Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Confusing State Of Illegal Immigration

Postville protest sign

For the record, let me start by saying that I am not opposed to immigration to the United States. But I believe that the immigration should be regulated and lawful. Every nation has the right to determine who may enter its borders, for what purpose and for what length of time.

That being said, the constant propagandizing from people on both sides of this issue, each stating "facts" is, I must admit, even to one who has covered this issue, confusing.

On the one hand, there are those who argue that illegal immigration is a drain on our economy. That those who are undocumented in this nation are using services without paying for them. And they are quick to point out when someone who is in the United States without permission commits a crime (of course there's no such immigration status notation when a citizen or a documented alien commits a crime, but I digress).

On the other hand, there are still those who argue that, even during this recession, the economy needs illegal immigrants to survive.

(Another quick digression: in my struggle to write about this issue, I do, occasionally commit the apparent politically incorrect transgression of using the term "illegal immigrants." There is no suggestion in my phraseology that I believe that they are "illegal human beings" as some people invariably claim. It's just stating that they are people from other countries who are in the United States contrary to the law.)

Yesterday I received a press release from FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which warns that the Obama administration is no longer targeting illegal aliens in workforce enforcement - a major shift, FAIR says, in policy.

"Twenty-eight illegal alien workers recently arrested during an ICE raid at the Yamato Engine Specialist Plant in Bellingham, WA," the press release starts, "have just been released
and granted work authorization."

But then today, I read an article on which claims that an immigration raid on an Iowa town removed its "economic lifeblood" by taking away undocumented Mexicans working there.

The raid on the Postville, Iowa meatpacking plant had devastating effects, the article says, on the town's economy:

Indeed, the 389 arrests eliminated more than one-third of the meat packer's workforce and nearly one-fifth of the town's population," the article says.

"It also prompted an exodus of hundreds more Hispanic residents who were either afraid of being targeted or simply opted to escape the town's inevitable tailspin."

Perhaps there are recently unemployed Americans who read the Mother Jones article who are now applying for jobs at the plant. Ready to move to rural Iowa and start a new life. If so, then perhaps the raid had a positive effect, overall, on the economy.

On the other hand, perhaps we'll find that the raid means Postville has been thrown into an economic tailspin from which it will never recover.

If it's the former, then the shift in policy FAIR warns about will obviously prove to be a negative one. If the latter, then the change in policy comes too late for the people of Postville.

We talk about issues like this and more weekdays at 5 PM New York time on News Talk Online on


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Anonymous said...

I have seen Potsville Iowa it is a good town . The Jews came in and opened up a meatpacking plant and hired who they coula at first it was a good thing but all the wetbacks migrated there. It, a sad day when you can't get unemployed americans to take a good job. The workers will be replaced , hopefully by american workers !

Anonymous said...

I'm an American citizen. If I break the law I face consequence. When I was born I was assigned a social security number in which I have used throughout my life for various reasons.
Why should I be "OK" with illegal immigrants breaking American laws to enter our country and then work without a proper social security # without consequence? Bottom line is I'm not asking anything from people coming to America, that I don't do myself.
I also feel its unfair to those who wait years to gain entry to the US just because they dont share a border with us.
Does sharing a border entitle ppl to break our laws? If you can make it to a bordering country does that make it ok for you to cross into the US without the documentation that all US citizens, and LEGAL IMMIGRANTS have?... I think not.

Anonymous said...

I guess you can always make a case for an individual and provide some sort of justification for why they should not be subject to the laws - however the law is the law! I am never sure why people have such a problem with the law being applied. Surely if the majority disagree with the law they should lobby for this law to be changed, but this needs to be done through due process - not anarchic measure that would mean breaking the law.
The G20 have talked about the ills of 'protectionism' in terms of the economy, but can you leave a country vulnerable by protecting the citizens of others countries at a cost to the indiginous population? Try to convince a US citizen or a UK citizen that their survival in terms of jobs are less important than those of people who have no legal standing within the country!

Anonymous said...

As an immigrant, I don't have problem allowing people to come and live in this country, but coming and living here illegally and then go to the hospital for free treatment for example really pisses me off. If this country is going to be this screwed up because of the liberal promoting this " feel good policy" and "class envy", I might as well start sending my entire family to Mexico and let them cross the border illegally so they can be with me without going through government red tape and enjoy what everyone in this country has enjoyed!

Anonymous said...

With the way the economy is and going to get, Unemployed Americans will be eager and willing to take those jobs.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a question of levels and rates in terms of social peace, or really costs and benefits.
If you have too few, you lose the benefits of relatively cheap labor without a corresponding rise in native wages, as well as an infusion of new blood into places like rural Iowa, many of whose natives are leaving in any event.
On the other hand, if you have too many, you increase social tension because you do displace native labor to the benefit of owners of capital and increase public service expenditures to the point that assimilation becomes an issue.
Given the relatively high levels of immigration, we are probably around that choice point now. You are quite correct to point out the "fundamentalists" on the issue per FAIR vs MALDEF types are not very helpful to public debate on the matter.

Don Rich

Anonymous said...

So... because the plant in Postville and the town of Postville allowed its economy to grow on the backs of illegal aliens we should not enforce immigration law??? Uh.. no... It is the fault of Postville for allowing the situation to get to the size it was. They were only too happy to turn a blind eye to what Agriprocessors were doing because it helped the local economy. Now they are paying for their earlier greed. Too bad for Postville.

THE LonesomeDove said...


"And they are quick to point out when someone who is in the United States without permission commits a crime (of course there's no such immigration status notation when a citizen or a documented alien commits a crime, but I digress)."

You sure did, buddy. PA-LEEEZE! Rather than digressing, progress to the ghastly tragedy in Binghampton, NY. So many lives cruelly, needlessly destroyed - so much pain and anguish... But as surely as I know, you know that the gunman was a documented immigrant, believed to be Vietnamese named Jiverly Wong, who used the alias Henry Voong. The media was very quick to note immigration status. Did immigration status or ethnicity have anything to do with his motivation? I don't think anyone would believe that. But is reporting his immigration status valid? I think so for at least one reason that merits very serious discussion in the future.

I know it rankles, but there are those of us who strongly support immigration and still maintain laws regarding it should be respected - and strictly enforced. Don’t like the laws, okay, fair enough. Get to work changing them. But until they're amended, why are people’s delicate sensibilities so offended when their unlawful actions cause repercussions and whining about it falls on deaf ears?

See? You made me digress... As of this moment immigration laws are in place that make entering the United States illegally a serious offense. In the minds of many, those who come here illegally and commit additional crimes, add insult to injury. When they’re caught, it's absolutely right and just that their immigration status be duly noted because they should face charges for more than one offense. Think about it - isn’t everyone that's placed under arrest and taken into custody fingerprinted, photographed and checked for outstanding warrants, priors, etc.? Should illegal aliens be treated differently than citizens – do they deserve special consideration? Warrants, previous criminal indictments and/or convictions are taken into account by justice departments in every case. So, the way I see it, if a crime has been committed by an illegal, reporting their status is pretty much the same thing as reporting anyone's criminal record - afterall, it's just a new addition to their rap sheet.