Re: Immigrant March

1

the system we have now, where hardworking people holding down jobs for decades in the US fear deportation, is simply wrong.

And broken, to boot.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
2

where hardworking people holding down jobs for decades in the US fear deportation, is simply wrong

I grant you that this is a difficult problem, but it is not obvious that it is simply wrong to say that you can come here in violation of the law and if you avoid getting caught for long enough, the law no longer applies to you. If I cheat on my taxes for long enough, does it become OK? If I always drive 20 miles an hour over the speed limit, does it mean that eventually the old speed limit does not apply?

It is not crazy to say that we should make an exception to the general rule, and create what is, in effect, citizenship by adverse possession, but it is not self-evidently right. Should the most important criterion for gaining US residency be avoiding the INS (or whatever they are called these days--ICE?). Can't we come up with a better system for deciding to whom we should grant residency.

you're an American because you, or your family, chose to come here

Nitpick: you realize that there are Americans whose families did not choose to come here.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
3

Good nitpick. That needs a rewrite.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
4

Can't we come up with a better system for deciding to whom we should grant residency.

I'd be happy for someone to come up with a better system. The only thing I meant to call 'simple' is that our current system, of semi-officially winking at and tolerating the residence in the US of millions of undocumented immigrants because they're useful and productive, and then turning around and treating them like criminals, is just wrong, and wrong in a way that's profoundly antithetical to American ideals.

If Germany wants to admit guest workers on a probationary basis because you aren't a real German unless your ancestors fought against Varus's legions, that's fine for them. America doesn't have an ancestry requirement. (This is not meant as argument against anyone present, just ranting.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
5

2: It's not the same when a law is so manifestly unjust. It's not like our ancestors received our immigration laws on Mount Sinai -- these things can be changed. Amnesty seems to be the best way to make up for the fact that our unjust laws have victimized so many people for so long.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
6

Also, w/r/t speeding, that's a good example of how a spottily enforced (because basically unenforceable) law leads to injustice -- everybody speeds, but pulling people over for speeding gives a pretext for practices of racial profiling, etc. And I'd imagine that, unless you are not a human being, you'd still be pretty pissed if you got a ticket, because there was always someone you saw fifteen minutes ago who deserved it way more.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:03 AM
horizontal rule
7

A smart friend of mine was making the case for a far easier citizenship process (basically filling out some paperwork and getting through a background check). My knee jerk reaction was that it was crazy (crazy!), but I honestly couldn't come up with any real arguments against it, other than a very vague, creepily nativist "People will just come flooding in, though!!1!"


Posted by: Joe Drymala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
8

Also troubling and jingoistic is the backlash against the increasing usage of Spanish, most notably in the recent translation of the National Anthem. Asked about singing "Nuestro Himno," President Bush said:

I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English

This kind of talk is simply him pandering to a nationalistic conservative base. And it's fear-mongering. English is under no threat. There are any number of market incentives to learn English, and every immigrant I know is more-than-eager to learn or him improve her spoken and written English.

Amurickans should be learning more languages---Spanish, French, Chinese/Mandarin/Cantonese, Urdu, Arabic...---not hinting at the sanctioning of a national language.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
9

This blog has transformed me into the sort of person who agrees with Idealist and baa.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
10

I kind of figure that if you think companies should be able to easily cross borders in pursuit of cheaper labor and costs, and capital should be able to easily cross borders in pursuit of higher returns or lower risks, and goods should be able to easily cross borders in pursuit of lucrative markets, why shouldn't labor be able to easily cross borders in pursuit of higher wages?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
11

This blog has transformed me into the sort of person who agrees with Idealist and baa.

How so?

And even on the subject of "My Humps"?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
12

So what do you do when Idealist and baa disagree with one another? Guess that puts you in a tough spot, right?


Posted by: The Modesto Kid | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
13

the sort of person who agrees with Idealist

On all sorts of issues, I'm right here with you. Baa too, probably, although I know him less well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
14

re: 9, 13

Holy s/hit! Apparently I woke up this morning in the Twilight Zone.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
15

9: Well, at least you'll have some established acquaintances when we start shipping you guys off to the re-education camps.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
16

Hey, I've made pro-welfare reform comments on this blog before. The perfume bottles on my vanity are filled with as many deviations from traditional liberalism as the rest of y'all's.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
17

There is only one deviation: the centrist deviation.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
18

Re: 14.

I'm trying to figure out the thought process that would lead one to google-proof the word 'shit'. Surely, whatever you think of this place, it seems fairly unlikely that we're in the top couple of pages for that as a search term.

And we like to think of it as the Unfogged Zone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
19

Is the centrist deviation the standard deviation?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
20

it is not obvious that it is simply wrong to say that you can come here in violation of the law

Well, the problem is that immigration law is a mess. So it's one of those things where, yes, technically many immigrants are in violation of immigration law; on the other hand, the law is clearly not in line with the way the country actually works, given that the economy *is* dependent on immigrant labor. So we have a situation where the law is at odds with reality, which is a sure recipe for creating "criminals" out of thin air. It's the law that needs to change, to come into accordance with what actually happens and what's actually needed.

I also wanted to add, that it's not just workers who've been here for ages that we're talking about, but also people who were brought over in infancy, have grown up here, and are for all intents and purposes as American as any of us, but who simply lack the paperwork because someone never applied for it, or couldn't apply for it. Kids in high school get deported to countries where they don't even speak the language. That's fucked up.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:41 AM
horizontal rule
21

The analogy with speeding should be more like one rational behind the relatively recent decision that 55 miles per hour wasn't a good federal speed limit, and that the states should revisit the law if it was a bad law (e.g., on flat stretches in Montana.) Does that mean that everyone in Montana was rewarded for speeding? Well, in a way, yes, to the extent that constantly flouting the law probably helped convince lawmakers that 55 miles an hour was absurd. But no, in the sense that the law was wrongheaded and ineffective.

So the immigration law isn't working. We're not going to come up with half a trillion dollars to send 11 million people back. So it needs to be fixed, and it's going to need to include a citizenship path (judging by how fabulously the European guest worker programs have worked.)

Where the 'reward' comes in is if by being illegal, you jump to the front of the line ahead of people who waited to get visas. And that, as someone who's seen friends deal with immigration and may have to in the future, would seriously piss me off. It would be like refunding everyone's old speeding tickets. But it wouldn't take much to appease me. Pay a fine, get your shots, get deported if you've been making serious mischief while here, get your temporary employment authorization document, and start the adjustment of status process.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:44 AM
horizontal rule
22

Two things about Idealist's 2:

a) I don't think LB made that argument. The argument is against the current system, under which people who hold jobs in this country for decades because we need their labor fear deportation. I haven't heard anyone on the left argue that we should have immigration that's both illegal and tolerated; the idea is that, since we need immigration, let's make it legal immigration (and no guest worker laws, please).

That said, will it be practical to get the immigrants we need by trying to kick out the ones who are currently in the country and bring in new ones through some legal process? It doesn't seem so. So once you say "If our economy depends on immigrants, they should be legal immigrants," there's a practical argument for amnesty.

b) A quote with a crucial word omitted: you can [blank] in violation of the law and if you avoid getting caught for long enough, the law no longer applies to you
Isn't that true for lots of laws? We have statutes of limitations; if, 20 years later, it's discovered that I stole a bunch of money, I think I don't go to jail. I don't even know if I have to give it back. I don't think this applies literally to immigration laws, which are violated when the immigrant is still here, but it's not crazy to say that someone's life shouldn't be disrupted because of something they did a long long time ago, if that isn't too severe.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
23

This blog has transformed me into the sort of person who agrees with Idealist and baa.

Yaphet Koto!


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:47 AM
horizontal rule
24

pwned by Cala and bphd; I agree with Cala's last paragraph too, because I think there is good reason to reward people who obeyed the law. But there has to be a solution to that beyond deporting the people who are already here illegally, and maybe a fine is the way to go. (Sliding scale?)


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
25

TBH, I'm fine with the end of the line. Just don't mess up people's fiancÚ visas when those people were apart for two years saving up to do it legally. Because, really, there's no reason to go around creating resentment when it doesn't need to be created.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:51 AM
horizontal rule
26

there's no reason to go around creating resentment when it doesn't need to be created

Not that anyone would ever do that.


Posted by: Joe Drymala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
27

Well, the problem is that immigration law is a mess. So it's one of those things where, yes, technically many immigrants are in violation of immigration law; on the other hand, the law is clearly not in line with the way the country actually works, given that the economy *is* dependent on immigrant labor

I agree that the law does not work well and should be fixed (although the fixes are not obvious to me).

I agree on the importance of immigration. However, you have mixed up two things. Not all immigrants are illegal immigrants. Indeed, the majority of immigrants are not illegal immigrants. Thus, that immigration is very important (both economically and culturally) to our country and that we need to find a better process for managing it, does not necessarily lead to legalizing illegal immigrants--there are lots of legal immigrants and lots of people who would be willing to come here legally.

I'm not rejecting a process for legalizing certain illegal immigrants, but I do not think it follows from saying that immigration is important to us.

Kids in high school get deported to countries where they don't even speak the language. That's fucked up.

True that. But this point does not go as far as you seem to want it to go. Kids in elementary school getting put in foster homes because their parents have been sent to prison is fucked up too, but we still enforce the laws against parents as well as single people. If the standard for having laws was that they could not result in any unintended bad consequences, we would have no laws.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
28

Here, I'm arguing from ignorance a bit, because I really don't understand the ins and outs of immigration law. But is there really a line in any reasonable sense?

There are family or marital avenues to citizenship, there's the green card lottery, and there are various work related visas that, I've been told by expats considering it, can be turned into green cards with some expenditure and legal work. But for a regular person without the kind of job that can get you a work visa, and without family or a fiance in the country, is there any non-lottery route to legal immigration?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
29

Thank you, Joe.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
30

Trust me, if 11 million applications have to go through the California Customs & Immigration Service Center, there's a line. Not in the sense that a worker visa would compete with a student visa quota-wise, but in the eyeballs-to-look-at-the-forms sense.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
31

But that's an artificial line. That is, if we're talking about systematically making it easier to be in the country legally, however exactly that's handled, there's no reason that, say, people waiting for fiance visas couldn't take advantage of that same loosening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
32

Also in the following sense: Suppose someone's Canadian significant other, without a specialty job, refrained from moving in with her for two years because both of them valued the rule of law and didn't want to risk deportation and a 5-year ban, so lived apart, waited for a fiancÚ visa to process (6-9 months), and then it became the case that people who *had* immigrated illegally during the time they were abiding by the law, were able to retain jobs and residency and even get legal status ahead of them...

Yeah. Don't create the resentment where it doesn't have to be created.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
33

the fixes are not obvious to me

The fixes aren't obvious to anybody. I've yet to see any good solutions.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
34

31: I'm not seeing how that follows. The fiancÚs aren't here, because they're abiding by the law, so they don't meet the residency requirement that presumably is going to factor into any new legislation (since most of the proposals grant amnesty only to people who are here, and tighten controls for people still wanting to immigrate).


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:06 AM
horizontal rule
35

I'm in pie-in-the-sky land, here, I admit. All I'm saying is that there is no necessary reason that any amnesty couldn't be extended to cover people now waiting through the legal process. I don't have a proposal to point out that does that, but there's no reason that it couldn't be done.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:09 AM
horizontal rule
36

But part of the "unfairness" of distinguishing between legal immigration and illegal immigration, between those who've followed the laws and those who haven't, is intrinsic in the laws themselves. Historically, the law prefers European immigrants to all others; historically, it prefers "skilled" immigrants (i.e., the middle class and above) to all others; historically, complying with the law requires resources that aren't available to everyone. These problems aren't just minor; they're a crisis, primarily because geographically and historically, a huge part of the immigrant population (illegal and legal; possibly even a majority, though I'm not sure) has been from Mexico and Central America, and in fact we've deliberately written laws that discriminate against these immigrants, even though we depend on them for, e.g., food production and even though Mexicans, at least, have historic claims of "citizenship" in parts of the country where newer immigrants clearly don't (the Southwest). This may not be relevant in legal terms, but it's very relevant in terms of how people feel and in moral terms.

So it's not quite enough to draw a distinction between "legal" and "illegal" immigration, e. g. in 27 and in Cala's argument about the resentment of those who've gone through legal processes. Because there's a clear moral argument to be made that goes the other way.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
37

Sure. And the angels of my better nature say a few hurt feelings and senses of injustice will fade, and it's clearly in our interest to document all the workers and not break up families and not subject people to unscrupulous employers and not track vaccinations and not create an underclass in our own banlieu suburbs.

But I do think that hurt feelings and senses of injustice could defeat an otherwise reasonable measure. The whole process for a fiancÚ visa costs about $1500 and at least six months of waiting, if everything goes perfectly. I have friends who had to rush weddings so that she could follow him to the U.S. while he studied. I have other friends who don't know what they'll do because he's from the UK and she's from the U.S.

It may not be right, and somewhat reminiscent of a kid stamping his foot and whining that Johnny got a cookie even though he didn't do his homework (or more charitably, parable about the workers who only worked for an hour but received the day's full pay, and the workers who bitched about it), but well, right doesn't always translate into reasonable consideration of legislation.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
38

But I do think that hurt feelings and senses of injustice could defeat an otherwise reasonable measure.

Absolutely. And this needs to be taken into consideration. But I honestly believe that at bottom, this sense of "justice" depends on unarticulated class (and to some extent race) privilege. And we have to take into account the sense of justice of the migrant farmworkers, too, the folks who don't have the money to fly back home and see their loved ones once or twice a year.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
39

The very fact that these people are travelling internationally, falling in love with people in other countries, etc., seems to me to indicate that they are already pretty privileged people. That seems relevant to me. I don't know if we should base our policy-making on the fact that privileged people resent it when poor people are given ... well, anything at all.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
40

Well, we also can't base policy on sticking it to the rich.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
41

I doubt very much that we have visas available for highly educated, skilled workers, is to keep out some Hispanics. I think it's just to keep out poor people and in an old attempt to keep the brain drain going this way. That said, I'll agree that it's dumb, when we need workers, to pretend that we don't need skilled labor, too.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
42

Hey, Adam? I make $18K a year, I'm not rich, and my boyfriend would love to come here and live with me, but he's in carpentry, which doesn't qualify for any of the Hs, and I can't support him by myself, and we don't want him to work illegally.

If you start privileged at $18K a year, well, alrighty then. But I don't think that's what you meant. I guess I do fly on an airplane a few times a year, so maybe I'm part of the huge white rich person problem. But I'm not thinking so, and the fact that I don't technically make enough to bring him over on a K-1 kind of backs me up on that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
43

No, in fact, it's true that immigrant policy has deliberately discriminated against non-European immigrants. There was some correction to this in, if memory serves, the late 70s or 80s, but only "some." I'm sorry that I'm on dialup, and so can't research and find a link for you. Also, of course, we can't (or shouldn't) ignore the economic effects of U.S. policy in Latin America, which has helped create the condtions that fuel illegal immigration out of economic desperation.

Also, we need unskilled labor as well as skilled.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
44

the law [is] as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself....


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
45

40: Why the hell not? They stick it to us constantly!

42: At the end of the day, I would support extending citizenship to the same countries with which we have free-trade agreements -- that is, if capital and goods can move freely, so should labor (I feel like that's been said in this thread, but I couldn't find it on a quick scan). That would have the pleasant side-effect of solving your problem, no? I think we can join together on this.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
46

Okay, B. My quick Google had the numbers like Asia, Mexico, then Europe for legal immigration. Didn't have time to do a full researching thing, though, so I don't know percentages applied vs. denied, and so forth.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
47

Privileged doesn't mean you're a bad person, or that you should be vilified for your privilege. But 18K a year is different for a grad student (which is what I believe you are, right? If you're not, than my entire premise for this comment is offbase) than for someone making that because they don't have any other vocational options.

It's not self-evidently wrong to me to regard someone in your position as comparatively privileged, including in that you've had opportunity to travel and fall in love with someone from a different country. Again, privileged doesn't make you a bad person -- if it did, I'd be going straight to hell -- but it does mean that something that serves the interests of people like you probably isn't targeted at serving those most acutely in need.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
48

Cala, I don't want to get into the personal poorer-than-thou thing, but I'm currently reading a book called "Enrique's Journey," based on a Pulitzer-winning series in the L.A. Times, that discusses in heart-breaking detail the situation for Central American migrants who ride thousands of miles on the backs of trains to get into the States and work as, say, nannies in order to earn enough to simply keep their children in school. So, just as one example, the family profiled in the book comes from Honduras, where women earn $40-$120/month and live in shacks without bathrooms for $30/month. When the woman profiled immigrates, she takes a live-in nanny job that pays $125/week, and sends her children $50-$100/month.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
49

I'm all for opening the borders to Canada and Mexico completely, because I think it's extraordinarily stupid that I can drive somewhere with just my driver's license and a birth certificate and I can ship things there, and even go to the same chain stores but I can't work there. Plus, we're not going to build a 3,000 mile long wall.

Just don't go saying this is a problem that only a few rich people have to worry about, because, well, that's pretty fucking inaccurate and rather insulting to me (white jetsetter by what, association?) and to, oh, maybe half of the legal immigrants in my building who are trying to bring over spouses and kids legally.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
50

If a wall would be effective in keeping illegal aliens out, I would be for it. We could then expand levels of legal immigration in a rational way. I am not a big fan of deporting people. The country wouldn't fall apart without illegal aliens.


Posted by: Joe O | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
51

Good god, I'm not arguing for moral equivalency of poverty. Yes, I have it pretty good.

This does not make me rich, I'm sorry. Nor does it make me a trendy white jetsetter running around falling in love with foreigners, or someone in such a tiny class of people (it gets more common with the Internet, folks), that you can just say, 'Stick it to the rich bastards, there's not that many of them', and expect that only a tiny portion of people will be pissed off enough to call their Congressmen about this.

Yes, I'm more rich than a nanny from Costa Rica. So's Adam. Who the hell cares? On the other hand, if she's legal (which does happen), and she's trying to bring over her family legally, she has to do it with a K-3 & K-4. That's time and money for her and it seems to me that it's unfair to tell her that, sorry, sweetheart, you would have been better off if you'd flouted the law rather than followed it.

That's all I'm saying. The assumption that this is a problem only a few rich[sic] white kids have ignores the thousands of legal immigrants -- who may damn well be trying to reunite their families, too -- trying to go through these processes.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
52

51 me. In case it wasn't obvious, with the privileged jetsetting and all.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
53

I'm not convinced about the original premise -- that an amnesty provision would actually make it more difficult for the Canadian fiance to immigrate. Do you have any data or facts supporting that? If not, is the argument simply that it's not fair for other people to get theirs first, when they may have "cheated"?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
54

Hey, if you gots a problem with America, why don't you go back to Calastan?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
55

I don't mean to dismiss issues that affect you as unworthy of notice because you're too privileged to deserve it, certainly -- all that I meant in my prior post is that it's not an insane description of you, and not one you should be offended by.

On the substance of what you're saying -- legal immigration to the US is stupidly and pointlessly difficult and expensive. I represented a guy who was in the US after having been granted asylum -- by the terms of his asylum, he was entitled to a green card once his application was processed. At the rate the INS was processing green card applications from asylees, he was due for one in about five years.

That sort of thing is just stupid, but it doesn't have anything to do with whether amnesty should be extended to illegal immigrants -- the question is are we going to treat legal applicants decently. Keeping out, or refusing to grant amnesty to, illegal immigrants wouldn't have speeded up or slowed down Mr Babatunde's application, nor would it speed up or slow down the family reuniting process. It's not a zero-sum game, illegal immigrants against legal immigrants.

You're right that we should treat legal applicants for immigration better, but that doesn't have a direct connection to whether we should treat undocumented immigrants better as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
56

Cala, the real problem with your fiancÚ is that if he comes, then all the strapping, construction-working Canadian boys are gonna wanna come steal all the purty 'Murickan gurls. And that's just wrong.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
57

I am not so pissed after having a taco, but the main premise is just this: To say that 'why should we worry about pissing off those rich brats, there's not that many of them, and they're all privileged anyway' is just false. Go take a gander at Visa Journey. I'd recommend first perusing the K-1 forum, where most people worry about making the I-134 income requirement (about 125% of poverty level, so as not to immigrate someone onto welfare).

Then go and look at some of the Off-Topic discussion areas, which lately has included a whole lot of '11 million amnesty!!!!' wtf posts. Many are legitimately concerned that their long process will get extended another few years if there's a quick change in laws. Many are less legitimately pissed off that they've played by the rules, when really, they just should have snuck in, because they they'd be together and not crying that they can't meet the income requirement.

I'm just offering this as evidence that it's not just a small amount of rich people (and I'm gonna say if the government's worried you'll end up on welfare, you don't count as rich) you can afford to piss off.

Now, how is this relevant? We're trying to construct a policy that doesn't turn into legal-immigrant vs. illegal immigrant. It becomes a zero-sum game if people feel that undocumented workers are being rewarded.

Adam's suggestion was that it didn't affect enough people (since I presume that was the point of the 'rich' comment) that it should be a concern. And I'm saying I think that's bullshit, because a lot of these people vote, and a lot of them will be very upset. Enough, I think, to defeat otherwise sensible legislation.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
58

To say that 'why should we worry about pissing off those rich brats, there's not that many of them, and they're all privileged anyway' is just false.

But no one is saying that. Adam's comment was, as I read it, about the social justice issues inherent in immigration law, which are real; it's also real that immigration law discriminates against poor people from non-European countries. Saying that this should be taken into consideration isn't, as LB pointed out, a moral indictment of people who've historically benefitted from injustice.

Also it's not true, really, that It becomes a zero-sum game if people feel that undocumented workers are being rewarded: how people feel about something doesn't mean that it is, in fact, unfair. As you're saying, it does become a problem of perception, and perception can and does affect how people vote and how elected representatives draft policy, so yes; there's a pragmatic political problem with revising immigration laws to be fairer to those who've arrived illegally and have made homes here. But that political problem doesn't mean that such a revision would be inherently "unfair," even if many people saw it that way. I suspect, in fact, that the demonstrations show that the political perception problem is currently going the other way: that a lot of people see it as "unfair" that the history of immigration law and the economic and social realities of immigration have created a huge number of people who are here "illegally" but who aren't, by any reasonable standard, "bad people," any more than those who've obeyed laws in part because they were in a position to do so without risking starvation and death, are "rich brats."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
59

I think that you're right that the relative treatment of immigrants going through the legal process versus those who are now undocumented is a PR concern, and that to a lesser extent it's a justice concern. All that I think Kotsko meant by 'privileged' is that the humanitarian concerns are lesser for those negotiating the legal system -- the fact that they are managing to negotiate it, given its byzantine and onerous requirements, indicates that they are at least likely to be in a better position than those who haven't been able to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
60

58: B, you're absolutely right that it's not a serious problem of justice, exactly. (Hence my comments in 37, way back upthread.) On the other hand, if the amnesty measure gets voted down because people who obeyed the law feel like they're being screwed over, then it *does* become a problem of justice. Didn't a measure in 1986 get killed due to something like this? And, like I said, that PR problem isn't limited to a few over-privileged people, unless we start defining 'overprivileged' as '99% of welfare poverty level'.

And that was the only reason I brought in my personal status into this, because while I am pretty much for amnesty, and am a grad student and therefore much richer than my income, it's crazy to say that this is a PR problem that only affects a small number of international travellers who have the privileges to go about falling in love. You can drive to Mexico and Canada. It's not like we're talking flying to Europe here.

Maybe I shouldn't have read into 'travelling internationally' and 'pretty privileged' and 'falling in love' (like it's a fucking hobby?) quite as much as I did. Sorry for that. But it sure seemed dismissive, as did the following comments exhorting me to read about real poor people.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
61

The 1986 law passed:

In 1986, there were about 2.5 million illegal aliens in the U.S. who Congress and the Reagan administration regarded as being “safe” - that is, not having committed serious crimes or otherwise being dangerous, and having sufficient ties to American life to be allowed to remain here. Many members of Congress, chiefly Democratic members, regarded the amnesty of these illegal aliens a sine qua non of any attempt to reform our immigration laws. Reagan recognized this, and, being the optimist that he was, saw something humane and profitable in affording this relatively small group of illegal aliens legal status.

(Note: I realize this link is a piece against amnesty. I had teh googlazy, and it had the relevant facts.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:02 PM
horizontal rule
62

In other news, you are quite right that American women would love the big, strapping Canadian boys.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
63

With those fetching little barely-perceptible accents.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
64

The very fact that these people are travelling internationally, falling in love with people in other countries, etc., seems to me to indicate that they are already pretty privileged people. That seems relevant to me. I don't know if we should base our policy-making on the fact that privileged people resent it when poor people are given ... well, anything at all.

I saw this and immediately thought of a Cala-like example I know of, where the "Canadian" is herself on a sort of asylum from a very poor country. But the key phrase here is resentment. I don't think Cala, or my friend, are going to be truly resentful if there's some sense of due process. And then after that there are degrees of resentment. We can't base policy on completely caving into resentment, but neither should we ignore all of it, especially when there's a grain of truth to it. I think the first thing Cala said was eminently reasonable, combined with the sliding scale. How long have you been here? What has your record been? Pay a fine, get the shots, do some community service, something, etc. etc.. Then turn on the shiny new super fair super easy to handle* immigration system. Start the clock over.

I'm actually starting to think a wall makes sense, but only if combined with a wall on the northern border, and with as many checks and ease of crossing as is given at the ports and airports. It's reasonable to compare our policies regarding Canadians to our policies regarding Mexicans and South Americans. It's less reasonable to compare Mexicans to Europeans or Asians, because the latter dont' have the same options of sneaking in. I mean, are we so sure that privileged, aristocratic Mexicans don't have a perfectly easy time immigrating here just like any other well-off-foreigner? I've known quite a few in my life. Two walls with plenty of crossings will bring each of the borders up to the natural situation created by the coasts. Then it will be fair with respect to everyone currently external to the country, regardless of geography. Maybe. (I'm totally talking out of my hat here, don't take this too seriously.) Then reset the clock with a one-time amnesty. Then deploy the magic system. Then ponies?

I will say that what I hate about the current immigration reform thing is that it's suddenness and virulence seems entirely made for political effect. The nastiness of the legislation proposed seems exactly in contradiction to the spirit of due process, the very thing its supposed to be defending.

*BTW, I hope some of you open source geeks are workingo n making this paperwork system, b/c I really wouldn't trust the current dorks to do it.
[double comment deleted for tidiness. LB]


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:16 PM
horizontal rule
65

American women would love the big, strapping Canadian boys.

Fortunately, there really aren't very many of them.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
66

My dad was kinda skinny when he overstayed his visa and married my mom.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:25 PM
horizontal rule
67

I'm going to be resentful if there aren't magical ponies for all! I want a purple sparkly one. With wings.

I don't think a wall is a reasonable option, if only due to the insane amount of commerce between the U.S. and Canada (I know nothing about Mexico.) Presumbly, any wall isn't going to have crossings at every road that now crosses into Canada, of which there are certainly a lot along the border; it would cost too much, so some roads would be closed, and there'd be detours, and that would be very bad for the economy of (say) Northern North Dakota. A lot of the border is forest, too. I'm thinking funding the thing would be a bitch.

But in principle you're right. Give an amnesty deadline, seal it off so future crossings have to be legal, and make those crossings pretty easy.

Or we could just buy Canada with ponies.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:25 PM
horizontal rule
68

Fortunately, there really aren't very many of them.

Yeah, and I think most of 'em are busy playing in Broken Social Scene...


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
69

A lot of the border is forest, too

I'm thinking like a 20-mile strip of scorched earth, with the wall at the 10-mile mark and barbed-wire fences on either side.


Posted by: The Modesto Kid | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:31 PM
horizontal rule
70

noooooo don't kill the pretty forest. Although a 20-mile scorched strip would take out Detroit. There's that to consider.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
71

Oh yes, let's militarize the border between Alaska and the Yukon. We should also put up a big ol' net across all the rivers, so that illegals can't sneak through our security by scuba-diving under the ice in the winter.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:41 PM
horizontal rule
72

Pity the poor fool guarding Skagway. ('Sir, we've got an illegal theft of ...ice in progress.')

A friend of mine is from Alaska, and once told me about a high school trip where a busload of kids crossed into Canada for something or other, and upon returning to the border, the school proctor discovered that about half of the kids had forgotten their birth certificates, since no one ever checks them (and they weren't checked on the way over), so they all had to call their parents, who had to drive up to the border with their birth certificates to get their kids back.

Does anyone else think the security thing is a huge red herring? Somehow I don't think a wall is going to stop al-Qaeda in the least.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
73

70: Also Niagara Falls.


Posted by: The Modesto Kid | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
74

Yes. There's no practically reasonable level of security that's going to keep all terrorists out of the country. Not to bring up the issue on any level other than the purely practical, but look at Israel.

(I'm not advocating abandoning passport control and customs searches, etc. -- just saying that their utility against terrorism is limited.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
75

I'm sort of against passport control for Canada and Mexico. It's expensive to get a passport (~$100), and there's a lot of commerce (weekly shopping trips to North Dakota) and vacations that appeal to people now because all you have to do is load up kids in the car to go to Niagara Falls or Banff, or find a cheap plane ticket. (Albertans like to go to Vegas and Reno.)

I'm not sure a lot of the smaller commerce centers would survive the initial hit. A lot of Americans don't have passports because right now there's no need, and I don't know if, say, a family of five would spend $500 just in passports to go to Canada for vacation, or if they'd just drive somewhere else in the U.S.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 1:59 PM
horizontal rule
76

I'm sort of against passport control for Canada and Mexico

Doesn't the EU have severely relaxed passport rules for citizens of member states?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:01 PM
horizontal rule
77

I think so, but aren't Europeans a lot more likely to have passports anyway? (I have no evidence for this than a discussion with a friend that it wasn't just that all Americans were so provincial that kept us from getting passports, it's that we could drive for days without needing one, whereas, if he drove hours southeast he'd crossed two countries.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:06 PM
horizontal rule
78

75: We could, I assume, just decrease passport fees.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:09 PM
horizontal rule
79

Thanks LB, sorry about that.

big strapping Canadians, compact wiry ones, and lanky gawky ones are all good, as long as they bring maple syrup with them. And I'm equal opportunity--agave syrup is also most welcome.

Maybe we should get a hint from the fact that all the best continental sweetness comes from Canada, Vermont, and Mexico. . .


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:13 PM
horizontal rule
80

I once forgot my passport when crossing from Germany to France. It was fine; nobody checked. But yes, Europeans are more likely to have passports. They also all have national identity cards.

Prior to 9-11, the guy at the US border control booth on the Carcross Road used to ask pretty much one question of Canadian travellers: "So, you going fishing down in Skagway?"

Now, according to my folks, he asks for photo id at least half the time.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:17 PM
horizontal rule
81

So long as we're in pie-in-the-sky land, we might as well recognize that the problem is of pie-in-the-sky proportions. The wealth gradient between Mexico and the United States is simply so steep that there's just no effort short of a wingnut wall that would stem the tide of immigration—legal, illegal, however you want to codify it. And then, even an electrified, armed, guarded wingnut wall would not stem the immigration tide. It's been said that even adjusting for population, there's no larger migration from one nation-area to another in recorded history than the one from Mexico to the U.S.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:20 PM
horizontal rule
82

Not to bring up the issue on any level other than the purely practical, but look at Israel.

The any level other than the purely practical caveat is necessary why?

I'm not advocating abandoning passport control and customs searches, etc. -- just saying that their utility against terrorism is limited

I disagree. No one security measure can ever provide a guarantee of security. However, each security measure helps make a difference. Getting into the US without passing through a border checkpoint may not be impossible, but it is not so easy that it does not create an impediment. That is how most security works--keeping the honest people honest and creating multiple opportunities (each in its own right not necessarily comprehensive) for the dishonest people to get caught.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:26 PM
horizontal rule
83

Oh wait, we've moved onto Canada? On this subject we can all affored a little more nativist protectionism. Rock n' roll was born in the States. Bang your head, cross your arms and nod, whatever it is you do—do it American. Say no to Montreal.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:27 PM
horizontal rule
84

Idealist, I think that passports without a wall, though, is hardly an impediment at all, and one perhaps not worth the costs.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:36 PM
horizontal rule
85

I'll believe we can secure our borders against terrorists thirty seconds after we secure our borders against the importation of massive quantities of illegal drugs.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
86

Maybe we should get a hint from the fact that all the best continental sweetness comes from Canada, Vermont, and Mexico. . .

You'll never get elected to national office if you go dissin' the sweet sweet high fructose corn syrup that away.

On a more serious note, what's Tupelo Honey, chopped liver?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:40 PM
horizontal rule
87

82: Because I don't want to argue anything substantive about Israel and the Palestinians, given that the substantive issues make my head hurt and I get all confused and depressed and want to hide under the furniture. I was trying to reference it purely on the 'Lots of security! And yet bombings happen!" front, without purporting to express any deeper opinion.

On your second point: I say "their utility against terrorism is limited," you say "No one security measure can ever provide a guarantee of security." This is not a sharp disagreement. I'm not advocating abandoning border control -- I just meant to say that the incremental gain in security from building a 3000 mile wall was not going to be huge.

But certainly, border controls aren't useless for anti-terrorism and other law-enforcement purposes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:42 PM
horizontal rule
88

No, it's bee vomit.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
89

Idealist, I think that passports without a wall, though, is hardly an impediment at all, and one perhaps not worth the costs.

Well, it seems to be the standard worldwide. I mean, I snuck across a border once, but only because I was young(ish) and stupid. It actually is a significant impediment. I know that there is a lot of illegal immigrant traffic over the Mexican border that evades checkpoints, but if you have the resources, a passport and a student or tourist visa you can overstay is, I think (in my limited but not non-existent experience) the preferred course of action because it is easier and safer.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
90

I snuck across a border once, but only because I was young(ish) and stupid.

Dude, we want to hear about your secret missions into Eastern Europe, and how you caused the fall of the Wall.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
91

given that the substantive issues make my head hurt

There are difficult substantive debates over the right of the Isrealis to try to keep terrorists out of their country?


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:46 PM
horizontal rule
92

Are we serious about the "build a wall" thing? Because quite apart from the offensive symbolism, it would be prohibitively expensive. And if people can swim the Rio Grande and walk through the desert, they can certainly climb a wall.

Although climbing a wall (or tunneling under it) would probably be a lot safer than swimming the Rio Grande.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
93

91: No. But there are difficult substantive debates about theiri attempts to keep Palestinians out of their country.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:50 PM
horizontal rule
94

I've swum across the Rio Grande.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
95

Makes you kind of a Texan folk hero, doesn't it.

"Ever heard tell of a man named Armsmasher? Folks round these parts say he swum the Rio Grande.."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
96

Dude, we want to hear about your secret missions into Eastern Europe, and how you caused the fall of the Wall.

If I had any such stories to tell, I would, proudly. Alas, the border story relates to French border guards not letting me cross the border from Belgium because only one headlight was working on my car. Instead of waiting for daylight, we drove around on back roads until we found a way across the border. Stupid.

Last time I was in Europe, the Berlin Wall was still up and the cold war was very much alive. My only foray into Eastern Europe was getting on the wrong train in Belgrade (where US military personnel could vacation) on a trip to Turkey. Instead of the train that went to Turkey by way of Greece, we went through Bulgaria, where I very much was not supposed to go. However, the border guards were very nice--as long as I paid for a transit visa and changed some dollars into the local currency, they were happy to let me ride the train through Bulgaria.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
97

There were some guys in BC last year who built a long, long tunnel under the American border to smuggle drugs from into Washington state.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
98

and that would be very bad for the economy of (say) Northern North Dakota

Isn't this like opposing something because it would be bad for the social life of philosophy grad students? I mean, can it get much worse anyway?


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
99

No, it's bee vomit.

Sweet sweet bee vomit.

Why, it's as sweet as some chick Van Morrison knew back in the day.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
100

94: That is very cool, I wish I could say the same. Hopefully not at one of the more dangerous parts, b/c that would be scary.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 3:10 PM
horizontal rule
101

I want to randomly bitch about something and I can't do it in the other active thread because everyone's expressing sympathy about something serious. Feel free to skip over this comment, which is becoming long.

I cannot count the ways in which I hate this awful prof. She really manages to be incompetent in every conceivable way. A take home final is due Thursday, and I emailed her yesterday morning because I realized late in the semester that the syllabus she had posted to our class website was altered and though she'd handed out another in class *she never bothered* to post the new one electronically, and I was using the web version, so I hadn't read some articles. I wanted to read them while doing the final, so I asked her to email me the correct syllabus. Has she responded? No. Further, she also posted notes to the same website, but she pasted notes from a table directly into a text box, as she always does, even though you easily upload word or pdf docs, and much of the info in her original notes was in a table and it's now totally illegible--the point was to separate things into categories and now they're not separated. I wanted to answer a question based on those notes but I can't because I can't even tell what they say. I didn't even bother emailing her to ask her for the word file because I knew she wouldn't answer. We got course evaluations last week and I filled mine out and evaluated the course quite harshly and started to write a long, totally constructive comment on the back of the sheet but even though *she is supposed to leave the room* while we're doing evaluations she hovered and saw that I was the last one there, and now she'll totally know which one was mine, and if the comments section is attached to the rating section she'll also know that I rated her course below average, and as it was I didn't feel comfortable saying everything I wanted to say, since I knew she was hovering around. But the thing that prompted me to comment here was what I just read from her notes:

"The "cultural feminist" movement has described women positively as more caring and relationship-oriented than men. Although these qualities tend to be understood as acquired in accordance with the social environment, they are regarded as permanent and enduring qualities of women."

Could her writing *be* any shittier? I had to read that four times before I realized that if the second sentence were in the active voice the subject would be "cultural feminists" (and I've never heard that term and because I don't respect her I mistrust her use of it). Seriously, it's one thing to write badly in a blog comment, but she is a *college professor* and these are her class notes. They should be clear. It's all like that, too; that's not an exception. For that matter the published article of hers she gave us was only very marginally better.

AAAAAAAARRRRRRGHHHHHHH!


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 3:20 PM
horizontal rule
102

It is not serious! It's not really a problem at all!


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 3:24 PM
horizontal rule
103

Heh, Tia, I have a rant of my own from the other side o' the desk. That student I've been bitching about on and off this semester? The really demanding, nitpicky one? She's trying to file a "grade challenge" b/c she thinks that her final paper, in which she argued that X was written in completely not-X historical period and therefore represents typical not-X values, deserves a passing grade.

Sigh.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 4:52 PM
horizontal rule
104

103: You should have just followed my original advice.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 5:18 PM
horizontal rule
105

Thank god I didn't, or she'd have "evidence" that I was "unfair" to her, the little snot.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05- 2-06 5:33 PM
horizontal rule
106

It is not serious! It's not really a problem at all!

Heh.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 05- 3-06 5:12 PM
horizontal rule