that.

          However, there was always abolitionist efforts, usually from the various churches, as well as non religious movements throughout the entire time and in all the colonies. North of the Mason-Dixon Line it was successful, especially with the United States’ creation. The whole “all men are created equal” bit and another religious Great Awakening bringing in the “children of God”, the “Sermon on the Mount” bit. In the South, the Abolitionist Move was murdered, and I use the word murdered deliberately. The lucky were merely burned out of their homes and businesses. In the West, well the then current phrase “Bloody Kansas” is a useful.

          There is an unending struggle between the wealthy, better organized, more violent economic elites and everybody else. Often broad moments like the Abolitionists, the Suffragettes, Unionists, and the Progressives having the law, the legislatures, newspapers(big media) police, army, private armies being used to suppressed them until it gets really, really, really bad. Guerrilla campaigns, assassinations, bombings, lynchings by all sides with bonus strikes and riots followed (sometimes) by reform. Our country’s history is brutal, violent, bloody, and frequently lethal. Full of villains and heroes. And often gloriously fascinating.

          People don’t realize how peaceful the past forty years has been. Crime, including murder, has been declining for over twenty years. Somehow the educational system sanitizes , perhaps erases, most of our history while our fabulous press distorts the present. The suppression is increasing while the problems are getting worse. We’re about to have some interesting times and I wonder what the spark will be.

  4. JohnnyGL

    Good stuff. Always helpful to point out the class blinders that the media puts on their lens.

    As you’ve often stated, the immigration issue is very much a complex issue that absolutely doesn’t line up along easily discernible fault lines.

    Additional points worth considering…

    1) immigrants often network/fracture along national lines. This was certainly true a century ago, as well. Sometimes a language issue, a family issue or often a trust issue. They also tend to occupy and congregate in specialized niches in industries. Speaking from my somewhat close observations here in MA, Guatemalans are considered somewhat contentious since they provide immigrant-entrepreneurs themselves a source of cheap labor, but also are notorious for underpricing them on contract jobs in the building trades.

    2) Even within a given nationality, there’s often class differences that are baked right in from their arrival (did you over-stay a visa? or get smuggled across the border?), but aren’t immediately obvious to an observer. There’s legal implications there, too. overstaying a visa is a relatively minor infraction compared with getting caught at the border and posting bail. The latter means you’re in the system and possibly scheduled for deportation, already. The former means you aren’t on ICE’s radar, already.

  5. Westcoastdeplorable

    Lambert they’re illegals because they crossed the border illegally and broke our laws. We need to call things as they are in this country; pretending otherwise is causing a lot of confusion. To not differentiate between those adopting our immigration system and coming through the “front” door and those trying to sneak in, is totally unfair to those immigrants who do it the right way.

    1. JohnnyGL

      There’s a class aspect of this that’s missing.

      People have a knee-jerk assumption that all immigrants are being smuggled through tunnels, across the desert, by coyotes, etc.

      There’s a lot of people who come here and over stay tourist visas. That’s a group that’s rich enough to convince an immigration officer that they’ve got money to spend as a tourist and won’t stay, but not rich enough to buy their way into legal status.



      If you’re going to fix this visa overstay problem, that means granting fewer tourist visas….Disney’s going to have to take it on the chin. All the wall building in the world won’t solve that problem!

      1. integer

        Perhaps all tourists visiting the US could be fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet on arrival.

        1. fajensen

          I think this exists already:

          When applying for US Visa from the EU one has to pay about 8 USD using a personal credit card after filling in ones details in ESTA (electronic System for Travel Authorisation).

          The ESTA-site is curiously specific about the credit card being Personal.

          Surely, that credit card number and the transaction data, now linked to personal information voluntarily by a less-than-American entered into an official system, will be used to track and monitor anyone who fills in an ESTA-application? The machines can probably “get” the other cards too from that initial transaction.

      2. Altandmain

        The simple solution is to go after employers that hire tourists that overstay.

        A tourist visa is exactly that – a tourist.

        Also, start going after the folks who pay “under the table”. The end result will be that while they can stay, they will not be able to obtain any income.

      3. JerryDenim

        Same story for student visas. Foreign kids with parents of means enter the country on a student visa, when their legitimate university program is over (or when they flunk out) and they can’t get a green card, many elect to stay on indefinitely while taking the ocasional class at an overpriced, bullshit, for-profit-trade college in exchange for visa extensions. Many of them are then exploited by unpaid internships or by unscrupulous employers interested in hiring vulnerable workers with precarious legal status. These arrangements are usually cash under the table for well below market rates. These middle class foreign students are both victims and victimizers. They get exploited by the schools and the employers, but they also exert downward pressure on wages and regulatory compliance making fair wages and workplace protections harder to secure for everyone.

        The same answer works in these situations as well, punish the shady visa-factory fake schools and the exploitive employers.

        1. Rod

          Instead, we get the Flores ruling.
          See NPR.org for:
          “The History of the Flores Agreement”
          Let me sum: A Hollywood Producer and his undocumented Housekeeper and her Daughter detained at the border.
          And in the Lawyers own recorded words.

    2. HotFlash

      The simple solution for jobs Americans will not do is to pay more and treat people well. This is at odds with conservative ideology.

      Funny, that. Inconsistent, even. You’d think that conservatives would trust in the Almighty Market (genuflect) could solve that problem, as it solves all others. Amen.

      1. Wyoming

        This – they are illegals because they broke the law – stuff drives me crazy. I hear that nonsense all the time here in AZ from the locals.

        Everyone one I know is an illegal by that type of logic. Crossing the border without permission is a misdemeanor. It is the same type of illegal activity that 100% of us do in our daily lives. For instance no one here in AZ, or anywhere else I have ever lived, pays the slightest attention to traffic laws which are mostly in the same level of illegal activity. Or they are smoking pot, or cheating on their taxes, or hiring the illegals, or faking disability, or underage drinking, drinking and driving, and a thousand other daily practices. This is what people do. Americans pride themselves on getting away with whatever they can – it is part of our mythology as a people of the frontier. Just look at Libertarian political philosophy. It is part and parcel of us.

        This immigration issue has nothing..nothing..to do with whether they are crossing the border illegally. People that hate immigrants hate all immigrants regardless of their legal status.

        If you’re looking for someone to hate who deserves it then focus on the plutocrats, the bankers, the capitalists and the filthy politicians who sold their souls to help create this wasteland.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          So, to summarize your argument, americans break their own laws every day, so why shouldn’t foreigners get to break them too? They’re just little laws anywayzzzzz.

          1. Wyoming

            NO that is not my point.

            The point is that those who rant about the breaking of the law are hypocrites. They use a phony legal issue to disguise other motives.

        2. Richard

          True, However, when caught, THEY are prosecuted. NOT given a free pass.. No-one is up in arms that those citizen law breakers are actually subject to enforcement of existing Laws. By the way, The immigration Laws in question date back to President Franklin Roosevelt – a Democrat.

    3. marym

      To the issue raised in the post, in the interest of calling “things as they are” what word best describes employers who hire illegal immigrants, and consumers of products and services provided by the labor of illegal immigrants?

      Also, does concern for total fairness “to those immigrants who do it the right way” include support for ending the Muslim ban, and for ending Trump’s and Congressional efforts to curtail family migration and to end the diversity lottery?

    4. diptherio

      You seem to have missed the point. People do things illegally all the time and we don’t call them (i.e. ourselves) “illegals.” Ever jaywalk? Are you therefore an illegal? Ever hire an undocumented migrant to take care of your kids, or harvest your crops? That’s illegal, but we never call the people who do it anyway “illegals.”

      Anyway, “illegal” and “wrong” are no more synonyms than are “legal” and “right”.

    5. HotFlash

      Seems a little blue-pencil work is in order here as you appear to have not read the article carefully. Perhaps this is what you meant:

      Lambert they’re illegals because they crossed the border hired insufficiently documented workers illegally and broke our laws. We need to call things as they are in this country; pretending otherwise is causing a lot of confusion. To not differentiate between those adopting our immigration system and employment laws and coming hiring through the “front” door and those trying to sneak in around them, is totally unfair to those immigrants employers who do it the right way.

        1. Rod

          The Charlotte Observor ran an expose about seven years ago highlighting the diversion of millions in NC and Federal Construction Funding to Contractors using “misclassifed” employees.
          A University’s Stadium in the Triangle area was constructed this way right under NC State Agencies noses.
          One of the legitimate contractors on the losing end pointed out his company was in ruins because he “was trying to run his business the right way”.

    6. EricT

      So quick to discard the innocent until proven guilty concept. And when does whether something is fair or not, ever get honored. Seems the question of fair vs unfair hinges upon which identity group you belong to.

    7. Tim

      You’re logic could be applied to all drivers who exceed the speed limit as being referred to as illegals as well.

      I make that point because I don’t see the term “Illegals” applied to people breaking any other laws. Therefore I must conclude it is a derogatory slang against those particular individuals.

      That is to some extent Lambert’s point. A term “immigration violators” would be more appropriate but doesn’t care the same level of implied hatred, which is why I presume it is not used.

    8. Lambert Strether Post author

      [T]hey’re illegals because they crossed the border stole billions through accounting control fraud illegally and broke our laws,. after crashing the economy, destroying the lives of tens of thousands, and entire communities.

      Does this help illuminate the kink in our political discourse I am trying to straighten?

      It’s all very well to say that we should “call things by their right names.” But if we do, we need to call things by their right names not just here, but over here, everywhere, consistently.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Thank you Lambert.
        Personally, the only entities we should label “Illegals” is the bankers who skirt the laws daily, broke the global economy and continue to draw bonuses

    9. Code Name D

      We need to call things as they are in this country;

      As you wish. Let’s call it xenophobia and racism then. Because that is what it is.

    10. fajensen

      It is similarly totally unfair to the employers that sticks to the laws that they are undercut by competition who does not and are never punished for it! If there was effective enforcement on all class-levels, there would presumably be a lot fewer migrating people trying their luck and a lot fewer sweat-shop employers trying theirs.

      This is an old thing coming right back from history:

      Winston Churchill:

      “It is a national evil that any class of Her Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions… where you have what we call sweated trades, you have no organisation, no parity of bargaining, the good employer is undercut by the bad and the bad by the worst; the worker, whose whole livelihood depends upon the industry, is undersold by the worker who only takes up the trade as a second string… where these conditions prevail you have not a condition of progress, but a condition of progressive degeneration.”

    11. b1daly

      Would you agree that we should call the employers of “illegals” illegals as well? It seems like we could at least extend a bit of semantic symmetry here, if we are to be so dogmatic.

      James R Robinson, the illegal CEO of Robinson Meat Packing, has been detained without bail pending the adjudication of his case. The first available court date is in 2020.

      How does that sound?

  6. Susan the other

    It’s labor fraud. A good way to solve this massive problem would be to build a MagLev train – state of the art – from just north of Panama, where high and dry land occurs; build it along the foothills of the eastern side of the Cordillera, aka, the Rockies, all the way to the Yukon. Because it would stop the insanity and produce a manageable solution. If the “illegals” are no longer blamed, then good labor laws must follow. Just like legalizing marijuana. It produces high quality pot and keeps people out of jail. And we are all beginning to conclude that the ocean rise could come as high as 200 feet because we just don’t know how to stop it. And such a transportation system would be extremely useful then as now.

  7. David Carl Grimes

    It’s like prostitution. The prostitutes (the illegals) get arrested but the johns (the employers) don’t. Why can’t employers pay higher wages? The market for labor is not clearing without immigrant labor. If it’s a job that most Americans don’t want to do, maybe they just don’t want to do it at those wages.

  8. Alex

    It’s totally true. Noticed the same thing in Russia (just for the sake of perspective) where the mostly Central Asian migrants are disliked by the locals and face extortion and deportation, whereas those who hire them are almost never mentioned in the discourse and at worst suffer cost of doing business fines. Even the language is similar, the term is “nelegaly”

  9. Adam1

    Illegals are a win win for the establishment.

    Boat loads of immigrants depress wages. Making and keeping them illegal reduces the chances that they will organize and ask for better wages or working conditions. It also reduces the chances that they will fraternize with the working class locals which could cause them to find common ground and organize with them!

    They also become a good wedge issue that each party can use to stir up their bases without ever really doing anything about immigration reform because they like it just the way it is.

  10. JTMcPhee

    A comment above points out that something that’s “legal” is not necessarily “right,” and in our captured faux “democracy” where lobbyists write the laws and coal and oil and Pharma and MIC executives in Senior Executive Service suits “enforce” them, that’s pretty much a given.

    So speaking of “illegal aliens,” how about the occasionally mentioned “dual citizens” who largely sit atop the Grand Manufactory of Legislative/Executive/Judicial Legitimacy? Here’s a very gentle piece from The Hill, pointing out some of the “problems” that result when people like Likud Joe Lieberman

    A longer and more trenchant read on all the policy-makers who hold dual US-Israel ite citizenship, and their places in the spectrum of Imperial rule: https://www.facebook.com/notes/we-are-all-vittorio-arrigoni/list-of-politicians-with-israeli-dual-citizenship-/175479365845092 And a more comprehensive list, bearing in mind that there is no “legal requirement” for any member of Congress, the courts or the Executive, to acknowledge dual citizenship. http://hpub.org/list-of-us-politicians-who-hold-israeli-citizenship-netanyahu-himself-is-a-u-s-citizen/

    So hey, it’s all nice and legal, so no problem, eh? Not “illegals,” not a one of them…

  11. 4corners

    For an issue that has figured so prominently and for so long in the national discourse, it’s crazy that we don’t see more rational and nuanced discussions like this. So thanks, Lambert.

    A few thoughts:

    I agree that blame shouldn’t rest on migrants as much as profiteers and policy makers. However, I doubt that most migrants are the hapless “hardworking families” caught unawares by jackbooted ICE agents that many would have us believe. They know what they’re doing; commit illegal activity in the process; and seem to game our comparatively generous immigration/refugee process. But no, I see no call to villainize them or fault their motives–even if it’s just to afford the same crap as the rest of us like flatscreen TVs, iPhones, or new trucks.

    I can’t get around the basic assumption that millions of mostly low-skilled workers are going to seriously distort the labor market –low unemployment rates not withstanding. Maybe the situation has festered for so long that low-cost labor has actually transformed certain industries beyond the point of no return. But I don’t know that life as we know it would grind to a halt if the situation were gradually reversed and we went back to a true cost accounting for economic viability. I also tend to believe that there are significant external costs to local communities such as healthcare and education, which are borne by the rank-and-file taxpayer (and of course, not by the employers that profit the most).

    References to Leviticus are as ill-suited to contemporary immigration policy as Emma Lazarus’ poem. I can’t believe people keep citing both in this debate.

    Last, I think equally absurd are the sort of faux historical justifications involving ethnicity, ancestry, and the notion of original populations. While there are probably some valid points in there, it’s inconceivable that we would try to rewind to some arbitrary point in the past.

    1. Tim

      yes they know what they are doing, but they are still “hardworking families”.

      “But no, I see no call to villainize them or fault their motives–even if it’s just to afford the same crap as the rest of us like flatscreen TVs, iPhones, or new trucks.”

      That’s because in general they are mostly are trying to live someplace with lower violence, running water/sewer, consistent electricity and a future for their kids, whether realistic or not.

      This is the problem I have with people that aren’t around the immigrants enough, that tell everybody else what they are like.

      People wonder why in general Californians are mo pro immigrants, it’s because they see them as people with the same hardship, dreams and intents as their ancestors that came from abroad.

      They aren’t villains any more than the next group of people trying to survive!

      1. 4corners

        Respectfully, you’re doing the same thing: telling everybody else what they are like. My point was simply that there’s a lot of romanticising in narratives around immigration. Besides, who made family status and work ethic criteria?

        Also, accusations of xenophobia (veiled or not) are commonly used to shut down any debate and shame anyone with a different view. Let’s not do that here.

    2. RUKidding

      Unless or until the business owners, who knowingly recruit and hire undocumented workers, are held to the same Rule of Law with appropriate consequences, IMO, I feel that pointing out how undocumented workers are knowingly breaking the law to be a useless argument – albeit one that’s used consistently, daily across all of the M$M. Neat way to deflect attention from what I consider to be the real crooks and miscreants in this situation.

      Start filing criminal charges against the business owners with appropriate consequences, and I GUARANTEE that you’ll see far fewer undocumented workers being hired in these various businesses, farms, etc.

  12. marym

    Please be cautious in propagating this recurring story of dual citizenship.

    I’m opposed to Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, its influence on US government, and other of its foreign policies. I take no stand on whether being Jewish influences particular people in government to take particular pro-Israel positions – they share those positions with much of the non-Jewish establishment.

    However, no reasonable foundations seem to be provided for this claim (Link). It seems to be just a claim anyone Jewish has dual citizenship – I think I recall reading of a list that included someone in Congress with a “Jewish-sounding” name.

    1. RUKidding

      I’m totally FINE with any US citizen holding dual citizenship. I only WISH that I could’ve gotten dual US-Australian citizenship when I had permanent residency in Aus many decades ago. That option is available now but not back then.

      I DO have an issue with high level politicians having dual citizenship. I think it very definitely colors their behavior and actions while on the job. I’d prefer to see a solution similar to that in Australia.

      I have quite a few friends and acquaintances with dual citizenship, and I have no problem with that. But they’re not high level politicians. There is a difference.

      1. marym

        Sorry, that was supposed to post as a reply to JTMcPhee @ July 9, 2018 at 2:29 pm, specifically about possibly dubious lists of alleged dual US-IKsraeli citizens in government.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “possible dubious lists” that we must be so cautious of, because after all there is no requirement that our leaders and rulers have to indicate such dual citizenship, and absolutely no indication that the policies of the US Imperium are in any way or manner shaped to suit the interests and preferences of “the other country” by people who might possibly evidence a bit of divided loyalty? And AIPAC is just a post-Shabat tailgate party. And no one in Congress votes the preferences of their other half-citizenship. And US war starting and maintaining and payments of billions to “that other country” have nothing to do with anything but “the national interests and national security” and protecting and defending the Constitution of the US.

          Are there any names on those lists that are “dubious,” if one is to attempt impeaching them? Henry Kissinger? Joe Lieberman? Binyamin Netanyahu?

          One who pays attention might notice a softening of what used to be put up by those who practice the subtle arts of hasbara. But the beat goes on…

    2. JTMcPhee

      About those “possible dubious lists” that we must be so cautious of, because after all there is no requirement that our leaders and rulers have to acknowledge such dual citizenship, and absolutely no indication that the policies of the US are in any way or manner shaped to suit the interests and preferences of “the other country” by people who might possibly evidence a bit of divided loyalty? And AIPAC is just a post-Shabat tailgate party. And no one in Congress votes the preferences of their other half-citizenship. And US war starting and maintaining and payments of billions to “that other country” have nothing to do with anything but “the national interests and national security” and protecting and defending the Constitution of the US.

      Are there any names on those lists that are “dubious,” if one is to attempt impeaching them? Henry Kissinger? Joe Lieberman? Binyamin Netanyahu, though his dual citizenship status has changed several times, it appears, but who is being bruited by a certain set as a presidential candidate? https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/alvin-felzenberg/2011/05/26/benjamin-netanyahu-for-president-in-2012

      1. marym

        What’s dubious that everyone in the US government who’s Jewish has dual citizenship.

        1. JTMcPhee

          As to everyone in the US government who is Jewish and “has dual citizenship,” are you referring to the “right of return” kind of citizenship? The kind of “right” the Israelis reserve unto themselves, as opposed to the Palestinians? And also as opposed to people who have US and Israeli passports? And who express their loyalties through energizing and supporting the tender initiatives of AIPAC? And people like Sheldon Adelson, who apparently is the reason Trump ordered the US Embassy moved to Jerusalem?

          I’d say there are two different categories here, at least.

          The tail wags the dog, it seems — so the Empire will continue to ‘destabilize” and ‘weaken” nations who stand in the way of Israel ite expansion and Likudnik aspirations for Greater Israel?

  13. NeuJ

    Yeah. Poor migrants are called “immigrants” at best, while rich migrants are commonly referred to as “expatriates”. I was informed of this earlier this year who proclaimed I was “the good kind of immigrant” because I’m white and have an American accent (while living in the UK).

    Thinking about it, it seems quite obvious that anti-immigrant demagoguery has everything to do with class war. Immigrants and other politically defenceless residents are historically easy scapegoats when leadership have found themselves with an excess of angry workers.

  14. lyman alpha blob

    Thank you for focusing on both the ‘owners not arrested’ and the ‘can’t find enough help’ aspects.

    Regarding the latter, I can’t stand that argument. Company owner wants to make stuff, is convinced people will buy his stuff, but can’t find enough people to make the stuff in the volume he would like. So if there aren’t enough people around to make all the stuff certain individuals want made, shouldn’t that be a sign that maybe, just maybe, we don’t need more stuff? Especially in a country like the US where there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of anything, except for the intangibles like scruples, ethics and integrity.

    Certain individuals seem to think there ought to be a global market for whatever half-assed idea pops into their head, and if they aren’t John Galt within a year or so of having said idea, it’s everyone else’s fault that their brilliance hasn’t been recognized and they aren’t rich yet.

    I’d suggest that these types of people try actually working for a living themselves rather than complaing they can’t find someone to do their company;s work for them, but of course they are well aware that working doesn’t get you anywhere, having spent so many years driving down wages and all.

  15. RUKidding

    Thank you, Lambert. Great post.

    This has long been my hobby horse, and I’m fed up to the gills with the various deliberately disingeneous framing around it.

    Start slapping appropriate – ie, expensive (not wrist taps) – fines and/or jail sentences on the business owners, and we’ll all start witnessing far fewer undocumented workers being hired in the USA. Unless or until that happens… more of the same thing will continue.

    It’s all so VERY convenient for the M$M (which is nearly ALL of it) to frame this in terms of “illegals” breaking our precious Lawz and taking – sob sob boo hoo – precious Jawbz away from US citizens, thereby making the “illegals” into the sure-fired Boogemen/women. And NO attention paid to the business owners who knowingly recruit and hire them.

    Feh. It’s a joke. Sadly too many US citizens get taken in by this claptrap and get caught up the whirlwind of demonizing the “illegals” whilst continuing to venerate clever clerver business owners.

    Ye Olde Divide and Conquer.

    1. cm

      Agreed. Business should be heavily penalized for hiring illegals, including jail time for repeat offenders (that is, for the business owners).

      Mexico should be penalized for allowing these people to pass through their country. Why are they not taking the refugees as they should?

      This is not a complicated problem to fix, it is just that the oligarchy likes things the way they are.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Does it get complicated by the kind of “enforcement” that the Imperial regulatory-arbitrage system operates? When I worked for the US EPA, certain large chemical companies were able to get the EPA to focus its enforcement on competitors, effectively tilting the so-called playing field against said competitors. With all the people, natural and “corporate,” who are, as they say, gaming the system so effectively already, I would not want to become a foot-soldier in the armies of angry progressives who might facilitate yet another “Oh, THAT’s not what we wanted at ALL” surprise.

        Read the directions before opening the box. Batteries not included.

  16. John Wright

    From a post from yesterday July 8, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    As I remember the 1986 Reagan immigration law was supposed to offer amnesty AND have mandatory e-verify of employment status.

    The mandatory e-verify never happened.

    From Alan Neuhauser for USNews and World Report on Jan 22, 2018


    “The Obama administration made greater use of administrative fines to punish employers that hired
    immigrants who weren’t authorized to work in the U.S. However, as the Congressional Research
    Service notes in a 2015 report, the number of penalties remained “very low relative to the number of
    U.S. employers.” Companies fined for such violations represented less than 0.02 percent of all U.S.

    Trump is a businessman who has probably made much use of, and continues to make use of, labor that was not e-verified.

    If Trump really wanted to remove unverified workers from the US workforce, he would require strict e-verification (with a plan to accommodate false negatives)

    The entire border wall / family separation spectacle seems almost designed to get the left to do the heavy lifting in a push for more immigration, legal or otherwise.

    1. HotFlash

      A corollary might be to have employers who break the law spend some time in the pokey. Alas, it appears that the Sheriff Joe’s tent prisons, famed for their pink underwear, no longer exist. But hope, you know, springs.

  17. dcblogger

    lambert, thanks on a great take down on how elite media distorts obscures debate.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      the lenses like blinders they kindly provide us, remember, WE are the product.

  18. Martin Finnucane

    The Trump supporter came back with the passage in the Gospel of Mark about rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s …

    If you want to hear a misinterpretation of the Bible, ask somebody who quotes it alot. A group of Pharisees and “Herodians” had approached Jesus with the intention of catching him in a trap. Is it ok to pay taxes? Say yes, and your crowd of rowdies will get mad at you; say no, and you’ll get in trouble with the Romans. So Jesus says “show me a coin”, which they did, presumably from their own purse. The coin was a denarius, which includes an image and inscription of the emperor, and as such is a graven image forbidden by Jewish law and custom, as a Pharisee, an expert on Jewish law, would well know. THEN Jesus says “let the emperor have his own stuff” – including bought collaborators carrying around the emperor’s picture in their pockets. Hence, the crowd was amazed, something hard to understand if all Jesus was saying was pay your taxes but also go to church.

    1. JTMcPhee

      All the stuff about what I think of as the Real Jesus of Nazareth gets submerged in the sophistry and blatant misrepresentation and careful selection and often misquoting of the text of the Holly Bibble, which itself is a carefully massaged Bernaysian selection over centuries of jiggering, by patriarchal men mostly, in support of a narrative. And most of what gets preached about is not those gotchas that you point out, and the other decencies and lessons on comity that survive in these stories (the Gospels written long after Jesus’ time), it’s the Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God stuff from the OT and the crap that “Saint” Paul publicized in his letters and ministrations. I have a couple of pastor friends who agree that what gets called Modern Christianity ought more apporopriately be called “Paulism.”

  19. Knute Rife

    1) I love “An immigrant stole my job” accusations. The obvious question, of course, is “Why is it your job? Did you buy it from the employer, and the employer failed to deliver?” I have yet to see where that was the case.
    2) So it was the employer’s job to give to someone, and the employer gave it to an immigrant.
    3) But no one is throwing bricks at the employer or arresting him and hauling him off to parts unknown. Hmmm.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        Hire half the population to kill the other half, if that doesn’t work, expand the population to include other nations. Jay Gould just wasn’t ambitious enough!

  20. CraaaaaaaaaaaaaaazyChris

    For years now, I have had a similar reaction to the use of ‘undocumented’. Every time I read an article about ‘undocumented’ (workers / migrants / aliens / etc.) I notice numerous details in the article revealing how they must in fact be ‘documented’. Do they have mobile phones? drivers licenses? pay utility bills? bank accounts? credit/debit cards? in and out of hospitals? etc… there is so much post-millennial metadata leaking out everywhere, it’s very hard not to be documented.

    There may be a few Ted Kazinski (unibomber) types, living off the grid, staying off the radar of all the TLAs, but my guess this is an astonishingly small number of actual ‘undocumented’s.

    To revise one of Lambert’s closing thoughts: Oddly, employers are never ‘undocumented’ … (until subpoenaed) … but there is always documentation around … maybe somebody going to the bank every day to pull out cash to pay the ‘undocumented’s.

  21. P Fitzsimon

    Could we say they are legal people (actually I don’t know what an illegal person is) but illegal visitors.

  22. Roland

    It seems obvious to me that the way to deal with illegal immigration is to crack down on those who employ illegal migrants.

    1. Economic migrants will eventually stop coming if it becomes plain that income is hard to obtain. Tighter margins on migrants’ income will also reduce the profitability and incentives for those who run the business of expediting illegal migration.

    2. It’s easier to nail the employers. Unlike the migrants, the employers have a lot to lose. The employers have assets that can be targeted, or a professional status that could be jeopardized by a criminal record. The employers of illegal migrants, as a group, are more vulnerable than the migrants.

    3. Since the employers’ crimes are almost always rational crimes, motivated by the prospect of material benefit, they are therefore more easily deterred by risk and potential loss.

    Once some examples have been made, and formerly “respectable” people are publicly dressed up in orange and marched off to prison, then employers will start making good-faith efforts to ascertain the legal status of those whom they hire.

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