a question for Michelle Malkin

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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26 Responses

  1. ChrisWWW says:

    My position has always been the same. Stopping illegal immigration is as simple as imposing substantial fines on businesses that employ illegal immigrants. But Republicans are loathe to challenge the business lobby in any meaningful way. They’d probably call it Socialism…Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to ChrisWWW says:

      Actually that’s not true – now that anti-immigration fever has become GOP dogma (the parties used to each be relatively divided on the immigration issue), the GOP tends to be entirely in favor of very tough fines on employers.

      For instance, the Arizona law that is the toughest in the nation on employers of illegal immigrants (a law I strongly oppose, btw) passed with unanimous Republican support (47-0, with 3 abstentions) – the Dems, however, were divided on the issue (20-15, with 5 abstentions).Report

  2. Travis says:

    The magnets that draw illegal immigration, particularly in California, are the endless number of crappy jobs that Americans don’t want to do.

    Ask essentially any California farmer or farming company. Without the Mexicans, agriculture would pretty much shut down. There’d be nobody to work in the fields.Report

  3. Tim Kowal says:

    Since the existing regime already requires (wisely or not) that illegals be treated, providers should simply be made to forward their bills to the INS. In other words, all costs related to dealing with immigration, whether in health care or otherwise, should be accounted for by the department designed to handle that specific constitutional function.

    If those fundamentals are in place, it shouldn’t much matter whether or what health care treatment we provide them. Hell, go ahead and provide them better treatment than the rest of us—when the INS runs out of money, Congress will have to deal with the question of funding: ramp up funding to keep up with bulging entitlements, or ramp up funding to get illegals out of the country and off the entitlements. Either way, it ends the can-kicking.Report

  4. ChrisWWW says:

    “The magnets that draw illegal immigration, particularly in California, are the endless number of crappy jobs that Americans don’t want to do.”
    Because those employers are often paying at or less than minimum wage. Which is not the fault of the illegal aliens who would make even less in their home countries. Nor is it the fault of US citizens unwilling to work as virtual slaves.Report

  5. Kyle says:

    I think it just requires a more comprehensive strategy. Don’t restrict healthcare availability to illegal immigrants who really need it – for say emergency care – but at the same time, open up easier avenues for legal immigration and work to make not emigrating more attractive by combating poverty and unemployment in Latin America, Eastern Europe, etc…Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    Everybody wants to pull the ladder up after them.

    The immigration problem is solvable by getting rid of most immigration regulation.

    First off, I think that beating around the bush is preventing real discussion from taking place. When folks talk about “immigration”, what they are really talking about is Mexican Immigration. When people talk about “The Immigration Problem”, they aren’t talking about problems with immigration. They’re talking about Mexicans.

    Now, my wife immigrated to the US from Canada. I’ve never met anybody who has a problem with that sort of thing. She’s educated, she’s bi-lingual (with one of them English! Yay!), she’s employed. Despite being employed, I’ve never encountered even the thought that “she’s taking our jobs”. Why? Because when people talk about “immigration”, they’re talking about Mexicans.

    One cannot, however, talk about Mexicans directly. At best, one can say “illegal immigrants!” or, more politely, “undocumented migrants!” Only the most crass, most wicked people say “the Mexicans”.

    And people, desiring not to sound crass or wicked, yell for the government to “Do Something” about the “Immigration Problem”. The government, being the government, only has so many tools at its disposal. There are laws, and agencies, and whathaveyou… so they come up with an Immigration Process! Being neither crass nor wicked, they apply it to all and everybody equally without looking at the color of their skin or their country of origin…

    And, of course, it makes it a pain in the ass to immigrate to the US. My wife and I are both college educated people. I may flatter myself by thinking that we’re both intelligent people to boot. In doing research for how best to get her here, we found out that the Fiance’ Visa is the easiest way to do it. We were FRIGGING LOST. What forms, who do we talk to, what do we do? It was a *MAZE*. I eventually called my Congressman’s office (Joel Hefley! Woo!!!) and talked to his INS Liason (!) who held my hand through the absolutely Byzantine process and we got my wife here after an awful ordeal.

    She came here because we were in love. She told me that there was nothing in the world that would make her go through that otherwise. Money? Pfeh. She could find work in Canada for less hassle. Or Europe, for that matter. As a Canadian, she could go to GB, and from there to the rest of the continent.

    This tells me that there are large numbers of other Canadians likely being kept from moving to the US, along with (bear with me here), potential immigrants from (deep breath) Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Brazil, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, Greece, and Italy. Surely others!

    Imagine if we had a more open immigration policy… we could have people immigrating here speaking Danish, Swedish, French, German, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Urdu/Hindi, Greek, and Italian. As it stands, all those folks are staying home or immigrating someplace easier.

    And the biggest group of people immigrating here is the group that walks here.

    When, once, there were dozens and dozens of languages being spoken, now there are just two.

    And people continue to scream for the government to “do something”.

    It’s yet another iatrogenic disease.Report

    • Ryan in reply to Jaybird says:

      I agree with Jaybird, much to the surprise of all. I have always found libertarian arguments about immigration extremely compelling.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Ryan says:

        Sadly, a surprisingly large number of self-described libertarians don’t buy into the libertarian arguments for open immigration. This is sad, because I think the freedom to move where one wishes without government interference is one of (if not the) most fundamental freedom of all.Report

  7. I’m under the impression that Makin is talking about routine medical services, not emergency medicine.Report

  8. Nob Akimoto says:

    I’m not quite sure it’s possible to take any post that begins with “Big Nanny Democrats want to ration health care for everyone in America ” seriously…. I mean really… When you’re starting an argument in bad faith, why should you even assume the rest of it is even baked enough to pass muster?Report

  9. Sam M says:

    But this whole issue points to another really important point: As it stands, people who do not have health incurance basically get medical care. Even if they are illegal immigrants.

    Generally, the debate is framed as uninsured little kids with broken arms getting tossed out of ninth floor windows. Or little old ladies dying of really simple diseases. Which really happens from time to time. But generally speaking… we sort of have universal care right now. If you are sick and you go to the hospital, someone will most likely take care of you. Most states have laws against tossing sick people onto the streets.

    The problem with this is that it’s a really expensive and inefficient way to provide health care to uninsured people. It also encourages them to ride out an illness until it’s unbearable. Which doesn’t seem right.

    Still, the idea that, as a society, we are heartless capitalists who let uninsured toddlers die because we don’t feel like paying $20 for antibiotics misses the point entirely. Hell, we even pay to make illegal immigrants feel better.Report

  10. Sam M says:

    As a somewhat committed libertarian, by the way, I find the open-borders position logical, but also problematic. Particularly since the current situation works very much in my favor. The “people who walk here” make lots of things a whole bunch cheaper for me. But they do not compete with me for jobs. That is, there are lots of things “Americans won’t do” for $3.50 an hour.

    For instance, I have been teaching at a college for the past four years. We had a baby come along last summer, so instead of writing, I looked for seasonal work. I was shocked that landscaping paid so much. A guy with no skills starts at about $10 an hour. In Pittsburgh. Which is a pretty decent living, compared to what I was expecting. So I got some steel-toed boots and started brushing up on my Espanol. because… landscaping. Right?

    Wrong. There are hardly ANY Hispanic immigrants in Pittsburgh, for various reasons. So nobody on my crew spoke Spanish. Which of course explains why seasonal landscapers in Pittsburgh start at $10, and make up to $14. Instead of the $6 they make in more expensive cities that have larger hispanic populations.

    In the end, this means that landscaping services are much more expensive in Pittsburgh than they otherwise could be. Which means a transfer of wealth from people who can afford landscaping servicesd to those who cannot.

    In other cities, this amounts to a transfer from Americans to non-Americans. In Pittsburgh, it does not.

    I have no idea what my preferred policy reaction to this should be. But I do find it troubling with regard to my generally libertarian worldview. In most cases, restriction simply means that companies will take their factories completely offshore. But you can’t do that with landscaping.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Sam M says:

      Interesting point. Here landscapers start around the same – around $10/hour last I checked – despite having lots of illegal immigrants. This is even a pretty good wage for these parts. The problem is we have one of the highest costs of living in the country. Teachers, professors, and plenty of professionals can barely afford to live here or at least to purchase houses here, and so landscapers at $10/hr certainly can’t.

      I don’t know what the hell can be done about that, though. Median house costs are over $300,000 and wages just aren’t nearly high enough to match that. And I don’t think it’s illegal immigrants driving that nearly so much as Californians summering here and the restrictions on building (national forests!!!)Report

    • Here in Louisville we have plenty of hispanic landscapers. They actually make the same as the American citizens do. When you factor in that they pay no social security, taxes, etc plus they often get a free apartment and transportation..they almost come out on top.

      The guys I know in the business say it’s not a matter of getting cheaper labor. It’s a matter of getting better labor that works harder and does a quality job and their illegal status actually makes them more reliable.Report

  11. Sam M says:

    “Here in Louisville we have plenty of hispanic landscapers. They actually make the same as the American citizens.”

    Yes. The few immigrants in Pittsburgh tend to make the same as the locals. But the idea is that the basic wage scale for the industry is higher because there is not a ready supply of illegal and easily underpaid laborers.

    I might add, however, that a few of the larger landscaping companies are now bringing in their own mexican laborers, replacing the locals.

    There are lots of conclusions to draw from this. But one thing that seems clear to me is that there are very few jobs “Americans won’t do.” My job SUCKED. It was backbreaking labor in rich-peoples’ yards. We broke rocks and removed stumps by hand. Etc.

    Would I do that for minimum wage? No. Would I do it for $12 an hour? Sure.Report

  12. Sam M says:

    “It’s a matter of getting better labor that works harder and does a quality job and their illegal status actually makes them more reliable.”

    The same could probably be said of hookers verus girlfriends. But the idea is that one is illegal, the other is not. “It makes things easier for me” or “It makes it easier for me to control them” is not a sufficient defense. and as stated above, once you remove that easily controlled labor pool, it would seem reasonable to expect the rest of the labor pool to benefit.Report

  13. Sam M says:

    I actually agree that prostitution should be legal.

    But I am not sure that makes it MORAL.

    Is it moral to knowingly hire illegal Mexican immigrants? To be honest, I’m not sure.Report

  14. Sam M says:

    Of course, it’s not just about illegal immigrants. In terms of localism and other forms of front-porch-ness, when does the pursuit of cheap labor/products go too far? You hate to be one of those tedious upper-middle-class “eat local” people who harangues people for not buying local organic milk that costs $22 a gallon. But where do you draw the line? You can make all sorts of hypotheticals. Let’s say I have a struggling family of four across the street. Their kids go to school with mine. Our wives our friends. The dad is a professional painter who does a great job. My house needs painted. He gives me an estimate of $5,000. A big company from three companies over gives me an estimate of $4,990. I think I would have to be a real jerk to take the lower offer. But what if it were $4,900? Or $4,000?

    I actually had this happen to me sort of. When I was buying an engagement ring, I went to my rinky dink little hometown jeweler to get estimates. The guy was great. He explained everything to me. Etc. I went home and checked on Blue Nile and found some deals. Took them to him to compare. He told me what to look for, what sounded fishy. I checked again, brought in the new ones I found online and asked if he could compete. “No,” he said. “Not really.” So I bought the ring from him, spending as much as I would have otherwise, but getting a little bit lesser of a ring.

    Of course, I buy tons of crap at WalMart, too. So we all have our moments.

    At any rate, I bring up the issue of the high-dollar landscaping because it’s an extreme case. I worked on one house that had at least a half million dollars of work done to the yard over the summer. All the stuff we ripped out was perfectly fine, including the trees and the walls. The lady just got tired of looking at it. So she had it all replaced with new high-end stuff. I mean really high-end stuff, like stuff shipped in from Italy.

    Now… if we lived in a place that had tons of low-wage pressure from immigrants, she could have done the work for $450,000, or gotten more work done for the same $500,000.

    I am not asking if that should be illegal. I’m asking if that’s OK. That is, if you are spending that much, wouldn’t it seem that one thing you might prefer to “buy” with the extra $50,000 would be some piece of mind that the guys swinging sledge hammers in your yard have health insurance, or something?

    This is a slippery slope. And like I said, I am no purist. I am as guilty as everyone else. But still… isn’t it necessary to judge sometimes? And if we do judge, if we do think it is ethically imperative, at times, to pay more in order to support someone from your “tribe” (whether it’s a brother-in-law, the painter next door, or a “fellow American” as opposed to an immigrant) how do we know where to draw the line?

    Sorry for the length of this. Perhaps this is all just me sub-conscious trying to chastise me for not supporting the minimum wage or something. And maybe I should. Who knows?Report

    • Sam,

      I like the points you are making and I have struggled with the same thngs. I guess the capitalist argument would be that as more and more people buy local, the prices would start to come down and get more in line with national chains. The reason for those low prices is really just about buying power. I found that out in college when I went from working at a national grocery chain to a small, 4-store local chain. The bigger chains are willing to operate at a loss on certain things (ex. nice plants for sale on their front sidewalks this time of year that they make no profit on but they provide curb appeal) whereas the small chains can’t.

      One interesting phenomenon I’ve been trying to figure out lately is the prices at small ethnic groceries. We buy stuff from an Asian market and an Indian grocery near our house and the prices are incredible. You can buy huge bags of frozen items for $4. Something like that at our regular grocery store would be $10-12. I don’t know how they keep their prices so low but it’s a great way to save money if you like interesting foods.Report