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02/21/2005

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Daniel Chapman

No we can't start there. I'm sorry, but I don't believe that there is any inherent "right" to citizenship. I'm probably going to shock you here, but I don't even believe that you should be a citizen just because you happened to be born within the borders. I think if someone sneaks across the border in order to have a baby in our country they should be given adequate medical care and sent back home. (If you don't think this is a problem, check the birth statistics in border towns) At the time the 14th ammendment was written, the words "all persons born in the United States..." were necessary to grant citizenship to the free slaves, but it defies reason to reward those who would flout our laws and our soverignty.

Congress has the power to declare who is allowed to immigrate, and then the government has the DUTY to enforce those laws. No one has a "right" to immigrate contrary to our laws, and I definitely wouldn't call it unconscionable to keep someone out if they couldn't meet whatever standards congress decided to set. (even one as arbitrary as a $50k fee)

It's also interesting that we apply the unconsionability of wealth distribution to the opposite ends of the spectrum. I think it would be unconscionable to allow people who are down on their luck to fall below an acceptable standard of living, while you think it is unconscionable to allow the rich to keep wealth above an acceptable level. It's possible that the two ends are related in a sense, but we're definitely comparing apples to oranges here.

David

Would you find it conscionable to turn away a refugee fleeing Nazi death camps, because he could not pay $50K? If so, may I ask what part of your "conscience" permits you to do so?

BTW, I never said that "conscience" somehow limits the amount of wealth that anyone is entitled to keep. Like you, I said there should be a baseline for the less fortunate.

David

I would also like to comment on the notion that a person who crosses the border illegally is a "criminal." Drug runners, smugglers, and terrorists aside, we should be flattered that people from other countries are crossing our borders. They are doing so because they come from dysfunctional countries and want our way of life. They want to work and prosper in a just (or more just) country. They are what America is all about.

Before we brand illegal aliens as "criminals," I suggest that each one of us walk a mile in the shoes of a Hatian refugee or Mexican farm worker. See what life is like for them. See how bad their countries and their governments are. Then tell me why you think they should be treated as "criminals."

Daniel Chapman

Sorry if I misunderstood you... you went from "tolerating inequality" to talking about the Donald, so I assumed you were implying that you can't tolerate wealth above a certain limit. My original point is that while most people agree that it is unconscionable to allow people to suffer, the point of suffering is subjective. Using words like "unconscionable" to define how people would act in a laissez faire society is a fallacy because if people would allow others to suffer, it must be conscionable to them.

Labeling an illegal immigrant a criminal, however, is NOT subjective. I did not say they are outlaws, but they have definitely flouted our law. Perhaps if our immigration policy didn't look so much like a prize to be gained for sneaking past obstacles, we wouldn't have such a problem.

And finally... No, I wouldn't think it's conscionable to turn away a holocaust refugee because he couldn't ante up 50 grand. That's why we have asylum. (Not that that system doesn't have its flaws... a topic for another day, Mr. Becker?) I don't think anyone's saying the immigration fee should replace all other methods of acceptance. I do not find it unconscionable to turn away Mexicans crossing illegally for almost any purpose, though. Our immigration laws are carefully considered to be as open as possible without putting an undue strain on public services and to encourage assimilation. There is no right to citizenship for foreigners.

Palooka

"Then tell me why you think they should be treated as "criminals."

I don't. I think they should be deported or the law should be changed. It's that simple. I don't want them rotting in jail, burning up public dollars.

The idea we have no right, or that it is some how unethical to deport illegal immigrants is simply absurd. Every person born in the world has a RIGHT to be here? And we must oblige them simply because they desire it? That's insanity.

I do feel, however, when our government looks the other way, and allows individuals to live in our society for many years, that we should not deport or criminalize these individuals.

Corey

No one responded to what I think is a key point so I will make it again.

You all seem to want to talk about rights and focus on some formality of compliance with national immigration policy in order to justify presence here. This is not the real issue.

Since before 1900, the US has been aggressively expanding its economy into foreign countries. Now, it is difficult to find a single product on our shelves that was not partially or completely manufactured outside this country. Economically, we treat the entire world as one big free market.

But when it comes to social programs, we insist on protectionism. "No you can't have our welfare" we say, "you live in Mexico, and yes you work for GM but just take your $2 a day and don't argue or we will move the plant to Indonesia."

We do the same thing within our country. The Supreme Court has interpreted the Commerce Clause to totally ban States from discriminatory protectionism in the economic sphere, but has simultaneously encouraged States to employ protectionism to protect their citizens in the economic sphere.

The effect of this is that labor and capital are located in the most efficient (cheapest) place possible, and there are no restraints on moving money derived from that labor out of the country or state. It tends to collect in the places where the capitalists live, and is used to fund social programs in those places.

When you have open borders, like we do between States, labor can follow the money to the place where social benefits exist, when you close the borders off, you are being protectionist and immorally exploitative.

Many of you actually believe that it is OK that working for GM in Michigan entitles you to access social insurance benefits but that working for GM in Mexico does not. You will say something like, "it is up to the government of Mexico to provide for its people." Of course this overlooks the fact that Mexico can NOT do that because all of the fruits of Mexican labor are flowing across the border into the US.

It is evil to be simultaneously "free-market" when it comes to exploiting labor and then draw a protectionist line to keep labor from accessing the same benefits it could if it were located here.

If you want to say "This is America, only Americans can experience the freedoms!" then stop asking Indonesians to make your shoes.

Corey

"but has simultaneously encouraged States to employ protectionism to protect their citizens in the economic sphere."

I'm sorry, that should read social sphere.

Corey

"And we must oblige them simply because they desire it? That's insanity."

No, that was policy, perhaps even at the time when your ancestors immigrated.

Palooka

"If you want to say "This is America, only Americans can experience the freedoms!" then stop asking Indonesians to make your shoes."

This is ludicrous. We don't owe them anything, and they don't owe us anything. If I buy a computer you helped engineer, do you have a right to move into my house without my consent? NO! Must India allow any American to immigrate because Americans buy their shoes? I really can't fathom where such thinking comes from.

If you don't believe in Nations, if you don't think borders should exist, fine. But don't concoct lame sophistries like this.

Palooka

"And we must oblige them simply because they desire it? That's insanity."

No, that was policy, perhaps even at the time when your ancestors immigrated.

=====

Yes, and USA had the right as a nation to set that policy THEN, under notably different circumstances. It's a policy under our discretion, not an inalienable right to immigrate! When circumstances change (welfare state, assimilation problems, whatever), it is perfectly reasonable to adjust that policy.

David

I find it interesting how the responses to my comments run something like: foreigners shouldn't have an inalienable RIGHT to immigrate. However, I am not talking about rights. Of course no foreigner has a natural "right" to immigrate. I would note that Native Americans contest the "right" of people of European descent to live in what we now call the United States. Talking about "rights" here is a misnomer. Ultimately, "rights" are determined at the barrel of a gun.

Getting back to reality: we have an existing political order, and that system gives Congress the power to set immigration policy. My question is how SHOULD Congress set that policy: not as a matter of "right," but as a matter of sound economic and social policy. Surely it makes sense to keep out criminals and terrorists. And surely it makes sense to regulate immigration if the overflow becomes unmanageable or drains our economy. But there is simply no evidence that immigration has created real, enduring hardships for Americans. Quite the contrary, actually. It is part of what makes America vibrant. Why not encourage more of it?

Posner's and Becker's arguments make sense only if immigration truly is a drain on the economy. And then, only if money and/or IQ are the fairest and most desirable rationing systems. They have yet to prove either proposition. Rather, they are using sketchy economics to promote yet another excuse to tear down the welfare state.

I'd say we should loosen immigration laws. Let more Haitians and Mexicans in. Also, if we had open immigration, it might make us start caring more about dysfunctional societies in the rest of the world. It is more difficult to ignore starvation and disease in Haiti if it shows up on your doorstep. If you can simply turn the boats away, it allows Americans to close their eyes while they sit comfortably in their living rooms getting fat on Big Macs.

BTW, I found this one the web: sample Q & A from an econ 101 exam in Rochester. So the idea of selling the right to immigrate is not new after all:

"35. It is possible to buy the right to immigrate to some countries; sometimes it is possible to buy citizenship in those countries. (Some of this trade is illegal.) What determines the price of immigration rights? Do you think that the United States should sell rights to immigrate to the highest bidders?

HERE IS ONE POSSIBLE ANSWER -- YOUR ANSWER MAY BE DIFFERENT. The price of immigration rights is determined by the demand for citizenship in a particular country and the supply of immigration spots available. If citizenship had a price (and it does in some countries), it would be high in a country like the United States where the quality of life is relatively good, and lower in countries with lower incomes, fewer opportunities, or less desirable conditions (due to wars or to bad pollution problems). Perhaps the United States should sell immigration rights to the highest bidders because the people who would be willing to pay the most might tend to be the people who can make the most of their opportunities in the U.S. Or perhaps the United States should not sell immigration rights to the highest bidders because this would not attract the kinds of people that we want to have immigrating to the U.S."

David

I am not talking about rights; I am talking about policy. What SHOULD Congress do? In my opinion, Congress should allow open immigration unless it becomes unmanageable or significantly drains our economy. Immigration is part of what makes America vibrant - what makes it an icon for the world. Welfare state or not, immigration has historically been good for our economy. Posner's and Becker's proposal to sell immigration rights is unjust for many reasons, one of them being that there is no evidence that immigration costs us anything. In fact, in the long run, it helps tremedously, by greatly expanding the tax base and the labor pool.

Moreover, if we had open immigration, Americans might actually start caring about starvation, disease, and corruption in the rest of the world. It's easier to close your eyes when you can turn the boats away while sitting comfortably in your air-conditioned living room.

BTW, I found this on the web - sample Q & A from an econ 101 exam in Rochester. So the idea of selling immigration rights is not new after all:

"35. It is possible to buy the right to immigrate to some countries; sometimes it is possible to buy citizenship in those countries. (Some of this trade is illegal.) What determines the price of immigration rights? Do you think that the United States should sell rights to immigrate to the highest bidders?

HERE IS ONE POSSIBLE ANSWER -- YOUR ANSWER MAY BE DIFFERENT. The price of immigration rights is determined by the demand for citizenship in a particular country and the supply of immigration spots available. If citizenship had a price (and it does in some countries), it would be high in a country like the United States where the quality of life is relatively good, and lower in countries with lower incomes, fewer opportunities, or less desirable conditions (due to wars or to bad pollution problems). Perhaps the United States should sell immigration rights to the highest bidders because the people who would be willing to pay the most might tend to be the people who can make the most of their opportunities in the U.S. Or perhaps the United States should not sell immigration rights to the highest bidders because this would not attract the kinds of people that we want to have immigrating to the U.S."

David

Oops - sorry for the double post. Thought it didn't go through the first time, because the site crashed on me..

Corey

"If you don't believe in Nations, if you don't think borders should exist, fine. But don't concoct lame sophistries like this."

I think its a pretty clear point. American countries use foreign labor. American people benefit from foreign labor. (lower prices)American companies do not apply American worker rights law in foreign countries. This is much of the reason prices are low. A foreign employee of an American company decides to come to America and you say, "you can't have any of our cake..."

We allow money and commercial goods to flow freely across our border. We do NOT allow people to flow freely across our border. This is fundamentally a mechanism for extracting labor from people and then denying them the right to come and democratically participate in trying to get a fair return.

In this scheme all restraints on immigration are suspect, the INS should have to prove criminal intent (and I don't mean intent to violate immigration laws) in order to deny anyone access
to our society.

Michael Walker

As an alternative to a fee based or human capital metric system I suggest a controllable non-immigrant temporary work visa program with oversight and support mechanisms to reduce social disruption and maximize economic gain. The current temporary work visa programs (H-1B; H-2B; H-2A) are flawed and do not work well resulting in high levels of illegal immigration. We should keep our current family based system (public policy favors family unification) and reform the employment based (both non-immigrant and immigrant intent) system.

Note that current immigration law requires an Affidavit of Support (I-864) for most immigrant visas (adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence): this is a contract between a sponsor and the applicant to indemnify the federal government of any financial responsibility for the new immigrant. In this contract the sponsor agrees to provide financial support for the applicant until he/she becomes a U.S. citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually ten years). The sponsor must show that he/she has income equal to or greater than 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines for his/her household size. The legal basis for the I-864 Affidavit of Support is Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Palooka

I wonder if Corey's wholesale endorsement of 19th Century immigration policy includes support for the patently racist Chinese Exclusion Act? Not only does Corey's insistence on adhering to 19th century policy ignore present circumstances, it also fundamentally ignores just how exclusionary (irrationally so) immigration policy was even then. If his idea is to return to the 19th Century immigration policy, I'm not so sure he'd like the results (nor would any right thinking person). So can we please stop with the Ellis Island refrain already.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Exclusion_Act_%28United_States%29

Corey

"If I buy a computer you helped engineer, do you have a right to move into my house without my consent?"

Actually, there is a good chance you did buy such a computer, but the difference is I was paid a fair compensation for my engineering, I was able to collect on my unemployment insurance when the company laid everyone off, I was able to move from L.A. to Boston for a better job, I could access the courts if anyone mistreated me, and I could vote for Gore because I believed he would be good for the technology industry.

Now my old job is being performed in India, by someone who cannot vote here, who is getting paid less in real terms, and who has significantly worse access to beneficial social programs. An even bigger irony is, the guy was educated here and used to work with me here, but after the layoff he lost visa status and was deported. Then he was rehired at the India design center of the same company! This is a true story.

Corey

"I wonder if Corey's wholesale endorsement of 19th Century immigration policy includes support for the patently racist Chinese Exclusion Act?"

No

"So can we please stop with the Ellis Island refrain already."

No

Palooka

It's really quite interesting that someone claiming unrestricted immigration is great for American and always will be would simultaneously argue that it would make Americans more cognizants of the world's ills, including "starvation, disease, and corruption," because "It is more difficult to ignore starvation and disease in Haiti if it shows up on your doorstep."

Alrighty then. No tension between those beliefs.

Freder Frederson

The main problem with this ludicrous proposal (besides the typical lack of humanity that is typical of Judge Posner) is that it would relegalize slavery. Daddy Warbuck's currently undocumented Costa Rican maid of course could never come up with the 50K all by herself. DW has been paying her minimum wage for all these years but after deductions for room and board, social security and worker's comp (which he never actually filed but she doesn't know that), medical insurance (she doesn't really have that either), the fine china she broke and had to pay for, and that jewelry that went missing and she had to pay for(actually it wasn't lost but the police report was real and the insurance payment was sweet), she hasn't saved a dime. But he kindly lends her the 50K so now she is legal.

Problem is that for some reason when she gets her paycheck it turns out she actually owes money. She is stuck in a nightmare where she can't pay off the loan and will spend the rest of her life as a wage slave to her employer trying to pay off her immigration loan.

RD

"It's really quite interesting that someone claiming unrestricted immigration is great for American and always will be would simultaneously argue that it would make Americans more cognizants of the world's ills, including 'starvation, disease, and corruption,' because 'It is more difficult to ignore starvation and disease in Haiti if it shows up on your doorstep."

Actually, unless I missed something, Corey made the argument that we ought to have open borders out of moral responsibility (as he is wont to do) and David made the argument that open borders made good policy, for selfish reasons. Both made reasonable arguments. Neither said what you have inelegantly laid out above.

What you have done is constructed the worst kind of peice-meal strawman. Congratulations.

Michael Walker

Immigration produces net economic benefits for the United States as a whole but slightly reduces the wages and job opportunities of low-skilled American workers, especially high school dropouts according to a two-year study by a panel of 12 experts published by the National Academy of Sciences for the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. The researchers found that:

* Immigrants add about $10 billion annually in net economic output due to the increased supply of labor and resulting lower prices.

* And a typical newcomer pays in $80,000 more in taxes than he or she receives over the course of a lifetime.

However, immigrant households are costly at first because they tend to be younger and have school-age children using public education; after 15 to 20 years, they produce fiscal benefits as their children leave school.

The researchers said revenue from the future earnings of immigrants far outweighs the fiscal impact of benefits they receive, since immigrants receive proportionately fewer benefits from programs such as Social Security and Medicare, but proportionately more from programs such as Supplemental Security Income, Aid to Families with Dependent Children and food stamps.

Source: James P. Smith and Barry Edmonston, editors, "The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration," National Academy Press (Washington, D.C., 1997).

For the full text of this study see http://www.nap.edu

Left Wing Extremist

An idiot said:
---
It's almost as though -- ... --- that both the "left" and the "right" both believe that immigration (particularly non-white immigration, though this historically applied to Jews and Catholics and Slavs and Irish -- ... --- will destroy American society, and accordingly the right opposes it and the left supports it.
---
Thank you for calling me an Un-American traitor. Your friends Benito, Adolf, and Franco would be proud of the way you called those who disagree with you "un-American".

But, I digress. The basic injustice of schemes like the slavery...'er..."immigration" market these two academic nutjobs are proposing rests on their notion of "voting" with one's pocketbook. Since individual's pocketsbooks are unequal, so too would their votes be unequal. With unequal votes comes unequal voice, which, as public-choice political economy informs us, leads to government policy that benefits and sustains those with the most influence. From there you get, gosh, an arrogant, self-perpetuating elite. Why not simply allow those making a certain income to have, say, 100 times the votes as a worker? What is the difference between this system and the indentured servant market being discussed here? Either everyone has the opportunity to come here, or some are "more equal than others." If that's the case, then why not simply say "some are more equal than others" in domestic politics too?

Putting a price on entry into this country telegraphs to others that a Cuban doctor is more equal and derserving to be an American than a poor peasant in Guatemala. I thought free market fundamentalists like Becnoser and Posecker were in favor of free and open competition, not rigged markets set up to favor economic incumbents.

Michael Walker

See also http://books.nap.edu/html/newamer/

RD

Some comments have referenced our nation's inaliable right to cut off immigration in whatever way it sees fit. For instance, if it does not like poor people, or yellow people, our proud nation may exclude those types. That's because we're free.

Indeed, if we see fit we may restrict immigrants based on income, such that we only allow in millionaires. Similarly, we could decide only to let in hot chicks. I propose only lettting in (1) millionaires and (2) hot chicks. The fact that this may or may not be unfair/immoral (or even bad policy) is of no consequence because we have the right to do it.

Not enough has been said about our right to export people. Just as we may exclude people from entry, our freedom entails that we may export those who displease us. For instance, the U.S. labor market is very tricky. It costs an awful lot to employ workers when they live in America, but not if they live in some other place (often fun, tropical type places). If we fire the workers, we have to traain new ones overseas, and then we have an unemployment problem that we have to cover up by changing the standards for unemployment.

I propose we export our workers, and import more millionaires. The millionaires we import will create jobs that we can then export: a balance of trade. Because we will all be millionaires, we won't have to worry about unfair policies that warp the market in favor of the millionaires. The millionaires will be us. And hot chicks.

For anyone who thinks my plan violates some or other provision of the Constitution, I say to you: I pay taxes and/or student loans. Does that violate the Constitution? How silly.

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