Monday, November 5, 2012

Immigration needs a hybrid fix

The article below  is generally well reasoned but amounts to a call for amnesty.  I would advocate vigorous enforcement of existing laws, a complete border-fence and a legal guestworker program as the remedy for the present mess.  Guestworker licences should be for a limited time only  -- say 5 years.  A bill that called for a guestworker program plus a complete fence should get through Congress fairly readily.  Israel has shown that border-fences can be effective

Neither President Obama, whose executive decision in June ended most deportations of children of illegal immigrants, nor Mitt Romney, who generally opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, has focused on the economics of immigration. Though complex, the economic realities help to illuminate the potential path toward comprehensive immigration reform.

Economically speaking, legal and illegal immigrants could hardly be more different. Legal immigrants are more skilled than the typical American and divide roughly equally among Asians, Latinos and Europeans. Illegal immigrants are mostly low-skilled, earn low wages, and are mainly Latino.

Immigrants, both legal and illegal, do share one trait, however: They gain economically by migrating to America. Legal immigrants, on average, earn $16,000 more per year in the United States than they would in their home countries – a $300,000 lifetime bonus. The undocumented also earn more in the United States than back home, which is why they risk so much to come.

Some contend that, because of a common border, the prevalence of the Spanish language, or an unwillingness to assimilate, U.S.-born children and grandchildren of Latino immigrants have not enjoyed the spectacular generational advances achieved by descendants of earlier European immigrants. That is not true. Education advances of Latinos across generations have been larger than for Europeans.

The successes of previous immigrant generations, however, happened largely because America's public schools did an excellent job of educating both immigrant children and their native-born classmates. If the schools are not working as well for today's children of immigrants – and there are ample reasons for concern – then the successes of future generations are being imperiled.

What about benefits to native-born Americans? Immigrants, legal and illegal, bring benefits to the U.S. economy of more than $10 billion a year, not a small bit of change but small relative to the national economy. These benefits accrue because immigrants, legal and illegal, keep wages lower than they otherwise would be. If immigration does not depress wages, prices cannot fall, leaving no economic benefit. Although all Americans benefit on average, not everyone gains.

What about taxpayer effects? The effects of immigration on taxes are generally positive at the federal level, but they are negative at the state and local levels in places where there are lots of low-skilled immigrants. This is primarily because schooling is financed at the state and local levels.

When combining the taxpayer effects across all levels of government, there is still a positive overall taxpayer effect of legal immigrants whose incomes are high.

In contrast, the combined taxpayer effect is typically negative for illegal immigrants, largely due to school financing and their low incomes. According to a 1997 National Academy of Science study I led, native-born taxpayers in California paid $1,178 more in taxes than they received in benefits because immigrants received more in benefits than they paid in taxes.

These California numbers are surely higher today. Health care costs are not an important part of the equation, primarily because immigrants are healthier than their American-born counterparts.

Largely because of the different taxpayer effects, the economic argument favors high-skilled legal immigrants compared with low-skilled undocumented immigrants. Adherence to the principle that America is a nation of laws reinforces the argument in favor of legal immigrants.

The policy dilemma, however, is that we in America are in the midst of a muddle, with 12 million or more undocumented immigrants already here, many for some time. They are now our neighbors and friends, and, to be honest, we have been complicit in their staying.

Is there a way out of the dilemma? I think there is: a simultaneous combination of a pathway to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants already here and a serious commitment to enforce the law without ambiguity in the future so that any additional undocumented migrants must leave immediately. To unite as Americans, we must agree to both parts of this bargain at the beginning of a new American immigration policy.


Israel’s crackdown on illegal African migrants gets results, draws critics

Measures taken by Israel to stem a flow of illegal African migrants coming across its desert border with Egypt have had a dramatic effect in recent months, reducing the influx of newcomers to a trickle, according to recent government figures and Israeli groups aiding the Africans.

The turnaround — after years of steadily swelling numbers of migrants whose presence had unsettled many Israelis — was hailed this week as a “success story” by Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, advocates for the migrants accuse Israel of violating international law by turning back asylum seekers at its border without checking their refugee claims.

In a joint statement this week with Human Rights Watch, two aid groups said the Israeli army has been blocking migrants at the frontier, in some cases pushing them back into Egypt, where the groups say the migrants are at risk of prolonged detention by the authorities, abuse by Bedouin traffickers and forcible return to their country of origin.

The Israeli army said in a statement that it was acting to “prevent illegal infiltration” in accordance with “directives from the political echelon.”

The arrival of the Africans — about 60,000 have come to Israel since 2005, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan — provoked a violent backlash in Israel and posed a challenge to the government, which struggled to contain the influx, described by Netanyahu as a potential threat to Israel’s character as a Jewish state.

Living in limbo and gravitating to poor areas in Israeli cities, the migrants generated resentment among local residents. Angry street protests and attacks against the migrants in low-
income neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem triggered a government crackdown earlier this year. Hundreds of Africans from South Sudan and the Ivory Coast, where conditions were deemed safe enough for their return, were rounded up and deported.

Construction of a 15-foot-high-steel fence along the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula was speeded up, and legislation was amended to permit the detention of illegal migrants for up to three years.

The measures have led to a sharp drop in the number of arriving migrants, many of whom fled war or oppressive governments, seeking work and a better life. In recent years, hundreds crossed the porous Egyptian-Israeli frontier each month after trekking across Sinai, where many were tortured by Bedouin traffickers holding them for ransom.

Sabine Haddad, spokeswoman for Israel’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority, said that the monthly number of illegal migrants entering Israel, which had reached a height of 2,295 in January, had dropped in October to 54. According to the agency’s figures, the falloff began in June, when the government crackdown began and the monthly total fell to under 1,000.

Aid groups say that many of the migrants have been stymied by the border fence and the Israeli army’s practice of summarily turning them back without checking whether they should be granted asylum. Once back in Egypt, the groups said, the Africans were at risk of prolonged detention in Egyptian prisons or, in the case of the Eritreans, forcible return to their country, a repressive dictatorship.


No comments:

Post a Comment