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Sara C. a student at a local high school had to write a school report about immigration.  She asked me to answer some questions for her so she could have both sides in her paper.  This is my reply:

Excellent questions.  I'll be happy to answer them for you via email.
1)        We have 12 1/2 percent unemployment in California.  Won’t open borders make it more difficult for American workers to find jobs?

"Open Borders" is an ethical imperative.  Peoples color, religion or place of birth should not determine the outcome of their lives. (Read More)

Tamar Jacoby who runs Immigration Works USA has published a very insightful op-ed in the LA Times .  In it she argues that if the federal government sues Arizona about SB 1070 they will polarize the country more about immigration and will decrease the chances of passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  She is right that if the administration wants to fix immigration they shouldn't sue.  But if they want to politicize the issue to energize their base then unfortunately suing is the right strategy. 

Dr Harry Binswager a leading Objectivist has written an excellent essay in "defense of phasing-in open immigration into the United States."

 He write in part: "An end to immigration quotas is demanded by the principle of individual rights. Every individual has rights as an individual, not as a member  this or that nation. One has rights not by virtue of being an American, but by virtue of being human."

You can read Dr Binswangers entire entire essay here

While arguing for the "right to migrate" as an ethical issue I have been disappointed by the lack of support from Libertarians.  


 In his immigration speech on Thursday President Obama should have said that it is time for America to decide. 


We cannot be both a beacon of freedom and opportunity to the world and an armed camp manning the barricades against all comers.  

As the immigration debate heats up again the ugly slogan "Which part of ILLEGAL don't you understand?" is being asked again.  My friend Gene B suggested the counter phrase: "Which part of FREEDOM don't you understand?" 

I had this exchange with an angry person.  I believe I lost my temper.

Marsha E. wrote "What part "of ILLEGAL do you NOT understand.?????
Most American are against ILLEGAL Immigration....not legal immigration.

With both Republicans and Democrats demagoging the immigration issue leading up to the 2010 midterm election it is becoming more and more likely that Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) will again fail to get out of Congress.  


A very good summary of the arguments for more immigration was posted by Philippe Legrain on his blog site.  Philippe is the author of Immigrants Your Country Needs Them. Reviewed here and available on Amazon.










An excerpt: "The immigration debate is about the choice between a closed, stagnant and reactionary society, and an open, dynamic and progressive one. And in economic terms, it can also bring big benefits."

The Bracero Program was a mid 20th century guest worker program.  The history of the program is the material for a fascinating touring exhibit organized by the Smithsonian.  The result was, as the subtitle of the exhibit explains, "a bittersweet harvest." 

I visited the exhibit at Cal State University Channel Islands .  And the wonderful details they presented made me think in depth about guest worker programs in general. 

The Bracero Program may have been the best guest worker program possible but it still was demeaning to the participants, fraught with corruption and caused some exploitation of workers.  On the other hand it gave millions of Mexican workers: jobs, money and a vision of another life. 


Our friends have betrayed us.”

Former Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas's December 1st comment sums up the progress made by the immigrants right movement in 2010. What Chief Venegas was talking about was not just the failure of the Dream Act it was the failure of the Obama administration to stop the deportations and their unwillingness to even propose comprehensive immigration reform. 


Fact:  Deportations were at an all time high in 2010.


Fact:  In 2010 Thirty Billion Dollars ($30,000,000,000) was spent on walls and border enforcement.


Fact:  During the 2008 Presidential campaign, then candidate Barack Obama promised to make immigration reform a top priority.   Yet in the last two years the administration has done nothing but talk, Nancy Pelosi didn’t allowed the house to debate or vote on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the Senate defeated the Dream Act.


Why was the Dream Act defeated in the Senate?  Because Harry Reid could not, or would not, deliver the Democrat Senators votes.  If all of the Democrat Senators had voted for the Dream Act it would have passed.  But five Democrat Senators voted no and one was absent.  On the other side of the aisle three New England Republicans voted in favor and that would have been enough to break the filibuster if the Democrats had delivered on their promise.


What are the prospects for immigration reform legislation in 2011?  It seems really bad but there are some glimmers of hope. It may be that the need for farm workers (AgJobs), the need for skilled workers (H-1Bs) concerns about internal security (National ID cards) and the unfairness of disenfranchising children (Dream Act) can be brought together to pass a comprehensive bill that solves some of the problems.  But none dare call it amnesty.


In the 111th Congress the House and the Senate both “betrayed” the Hispanic and pro-immigrant voters.  Their reasoning was a combination of cynicism and political calculation.  Cynically they might have felt that Hispanic voters don’t have anywhere else to go.  The political calculation was that voting for CIR would alienate more conservative voters than it would gain Hispanic voters.  In todays political climate they are probably right. 


There is one politician however for whom this calculation doesn’t work.  President Obama was elected in 2008 in large part because Hispanic voters turned out in record numbers and voted for Democrats.  If he wants to be reelected in 2012 he has a political reason to keep Hispanic voters an active part of his coalition.  His administration has already shown a willingness to use it regulatory authority to accomplish what it can’t get legislatively.  The EPA’s threat to regulate carbon emissions is one example.  The Obama administration if pressured can implement via regulation a pro-immigrant agenda that will take much of the pressure of our poor and poorly documented underclass. 


First they can dramatically decrease the deportations.  They can close most of the detention centers.  The Justice Department can stop working cooperatively with local police forces to identify and deport immigrants.  They can stop I-9 audits which have the same effect as workplace raids.


President Obama can slow the construction of the wall for environmental and Native American humanitarian reasons.  He can spend much more time visiting and working cooperatively with Mexican authorities to allow a freer flow of people and goods across the border.  He can allow the use of matricula consular cards for federal business. 


Why would he do any of this?  Because we can put pressure on him and he wants to be re-elected.  When Chief Venegas said "Our friends have betrayed us" he stated a fact as he saw it.  There is still time for our friends to help us so we can help them.  

According to the Pew Hispanic Center the number of undocumented people in the United States was the same in 2010 as it was in 2009.  So our border is secure.  "Border Security" was the prerequisite John McCain had for opposing Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) in 2008 and 2009.  Maybe now he will flop back to supporting CIR and we can get it passed in this congress.  Could he claim victory and champion CIR like he did in 2007 and win the Presidency?


The story in the Wall Street Journal

The story at the Pew Hispanic Trust