When you focus on just the families, though, you are discounting the people who send money home to their family who come here to earn a living …sends money home to his extended family. And by saying only him and his family can come here, you are destroying the lives and the economics of an extended family, not just one person or two people.
And that is precisely where we need a change in immigration laws; President Bush has talked about this potential visa, three-year visas for people who just want to come here to… pick up lettuce, just want to come here to work at a meat-packing plant, just want to come here to do unskilled jobs, if they have a job offer and they come here for three years, and then they go back home. And many people they.. they just want to do it. They .. want to come here and work .. and then go back. They need legal means to do so.
To that plan… I’d just like to address the two issues… I guess one is the enforcement, national security … we were talking about, ‘cause you were talking about people who come here and work in agriculture or meat-packing companies. Then automatically the question arises “Are they going to be taking jobs from low-income native-born Americans that could be there too?” And the reality is that if you look at immigration, actually immigrants tend to automatically automatically allocate to the sectors of the economy where there is actually less competition. I mean, it has been proved by the National Academy of Sciences, tons of independent research; immigrants tend to allocate to those areas where there is little competition, where actually workers are NEEDED. Now, once, if they are undocumented, of course, they are prone to lower wages, which does… may have an impact on general wage pools. So that is another reason why the system is broken. We urgently need immigration reform that would give workers… a legal status that can then allow them to demand higher wages and better working conditions, not just for them, but for all workers. And that way they could link arms with native-born workers in terms of improving wages and working conditions for everyone within eh… regional parameters.
Now in terms of border security and enforcement, I think immigration reform should definitely have very strong enforcement, because that’s national security, it’s a great concern, not just to native-born Americans, but to immigrant Americans. I am VERY concerned about the safety of my community and terrorism. The thing is that right now, by having such huge illegal activity, such limited legal channels, you have so much underground activity of human smuggling, and that is actually a national security concern. So, by instituting legal channels we would would drain that swamp of illegal activity and actually improve security at the border. And there has to be also significant enforcement increase, once you institute those legal channels in order to deal with, with that issue.
It.. it helps me, because yesterday the headlines in the paper were “Al-Qaeda finds that the best way to get into the country now is the Mexican border.” And we talked a little bit earlier about removing the border guards to some extent, that simply is not gonna fly in this country in this … age, but your point about illegal trafficking, that’s how they are gonna come in. And so…
And do you want the border patrol to be focused on intelligence to prevent terrorism or to be concerned with stopping children and families at the border?… It’s just not the rational allocation of resources for national security at some point.
Let’s come back to an earlier point for just a minute too though
If I’m a someone who is wanting to look at this as an economic issue and take a hard-line economic position on it and you are telling me that’s not being sufficiently humane to… accommodating of someone who is working here… perhaps even working here illegally and sending all of their wages that they can out of our economy back into another economy… that’s hardly an argument for that being a good thing.…
Well, that’s not the case with most immigrants, most immigrants want to come here and make a life here for themselves and their families, but there are some immigrants who want to come and work and they pay taxes, while they live here they invest in the community, they make a life here for a while, and then, you know, they go back home. They are not… they need to live here, so they need to spend money here.
They are buying for themselves, whereas their family back home that they are sending the money to is buying things in their home country, and not, not in the United States. Is that what you’re saying?
… you are saying… by doing… by sending money back to their home country, they are shoring up their own economy, so that they don’t have to come here and work. You know, you’ve got a symbiotic relationship here. When this happens. And… I wanna say one this about this terrorism thing, people are forgetting that one of the largest terrorists in this country are illegal drugs. You know, you’ve got a lot of that coming into this country, you don’t have… by any generous measure, if there is ten thousand Al-Qaeda, you’ve got nothing compared to the illegal trafficking of drugs that’s coming into this country. And I think people are forgetting that.
Oklahoma city, American bomber. You know.
I think on the enforcement, I’d like to see more enforcement at the company level . I think companies… if you had to prove you are American citizen, it’s no different than, you know, how we handle alcohol, you know, if we don’t allow people in this state under 21 in a bar, without… yeah, do some get in with a good fake ID… or… do they get…, you know, do somebody can forget to check, yes, but in general … we probably handle 98% of that problem to keep people under 21 out of the bar, then… you could just do the same thing … ‘cause I do think they are coming here for economic reasons, but if they couldn’t get the job, unless they were legal, I guess they wouldn’t get the job, they would slow down. And I am totally sympathetic with your argument, but we just can’t allow, everyone wants to come here, they don’t have a right to come here, and we can’t handle it, because not only physically, but economically, socially, this country, we have to have some constraints on how many people come here.
But I think that the reason why companies continue to do it is that they want cheap labor. I mean, that’s the bottom line, and there is not an interest in NOT HAVING cheap labor. So, I don’t… And to me, when you have cheap labor, that opens up rights for so many different abuses. You’ve got workplace abuse, you’ve got many different situations… I cited one example, where… if you make too little, then you don’t have enough to live off, then you have too many people living in one house or one apartment, and that’s not a humanitarian situation. So, again, you know, like you, I would like to see companies be more responsible and think about the net impact on a community. Ok, if you have eight people living in an apartment, you know, then, you know, what are the social implications of that? Likely, they are going to have a lot of stress, and when you got a lot of stress, then you got police issues, you know we have to THINK, you know, practically about things too.
oh there's the forms of gr...
They are … and you're here...you know… police department having a difficult time coping. There's … again, you know, everybody seems to... there's a... a certain level of responsibility that I think companies..
What do you hear … from business people from corporate America .. ahm Do you not want .. ah.. illegal immigration stopped for workforce reasons?
Ahm.. There are 3 business reasons for .. ah..that business people talk about. One is labor cost. Second is labor talent, because … H1B visas for high-technical people. There is a third, that is surprise. And that relates to a work force that doesn't have some problems as they've been brought up in the American society … and for example what I have heard of business people tell me when they drug test .. they were given a percentage of native Americans fail, virtually no immigrants virtually ever fail the drug test. And that doesn't mean drugs don't come from abroad, they do. And some were … to gains that are tied to national groupings abroad. But virtually no legal or illegal immigrant that comes to this country has a drug problem. And that is a stunning circumstance that the business community is looking at.
I think tied with some other business concerns and economic concerns that we’ve heard this far is that ah whatever the… ah penalties and so forth need to be appropriate with the violator, for example Walmart is often been thrown out and so forth is a violator and so forth. But Walmart as a net itself has more economic power than most of the Europe (LAUGHTER). And so if they have a … ahm… if they have a penalty that would be the same as the company I work for it would be a drop in a bucket for them to sustain their illegal or legal immigrant community that they have
There is employer sanctions in place with the immigration law and.. eh… the… but the hypocrisy of that is that the sanctions are really enforced against employers. You get… the deportation system with regards to immigrants is <…> trying to get immigrants out of the country but the employers who are attracting and pulling this immigrants into this country for these low-wage jobs are not getting the sanctions that under the law they are supposed to receive.
So it is possible that as long as we keep the focus on.. on failures at the border we are talking about the failures of that kind of sanctions?
And I think, Jim, particularly the guest worker … ah… proposal is .. eh… it’s ironic that the United States has a long history in.. in guest worker ideas. During the Second World War the United States literally contracted with Mexico to bring in large number of the workers … I don’t know how humanely they were treated and what the circumstances were but these folks came back and forth freely as I understand. They visited their family, did what they wanted to with the money, some taxes were collected. But then at the end of that program I believe about 1965… well, after the Second World War, of course, people certainly became ‘illegal’ by definition even though their habits of crossing back and forth were regular. So they were surprised by their new … new status and then I believe the 1984 law when suddenly realized that we’ve got this emerging problem of … ah…but it is not a new thing for the United States to have jobs that need to be filled and not a new thing to have a strategy to look out to fill those jobs. And I have … my cynical side of me says: ‘the part of the strategy to fill these jobs is to make it just difficult enough for people who need work so that the healthy one and the strong ones… and other ones that get here and the others, you know, then stay back’. And that… I am very very unhappy in this terms about that situation.
And then, the paradox, Jerry, that the World War 2 (was this during the World War 2?)
Yeah, during WW2, I think 1942 < …>
At the same time … same time… that we are taking Japanese Americans, we are moving them from society and putting them into internment… camps and the paradox… for… I think we continue to have… that sort of split personality as a country where we worry about the terrorist on the one hand …
But my point on that is that.. there was a national policy to address job shortage as opposed to the one to one employer to desperate person relationship
I’d like to talk just a little bit about education. Immigration, because of student visas, and then colleges rely on those very highly, very strongly, and our college has students from about every country and I noticed that an ESL class is taught in our building, and I know that the numbers have gone down with those students. So, … that would be maybe something to think about too, that colleges and our education system, the higher education system relies a lot on those student visas.
And it's also the 9/11effect
Right.. and it's harder and harder for those students to come to the United States, to get good education and go back and... work in their home countries, too
A couple of tensions that I think have been present here that I’d like to address just a little bit, and then .. wrap up..we’re getting short on time here.
One of them is, given the differential location of immigrant populations, especially recent immigrant population, and especially immigrant populations easily identified for ethnic characteristics… right… you have differential effects within a state, somebody who lives in Storm Lake ya know or Columbus Junction feels differently about this issue than somebody who lives in Center Point, ok? And you have differential effects in much larger geographic senses… in… in the Southern California, New Jersey example, in … you know… in a material we looked at which suggest because of the ethnic nature of New Jersey immigrant population compared to the Southern California immigrant population the economic effects are really different. You know, that sort of thing.
So as citizens you know, with this issue differently present before us… and… in kind of localized ways, you know, clusters of ways differentially affected by it how do we move toward even an increased understanding, shared understanding of the issue much less position on the issue when for very, you know, real reasons we relate to it quite differently. It’s omnipresent or minimally present, ya know, in our lives?
I kind of get back to my question about how much freedom there is in local sites in allowing or not allowing people, and I guess I am just not aware of how that works…
Well a state or a municipality can’t disallow entry but a state or a municipality is very affected and it’s that conundrum that really is problematic. Entry is a national policy but people who settle national policy may not live with the immediate local effect… you know…