Wednesday, April 17, 2013

La Reforma Integral De La Inmigración


Gang of Eight

Early this morning, 1:30 this morning, the Gang of 8 formally filed their immigration reform bill. The Senate's Know Nothing caucus of unreconstructed bigots and anti-Latino hatemongers, led by Ted Cruz (R-TX), David "Diapers" Vitter (R-LA), Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (KKK-AL), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is coordinating with Steve King's House Bigotry Caucus and Kris Kobach, the Mitt Romney advisor who came up with the "self-deportation" strategy that helped the GOP lose last year's elections. Their strategy is to use delays and parliamentary maneuvers to kill it, offering “poison pill” amendments aimed at breaking apart the fragile bipartisan group that developed the plan.
The tactics, used successfully by opponents of an immigration bill during a 2007 debate in the Senate, are part of an effort to exploit public fissures over core components of the comprehensive legislation introduced Tuesday by eight lawmakers who spent months negotiating the details.

...Conservatives are taking aim, arguing that allowing undocumented workers to remain in the country amounts to “amnesty”; that the border control steps are not strong enough; that the guest-worker program will undercut Americans at a time of high unemployment; and that the bill will amount to trillions of dollars in new federal costs.

Those factors make immigration reform “a heavy lift,” said Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a lawyer who helped Arizona draft one of the nation’s strictest immigration laws in 2008. “Twenty million Americans are unemployed or under-employed. At any other normal time, no one would breathe about amnesty.”
When writing his book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy, Joshua Holland closed his chapter on immigration with a story about how Kris Kobach's anti-immigrant law has hurt Arizona.
In April 2010, Arizona governor Jan Brewer... signed SB 1070 into law. To say the very least, the bill was controversial.

Despite the fact that the federal government has exclusive domain over regulating immigration, Arizona’s law made being in the country illegally a state crime (it was only a civil offense on the federal statutes). It made transporting an unauthorized immigrant a crime. And it empowered police to detain anyone they suspect of committing those crimes.

...[W]hen reactionary xenophobia and economic reality clash, the latter always wins.

Reaction to the bill was swift. Within weeks of the law’s passage, two of Arizona’s largest cities, Flagstaff and Tucson, announced that they were suing to block the law. A boycott of Arizona goods and services was called. The Boston, Los Angeles, and Oakland city councils stopped doing business in the state, and, as of this writing, New York and Washington, D.C., were considering following suit. San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado, suspended all official travel to the Copper State. According to the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association, nineteen conferences were canceled just in the first week after the bill was signed.

According to an analysis by the Immigration Policy Center, “If significant numbers of immigrants and Latinos are actually persuaded to leave the state because of this new law, they will take their tax dollars, businesses, and purchasing power with them.”

The University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy estimates that the total economic output attributable to Arizona’s immigrant workers was $44 billion in 2004, which sustained roughly 400,000 full-time jobs. Furthermore, over 35,000 businesses in Arizona are Latino-owned and had sales and receipts of $4.3 billion and employed 39,363 people in 2002, the last year for which data is available. The Perryman Group estimates that if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and approximately 140,324 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time.

Again, the federal government has exclusive domain over regulating immigration to the United States, so Arizona’s law is unlikely to withstand legal challenges. But if it does, what follows would be utterly predictable: the state not only will lose out on tourism and international business travel, but a huge share of its workforce, both legal and otherwise, will also seek less nasty climes. Arizona will face enormous litigation costs, and local police agencies will start to complain that they don’t have the resources to enforce other laws. Brand Arizona will continue to take a pummeling, companies will face a whole new set of hiring challenges, and the state’s business community will start to complain. Eventually, the very same lawmakers who pushed the new law will admit that it didn’t work out as they’d intended.

I say this with the confidence born of past experience. In 2007, Arizona passed another tough “enforcement only” immigration law, which mandated the use of an (unreliable) electronic verification system and subjected employers to the loss of their business licenses for hiring the wrong people. It turned out to be a disaster that might rank up there with the Edsel or New Coke in the pantheon of boneheaded ideas.

The state had a very low unemployment rate when the law was passed-- it was, at least in part, a “solution” to a problem that Arizona didn’t have. Unemployment was at 4.1 percent when the law went into effect in early 2008 and had been at 3.7 percent when a judge upheld the measure a year earlier. By the middle of 2008, lawmakers were scrambling to undo the shock they’d inflicted on the state, as up to 8 percent of the population-- according to one estimate-- decided to hightail it out of Arizona en masse. The state faced new labor shortages, as well as a loss in demand from all of those worker-consumers. Eventually, the law was amended, in part due to pressure from Arizona businesses.

The people of Arizona learned the hard way that immigrants not only supply labor, but also demand goods and services in turn. In addition, they learned that newer immigrant communities have a mix of people with different legal statuses all jumbled together, and that when there’s a widespread perception that politicians (and citizens) are attacking immigrants, it doesn’t much matter that some people differentiate between those who are “legal” and “illegal”-- Arizona lost plenty of citizens and lawful permanent residents with that drop in population.

A University of Arizona study concluded that economic output in Arizona would drop 8.2 percent annually if foreign-born workers left the state’s labor force. “Getting rid of these workers means we are deciding as a matter of policy to shrink our economy,” Judith Gans, an immigration scholar at the university’s Udall Center, told the Wall Street Journal. “They’re filling vital gaps in our labor force.”

Arizona’s experience isn’t unique. In 2006, the town of Riverside, New Jersey, passed a strict immigration ordinance. A year later, the New York Times reported, “With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered.

Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.” The town was also hit with serious legal bills defending against several lawsuits. According to the Times, “The legal battle forced the town to delay road paving projects, the purchase of a dump truck and repairs to town hall.” The law was repealed a little more than a year after it went into effect.

Hazelton, Pennsylvania’s ordnance was blocked before being implemented-- but not before the municipality had spent $2.4 million in court costs. The town’s insurance carrier refused to cover the costs.

When Oklahoma passed a draconian immigration law, the Chicago Tribune reported, “Construction companies that relied upon undocumented laborers are having trouble completing jobs... And business is down sharply at the stores, groceries and restaurants that serve a Hispanic clientele.” Republican state senator Harry Coates told the Trib: “You really have to work hard at it to destroy our state’s economy, but we found a way... We ran off the work force.”
Tuesday afternoon, Obama got a sneak-peak. He issued a statement of support. But then, his entire career has been based around compromise: "This afternoon, Senators Schumer and McCain briefed me on the bipartisan immigration reform bill that they have drafted with their colleagues in the Senate. This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me. But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally.  And it would modernize our legal immigration system so that we’re able to reunite families and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy. These are all commonsense steps that the majority of Americans support. I urge the Senate to quickly move this bill forward and, as I told Senators Schumer and McCain, I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible."

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