June 12, 2016

Review Corner

Both my siblings speak English, are college-educated, and are the most productive time in their lives. If they waited 12 years to become legal immigrants, after their applications were eventually al proved in 2028 or later, they would already have passed their prim The same visa bulletin shows that someone immigrating from Mexico has to wait 18 years to bring his siblings over, and for a Filipino, the wait is even longer -- 23 years.
I've had the pleasure of meeting Helen Raleigh a few times. She has spoken at Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons (LORT-F) and we have many friends in common. Her "Confucius Never Said" got five stars in Review Corner, and if you click through you can see video of her talk at LOTR-F.

"Confucius Never Said" is autobiographical and philosophical in that she loves and understands liberty and has seen the consequences of its deprivation. When I heard she had written a book on immigration, I was concerned. I had mis-heard or misconstrued some statements of hers and thought she was a restrictionist in the mold of a Michelle Malkin: "I endured the process and came legally, you can too!"

Instead, let me make a picture worth 1000 words (considering my typing, a very good bargain). I bought the paperback before the Kindle version came out. I cannot highlight in a real book, so I put in flags for later scanning. I use a blue one for quotes I enjoy and agree with . . . and I use Red for substantive disagreements or perceived flaws. Here's both the attractive cover, and visual representation of the proportions:


The Broken Welcome Mat: America's UnAmerican Immigration Policy and How We Should Fix It is a splendid piece of scholarship. Immigration's being a hot-button issue has resulted in many works which are based on the author's opinion and a few cherry-picked facts to support it. Raleigh starts with the founders' intent and documents significant legislation throughout the nation's history, describing both causes and effects.

Jefferson reminded Congress of the unique role America plays by asking, "Shall we refuse the unhappy fugitives from distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?" While he advocated for America's role as the sanctuary for humanity, Jefferson didn't support open borders.
From the founding of our nation until 1875, America operated on an open-border policy. Other than a few requirements for citizenship (i.e. a residency minimum and a demonstration of moral character), there was no immigration law to decide who could or couldn't come to the U.S. and stay. Therefore, the U.S. didn't have an illegal immigration problem.

Things began to change in 1875. The Page Act was the first immigration law in U.S. history to restrict certain groups of people from entering the U.S., including: convicts, women "imported for the purposes of prostitution," and Chinese laborers.

Raleigh also catches a "Bootleggers & Baptists" alliance between organized labor and nativists, which I'd suggest extends to today:
But to the anti-Chinese immigrant crowd, especially the labor unions, the Page Act of 1875 didn't go far enough. The Knights of Labor led the cry: "The Chinese must go!" Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, claimed "the superior whites had to exclude the inferior Asiatics, by law, or if necessary by force of arms."112 The labor unions pushed the U.S. government to do more. Since the U.S. economy during the second half of the 19th century was dominated by manufacturers and railroads, organized laborers from these industries were powerful political forces that many politicians were only too happy to appease.

Arriving at the present, Raleigh takes a sober look at where we stand and attempts a pragmatic path forward. While it is not exactly the path I would choose, she addresses the things which I feel to be both true and important. It helps that she -- in the style of David Mamet [Review Corner]'s Rabbi -- demonstrates her appreciation for other sides in the debate:
Libertarians are for open borders, which is the only immigration policy they believe isn't in violation of individual rights and property rights. Here, they borrow the classical property right definition of John Locke, who famously said, "Every man has a property in his own person."273 Thus, they see individuals as having the freedom to travel, to take their bodies to wherever they desire. Libertarians do not see illegal immigration as a problem. On the contrary, they see laws restricting immigration by quota and punishing employers for hiring illegal immigrants as a problem.

She is equally generous with her restrictionist friends, but claims the middle ground for herself in the Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan school:
Their thinking is best represented by President Reagan, who said,
Illegal immigrants in considerable numbers have become productive members of our society and are a basic part of our work force. Those who have established equities in the United States should be recognized and accorded legal status. At the same time, in so doing, we must not encourage illegal immigration.274

She examines the immigration policies of other nations, and finds that a couple other members on the Anglosphere to be doing it a little better.
It is time for the U.S. to adopt a merit-based immigration system, similar to what Canada and Australia have. We shouldn't do away with family-based immigration and immigration on humanitarian need, but we should emphasize skill-based immigration by dedicating at least 50% of the annual immigration visa quota to skill-based immigrants (instead of the current 20%).

Her focus is on facilitating immigration of needed workers regulated by market demand and also attracting highly skilled workers. She speaks to augmented enforcement (funny I didn't highlight and scan those parts...) but I appreciate that she clearly ses the importance in fixing legal immigration as apart of slowing or stopping the other.

Importantly, she clearly demonstrates the flaw in the "get in line!" argument. For all intents and purposes, there is no line. There is a jumbled and mixed up lottery for certain workers, a short road for family reunification in some countries, but generational waits from others, different statuses for "asylum seekers" and "refugees" (did anyone inform Tom Petty?) And all these disparate parts are glued together by an inefficient and frequently corrupt bureaucracies in both the US and home country. What could possibly go wrong?

So . . . what got he dreaded red flag? (Even the greatest books usually get more than one.) I found this jewel as a point of disagreement:

Is E-Verify an effective tool to deter the hiring of illegal immigrants? We can look to Arizona for a successful case study. According to a Pew Research study, Arizona's illegal immigrant population grew almost fivefold between 1990 and 2005, to about 450,000. But the inflow began to reverse in 2008 after Arizona required that all employers, public or private, use the E-Verify system. Between 2007 and 2012, Arizona's population of illegal immigrants dropped by 40%. Based on Arizona's experience, I suggest our nation make E-Verify mandatory for all employers nationwide.

Or rights grounds, I must say no: de facto government permission required to get a job? She knows the dark side of government too well to suggest that's being a good idea. On consequentialist grounds, I must say no. Between 2007 and 2012 inflow reversed? Hmm, I am trying to think of some other event in that time frame which might have impacted immigration. Oh, yes, the Panic of '08 and the complete, total 100% crashing of the economy. That's it! Pardon the flippancy, but all Mexican immigration headed toward net zero -- some say negative -- in this time period. The Mexican economy improved, ours worsened. I am not ready to credit BigBrother.

But that is one itty bitty red flag. The book is a masterpiece! Five stars and a fulsome recommendation. It is even out in Kindle now. Go buy it!

Immigration Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at June 12, 2016 11:33 AM

I am interested in the historical facts of American immigration law so I would love to read this book - in the scope of the timeframe which I have devoted to reading, which is to say, very little.

My offhand comments are,

"Democracy! Screwing up economic markets since 1875."

And, I'll challenge you on your E-Verify arguments. The economy did NOT "complete, total 100% crash." I realize that you exaggerate for effect, but the '08 Recession - caused largely by democratic government distortion of the housing market - was not that severe, nor even the likely cause for diminished economic activity. That ignominious award goes to the redistributory and regulatory administration of one President Barack Obama. The job creators saw a storm on the horizon and battened down the hatches.

Still, Raleigh's cause and effect conclusion about the state of Arizona could still hold up to scrutiny. Do we have any data on the 2007-2012 illegal immigrant population of Arizona's neighboring states without E-Verify?

Posted by: johngalt at June 13, 2016 7:05 PM | What do you think? [1]