John Tanton Story in the NYT

We've written about John Taton before here at MoE, but now the mainstream press is finally weighing in, finally!  The New York Times ran this story on Taton last week.  Here's an excerpt:

One group that Dr. Tanton nurtured,Numbers USA, doomed President George W. Bush’s legalization plan four years ago by overwhelming Congress with protest calls. Another, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, helped draft the Arizona law last year to give the police new power to identify and detain illegal immigrants.

A third organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, joined the others in December in defeating the Dream Act, which sought to legalize some people brought to the United States illegally as children.

Rarely has one person done so much to structure a major cause, or done it so far from the public eye. Dr. Tanton has raised millions of dollars, groomed protégés and bequeathed institutions, all while running an ophthalmology practice nearly 800 miles from Capitol Hill.

“He is the most influential unknown man in America,” said Linda Chavez, a former aide to President Ronald Reagan who once led a Tanton group that promoted English-only laws.

I encourage you to read the article, then read the MoE post about some of the crooked people Tanton deals with.  The anti-immigration movement is this country is riddled with hate and racism and it needs to stop.

Amazing Photo of Border Fence…

…between California and Tijuana, Mexico here.

A Response to a Friend on Facebook

It's very difficult for me to get into debates about immigration.  It's a very important issue to me and I get quite emotional when I think Americans are okay with violating individual rights.  It also makes me quite mad at our government and the fact that they've been able to divert the blame from them and onto poor immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families. 

This past week, there was a heated exchange on my Facebook page with someone I respect.  After settling down a bit, I wrote the following response to him and I hope it encourages him to rethink some of his opinions on the matter.  I've edited a few things to protect his identity.

Hi, [friend]!  Glad to hear from you! =)

About the "hating on immigrants"'s an expression.  I didn't say you hate immigrants, literally.  To "hate on" something is to criticize it.  It's slang in pop culture.  I didn't mean to imply that you wish all immigrants were dead, as in you hate them.  I do not believe you think that.  My apologies for the confusion.

"They are lawbreaking looters to me and I want them all gone. Nationality is not the issue, it’s those coming here just to suck off the productive that are the issue."

This is an example of my use of "hating on" immigrants.  All immigrants are not law-breaking looters.  That's factually inaccurate and a really bad stereotype to promote.  I suggest you read Racism by Ayn Rand in The Virtue of Selfishness.  That essay really helped me rethink some bad thinking on my part.  Her take on why stereotypes are harmful is really good.  We must judge individuals on their merits, not by groups we put them in.

[Someone I know] immigrated to [the USA] illegally back in the 70s because he HAD to to survive.  Once here, he started a family and worked hard as a janitor.  He paid all of his taxes, like many illegal immigrants, by using a false social security number.  That means he will never receive credit for those benefits he paid, such as social security checks in retirement.  Essentially, he helped prop up our social security system.  (I can't help but wonder if social security wouldn't have already gone bust by now if it weren't for all the immigrants propping it up. ???) 

Anyway, he learned English and [worked his way up in the company where he started as a janitor.]  His children speak English (and speak no Spanish to their detriment) and are highly educated.  [One of his adult children is now] in the process of getting a PhD.

In the 80s, he was finally able to go through the process of becoming legal, which he did.  He, his wife and his two children are as American as you and I.  They all pay taxes, they are all productive members of society and none have ever been on welfare. 

They are not alone.  If you watch the documentary I linked to [Wetback by National Geographic], you will see the same hopes and dreams of the other immigrants.  Watching one of them read a Spanish to English dictionary on a bus nearly brought tears to my eyes, thinking about all the white Americans who claim that they refuse to learn English.  It's just not true.

"As a landowner I believe I have the total right to choose who can and can't be on my property, and to me a country has the same rights."

You do have the right to choose about your property, but not the property of others.  And the country is not some collective group of public property.  You can't have both.  And what a slippery slope to go down!  You have no claim what others do on their property as long as they're not violating your property rights. 

The US govt has an obligation to protect our rights, but that is all.  They do not have the right to keep employers from hiring who they see fit and they do not have the right to keep men from accepting employment, which is what the immigration laws in this country precisely do.

"Still, I am willing to let many move here, but not at my expense. Since there are numerical limits, I only want to take the best. The doctors, engineers, etc."

Why are there numerical limits?  Have you been in a plane lately?  America has plenty of room and resources for all.  Especially if the government would quit throttling the growth of the economy.  That's the beauty of will expand as much as we want it to.   

There are plenty of jobs for these people too, otherwise they wouldn't be coming.  (As evidenced by the reversal of the flow from the US to Mexico in 2008 when our economy tanked and there were no jobs for them.)

"I am 53 and have worked so hard and saved so hard to be able to retire on my terms. The more illegal’s here, the less I get to keep of my productive effort."

To the former, I understand and I have too!  That's why I want to fight the real enemy...our awful government.  I refuse to take an unprincipled and pragmatic approach to this.  I refuse to blame hard-working individuals for the awful welfare state that more American citizens, by far, use.  (And without any immigrants, we'd be going bankrupt anyway!)

To the latter, that's just factually untrue and I contend that you'd have even less for retirement had it not been for immigrants working low-paying jobs.  Immigrants make staying in hotels (vacations and business trips) more affordable, they make the foods we eat more affordable, they make the electronics we buy more affordable, they make the food we eat at restaurants more affordable.  If all of those things cost me more, my life would not be nearly as productive, happy or successful as it is today.

I hope you will think on these things more, read that essay and check out that documentary.  Even if you still disagree after all of that, at least you'll know you explored all sides of the issue and tried to give capitalism the chance it deserves.

UAFA Introduced Again - Contact Your Rep to Support It!

An opportunity for activism from my friend...

Hey Kelly, thought you might like to mention this on Mother of Exiles. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) has been introduced again. This act, if turned into law, will ensure same-sex couples can sponsor their partners for immigration purposes, the same way heterosexual couples can, without the need of a legal marriage. If this were to get approved, it'd be a step in the right direction. Right now it is very important that people write to their representatives concerning support for this bill, it has been introduced to the house almost every year for ten years.

I just sent a note to my representative.  Please do the same for yours!

Quote About Immigration

Uncertainty and fear and ignorance about immigrants, about people who are different, has a history as old as our Nation.
Luis Gutierrez

Immigration and Global Competitiveness

At Mother of Exiles, we frequently focus on the subject of low-skilled immigrant labor due to the fact that they are the most talked-about immigrant group; however, it is far from the only immigration issue. America's broken immigration policy doesn't just keep hard-working, low-skilled laborers out, it also keeps many high-skilled workers out of the country. Unlike laborers from south of the border, these people cannot fly under the radar and so their economic benefit is largely unfelt.

The problem is detailed in this article:

Nations that are more accepting of and better at integrating new immigrants have a higher level of economic growth and development. The MIPEX is closely correlated to a common measure of economic development -- the level of GDP per capita.

The short of it is, nations prosper when they are more open to immigration.  Those who are not flounder. America is far from the worst country in that regard, but there remains substantial room for improvement. The more open we are to those who wish to come here and work to prosper, the better off we all will be.

Quote About Immigration

They decided to let immigrants in and I am an immigrant. They gave us a chance to participate in this country's life and I took it.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Personal Story from Pablo Romero

My dear friend, Pablo, send me the following story via Facebook while traveling with is family in Memphis, Tennessee. Pablo and his family are from Ecuador.

I thought you might find this interesting: My father just told me about a relative of his, William Burnham, who apparently stowed away on a boat from Ecuador and into the US as an illegal immigrant. During World War II he enlisted in the army after Pearl Harbor, and was sent off to fight--though my father can't recall where exactly he was stationed. He received a serious injury, but while injured he was able to carry one of his squad mates on his shoulder (said squad mate had been seriously injured as well and was in worse shape) all the way to safety. For that he was awarded what my father calls a "medal for valor" (medalla al valor) which I can only assume means a Purple Heart. During the awarding of the medal it was discovered that he was not, in fact, a legal US citizen and he was given the opportunity to become one. He eventually married, as my father recalls, a detective from a police department (I think it was Long Beach, but my father doesn't quite recall) and lived out their lives in California.

Purple Hearts are awarded to those who have been killed or injured while serving in the US Armed Forces, but it sounds like Pablo's relative more likely received some other sort of distinguished service medal.  Either way, how awesome is it that we live in a country where those who have only recently arrived and are not even considered citizens, are willing to fight and die for the principles and freedoms this country was founded on? 

Keepers of the American Dream

Here is a fun little website, Keepers of the American Dream. It has stories about immigrants, like this:

"Two years ago, I bought a house where I now live. One month after I purchased the house, there was a strong thunderstorm and the roof started to leak. The man who lives across the street from me, a Mexican, is a roofer. It was Saturday afternoon and I did not know what to do so I went over to his house and asked him (in Spanish) for advice. He was watching soccer on Univision. He had his snacks and a bottle of beer next to his seat (Dos XX). He was comfortable and enjoying his day off. But he came over to my house to see what to do. He climbed up under the roof and came down. He went home and came back with some material. He spent about 2 hours up in the attic and fixed my roof. When I asked him what I owed him, he was shocked. He said "Eres mi vecino. No quiero dinero. Eres mi amigo." I told him that I should at least pay for the materials he used. He only laughed and said that it was all right. So enough for people saying that Mexicans only come here to get social security and use us!"

"Eres mi vecino. No quiero dinero. Eres mi amigo" translates to, "You're my neighbor. I do not want money. You're my friend."

Go check it out. It's a good website.

Georgia Lawmakers Take a Step Back

The Georgia legislature has passed another set of job-killing, rights-violating laws:
Of particular concern to Georgia businesses is a requirement to use the federal E-Verify program. That program helps companies confirm whether their new hires are eligible to work in the United States. Some business owners say it will create red tape that will cost them time and money.
"We’re coming out of [a] recession, and businesses are doing all they can do right now to stay afloat," said Jann Moore, senior director of public policy and education for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. "To turn around and put the responsibility of another policy on business is the wrong thing to do. The timing could not be worse."
Other Georgia business boosters said lawmakers in a final day compromise had addressed some of their concerns. The legislation, for example, now exempts businesses with 10 or fewer employees from the requirement to use E-Verify."

So the companies who would be least impacted by the legislation (tiny ones who have only a handful of employees) are exempt. The companies for whom this will be the biggest headache and have the biggest potential impact on their bottom line (those with many employees who are constantly be hired or leaving the company for various reasons), will just have to deal with it.

On the national level, I was very disappointed to find that Republicans only cut a few million from the budget. It shows me that they are not serious about cutting the deficit. State laws passed by Republicans, like this one in Georgia, show me that they aren't serious about letting the economy grow either.

Immigration (Legal or Otherwise) Does Not Drive Down Wages

This post is the first part of a series to debunk the myths that have arisen around the immigration debate. Today's fiction is that we must keep immigration numbers low and deport those who come here illegally because to allow them in drives down wages, and that these immigrants also "steal our jobs."

Conservatives are (or should be) familiar with the arguments against the minimum wage. Here are a couple helpful links:

Stossel: minimum wage hurts the poor.

Joint Congressional Economic Committee Report on the Minimum Wage

The short of it is, raising minimum wage kills new job growth and forces layoffs, then individuals with jobs are left to work harder, trying to do the work of more than one person. This is a solid argument against having any minimum wage. Artificially high wages destroy jobs, slow growth and are generally disruptive to businesses and the economy.

But the minimum wage is not the only way to create artificially high wages. Union-controlled industries often drive wage scales up. For example, some American car companies add $1,600 to the cost of every vehicle just to pay for their union retirees' health and pensions. This has kept the auto industry shrinking, and even worse, costs the individuals who choose to buy one of these vehicles thousands of dollars more in unnecessary support to the privileged union workers.

How does this relate to immigration? Proving they have no real grasp of economics, Conservative leaders constantly tell us about the evils of unions and how detrimental it is to raise the minimum wage; however, they do not tell their listeners and constituents that the same economic principles apply to immigration. When conservatives gleefully tell you that your wages will go up if we slow immigration, they fail to mention the other side of the story.

Imagine you're one of these "American workers" for whom the Conservatives toil endlessly to protect from the evil Latinos, who come here and make you poor. Imagine the Conservatives got their way and there was strict immigration control. Now, as a construction worker, your wages go up by a few dollars an hour. But when you go to spend those dollars, you realize that those dollars will buy you less.

Produce prices go up noticeably. You thought that with your wage increase you could afford to hire people to talk care of your lawn, but their prices have all gone up considerably. That leaky roof of yours may have to be put off another month or two or more. Many small, local businesses shut their doors, putting not just unskilled workers but managers, administrators, secretaries and owners out of work. The cost of dining out increases dramatically. The growth of the companies that survive slows considerably.

You  get the picture. For every job whose wages go up, you have a corresponding economic impact that effects everyone. Businesses may not be able to offer services cheap enough to stay competitive. Those that can, must raise their prices, meaning more wealth from the nation is spent on those things - meaning less is spent on others. The effects reverberate across the economy in a very negative way.

So, to Conservatives out there: are you serious about wanting the economy put back on track, or are you serious about keeping brown people out?

Quote About Immigration

Because the truth is, today's immigrants, as they have for generation after generation, work the longest hours at the hardest jobs for the lowest pay, jobs that are just about impossible to fill.
Luis Gutierrez

Quote About Immigration

It almost seems that nobody can hate America as much as native Americans. America needs new immigrants to love and cherish it.
Eric Hoffer