Immigration Reform’s Big Tent

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Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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22 Responses

  1. Avatar Pierre Corneille
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    says:

    I haven’t read the Times piece, so perhaps it goes into this, but “immigration reform” can mean a lot of mutually conflicting things. It can mean something like “amnesty,” but with draconian post-amnesty controls. It can mean a “guest worker” program or it can mean liberalized, more open borders, or it can greater restriction. It could mean, as Mr. Cunningham in the quoted piece says, a path to citizenship, or it can mean semi-permanent, second-class residence.

    But you’re right about the “strange bedfellows” part. These issues don’t necessarily track with party lines.Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    I fear like gun control, immigration reform is going to be one of those peculiar places in American politics where a hard minority of xenophobes wins over a majority that wants some kind of reform. Though hopefully I am wrong.

    For better or for worse, immigration has always been linked to terrorism and political radicalism in the mainline American imagination.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    My sentiments are in line with New Dealer’s sentiments, I think that the immigration reform is going to either be filibustered in the Senate or defeated in the House. Which is immensely frustrating because amnesty for undocumented aliens is desperately needed for the sake of justice and efficiency. I work with immigrants for a living so I also have a professional interest in this.

    My personal opinions of the proposals are that its the best we could expect. The provisional resident status is deeply stupid and inefficient. Undocumented aliens should be given permanent residency right away and allowed to naturalize after the normal five years. There is simply no need to make them go through a ten-year limbo out of quixotic need to inflict some sort of penalty on them for entering illegally. Its useless and the monetary penalty is enough. Its an expected shame that the right to petition for spouses is not to be extended to same sex-couples.Report

  4. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    I think the politics of IR and GC are sufficiently different that they don’t make a great comparison. Gun control, however weak, never had a chance due to the long standing power of the gun lobby and super strong positions taken by the R’s for many years. While IR certainly shares some of the same opponents there are R’s who see IR as important. There was a voice and rising start on like Rubio in the R’s pushing GC like he is working on IR. Coalitions wide enough to push through big changes all have strange bedfellows. It takes a big and wide group to create the pressure to make big changes.

    Of course there are many fans of sclerotic gov who like getting nothing done, yet complain loudly when they can’t get there own proposals passed, so all the choke points of the system does endanger IR. On the other hand Obama never went all in on GC ( good for him btw). Yeah he made some speachs on GC but he is putting far more effort on IR ( again good for him).Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, there’s no pro-GC faction of the GOP or any significance. There is a pro-IR faction.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        “Yeah, there’s no pro-GC faction of the GOP or any significance. There is a pro-IR faction.”

        What impressed me over the past few years is that the pro-IR faction, which is an elite position within the GOP, got b*tch-slapped but good by the base. Usually the elites get their way.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      urrr..somebody, like me, should have copy edited my first paragraph. It should say there ” was no strong voice and rising star like Rubio pushing for GC like he is working on IR.”Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m not so sure that the fact that rising stars like Rubio are working intensely on immigration reform matters that much to the Republican base, who are very opposed to it. I think that most Republican Senators and Congresspeople are going to defer to their base rather than Rubio’s political ambitions.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Well Rubio has been courting talk radio hard. If he can convince the right wing echo chamber to endorse or at least grudgingly allow immigration reform as an electoral necessity it’d probably give the conservative Senators enough room to allow the bill to pass through with mainly Dem support via the Boehner manuver (the bill is brought to the floor of the House and passes with mostly Dem votes and a bare necessary minority of GOP support, in the Senate a few safe GOP senators vote to allow the filibuster to end and then the bill passes the 50% threshold with only Dem votes).Report

  5. Avatar Jim Heffman
    Ignored
    says:

    “Mr. Cunningham said. “But I’m wondering who is going to do those jobs?” ”

    What jobs? The jobs that shouldn’t be getting done because it’s illegal for them to exist? These are jobs that don’t provide safety or health protection, don’t provide any kind of medical coverage or retirement benefits, don’t even give you a pot to piss in (which is how you end up with e. coli in your salad). It is not that Americans are too soft and fat to work like that; it’s that Americans have decided that *nobody* should work like that.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      I agree with your overall sentiment but every economy has a lot of low-skil but very necessary heavy labor to perform and needs somebody to do it. Nearly every American citizen avoids the farm labor and other food industry jobs that most non-documented aliens do. Even the out of work factory workers avoid jobs like slaughter-house work. Even if slaughter-house work paid decent wages and provided benefits, I can’t imagine that most former or would be factory workers would take those jobs. Same goes with any sort of field hand work. Other developed countries with more robust labor unions and welfare states have similar struggles finding people to work in similar jobs and resort to guess laborers who end up as long term residents.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        FWIW, slaughterhouse is a bad example; they in fact pay very well.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        “every economy has a lot of low-skil but very necessary heavy labor to perform and needs somebody to do it.”

        Yes, and that somebody is a machine. My father and mother just spent the weekend putting new trees around their house. They used a power auger on the back of his small tractor, and they got eight trees planted in about six hours. I remember a few years ago, when it was just me and him with shovels, and we got *one* tree planted in a *day*.

        It is not true that human labor is a constant of the universe.Report

      • Avatar Aidian Holder in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Actually, meatpacking used to pay decent wages and provide benefits. The industry had a large union presence, and even non-union workers benefited from that. In the 1990s companies used (largely illegal-) immigrant labor to break the unions and turn this into an industry where you can now use it as a synonym for underpaid dangerous work. Guy named Marc Cooper wrote the authoritative expose on this for the Nation back in 1997, but two minutes of google didn’t turn up full-text online.

        Meatpacking is another example of my central belief about illegal immigration. It’s a subsidy for corporate profits and the affluent at the expense of the working class.

        There are no such thing as jobs American citizens won’t do. There are jobs we won’t do for $8/hr and no benefits. In my hometown a large floral farm drew some immigration heat a couple of years ago and had to fire most of its workers. Offering $11-$12 an hour, managers had more applicants than they could use within three days of placing the ad.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      Slave labor is never acceptable. IR might change that for the better.Report

  6. Avatar Jim Heffman
    Ignored
    says:

    “Mr. Cunningham said. “But I’m wondering who is going to do those jobs?” ”

    What jobs? The jobs that shouldn’t be getting done because it’s illegal for them to exist? These are jobs that don’t provide safety or health protection, don’t provide any kind of medical coverage or retirement benefits, don’t even give you a pot to piss in (which is how you end up with e. coli in your salad). It is not that Americans are too soft and fat to work like that; it’s that Americans have decided that *nobody* should work like that.Report

  7. Avatar Christopher Carr
    Ignored
    says:

    You can be here and get free stuff from us, but we’re not going to allow you to work to pay for it.Report

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