Immigration Policy That Ain’t Got The Good Sense God Gave A Horse

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his food writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast. Subscribe to Andrew's Heard Tell SubStack for free here:

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108 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    I see this whole mess as evidence of one of two things. Either Biden is A-OK with the Trump policies and is relying on spin to avoid having to change them; or Biden has effectively zero control over ICE/CBP.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      It’s a straddle.

      He wants to publicly say “I OPPOSE HOW TRUMP DID THE BORDER! WE NEED TO BE MORE WELCOMING!” but only in such a way that the people in the suburbs hear him but people outside of the country do not.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I’d like to think option 2 . . . which says one bad thing for sure . . .Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I’m going for option two as what is happening. Trump activated all the psychos and bringing them back into order is going to be very hard.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      He doesn’t actually care. It doesn’t affect him. He wants to do whatever is needed to keep power.

      What is needed to keep power is…
      1) He needs to change the optics (i.e. announce that we’re more welcoming), this satisfies a big block of activists and some voters.
      2) He needs to not let in any more people than Trump did. This satisfies the other big brick of voters.

      As for the law, it’s seriously unclear to me what the law even says here. We have this whole “they can apply for X” but we also have “no poor people who just want jobs and aren’t fleeing persecution” and we also have “the boarder will be controlled”.

      This reminds me a lot of the whole war on terror thing where the laws we’re supposed to follow aren’t well conected to the reality on the ground.Report

      • North in reply to Dark Matter says:

        Well, #2 is not technically possible. Biden is, for instance, deporting all the Haitians back to Haiti, to the fury of the left, but the Fox news right is still saying he’s letting them all in and that’s what their viewers will believe.

        But perhaps the brick of voters you’re talking about isn’t the Fox news set which is definitionally insatiable as long as a Democrat is President and instead is a big block centrist independent voters. In which case I suppose I agree.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to North says:

          The rarest resource in the universe is the attention of senior management.

          Congress doesn’t have the bandwidth to reform immigration, they’re too busy trying to spend $5 Trillion dollars.

          Biden doesn’t have the bandwidth, he’s trying to help them do that. Buried in that $5T is his real priorities.

          He’s just trying to paper things over until Congress has the bandwidth to actually fix things, which probably is 4+ years out.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Please clarify the difference between option 2 and “Deep State” conspiracies. I think there may be a difference, but I’m not sure.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

        I don’t call them “Deep State” conspiracies, because it’s not really a conspiracy. It’s more appropriately Bureaucratic Inertia. Any Bureaucracy is going to have policies and procedures that are the result of executive, legislative, and judicial commands, not to mention just internal cruft from a parade of union negotiations, appointees, and career leadership. The ability of the permanent leadership and the rank and file to game and leverage all of that to avoid doing things they don’t really want to do isn’t a “conspiracy”.

        That said, career politicians* like Biden should know how to pull the levers to cut through the bulk of that. So IMHO, Biden either can’t pull those levers (or those levers aren’t working as expected), or isn’t.

        *Trump wasn’t a career politician and thus I would not expect him to know what the levers are nor how to use them effectively.Report

        • North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Arguably Biden’s behavior suggests that he may be capable of shoving the bureaucracy around but is simply not prioritizing immigration since it’s very difficult, would take up a lot of bandwidth and would likely yield little to no political reward. Perhaps I’m being overly partisan here but I think his calculus, on the cold blooded merits, is correct.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          You should read that first paragraph back to yourself four years ago and see if it sounds more extremist.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Pinky says:

            Reads the same to me 4 years ago. Trump didn’t have problems with deep state conspiracies, he had problems with the fact that he’s never tried to lead a large organization with tons of red tape he couldn’t simply slice through with the force of his ego.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Pinky says:

        Under Trump the rank and file of ICE and CBP enforcement found a kindred spirit who was willing to allow them to go out and do the rough things they wanted to do and felt held back by in prior administrations. Biden and his DHS secretary are trying to rein that in, but as Oscar noted the bureaucratic structure means it is tough for them to impose change top down.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    There are four broad schools of thought on immigration.
    1, Xenophobes: These people want no immigration.
    2. National Benefits: These people see immigration as good or inevitable but believe that immigration policy must serve national interests.
    3. Individual Rights: People should be allowed to move between countries like they move between cities. The open borders crowd.
    4. Human Rights: Like individual rights but also believes that the wealthy democracies must have immigration policies that help the globally poor and persecuted. Might be more open to having poor countries having hard borders while the individual rights group will not.

    Most Republicans are in the Xenophobe faction and pretty emotionally invested in it. The Democratic Party is mainly 2, 3, and 4 with perhaps a handful of 1s. Most Democratic politicians are probably National Benefits followed by Human Rights with Individual Rights being the smallest group. The Democratic voters are pro-immigrant but in a really inchoate way and do not have the emotional passion that the Republicans do on the issue. This makes the entire thing very tricky politically. The moral options from a pro-immigrant standpoint get you nothing politically and might even hurt you while the immoral options can pay handsome dividends politically.Report

    • Philip H in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Well said.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

      People like the idea of being welcoming.

      They do not like being actually welcoming.Report

      • North in reply to Jaybird says:

        Ironically a lot of immigrants, as in recent or even current immigrants, don’t like other immigrant ethnic groups. It’s surprising as heck. I have read in a number of places that Afghan immigrants are getting a lot of hate from other immigrant groups for “jumping the line” so to speak.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

          A lot of this comes from a competing for resources mentality along with just racism. The Central Americans see themselves as the salt/wretched of the earth and don’t like what they see as other people getting special treatment.

          There is also an idea among older immigrant groups that they did everything right and waited in line while the newer immigrant groups get things wrong and ask for special treatment. The immigration forms used to be a lot shorter and simpler. The I-485 was four pages long in 1999. Now it’s 20 pages and asks more complicated questions. Of course people are going to make more mistakes.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to North says:

          But they’re all, you know, a homogenous group! They’re all “ethnic”!Report

          • North in reply to Jaybird says:

            Human nature is human nature but I naively previously thought that struggling with immigration themselves would prompt empathy towards others sharing a similar struggle. I hadn’t seriously considered zero sum crab bucket perceptions, an error on my part.Report

            • InMD in reply to North says:

              A close friend of mine whose parents immigrated legally from El Salvador in the early 80s say identical things about the situation as my grandmother who immigrated legally from France in 1956. It isn’t about crab bucketing. It’s about peoples’ fundamental sense of fairness.

              Then you get academics or immigration lawyers who rationalize why the people who did things correctly are really wrong or who play silly word games to argue up means down and down means up.Report

              • North in reply to InMD says:

                Oh yes, and such attitudes don’t and wouldn’t surprise me in the lease. But those aren’t the people we’re talking about here. I’m talking about people who immigrated, say, last year or who are literally trying to immigrate right now.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to North says:

              You’d think that AAPI folx would be able to overcome the whole “Koreans aren’t Chinese aren’t Japanese aren’t Vietnamese aren’t Laotian” thing and join together to say “The only History is American History and, also, it began yesterday”.Report

    • Pinky in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I’ve never met anyone you’d call a Xenophobe. Category 1 should be two groups: preferential, and limited.

      “Preferential” are the people you’d think of as xenophobic at first glance. They favor or disfavor immigration from certain groups. But you should be aware that the group includes a lot of different ethnicities.

      “Limited” comprise the majority of the Republicans and healthy numbers of independents and Democrats. They see benefits to immigration and diversity but with state controls on (potentially) individuals, regions, and totals. They may range from supporting a 5-year moratorium to unlimited numbers with vetting.Report

      • North in reply to Pinky says:

        Yeah I like the 4 part breakdown over all but I think category 1 needs a rename to broaden it and make it more accurately descriptive. Category #1 certainly does includes xenophobes but there’s a lot of policy room on the restriction side of category #2 that doesn’t neatly fit into xenophobia.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I think almost everyone is in Group #2… But there’s no agreement on what it means for “an Immigration Policy that serves National Interests.”

      Group #1, small subset of Republicans, smaller subset of Dems
      Group #3, small subset of Democrats, smaller subset of Republicans

      The fact that we can’t agree on what #2 means is basically reverse-demagogued into the other team being #1 or #3.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

      You’re implying better faith to the Democrats than I would. Democrats have a constituency that periodically makes noise about immigration reform and various cruel things that ICE and CBP do. But there is nowhere for those people to go come Election Day other than “home” (and “home” is usually not acceptable to such activists, who often care, appropriately so IMHO, about other issues too).

      They’re certainly not going to vote for Republicans to protest Democratic indifference to border and immigration policy. As a result, as long as Democrats make the right cooing noises from time to time, and maybe introduce a not-really-intended-for-passage bill here and there, there is no real political incentive for them to actually seek to change the existing policy in this area.

      It’s a policy place where Democrats who need to can shore up their right flanks and where other Democrats who need to go in the other direction can give passionate, moving speeches, and everyone knows nothing will really change anyway, as long as Democrats as a whole are the ones who have to decide what to do about it.

      The Republicans have their own conflicts between their moatdigger social-con factions and the Chamber of Commerce types, but that’s a story for another day.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Burt Likko says:

        The Democratic Party is a lot better on immigration issues than nearly every other liberal-left party in the developed world. Denmark’s Social Democratic Prime Minister vowed for a zero asylum seeker policy earlier this year.

        In the areas not requiring legislation, Biden reversed most of Trump’s crueler innovations as fast as possible, like within months, and established a prosecutorial discretion policy broader than Obama’s. Government lawyers can agree to dismiss removal cases or stipulate to relief rather than just close the cases.

        The Democratic Party also attempted to get through an amnesty bill in the budget they would cover eight million out of the eleven million non-citizens in the United States.

        So, I’d say that they aren’t perfect but are trying to do better work given the restraints.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:

        1. Compared to many other center-left parties in the world, or political parties in general, the Democratic Party and U.S. overall are still fairly good on immigration.

        2. Biden is doing what he can considering his restraints like increasing the refugee cap to 125,000 in October. He has also reversed the worst of Trump’s abuses administratively.

        3. The big issue is that a lot of Dreamers are not citizens by definition and cannot vote. There are immigrant advocates but the ones I know generally are more of Bonfire of the Vanities on many issues than willing to accept reform when they can get it.Report

        • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Why should non-citizens ever be allowed to vote?Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD says:

            I think you misinterpreted my point. I don’t think non-citizens should be able to vote. I think this is why it is an easy issue to sound moral on and not have any real fall out politically if reform fails especially when the Republicans are full on xenophobes.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          The political strength of the Dreamer ideal is it groups together sets of people who otherwise have nothing in common. I.e. all immigrants aren’t in favor of just letting all Haitians into the country, as opposed to their own group.

          There are, at MOST, 800k dreamers.

          That’s the upper end of a set of ranges. That’s not a lot in a country with 330 Million. It’s even not a lot of the illegal immigrant community which is something like 12 million (sources vary).

          Dreamers are, by far, the most sympathetic of the illegal community. Losing the dreamers arguably hurts the community a lot since they’ll lose that sympathy.

          So even if you want vast reform, it’s possible to think just helping the dreamers by themselves is a mistake.Report

          • InMD in reply to Dark Matter says:

            The Dreamer situation operates as a red herring to keep us from talking about the real problem. The case for amnesty for them is overwhelming and it’s unfortunate they’re caught in the middle. But that’s the fault of the 3s and 4s in Lee’s classification system for fanatical embrace of such irrational yet highly ideological policy positions, none of which have anything to do with entrenched corporate interests in a handful of major industries of course.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to InMD says:

              I think the bulk of the conflict is between 1s and 2s.

              I also think there’s a 5th group.

              5: My group should be favored because we’re a bigger victim historically than the others. Screw the others if it doesn’t help my group.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I disagree. I think you could satisfy most 2s simply by having a functioning system. The 3s and 4s (and I guess 5s) conflate the 2s with the 1s because the results of complete dysfunction are closer to their preferred outcomes. No one supporting the status quo is a 2, meaning that the bulk of the political class is not a 2.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD says:

                Define: “functioning system”.

                I mean yeah, I’d be a lot happier with brain drain and a guest worker policy and so on. But that hoard of people trying to get in from Mexico would still be there with all that.

                If we’re going to get rid of them (i.e. make them legal), we need to increase immigration a lot.Report

              • InMD in reply to Dark Matter says:

                A number of things go into a functioning system but I think we can start with millions of people not being permitted to evade it entirely.

                You’re also wrong about the people at the border. If they knew that they would never be able to find work because businesses that allowed it would be punished severely they would stop. They are only here because they believe they will get work with minimal risk of deportation and they are mostly right.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD says:

                If they knew that they would never be able to find work because businesses that allowed it would be punished severely they would stop.

                The unemployment rate in Haiti is absurdly high. If you had to pick, would you rather be unemployed in the US or in Haiti?

                And that ignores the underground economy. I know people who are normally paid cash for odd jobs, the person hiring them is also a person, not a business.

                And that also ignores we probably don’t want to, and can’t, and maybe shouldn’t, outlaw job creation because it attracts people we don’t like.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Part of the reason why the system isn’t functioning is that a lot more scrutiny is put to individual applications than it was in the past and you have interviews for applications that previously were not interviewed. The I-485, the application to get a green card in the United States, used to be 4 pages long in 1999. Now it is 20 pages long and a lot more complicated. The I765 application for work authorization used to be 1 page long, now it is 7.

                People granted asylum are allowed to apply for lawful permanent residency a year after their grant of asylum. These used to be adjudicated without interview. Now they are required to be interviewed. The reason why the immigration system is dysfunctional is that pressure was put on it for ultra-vetting everybody.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                There is such thing as a Just Law Theory (and if there isn’t I’m making it right now).

                Similar to Just War Theory, a just law must be achievable.
                Any immigration law that is unachievable is unjust, regardless of the nobility its intended purpose.

                The current status quo, and #2 above is wildly unachievable.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Seems to work fine in every other first world industrialized country. You know, those other peer nations you’re always comparing us to on virtually every other policy front.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                What makes you think other countries control their borders any better than we do?

                Or treat their immigrants better?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Countries with smaller borders are able to easily put more resources into protecting them.

                Island countries? Fuggitabowdit.

                Or treat their immigrants better?

                Legal ones? Or undocumented ones that only want better lives for themselves and their families?Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                Air travel makes unauthorized immigration to island countries pretty easy. Just get a visa and stay longer than you are supposed to.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                You’ve still gotta make it past customs.

                Back when I was dating Maribou when she lived in Montreal, I got held up by customs agents multiple times.

                Additionally, I had enough money to buy a plane ticket.

                Compare to: Walking across a border.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                It’s not about the borders. It’s about labor.

                And we treat legal immigrants really well by global standards. We should treat them even better and make it way easier for them. Why anyone would conflate them with Hatians that have been resettled for a decade in South America who are now attempting to illegally enter the country is mysterious to me.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                Immigration is a lot like the drug war, where we try to use a supply interdiction solution to a demand problem.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I don’t think you really believe that. If you did you’d be endorsing some kind of hyper-libertarian race to the bottom against any and all labor law. I suppose I could be wrong but after 6 or 7 years of interaction here I think you’ve got a more nuanced view of these things.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                It isn’t my belief.

                It’s the simple fact that America has a tremendous demand for cheap labor and drugs, and there is a vast supply of both right on our border.

                There isn’t a just way to prohibit something the majority of people want to consume.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The lesson from prohibition(s) is these desires cause a lot less damage when they’re managed and not simply outlawed.

                For example if we had a large temp-worker program that actually fit the needs of business, then we wouldn’t have camps of people on our border because there wouldn’t be jobs for them because those jobs would be filled.

                That’s a lot more reasonable than getting every business in the US to follow laws that are in no ones best interest to follow.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to InMD says:

                we treat legal immigrants really well by global standards

                We treat EVERYONE really well by global standards. Our bottom of the barrel poor are MUCH better than your typical 3rd world nation’s median.

                We have a non-predatory police force who doesn’t tolerate war lords. We have functioning road, sewer, water, electrical, internet, medical, legal systems.

                The moment an immigrant steps over the border he is many tens of thousands of dollars richer.

                The various problems we argue about on this board would look insanely trivial by 3rd world nation standards. Median income (PPP) in Haiti is less than $3k (so their median person is poorer than everyone here).

                That’s adjusted for local prices which are cheaper, actual income would be less. That’s from OPTIMISTIC sources, others say three quarters of the population lives on US$2 a day.

                Haiti is the most corrupt country on the planet (depending on metric and year). Everything the gov touches (which is everything) is a mess. Their electrical system works for only a quarter of the country and most of that is local generators. Their prison cells have 4 or 5 times as many prisoners as they should so people sleep in shifts.

                And that’s not even a thumbnail description of the suck.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

                Other first world countries have to deal with their own groups of people continually coming over for safety. They just come from the Middle East and Africa rather than Central America and the Caribbean for the most part. You see these people as economic migrants and believe that if we make working here functionally impossible, they wouldn’t come. The problem is that they don’t see themselves as economic migrants. Most of them are fleeing because of danger at home.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                a just law must be achievable

                Like house-to-house searches by a well-funded police force for handguns?Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I’m not sure if it’s “most republicans” but it’s certainly a core plank and a faction.

      If you’re serious about climbing the ladder of power and becoming a professional politician, you have to keep the Xenophobes happy. There will be exceptions, they’ll be very rare.

      There are WAY more people who treat Xenophobia seriously than there are who are opposed to it to the point of leaving the party.

      So the Xenophobes have taken over the GOP (that’s what core plank means), but the “more immigration” group hasn’t taken over the Dems. Even this thing with the guy on the horse whipping a black is seen through the lens of racism, not immigration. Change the optics and the problem goes away and a huge amount of Team Blue can go back to ignoring this.Report

      • Swami in reply to Dark Matter says:

        Hey DM,

        I have lived all over the US, and met countless Republicans, and oddly enough, I don’t think I ever met a single Xenophobe. Not one. I am sure there are a few out there, somewhere. But to suggest that a significant share or core plank of Republicans or Conservatives has a “fear and hatred of foreigners” seems absurd to me.

        Virtually every Republican (and Democrat and Independent) I have spoken to supports some degree of legal immigration. Some more than others, some less. Some with more demanding standards, some with less. What almost all disagree with is illegal immigration.

        Calling Republicans xenophobes seems as accurate and productive as calling Democrats “baby killers”.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to Swami says:

          What word would you suggest instead to sum up their position?Report

          • Swami in reply to Dark Matter says:

            Great question. I would offer that 100 million people probably have about a hundred million different views.

            Some are very pro immigration, if legal. Some have fear of job loss. Some are worried about the overuse or abuse to social safety nets. Some are worried about preserving the culture that they are comfortable with. Some are worried about vote buying. Some are worried about crime and homelessness if borders were opened. Others are worried that open borders would lead to institutional catastrophe and collapse.

            Some want to see more immigrating professionals. Some want to see more immigration of those doing jobs that Americans aren’t interested in doing.

            To characterize these views as xenophobia just dismisses their opinions and ideas and instead argues in an ad hominem way.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Swami says:

              100 million people probably have about a hundred million different views.

              I haven’t seen any proposals on what to do out of that group other than “first secure the border then we can negotiate reform”. Securing the border is both absurdly expensive (for the Southern border) and impossible (in general). Half of all illegal immigrants come legally and overstay their visas.

              This is a hugely emotional issue, most reasons seem justification of emotion rather than thought out. My expectation is “in favor if it’s legal” translates into “the law will be filled with hoops which seriously squish immigration down to close to nothing.”

              “Overuse or abuse to social safety nets” could be fixed by saying immigrants are not eligible for most welfare benefits, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), SSI, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), until they have been in the U.S. for at least five years. Of course we did that in 1996.

              Fighting against “open borders” is fine but who is on the other side of that argument? Are there any politicians fighting for open borders?

              I can think of relatively uncontroversial things we really should do for immigration reform; Guest worker program. More brain drain (I’d like to staple a green card to every 4-year degree from every accredited University program). Give the dreamers green cards.

              However I can’t think of anything likely to pass muster with your 100 million.

              I’ve been using the word “xenophobe” because it seems descriptive, i.e. a good one-word summation of their position. If it’s ugly, that’s an accident.Report

              • Swami in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Thanks for the reply DM,

                I am strongly pro immigration and pro rule of law. This may not be the best place to brainstorm on ways to reconcile the two, though.

                I would suggest that “xenophobe” is neither accurate, fair, nor polite. It shuts off discussion, listening and empathy. I would suggest that it is a terrible one word summation.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Swami says:

                RE: Terrible word

                I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks. The other word I’ve used is “moats”.

                RE: Reconcile the two

                Failures of the law this broad put us into “Prohibition” territory. At some point we change the law so we can get most people to follow and be willing/able to enforce on the rest.

                I don’t see how we get there without amnesty for most of the current illegals and a serious guest worker program (run by business, not by anti-immigration ideologs) going forward.

                I’d also like to do serious brain drain, i.e. steal the world’s best and brightest, many of whom we educate here. Staple a green card to every diploma is how I sometimes put it. Presumably we’d also like the army to be able to offer green cards to it’s soldiers (etc).

                Now I also think this country benefits from pretty much anyone who comes here willing to work and wanting to improve their life, but that’s probably politically not possible.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I think what moat people do not understand is that legal immigration has gone increasingly harder. The forms are much longer now than they were twenty years ago. The form to get a green card increased from 4 to 20 pages in that time. The longer forms are more complicated and it is easier to make a mistake. The former INS was a lot more forgiving about mistakes than the current USCIS. The INS would see an innocent mistake as that while the current USCIS tends to see anything inaccurate as fraud.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Let me go on to say that it wasn’t that easy 20 years ago either! I’ll quote myself from a million years ago:

                I’m remembering the ordeal that Maribou and I went through in order to get a Fiancée Visa. It was, seriously, unbelievably daunting. I had to call my Congressional Representative’s INS Liaison to properly fill out the paperwork. Maribou and I were fluent English speaking college-educated people and it was still a byzantine mess that required the help of a Congressional Representative’s staffer to get us through it.

                And the Fiancée Visa was the *EASY* way to do it.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s even tougher now but there were always people who had a harder or easier time depending on the reviewing officer.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Oh, this was *MONTHS* before the reviewing officer.

                Granted, this was back in the mid-90’s and the web was new enough that it was not yet considered the reliable research tool that we know it is (most of the hits for “fiance visa documents” got me either to scams or to “we’ll walk you through it… FOR $199!” help) and when I found that it was likely that my Congressman had an INS Liaison, I called my Congressman’s office and she helped me figure out the process and explained which forms I’d need, which forms I wouldn’t, and what I’d want to get together for the reviewing officer (phone bills, plane ticket stubs, etc).

                I was immensely grateful for her help (and Maribou and I stopped by her office for our 6th anniversary and we brought her flowers).

                The process itself? Amazingly complex. I don’t know that we would have been able to find our way through it and we were two fluent English-speaking, college educated young adults. AND WE WERE ON EASY MODE.

                The fact that we have a process that we expect non-native speakers who come from different educational standards to navigate this same system is nuts. Absolutely absurd.

                It needs to be revamped from the ground up.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to LeeEsq says:

                When I realized how hard it was to deal with INS, and just how high the stakes were, I thought about it for a while and then pulled in the local member of Congress.

                Probably helped although it also probably didn’t change the outcome.Report

              • Swami in reply to Dark Matter says:

                The pro legal immigration group is undermined by the anti immigration groups, leading to widespread illegal immigration, which leads to anti-immigration backlash, leading to less call for legal immigration. A bad feedback loop.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                Here is a good test to separate xenophobes from the “support immigration so long as it is legal” folks:

                Ask them if they would support a fivefold increase in the number of visas and citizenship applications from Mexico, vastly increasing the number of legal immigrants.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I understand that we can house them in the hotels that are being refurbished. Hell, we can *HIRE* them to refurbish the rooms that they’ll live in!

                (Honestly, wouldn’t it be better on a Utilitarian calculus to give those rooms to people with jobs rather than unemployables?)Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “Here is a good test to separate xenophobes from the “support immigration so long as it is legal” folks:”

                It’s actually a good test for the “support immigration because need the labor” folks, because all those visa-holding and citizen immigrants will be subject to American labor laws…and able to sue employers for discrimination or wage-theft.Report

              • Philip H in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Which is likely a driver to keep such a vast portion of our workforce undocumented.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Philip H says:

                Business wants to be legal, so give them a legal way to get the labor they need to survive and they’ll probably do that.

                The part that doesn’t work is “insisting that they be legal” if that really means “insisting that they die”.Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:


                Though I am pro increased legal immigration, I disagree with the effectiveness of your division or test.

                Some people want little or no immigration from anywhere for various reasons real or imagined (jobs, impacts on elections, impacts on culture or institutions, etc).

                Do you really believe it is impossible to be anti-immigration without being a xenophobe? Are all your conservative friends and family who disagree with you on immigration xenophobes? What do they say when you call them this?

                In general, I find a lot of those on this thread are just using lazy, polarizing and mean-spirited arguments to dismiss the arguments of people who disagree with them.

                My experience is that the anti immigration folks have lots of reasons and can make solid arguments (whether I agree with them all or not).Report

              • Philip H in reply to Swami says:

                They can make arguments but they don’t rest on solid – i.e. data fed – grounds.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                Not wanting any strangers to enter the country is very close to the definition of xenophobia.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Xenophobia is pretty much the norm for pretty much all of the countries out there, though.

                There are a handful of countries that are better at stuff like settling refugees…

                But if you wanted to become a Canadian citizen, you probably couldn’t. (Take the test and find out!)

                If you wanted to become a Mexican citizen,apparently:

                The process includes a criminal background check, a trip to Mexico city and proof that you have a basic conversational level of Spanish, you know the history of the country and have integrated into the national culture.

                Those are just the top two countries to come to mind, though.

                Maybe you have an example of a country that has a non-xenophobic immigration policy that you can point to and say “That one! That’s the country we ought to emulate!”? (I keep finding stuff that indicates that you’re expected to know the local language on the countries I’m googling.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                I mean, if every single country would qualify as “xenophobic”, calling the US “xenophobic” is just another way to say “like everybody else”.

                Which, as criticisms go, can be pretty scathing!

                Especially if you feel like you’re totally different.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Its still correct to call them xenophobes, even if the classification includes a lot of people.

                Which was the original claim here, Swami claiming he’s never met one, which was in response to Lee’s classifications of people where the first category was “Xenophobes”.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m not saying it includes “a lot of people”.

                I’m saying “looks like it includes freaking everybody”.

                Maybe you have an example of a country that has a non-xenophobic immigration policy that you can point to and say “That one! That’s the country we ought to emulate!”? (I keep finding stuff that indicates that you’re expected to know the local language on the countries I’m googling.)Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                First- Trying to change the subject to “But Johnny does it too!” doesn’t refute my claim.

                Second- Expanding the definition of xenophobia to include any immigration restrictions at all doesn’t make any logical sense.

                Let me repeat- people who are opposed to any immigration are xenophobes.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Trying to change the subject to “But Johnny does it too!” doesn’t refute my claim.

                Again. I am not saying “Someone Else Does This”.

                I am saying “Everybody Else Does This”.

                Expanding the definition of xenophobia to include any immigration restrictions at all doesn’t make any logical sense.

                I am not saying “any immigration restrictions at all”.

                I keep pointing out “Language Laws”.

                people who are opposed to any immigration are xenophobes.

                Oh, I was using the term broadly enough to encompass people who want assimilation to the culture and language fluency in immigrants.

                If we just said something like “I want there to be more immigrants who speak English and are pretty fully integrated”, would that qualify as xenophobic?

                Because if we agree that xenophobes means “opposed to any immigration” but not “okay with conversational English speakers who have assimilated”, I think we’ll find that there are a *LOT* fewer xenophobes than you think.

                That’s good news, right?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                “I’m not xenophobic. I just don’t like people who are different than me.”Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                (This isn’t just a complaint directed at you, Chip. It’s a problem I’ve run into in my own writing. And I’ve noticed Jaybird does it too.)

                There’s got to be a better solution than putting something the other person never said in quotes. I’ve seen “TL/DR: ” put before such a quote, which is an acknowledgement that the thing was never said. In my more conscientious moments I’ve led into such statements with “It’s as if the other person is saying…”, or put the statement in a single quote or italics.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You keep using “xenophobic” as a thing that’s bad when it gets pointed out that it’s universal.

                And when asked to point to a country with policies that are not universal, you just pivot back to “but the thing that is universal is bad!”

                This is one of those things where your moral judgment isn’t shared.

                Worse than that, it’s not shared to the point where it’s obvious that it’s not shared.

                Seriously, instead of using “xenophobic”, use “racist”.

                We’ve already established that only the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia can achieve racism.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Now we’re back to “Mom, everyone’s doing it!”

                No, everyone is not xenophobic. It is widespread true, but not universal.

                For example, the very country you live in has requirements for citizenship, but immigrants are still encouraged by law and custom to keep their own religion and culture. Official documents are printed in multiple languages and yea verily, oftentimes you can marque dos por Espanol.

                But at least you can tell Swami that he has in fact met many xenophobes. So that’s something.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Now we’re back to “Mom, everyone’s doing it!”

                You say we’re back to that when, in my view, we’ve never left it.

                For example, the very country you live in has requirements for citizenship, but immigrants are still encouraged by law and custom to keep their own religion and culture. Official documents are printed in multiple languages and yea verily, oftentimes you can marque dos por Espanol.

                If your example of a country that isn’t xenophobic is the US, I’m not sure why you’re arguing that we need to change.

                We are what you have been looking for.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes, exactly.

                The America I love is the one that erected a massive statue to welcome immigrants.

                What I’m doing is standing athwart Trumpism and yelling “STOP”.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That was the country in 1886, Chip.

                You may be surprised to know that it wasn’t as great as you think it was.Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip and gang,

                I guess if you want to redefine the term to mean “people who don’t want open borders or whatever”, then Jaybird is right, most people are xenophobic, and I have met many of them.

                The term I was referencing was “suffering from xenophobia; having abnormal fear or hatred of the strange or foreign”. The key words here being “abnormal, fear and hatred.” IOW it is a derogatory and dismissive term which implies an irrational fear or mean spiritedness in those holding the belief. It is a loaded term. Like calling someone a “r€tard.” There may be a clinical, impartial usage of the r word, but when people use it, that isn’t what they intend. Classic Motte and Bailey argument.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                I’m arguing that it is in fact “abnormal fear or hatred” to say that immigrants are welcome so long as they become “well assimilated” into our culture.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                You keep using “xenophobic” as a thing that’s bad when it gets pointed out that it’s universal.

                For the US it is a bad thing.

                For Poland and the other mono-cultured ethno-states less so, maybe even to the point of being good. I’d say Israel has an unusually strong case for this sort of thing.

                However the US is leaving lots of money on the floor. We’re the country we are, as big as we are, as rich as we are, because of immigration. Probably everyone on this board has lots of immigrants in their family tree who wouldn’t have been able to come here with the current system.

                We welcome immigrants, we absorb them, we add them and their children to our GDP.

                We’ve shown over and over we can just do this, so we should.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I’m less familiar with the philosophy that says “it’s okay for everybody to have this attitude, except for you. When you do it, it’s immoral.”

                I am 100% down with the arguments that we *SHOULD* have more immigration. (I’ve written essays explaining that the INS, or whatever it’s called now, needs to be dismantled.)

                I’m just not sure about the whole moral argument against “xenophobia”.

                But if you want me to concede that me and people like me would directly benefit from more immigration, I totally would.

                I’m just not sure that “it’ll benefit me and people like me” is a particularly moving moral argument.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                Maybe you have an example of a country that has a non-xenophobic immigration policy that you can point to…

                At various points in history, the United States.

                The US is NOT like other countries. We’re extremely good at assimilating immigrants.

                We’re already multi-cultural (and have a legal/cultural framework for dealing with culture vs culture problems). We’re also the owners of the world’s most aggressively assimilating culture.

                There are sound reasons why mono-cultural Poland shouldn’t allow immigrants. None of those reasons apply to us.

                And yes, agreed with Chip that “irrational fear of immigration” maps very well with the definition of [moats]. Afaict, the arguments against immigration are almost entirely emotional.

                The one argument that stands on data is immigration suppresses the min wage to some degree. However I don’t typically hear anyone from the Right making it or caring about that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I’m sure that there are plenty of countries in the 1880s that we could point to.

                But I’m not sure that that maps well to the current year.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m sure that there are plenty of countries in the 1880s that we could point to.

                Given how many are mono-cultural today? I very much doubt that. If they were open back then, they’d be multi-cultural today.

                And that doesn’t change that we have many many decades of experience with successful immigration and cultural assimilation. If we’re just as suspicious of immigration as Poland, then for us that’s deeply irrational.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    New way to make this crisis an opportunity to talk about Trump dropped: