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Immigration: Do The Numbers Fit?

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Various economists have weighed in on the cost/benefit stats to the United States of allowing immigration to continue. Some say it’s a wash. Some say it’s a small benefit, but very small and not worth it in the other costs. Others say it doesn’t matter until the first boomers reach official retirement age (2011).

Given the furious debates about immigration going on at multiple levels of government, the article is timely. I’m hard pressed, though, to think that a) we could actually close our borders (without coming off vaguely like the former East Germany), b) closing our borders would actually stop those desperate enough, or c) that Americans are about to go out in great numbers to pick lettuce – no matter what the pay.

Around my office in Chicago, nearly 50% of my neighbors are Hispanic, many from Mexico. Did you know that in a Hispanic grocery store you will find 30 kinds of cheese you probably never heard of? Did you know that rice pudding is one of the most heavenly desserts ever invented?

As 77 million boomers retire, we’re going to need people to fill the workforce. We’re going to need people who have an education. We’re going to need people who speak English and know about hard work. Why would we stop the people who could fill that vacuum from coming here, learning English, and getting educated?

Seems to me if the numbers are close to a wash, we ought to consult a higher authority – our hearts. I’m all for practicality, and in this case I think the smart thing matches perfectly with the kind and loving thing.

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  • http://lonewacko.com/ TLB

    Our hearts… and our stomachs!

    However, my brain suggests that we don’t really want to stop immigration as claimed above.

    The debate is about how many legal citizens or legal workers we allow in, and what to do about illegal immigration.

    Likewise, the issue isn’t about trying to “close” the borders, the issue is just about wanting to “secure” them. Legal traffic can come through, illegal traffic should be limited as much as feasible.

    Throughout our history, Americans have done lots of things, including picking crops. We’ve also invented crop-picking machines, and we can invent some more. That way, we don’t have to import a foreign serf class to do our stoop labor for us.

  • http://www.richardbrodie.com/ Richard Brodie

    We’ve also invented crop-picking machines, and we can invent some more. That way, we don’t have to import a foreign serf class to do our stoop labor for us.

    Exactly. It is short-sighted Big Agribusinesses (and other industries) that want all this slave labor so they don’t have to go to the expense of developing automated substitutes, even though the R&D costs would be rapidly recouped and lead to much cheaper lettuce for the American consumer than could ever be realized with hand labor, no matter how cheap.

    The real answer to invasion-level immigration, with cruel amnesties every decade or so, is to outlaw lobbying, and dismantle what is by far the strongest and most influential branch of government, a branch that has no Constitutional basis or justification, the Fourth Branch which has turned the government of this country into one that is “of the big corporations, by the big corporations, and for the big corporations.”

  • http://www.richardbrodie.com/ Richard Brodie

    I’m hard pressed, though, to think that we could actually close our borders (without coming off vaguely like the former East Germany)

    There is no comparison whatsoever. The Berlin wall divided an existing nation, preventing separated German families from ever being able to visit each other.

    A wall along our own southern border would not prevent Mexican Americans from being able to cross over, with the proper passports, to visit their families on the south side, nor would it prevent Mexicans having relatives in the United States from being able to cross over with the proper visas to visit their familes on the north side. And it would not prevent Mexicans from being able to immigrate legally. It would serve the completely legitimate and humanitarian purposes of:

    a. preventing drug traffic

    b. enforcing respect for federal immigration law

    c. eliminating needless death and exploitation of illegals by people traffickers

    d. protecting against gang and terrorist infiltration.

    It would also put pressure on the Mexican populace to reform their corrupt government so that the incredibly rich resources of their country could be exploited for the purpose of mitigating poverty and elevating the general standard of living.

  • http://www.richardbrodie.com/ Richard Brodie

    we ought to consult a higher authority — our hearts. I’m all for practicality, and in this case I think the smart thing matches perfectly with the kind and loving thing.

    That being the case, why stop with only allowing in those few millions who happen to be close enough to make the walk? Why not have the federal government allocate a few hundred billion dollars every year for the “loving” purpose of “reaching out” to the to most “desperate” and downtrodden from all over the world, providing free transportation to enable shiploads of immigrants to come in by the hundreds of millions?

    So what if our own standard of living gets reduced to a tenth of what it is now. Are we not sufficiently generous to make that sacrifice, so that the standard of living of the world’s most abjectly poor can be RAISED by a factor of ten?

  • Nancy

    Good comments, Rich, I’m with you. We have no obligation of ANY kind to take in every loser who wants a better life for whatever perceived reason. If they had any future at all, they’d be making it back home where they belong, & not leaching resources here that rightfully belong to citizens only.

  • Phil Phillips

    We have voted since we were 18 years old. We are now 45 years old. We have never voted for a Democrat. We are law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. We voted for you, George Bush every time you ran.

    The illegal immigration issue has pushed us to write to you out of a sense of total frustration. We lived in Costa Rica for two years so our desire to see this out-of-control situation fixed is not based on “race.” It is based on enforcing the laws already in place. We had to do so while living in Costa Rica and they have a far tougher immigration policy than we have.

    Our 17 year old son wants to join the Marines. We need someone to tell us why we should encourage him to do so at this point. Why should he put his life on the line for millions and millions of law breakers who are a drain on our society and our economy? Also, why should we encourage him to join a military who is forced to fight with one hand tied behind their back?

    As our representative, we are demanding that you do what is necessary to seal our borders, enforce our law, and focus on the young men and women who are making the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We are not for amnesty or anything that resembles it. We are not for pulling out of Iraq.

    Are we being heard or are we voting in vain?