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Like so many public policy debates that go on in America, the people will be robbed of the debate we should be having as it relates to the immigration reform plan front and center in Congress right now.  Charles Babington and the rest of the Beltway pundits are most interested in how this legislation will impact the partisan horse race and escalating tribalism in American politics.  The lawmakers themselves are most obsessed with border security and the legal treatment of current and future illegal immigrants.  While both discussions are important, we're missing the forest for the trees if we limit the entire immigration debate to these issues.  Finally getting some headlines this week is that the immigration reform legislation will increase the numbers of legal immigrants that America absorbs to 36 million over the course of the next 20 years.  That's a pretty eye-opening number, and the specifics of that legal immigration surge and its impact on our economy should be front and center in the debate over this legislation.

To the limited extent this topic is discussed, there are strong arguments to be made on both sides.  On the pro-immigration side, it's undeniable that cities and neighborhoods in America that have seen significant in-migration by immigrants have healthier economies than do places like Detroit, Philadelphia, or the average lilly-white rural community in Middle America that has not seen new arrivals in decades.  Furthermore, the whiz-kid immigrants brought in to be employed largely in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields where America is severely lacking really stand out as success stories for those calling for an aggressive pro-immigration policy.

On the other hand, I found it quite telling that apostate immigration reform supporter Grover Norquist from the country club faction of the GOP responded to the inquiry about the impact deporting illegal immigrants would have on the economy, and his response was "it would lower GDP".  Yes, I imagine that reducing the country's population by 11 million through a preposterous deportation pipe dream would be a net drag on GDP, but I think we know that the part of GDP that Mr. Norquist is most concerned about being reduced is the bloated profits that his corporate clients enjoy as a result of having more low-skill workers in the economy than are needed and thus keeping wages artificially low.

Make no mistake....I'm fully onboard with legalizing however many illegal immigrants are in America and getting them on as accelerated as possible path to citizenship.  And I suspect most Americans are onboard with that.  But instead of fighting about the illegal immigration policy of the past, is it too much to ask we have a public hearing on the illegal AND LEGAL immigration policy of the future?  I'm sure there's language in the bill specifying who these 36 million new legal immigrants over the next 20 years will be, but I haven't heard anything about it.  Will they disproportionately be more STEM students who will be taking unfilled technology jobs and earn $100,000 per year salaries?  Or will they disproportionately be the family members of low-skill immigrants already living in America who will be competing with existing Americans of all races for a dwindling number of low-skill jobs?  Again, it would be really nice if we could have that discussion rather than endless talk about how immigration reform will impact the 2016 election or pie-in-the-sky proclamations of new border patrol agents being hired.

The answer to this question that isn't being asked will have an impact on my own level of support for this legislation in the short-term, and a much more profound effect on the American economy and its underclass long-term.  As Paul Krugman constantly points out, the biggest crisis in America today is the level of long-term unemployment, and the profile of the long-term unemployed tends to be middle-aged blue-collar males of all races, many of whom are considered to have "dropped out of the labor force" as a result of the diminished demand for their limited-to-modest job skills.  Any immigration policy that will inflate the percentage of the population whose job skills are not in demand--at least not above poverty wages--is an immigration policy that will not serve America well.  And the public deserves to know if the immigration policy that Congress is currently debating is or is not that kind of immigration policy.

But going back to Norquist's calculation connecting immigration rather clinically to GDP, the natural conclusion of that logic is that if all of the world's 6.5 billion residents moved onto American soil, it would be a net positive because of the growth of GDP.  Few would agree with that conclusion, acknowledging that there's a point of diminishing returns.  But the biggest question for me from this immigration reform proposal is whether 36 million new legal immigrants over 20 years crosses that tipping point of diminishing returns.  At this point I can still be persuaded either way.....at least if anyone gets off the political horse race and the "human border fence" debate long enough to give the economic impact of new legal immigrants a public hearing.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You want to debate an immigration (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IT Professional

    bill that is dead on arrival in the House? I'd be happy to participate. Wake me up when the GOP no longer controls the House and there is once again legislation coming out of Washington. Until then, really what is the point?

  •  Excellent start of discussion (5+ / 0-)

    The current immigration bill is going to absolutely destroy those odd persons who have no representation either here or in congress. These are called students, and the increase in H-1b, green cards, and other economic weapons of mass destruction will devastate these persons.

    Unemployment in college grads is huge. They cannot find full time jobs. Internships are unpaid. Full time positions are hard to find. H-1Bs and additional green cards will steal more of these jobs.

    Many here seem totally unaware of the vast number of visa programs. There are J-1, L-1, F-1, O-1, B-1, H-1b, and so forth. The J-1 alone is 500,000 jobs per year, and they range from physicians, lifeguards, au pairs, etc - up and down the economic spectrum, but 500,000 jobs per year.

    H-1bs will double, and the cap will raise every time it is hit. Already H-1Bs fill 25% of the high tech positions. These jobs are high-paying, and should be filled by US college grads. US IT grads are NOT 100% employed.

    And if you think that the corporations are playing fair, they are not. The immigration lawyers, or lampreys in human form, are out there to assist corporations in FINDING WAYS AROUND HIRING US CITIZENS. Google "Cohen & grigsby" if you have never heard this - immigration lawyers telling corporate hiring staff how to get around US rules to hire Americans (and these rules are extremely lax and worthless). "Remember, the goal is to NOT hire an American worker".

  •  You are right to question the H1B provisions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, WorkerInUSA, claude

    of this bill.  It has everything to do with skilled labor from other countries.  When our unemployment rate is in the high 7's, it is insane to even consider importing skilled labor.  The arguement that these jobs can't be filled by American workers is BS.  

    "The regulations define a "specialty occupation" as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor[1] including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum...."

    I worked for a major corporation with 25% foreign professionals working there.  They were smart, skilled, knew the language, no complaint there.  The problem was that local graduates of a very good university were taking "clerical" jobs in order to get their foot in the door, while the plum jobs went to foreign workers.

    •  And there is a reason for this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      importer, hannah, claude, IT Professional

      The good jobs do go to the H-1Bs, and the increase in the scab quota will ensure that this continues. Why, people ask?

      It has a lot to do with the economics of the IT business. That asshole Zuckerberg who is making millions stealing and monetizing your personal information was perfectly happy employing US workers, until the company went public. At that point, he was no longer able to underpay US workers with the promise of stock options. So, what to do? If he paid them the appropriate rate, he would have lost one or two of his billions. So, he now pushes for more H-1B scabs, because he can underpay them by listing their positions falsely. This is the same dodge that MS used. MS went public in 1986, and soon thereafter they realized that they needed another mechanism to get cheap labor. Hence the H-1B.

      The H-1B is NOT AN IMMIGRATION PATH. I am pro-legal immigration, but the job visas are destroying the IT profession in this country.

      So why the H-1B? Simple, really. It allows corporations to falsely promise green cards. In reality, what they do is keep the scabs coming, and keep the jobs as "perma-temp" positions.

      The H-1B is the modern version of the indentured servant really. Quasi-slaves. We need to eliminate it.

  •  Ugh. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RLF

    I have blood relatives descended from "illegal immigrants."

    I have a family member who married a man who was---and is---legal, born in the United States, and who as a kid used to sneak across the border both ways.

    I have friends in relationships with men who do not have legal status. Some of these relationships have born children.

    I know people from tribes that have been split, thanks to the territoriality of the United States, and tribal members traveling from one part of their land to the other now being arrested for what their families have always done, for hundreds of years---long before there was a United States.

    Your post is deeply troubling to me for reasons I can't quite identify. Perhaps I'm troubled because I see no sense of the long history of travel across this imaginary border, I see no sense of understanding in terms of the real human cost, I see no sense that entire communities, including even police, are now protecting people defined as illegal by Norquist and diaries on Daily Kos.

    This is a debate we will have to have, but until I feel some sense that people understand the real human terms of it, I don't think I trust for that debate to be held on this website.

    •  I Guess I Don't Think It's Helpful..... (0+ / 0-)

      ....if all one has to do is regurgitate that "we're all immigrants" as a means of intimidating into silence any discussion about the potential downsides of immigration reform.  Again, my mind is not closed on anything but as someone living in America I feel I should be able to have some say in the public policy surrounding immigration being undertaken by American politicians.....regardless of where my great-grandparents may or may not have come from.

      •  I think that you've missed my point (0+ / 0-)

        I'm curious where I regurgitated "we're all immigrants." In fact, if anything, I did the opposite.

        Trying to set the terms of the immigration debate in your terms has only clarified for me that too many people can't comprehend that they're messing with patterns of movement hundreds of years old, splitting culturally-historically-politically-and-genetically related groups of people in half, that their efforts are meaningless in communities which have come to understand that these are not evil bad people here to Take Our Jobs, etc.

        Perhaps we should take the town of, oh, Ithaca, New York, and split it in half, making easy passage from one side of town next to impossible. Perhaps that would make it clearer.

        Let's not even get into the sheer number of people in this country like me who are now genetically related to people descended from so-called illegal aliens.

        This is an extremely complicated debate, and I'm not sure I believe you really even understand it except insofar as words on a piece of paper line up in the correct order.

        •  There are many things that are hundreds of years (0+ / 0-)

          old.

          So what? 100 years ago, no one drove in cars. 100 years ago, no one took airplanes. This is just a remarkably lame excuse to give cover to the illegals.

          On my mom's side, they all came from Hungary and Serbia. Legally. They came through Ellis Island. Legally.

          I am pro-legal immigration. I oppose illegals. And that is the progressive position. We do not want millions more in the labor market where we still have 7+ % unemployment.

        •  You Didn't Specifically Say.... (0+ / 0-)

          ....."we're all immigrants", but your emotional appeal based on your personal connections to current and past immigrants felt like you were saying that a serious debate about the upsides and downsides of immigration policy is unwelcome.  Did you even read my diary?  Because I was acknowledging the complexities of the issue throughout it even though you're loudly shouting me down as ignorant in your reply.

          It is you who is reducing the debate to a bumper sticker by saying that because you have personal associations with immigrants that polite society should never be permitted to debate the economic merits of immigration policy.  Well guess what.....you can infer that I'm a bigot all day but I'm still gonna have that debate whether you like it or not.

          •  Good points (0+ / 0-)

            I believe in limited immigration. There are many who agree with me, too. That is a perfectly reasonable position. But in today's democratic party, if you say that, you are considered a bigot, a nazi, a person with "problems with brown people". I have second cousins who are half-mexican. They are family.

            I oppose legalization. I oppose work visas. These are political comments, not a statement of racial hatred or other such bad thing. I favor immigration by legal mechanisms. We naturalize 1,000,000 a year. You want more? Get Congress to up the number.

            But these are perfectly reasonable positions. They are PROGRESSIVE. Progressives want good jobs at good wages. Flooding the job market and driving down wages is not progressive.

  •  One of the problems with this interesting (0+ / 0-)

    argument is the assumption as to the groups from which the H1Bs are drawn. There are also very substantial barriers to immigration arising from national origin quotas, on which the waiting lines for some are vastly long. And the H1-bs and the national origin quotas are in many ways mutually exclusive. And both compete with the current basic notion that immigration is for family reunification.

    I do think we all agree here that the current mania is drawn from the fact that it is not all immigrants of which the Rs disapprove, but only the Latino ones on the southern border. If they were fussing about ALL immigrants, there would be a Canadian fence proposal as well, which there is not. And nobody here would argue, I think, that the foul stench from DC would  be arising if the huge wad of out of status folk at issue were, say, Irish.

  •  Since mobility is a human atribute, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indubitably, janemas

    people moving around the globe and migrating from place to,place is a natural right. Of course, the U.S. does not recognize human rights and that's a problem, but the immigration debate has nothing to do with the immigrants. What it is is the latest iteration of the segregationist impulse. Some group has to be targeted for exclusion and the migrants from south of the border are it.
    Why is segregation so hard to give up? Because some people do not know who they are and have no self-esteem unless they can compare themselves with some inferior. They need to exist in a hierarchy, or they cease to exist.
    Apparently, self-segregating themselves in gated communities is not enough. Perhaps not enough people are begging to move in. Perhaps maintenance requirements re proving too onerous, stripping that sign of exclusivity of some of its cache. Whatever the reason, the segregationists are in a dither. Quelle domage.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 01:55:07 PM PDT

    •  So Are You Suggesting..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jncca, janemas

      ....that anyone should be able to come and go on United States soil whenever they please without regulation based on the vague concept of "mobility being a human attribute"?  That strikes me as the kind of idealism that ignores the complexities of geopolitical reality dating back for centuries.  Am I understanding you right that if it were left up to you, all borders, passport restrictions, and residency requirements would be lifted tomorrow or am I overreading your comment?

      •  Generally this type of mobility is very limited (0+ / 0-)

        all around the world.  It is not, for example, all that easy to get permanently into Canada.

      •  Let's put it this way. If people have enough (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        indubitably

        money to sustain themselves, there are no restrictions. Until the 20th Century, the U.S. was keen to have anyone arrive to augment the population. If they were ill and contageous, they were kept in quarantine until they either died or beat the infection.
        Immigration law is fundamentally un-Constitutional because it presumes to legislate the behavior of people who are not yet within its jurisdiction. It's a problem that the Constitution sets duties and obligations for public servants which are to be delivered to "persons" regardless of citizenship. Trying to distinguish between citizen and non-citizen to determine what services must be delivered is inappropriate and the SCOTUS has so ruled.
        Whether artificial bodies are persons is subject to argument. That natural persons are persons and that the agents of government are supposed to provide for their welfare is inarguable. Of course, the Cons' strategy of providing nothing and ignoring the duties and obligations of agens of government is an option, as long as the citizens put up with it.
        Some people are quite content to be deprived as long as someone else has it worse. I think we should refer to such people as masochists and the deprivators as sadists.

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 02:33:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your knowledge of history is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IT Professional

          limited, to be charitable. Really, learn something about exit visas. Prior to the 20th century, it was illegal for many people to leave districts. Serfdom, abolished in Russia in 1861, in other parts of Europe before that, restricted the ability of people to move around.

          Prior to the second half of the 20th century, getting from one place to another was difficult. There were natural barriers to movement.

          But every government at every age has restricted movement. And that is good.

          •  It is not good to restrict the movement (0+ / 0-)

            of naturally mobile creatures. Doing it to one's own kind is evil.
            When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, they were liberated from a secure environment.

            We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

            by hannah on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 03:10:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I recently asked someone who is for illegals (0+ / 0-)

        receiving immediate amnesty the same question and it pissed him off.  He did not want to admit his passion does not include open borders, yet no solution to the never ending problem of border crossing.  I have two members, well former members of my family by marriage who prefer the freedom to travel back and forth than to give up their citizenship and become a US citizen; but will do so if forced to return.  I believe most undocumented either by visa or illegal entry prefer to have a residency card without any fear of being returned to their place of birth.  Most just want to work and save up money to build their house back home after working 10 years.  My ex sister in law who became a citizen revealed her goal was to return home and live off her social security income as soon as she hits the 10 year mark.  

        If the borders were suddenly open we would have millions from all south America coming into the states.  What impact do you think this will have on us?

    •  Bingo. (0+ / 0-)
      What it is is the latest iteration of the segregationist impulse. Some group has to be targeted for exclusion and the migrants from south of the border are it.
      Exactly.
  •  OK, let me see if I get all this (4+ / 0-)

    36 million immigrants over 20 years parses down to 0.5% (one-half percent) of the total US pop per year, more or less.  1.8 million.  Does each one of them need a job, or are there wives and kids etc. Let's just say a million of them need a job, which translates to more than 83,000 new jobs a month needed for the immigrants.

    What jobs?

    Is it allowed to ask: Do we actually need more people here to create a just and sustainable economy?  At least at the present time?  Can we not work with those of us that are here, at least until we get caught up a bit? Might we not want to wait and see what the next 20 years of climate wierding brings?

    Am I missing something here?

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 04:05:58 PM PDT

    •  Yes, you are missing something (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IT Professional, janemas

      The Democratic Party has decided to commit suicide collectively, that's what you are missing. We USED to be a party that supported good jobs for good wages, for students, blacks, American citizens.

      Today, the Democratic Party doesn't give a crap about students, except during elections. This immigration bill is going to really harm students. The H-1B influx of cheap-ass scab labor - really equivalent to indentured servants - already owns 25-30% of the IT/STEM market. Other areas, teaching, nursing, etc., are under assault as well. Why is the Democratic Party supporting legislation which will make it HARDER for OUR OWN CHILDREN to find good jobs?

      On the bottom end, where many jobs are filled by blacks, 11,000,000 newly legalized illegals will be competing like hell for better jobs. They are going to displace a lot of Americans at the bottom end.

      It's a fucking disaster. Why are Democrats supporting it?

      •  I Think You're Misreading..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IT Professional

        I think his post is being critical of the level of immigration being permitted in the legislation currently under debate.

      •  Or Maybe I'm Misreading Your Reply..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IT Professional

        ....in which case I apologize for the confusion.

      •  WIUSA, my snark is a bit delicate at times (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark27

        I took the info ("36 million...in 20 years.") and did some math and am asking where the 83,000 jobs a month those new immigrants are going to need "created"(?) for them each month are going to come from,  and why  couldn't these "jobs" be done by people already here without bringing in more to compete for the few jobs there are?

        That doesn't read to me as supporting  legislation, which I know nothing about.

        I agree with the diarist that future immigration policy should be discussed and examined with regard to impacts on the existing US population and job availability.  I think it is reasonable to ask if we actually need any more people at the present time?  Especially if those people are coming here to get a job, rather than to do something that makes some jobs for the US population.

        Democrats doing the wrong thing again? Yup, and that's why many of us are here hassling to try to get them to do the right things, frustrating as that attempt is.

        Welcome to Daily Kos.

        don't always believe what you think

        by claude on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 09:29:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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