At Outside the Beltway James Joyner remarks on the incoming Biden Administration’s plan to extend a path to citizenship for every immigrant, whether legal or not:

The plan would effectively amount to amnesty for everyone who broke our immigration laws to get here, unless they can be proven to have broken other laws (in which case one presumes they would just remain in the shadows rather than apply for legal status). That would, yet again, be a slap in the face to those who waited years to get here legally but may beat the alternatives, given the logistics of rounding up and deporting tens of millions of illegal immigrants.

That is an example of the tertium non datur fallacy. There are other possibilities than legalizing everyone and instant enforcement.

IMO what we really need are immigration laws that resemble those of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—countries that we resemble in a variety of ways. They are neither authoritarian or socialist hellholes but they restrict immigration strictly at least in part by making it difficult for those in their countries illegally to find work. Workplace enforcement is the key to controlling immigration and the Trump Administration’s reluctance to implement it called its sincerity about controlling immigration into question.

Wage growth among non-skilled or low-skilled workers has been slow to non-existent for decades. The main effect of increasing the immigration of non-skilled or low-skilled workers is to apply wage pressure to previous immigrants and to blacks. I believe that is a perverse objective.

Supporters of immigration amnesty programs should recall that after the last such program during the Reagan Administration only a minority of illegal immigrants in the country sought citizenship and a substantial increase in the number of illegal immigrants soon followed. Whether that was intentional or unforeseen we should be aware of the perverse consequences.

15 comments… add one
  • Drew Link

    “That is an example of the tertium non datur fallacy.”

    Yeah, and he only considered two alternatives, too. We are about to install a president who is going to open the immigration spigot. And the low wage earners won’t even know what hit them.

    We have the right to say who immigrates. They should come with skills and attitudes that further the cause, and not just be warm bodies. Wages would take care of themselves.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    “Wage growth among non-skilled or low-skilled workers has been slow to non-existent for decades.”

    That you can document. You remember the first Clinton Administration’s cabinet scandal involving illegal domestic help.
    I don’t think that has changed except for placing subcontractors in between the property owner and the illegal worker.
    Over the last five years here in town Allo communications has been laying fiber optic cable covering the entire city underground.
    They go under the sidewalks and streets with horizontal boring machines but every 30 feet a five foot deep hole must be dug with a small shovel.
    There are NO white or black men in those holes.
    Now all of those small brown men may be here legally , and pigs may someday fly overhead. But you’re right. Workplace enforcement.
    Why don’t they do it? What are the actual reasons?

  • PD Shaw Link

    Seems like Biden’s splashing some blood into the legislature to coax a Republican intraparty revolt.

  • steve Link

    Its an open secret that a lot of the meat packing plants are staffed with illegals. When we visit the relatives in Iowa where they have a meat packing plant most of the restaurants and bakeries are Hispanic. Yet they never get cracked down on. So you know I totally agree that we ned work place enforcement. As long as the work is there people will keep coming some way. Cut that off.

    I also favor something more like what Canada does. Skills, education or some criteria that makes it more likely they can work. I would also favor more legal work visas so that people who want to come here and pick fruit or other seasonal work can do that. Not many Americans want to do that.

    PD- Looks like it. Not sure they need lots of help though.


  • Grey Shambler Link

    And Biden’s words are heard far and wide throughout Central America. Shame on him for encouraging them to uproot their lives and head north to possibly be homeless in Mexico. But he’s going to make room for one and all, right?
    What better way to lose the House in two years.
    I really wish Obama were as intelligent as people give him credit for, because he now has four more years to scramble things up with wishful thinking, platitudes and naked ambition.

  • I also favor something more like what Canada does. Skills, education or some criteria that makes it more likely they can work.

    The math that we’re using is almost completely wrong. Immigrant workers are people not work-units. They have children, relatives, the whole lot.

    If you assume that each immigrant couple with high school education or less has three children (a slight underestimate) that means that the cost they will impose on state and local governments will be $10,000 or more per child from age 6-18. Add amounts for roads, sewers, fire, and security and they would need to be paying $40,000-$60,000 a year in state and local taxes. Otherwise they’ll be a net burden.

    That would mean a gross family income in the top 10% of income earners. I don’t believe there are a lot of such families.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    Can’t figure out why Trump didn’t do something as basic as a tax on remittances . Some complications I’m not aware of?

  • steve Link

    Second generation are almost all born in the US and in the economic arena function just as well as non-immigrants. That is without any real screening. If we add that in I would expect them to perform better.


  • Second generation are almost all born in the US and in the economic arena function just as well as non-immigrants.

    Are you familiar with the expressions “damning with faint praise”? One of our problems is that too many non-immigrants aren’t “performing” as well as immigrants with a college education.

    However, I DO support DACA or something of the sort. All I insist on is that whatever standards are established—stick to them.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    I hope you aren’t one of those people who, like Barrak Obama, simply don’t like native born Americans and prefer immigrants because immigrants are temporarily the underdogs in life.
    Remember the lesson of the Hutus and the Tutsis who changed oppressor and oppressed status in a matter of months.

  • steve Link

    My wife is a native born American. So are my kids and most of my friends. Why would I possibly not like them? Said above that I would favor a skills or education based approach to immigration. But then I say one positive thing about immigrants, and there are a lot of good things to say, and all of a sudden I dont like native born Americans? What is it with you people?

    So I promise to not do this a whole lot, but let’s just imagine that Trump floated a really radical proposal like this, mind you AFAICT it is not in written legislation yet. I would hear all of this crap about “Art of the Deal” and how he is making a maximalist proposal just to own the libs or so that he can compromise down to get what he really wants. Think it is fine to go ahead and analyze and argue about the proposal, but it isn’t the end of the world as we dont really know what gets proposed yet and we also know it can be filibustered. Maybe i should say will be.


  • Andy Link

    This doesn’t really look like an immigration plan, it looks like a portion of an immigration plan. The third rail that neither party wants to deal with is the combo of workplace enforcement and rationalizing the rules and process for who can legally come here.

    Appropos of the new post on Krugman and the $15 federal minimum wage, most who support that plus lots of immigration don’t seem to realize the bad synergies of these two policies when put together.

  • TastyBits Link

    Applying to James Joyner or soon-to-be President Joe Biden? Are you implying that James is having ‘buyer’s remorse’, or is President-elect Joe Biden not as progressive as he claimed? I have noticed several #NeverTrumpers in disagreement with the progressive agenda. “You gets what you pay for.”

    Poor Indonesians illegal immigrants are not a problem for Australia & New Zealand due to geography, and with the US as a buffer zone, Canada is similar. Because the poor Irish arrived on ocean liners, they could be processed in an orderly manner.

    These newly minted Hispanic voters are more likely to agree with a right agenda, but if they are only courted by the left, they will vote left. Rather than pissing and moaning, the right should get to work.

  • Grey Shambler Link

    What is it with you people?

    WE are all clones, taking our talking points from Fox and Q. We’re fearful nativists, racists, can’t wrap our minds around the cartels being people just like us. Aging, useless pasty white , worn down leftovers from yesteryear who fear black rule. Hearing, eyesight and youth flagging, we draw the curtains in our hovels and view the dangerous world coming for us on the T-V. We vote for leaders who at least mouth our interests, not those who boldly state their first priority to be immigrants and muslims, I believe because every white person Biden knows or feels is worth knowing has financial security. His is a skewed view of America.
    Skewed by 80 years of wealth and security.
    Poor Guatemalans are more deserving than poor Appalachians. They had their chance. Guatemalans are fleeing crime and violence, they’ll never bring that culture here. Muslims only want a chance to live out their faith among Christians, no chance of harm there.
    We are deplorables, voting our own interests.
    You are the financial elite, feeling the warm glow of generosity towards the brown and black children of the earth.
    Ah,, melanin, Ah,, endorphins.

  • steve Link

    Such a drama queen. I said that I favor skills or education based immigration and that there are some good things about immigrants. From that you get that I prefer brown and black children and Guatemalans over Appalachia. Somehow I dont like real Americans Wow! Drama queen AND a vivid imagination. You are perfectly demonstrating the need of so many people to se everything in complete extremes.

    ” I believe because every white person Biden knows or feels is worth knowing has financial security. His is a skewed view of America…You are the financial elite”

    From a Trump supporter. This is pathetic.


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