Archive for August, 2009

Amnesty’s a Year Away, and Always Will Be

In between Quebecois meals bathed in gravy, or meat pies, or meat pies bathed in gravy, I missed something from a story this week on Obama’s latest signal that amnesty’s not happening any time soon:

But immigrant advocacy groups have been keeping up the pressure to hold Mr. Obama to his promise to Hispanic voters – that he’d make immigration reform a top priority during his first year in office.

“If we don’t see a vote in Congress sooner than later, we will see a large Latino community not showing up at polls in midterm elections…. That is something the Democratic Party needs to measure,” says Francisco Lopez, executive director of CAUSA, the largest Hispanic advocacy group in the Pacific Northwest.

In other words, at least some Hispanic pressure groups are playing a long game by outlining ahead of time the story line that the shellacking Democrats are likely to face — first this November in N.J. and Va. and then next November nationwide — is due to the party’s insufficient attention to Hispanic demands. In fact, many of the Hispanic groups already believe they’re responsible for Obama’s election in the first place, despite the fact that he would have won even if not a single Hispanic had voted.
. . .
Read More

Advertisements

Comments off

The Elephant in the Room: Panel on Immigration’s Impact on Health Care Reform

While there has been some discussion of whether illegal immigrants should be covered by proposed government insurance plans, the enormous impact of immigration, both legal and illegal, on the health care system has generally not been acknowledged in the current debate. On August 19, the Center for Immigration Studies held a panel discussing the health care issue.

Comments off

The Elephant in the Room: Panel on Immigration’s Impact on Health Care Reform

Contact: Steven Camarota, (202) 466-8185, sac@cis.org

WASHINGTON (August 10, 2009) – One out of three people in the U.S. without health insurance is an immigrant (legal or illegal) or the U.S.-born child (under 18) of an immigrant. Immigrants and their children also account for one-fourth of those on Medicaid. While there has been some discussion of whether illegal immigrants should be covered by proposed government insurance plans, the enormous impact of immigration, both legal and illegal, on the health care system has generally not been acknowledged in the current debate.

The Center for Immigration Studies will hold a panel discussion to explore what effects immigration policy both current and future may have on health care reform. The panel will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 19, in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club, 14th & F streets.

Panelists will include:

Steven A. Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies, author of The High Cost of Cheap Labor: Illegal Immigration and the Federal Budget, and an expert in the areas of economics and demography

Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, an authority on poverty, the U.S. welfare system, and immigration.

James R. Edwards, Jr., Fellow, Center for Immigration Studies, coauthor of The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, and former Communications Manager for the Healthcare Leadership Council.

Moderator: Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies

Comments off

Who Counts?

While reflecting on a recent Quebec meal of french fries bathed in cheese and gravy (who thought that up, anyway?), I read the Wall Street Journal piece linked in the web briefing about the harmful effects of counting illegal aliens in next year’s decennial census for the purposes of congressional (and state legislative) apportionment. For details on which states won and lost from the inclusion of illegal (and legal) immigrants in the past two censuses, see my colleagues’ work on this (here, here, and here).

But as sympathetic as I am to the concerns of the authors, the piece is sloppy and poorly thought-out. Both the authors and the headline writer conflate the inclusion of illegal aliens in the count with the inclusion of non-citizens in general — obviously, all illegals are non-citizens but not all non-citizens are illegal. If they’d done some research, they’d have learned that the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a low-immigration activist group, sued over the 1980 and 1990 censuses to stop the inclusion of illegal aliens for the purposes of apportionment and lost both times for lack of standing (if U.S. citizen eligible voters don’t have standing, who does?). But I’ve never heard of any effort to exclude legal residents from the census count and the article’s implication that the inclusion of even legal non-citizens is a new development is simply absurd (heard of the Constitution’s three-fifths rule, anyone?)
. . .
Read More

Comments off

“Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border”: Recent Developments

Since the July 15, 2009, posting of the Center for Immigration Studies’ video, “Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border: Coyotes, Bears, and Trails,” a lot has happened. None of it can be claimed to have been caused by the video, but there has been an interesting uptick in events in Washington and on the southeast Arizona border since its posting. While each of the events involving the federal government has acquired a hue of spin or premeditated silence, it does seem that a change is a coming – if the pressure keeps mounting. The Border Patrol is ramping up, the Forest Service has closed off some of the worst illegal layup areas due to potential bear encounters, and Congress is asking a lot of questions.

Border Patrol

On July 30, 2009, borderinvasionpics.com captured on film the largest group of illegal aliens in its 10 months online: 41. They looked tired, having just come up a steep climb through the Coronado National Forest, many of them resting and then moving on. In juxtaposition, just this past week, for the first time, the Border Patrol moved into the border area in high numbers, cutting off some of the trails leading to the hidden cameras. According to our sources, agents in the field say increased numbers of agents patrolling south of the mountains 24/7 is permanent, as are scope trucks and agents with all-terrain vehicles (they are often on foot). More men, more vehicles, and more technology are on the ground to help stem the flow. In addition, up near the rendezvous points where the trails end, the Border Patrol have set up ‘tent cities’ and the initial action has stopped groups of aliens from successful entry.
. . .
Read More

Comments off

Crime and Economic Punishment in the State of Zacatecas

For years, the economy of the north central Mexican state of Zacatecas has grown increasingly dependent on remittances sent home by sons and daughters living in the United States. Many of the migrants boosted the economy by building homes in their native towns. They returned at Christmas time on the feast days of the local patron saint. Many dreamed of retiring to the place where they had grown up.

Now a great reversal is underway. Across the state, homes have been put up for sale, glutting the market and depressing prices. Many of the migrants have been caught in the U.S. economic downturn and need the money to sustain themselves north of the border. Many are fearful of the violence and kidnapping that have shaken Zacatecas, as kidnappers and drug traffickers become increasingly bold and ruthless.

A story in today’s Reforma newspaper, out of Mexico City, quotes a government official in the town of Jerez as saying a third of the town’s properties are for sale.

When I visited Zacatecas several years ago, the mayor of Jerez said about 30,000 natives had moved to the U.S., leaving about an equal number behind in the town. They had become steadily more dependent on remittances. If you took the remittances out of Jerez, it would wreck the economy, the owner of one of the town’s many money transfer businesses told me.

As the U.S. economy has suffered, so has the economy of Jerez, where remittances have fallen drastically. Crime, especially kidnapping of residents who have relatives in the U.S., has also shaken the area.
. . .
Read More

Comments off

Corruption as Convention

In the midst of the debate over state-run health care comes news that blames the steady influx of immigrants for a rise in Medicare fraud.

A top investigator at the Department of Justice tells the Houston Chronicle, “There’s a real problem of health care fraud in recent immigrant communities—we see it every day,” the official said. “One of the reasons is you’re looking at people who don’t come up through the educational system, they’re impoverished, they think this country is very rich, and they don’t view taking advantage of a government program as a crime.”

The statistics on immigrant criminality are incomplete and unreliable, providing a muddled picture at best. But qualitative observation may lend credence to the DOJ official’s claim.

It has long been held, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, that America is exceptional. Our system of constitutional federalism predicated on the rule of law developed out of distinct social conditions and emerged as a unique alternative to the corrupt systems that have beset much of the world. We are heirs to a legacy of justice that guides our transactions and is backed by unparalleled legal protections. This legacy provides an expectation that governments will be restrained in their actions and private parties will honor their contractual agreements. While there are many instances in which our system falls short, this remains its core intent. Most peoples are not so fortunate.

Although the press has not reported the Houston Medicare fraud suspects’ nationality there is speculation that they are from Nigeria, a country rich in oil but “long hobbled by political instability” and “corruption.” It is not a stretch to suggest that state-sanctioned vice has always been a part of life for Nigerian immigrants. This brings to mind another oil-rich kleptocracy that accounts for 31 percent of our immigration: Mexico.

Fredo Arias-King, former advisor to Mexican President Vicente Fox, describes long-standing conditions in Mexico:

Mexicans are kind and hardworking, with a legendary hospitality, and unlike some European nations, harbor little popular ambitions to impose models or ideologies on others. However, Mexicans are seemingly unable to produce anything but corrupt and tyrannical rulers, oftentimes even accepting them as the norm, unaffected by allegations of graft or abuse. Mexico, and Latin American societies in general, seem to suffer from what an observer called “moral relativism,” accepting the “natural progress” of the political class rather than challenging it, and also appearing more susceptible to “miracle solutions” and demagogic political appeals. Mexican intellectuals speak of the corrosive effects of Mexican culture on the institutions needed to make democracy work, and surveys reveal that most of the population accepts and expects corruption from the political class. A sociological study conducted throughout the region found that Latin Americans are indeed highly susceptible to clientelismo, or partaking in patron-client relations, and that Mexico was high even by regional standards.

The expectation of corruption back home is why many Mexicans desire to come here. But ingrained prejudices are difficult to overcome. Even victims often imitate their oppressors. And thus it seems reasonable to surmise that the patron-client relationship, instilled for generations, is the lens in which some Mexicans view the state. Through such a lens, exploiting a federal subsidy is at worst a morally neutral activity necessary for survival.

Mr. Arias-King predicts that this phenomenon will slowly alter our institutions: “In the end, the result of mass Latin American immigration will not likely present the stark choice of democracy versus non-democracy for the United States, but the quality of democracy may indeed be affected.”
. . .
Read More

Comments off

Older Posts »