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Letters to the Editor

Immigration policy

December 17, 2011

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To the editor:

The AP article reporting on state and local efforts to enforce federal immigration and residency policy was a bit behind the curve; this has been going on for a while. The current story is that places like Alabama that have passed legislation designed to be hostile to immigrants are seeing disastrous economic effects. Back in October, the Houston Chronicle reported that farmers in Alabama were facing ruin due to a labor shortage that left their crops rotting in the fields. Local business alliances have come out against Alabama’s immigration measures, and international firms are rethinking plans to invest in the state.

These unfolding events reinforce what White House economic advisers under the Bush administration have already found: that immigration, with or without border inspection of documents, was a net economic benefit to this country. People come to the U.S. don’t only follow jobs; they generate economic activity, which is exactly what we need right now.

Comments

ljreader 3 years ago

Farmers are not forced to use illegal labor. Migrants can get H-2A work visas. Farmers don't like the paper work and the fact that visa workers must be paid fair wages. Boo hoo. Why not use prisoners? As I recall, this approach was successful in Colorado. It would be interesting to see how many American workers would take these jobs if they weren't receiving unemployment benefits at 2 yr stretches.

voevoda 3 years ago

I agree with ljreader that businesses should hire only legal workers and pay them a living wage. If they did that, the illegal immigrant problem would gradually diminish, and so would the unemployment problem.
I'm against using prisoners, though. That road leads to the creation of more prisoners--arresting people on pretexts and sentencing them to long terms--just to keep up with the demand for cheap prison labor. It's a policy that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union pursued, with tragic consequences. The US shouldn't go there.

Jimo 3 years ago

Sure, first impose the highest rate of incarceration in the world and then rent out the prisoners as laborers.

Tea Party next step: repeal the 13th amendment.

When the 1% has stolen all the wealth for themselves it becomes increasingly difficult to dream up new schemes to keep growing.

parrothead8 3 years ago

Potato farmer Kevin Smith told The Associated Press that the Americans he hired show up late, work slower and are ready to call it quits after a day on the job or sooner. "I've had people calling me wanting to work," Smith said. "I haven't turned any of them down, but they're not any good. It’s hard work, they just don’t work like the Hispanics with experience."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/10/27/alabama-tries-to-connect-jobless-residents-with-farm-jobs-finds-few-employers/#ixzz1gwyXy6xs

grammaddy 3 years ago

Where are these people who have been collecting ue benefits for 99 months or longer? I don't know any. I have a lot of friends who were laid off at the garage door place and many other places around town but none of them collected ue past the first 26 weeks, even if it mean having to take a job where"You want fries with that?" was the most they said to sanybody all day. Who does that?

Jimo 3 years ago

Maybe your experience comes all from Kansas with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation (mainly because there aren't that many jobs to begin with).

Kansas exports its 'surplus population' to places that are more economically dynamic (which during down times means places with higher unemployment). All of Brownback's crackpot schemes to line the pockets of the Koch Bros. aren't going to convince the average American that Kansas is the place to live and work.

Besides, why are we all better off by having people work at low-skill, low-pay jobs? Who do you think is going to win a competition for cheapest labor -- the U.S. or China? We're now 30 years into a low-tax, deregulation economic scam and the working class hasn't been poorer since Truman was in the WH.

At some point (2012?) we've got to stop digging the same hole and get back to prioritizing the middle class. Just remember this (Mr. Potter): that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?

John Hamm 3 years ago

And here, once again, is the oft repeated comment "immigration" when actually what is, and should be, under attack is "illegal immigration." Durn, I can never find articles in the archives here but I'll remind people of the article about the illegal immigrant who caused an accident - killing a young lady - while drunk under his 3rd DUI. He was constantly deported but kept returning! There's a reason to crack down on illegal immigrants and not stop immigration entirely. Let's start getting the terms straight once in a while. As an aside if anyone can provide that like I'd really appreciate it. TIA

Fred Mertz 3 years ago

I agree. People conveniently mix legal and illegal immigration to make their point. Illegal immigration is a crime and should be stopped. Legal immigration should continue, but personally, I'd like to see legal immigration revisited too.

Our country has finite resources - water especially. So, we should have a comprehensive plan that looks at population growth and resources and base who we allow in this country based on those estimates. A primary consideration should be what does the legal immigrant offer to us that our own citizens can't provide?

If we need cheap labor then a guest labor program with no path to citizenship would suffice.

Message to people wanting to come here - Sorry your country sucks, but we need to look out for ourselves first.

jayhawkinsf 3 years ago

It seems to me that the mixing of legal immigration and illegal immigration is coming from one side of the argument. Those that support the illegal immigrants are far more likely to mix the two together. That said, those that are opposed to illegal immigrants include two groups, those that support an orderly legal immigration policy and those that want little if any immigration with hints of racism, xenophobia, etc.
Any honest discussion must include clarity of positions.

Jimo 3 years ago

ROFL Sure. It's not the "keep America American" crowd that insists on ending immigration of brown, swarthy people. They just want an orderly process (that takes 15 years and admits almost no one).

There are no groups who "support an orderly legal immigration policy" outside of the agricultural and corporate interests who seek to exploit cheap labor.

Seriously. We live in a world where whole economic regions have dim long-term economic prospects (Europe, Japan) as a direct consequence of their refusal to admit immigrants in any significant level to make up for their low birthrate. Yet in a country whose resilient economic dynamism is substantially the product of its high and persistent levels of immigration, in a state with whole regions that rely on immigration to avoid total depopulation, all we wish to do is pretend that the only policy we oppose is disorderly, illegal immigration.

Who is the world with the most elementary grasp of American history would believe for a second that U.S. immigration policy is only interested in an orderly legal system? From the racial bondage of Africans, to the Naturalization Act that restricted citizenship to whites, the longstanding 'no Chinese allowed' rules, native Americans haven't even been citizens in their own country for an entire century yet, that those with AIDS couldn't even get a visa to enter the U.S. until 2009, or even the fact that same-sex marriage won't get you a visa let alone citizenship all give witness to the fact that 'just following rules' is the fig-leaf people use to avoid the prick of their own consciences as they roll-up the drawbridge and man the walls overlooking the moat.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Three members of my immediate family are immigrants, all legal. In the case of one, it took 5 years to get here. One took a year and a half and another took 6 weeks. Admittedly, the most recent was several decades ago. I've heard stories of long waits and lot's of paperwork. And I've heard stories of expedited cases. The point is, whatever our policy, we have the right to make it. It's not something that should be imposed upon us by people who's first act in coming here has broken the law.

kawrivercrow 3 years ago

No one is 'hostile to immigrants'. The issue here is ILLEGAL immigration that, until recently, was escalating at an exponential rate.

Exploiting an 'economic boon' regardless of the legality behind the mechanism is fraught with disastrous consequences.

I could make tBen Chappell's same arguments in favor of the meth trade. Look at who all benefits; ephedrine manufacturers, pharmacies, glassware wholesalers, multiple social services and law enforcement orgs. funded with public dollars, etc. The list goes on and on. A real economic boon, but only in the eyes of the specific recipients, even when they can't or won't see their own their position in the be chain of benefits. Yet, society as a whole loses... a lot

Likewise, someone could drive down Mass St. at 2 AM with a pellet rifle, shooting out windows of storefronts. Now, look who benefits; glaziers, insurance adjusters, actuaries. law enforcement, etc., the list goes on. And don't forget the taxes paid on those new windows. Yet again...who loses? Society.

If I were an ephedrine manufacturer or a glazier expressing my indignity at people for being 'hostile' to tweakers or vandals, most of you would immediately see the ulterior motives behind my charade. Yet, because this has been mislabeled a civil rights topic, the issue is distorted and exploited by people who are gaining from illegal actions and are playing well-meaning but easily manipulated bystanders as pawns in the game.

kawrivercrow 3 years ago

I married a legal immigrant (greencard via H1-A pathway). For you to denigrate LEGAL immigrants by lumping them in with illegal immigrants is categorically preposterous.

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