Economics of illegal immigration

Prosecute and fine or imprison people who make an effort to make life easy for illegal immigrants. Employers who hire them, judges who help them sneak out the back of the courtroom, state and local government policy-makers who forbid their underlings from cooperating with immigration authorities…

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But don’t forget the political bait used, in terms of free stuff, that certain folks offer that promotes this thing called flooded borders. For this ilk the border issue is just like Antifa…they don’t exist.

YR

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bt

Good interesting post.

One clarification, what those like me are advocating is NOT

“raiding places like Google and MIT for the 700,000 each year who overstay their work and student visas”

but using an IRS and SSI paper trail system to identify and go after ILLEGAL employers with severe penalties. When the paycheck is gone the ex-employees will have little choice but to go home. You know, like all those “developed countries with declining work forces who are moving to liberalize their immigration laws.”

And this is not just about xenophobic and political stupidity, but also very much about big scale long term macroeconomics. Canada, USA, Mexico with their different bags of resources would make a staggeringly powerful combination if we even minimally coordinated policy on foreign trade, immigration, investment, etc… Instead, we are put at each others throats as if we were India and Pakistan. Why is that?

david fb

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Even this quite intelligent board, but also almost all the chattering classes (pols, newsies, cabbies…) and therefore the “people” are utterly fixated on the idea that enforcement must happen at the border.

Ever wonder why people lock the front door instead of dealing with ALL callers in the living room?

The ‘chattering’ Captain

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When the paycheck is gone the ex-employees will have little choice but to go home.

Really?

What makes immigration such a fiendishly difficult issue is that it’s changed a lot since the 1980’s. In days gone by, people working here illegally were more often young single people whose families lived back in their country of origin, and they would work to send money back to their countries of origin. Certainly there are still large numbers of migrants that fit that profile. Increasingly, though, migrants are part of family units - either they’ve moved here as a family (completely uprooting from their country of origin) or the migrant has formed a family here, with spouses and/or children that are U.S. citizens.

They’re not leaving just because they can’t get a paycheck in the official economy. They’re not going to “self-deport.”

That’s why immigrant advocates strenuously oppose tighter workplace enforcement. They argue that those policies will just immiserate communities with large numbers of undocumented migrants for no purpose. Social and public services get strained, and the legal members of their families end up having to support those who now lose their jobs, instead of letting people who are able and willing to work to support themselves do so.

To say nothing of the economic impact on the industries that rely on such workers.

Albaby

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Most of the discussions are hear and read about this are a poisonous mix of intentional racist demagoguery and fantasist arguments more divorced from reality than angels dancing on the head of a pin being of principle importance in religion. Nonsense.

Ayup. There has been a push, for several years, to sharply curtail legal immigration. Most legal immigrants come via chain migration, because they already have family living here legally. Now, even legal immigration is unacceptable to some. As a prominent person whined, words to the effect “they all come from (poor) countries. We want people from Norway”.

Steve

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Captain:

why people lock the front door instead of dealing with ALL callers in the living room?

A witty and well aimed punch, Captain, but devoid of sufficient thrust to get more than a burp from me.

Whatever else it is, a 2000 mile border (and that is ignoring the easily accessible and often used USA coastlines of the Gulf of MEXICO and of California) is NOT a closable lockable front door. I have traveled almost every mile of it by boat foot or bicycle, and it is a rugged but easily penetrable barrier.

I suggest as a metaphor instead, Why people keep trying to lock a non-existent front door and when the problem is the hamburger handout that the crazy powerful uncle is doing in the kitchen to all comers willing to do “a little service” (OK OK, forget hamburgers and go rice, beans and lettuce burritos!).

:wink:

david fb

David, I don’t wish to discuss the American immigration problem, much too complex and out of my area of interest. But if you are going to leave land borders open why bother with immigration in ports and airports? From a non-partisan point of view, I’d secure all borders as much as possible AND go after people who hire illegal immigrants. It was not long ago that someone in Congress got nabbed. My cousins also hired illegal immigrants. This was some 3 decades ago when there was an amnesty. The maid got her green card and from then on was legally hired.

BTW, the “witty and well aimed punch” was aimed at “the chattering classes (pols, newsies, cabbies…).”

The Captain

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albaby

Right on point.

BUT when we’ve run a scam immigration policy for decades you build up problems, and whatever new policies we put in place to have control over who comes here and how and when we must also deal with those who have been in USA long enough to be vital to their communities, families, and even the nation. Even many rabid “no more immigrants” people, as well as a big majority of the USA population, support the dreamers staying, and I support a path to citizenship for all those long time here who meet certain criteria. But none of that can happen so long as the employers are off the hook and scam remains in place. The immigration scam has parallels with the problems addressed in “attractive nuisance” law. You know you have an attractive nuisance and you do nothing about it but whine and occasionally chase people away? Well, you are probably liable.

The Ronald Reagan amnesty that did nothing beyond making some bleeding hearts feel fuzzy and agro-business feel much more secure in their exploitations. It worsened the situation and poisoned the conversation (and I say THAT was and remains the intent!!!).

You need to have sensible (cost effective and plain effective effective) control over the main attractor (illegal $$$) established first or people will come all the faster. Period.

And I go back to my main point: You CANNOT solve this problem by “closing” our huge borders successfully without insane expense, destruction, and quasi-totalitarian enforcement.

david fb

I think the only possibility of a bipartisan immigration policy is to build one solely on economics. A simple model would be to estimate the number of foreign-born workers required each year to maintain acceptable economic growth then raise immigration/refugee/work permit levels to meet that need. Once established one can then secure the borders.

But that to me is still just a bandaid that avoids the real problem. Here is what I think we should do in chronological order.

  1. Spend billions to expand drug testing and drug rehabilitation (probably the cost of one aircraft carrier or a squadron of F35 fighters). Double the alcohol tax to help pay for that.
  2. Mandate annual drug testing for all federal employees, president on down. Must test negative or be actively participating in a rehab program.
  3. Mandate annual drug testing for anyone receiving federal funds. For government contracts with private industry this would include the CEO and upper management as well as those directly involved in the project. Would include those receiving government research grants, food stamps, student loans, etc. Universities receiving federal funds would have to establish a drug testing program for everyone from the president to the food service worker.

No one loses their job or benefits unless they are breaking the law and refuse rehab. I don’t think obeying the law is an unreasonable request for receiving federal dollars.

My guess is that US drug demand would decline precipitously, followed by the collapse of drug cartel finances low enough to give the Mexican and Central American governments a fighting chance against them. Their economies will improve and the northward flow of drug violence refugees would fall to a trickle.

A more sober America should have higher productivity and lower health costs, while there would be a ton of new jobs in drug counseling that are largely immune to robots and AI. So many wins here I’ve lost count.

I believe the crux of the problem is American drug use. If one doesn’t directly deal with that then I don’t believe one is serious about dealing with illegal immigration/refugees whether conservative or progressive.

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And I go back to my main point: You CANNOT solve this problem by “closing” our huge borders successfully without insane expense, destruction, and quasi-totalitarian enforcement.

david fb,

I agree with everything you said. I would like to know if “insane expense, destruction” would be more than say . . . invading and destroying a middle eastern country?

Just curious.

Also, if we built a double border wall from Brownsville to San Diego, we could put a roof on it, call it a mall and we could get free patrols from geriatric mall walkers.

Add in a few skylights, grow cannibus and the mall walkers would have natural solutions to the pain of a 2000 mile mall walk.

Cheers
Qazulight (BOXES!? We don’t need no stinkin’ BOXES!)

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Qaz

Partly from being raised by fiercely quietly patriotic WWII father who REALLY thought knowledge mattered, I have long known the grim history back to USA teaming up with Great Britain to eviscerate Persian democracy so as to be take Persia’s oil in time for WWI, down through our current “residual” horror show participation in further destroying Syria.

It is all very sick.

david fb

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Why would they thank Desantis?

Maybe for getting them away from all of the unpleasant people where they were and to a place where they were treated like human beings instead of unwanted cattle?

—Peter

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I would like to know if “insane expense, destruction” would be more than say . . . invading and destroying a middle eastern country?

Context is everything, why just “invading and destroying a middle eastern country?” Why not compare to saving Wall Street banks from their own greed, stupidity, moral hazard, and externality? How much did taxpayers pay for 2008? At least the IRA buggers the neighbors!

Cheers qazulight, excellent point!

The Captain

PS: IRA, Tesla is transferring battery making equipment from Berlin to Austin

PPS: As a Tesla shareholder I love to get some of that tax handout

You need to have sensible (cost effective and plain effective effective) control over the main attractor (illegal $$$) established first or people will come all the faster. Period.

And I go back to my main point: You CANNOT solve this problem by “closing” our huge borders successfully without insane expense, destruction, and quasi-totalitarian enforcement.

The issue, though, is that there are just too many people here unlawfully in order to establish “sensible” control over employment without having insane expense and destruction. Which blocks any movement towards that as a solution.

There are approximately 8 million migrants who are here unlawfully that are participating in the workforce. Roughly 4% of the current labor force. Obviously that’s more concentrated in certain parts of the country (especially near the border). It’s also more concentrated in certain industries that rely on undocumented labor for production of goods and services that we don’t want to or can’t import from overseas (agriculture, construction, hospitality).

Those millions of people are “in the way” of any draconian employer enforcement policy. You can’t make a big shift to such enforcement without inflicting enormous economic destruction. There are literally millions of people - and wide swatches of the community - that depend on the earnings of those unauthorized workers. Immiserating all those families and pushing them onto public support would be devastating. And of course, you’d end up crippling vast swatches of the economy in the areas and industries where they are concentrated.

The economically less damaging solution would be to legalize nearly everyone who’s already here, and thereafter impose draconian enforcement measures. The impacts would still be brutal - you’d lose vast swatches of the economy to Baumol’s cost disease - but not as devastating as just going straight to enforcement. But obviously there are political hurdles that make that impossible (which are not appropriate for METAR discussion).

Which is why the status quo governs. It’s a de facto solution to all these problems. Labor-intensive place-dependent industries get lower-cost unskilled labor (which helps the economy); migrants get a precarious but better-than-nothing refuge from whatever drove them north; and we dodge the political barriers to conferring citizenship on a large number of new people.

Albaby

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Ever wonder why people lock the front door instead of dealing with ALL callers in the living room?

The ‘chattering’ Captain

But Denny. Prosecuting employers is more akin to having an invisible fence around the yard than it is ‘dealing with all callers in your living room’
NCTim

Which is why the status quo governs. It’s a de facto solution to all these problems.

Exactly. I would go further to say that (IMO of course) nearly all the proposals and criticisms about immigration from the left and right are remarkably consistent in missing the main points, of which there are two.

First, age demographics and the weird kind of decadence that occurs with increasing wealth has created an American economy that requires a lot more foreign-born workers than we allow in legally. Illegal immigrants solve a problem that is far larger than any they create.

Second, there are conditions that are causing large numbers of people in Central America and Mexico to leave their countries and migrate northward. In the short-term this is criminal violence created by American demand for illegal drugs. In the long term it will be crop failures caused by climate change. People here constantly argue between mitigation and adaptation with respect to climate change. Bear in mind that migrating northward is the most likely climate adaptation for those south of our border.

The solutions are simple and hard. Greatly increase legal immigration, substantially reduce American demand for illegal drugs, and mitigate climate change.

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The economically less damaging solution would be to legalize nearly everyone who’s already here, and thereafter impose draconian enforcement measures.

Albaby,

We have seen from the financial crisis that our “legalizing” bad behavior by the big banks merely codified “moral hazard” to the point of absurdity.

Approving past illegal behavior without extracting a pound of flesh and imposing regulatory conditions would incentivize more of the same, with the migrant criminals and potential terrorists already in our midst being given a license to commit harm.

We desperately need a quickly-formulated and Congressionally-approved regulatory “work visa” scheme based loosely upon my earlier proposal that immigrants be categorized by their skills and offered immediate employment eligibility.

All existing undocumented immigrants should be required to register and submit to categorization according to this work legitimization scheme in order to re-impose some semblance of order upon the migratory hordes.

To implement my scheme, we can hire 87,000 immigration officers to process undocumented immigrants instead of 87,000 IRS agents to audit waitresses and Realtors™.

Imposing penalties upon employers without imposing obligations on migrants loads burdens upon US citizens greater than the burdens upon non-citizens. That violates Americans’ sense of fundamental fairness.

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Imposing penalties upon employers without imposing obligations on migrants loads burdens upon US citizens greater than the burdens upon non-citizens. That violates Americans’ sense of fundamental fairness.

The “JCs” are violating the law in hiring illegals. Giving the “JCs” a free pass seems fundamentally unfair to me, but the rule in Shinyland is “must not burden the JCs”.

Using Denny’s front door allegory, would anyone break in to your house if they knew, ahead of time, there was nothing in there that was of any use to them?

All the discussion of guest worker programs and regulated immigration misses one point: as a very prominent person said, they aren’t from Norway.

Steve

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