Should We Build a Wall at the Border?

When Pat Buchanan proposed erecting a wall along the border with Mexico during his 1996 presidential run, condemnation of the idea came from far and wide. But today -- perhaps due in part to the immigration surge in 1999 and 2000 -- debate rages over a whether to build some sort of imposing physical barrier along the entire 2,000-mile southern border.

Columnist Robert Samuelson says we should go ahead and put up a wall. He isn't happy about advocating this, he says, but he sees no other way to stem the flow of illegal immigrants crossing the border to find work in the United States.

Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Professor Jan C. Ting agrees. A border fence that "can't be walked around" would prevent those illegal border crossings, and would save money in the long run by reversing the trend toward ever-increasing personnel and technology to patrol the border.

Debater johnnyg in NE DC says it doesn't have to be a "literal wall" because "armed predator aircraft" can patrol large areas. Um ... isn't that a bit extreme? I daresay that it is morally questionable at best to gun down people crossing the border from a friendly country.

The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that building a wall at all is too extreme a reaction to illegal immigration.

A wall would create a strong incentive for the illegal immigrants already here to stay here; once an immigrant has crossed illegally into the United States, he would be much less likely to leave, knowing how hard it would be to get back in. It wouldn't solve the problem of people overstaying their visas, and it also doesn't help that a wall would seriously antagonize Mexico, at a time when the United States could instead engage in a bilateral effort to create a workable system of enforcement at the border.

Reminding his audience of President Reagan's famous speech in West Berlin in which he called upon Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," Rep. Jose Serrano of New York, recently declared, "We need more bridges, not walls." I seem to recall that on NPR the other day (sorry, haven't found the transcript yet) someone pointed out that if we do build a 2,000 mile barrier between the United States and Mexico, one day a leftist Mexican president will stand up and throw Reagan's heartfelt words back at us: "Mr. President, tear down this wall!"

Over to you, Debaters.

By Emily Messner |  March 22, 2006; 11:11 AM ET  | Category:  National Politics
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Emily,

The comment on NPR you refer to was on the Diane Rehm Show last Friday.

http://www.wamu.org/programs/dr/06/03/10.php#10198

You're welcome! (Do I get a prize for finding the link?)

Derek.

Posted by: Derek | March 22, 2006 11:23 AM

Samuelson has another good anti-illegal immigration column in the Post today. The mainstream media is finally coming around to the wisdom of the American people.

As I pointed out yesterday in comments, the Berlin Wall comparison is illogical, and shows just how weak the arguments on the pro-illegal side are. The Berlin Wall was designed to keep people *in*; the US-Mexico Border Wall would keep people *out*. One is immoral and reprehensible, the other is moral and commonsense.

It's the difference between having a lock on your basement door to keep someone imprisoned there, and having a lock on your front door to keep criminals out. One's horrible, the other is great.

Build the wall!

Also, props to Emily: pretty evenhanded summary of the situation in today's posting.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 11:38 AM

I don't understand what the problem is. The money it's costing the taxpayers to take care of illegals, we could have built the GREAT WALL. They don't buy health insurance on themselves or their kids, and why should they when they know we will take care of the bills. Besides they have passed working for minimal wage, they are taking poor workers jobs, so they can get their family up here illegally. So build the wall before something worse happens.

Posted by: Vic Bailey | March 22, 2006 11:49 AM

Emily:

"A wall would create a strong incentive for the illegal immigrants already here to stay here; once an immigrant has crossed illegally into the United States, he would be much less likely to leave, knowing how hard it would be to get back in. It wouldn't solve the problem of people overstaying their visas, and it also doesn't help that a wall would seriously antagonize Mexico, at a time when the United States could instead engage in a bilateral effort to create a workable system of enforcement at the border."

So the reason we shouldn't build a wall is because it will discourage illegal immigrants from leaving the country because it prevents them from reentering the country illegally at a later time? Isn't the *point* of the wall to keep illegals out permanently?

As to getting the ones already in the states to leave after the wall is built, this is a problem best taken care of after the wall is built. Then we can focus our efforts on locating illegals already in the United States and "encourage" them back home in vans and buses. They can think about how best to "best" the wall from the Mexican side of the border.

The fact is, the majority of Mexicans (58% in 2002) felt that the Southwest United States rightfully belonged to them. 57% felt they had the right to enter the United States without United States permission. Any "bilateral" attempt that forces a Mexican president to seriously address illegal immigration from his/her side of the border will kill them politically. We are doing Vincente Fox and any future Mexican president an enormous political favor by keeping this a unilateral issue, since the majority of Mexicans think US immigration laws and borders do not/should not apply to them.

To the future cheeky Mexican president who declares "American President ______, I demand you tear down this wall" we can simply remind Senor Presidente that the Berlin Wall was built to prevent emigration, not immigration. The analogy is meaningless.

This is not to say that I 100% support the wall. But if the wall is so effective that current illegals will stay here rather than risk not being able to return (illegally) then that is reason enough to build the wall.

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 12:20 PM

Although I don't want ANY illegal immigration, I don't agree to build a wall (could mine the area, instead -- forget Predators. And mines are passive, they don't go off unless someone makes the effort to walk in a minefield -- and kids shouldn't be anywhere near the border in the first place).

Walls have a psychological impact, much like the walls of a prison. Erecting it will make the US citizens feel like they are in a prison, too.

More passive deterrants are better, and ones not even the druggies would bother to get around.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | March 22, 2006 12:23 PM

Sandy, I'm hoping you're kidding. You want landmines on the U.S.-Mexico border? The wall is plenty.

And look, for people who are really turned off by the symbolism of the wall, we can always tear it down if 25 or 50 years from now Mexico's economy improves to the point where there's not a massive influx of illegals.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 12:27 PM

Nope, walls = prisons in the psyche, DC Dude. Doesn't matter what country it is, they make the inhabitants feel like prisoners.

I wasn't kidding about the landmines, I'm dead serious about them. Folks either do something about the issue and stick with it (and mines will last decades <-- fine commitment and deterrant of not only illegals, but possible terrorists) -- or just let the issue go as being nothing but whitewashed lies in the first place.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | March 22, 2006 12:48 PM

A wall, unfortunately,is necessary. As for what President Reagan said... he, of course, was talking about the Brelin Wall that was built by the communist East Germans, to KEEP people IN! Our wall would be built to keep ILLEGAL people OUT!
If our elected officials, had done their jobs in the first place, we wouldn't be having this problem. Not enforcing the law to fine businesses who hired ILLEGAL ALIENS, and not authorizing our country's Police officers to enforce the laws at all levels, doomed us to our present fate!

Posted by: Warren | March 22, 2006 12:51 PM

A wall, unfortunately,is necessary. As for what President Reagan said... he, of course, was talking about the Brelin Wall that was built by the communist East Germans, to KEEP people IN! Our wall would be built to keep ILLEGAL people OUT!
If our elected officials, had done their jobs in the first place, we wouldn't be having this problem. Not enforcing the law to fine businesses who hired ILLEGAL ALIENS, and not authorizing our country's Police officers to enforce the laws at all levels, doomed us to our present fate!

Posted by: Warren | March 22, 2006 12:53 PM

Even the Wall Street Journal's argument for illegal immigration are weak; there just aren't any persuasive points on the pro-illegal side. As Emily summarizes the WSJ piece:

"A wall would create a strong incentive for the illegal immigrants already here to stay here; once an immigrant has crossed illegally into the United States, he would be much less likely to leave, knowing how hard it would be to get back in."

Garbage. Illegals who are here already have little incentive to leave. A wall wouldn't affect that much one way or the other.

"It wouldn't solve the problem of people overstaying their visas..."

It would help, since it would reduce the overall number of illegals here, giving the INS far fewer cases to deal with.

"...and it also doesn't help that a wall would seriously antagonize Mexico, at a time when the United States could instead engage in a bilateral effort to create a workable system of enforcement at the border."

Mexico has zero interest in "creating a workable system of enforcement at the border." Remember the comic book published by the Mexican government instructing illegals how to sneak across the U.S. border and what their rights are once they do? Some "partner" of ours. This is our problem, and it's up to us to solve it -- Mexico's interests in this matter are diametrically opposed to ours.

The WSJ isn't really "conservative," either -- it's elitist and neoconservative, funded by and written for members of the big business class. Their interest is in business making more profit, not in the overall welfare of the country. People who read the WSJ do not have to send their kids to schools overwhelmed by illegals, do not go to hospital emergency rooms overwhelmed by illegals, and enjoy the benefits of not paying employment and other taxes on illegal workers at their companies.

Everyone's got their interests here -- it's nice to see the American people standing up for theirs at last.

Build the Wall!

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 01:15 PM

"Debater johnnyg in NE DC says it doesn't have to be a "literal wall" because "armed predator aircraft" can patrol large areas. Um ... isn't that a bit extreme? I daresay that it is morally questionable at best to gun down people crossing the border from a friendly country."

Ok Emily, maybe that was over the top. My point is that drones can scan large swaths of land, employ infra-red detectors/night vision, and if necessary, be armed (e.g., terrorists, other dangerous types and , for example, those attempting to shoot a drone down).

These planes should be mass produced and sent into duty 24/7. The video can be monitored to alert border guards and/or US National Guardsmen manning helicoptors that can swoop in for pickup or to detain law-breakers until other transport means arrive.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | March 22, 2006 01:21 PM

Once again Emily avoids the discussion of the Immigration Reduction and Control Act (IRCA), a law the president and many in congress refuse to adequately fund. Getting into America is one thing. But once your here illegally the IRCA is supposed to make it impossible to get a job. Yet its reported 12 million illegals are here, most with jobs. And of course they all came across the US/Mex border, right?

Go ahead, build a wall. Ignore the fact that the president would rather have you talking about a wall rather than his inaction on enforcing the IRCA laws. And once you have the wall, and tunnnels under it, ladders over it, holes blown in it, and a large budget to monitor and maintain it, someone will realize we wasted our money when all we had to do was enforce existing laws on the books and give the money spent to build a wall to the INS and Immigration Enforcement.

Don't let the administration and congress off the hook for not enforcing the law of the land by instead allowing them to spend your tax money on a wall that will do little to stop the inflow of illegals or do anything about the illegals already here.

Posted by: Sully | March 22, 2006 01:40 PM

I moved to Phoenix from WDC nearly two years ago...you get a much different perspective on illegal immigration when you live here. We are facing a public safety/law enforcement issue; we are facing an economic isisue; and we are facing a humanitarian crisis (more than 200 people died in Arizona's deserts while illegally crossing the border in 2004, including pregnant women). Arizona has the most porous border with Mexico; 51% percent of the illegal traffic comes through our state. Our state legislature has a plethora of bills pending to address illegal immigration (it costs the border states much more than other states because the federal government does not adequately compensate us for educating the illegal children that federal law requires us to educate; for health care; for prison beds (11 percent of the inmates in the Arizona Dept. of Corrections are foreign nationals; in border jails, that number approaches 50 percent). And illegal persons are only one type of contraband that is crossing the border: we have the highest rate of auto theft (car insurance rates are insane here); drugs; and weapons. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and Border Patrol agents are too busy trying to track down bad guys who might bring WMD across the border; they no longer have the time to raid restaurants and day laborer sites. So, the states are left to deal with the problem...and we are not equipped, and our hands are tied by federal laws and mandates (local police officers risk lawsuits stemming from civil rights violations if they try to determine country of origin...they get accused of profiling). As for bilateral cooperation with Mexico to address this issue, consider: Mexican nationals in the U.S. send back $17 billion each year to Mexico; that's not an incentive for the Mexican government to stop migration to our country. Also, the Mexican government publishes and distributes brochures to educate its citizens how to safely and illegally enter the United States. Several landowners along the border are facing lawsuits because the defended their property when illegals cross and destroy their properties and kill their livestock (keep in mind, some of these ranches have been in families since Arizona and New Mexico were still territories, before they were states). Again, it's one thing to be an armchair policy analyst without being directly affected by illegal immigration; when you visit our border sheriffs and ranchers, you get an entirely different perspective altogether.

Posted by: Mary in Arizona | March 22, 2006 01:43 PM

to those who knowingly hired illegals that you wouldn't need a wall...


the other thing is, you really have to start requiring other countries that you trade with maintain and increase standards of labor _at least_ commensurate with what we have here.


and go about repairing the damage we have done to our own economy, by neglecting the peoples here.


outsourcing should be considered over, unless they adhere to US standards overseas.


like this, a brit can be arrested in Bangkok for having sex with a 12 year old, an American can have a sex junket to have that happen, pay someone to arrange that, with impunity...


citizenship should be carried with you and penalties should be the same.

.

Posted by: The cheapest thing to do would be to make it so painful economically.. | March 22, 2006 01:43 PM

out of their citizenship by selling their country

to corporate greed...or on another level, monied, affluent families that conspire to control economies...


as a _family_ way of doing business...


you want integrity in government, require it of your citizens that use American resources, including the government.

.

Posted by: remove the incentives to cheat the United States citizens... | March 22, 2006 01:48 PM

No wall will ever work permanently. It will be , at best, only a temporary hesitant. Walls will be too easy to overcome.

Instead, we need to stop looking for solutions which will "stop" the problem of illegal immigration and examine why the illegal immigrants are coming into the USA.
If we, then, stop those reasons we will have built a wall that cannot be overcome.

The IRCA, an existing law is a good start. But, it should be enforced and be given funding to enact it immediately and continuously. Moreover, anything that will fine and stop ALL employers from using these illegal immigrants would be helpful. In short, we take the actions that will stop all employment, temporary(6 months) jail placement of anyone entering the USA illegally, no rewards or incentives for anyone living in the USA illegally, and a positive program of informing all, how entry is based upon legal steps to be taken.

These are but a few ideas of stopping illegal entry into the USA. *******************

Posted by: Newton | March 22, 2006 02:18 PM

Emily's fallacy today is in trying to evaluate the usefulness of a wall on its own. A wall only has meaning in the context of a larger immigration policy. For example, a wall combined with strong interior enforcement would mean not only keeping new illegals out, but also deporting the ones already here. Poof! The "they won't have any reason to leave" argument is gone.

By the way, Emily, you should look into how Mexico patrols _its_ southern border. They give whole new meaning to the word 'draconian'. Mexican hypocrisy (strong enforcement of their border, combined with incessant whining when we try to enforce ours) is worthy of discussion and exposure...

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 02:34 PM

Virginia Dare, I think I like you.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 02:42 PM

Emily also says: "The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that building a wall at all is too extreme a reaction to illegal immigration."

When discussing immigration, the WSJ editorial board is libertarian, not conservative. Conservative would mean preserving the status quo of having a meaningful border. The WSJ editorial page has many times called for a Constitutional amendment stating that "there shall be open borders."

Whatever this is, it ain't 'conservative.'

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 02:43 PM

I have a feeling that Emily may not feel the same way, DC Dude...

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 02:46 PM

if they don't get hired they leave.

enforcement at the hiring level needs to occur....with extremely strong incentives not to hire, like jailtime.


next you need to require that these other countries start, "looking like," America in the way that they treat their people..

there are resources and money in countries south of here...they're inefficiently managed, as corruption steals money from the product.

the less corruption, the more product you get for the buck.

Posted by: again... | March 22, 2006 02:49 PM

who gives a crap, whether the solution is conservative or liberal?


using electricity may be conservative or liberal depending upon what year it is...


like turn of the century 1900's or now.


don't put yourselves in a box.


there needs to be a system of response, that includes education, not a single response...


as an example:

when the internet first went commercial it had some big failures because there was no infrastructure.


a single thing will not stop the invasion, however the single most important thing would be to stop the hiring, and remove the illegals.

this will be useless without requiring other countries to "get better."

multiphased is the only way, using engineers, not effin theorists.

Posted by: it would be nice to see people offer solutions rather than positions. | March 22, 2006 02:54 PM

Is there anywhere else in the world where a country can't build a border fence? Does anyone call the Chinese xenophobic for building the Great Wall? Of course not. I will always support LEGAL immigration, but illegal immigration is essentially committing a crime the second someone steps into the US. An illegal immigrant basically says that the laws of our country don't apply to them.

The easiest way to stop illegal immigration is to target the businesses that use illegals and hit them HARD with fines. How about a $1000 fine per employee, per month? It will be much easier to track down the tens of thousands of businesses that currently break the law than it would be to catch the millions of illegal immigrants in the country.

And furthermore, why can't the government of Mexico create jobs for its citizens? Why does the US have to do it for them?

Posted by: Chris | March 22, 2006 02:55 PM

good posts. Build a wall inbetween them!!! LOL

Posted by: | March 22, 2006 03:03 PM

Why are we so miss-guided and miss-directed on this issue? Because there are people who gain a great deal of weath and power and we are influenced to think inside this same old box.

The first rule we have forgotten is to walk a mile in their shoes! I should not have to elaborate. The second being there are no problems, there are opportunities. Last, always look for a win-win situation.

I do not advocate throwing our borders wide open; but, I certainly agree rather than build a wall we should build a bridge. Why the surge in illegial immigrants? Well, our laws have changed under Homeland Security and we have built a higher wall; no common immigrant, only seeking a decent life for him and his family, can hope to enter our country legally. I've been working for almost a year now to get a visa for my fiancee. It sure the heck should not take so long or be so hard.

Tax payers would spend far less helping immigrants to enter America legally, to become responsible tax paying citizens. Instead of sending their meager earnings "home", they would have a home here and bring their families here. It's a clearly proven law of economics, that by coming here legally, they would create more jobs then they would take away. Since they would earn a reasonable wage, their family would shop the local economy, their income would be spent here in the US.

Instead of wasting our tax dollars on high tech equipment, on walls, on more patrols; we could spend money in a way that would be an investment. Invest in their futures and we invest in ours. They would be adding to our economy and taking care of themselves.

Big companies would not like this, who would they out-source work to if they no longer have an extremely cheap and available source of manpower to take advantage of in other countries? Talk about hurting our economy and us average Joe citizens. They may even have to bring the work right back here where it should be, where everyone in this country would benefit and not just the elite at the top of the food chain.

Posted by: Mark | March 22, 2006 03:09 PM

Yes! Build a fench. In spite of what you read from the pro-immigration crowd, those Mexican workers aren't just taking jobs that no American will take. Here, in Oregon, most of my family is in the construction trades. It is nearly impossible to find a concrete layer, a roofer, a painter, or a framing carpenter that isn't an illegal alien. Wha's more, they are paid under the table - usually around $8 to $10 an hour - so no state or federal taxes are paid. They have taken tens of thousands of jobs from American workers, jonbs that three years ago paid $15 dollars an hour. The same is true of nusery workers, line workers at two local RV manufacturing plants, etc. A common sense approach would be to fine the living daylights out of ANY employer hiring an illegal alien - and include your neighbor who hires a day worker from the back parking lot of your local Home Depot. Make the fine something like $10,000 a day per worker, too, and make it automatic. That and a big tall fench would put an end to this nonsense.

Posted by: Mike Brooks | March 22, 2006 03:09 PM

Em, what would be the environmental impact of creating a barrier along the entire US/Mexico border? If memory serves, oil pipelines are elevated so as to not disrupt the movement of migratory animals. Does anyone appreciate the purely practical ludicrosity of the idea of a 2,000 mile barrier fence? Especially when the Mexicans appear to be equipped with "tunnelling technology"?

Posted by: murracito | March 22, 2006 03:09 PM

again wrote:
"if they don't get hired they leave.
enforcement at the hiring level needs to occur....with extremely strong incentives not to hire, like jailtime."

This already exists, at least on paper. The IRCA calls for fines, small for first offenders but they get large including prosecutions if violations continue to occur. All this is in place. No new legislation. No need to push anything through congress. Just a need to get this lazy administration to do its job and stop making excuses. Believe me, once you have your 2000 mile long wall and the illegals keep coming in to join the 12 million already here and IRCA is still ignored, what then? Maybe put sharks in the waters ... oh ... they're already there...

Posted by: Sully | March 22, 2006 03:13 PM

I say build it. Build it high and wide, and then put troops on the border to suppelement the border patrol.

The comparison to Reagan in Berlin is disingenous, in my opinion. That wall divided two Germanys -- one people, it can be argued -- and not two distinct nations.

Illegal immigration is literally stifling us, especially in Southern California. The increased costs in everything from hospitals to roads to prisons, and the degredation of the schools, we can't sustain it.

Posted by: Deanna | March 22, 2006 03:18 PM

Building a wall is a bad idea. If you want to slow/halt illegal immigration you need to punish those who hire illegal immigrants, severely. If people are not willing to hire illegals, then you take away that incentive for illegals to come to this country.

On the flip side, we do need a number of these immigrants (legal and illegal) to perform certain functions within our society. That means we need to make it easier for an individual who wants to improve their station in life and is willing to work hard to come to this country and work. This is not a one-dimensional issue.

I don't like my taxes being used to support illegal immigrants, but as an American I don't like the idea of putting a barrier in front of anyone who is willing to work hard to create a better life for themselves.

Posted by: James | March 22, 2006 03:21 PM

Forget the wall or any other immigration policy. Immigration is just the reaction.
Any change will have to address the source of the problem -- OUR ADDICTION TO CHEAP ILLEGAL LABOR!!!

I still cannot understand why the U.S.A., the most technologically advanced country in the world, is unable to enforce it's own labor laws.

Why do we tolerate employers who hire illegal aliens (wink, wink) ?

Once we realize that entire industries (agriculture, construction, domestic services) all would COLLAPSE without illegal immigrant labor, then we understand that we are also part of the problem.

It's very simple, no illegal jobs, no illegal aliens. As a side effect, wages for most Americans would rise as well.

What's stopping us -- an inability to hold businesses accountable for the costs that they incur according to our laws. Until we come to terms with that, no wall, landmines, fighter planes, or a multitude of patrols will ever stop the flow.

Posted by: AgentG | March 22, 2006 03:21 PM

Hmmm, I'm not 100% sure that illegal immigrants will leave once IRCA is finally enforced, which I hope it will be. I would personally rather be unemployed in the US than unemployed in Mexico. I guess reuniting with their family would be the only reward.

Posted by: Chris | March 22, 2006 03:22 PM

Mark-

"Well, our laws have changed under Homeland Security and we have built a higher wall; no common immigrant, only seeking a decent life for him and his family, can hope to enter our country legally. I've been working for almost a year now to get a visa for my fiancee. It sure the heck should not take so long or be so hard."

There is nothing unreasonable or untenable about a country protecting its border through a more stringent legal immigration policy after an international terrorist attack. Furthermore the United States allows nearly 1 million legal immigrants per year for various reasons.

It is your OPINION that this process "sure the heck should not take so long or be so hard" whereas it is the OPINION of the prevailing legislatures who determine the legal structure of lawful immigration into the country that it should. Why shouldn't it take this long? Because it's unfaaaaaaair to Mark's fiance:(:(:(?

Regardless, as you already know because you've begun the legal process for accessing our country, this is the most generous nation in the world when it comes to legal immigration. We recognize here in the United States that our country was built with the blood and sweat of lawful immigrants from the world over.

Illegal immigration is another matter.

"Tax payers would spend far less helping immigrants to enter America legally, to become responsible tax paying citizens. Instead of sending their meager earnings "home", they would have a home here and bring their families here."

This is precisely what we do not want. If schools, prisons, state and federal funds are taxed to the limits already then legitimizing illegal aliens by inviting their families across will only exacerbate this problem.

In simpler terms tax payers would *not* pay much less welcoming them with open arms and big smiles, they would pay considerably more.

"Big companies would not like this, who would they out-source work to if they no longer have an extremely cheap and available source of manpower to take advantage of in other countries?"

Certainly not the illegal immigrants that you propose we invite with open arms, of course.

You are both naive and uninformed.

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 03:25 PM

hiring would stop.

jail-time is an option.


you could even say, this is a National Security Issue.


You could say, it's a National Guard Issue if there were any at home...it's definitely a federal issue that affect every state.


there has to be some awakening that requires people to feel that we live in a country that is on some level _honest_.


this isn't about blame, this is about logistics and solving a problem, that has to do with damaged economic infrastructure and multiple reasons for the damage.


you'd have to feature _intervention_ at some point to deal with the marginalized and have them part of the economy,

you'd have to address human rights in other countries _again_ or close the doors to them tradewise.

everything used to be made in the USA, there's really no reason it couldn't be that way again....I know a lot of depressed-out-of-work rednecks...

.

Posted by: if the deterrent were sufficiently strong. | March 22, 2006 03:29 PM

James-

"On the flip side, we do need a number of these immigrants (legal and illegal) to perform certain functions within our society. That means we need to make it easier for an individual who wants to improve their station in life and is willing to work hard to come to this country and work. This is not a one-dimensional issue."

There is already a legal immigration cap related to labor needs in the United States. Our labor needs can be met entirely by legal immigrants who are documented upon their entry into the country. If the 500,000 cap per year isn't enough to feed this country's apparently insatiable need for Juans and Juanitas, then the cap can be lifted via the legislative process and we can invite more legal immigrants.

The solution is not to aquiesce to the illegals for no good reason since illegals are precisely the kind of people that lower our standard of living (because they are exploitable in ways that legal immigrants are not).

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 03:30 PM

AgentG wrote:
"Once we realize that entire industries (agriculture, construction, domestic services) all would COLLAPSE without illegal immigrant labor, then we understand that we are also part of the problem."

I totally disagree. These industries used to do quite well with legal labor. What companies have done by hiring illegal cheap labor is:
1) Broken the law.
2) Stopped hiring legal immigrants and citizens.
3) Increased their profits and thus have become addicted to the cheaper labor.

It wasn't always like this folks and it doesn't have to continue to be like this. All it requires is giving law and immigration enforcement the money and man power to do the job. Maybe we could return to the level of enforcement in the 60s when I remember INS agents raiding restaurants all the time. I haven;t seen a raid or even read about a raid in over 10 years.

Posted by: Sully | March 22, 2006 03:34 PM

Build it, and they will not come.

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 03:36 PM

Sully-

I completely agree that this is in many ways as much an enforcement problem as a border issue. I wholeheartedly encourage municipal, state, and federal agencies to enforce the laws already on the books (what a novel idea) as a means of combating illegal immigration.

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 03:40 PM

Sure. Build a wall. Fantastic Idea. But then you have to patrol it. and fix it when it gets knocked down. And fight the drug runners who are trying to get through it. You are going to create a 3000 mile militarized zone across the south west United States.

I am not an expert on budgets, but it seems like this war we have going on in Iraq is pretty expensive.

The problem is everyone thinks you build a wall and the problem goes a way. We used to have a fence in our back yard that had to be repainted every year, not to mention fixed when trees fell on it, etc.

Any long standing project like this is all about exposure. Ask GM. Setting up there healthcare plan wasn't the expensive part, paying the claims thirty and fourty years later was.

There has got to be a more rational way to decrease the incentives for immigrants to come across the border... like say tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and a functioning immigration system that supplies immigrants to fill the jobs that need to be filled.

Posted by: Grey | March 22, 2006 03:41 PM

I'd like to remind your readers that you are not in a bubble and that your actions are noted outside of the US.

Taking a heavy hand at each opportunity is now what you Americans are famous for.

Canada has over half the wolrds fresh water, half the worlds Uranium, the biggest untapped oil reserve and a booming economy. We don't spend our money on shoving our guns in peoples faces.

Maybe we should build our own wall against the soon-to-be debt ridden land of violence.

Posted by: From the Outside | March 22, 2006 03:45 PM

DC Dude... you gotta work on your facts man. Most immigrants who come return to their country of origin within the first three years of coming to the U.S. at least a couple of times, whether it is to visit family, take money home, or to just spend the holidays. Then they come back and work more.

Your wall is just going to force that laborer to stay here, build a house, move in next door to you and make you mad because his wife's tamales de elote and maduro frito smell better than the same old spaghetti and ragu that you get.

As long as their are good paying jobs and a better opportunity for the future... "People will come Ray, people will most definitely come."

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 03:46 PM

Facts,

If by "going back" the original WSJ article just means "going back to visit for a few months," then what does it matter? It's not important to the debate whether a certain illegal spends a few months in El Salvador before returning to the U.S. -- what's important is keeping them out in the first place. Ergo, build the wall, enforce the laws fining employers who hire illegals, and your illegal immigration problem vanishes overnight.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 03:51 PM

changing times, changing strategies. Mexico has grown significantly, and not necessarily in positive ways. This country has spent literally billions on trying to improve mexico, only to be answered with policy and rhetoric hostile to american interests.
It bears remembering that the last mexican-american war, while over 100 years ago, did in fact cause a lot of the southern United States to be ceded from mexico to america, and that there are some that haven't forgotten that, and they call themselves La Raza. They believe in La Reconquista, or the 're-conquest' of the southern United States by any means necessary and possible. The 'drug war' is symptomatic of that, as the huge drug importation industry would not be able to operate in Mexico without the assent of the mexican people at large.

I think it's fool-hardy to assume that we can continue to blithely treat Mexico as an ally until there's a full airing of differences in policy that result in ever more people being repatriated to mexico from the US, and new jails and prisons being built in america to house the ones that end up getting detained for various and sundry crimes. Until mexico sees fit to pass laws, enforceable and widely understood laws, that govern the conduct of its' citizens while they're on US soil, and develop solid extradition agreements that result in the apprehension of the high-finance drug lords that are trying to wreck both mexico AND america, that we must seek to use methods such as the border fence to help minimize harm and help mexico on its' path, willing or otherwise, toward reform. When our border patrol agents are coming under hostile fire at the US/Mexico border from persons wearing uniforms and driving vehicles and firing weapons that were once provided to the mexican government for purposes of keeping order and law enforcement, I believe it can fairly be said that the parties our country did business with during those times are no longer in control of those assets. In the interest of not seeing a replay on our own shores, its' better to simply deny entry to america to all.
12 million illegal immigrants whose whereabouts are unknown in america is potentially a huge problem, depending on the intentions and actions of those 12 million. Yes, most of the 12 million are from Mexico...and no, they probably won't go willingly, or quietly...furthermore I believe that daily overflights in manned aircraft along our border with mexico would be a visible reinforcement of our country's intention to handle any disingenuous conduct on Mexico's part with force and precision might be an idea whose time has come.

Posted by: Bert | March 22, 2006 03:51 PM

Hey From the Outside,

If you shared a border with Mexico, you'd think differently.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 03:52 PM

No, I think you are missing the point.

Let me try and make this simpler. Last year hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the water rose so high that it overflowed the levees and the city flooded.

A Levee is like a wall, only it stops water instead of people, dogs, etc. Well think of the force of immigration like water. There is a huge demand for cheap labor on one side of the wall, and if there is enough supply it will eventually overflow the wall.

People can climb over the wall. Coyotes or Polleros can blow holes in the wall. Planes can fly over the wall. Holes can be dug under the wall.

When immigrants are willing to pay $3000 a person every time they come across the border to a complete stranger with no guarantee that they will actually get to their destination... I'd say that demand is pretty strong, and your wall will be very close to overflowing.

Now I agree that we need to enforce the laws, but (assuming you are a republican) it is our party who refuses to enforce the laws against businesses because those are the same businesses that are paying for elections.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 03:56 PM

"12 million illegal immigrants whose whereabouts are unknown in america is potentially a huge problem, depending on the intentions and actions of those 12 million."

Shoot Bert, there whereabouts aren't unknown! We just can't afford to get rid of them.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:00 PM

The comment from the DC Dude only goes to show the racial descrimination and inhumanity that we Americans continue to harvest in our hearts.

Although I agree that we have to have a policy to control illegal immigration, I also believe that all humans have a right to try to get ahead. The reason the immigrants come to the US is because they are willing to work hard to provide for themselves and their families, they don't come here to kill people. I realize that there are bad apples everywhere, but that does not mean that hispanics are all bad people.

How about a novel idea... penalize the American employer who illegally hires undocumented immigrants; who use these immigrants by paying them below minimum salary wages; no healthcare benifits and the rest of those benefits that we have and that as taxpayers pay for those less fortunate. Aren't they, the American employer, the ones that benefit the most, yet violate the law. They are the Americans that promote and provoke the illegal immigrant to cross the border.

If building a wall is the only possible solution than so be it. I do strongly believe that other options are out there and we should look at them first. Most and foremost, let's not compare our neighbors (Mexico) to the common criminal (most of them Americans) that live in our neighborhoods commiting crimes.

Posted by: Paul | March 22, 2006 04:01 PM

Which comment was that, Paul?

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 04:06 PM

I think it might have been this one:

"People who read the WSJ do not have to send their kids to schools overwhelmed by illegals, do not go to hospital emergency rooms overwhelmed by illegals, and enjoy the benefits of not paying employment and other taxes on illegal workers at their companies."

Or this one:

" the Berlin Wall comparison is illogical, and shows just how weak the arguments on the pro-illegal side are. The Berlin Wall was designed to keep people *in*; the US-Mexico Border Wall would keep people *out*. One is immoral and reprehensible, the other is moral and commonsense."

Or this one

"If you shared a border with Mexico, you'd think differently. "


You suggest that a) a certain class of people don't deserve to share the same public services as you do (Don't even talk about the money/there are hundreds of papers on both sides that say that immigrants alternatively represent a net loss and a net gain.) A recent one out of UNC says that taking into account all of the costs and benefits, immigrants, even illegal immigrants represent a net gain for our economy.

b) forgetting that walls go both ways, you think it is morally okay to keep Mexicans out of the U.S. (and therefore in Mexico) but not okay to keep East Germans in East Germany (and therefore out of West Germany). What you seem to be suggesting is that east germans and west germans are equals, but Mexicans and Americans are not.

c) That there is something inherently wrong with Mexico that would make someone who shared a border with Mexico think differently because that person has to deal with Mexicans... never mind that you live pretty far away from that border.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:15 PM

Illegal immigration is illegal. Got it. But is it criminal? If everything illegal was criminal and treated as such there would be more people in jail than out, and you could start with the White House, Congress, the Senate, K Street , and their equivalents in every state capital; and then they can move on to YOU for speeding, cheating on your income tax etc. etc. The illegai immigrants are NOT criminals but people, families, seeking a better life. They work and pay taxes. By starting a new life in a new land they are demonstrating they have courage and drive to improve themselves. They should be respected not demonised. They are the kind of people America needs. Yes, they consume health, education resources but so do you. Start by showing some compassion. In your own self interest, recognise that by keeping them in the underground economy (for little more reason than spite) you are condemning them to underachievement and marginalisation. Given a chance, their educated English-speaking second generation will make up for their parent's poverty as immigrants have done over the past two hundred years.
Then think about the current immigration law: It doesn't work. The pull-factor from demand in The US is much, much stronger than the push factor from Mexico. Current law is neither practical nor respected therefore it is not enforced. It is fundamentally unenforceable, like prohibition. (all those criminals). Some businesses (and households) want cheap labour; all consumers want cheap goods and services. By all means regulate immigration. But you have to recognise and deal with two realities: the millions that are already here who need to be brought out from the underground economy; and secondly, the huge domestic demand for cheap labour which is not going to go away. I continue to be surprised at the melange of economic illiteracy, marxist sentiments and economic nationalism which seem to pervade this issue. We know where Marxism and economic nationalism took the Soviet Union; and how economic isolationism in America created the great depression. You live in the free-enterprise system. Freedom, Remember that concept? Get used to it.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | March 22, 2006 04:16 PM

Facts People Facts-

The "Fact" remains that the aforementioned reason not to build a wall is utterly ridiculous. That it would discourage illegals from going home --because it would make it more difficult for them to return-- is precisely why we want to build the wall. We want to make it more difficult for illegals to enter the country. If we refuse to build a wall because we want them to go home --just so they can return weeks later after seeing su familia-- then what's the point?

Either the wall is an effective deterrant (as you argued earlier) or it is not (as you recently argued with your nonsensical water analogy). Which is it?

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 04:17 PM

The previous commentors who feel a "wall" won't stop illegals due to supply and demand and evil business owners etc. are somewhat mistaken. A "double fencline" patrolled by the border patrol and unmanned aerial vehicles will no doubt drastically reduce the numbers coming in the U.S. With this flood of illegals drastically reduced the numbers already in the U.S. illegally will slowly dwindle as they are constantly being caught and re-patriated. You can argue about how horrible you feel by this but the fact is that most if not all of our nation's problems stem from overpopulation.

Posted by: john | March 22, 2006 04:17 PM

Thanks Eric. Also remember that it wasn't illegal until like 1925 (I don't have the date on hand) which was after most of our ancestors showed up in those big boats where they let everybody in.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:18 PM

Oh don't get me wrong Will. That isn't my argument at all. I was just taking issue with a previous comment.

I think building a wall is stupid because it is a waste of money. I think you get more bang for your buck by using a market oriented approach to regulate immigration.

John's idea of unmanned aerial helicopters and double fence line and cameras and armed guards sounds really expensive.

It would be a lot cheaper to just set up a computer with everyone's social security number. Allow employers to access it and register all their new employees by their SSN, and then penalize the employers who don't. (and know, we don't have that)

Which of those sound cheaper?

Then we can go about figuring out how many immigrants we actually need to fill the jobs we have.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:23 PM

Eric Yendall writes:

"The illegai immigrants are NOT criminals but people, families, seeking a better life. They work and pay taxes."

Well, they are entering the country illegally and using services they are not entitled to. No one doubts that they are seeking a better life, but neither can anyone doubt that their actions are patently criminal.

Illegal immigrants are mostly paid under the table, and therefore do not pay payroll taxes. Your phrasing "they pay taxes" is an old sleight of hand -- sure they pay sales tax when they buy something at CVS, but as you know, that's not what we're talking about.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 04:24 PM

For those of you who think that having any military presence on the U.S. southwest border is the solution to this problem, you've got another thing coming. Let's think of a good hypothetical situation. Oh, here's one. Active duty Marine is on the border. He doesn't have the responsibility to patrol the border, but he's on the border as part of a military exercise. Uh oh, he sees a person in the darkness trying to cross the border - then, from what he can tell, that person raises what he thinks is a gun in his direction. The Marine shoots. The unknown person is killed. Upon later review, there was no gun involved and the person is a teenage kid. Hypothetical? Nope - happened about 15 years ago. Should the punishment for trying to get to the United States via an illegal land border crossing be death?

You want the military to patrol the border? To what end? To control the tide of illegal immigrants? To shoot down men, women, and children trying to get to the United States? Forget it. No matter what barrier you put in front of them (walls, troops, ditches), illegal immigrants will always try to come to the United States. Why? Because life is better here. Period. Until life because worse in the United States than it does in other countires, immigrants will always try to come here.

Also, you want military to patrol the border? You better sign up then, because there are not enough military personnel out there to cut off the flow of illegal immigration.

As for those who think UAVs should be deployed in droves to monitor the border - how long do you think it takes to make one of those things? Any idea? Six months. The contractors that make UAVs can't make them fast enough. And if they did, do you possibly think there are enough border patrol agents to catch all of them? Come on. Sure, we can take pictures of illegal immigrants, but we sure can't catch them.

One last question. The 9-11 terrorists - of the 19, how many do you think come across the U.S. Mexican border? Exactly zero. How many came across the Canadian border? More than you want to know.

Posted by: dhardwic | March 22, 2006 04:27 PM

A few points for the pro-illegal alien crowd to ponder:

1. America is not a land of immigrants. Or at least, not entirely. The first arrivals from Europe were settlers, not immigrants (there is a difference). And the African slaves were brought against their will. And American Indians are American and were here already. So the 'land of immigrants' rhetoric leaves out many whites, all American Indians, and most African-Americans. In other words, it's a pretty bad and offensive little slogan.

2. The distinction between citizen and non-citizen is as old as civilization. If you don't or won't acknowledge its validity, you are simply outside of the debate. You live in a sort of NeverNeverLand.

3. If you say that you are against illegal immigration but don't like the "message" that a wall would send, then you need to assess why you think the opinions and hurt feelings of Mexicans are more important than the well-being of Americans.

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 04:27 PM

damn...now they want to build a walll...hhhmmmm...let me guess who is going to put the wall up...of course, immigrants, because the latinos that have papers wont do this kind of work and for damn sure no white men are going to work here...this is just ridiculous...and even if the wall is up, coyotes will make a hole through the wall or even a tunnel to go under...immigrants will always find a way...thats for sure.

Posted by: Angel Abundez | March 22, 2006 04:28 PM

Again DC Dude, with the making up facts. This isn't 1990.

Nowadays most immigrants have obtained an ITIN number from your federal government which they use in place of a social security number(technically this isn't allowed, but no one seems to care), and they then use to work at restaurants, textile mills, meat packing plants and a hundred other places that require documentation.

They pay taxes on all this income (actually they overpay) because they never file tax returns.

They also pay property taxes on any cars or property they own, and of course they do pay sales taxes.

I am not sure how old you are, DC Dude, but you may want to consider that in a few years, immigrants may be paying the bulk of the taxes that go towards social security (or whats left of it) so you may not want to be so quick to kick them all out.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:29 PM

Eric Yendall states:
"The illegai immigrants are NOT criminals but people, families, seeking a better life. They work and pay taxes. By starting a new life in a new land they are demonstrating they have courage and drive to improve themselves. They should be respected not demonised. They are the kind of people America needs."

You know what Eric, you are right. America does need these kind of people- to come in the legal, documented way and contribute to society in a legal, helpful way. Please explain to me how they pay taxes, save sales tax? Please explain to me how they don't drive down wages and take away jobs from American citizens looking for work. Because last I heard, being paid under the table got them out of income, social security, while medicaire pays into their health. Sure, I'll be taking out of that too. But I pay into it.

If they have the courage and drive to better themselves, stop making excuses and demand that they do so in a legal way. To say it is fine to do this the non-legal way is an argument based in the absurd, as it can be applied to a number of things that are illegal. Marijuana was on Washingtons list of top ten crops. And that was only what was found and confiscated. Arguably, it could be the most profitable crop in the state. It stimulates the economy by increasing consumption. Should this be legalized as well? I would argue yes, but a great deal would sasy no. The point is not to argue about pot, however, so much as to show you that it is always possible to make 'good' arguments for things that society at large has said 'no.'

Posted by: Freedom | March 22, 2006 04:32 PM

Facts People says: "you may want to consider that in a few years, immigrants may be paying the bulk of the taxes that go towards social security (or whats left of it) so you may not want to be so quick to kick them all out."

That assumes that they aren't kicked out first. Do you really think that uneducated manual laborers will suffice as a replacement population for the retiring Baby Boomers? I'm afraid, in terms of skills, education, culture, language, etc., that they are not fungible.

Facts People, if you believe that they are fungible (i.e., that regarding the most important things, Mexicans and Americans are the same), please explain why. It's a pretty big assumption you are making.

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 04:33 PM

Virginia Dare, my ancestors came to this country in 1689 fleeing religious persecution in France.

We were immigrants. We called ourselves settlers becaue we didn't think those Indians "counted". same goes for the slaves that we started bringing over a few years later.

If you don't think this is a land of immigrants you should take a walk through Chinatown in DC, Little Italy in Baltimore, or just take the subway around New York City.

Actually you could just go to Youngstown, Ohio and enjoy the fantastic italian and eastern european cusine that is still available in the mid-west.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:34 PM

Facts, none of the three comments you cited are "racist". It's true and obvious that those big-business types most in favor of illegal immigration do not send their kids to schools that have been overwhelmed by illegals. They send them to private schools or to public schools in wealthy areas.

How you construe the Berlin Wall comment as racist I'll let you explain, and if Canadians shared a border with Mexico, they would certainly be less holier-than-thou than some are.

Your wall comments have me puzzled. You can't see the moral difference between a wall designed to keep people out and one designed to keep people in? How about a lock on your front door (one that keeps people out) and a lock on a prison cell (one that keeps people in)?

Of course there's something about sharing a border with Mexico that makes Americans think and feel differently about Mexico than, say, Canadians. Why wouldn't there be?

The comments from Facts and Eric Yendall, and the WSJ piece Emily cited, are pretty good examples of all the pro-illegal side has got in the way of arguments: angry sophistry. It doesn't make any sense, but they say it with such conviction.

Build the wall, enforce the laws requiring employees to hire only legal workers. As Samuelson says in the Post today, we don't need "Guest Workers".

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 04:34 PM

I don't think anyone here is trying to demonize the immigrants themselves. I know I'm not. I'm not being xenophobic or racist. I am 100% for legal immigration, done the way it should be, the way a friend of mine emigrated to the US from Germany in 1989. So far as I'm concerned, illegal immigration is a national security issue, and is also an economic issue.

There's an ongoing debate in California about driver licenses for illegals immigrants (the debate has died down a little now, but it'll come up again). When I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would have voted for the proposition when it was on the ballot. Since moving to Los Angeles, though, I've become educated on the issue. I see first hand the problems in the schools, the jails, the overcrowding on the freeways, the overcrowding in the jails, and the hospitals that are closing because their emergency rooms are being suffocated with caring for the uninsured. (I won't even mention the lack of federal reimbursement for this.)

It would be unfair to blame all of that on illegal immigration. I don't place all of the blame there. The fact is, though, that illegals are heavy contributors to all of those problems.

We need a wall. We need stepped-up patrols on the border. We need troops on the border. We need better enforcement of current immigration laws.

Others have mentioned that Mexicans see the Southwest United States as theirs. Make no mistake; they are invading us. Jorge Arangue (or however he spells his name) was joking yesterday in his WashingtonPost.com baseball chat about Mexico wanting California back. Well, it's no joke. It's happening now. I'm not being overly dramatic when I say that it's killing us.

Posted by: Deanna | March 22, 2006 04:35 PM

The bottom line is, what kind of a country do we Americans want?

Judging from most of the posts prior to mine, most Americans want a police state that keeps brown people out and sends the ones already here back where they came from. That's called XENOPHOBIA. What these folks don't realize is that everybody's freedom will be wiped out in the throes of the kind of crackdown on Mexicans that they seem to want.

We're all immigrants here. Some of our ethnic groups have been here longer than others, and how long is in dispute -- but nobody's ancestors have been here more than maybe 60,000 years, and maybe much less time than that.

So we build a wall to keep Mexicans out. What's next? A wall to keep Canadians out? Free-fire zones along both walls? Mined coastlines? A national ID card for Americans, to be shown on demand to the USA Secret Police (excuse me, the NSA, which doesn't want that role but is being dragged into it)? Authorizing the Border Patrol to summarily execute illegal immigrants, according to the same rationale whereby the California Department of Agriculture summarily euthanizes pet ferrets that naive people try to bring into California?

We've had a reasonably free country for more than 200 years, but since most people seem no longer to care about freedom that's obviously not going to last much longer. People naively think that mistreating Mexican immigrants won't spill over to they themselves getting mistreated.

Welcome to the New Amerika.

Posted by: Ancestor | March 22, 2006 04:36 PM

Facts People says: "Virginia Dare, my ancestors came to this country in 1689 fleeing religious persecution in France.

We were immigrants. We called ourselves settlers becaue we didn't think those Indians "counted". same goes for the slaves that we started bringing over a few years later."

Facts People, I've just realized that you are immune to logic. (For instance, you can't see that there is a difference between a settler (building a society from scratch) and an immigrant (arriving at an established society)).

Now that I recognize your inability to comprehend, I won't bother you, or bother with you, any more. Best wishes.

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 04:40 PM

Facts writes:

"I am not sure how old you are, DC Dude, but you may want to consider that in a few years, immigrants may be paying the bulk of the taxes that go towards social security..." so you may not want to be so quick to kick them all out."

More angry sophistry. There is no possible scenario short of Open Borders where immigrants would be doing anything close to "paying the bulk of the taxes that go towards social security". This is just hot air.

"...so you may not want to be so quick to kick them all out."

Strawman. No one here wants to kick out all immigrants. Legal immigrants are an asset and unaffected by my proposals. For illegals, we want to build a wall preventing any new illegals from entering the country and enforce the laws on the books against hiring illegals, encouraging many of them to return home.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 04:40 PM

To build or not to build is a serious issue on how to stop illegal immigration. None on the soft border i.e. no wall side (the "let's attack the root of the problems" camp) have a meaningful way to limit illegal immigration. Their ideas though large-hearted are fool hardy/impractical. On the other hand the "build the wall" camp is an idea that will at least ease the pressure on the nation's immigration agencies, even if temporarily, giving them time to regroup and clean up the system. I say - build the wall. Even a 20% decline in illegal immigration is better than endless debating.

In addition to the security issue the strain caused by illegal immigration is having a huge negative impact on legal immigration. For the record, I am a legal immigrant to the US and I am definitely in the pro-build camp simply because there are thousands of people like me who are suffering the negative consequences because the immigration authorities are being swamped with the illegal immigration issue.

Posted by: saum | March 22, 2006 04:41 PM

Interesting, but a lock is different than a wall.

A Wall is very ambigious. It doesn't have a direction. The berlin wall kept people both out and in. Much as a wall across the border would keep people out and in.

Correct me if I am wrong, DC Dude, but I think that you and some of the other posters have a slightly different picture of America than I do. Which colors this whole debate. I hear a lot from anti-immigrant advocates that they see America as black and white, or mainly of european and african ancestry. They tolerate a certain amount of educated immigration to fill positions as doctors, and computer engineers, but they don't feel that people from southeast asia, China or other areas are really American.

I obviously feel quite differently. So it would be hard to have a debate about what is and isn't offensive or what is and isn't appropriate if we can't even agree on what America is, right?

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:41 PM

Thanks Virginia!!

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:43 PM

Ancestor writes:

"So we build a wall to keep Mexicans out. What's next? A wall to keep Canadians out? Free-fire zones along both walls? Mined coastlines? A national ID card for Americans, to be shown on demand to the USA Secret Police (excuse me, the NSA, which doesn't want that role but is being dragged into it)? Authorizing the Border Patrol to summarily execute illegal immigrants, according to the same rationale whereby the California Department of Agriculture summarily euthanizes pet ferrets that naive people try to bring into California?"

More strawmen and scare scenarios. To answer your question: we build a wall and what's next? We enforce laws already on our books forbidding employers from hiring illegals. Simple as that.

Why is it that one side in this debate can state its goals clearly and simply (build a wall, enforce the laws about hiring illegals) while the other side has to use extremely unlikely scare scenarios, cries of racism, and misstatements of fact? I guess they're on the "if you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em" side.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 04:45 PM

Maybe we should advocate building two walls along the Mexican border. Then all of the Chicken Littles will be satisfied with our concession that we'll agree merely to build just one -- a 50% reduction in the amount of walls!

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 04:49 PM

dhardwic states:
"Should the punishment for trying to get to the United States via an illegal land border crossing be death?"

The simple answer to this is:
In some cases? Yes.

Yes it's hard. But if the marine thought there was a hostile threat commiting an illegal act, I think his action was justified. We give our own police the right to shoot us if they feel the situation constitutes a threat to their lives and the lives of others. The fact that he was a teenage child means nothing, save showing your attempt to manipulate the issue with emotional rhetoric. He was breaking American law. He was doing something that constituted a threat and caused the soldier to believe he was defneding himself and, by proxy, his country. It is sad, yes. But is speaks of an issue different from the one you use it for. This should not be justification for allowing illegals to cross. Instead, it should be justification to creating more stringent measures to keep them out, so they don't try to do so the illegal, dangerous way.

Posted by: Freedom | March 22, 2006 04:50 PM

Goals: Clearly and Simply Stated from the pro immigrant side

1) An instantaneous Social Security Number Check that will allow employers to verify employee documentation
2) stiffer and easier to enforce penalties for employers who do not verify SSN's
3) a guest worker program that will help to fill all the jobs currently being filled by illegal immigrants (with first priority given to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of course)
4)...resulting in lower illegal immigration
5) increased border presence to stop drug runners, gun runners, and those participating in human trafficking at the border.

It will be a lot easier to catch the bad guys when all the workers are coming through San Ysidro. But we might need another crossing point.

I think that is pretty clear.

This is also known as the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005" (S. 1033/H.R. 2330)

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 04:52 PM

Angel Abundez writes:

"and even if the wall is up, coyotes will make a hole through the wall or even a tunnel to go under...immigrants will always find a way...thats for sure."

Not if we simply build a wall and enforce our laws. One of my themes in my comments this week is how weak the arguments are on the pro-illegal side. This argument -- we can't do anything about illegal immigration, so we might as well make the best of it -- is one of the weakest.

For about $4 billion, we could build a wall along the entire border with Mexico.

Then, we could let U.S. companies know that beginning some date a year or so from now, we're going to start actually enforcing the labor laws against hiring illegals that we've ignored for so long.

You'd see two things happen very, very quickly: 1) far fewer people would try to enter the U.S. illegally, because it'd be more difficult and they wouldn't have a job waiting here for them, and 2) many of the illegals here would go home on their own volition, on their own dime.

I'm waiting to hear a strong argument in favor of illegal continued mass illegal immigration, but "we can't stop it" certainly isn't one. We could stop it easily, for a small amount of money.

Build the wall, enforce our labor laws! Si se puede!

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 04:53 PM

Facts,

It's disingenuous to call your side the "pro-immigrant" camp. I'm pro-immigrant, too. I'm anti-*illegal* immigrant.

Thanks for stating your plan. I agree with you on 1, 2, and 5. On 3 or 4 we'd need to work out the details, since so-called guest worker programs are often not quite that. But in principle, I'm for a fairly big number of immigrants coming to the US, *as long as they're here legally*.

So Facts, we appear to agree on most points, especially the SSN check, which would instantly eliminate the vast majority of illegal workers in the country, wall or no.

What are we fighting about then? Want to come over for pie?

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 04:57 PM

Facts-

500,000 legal immigrants on work visas a year is not enough in the United States? So let's legislate a higher cap on legal immigrants and boot the illegal ones out, yes?

What's wrong with that?

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 05:02 PM

In 2030, America is projected to go from 300 million to 363 million with the same rate of illegal immigration, but no family reunification (what the Jewish, Cuban, and Catholic leaders pushed into the 1965 Immigration Reform Act). And 420 million by 2050.

Amnesty triggers full chain migration of illegal's relatives here under the "family reunification. A supposed "moral obligation to our newest citizens to be surrounded by family and favorite villagers as they bring in THEIR relatives in.

"Family reunification" counts for 63-68% of total immigration, as winners of past amnesty or those going through legal immigration routes have brought whole families, even whole villages from Mexico and Palestine in (Arab families have extensive family ties - hundreds of relatives, even thousands per "family". America could have 510 billion people by 2050.

In 1750 China had 225 million people. 520 million by 1950. 1.307 billion according to the latest Chinese census (2005). Despite losing over 225 million in famine, floods and 100 million in war and revolution since 1750. Now they mandate birth control, abortion, and are on the march to subdue and overwhelm with their numbers Western territories like Tibet.

In 1900, the population of India, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, was 238 million. Now the net is 1.402 billion when the fast breeding Muslim splitoff nations are added.

By 2050, the world will have 9.7 billion. Some 6 billion of which would love to get into the US or the few other nations prosperous and with enough resources still to go around. An estimated 2 billion of which if they manage to show up on our Border or in an airport could make a plausible legal case to demand to be let in, subsidized, and get their family imported as well as "oppressed refugees seeking FREEDOM".

Not being Malthusian, just spelling out the facts.

The illegal immigrant debate must factor in:

1. Demography ----- The tremendous social, environmental, resource and economic degredations attendent with America having out of control population explosion and passing 500 billion people in less than 50 years.

2. Family Reunification ---- If the practice Jewish, Cuban interests put into law to give special preference to Soviet Jews and Cuban refugees continues to apply to all immigrants - we not only have legal immigrants seeking to move their villages to America, we will have 12 million illegals seeking to initially get 4-5 family members in if given amnesty. For an additional 60-75 million more people coming in.

3. Economic multiplier --- Every illegal that depresses local wages 50% does not only screw locals with extra taxes, unemployment, but also removes the 5-6X money multiplier from the impact of his/her wages largely going into remittances or paying for more illegals to come - instead of being spent or invested in the local economy.

4. For a Laugh ----- Listen to a Lefty environmentalist explain how America should comply with Kyoto, abandon hydro and nuclear power, devote more and more of America to "pristine reclaimed wilderness" but who at the same time supports unlimited immigration of the poor, oppressed masses of the 3rd world Franz Fanon talked about - into the US.

Posted by: Chris Ford | March 22, 2006 05:03 PM

Sometimes its hard to get a point across. I AM NOT IN FAVOUR OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.
The solution to the continuing illegal immigration is to legalise, document and regulate it. Then people will come and people will go. You wont need a wall.
The solution to all the illegals CURRENTLY in the country is to legalise them (Guest Worker, Green card, citizenship, whatever).

Now on to the real issue: how to keep those poor, brown-skinned spanish-speaking, sub-humans out of White America.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | March 22, 2006 05:03 PM

All guest worker plans assume that labor markets should be borderless. Otherwise, why would employers be permitted to draw from foreign populations (instead of the usual approach to labor shortages: raising wages)?

If you can't answer this, you can't defend a guest worker plan.

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 05:03 PM

Only if it's Apple, I don't touch that pecan stuff.

I think you have hit on the biggest problem that exists in discussing immigration. Pro-immigrant and anti-immigrant groups, atleast the main stream ones, have a lot in common. No one likes illegal immigration. It is terrible for everyone.

Our only debate is how we get to the ultimate goal of a regulated immigration system that protects immigrants who come here to work, does not depress wages, and protects our borders against the dangerous people (not the guy going to cut meat for 8 dollars an hour in Kansas).

Mainly it is a problem of timing. One side wants to send everyone home, and then let them come back, in many cases uprooting their children, repossesing their property, and causing them a terrible amount of embarrasment.

The other side figures it makes more sense to let them stay if they have a job, keep their home, their children, and their new car, and let them continue being productive.

As an aside. I think a wall is waste of money. $4 billion seems low, and you still have to maintain this. No one "wants" to walk across the desert in 120 degree heat. And we have the technology to track people already. The wall is largely symbolic. The problem is that there are so many immigrants coming at once that it is difficult to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. Once the good guys stop crossing illegally, you have a lot less people to worry about, and it is a lot easier to patrol the border.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 05:05 PM

Eric, you were doing so well clarifying your position until you got to the "brown-skinned sub-humans" part. Let's stay focused.

I agree with you that all immigration that we allow to this country should be legal, i.e. we should end all illegal immigration. I think everyone here agrees now that illegal immigration is bad.

What's your justification for giving amnesty, though, Eric? That's not going to be real popular, especially since "let's give amnesty and then regulate immigration" happened twice before in the 1980s, and only the amnesty took place, not the second part. Why should people believe the government will properly regulate immigration post-amnesty this time? Answer: they won't.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 05:10 PM

Eric Yendall:
Of course Eric. The real issue, is of course, racism.

Lets not discuss how you want to reward illegal immigrants for breaking our laws, because that is exaclty the course of action that we want to take.

Posted by: Freedom | March 22, 2006 05:10 PM

think about it,

we don't have enough for the people we have to live well.


stop illegal immigration.

fix the economy and the people that live here now.


require that other countries _do better_.


stop outsourcing.


bring back the 37.5 hour week with commensurate benefits of the 70's.


intervene with our marginalized, cut down on jail and druggie populations.


deal with what is going on here.


enforce existing laws, put some bite in them and arrest and detain, jail violators that HIRE illegals.

state a 6 month moratorium before doing strong enforcement and then use federals to do that....heck you could require that they provide INS benefits similar to military benefits.


.

Posted by: hello people | March 22, 2006 05:11 PM

Hi Virginia! I thought you were ignoring me? on to your question:

All guest worker plans assume that labor markets should be borderless. Otherwise, why would employers be permitted to draw from foreign populations (instead of the usual approach to labor shortages: raising wages)?

If you can't answer this, you can't defend a guest worker plan.

A (quick) answer:

Demand for goods are not inelastic. So as wages increase, people don't want to buy as many of them, and the price will be higher.

Right now the U.S. has the largest trade gap in history. In order to make our goods more competitive we need to be able to produce more goods at a cheaper cost (see China). Otherwise the trade gap will continue to expand.

additionally, the demand for labor is not inelastic. Traditionally, when you raise wages, employment goes down, because employers can't afford to hire as many people.

So if we raise wages, we will increase unemployment, increase the trade deficit, produce less, and become less of a player on the world market.

Plus apples would cost a lot more. And DC Dude and I couldn't have our pie.

Plus, in a world where everything else is globalized, why not labor? We already outsource jobs anyway (which is pretty much the same thing).

Or did you want to go back to that whole settler/Indian set up? I hear those tea taxes were terrible ( I shouldn't talk, my family were Torries)

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 05:12 PM

I can get whatever kind of pie you want, I live right near a Safeway.

Facts, it sounds like we agree that:

**regulated immigration is overall GOOD, it makes America greater

**illegal immigration is overall BAD, it's unfair, anti-law, allows exploitation of laborers, allows payroll taxes to go unpaid, is unfair to legal immigrants, etc.

**employers should be forced to follow the law that only allows legal workers to be hired. Installing a simple check system would be simple.

If we'd just do this last one, I could wait on the wall. Let's do the last one and give it three years. If our illegal immigration problem is solved -- and it would be -- we'll nix the wall idea. If it's the same or worse, we'll go for the wall. That sound fair to you?

The next thing we'd have to work out is how many total immigrants to allow to the US each year -- I'm happy with the current 800,000, but I can be convinced to raise it somewhat if we've got real control of who's here and who's not.

And the last thing we'd have to work outis what to do with illegals who are here now. I'm not in the "deport 'em all" camp, but you'd have to have been here for a long time to be allowed to stay, at least 4 or 5 years, and it'd have to be a long, hard road to actual citizenship -- that wouldn't sit well with me. And I'd have to see this SSN checking system in action and working before we talked about any kind of regularization, otherwise I'll feel like Charlie Brown having Lucy swipe the ball away from him AGAIN as he's about to kick.

We close to a consensus?

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 05:18 PM

Mostly ignoring you, but you brought the silliness of a guest worker plan into this, so I couldn't help but respond. You say: "Traditionally, when you raise wages, employment goes down, because employers can't afford to hire as many people."

Of course, that's just loaded with assumptions. The problem is that employers don't want to pay American wages for American work. If they have to hire fewer people, but those people are Americans rather than immigrants, then we've solved our problem -- we don't need a guest worker plan. In addition, as R. Samuelson explained in the Post today, rising wages often spurs technological innovation, such that not as many employees are needed anyway.

You also say: "Right now the U.S. has the largest trade gap in history. In order to make our goods more competitive we need to be able to produce more goods at a cheaper cost (see China). Otherwise the trade gap will continue to expand."

So we need to not just lower wages, but import new people to do that lower wage work? This makes absolutely no sense. None at all.

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 05:27 PM

DC Dude.
I think you are coming along nicely. Rounding up and deporting 3-10 million illegal immigrants (in cattle-cars?) is hardly what America is all about. To be allowed to stay, illegals (in my opinion) should not have a criminal record; should demonstrate an employment history; have some roots in the community (home ownership or rental references; church membership perhaps); and perhaps pass a medical.
Immigration quotas could be established based on objective economic requirements not political stunts which favour the flavour of the month.

An aside: the US does need cheap imported labour. Raising minimum wages only reduces the total number employed and reduces your competitiveness. Remember, you can't export if you wont import, because no-one will have dollars to pay you. Its a system you are part of and you have done very well by it.

To Virginia Dare.
The guest worker idea is a political fig-leaf to make the fact that you need these workers more palatable to voters who don't have the smarts to understand it. It is a half-way house between full residency leading to citizenship; and a closed door. The fiction is that these people will return to their own countries. Some do but most don't. The politicians tell you that these people will eventually leave; you believe them; what is necessary is achieved.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | March 22, 2006 05:50 PM

Facts-

If we are serious about producing goods at cheaper prices, as you identify as a solution to the trade deficit, why would we depend on those expensive Mexicans? We still have to pay them close to our minimum wage.

If we really want to be competetive with China we need boat Indonesians into the country and pay them with bags of rice and fisheads. Better yet, indentured servitude would go a long way in driving down the price of production.

Once we've figured out how to get past the "politics" of it and explain to the "racists" why unfettered immigration is really healthy for the economy, we can finally compete with China on the production of nikes. In fact we will be good to the Indonesians, we will promise them two bags of rice and two fishheads.

We'll call it The American Nightmare.

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 05:51 PM

Can anyone name any wall built in history that *did* work? The Maginot Line? The Great Wall of China? That didn't, and this one won't. It will drop billions of taxpayer money down the same rathole the money for the Iraq war is going, however, with just as little to show for it.
Mexicans are four times as likely to die, or be injured, on the job as Americans of any other ethnicity. Why is that? Because as workers they are regarded as dispensable. Why are illegals necessary to fill jobs that no one else is willing to do? For that matter, why are there so many Americans frustrated and jobless, yet there are jobs that "no one is willing to do?"
The answer is that it's not worth it to anyone native to this country to expose themselves to things like carcinogenic pesticides for sub-minimum wages, just to name what farm workers face. The answer is that despite all this raging against this mythical "pro-illegal" movement, we are all willing to tolerate an underclass of workers who receive unacceptably low pay for unacceptable working conditions. Maybe the fact that they're icky yucky brown people makes it easier, maybe all the shuddering about nasty old Mexico helps us not to care, who knows. But I can't escape the view that the real fix would be, first of all, to revise NAFTA do stop screwing all those Mexican subsistance farmers who can't make a living in their own country, on their own land, anymore. Here in the States, we need to make all labor subject to a reasonable minimum wage and reasonable working conditions. Of course we'd have to be willing to enforce these labor laws and as many people have already pointed out we're not even doing that now. Also, for decent wages and working conditions to become a norm, we as a society would have to accept prices in certain sectors, especially food, to go up. We'd also need to restructure agricultural subsidies radically to support farm owners and food producers to pay and treat their workers, well, the way you and I would like to be treated. But then, I guess it would be more fruitful for me to wait around for the Great Pumpkin and the Tooth Fairy to show up at my doorstep with a million dollar check.

Posted by: Pro Sanity | March 22, 2006 05:54 PM

Eric-

"An aside: the US does need cheap imported labour. Raising minimum wages only reduces the total number employed and reduces your competitiveness."

So the US needs cheap imported labor because without it our unemployment rate would go up. I guess the Canadians *REALLY* need our Mexican day laborers, since their employment rate is already higher than ours.

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 05:54 PM

Hey DC Dude, I think we are close. I honestly am not sure about the numbers? is 800,000 enough? I think we have enough when the system works. maybe it is 600K maybe it is an even million, that is something we need to let play out.

I agree also on citizenship. Citizenship should not be easy. Most bills require that to qualify for a guest worker program or any adjustment of status they would have to be in the country for five years, with no criminal record. Second, they need to participate in three seperate guest worker cycles (so like nine years) before they are eligible for citizenship. Once they have lived here a total of 14 years, they are eligible for legal permanent residency. and then from there citizenship.

That sounds rigorous enough, I think?

Virginia, with all due respect, the points that I brought up about wages and trade deficits are based on years of economic research on the subject, while it seems that your points are based mainly on your own opinion. I do admit that my ideas (especially in that limited format) are not fullproof, but they are based in fact.

Samuelson's points, and yours, while intriguing smack of protectionist economic policies that have been disastrous for almost every country that has implemented them.

For more on this, I suggest a quick trip to Paris to discuss what the higher minimum wage, 30 hour work week and unfirable employees has done for their economy.

DC Dude, great talking to you, thanks!

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 05:57 PM

Again, this is easy to arm-chair if you are not living in an over-run border state where taxpayers subsidize education and health care for illegals so the rest of the country can buy cheap lettuce.

Consider this news item: Monday night in Yuma, Arizona, an illegal immigrant trying to escape U.S. Border Patrol agents fell 35 feet to the bottom of a nearly dry concrete-lined canal and had to be rescued by Yuma firefighters. He suffered a broken leg and other injuries as he fled Border Patrol agents. The injured man is hospitalized, and the 19 others who were with him were sent back to Mexico.

And guess who will pay this guy's hospital bills? NONE OF YOU here on this board; it's us, the Arizona taxpayers, paying because the federal government failed to "provide for a common defense" of our borders. Ditto for the rescue operations by the fire fighters; that will be covered by Yuma County residents.

For those of you who would see our borders over-run because enforcing immigration laws seems "racist," please feel free to send money to the southwest border states to help support these illegals, educate their endless stream of children who don't speak English, pay for subsidized health care (so many border hospitals have closed because illegals have put a strain on the system), pay to incarcerate the ones who commit crimes (surprise! not all are here to find jobs and drive down wages for citizens).

Posted by: Mary in Arizona | March 22, 2006 06:00 PM

My I inject some data into this conversation -- data that I think is fairly widely accepted as reflecting reality?

1. there are about 7.5 million illegal workers in the U.S. That comes to roughly 1/3 of all foreign born workers.

2. Most of these illegal workers have poor educational attainment. We will disregard those relatively few illegal workers who are computer programmers and such.

3. the economy has tens of millions of jobs designed and priced for persons with low educational attainment. the number of these jobs is modestly increasing.

4. The percentage of native born American citizens of working age who fall into the poorly educated category has been declining.

5. Because of 2, 3 and 4, there is a huge workforce demographic shift in which illegal workers are filling jobs that otherwise would be filled by native born workers. Sometimes,native born workers and legal immigrants can point to evidence that they have been directly done out of a job, or had their wages depressed, by illegal workers. Usually the cause-and-effect is much more complicated and hard to trace.

6. Removing large numbers of illegal workers will probably have an effect of creating chronic labor shortages in some sectors (such as farm labor) and boosting prevailing wages in others (such as residential home construction - 29% of roofing workers have been estimated to be illegal workers).

7. Building a wall and pretty much allowing illegal workers to stay in the U.S. may create a permament second labor force in a dozen major occupational groups, with all kinds of labor law issues.

I encourage other commentors to address these facts and observations, not engage in 100% polemics.

Posted by: peter rousmaniere | March 22, 2006 06:00 PM

Hey DC Dude,

I'd like to point out that Will just ended a response to me with "The american nightmare" so it is not just the pro-immigrant crowd that is all gloom and doom and talking about the world is going to heck in a hand basket.

And Will I don't understand your point? Would you mind re-phrasing without all the invective?

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 06:03 PM

Hey Peter thanks, but I don't think your points 2,3 and 4 necessarily lead to 5. I think 6 is a given, and I think that a wall is mainly symbolic, with the kind of technology that we have, and it won't have the kind of effect that you believe it will.

Am I the only person who snuck over fences as a kid?

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 06:06 PM

Facts-

Rephrased:

Accepting illegal immigration as a means to combat our trade deficit with China is a faustian bargain. If we were serious about competing with China on the production of Nikes we'd have to pay competetive wages. This would require us to pay illegals well below minimum wage which is illegal.

In other words, using Mexican illegal immigrants as a mean of combating our trade deficit with China isn't feasible or preferable. The reason we don't compete with China on the production of Nikes is because we are unwilling to pay human beings 50 cents an hour.

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 06:07 PM

Facts People says: "Virginia, with all due respect, the points that I brought up about wages and trade deficits are based on years of economic research on the subject, while it seems that your points are based mainly on your own opinion. I do admit that my ideas (especially in that limited format) are not fullproof, but they are based in fact.

Samuelson's points, and yours, while intriguing smack of protectionist economic policies that have been disastrous for almost every country that has implemented them.

For more on this, I suggest a quick trip to Paris to discuss what the higher minimum wage, 30 hour work week and unfirable employees has done for their economy."

Spot the fallacies. Fallacy of authority. Changing of the subject. Fallacy of perfect congruence. Etc. etc. I'm in economics too, so it isn't 'personal opinion.' Don't insult me. Your views on this topic are naive, as they proceed from one bedrock (and erroneous) assumption: You think the United States is just an economy. It isn't. It's a culture.

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 06:08 PM

.....and because we have savings rates of less than 1% and China saves at closer to 15%, most of which is held in U.S. dollars.

I don't think we can compete with China. I don't think anyone can compete with China. But you should agree that it is better to try and compete than to just give up? I'd rather have a somewhat competitive economy than nothing at all.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 06:10 PM

Neither the exploitation of Mexicans nor the abandonment of our minimum wage laws are viable means of staying competetive. If they are the only means, then I say to hell with competetiveness.

Posted by: Will | March 22, 2006 06:14 PM

"Fallacy of authority. Changing of the subject. Fallacy of perfect congruence. Etc. etc." It appears we are going to have to agree to disagree.

I did not mean to insult you. And you are right, when it comes to immigration I view the U.S. as an economy, and you view it as a culture with economic characteristics.

So we are really not going to agree on this. Which is okay. I thought my argument was pretty coherent and tight. But I don't consider the cultural implications to be the most important factor. But I also consume more pollo y arroz than meat and potatoes.

But I think we are both pretty clear about why this is such a difficult issue, huh?

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 06:16 PM

Virginia Dare,
Quit spouting nonsense about something you know nothing of. I LIVED in France AND in Sweden. First, there is no 30 hour work week. Sweden does have 5 weeks of paid vacation for employees...and the health of their work force and their productivity is just about double ours. The 30 hour work week was a PROPOSAL once upon a time, in France. Second, both countries limit "guest workers" to those who do not replace citizen workers. In the case of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, their economies are roaring along, thank you very much! ALL of those countries have laws that protect workers from being arbitrarilly terminated and require employers to pay unemployment compensation equivalent to the terminated employees salary for two years. If you stopped getting all of your news from FOX and spent a little time reading - or better, visit those countries - you might be able to talk intelligently about them. But I doubt it. The average FOX viewer is dirt dumb and I don't think anthing is going to improve them.

Posted by: MIke Brooks | March 22, 2006 06:19 PM

Sully,
Thanks for your input. I agree with your analysis.

However, I was referring to 'we' in the rhetorical sense of our society and culture.

I still don't understand why all the enforcement is directed toward the illegal aliens, and WHY NO ONE IS WILLING TO HOLD EMPLOYERS ACCOUNTABLE?

Why can we not have a business culture that actually contributes to the well-being of our own country? (Aside...I am also opposed to offshore tax-havens...)

My suspicion is that the illegal aliens are the weakest link in the value chain, whose rights can be exploited at will, and who have no voice in cross-border affairs, and hence the majority's instinct is to target them for repression. But that will not bring the results that ALL OF US WANT!

The economy is not the culture, nor is the economy separate from the culture. It would seem to me that demanding that businesses SIMPLY OBEY THE LAW and not hire illegal aliens is not some wacko leftist illusion and would quickly and cheaply solve the entire problem. We have enough computers, wireless networks, cell phones, web sites to technically make this a low-cost enforcement issue for ALL businesses. Why we don't is a mystery to me...and our own self-destructive HYPOCRACY.

Posted by: AgentG | March 22, 2006 06:19 PM

Actually Mike, that was me. She was quoting me.

obviously the Nordic countries are doing rather well economically, but they have had to give in on a lot of their worker protections in order to meet the demands of a new economy (and the EU).

France and Germany are not adapting as well and so there economies are stagnating. My point was if the U.S. follows this trend of worker protectionism, which Virginia wasa advocating, then we may find ourselves in the same boat.

Posted by: Facts people facts | March 22, 2006 06:22 PM

Mike Brooks:

You have mistaken my comment for someone else's. I said nothing about Europe, a 30 hour work week, etc. That was someone else trying to rebut my arguments.

Posted by: Virginia Dare | March 22, 2006 06:23 PM

Hey Facts, I just posted what I'm calling the "DC Dude Plan" in Emily's latest post's comments section. I think it's a winner, but I'm willing to hear anyone's objections to it. Let me know what you think, but I'll be out all evening so I can't reply until tomorrow.

There's a lot of back and forth on this board, so I'm trying to give it a little structure by proposing a consensus-based plan and working from there based on people's reasoned criticism.

Posted by: DC Dude | March 22, 2006 06:36 PM

Peter, I disagree with your data and your conclusions.

First, there are large numbers of uneducated Americans to fill low-skill jobs. Have you seen the drop-out rates, and how poorly American children are faring in math and science? There are plenty of blue collar workers who are out of work and have been replaced by cheaper, illegal labor where employers not only pay less hourly, but they don't pay FICA or workman's comp insurance on these employees, either. Legitimate businesses have a hard time competing.

As for the number of jobs in these sectors increasing...where are you getting your news? Did you not read just today (front page) that GM is cutting more than 100,000 jobs? Ford just downsized a couple of months ago, announcing it is closing several North American plants in 2008.

The manufacturing sector has been decimated with off-shoring. When NAFTA was passed more than 10 years ago, the logic was, "low-skill jobs will decrease, but we will re-train our workforce for higher-skilled, better paying tech jobs." So, manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt were shipped off to Mexico as the manufacturers faced fewer tariffs on completed products coming into the U.S. Some of those folks did take advantage of government-funded training for tech jobs. Guess what? Many of those jobs have been sent to India.

And what NAFTA did to the US textile industry: try to find American-made clothes anywhere. Many towns in the southern United States were built around textile mills, and the employment hubs for those towns have died out. Those jobs were the first to be off-shored; hey, gotta love those Egyptian cotton towels and sheets.

Seriously, take a look at the demographics for once-thriving cities and towns all over the U.S. that were built on manufacturing, and you will find ghost towns. Rochester, NY and other Great Lakes cities. Many places in Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina. The steel industry met the same fate in the 1980s when the US market was flooded with cheap, foreign steel. Cities and towns built around steel mills met the same fate that later befell textile mill towns.

Bottom line: look at every economy that has absorbed a large number of low-wage, low-skilled workers and the long-term results have not been good (France, West Germany come to mind). For overall economic security, a nation must invest in itself. Only short-term interests are served by importing low-wage labor (NOT low-cost, because as I noted above, the taxpayers are subsidizing education, health care and other services for illegals).

Posted by: Mary in Arizona | March 22, 2006 06:36 PM

"Facts people facts", sorry for the confusion. We just got back from Sweden, for a visit with friends, in October and the laws protecting citizen workers is not only still in place, they are making it more stringent. The old laws requires companies to hire Swedish (or, if you are in Denmark or Norway, a Danish or Norwegian) citizens first for ANY job. Thereafter, it goes to Nordic country residents, then to E.U. residents. No "jumping ahead in line" is permitted, either. If a job opens and a Swedish employer hires a non-Swedish citizen for that job and a Swedish citizen can prove they are qualified for the position (NOT better qualified, they don't play that sort of sophist game, just "qualified") then the employer is heavily fined. Illegal aliens not only loose their job, they are deported immediately upon discovery. Further, if you take advantage of their excellent health care and are an alien, even a tourist, you get a bill for the care. Not paying that bill will get you and your family deported immediately and you will end up on a black list and never enter a Nordic country again. Ever.

I fail to see why we cannot enact similar legislation here. This outsourcing insanity is detrimental to the security of this country. At the very least, if a corporation hires a "quest worker" they ought to be made completely and totally respobsible for all social costs for that worker and their family - medical, schools, everything. As it is right now, large corporations are bringing in thousands of workers on L series visa's and simply dumping them in apartment complexes. They feed and house them and work them 10 to 14 hour days, 6 and 7 days a week. They get no benefits. They pay no U.S. taxes. So, if they get sick, they hit the emergency room and WE pick up the bill. If, after a while the corporation rewards the employee by bringing their family over, we get stuck paying for the school, police, and health care costs for thre entire family. ANy civilized country would have these minimal requirements, but not the U.S.!

Posted by: Mike Brooks | March 22, 2006 07:20 PM

Mike Brooks, even if what you say about Sweden is true, they don't have a land border with a developing country and probably don't have the demand for low wage labor that exists in the U.S.

Not all immigrant labor is treated as you suggest, many better off here than in their native countries and they also take jobs that Americans mostly don't want.

Posted by: RealChoices | March 22, 2006 09:08 PM

It's clear to me that Samuelson and comment posters have made a strong and compelling arguments in favor of building a wall. After all, they've touched on nearly all of the major economic questions such as:

How much does a 2,000 mile wall cost (with or without Mexican labor)?

How much does it cost to maintain this wall as compared to the present system?

Are there environmental concerns with building a wall?

What is the labor supply schedule?

How much money is spent on immigrant healthcare?

How much additional profit (which is, believe it or not, a social benefit) is generated by the companies hiring immigrants?

What are the effects on local wages? Are these effects similar to those observed in the Miami metropolitan area when it was flooded by Cuban immigrants when Castro closed the borders (which is to say there were very small effects, at best)?

Does immigrant use further degrade the value of the public goods they consume such as roads, military defense, and to a lesser extent, education?

How much additional cost is shouldered by the average U.S. taxpayer?

And since they've done such a good job answering these questions... oh wait, they haven't answered them? Not one competent answer? Even from Samuelson? Oh my. This must mean basically almost everybody advocating this policy is either a bigot or an idiot.

So to anybody blindly advocating this wall: Until you can give a competent economic analysis addressing any of these questions accurately (if not precisely), you fall into at least one of those two classifications.

And lastly, to anybody who thinks that allowing illegal Mexcians into this country is somehow going to combat in some serious fashion a trade deficit, let me ask you this question: If Mexican labor is really a substitute for Chinese labor, why aren't people just hiring the people in Mexico? After all, we have NAFTA, so it's not like it's that hard to get the goods back here. (Hint, it has something to do with them working in different sectors of the economy).

Posted by: Economist Jerk | March 22, 2006 09:30 PM

what a bunch of garbage.


there's a boat load of rednecks sitting around wondering how they're going to make ends meet now that their factories have moved overseas.


that's the truth.


there may be a boat load of illegals, but they're getting the dollar, because they're going under radar.


the real drama here is that the owners, are using illegals as a way of cutting costs while charging the same, they pocket the difference.

of course the owners will complain, and say that some things will shut down...they will for about 3 days until they hire some regular people that have social security numbers that get paid into.


revenues are down from taxes, wonder why.


there's multiple levels to this, outsourcing, drugs, marginalized citizens that are a drain on the economy that need to be put back in, and some serious thought about "telling the truth" as a regular way of doing business with other countries and especially with our own people...


how can you keep a country safe when you train them to be crackers, homophobes and squawk about a gawd that you only believe in when you're trying to appeal to the blue collar folks that you're destroying...


they don't write or read these pappers, but there's more of them than of you, and most of them don't have jobs right now


because of you, elitist, no-nothing, book reading, theory honking dumb*sses....


you wouldn't know good economic theory if it sat on your face.

.

Posted by: chronic labor shortages? | March 22, 2006 10:11 PM

Amen to chronic labor shortages. Illegals are here to work and make money. Make it so they can't work and earn money and you will have solved the problem. One year jail term for hiring an illegal will solve the problem real quick. There is, after all, legal immigration.

Posted by: jonfromme | March 22, 2006 10:32 PM

.
.
WE ARE THE WEALTHIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.


your country is the WEALTHIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD...


we used to have 37.5 hour work weeks with benefits, healthcare and retirement...


that was normal during the 70's


the only thing that has changed is business practices, legislation, and the fact that people haven't come out of emergency mode...

downsizing, corporate takeovers, .com failure, WorldCom, Enron, legislative changes....destroying unions by moving jobs out of country or engaging in union busting...


you need to understand that blue collar middle class is more important than white collar middle class....there's more people that aren't real bright, but need a future too....that's why the average IQ is 100, not 120.

Andy of Mayberry needs a job that allows him to buy a house and support his family. You used to be able to retire from a department store, or a grocery store....they do not allow unions in grocery stores any more, and your clerk probably never works more than 30 hours a week at one store and probably pays for her own benefits if she has any, and she has kids....

you're embedded in the brightest, richest area of the United States with almost no blue collar workers anywhere near you...


the closest were probably in Fredericksburg VA, they worked for CAPITOL ONE, the credit card company....all 3,000 of them were laid off and their jobs shipped to Bangalore...so much for low paying white collar jobs for country folk...


let me know.

Posted by: we don't need to compete with China.. | March 22, 2006 10:55 PM

when I was growing up.

my father came home by 5:00 PM every day.

had his supper watched the news and read the paper.

he talked with his friends about what he understood was going on.


he had leisure time, to think, to examine, to vote and come to decisions.


without leisure time, you are peasants, you are easily led, you can be controlled with sound bites, with vague generalizations.


working 60 hour work weeks at 1/2 pay makes you vulnerable to not being able to pay attention....you need to legislate

an end to outsourcing and reinforce and replace labor laws that have been removed including the one that stopped paying for overtime.

.

Posted by: there is this... | March 22, 2006 10:59 PM

Hey everyone, first time posting on here, but I felt I had to say something. I'm a student in DC, but I'm from Dallas, and really find myself split on immigration. It's more than some abstraction to me because I witnessed 1. the fact that the public schools were overwhelmed 2. the fact that integration (social, political, etc.) is NOT occurring. 3. Racial tensions, at least between blacks and Hispanics is off the chart and 4.our public health system has been overwhelmed. While I believe that immigration is good, like all good things, it is possible to have too much. We reached that point a while ago. I think a wall is extreme and expensive, but I honestly do not think any plan we formulate should consider Mexico a partner. Hope I'm not sounding two faced or anything.

Posted by: Dallas to DC | March 22, 2006 11:08 PM

Posted by: AgentG | Mar 22, 2006 3:21:48 PM
Forget the wall or any other immigration policy. Immigration is just the reaction.
Any change will have to address the source of the problem -- OUR ADDICTION TO CHEAP ILLEGAL LABOR!!!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Quite correct I believe.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I still cannot understand why the U.S.A., the most technologically advanced country in the world, is unable to enforce it's own labor laws.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Unwilling would be a more accurate word to use here than unable. In either case it a testament to the primacy and effectiveness of lobbying over the actual conduct of government in this country.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Why do we tolerate employers who hire illegal aliens (wink, wink) ?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
For a whole variety of reasons:
1. There are some crops in agriculture where we would simply become untenable in global markets without "cheap labor" (tomato example notwithstanding).
2. We would have to establish a checkable and fraud proof means of national identity and a bureaucracy to administer it. We don't like the idea of giving up so much of our own privacy and autonomy.
3. We would have to enforce it nationwide and uniformly on all businesses. They don't cotton to the idea of bearing the compliance costs for the benefit of the federal government (and they kind of like this cheap supply of labor).
4. Because employers contribute mucho dollars to politicians in one way or another.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Once we realize that entire industries (agriculture, construction, domestic services) all would COLLAPSE without illegal immigrant labor, then we understand that we are also part of the problem.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
COLLAPSE is an overstatement. The only businesses that would collapse are those which would become uncompetitive in the world market and which depend upon cheap labor for survival, mainly found in agriculture. When it comes to high labor content domestic services such as retailing and food services (restaurants) and construction, the result would simply be higher domestic prices paid by consumers. That would tend to shrink those markets for a while and lower our so-called standard of living for a while. Not something we really want to do.....much better to have your cake and also eat it.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
It's very simple, no illegal jobs, no illegal aliens. As a side effect, wages for most Americans would rise as well.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Almost exactly right. Wages for the poorest Americans would rise, the lower paid jobs available would shrink somewhat reflecting increased cost of labor, costs for the rest of Americans would rise.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
What's stopping us -- an inability to hold businesses accountable for the costs that they incur according to our laws. Until we come to terms with that, no wall, landmines, fighter planes, or a multitude of patrols will ever stop the flow.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Right, we have to come to terms with that, and we also have to come to terms with the reality that these business costs will come back to us as consumers.

Good post AgentG, focuses on what actually drives this situation we have muddled ourselves into.

So how do we work our way out of it? I sure don't see an easy painless way. We have something in the neighborhood of 11-13 million illegals already in the country, depending on whose numbers you believe. The majority of these have been here for years and years. We have another net 500k or so illegals added each year, again depending on whose numbers you believe. And we have a circular flow (in and back out) of something like another million or so; it's even harder to get a good fix on this number. While we do have significant illegals from Asia, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe, the bulk of the immigration problem is with our Latin neighbors to the South across our South Western border with Mexico.

Some people propose bilateral negotiations with Mexico to gain control over this flow of people across the border. Nothing could be sillier. The day we depend on the Mexican police or military to control this flow is the day we put them into the coyote business, which is really profitable. Get serious. Corruption is part of the culture and, like all cultural changes, will take years and years to eliminate. This is our problem and we are going to have to solve it ourselves.

I really hate the idea of a border fence, but I just don't see a way around it. The border is just to long to guard it with people. Minefields are a sub-human idea. Drone airplanes with missiles are just as stupid. Cameras and other high-tech surveillance technology is a waste of money as it just isn't that hard to defeat. So if our goal is to actually control the border, I just don't see another way. Would it be 100% effective? No. Nothing will be that. But it would make it much more difficult to move people in volume across the border and unfortunately, too much volume is precisely the problem we face. No doubt drone airplanes and remote cameras will be valuable surveillance adjuncts to the fence, but it will take a formidable physical barrier to be effective.

Assume we have the fence.....overnight, like magic. Assume it works. Is the problem solved? Not really. We still have some 11-13 million illegals scattered around the country. Hunt them down, round them up, and deport them? Forget that one. It is just simply not going to happen; this would bring Chris's ACLU lawyers out of the woodwork in droves. For most of them we are just going to give them green cards and a path to citizenship and get on with the assimilation process. For the rest, we deport the criminals and just let those that don't want to stay go home, wherever that is. Is that then the end of it? No. Now we have to come to grips with the politics of having "guest workers" for specific purposes, for specific industries whether they really need them or not. Maybe we as a nation just say tough, some business's are just going to have to go the way of the dodo. Maybe we say yah, these business's can and the rest can't. If there are any yes's then we still have to figure out how to make a round trip work permit be a round trip.

But it couldn't quite work that way even would we come to that kind of practical conclusion. It would take time to build that fence. In the meanwhile, we would probably see a flood of illegals coming in while the coming was good so the problem would get worse until construction was complete. As fast as the government moves (see Katrina) construction would likely take a long long time. Environmental studies (plus litigation to follow), eminent domain, endangered species, viewshed disputes, architectural design, the usual things.

I personally don't have a problem with our immigration flood in cultural terms. Having been raised in a Latin culture and speaking Spanish as well as English, no tengo ni un problema. Nor do I blame them for our burden of educating their children and taking care of their health. This is a burden we have placed on ourselves, isn't it? Isn't it a matter of our law that Hospital Emergency Rooms HAVE to take care of whoever presents themselves at the door? I might add that they can generally teach us something about "family values"; they generally have stronger family structures coming out of Mexico than we do, at least the first generation does, until we start corrupting it. You do see that in the 17 billion of remittances going back to the family in Mexico, no? So just give the racial and cultural stereotypes a rest folks. The problem isn't really with the character of the people coming here. The problem is the volume just overwhelms our mickey mouse local health and education systems.

So dear Emily, hard as it may be for you to accept number one (how would you deal with this problem?):
1. We have to build a fence (and do so as quickly as possible please).
2. We have to accept our current illegal population into our society and let them assimilate as so many others have.
3. We need to address the level of real temporary workers we need in what specific areas and burden employers with controlling the round trip. (a subject on its own).

With all the conflicting ideology and rhetoric and posturing going on, do I believe we get there? Not very damn likely.

Finally, all this stuff about protecting us from terrorists coming in through Mexico is just nonsense. It has nothing to do with it. The reality is there isn't much of a Muslim community in Mexico, especially as compared to Canada, and it's a whole lot easier to come in over our Northern border than our Southern border. So if you're worried about sneaky terrorists, look North, not South.

Chris Ford .... You are right about the long term, but this is the only way I can see of addressing it. We can't go back and undo what has been done over the last 20 years since IRCA.

Posted by: Cayambe | March 22, 2006 11:29 PM

you take each point as if it were a ripple affecting everything singlely...


that won't work, you have to do multiple things simultaneously, including ending outsourcing, making the INS military-like and on some level making it so painful to hire illegals that no one does.


you've seen my proposal of how to get things back in line...


it takes a multifaceted effort.

but
1. stopping outsourcing
2. requiring that companies that imported products that were foreign made if the products could be made in the UNITED STATES pay some larger tarrif, than those companies brining in unique foreign products...
3. reinstate labor laws
4. use engineers to run the projects, not bureaucrats and allow them to be run like projects reporting to committees in congress, viewed by Americans, instead of those orchestrated propaganda moments that pass for congress in action nowdays.


Give me 245 Billion, I could change things overnight.


regarding debt to China, what debt?


if we go down the world goes down....


if we move backwards, the world moves backwards...


look how the world is acting as we shoot ourselves in the foot in Iraq...


they are not happy, they are acting up.

.

Posted by: you are not an engineer Cayambe... | March 22, 2006 11:43 PM

no pay no stay, what's with you, get a brain boy.

Posted by: we don't need no stinkin fence. | March 22, 2006 11:46 PM

SandyK, does it bother you that you're insane? A little bit? Kill people indiscriminantly because they might be breaking immigration laws? Anti-personnel land mines are a horrible solution in an active war, a weapon of truly last resort, and you want to lace the border of a friendly country with them? I hope you're a straw man troll, but you're so far off the deep end that I'm not even offended; I'm interested in how your mind works from the point of abnormal psychology.

Posted by: Ryan | March 23, 2006 01:04 AM

To me NO country is truly friendly. Politics can make them an enemy in hours (look at Iran and South Vietnam for examples). I don't trust Mexico as I don't trust Canada.

What is insane is folks excusing the Law, and then trying to paint landmines as worse than denying access to services by Americans to this horde, and making us foot the bill.

If the UN, the fringe side of the Democrat Party and Neo-cons think it's fine to deny Americans their rights, they have no business being Americans in the first place -- they need to run to another country where they can preach the same, "please come here and take over our country" message.

Not on my watch.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | March 23, 2006 02:11 AM

The comparison between the Israeli barrier and the wall on the Mexico border is misleading. The US-Mexico border is internationally agreed and not disputed. The wall will be built entirely on US territory. The Israeli wall is being built on occupied territory, and cuts transport links within the Palestinian territories, for example at Qalqilya.

Henry

Posted by: Henry B | March 23, 2006 03:41 AM

Wow, LANDMINES! Reminds me of a moron, somewhere in the south several years ago, who eschewed an alarm system and rigged his back door to trigger a shotgun. That pesky son of his shoulda known.

TH

Posted by: Ted H | March 23, 2006 10:17 AM

Why? Because they're outclassing you in so many ways. They will perform good labor at a better price than Americans will. Hiring people who will provide quality work for less money is not amoral, it's good business. Who would like to pay more for less productivity from an American? Not me. Also, immigrants from Asia make up a disproportionate amount of high-level professional workers (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.) Is America willing to give these people up? Hell, there won't be anybody to design and build your cute little wall without immigrant labor. This notion that immigrants (but only the brown ones, natch) are on a mission to take over your country is xenophobic and ignorant at best. It mostly just sounds like some people are bitter that outsiders are coming in and are likely to surpass you at what you believe to be your own game on your home field. So if you are the type who believes you should have walls surrounding your country, please collaborate with the like-minded and form your own walled republic. Make your wall 50 feet high, and ensure nobody can come in or get out. Then keep your fingers crossed nobody fills it with water.

Posted by: Aericans should be wary of illegal immigrants | March 23, 2006 10:51 AM

Constructing a wall is a joke no matter which side of the political debate you belong. It's a reactionary proposal from a reactionary who wants headlines and doesn't actually think about issues.

First, the immigrants who cross the border actually help the economy by providing the needed cheap labor that is needed in industries like construction, food and hotel service, etc. You cannot hire resident Americans to do this work. If the cheap labor disappears, the economy will be hurt because production will be slowed and labor costs would increase. This will damage all US industries against their foreign competition. Unemployment will increase as the damaged US industries are shuttered.

Posted by: Scott | March 23, 2006 11:04 AM

AgentG wrote:
"I still don't understand why all the enforcement is directed toward the illegal aliens, and WHY NO ONE IS WILLING TO HOLD EMPLOYERS ACCOUNTABLE?"

The law says employers are to be held accountable through IRCA. Its the lack of IRCA enforcement that is the real problem no one is addressing. Immigration reform rarely talks about increasing funding and employees of INS and Customs. So we try to find other ways. More INS agents is hard to grasp while a wall is easy for the simple minded.

You are also right that today's technology should make it easy to find employers hiring illegals and even find the illegals. You have to wonder why the NSA is listneing on Pizza Hut orders and not phone calls to Mexico and south, or watching the outflow of the money illegals make here illegally and send home. As we engineers say when a problem cannot be solved due to the bureauocrats, 'the problem is not a technical one'. We have the laws and technology. What we need is the administration to do its job right. After watching this administration for the past 5 years, I'm not hopeful.

Posted by: Sully | March 23, 2006 11:07 AM

I am heartily in favor of building walls. They should be built around the perimeter of the U.S. to keep you crazy people IN.

Posted by: M.J. Hogue | March 23, 2006 11:22 AM

Should we build a wall? I think it should be given serious consideration. How can we think we're doing all we can about homeland security when we have millions of people in this country illegally? I understand their desire to come here and make money, but it's still against the law.

Until the government decides to enforce the law systematically and thoroughly, putting adequate resources into doing the job-- and perhaps building a fence or flying unmanned drones over the border-- we're not going to have any real security in this country.

Posted by: DB | March 23, 2006 12:17 PM

What we need is the administration to do its job right. After watching this administration for the past 5 years, I'm not hopeful.

Posted by: Sully | Mar 23, 2006 11:07:21 AM

Sully, c'mon. This has been going on for a lot longer than 5 years. Clinton didn't do anything about it either. Its not a Rep/Dem issue. It splits both parties, it always has. Listen to Bill Richardson down in New Mexico complaining about it, a Democrat and a "Libral" one at that (also Latino himself despite his name).

Posted by: Cayambe | March 23, 2006 12:57 PM

Scott-

"First, the immigrants who cross the border actually help the economy by providing the needed cheap labor that is needed in industries like construction, food and hotel service, etc."

Which is why Indonesia's economy is so enviable? The fact is, at some point America has to abandon certain low-wage jobs because we have a standard of living in this country determined by a minimum wage. The construction, food, and hotel services industries would not deteriorate, they would have to pay their workers more money which is fine by me. Illegal immigrants depressing wages is not favorable for the economy, particularly for those individuals who suffer on their paychecks.

"You cannot hire resident Americans to do this work."

Why? Because you said so? Or is it because Americans are pushed from jobs that are handed out below prevailing wages to Juans and Pedros that cannot report expoloitave employment practices for fear of Immigration showing up? Let's keep in mind that employers are breaking laws and doing so only because the victims of these laws are illegal and cannot afford to complain.

"If the cheap labor disappears, the economy will be hurt because production will be slowed and labor costs would increase."

Labor costs would increase because employers would be forced to pay fair wages. This is precisely why we want to expunge illegal immigrants from the country. The Domestic Nike Producing industry was decimated because these jobs were outsourced to Malaysia. I'm done shedding tears over these lost jobs. Our economy survived and it will survive a pay grade increase for domestic construction and hotel services employees.

"This will damage all US industries against their foreign competition. Unemployment will increase as the damaged US industries are shuttered."

Actually, employment would probably go down since illegally employed people tend not to participate in unemployment studies. As the illegals jobs are replaced by American workers at prevailing wages (who participate in unemployment surveys) the already historically and globally low American unemployment rate will drop further.

Somehow Canada survives with a higher unemployment rate than the United States and its economy does not depend on rampant illegal immigration. How do you account for this?

Posted by: Will | March 23, 2006 01:15 PM

I don't see nearly enough emphasis on a smarter solution to illegal immigration.... helping Mexico strengthen its economy so its citizens neither want nor need to leave home in order to make a decent wage and feed their families.

Posted by: Grog | March 23, 2006 01:36 PM

Hey, Scott!

Low wages are a bad thing, not a good thing. (Unless you're a multi-national corporation that cares about nothing but profit.)

Remember Henry Ford who raised the wages of his workers so that they could afford his cars? Cheap labor destroys the very middle class that our economy depends on. You can only sell so much to the rich.

America has always prospered when labor was scarce and workers had enough power to get good wages. So what if you pay a little more to eat in a restaurant or have to cut your grass yourself? You're paying hidden costs for that inexpensive labor -- higher taxes, more crime, more pollution, lower quality of life,

In the 1970's Switzerland consciously rejected the "guest worker" approach and said that there would be no jobs beneath the Swiss. Nobody can say Switzerland has a bad standard of living.

Posted by: Paul | March 23, 2006 01:47 PM

huh?

Posted by: BB | March 23, 2006 02:40 PM

Go Bird Flu!

Posted by: jeanpaul | March 23, 2006 02:51 PM

Paul,

I have to object to your information provided about Switzerland (strangely enough), as I lived there as an American for over 14 years until 2003.

Switzerland had the guest worker permit in effect well into the 1990s, they were called 'saisoniers' (seasonal workers). There are plenty, plenty of jobs beneath the Swiss. No custodial or janitorial work, no dishwasher, and hardly a waiter (except in nobler establishments) is a Swiss today. They have a huge second-class society and a racist, often xenophobic mentality--even among themselves. Discrimination in business and in the employment laws based on gender, age, and race is perfectly legal. What the Swiss don't have is a huge illegal labor problem, because employment is tightly regulated, and in such a small country, widespread enforcement is feasible. Also strong labor union control also contributes towards self-policing of the labor market.

Getting back on topic, I think a guest worker program as Pres. Bush is suggesting is a very positive development. And I though Bush's comments today regarding the immigration debate were laudible. However, I will not allow myself to be fooled by his rhetoric--what he will never say is that all employers need to be held accountable for obeying the law and not hiring illegal aliens. Period.

Posted by: AgentG | March 23, 2006 05:53 PM

Posted by: Chris Ford

"Amnesty triggers full chain migration of illegal's relatives here under the "family reunification. A supposed "moral obligation to our newest citizens to be surrounded by family and favorite villagers as they bring in THEIR relatives in."

What is your source little Hitler?

"Family reunification" counts for 63-68% of total immigration, as winners of past amnesty or those going through legal immigration routes have brought whole families, even whole villages from Mexico and Palestine in (Arab families have extensive family ties - hundreds of relatives, even thousands per "family". America could have 510 billion people by 2050."

You xenophobic little Hitler idiot, it will never reach 510 billion, sober up.

"By 2050, the world will have 9.7 billion. Some 6 billion of which would love to get into the US or the few other nations prosperous and with enough resources still to go around.....Not being Malthusian, just spelling out the facts."

More like swelling out the facts.

"The illegal immigrant debate must factor in:"

Must, is that an order from little Hitler?

"1. Demography ----- The tremendous social, environmental, resource and economic degredations attendent with America having out of control population explosion and passing 500 billion people in less than 50 years."

Now put the bottle down and sober up, it will not be 500 billion.

"2. Family Reunification ---- If the practice Jewish, Cuban interests put into law to give special preference to Soviet Jews and Cuban refugees continues to apply to all immigrants - we not only have legal immigrants seeking to move their villages to America, we will have 12 million illegals seeking to initially get 4-5 family members in if given amnesty. For an additional 60-75 million more people coming in."

Christy, you moron, it was the republican voting Cubans that pushed it.

"3. Economic multiplier --- Every illegal that depresses local wages 50% does not only screw locals with extra taxes, unemployment, but also removes the 5-6X money multiplier from the impact of his/her wages largely going into remittances or paying for more illegals to come - instead of being spent or invested in the local economy.

Hey stupid little Hitler, as long as keep hiring them for $2/hr to mow your lawn and eat at their restaurants, you're the cause.

"4. For a Laugh ----- Listen to a Lefty environmentalist explain how America should comply with Kyoto, abandon hydro and nuclear power, devote more and more of America to "pristine reclaimed wilderness" but who at the same time supports unlimited immigration of the poor, oppressed masses of the 3rd world Franz Fanon talked about - into the US."

Ford, you dumb ass little Hitler, environmentalists support population control. You're the one that voted for the bushes and reagan as president. They opened the gates at the borders, guess that makes you the blame for voting republican. You're the joke.

Posted by: Jamal | March 24, 2006 12:05 AM

I thought it was strange that Bush seems to want a kinder and more respectfull debate on this issue. Since i always thought that he was the master of "devide and conquer" politics i wondered why. After reding all these posts i think i get the message, this is a debate BETWEEN republicans, not between republicans and democrats, so he does not want to wedge his own.
I suspect that those who want a wall and to expell existing illeagals are ordinary folk who only VOTE republican, while those who don't, have the money to support that party with real dollars and want a continued pool of cheap labour.
This would go a long way to explain why your existing laws on illeagals seem to be so little enforced. In essence your president does not want to offend either group of his supporters.
I think that makes the final outcome of this debate clear. There will be no wall because the republican party needs the money and knows that no matter how angry a loyal republican gets, he will never vote democrat anyway.
So, dispite all the fine posts this week on this issue, i am sorry , but it is all a waste of time. Some measures that pay lip service to the issue will no doubt be enacted, a bit like the waste of time anti-lobby measures that won't change anything.
But no meaningful measures will result, because that might slow down the rate of party donations.
For those who do think that a wall is the answer, I agree it might help, but here in Australia our wall is the ocean which completely surrounds our country and we still have problems with illeagal immigration.

Posted by: mooneyc | March 24, 2006 12:41 AM

Cayambe wrote:
"Sully, c'mon. This has been going on for a lot longer than 5 years. Clinton didn't do anything about it either. Its not a Rep/Dem issue. It splits both parties, it always has."

Sure it has, and there is a lot of blame to go around. Both Clinton and Bush can be blamed for not enforcing IRCA. I'm only pointing out that:
1) Bush has not enforced IRCA.
2) Bush is a bumbler.
3) Asking a bumbler to do the job correctly is just not something to hope for.

Posted by: Sully | March 24, 2006 09:23 AM

How can this wall be compared to the berlin wall? One wall was seperating one nation -- the other is seperating two different nations

Posted by: azboy | March 24, 2006 06:17 PM

Why don't you DUMB PEOPLE wake up, check out what it is costing the U.S. for the cheep labor they get, it's just like Wal-Mart the low cost of both is not worth what we get in return. Wal-Mart won't buy
American and mexicans don't want to be Americans, they want the land back that they think we took from them. Wal-Mart is just as Un-American as illegals, we need to put a stop to both of them.

Posted by: Vic Bailey | March 27, 2006 10:12 AM

Most of you don't know the struggles millions of immigrants go everyday to provide to their families, themselves, and THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, why so much quarel about the issue??? It's very ANNOYING!! and down-hearted. Where are the humanitarian values and the equal opportunity rights that USA "so proclaims" itself to be? These people do very humble and hard working jobs that NONE of you are willing to do. WITH THIS WALL, we can only stop a country that promotes progress from growing. If we send back all illegal immigrants to their countries who will work the farmland, contruct houses, etcetera, etcetera. I will not stand the injustice and unfair treatment you're giving to immigrnats, when all they want to do is seek a better opportunity to support their family, while at the same time they contirbute to USA economy.
THE WALL IS A DUMB AND VERY CHILDISH IDEA!!!

Posted by: Mercy | March 29, 2006 07:05 PM

Why don't you people concentrate on your own people, i won't mention races but you already know pretty much who i might be talking about. Those are the people who really take a lot from the economy and don't give back, instead they rob liquor stores, gas stations... you see them on the news everyday committing some type of crime. Also if you go to any major city like down town Chicago or New York, i bet you that you will see them asking for change or sitting down with a foam cup so that later they can go to the same liquor store they robbed two months ago and purchase a 40oz beer.

Your own government doesn't want to do anything about it and that's the reason why you people complain, and you know why your government doesn't do anything about it, because ilegal immigrants are a boost to the economy and you know it, they pay more taxes then most of you and don't receive anything back. Tell me of one illegal immigrant you know that hasn't worked or has looked for a job in this country. Now tell me of citizens that haven't had a job for more than 6 months and don't even make an effort to find one because they rely on the government. Is it the immigrant's fault that this country is full of lazy people that don't even take advantage of their own opportunities?

Posted by: | April 4, 2006 03:11 PM

"Why? Because they're outclassing you in so many ways. They will perform good labor at a better price than Americans will. Hiring people who will provide quality work for less money is not amoral, it's good business. Who would like to pay more for less productivity from an American? Not me. Also, immigrants from Asia make up a disproportionate amount of high-level professional workers (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.) Is America willing to give these people up? Hell, there won't be anybody to design and build your cute little wall without immigrant labor. This notion that immigrants (but only the brown ones, natch) are on a mission to take over your country is xenophobic and ignorant at best. It mostly just sounds like some people are bitter that outsiders are coming in and are likely to surpass you at what you believe to be your own game on your home field. So if you are the type who believes you should have walls surrounding your country, please collaborate with the like-minded and form your own walled republic. Make your wall 50 feet high, and ensure nobody can come in or get out. Then keep your fingers crossed nobody fills it with water. "

I agree with this guy, not only that but harsher rules will be applied in the future not only for illegals but also for those citizens who take advantage of them. Did you know that more than 78% of all immigrant hispanics are under the age of 15? Prepare for the future laws because these percentages are citizens of immigrant parents and if fare laws aren't being passed now, THEY WILL in the future because those kids are going to grow and VOTE!

Posted by: Tony | April 4, 2006 09:32 PM

Emily,

The wall in Germany separated a country--east from west. Mexico, as hard as it is for some to believe, is not part of the United States.

Posted by: cmt | April 11, 2006 11:51 AM

I don't want my child who has to learn to speak Spanish just because he needs to buy a soft drink in a store in California 10 years later, so build the wall. I would pay tax for building a wall.

Posted by: Alex | April 12, 2006 03:07 AM

Come on you all, get on with your life, bite the bullet, and accept that an "American Union" between North and Central America already exists, de-facto, and issue a common passport for all the citizens of the enlarged American Union.
Such a strategy would make it possible for the over 11 million illegal immigrants that dare not leave the US because they do not know whether they can later return, to be freed from their (also de-facto) mother of all jails, and go home, on a temporary but perhaps also permanent basis.
It would also help to you to realize that had the US spent an Iraq-war sized budget assisting Central America, as the European Union did with Spain and others, the whole immigration debate could have been a moot issue, with exception perhaps of all the aging baby boomers moving south to find care and services.
When you see how all the Central Americans toil away in the US and help their families back home, don't you see that is just part of the process whereby the US manages to renew its working and family ethics, in order to remain strong.
It is sad in today's globalized world to still find so many local Americans who believe that when they ship a criminal band member over the border, to someone much less resourceful, they have gotten rid of their problem.
How can you think of building a Maginot line, if it is not in the Bering Strait and the Panama Canal?
www.voiceandnoise.blogspot.com

Posted by: Per Kurowski | April 13, 2006 04:16 PM

ABSOLUTELY.....build that wall. We are being flooded by illegal immigrants that have lowered the wages in our areas along with the standards of living.
If these people have been able to find the "strength" to have their "day without immigrants" and make a stand in MY country. Why not go back home and find the strength to make a stand in your own country to change things there instead of bringing MY country down with you? Go home, open up more jobs for those who are here LEGALLY, and figure out how to fix your own country.

Posted by: Peggy S. Bailey | May 1, 2006 02:42 PM

Some California professor with an ax to grind wrote an article this morning to liken the current illegal Latino protests with others in the 20th Century including the Civil Rights movement. Some Historian! He fails to make the very obvious connection that all of the prior demonstrations were carried out by LEGAL citizens who, under the Constitution, had the right of free assembly and free speech.

The ILLEGAL Aliens who now gather to protest their unfair treatment in a land they have invaded continue to forget they receive free welfare, free education, free medical and radio/TV in their own language. They now gather to DEMAND, in addition to free taxpayer services, that we change our laws, our sovereignty, our language and our culture to accommodate them.

Here's a history lesson. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who commanded the combined Japanese Fleet said: "I fear we have awakened a sleeping Giant." Thanks to the illegal alien protests, America is now awake. We were the sleeping GIANT and now we will build a wall to protect our sovereignty and we will reform immigration laws to penalize those who violate the laws of the land! Our congressman and Senators have heard us (75% unanomous voice lately) and will now hear us even louder. If they fail to act, we, the legal voters, will replace them. BUILD A WALL CONGRESS!

As for the attempt at a boycott yesterday, my neighbors have decided to show the illegals what a boycott is. No more will we buy Goya food products. No more will we patronize restaurants that hire illegal immigrants. No more will we hire yard workers, house cleaners, roofers, or construction firms that employ illegal immigrants. (Yes, there are Americans who perform those same services). We will write our congressmen daily to remind them who voted for them and to tell them to tell the FCC to revoke Spanish only broadcast licenses. That's a boycott! If you are here illegally, keep waiving those Mexican flags. Soon you will go home. America, the sleeping Giant, has awoken!

Posted by: Backlash | May 2, 2006 11:06 AM

Much as I like the idea of landmines -- and I'm sure our armaments manufacturers would too -- lets not forget that one of our major problems is finding places to dump nuclear and chemical waste.

Imagine a 10 mile wide "dead zone" on the US side of the border. Of course we would need to erect a fence to keep animals out. And we would need to post warning signs (in English).

Posted by: Mo | May 3, 2006 06:21 PM

I really can't believe how racist our country is. Unless you are an American Indian native, you have no room to discuss this issue. You had everything handed to you because you were BORN IN A FREE COUNTRY!!! Our ansestors came here and conquired - they killed people who didn't reform to their beliefs- is that what this is leading to? Seriously are we all that hatefull....bulid a wall around yourself and keep the rest of us out of your life! Please do us all a favor.

Posted by: KELLY | May 9, 2006 10:55 PM

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