Arizona passes the nation’s strictest – not to mention silliest – immigration law

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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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21 Responses

  1. Avatar Francis
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ll bet that the law gets enjoined, then invalidated, before a single cop gets to try to use it. Based only on your post, my read is that the law is grossly unconstitutional (grossly as in not a close case). Immigration law is a federal issue, and federal courts have been quite respectful of federal authority in this area.Report

  2. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Sorry to hear it E.D. I’m in Minnesota so things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows either. We have Bachman and Pawlenty.
    On the other hand my Mother lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. As we speak their newly elected NDP party (the leftmost of the countries serious political parties) is slashing payroll taxes, increasing a value added tax to compensate and slashing their public spending and employment by a whopping 10%. This is a left wing Canadian political party I’d add and Nova Scotia isn’t even in Greece territory yet in terms of finances. I’m feeling kind of proud of the homestead Canucks at the moment even if I’m feeling a bit confused at the news… did East Coast Canada suddenly get sucked into bizzaro world?Report

  3. Avatar Bob Cheeks
    Ignored
    says:

    Seal the border, keep out the illegals! Free America! Impeach Obama!
    And, stop the Mau, Mauing of America!
    E.D. how ya doin”?Report

  4. Avatar Schwartz
    Ignored
    says:

    ***Hell in a hand-basket. That’s where we’re going.***

    No that would be California, ironically because they have not taken any real steps to halt illegal immigration.

    “In short, we are witnessing a highly advanced and prosperous state, long endowed with superior human capital, turning into the exact opposite in just one generation. What can be done to stop this race to the bottom? The answer is simple: California and Washington need to enforce existing immigration law. Unfortunately, it is difficult to convince the public that this is necessary, so deeply entrenched are myths about illegal immigration.

    One myth is that because America is a country of immigrants and has successfully absorbed waves of immigration in the past, it can absorb this wave. But the argument neglects two key differences between past waves and the current influx. First, the immigrant population is more than double today what it was following the most massive previous immigration wave (that of the late 19th century). Second, and much more important, as scholars from the Manhattan Institute have shown, earlier immigrants were much more likely to bring with them useful skills. Some Hispanic immigrants certainly do integrate, but most do not. Research has shown that even after 20 years in the country, most illegal aliens (the overwhelming majority of whom are Hispanic) and their children remain poor, unskilled, and culturally isolated they constitute a new permanent underclass.

    Perhaps the most disingenuous myth about illegal immigrants is that they do not impose any cost on society. The reality is that even those who work and half do not, according to the Pew Hispanic Center cannot subsist on the wages they receive and depend on public assistance to a large degree. Research on Los Angeles immigrants by Harvard University scholar George J. Borjas shows that 40.1 percent of immigrant families with non-citizen heads of household receive welfare, compared with 12.7 percent of households with native-born heads. Illegal immigrants also increase public expenditures on health care, education, and prisons. In California today, illegal immigrants’ cost to the taxpayer is estimated to be $13 billion half the state’s budget deficit.

    The state should stop providing welfare and other social services to illegal aliens as existing statutes demand and severely punish employers who break the law by hiring illegal immigrants. This would immediately remove powerful economic incentives for illegal immigration, and millions of illegal aliens would return to their countries. Instead, with President Obama in the White House and the Democrats controlling Congress, an amnesty for the country’s 13 million illegal immigrants may be soon to come.

    Milton Friedman once said that unrestrained immigration and the welfare state do not mix. Must we wait until California catches up with Mexico to realize how right he was?”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112167023Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Schwartz
      Ignored
      says:

      @Schwartz, Gee i wonder if there is any connection between being illegal and not being able to acquire skills….hmmmm. I wonder if being illegal leads one to do all sorts of crappy jobs that don’t require skills but people really want done like pick fruit, park cars, and all sorts of manual labor. Jobs that need to be done and have traditionally been done by the poorest and immigrants. I wonder if being leads one to be isolated in ethnic enclaves. Of course immigrants for years, like my grandparents, lived in ethnic communities throughout their lives, while all their kids moved to the burbs.Report

      • Avatar Schwartz in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        ***Gee i wonder if there is any connection between being illegal and not being able to acquire skills***

        That’s true, but there seems to be a broader problem of lagging academic achievement in subsequent generations. Alexiev touches on that earlier in the article.

        The point is also discussed here by Richwine:

        This would be the preferred outcome for the tens of millions of Hispanic Americans, who are significantly poorer and less educated on average than native whites. When immigration skeptics question the wisdom of importing so many unskilled people into our nation at one time, the most common response cites the remarkable progress of Europeans a century ago. “People used to say the Irish or the Poles would always be poor, but look at them today!” For Hispanics, we are led to believe, the same thing will happen.

        But that claim isn’t true. Though about three-quarters of Hispanics living in the U.S. today are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, a significant number have roots here going back many generations. We have several ways to measure their intergenerational progress, and the results leave little room for optimism about their prospects for assimilation.

        Before detailing some of those analyses, we should recognize the importance of this question. If we were to discover that, say, Slovenian immigrants did not assimilate over several generations, there would be little cause for alarm. There are simply too few Slovenian Americans to change our society in a meaningful way. Hispanics, on the other hand, have risen from 4 percent to 15 percent of the American population since 1970. The Census Bureau projects that, if there is no change in immigration policy, 30 percent of the nation will be Hispanic by 2050. To avoid developing a large economic underclass, we need to confront the question of whether they will assimilate.

        The children of Hispanic immigrants (the second generation) actually stay in school much longer and earn a considerably higher wage than their parents. In fact, the Hispanic rate of assimilation from the first to the second generation is only slightly lower than the assimilation rate of more successful groups of immigrants. Most second-generation Hispanics make up nearly as much ground as the children of European immigrants would if they grew up in the same disadvantaged situation.

        But the good news ends there, and two problems arise. First, the second generation still does not come close to matching the socioeconomic status of white natives. Even if Hispanics were to keep climbing the ladder each generation, their assimilation would be markedly slower than that of other groups. But even that view is overly optimistic, because of the second, larger problem with Hispanic assimilation: It appears to stall after the second generation. We see little further ladder-climbing from the grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants. They do not rise out of the lower class.

        The most straightforward statistical evidence of this stall in Hispanic assimilation comes from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which asks respondents their ethnicity, where they were born, and where their parents were born. From this information we can construct an account of the first generation (foreign-born), the second generation (born in the U.S. with at least one foreign-born parent), and the “3+” generations (born in the U.S. to two U.S.-born parents) among the Hispanic respondents.

        This chart shows how Hispanic Americans compare with white natives generation by generation. The annual earnings of second-generation Hispanic men are substantially higher than those of the first generation. However, the 3+ generations have about the same earnings as the second, still well below white natives. No generational progress beyond the second generation is evident.

        The educational picture does not look much better. The children of Hispanic immigrants are much better educated than their parents. However, American-born Hispanics still have high dropout and low college-completion rates compared with white natives, and there is little improvement from the second to the 3+ generations. Again, progress stalls.

        These results do not depend on the time period considered. Economists Jeffrey Grogger and Stephen Trejo reached the same conclusions when they used CPS data from the mid-1990s for a similar analysis of Mexican Americans. And other datasets tell the same story. One study reported results from the Latino National Political Survey, conducted in 1989 and 1990. Among its striking findings was that the percentage of Mexican-American households with incomes higher than $50,000 rose from 7 percent in the first generation to 11 percent in the second. But the same statistic in the third and fourth generations stayed at 11 percent, at a time when the national rate was 24 percent. Another study, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, began tracking a representative sample of young Americans in 1979. By 1993, the Hispanic 3+ generations in that sample had, if anything, slightly worse outcomes than the second generation in terms of wages, educational attainment, and cognitive test scores.

        The studies discussed so far are cross-sectional — statistical snapshots captured at single points in time. Since each of the generations being compared lives in the same era, the second-generation respondents are not the actual children of the first generation, nor are the third-generation respondents the children of the second. But longitudinal studies — taking one cohort of Hispanic immigrants, then examining their children and their children’s children over several decades — tell a similarly pessimistic story.

        Economist James P. Smith pieced together census and CPS data starting in 1940 and ending in 1997. He was able to compare eight different immigrant birth cohorts with their children and grandchildren in later years. Smith found that, contrary to the cross-sectional studies, the Hispanic educational deficit relative to whites did become smaller between the second and 3+ generations. This might indicate an increase in their skills relative to whites, but it might also reflect the trend in the mid-20th century for working-class people to stay in school longer. Did the educational gains for Hispanics affect their relative earning power?

        Not by much. The table below, reproduced from Smith’s study, shows average Hispanic-American and Mexican-American earnings by birth cohort and generation as a percentage of average white-native earnings. In the six most recent cohorts, the Hispanic panel shows only modest gains from the second to the 3+ generations. For example, Hispanic immigrants born between 1915 and 1919 earned 70.9 percent of what contemporary white natives earned. The children of those immigrants earned 82.3 percent, and the immigrants’ grandchildren earned 84.8 percent.

        For Mexicans in particular the picture is even worse. In five of the six most recent birth cohorts, the Mexican 3+ generations earn a marginally lower fraction of the white-native wage than does the second generation.

        A similar longitudinal analysis was recently conducted by UCLA sociologists Edward E. Telles and Vilma Ortiz. They revived a 1960s-era cross-sectional survey of Mexican Americans by re-interviewing many of the original respondents more than 40 years later. By adding information about the parents and children of the respondents in this second survey wave, the authors were able to construct a longitudinal dataset similar to Smith’s. Their results show continued improvement in high-school-graduation rates from the second to the 3+ generations, but small gains in college graduation and stagnant relative wages.

        Taken as a whole, the research on Hispanic assimilation presents two possible conclusions. Either Hispanic assimilation will be exceedingly slow — taking at least four or five generations, and probably several more — or it will not happen. In either case, Hispanic immigration will have a serious long-term consequence: The grandchildren of today’s Hispanic immigrants will lag far behind the grandchildren of today’s white natives.

        So why do Hispanics, on average, not assimilate? Theories abound. Popular explanations from the left include the legacy of white racism, labor-market discrimination, housing segregation, and poor educational opportunities. Those on the right tend to cite enforced multiculturalism, ethnic enclaves, and a self-perpetuating culture of poverty. One would need a whole book to sort out these competing explanations, but we can safely say that none of them, even if true, suggests easy solutions. Social scientists have not devised any set of programs that effectively spurs assimilation.

        That assimilation has stalled even among third-generation Hispanics growing up today is especially sobering. In the early 20th century, the quality of schools varied greatly, high-school graduation was unusual, travel was relatively difficult, and universities and employers were free to discriminate based on ethnicity. Today all but the worst inner-city schools are well funded, high-school graduation is expected, traveling around the country to look for work is much easier, and affirmative-action programs give preferences to Hispanics. Despite these advantages over earlier immigrants, today’s Hispanics have not closed the socioeconomic gap with white natives.

        Though continuing research on the barriers to Hispanic assimilation will be valuable, the reality is that no intervention in the foreseeable future will change the very slow and perhaps nonexistent assimilation process into a fast and effective one.

        The consequences of a large ethno-cultural group’s lagging behind the majority in education and income are significant. In strictly economic terms, perpetually poor immigrants and their descendants will be a major strain on social spending and infrastructure. Health care, public education, welfare payments, the criminal justice system, and programs for affordable housing will all require more tax dollars. When pro-immigration conservatives declare that these government programs should be scaled back or eliminated entirely, I am sympathetic. But a large public sector is a reality that cannot be wished away — we will not be abolishing Medicaid or public schools anytime soon. Immigration policy needs to take that reality into account.

        Even if economics were not a concern, the lack of Hispanic assimilation is likely to create ethnic tensions that threaten our cultural core. Human beings are a tribal species, and this makes ethnicity a natural fault line in any society. Intra-European ethnic divisions have been largely overcome through economic assimilation — Irish and Italian immigrants may have looked a bit different from natives, but by the third generation their socioeconomic profiles were similar. Hispanic Americans do not have that benefit.

        Persistent ethnic disparities in socioeconomic status add to a sense of “otherness” felt by minorities outside the economic mainstream.

        http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=YjQ4N2EyMTQ4NzZjZmNlOWQwN2RiNTZjMWZiZDY4YzQ=Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Schwartz
          Ignored
          says:

          @Schwartz, So, wait, is the problem here with illegals or all Hispanics? Because it’s going to be petty hard to deport those grandchildren of immigrants he’s bitching about.Report

          • Avatar Schwartz in reply to Rufus F.
            Ignored
            says:

            @ Rufus F.

            Alexiev’s article seems focussed primarily on low skill illegals from Mexico. He suggests early in the article that it wouldn’t be such a problem if the immigrants were from the top 10%-20% of their home countries, or if they were from Asia as the Asian migrants tend to outperform locals academically.

            Obviously, deporting people born here seems unlikely but he’s suggesting something more modest. Just enforce the existing laws & punish employers who break the law. He’s not even suggesting a fence.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        @greginak,

        They are illegal so why care about their skills or their job prospects?Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Schwartz
      Ignored
      says:

      @Schwartz, “Milton Friedman once said that unrestrained immigration and the welfare state do not mix.”

      Friedman was not making the point that therefore we need to severely enforce existing immigration laws. To the contrary – Friedman believed that illegal immigration is an unalloyed good.

      See, e.g., http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2008/06/11/milton-friedmans-argument-for-illegal-immigration/

      As Wilkinson points out in the above link, Friedman’s objections to unrestricted legal immigration are completely answered by things like guest worker programs and severance of residency from welfare eligibility.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve seriously had conversations with Americans that went like this:
    Me: So, is there anything you’d like to see happen politically?
    American: I want them to round up the illegals and deport them, build a huge wall across the border, and put in some sort of worker ID card program so we can make sure everyone’s working legally and maybe more police to check the ID cards.
    Me: Anything else?
    American: Smaller government.Report

  6. Avatar Schwartz
    Ignored
    says:

    ***So, is there anything you’d like to see happen politically?
    American: I want them to round up the illegals and deport them, build a huge wall across the border, and put in some sort of worker ID card program so we can make sure everyone’s working legally and maybe more police to check the ID cards.
    Me: Anything else?
    American: Smaller government.***

    Heh. Well, in the long run it would save money:

    “The most reliable estimate of the fiscal impacts of immigration was done by the prestigious National Research Council, NAC (the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, NAS).

    Low skilled immigrants earn less than the average, pay less in taxes and receive more in public services such as health care, public housing, income aid etc. The NAC estimate is that the total net cost of each low-skilled immigrant for the US. State is $120,000 in 2009 dollars. (High skilled immigrants in contrast are a net fiscal benefit for the U.S).

    For two reasons these figures may underestimate the costs. Since this study was made the costs of welfare services to lower income people has further expanded, especially Medicaid and S-CHIP. Also the study assumes full integration to American level within three generations, which is empirically not true.”

    http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/01/immigration-from-haiti-is-terrible-way.html

    As for a wall:

    “Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won’t do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put in cameras. Put in sensors. Put out lots of patrols.

    Can’t be done? Israel’s border fence has been extraordinarily successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more determined than mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans crossed into South Korea in the past 50 years.

    Of course it will be ugly. So are the concrete barriers to keep truck bombs from driving into the White House. But sometimes necessity trumps aesthetics. And don’t tell me that this is our Berlin Wall. When you build a wall to keep people in, that’s a prison. When you build a wall to keep people out, that’s an expression of sovereignty. The fence around your house is a perfectly legitimate expression of your desire to control who comes into your house to eat, sleep and use the facilities. It imprisons no one. ”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/06/AR2006040601380.htmlReport

  7. Avatar Schwartz
    Ignored
    says:

    ***So, is there anything you’d like to see happen politically?
    American: I want them to round up the illegals and deport them, build a huge wall across the border, and put in some sort of worker ID card program so we can make sure everyone’s working legally and maybe more police to check the ID cards.
    Me: Anything else?
    American: Smaller government.***

    Heh. Well, in the long run it would save money:

    “The most reliable estimate of the fiscal impacts of immigration was done by the prestigious National Research Council, NAC (the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, NAS).

    Low skilled immigrants earn less than the average, pay less in taxes and receive more in public services such as health care, public housing, income aid etc. The NAC estimate is that the total net cost of each low-skilled immigrant for the US. State is $120,000 in 2009 dollars. (High skilled immigrants in contrast are a net fiscal benefit for the U.S).

    For two reasons these figures may underestimate the costs. Since this study was made the costs of welfare services to lower income people has further expanded, especially Medicaid and S-CHIP. Also the study assumes full integration to American level within three generations, which is empirically not true.” (super economy blogspot)

    As for a wall, Krauthammer commented (Washington Post April 7, 2006)

    “Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won’t do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put in cameras. Put in sensors. Put out lots of patrols.

    Can’t be done? Israel’s border fence has been extraordinarily successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more determined than mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans crossed into South Korea in the past 50 years.

    Of course it will be ugly. So are the concrete barriers to keep truck bombs from driving into the White House. But sometimes necessity trumps aesthetics. And don’t tell me that this is our Berlin Wall. When you build a wall to keep people in, that’s a prison. When you build a wall to keep people out, that’s an expression of sovereignty. The fence around your house is a perfectly legitimate expression of your desire to control who comes into your house to eat, sleep and use the facilities. It imprisons no one. ”Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ll tell this story again.

    I am married to a legal immigrant. She got here under a fiancee’ visa. The process we had to follow was absolutely byzantine. I eventually had to call up my Congressman (Joel Hefley) and had to talk to his Immigration Liaison (they have those?) and she walked me through the process.

    Maribou and I are fairly intelligent people (or so we like to think) and both speak English fairly well… and I needed to call my freakin’ Congressman to get help to get married to someone with a college education who spoke English (and French) fluently. And this was *BEFORE* 9/11!

    Every time immigration law is “reformed”, it becomes just a little bit harder to go through the proper processes… even for people with a good amount of cultural capital, speak English, are college educated, etc. That results in it being just a little bit easier to say “heck with it, I’ll just walk over” for those inclined to do so or “heck with it, I’ll just immigrate someplace like Ireland” for those inclined to do that. After a while, you start noticing that the only people who come here do so via walking here.Report

  9. Avatar Damien
    Ignored
    says:

    What does the anecdote about your friends in Spain have to do with our situation in Arizona? Seems to just be furthering the unfortunate truth that if you’re white you get special treatment.

    And are you sincere in saying we don’t need two houses? How do you propose state legislatures to work? Nebraska is the only state that doesn’t have two houses.Report

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