May 31, 2006


What You Don't Know About the Immigration Bill (Robert J. Samuelson, May 31, 2006, Washington Post)

The Senate passed legislation last week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) hailed as "the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history." You might think that the first question anyone would ask is how much it would actually increase or decrease legal immigration. But no. After the Senate approved the bill by 62 to 36, you could not find the answer in the news columns of The Post, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Yet the estimates do exist and are fairly startling. By rough projections, the Senate bill would double the legal immigration that would occur during the next two decades from about 20 million (under present law) to about 40 million.

One job of journalism is to inform the public about what our political leaders are doing. In this case, we failed.

Actually, even most opponents at least pretend they don't care about the numbers but are only concerned about the fact that so many immigrants are breaking the law to get here. The primary focus of the President, Democrats, half the GOP and 65% of the American people is, therefore, to regularize and legalize that immigration. Mr. Samuelson fails to offer any reasons why that's a bad idea and, of course, can't make a moral case against it.

Rousing the Zealots: Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and militiamen are revivified by the furor over illegal immigration (JEFFREY RESSNER, 5/29/06, TIME)

Pugnacious anthems and racist diatribes have never been in short supply at Nordic Fest, an annual white-power Woodstock held over the Memorial Day break near the former mining town of Dawson Springs, Ky. And this past weekend was no exception. On the agenda were a Triumph of the Will--themed running event and a cross "lighting" sponsored by the Imperial Klans of America. But something new did arise at Nordic Fest this year: bellicose talk and plans of action against illegal immigrants. Among the scheduled guest speakers was Hal Turner, a New Jersey Internet radio talk-show host who recently instructed his audience to "clean your guns, have plenty of ammunition ... and then do what has to be done" to undocumented workers.

With immigration perhaps America's most volatile issue, a troubling backlash has erupted among its most fervent foes. There are, of course, the Minutemen, the self-appointed border vigilantes who operate in several states. And now groups of militiamen, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are using resentment over the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. as a potent rallying cry. "The immigration furor has been critical to the growth we've seen" in hate groups, says Mark Potok, head of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center counts some 800 racist groups operating in the U.S. today, a 5% spurt in the past year and a 33% jump from 2000. "They think they've found an issue with racial overtones and a real resonance with the American public," says Potok, "and they are exploiting it as effectively as they can."

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2006 1:09 PM

Maybe he didn't in this article, but in previous months he has written quite accurately about the fact that immigration from Mexico is lowering wages for the poorest American citizens. I guess you must have missed those articles.

Posted by: h-man at May 31, 2006 2:58 PM

Sure, that's a stock canard of the nativist:

Posted by: oj at May 31, 2006 3:06 PM

Perhaps Mr. Ressner will be following up his thoroughly researched article with one next week discussing the prominent environmental groups and other lefty yahoos who oppose immigration. I won't be holding my breath, though.

Posted by: b at May 31, 2006 3:28 PM

Thanks for the link. Anyone interested in the actual facts instead of demgoguery, should definitely read Prof. Borgas' opinion which mentioned in the article and is supportted by research.

The rest of the article is of course useless.

Posted by: h-man at May 31, 2006 3:36 PM

The second article by Ressener is certainly something that should concern everyone. Since I employ Mexicans as well as other minorities, I am as alert as anyone to such hateful people.

Fortunately I have never seen any indication of that type of behavior and hopefully won't.

Posted by: h-man at May 31, 2006 3:44 PM

"The Senate passed legislation last week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) hailed as 'the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history.'"

Anyone who ever lived in NYC and went to Irish bars probably encountered an Irish bartender with an expired visa serving other Irishmen in the same situation (and soliciting for the IRA on the side). Ted's old enough to remember his Dad's stories of anti-Irish prejudice and legislates accordingly. Last I looked, the bill does not limit amnesty to Mexicans only. So credit Sen. Kennedy for lessening the immigration problem for Mexicans and everyone else who is here illegally, including his kinsmen. Now that's constituent service. It's possible he genuinely cares about Latinos, but I doubt it. Bet he cares about their eventual voting preferences, though.

Full disclosure: my great great grandmother on my father's mother's father's side came here from Ireland before the Civil War. Erin go Bragh.

The Senate bill sucks.

Posted by: Ed Bush at May 31, 2006 4:23 PM

"Citing Time as a source" should join "Godwin's law" and "jumping the shark" as a way of saying a discussion or subject has degenerated to the point of uselessness.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 31, 2006 4:39 PM

When the facts are against you, deny them.

Posted by: oj at May 31, 2006 4:57 PM


If he did he'd oppose immigration.

Posted by: oj at May 31, 2006 4:59 PM


Watch C-Span.

Posted by: oj at May 31, 2006 5:00 PM

h-man -- Borjas is an idiot. One giveaway is his line, "What immigration really does is redistribute wealth away from workers toward employers," which is impossible -- profits by and large are competitively determined and cannot be increased by immigration. Overall, (real) wages are increased by immigration, but it's possible for individual subgroups of workers to have their wages lowered. Those who are most similar to the immigrants are most likely to have their wages lowered, while those most dissimilar will have their wages increased the most.

However, it's theoretically possible that no one has their wages lowered by immigration, as the positive effects could outweigh the negative ones even for directly competitive workers.

The article states: "A new study goes even further and seeks to turn the Borjas view on its head, finding that immigration has probably reduced wages at the low end of the scale but raised average wages by 2 percent."

This is exactly the result we would expect from economic theory.

Posted by: pj at May 31, 2006 8:18 PM

Nice to know I can still check in at BrothersJudd to take note of the current arguments of right-wing globalism.

Obviously some profit by mass immigration and others are injured. The old question of Who? Whom? is what requires more vigorous and clear-headed thought.

Posted by: Paul Cella at June 1, 2006 10:29 AM

Except that the only ones injured by it are their native lands.

Race precludes thought.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 10:36 AM

Mexico may be injured but our immigration policy; its ruling class is certainly not. Have you taken a look at the political trends in Latin America these days? Not particularly reassuring.

Race schmace. This is about cupidity: reducing nations into mere markets.

Posted by: Paul Cella at June 1, 2006 10:55 AM

The trends in Latin America are quite favorable.

Yes, it's precisely about reducing nations from races to free markets.

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 11:00 AM

Favorable = nationalist socialism? Interesting.

Nation = race? Even more interesting.

Posted by: Paul Cella at June 1, 2006 11:14 AM

Nation is just race, that's why America is uniquely lacking ion nationalism. We're patriots, not nationalists.

Latin America is electing successful Rightists and Third Wayers--Chile, Brazil, Mexico, etc..

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 11:21 AM

Supply and demand works with workers too. More workers than we need, pay goes down; less workers than we need, pay goes up. I'll just sit back now and wait for the Nobel Prize committee to notify me about winning the Economics prize this year.

Posted by: erp at June 1, 2006 4:38 PM