The social Matrix

The social Matrix

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lost in Translation--Getting the Facts on Immigration

I hear it all the time. "We should kick them out (illegal immigrants)," "they dont belong here they should come in legally."

As the political debates heat up one topic that is going to be crucial this election is season is immigration. The political contrast on this issue is stark. While Romney has taken up a hardliner approach to immigration, vowing to veto the DREAM Act, both Gingrich and Ron Paul made statements that were more moderate on the issue.

Given Romney's position on immigration I am still surprised he won Nevada although  identity politics may have something to do with it he is Mormon.

Nevada's Latinos make up 26.5 percent of the 2.7 million residents in the state. Perhaps more important is the fact that 78 percent of the Hispanic population  is from Mexico. Although, Latinos are mostly democrats it is going to be hard for Obama to secure a win in Nevada with an unemployment rate for latinos at 19 percent.

Neverteless, mass deportation of illegal immigrants is not a pragmatic solution to such a delicate issue. The mass deportation of illegal immigrants would have disastrous consequences for our economy. As cliche as it may sound  many of the jobs that illegal immigrants perform are jobs most Americans do not want such as picking fruit, and dismembering chickens.

Would Americans perform these jobs for higher pay? Perhaps but the inflaltionary impact that it will have on the economy will discourage consumer spending at a time were consumer spending is needed to stimulate the economy. For example,  According to Laura Hill, a research fellow at the nonopartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that food such as lettuce strawberrys and spinach would increase in price.

 Which would mean no more strawberries dipped in chocolate this valentine's day. It is not just Americans who are reluctant to perform the jobs of illegal Immigrants. A few summers ago, a Spanish employment agency found out that less than 1,700 unemployed people, mostly non-Spanish, out of 7,800 unemployed workers accepted the job.

A 2006 study by the Pew Hispanic Center said that they found no evidence to support the claim that there was a link between immigration and higher unemployment for native Americans. The study looked at the immigration patterns all states and compared the data to the unemployment rate.

One complaint that many have about illegal immigrants is that they take and more than they contribute to the growth of the economy.

There is some truth to this. According to the Center for Immigration Studies,  Immigrants in general use at least one welfare program at 50 percent higher rate than their American-born counterparts. In addition, the cost for providing health care to illegal immigrants in Los Angelos County  in 2002 was $340 million.

It would be intellectual dishonest for me to suggest that the existences of illegal immigrants in the United States does not create any economic problems, but the truth is that the benefits outweigh the losses.
Take for example Social Security. Many analysis and pundits have said that the social security system will go bankrupt unless appropriate reforms are put in place.

What gets lost and ignored in the social security debate is the fact that illegal immigrants still pay federal taxes because regardless of immigrant status, employers deduct payroll taxes from their paychecks.
 In 2002, one study at the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University Illinois in Chicago, found that 70 percent of undocumented immigrants paid payroll taxes. If you think Social Security is bad now just wait and see what will happen if every illegal immigrant is deported.

That is not the only economic benefit. The same study discovered that the spending by illegal immigrants generated more than 31,000 jobs and contributed more than $5.34 billion annually to Chicago's economy.
The economic benefits of illegal immigrants is not limited to Chicago. In North Carolina there are simiar results. While illegal immigrants may cost the state $61 million they also stimulated the economy by $9 billion.

One important distinction to make is that while the country as a whole benefits from illegal immigration, it is individual states that absorb the cost.

Some commentators have suggested that both illegal and legal immigration is causing wages to fall for native born Americans. in 2006 former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs said that immigrants were causing wages to fall for native born Americans by $200 billion a year. The truth is that there is no positive correlation between the loss of wages for Americans as a result of an increase in immigrants. The one group that is effected are other immigrants who work in similar sectors of the economy.

One study conducted from 1990-2004 discovered that immigration in California caused wages to increase by four percent. This is because immigrants  tend to work in jobs that compliment american jobs rather than replace them.

It is not just the economic impact of both immigrants and illegal immigrants that has caused controversy. Another easily disprovable myth about illegal immigrants is that they have a propensity for violence and criminal behavior. A U.S. Representative from Iowa claimed that illegal immigrants kill 25 Americans a day. In 2006, a conservative radio host claimed that illegal murder 45,000 American citizens since 9-11. This would mean that four percent of the population is responsible for 53 percent of all murders.

Furthermore the assumption that terrorist might use mexico to get to America is not based on fact. The millienium bomber was apprehended from Canada not Mexico. Also none of the hijackers that caused september 11 came through Mexico.

Perhaps I am too soft on immigration but this statement is a little hyperbolic. just a little.
 In an article from the Southern Poverty Law Center's, intelligence Report, one study found that the "rate of violence among Mexican Americans was significantly lower than among non-Latino Americans."
If anything illegal immigrants are coming to America because of the rise in Crime in Mexico and Central America.   According to an article in the Economists, a significant number of citizens said that Crime is far greater concern than unemployment.

Again, this shows that the reasons illegal immigrants come to america are more complex then some would like to believe.

There are various reasons why people decide to leave their homeland. Some leave for economic opportunities others are refugees and leave for political reasons. In 2008 many migrants entering through the Mediterranean came to Italy for Political Asylum. During that year the majority of the 36,000 migrants who came to Italy seeking humanitarian relief.

Of course economics cannot be ignored. Given recent events, the rate of immigration is declining. For instance the number of Latino immigrants in Spain has decreased by 100,000. This is causing a labor shortage for many countries.  Germany has 36,000 unfilled engineering positions and 43,000 openings in the information field.

A Sensible immigration policy needs to take into consideration labor demands. There is other evidence that show immigration is declining. According to Frontex, the European Union's border-security agency, only 150 people migrated to Italy and Lata in the first quarter of 2010 which is remarkably lower than in 2009 . (5,200) even though it was not the whole year.

There have been attempts by governments to offer various incentives for immigrants to come and stay but most of the policies have discourage immigrants from coming. For example, Spain has convinced north-west African countries to put the ports of departure further south to make the trip to the Canaries more dangerous and expensive.

According to immigration scholar, Tamar Jacoby, one deterrent for immigration in Germany is the byzantine and burdensome visa process. Likewise in 2006 Canada put more restrictions on immigration by making the citizenship test harder and making it more costly  for an investor to get access.

Many immigrants experience extreme conditions to get to their new destinations.  attempting to travel to the Canary islands face a host of issues such as paying between $1,200-$2,000 to be transported by Senegalese merchants. Many end up getting arrested and detain some are thrown over board by their captains to ease the weight of the ships.

Likewise it is nearly impossible for Mexicans and other immigrants from Hispanic countries to enter America especially if they are poor. Many Mexicans decide to swim the Grand Rio to gain entrance in the United States. Just as there are middlemen in Africa who profit enormously from taking immigrants to another country so do men known as coyotes profit from the same thing in the southern border of the United States.

As much as I hate to admit it some immigration policy were motivated by racism and ethnic-centrism such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882  and the National Origin System in 1921. Some believe that the immigration policies in much of Europe discourages immigration from Africa because it is a threat to its racial homogeneity.

A good example of this is the treatment of the Roma population in Europe. Last year a gunman in Eastern Europe killed seven people and injured 14 before committing suicide. Six of the victims were a Roma Family killed inside their apartment. Many Roma have traveled westward for more opportunity urtunity. One time Hungarian police collaborated with the FBI because of a number of attacks on Roma Setllements, which left a five-year-old boy dead.

Also five Roma boys were arrested for theft and forced to strip naked, kiss and hit each other as police filmed it.

 The treatment of the Roma population is extremely abohorrent. One member of a far-right Hungarian party, called for the internment of the Roma.

it is not just the Roma who are victims of xenophobia one politician in Germany blatantly said that immigrants from Arabia and Turkey are no longer welcomed.

Not surprisingly, the United States is home to numerous irrational manifestations of xenophobia  such as billionaire Rust Childress who sent radical groups to harass day labors in Phoenix. Ironically, the auto dealer has illegal immigrants working at some of his dealerships. The same group known as Freedom Riders, went to a parking lot to place a citizen's arrest on a mother who was hiding in a church.

Not convinced? What about Jason JT Ready, a Nativist who would like  to place land mines near the Texas Mexican border and said that

"The truth is that negroids screw monkeys and rape babies in Afreaka...stop negroid immigration and intergration now!

Another brilliant example is 25-year-old Vito Vaccaro who formed a group based on trying to expel all Muslims from America. Vaccao conveniently ignores the fact that Muslims have been coming to America since the 19th century and that the first mosque was built around the 1920s. Vaccao created a party called the Loyalist Party Against Islamic Hate to promote this agenda.

If Vaccaro had his way were would he send all the Muslim converts who have no ancestral connection to another country?

In 2007 the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project identified 144 nativist extremists groups. There behavior and language is saturated with Irony. According to a leader in the Emigration party the "invasion" of illegal immigrants is akin to the invasion of Ghengis Khan.

Yet it is the American Freedom riders, a group of nativists, who entered a church parking lot and surrounded a group of immigrants with their motorcycles.  The same person who made the Genghis Khan comparison said that Latino women apprehended should be forced to undergo sterilization so that America does not become a "third World sewer."

More recently, a police Chief in New York decided to resign after news surfaced that his officers were acting abusively toward Latinos.

To be fair there are legitimate concerns when it comes to immigration. One study estimated that between 10-12 percent of Muslims in Germany are prone to radical Islamic thinking, and  25 percent of Muslim teenagers are hostile to Christians and Jews. Surprisingly, this is not the only European country that has had been a popular destination for adherents of a radical interpretation of Islam. More recently, there has been a group of Muslims in Belgium calling for Sharia law. The hatred for non-Muslims is as despicable as any other group based on hate.

There are other problems with immigration that arent as inflammatory such as the lack of renting space available in Canada in large cities because of immigration.

Regardless immigration is going to be crucial in 2012 election just as it was for Barack Obama. Harry Reid credit his successful defeat of Sharon Angle to the support he garnered from Latino voters.

Unless the GOP candidates approach immigration reform with support from the Latino community, then they can say hasta luego to defeating president Obama come this fall.

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