Fuss in Washington notwithstanding, there's an easy way to reduce illegal immigration. It doesn't involve building fences or spending hundreds of billions to create an intrusive bureaucracy to hunt down illegals one by one and deport them. Just introduce a fraud-proof national ID card with biometric information; make it illegal, with real penalties, for employers to hire anyone, citizen or immigrant, who doesn't have one.There are three major pieces required for effective immigration control: 1) Physical barriers to entry, including walls, BP agents, surveillance, sensors, etc, 2) Stringent punitions--strictly enforced--for being in the US illegally (making it felonious), and 3) Workplace enforcement through the use of a tamper-proof identification card (Jenkins' suggestion) or employer access to a Social Security number database in which the prospective employee's number must match up (this can easily be done--try applying for a home loan with a credit score in the 400s or requesting a low-rate MasterCard after declaring Chapter 13). Taken alone, any of the three would have an enormous effect. Enacted together, the US would become virtually impervious to unwanted immigration. Jenkins makes sense thus far.
But then he becomes blithely sloppy:
With 12 million illegals in the country, whole sectors of our economy exist only because of immigrant labor. Farms would shut down along with jobs for suppliers of seeds, packaging and ancillary services.Illegals comprise 5% of the US workforce. They are most heavily represented in agricultural (one in four), and also make up relatively significant portion of cleaning services (one in six) and construction (one in seven). No sector is primarily dependent on subsidized foreign labor. The agricultural industry certiainly enjoys the dual subsidization it receives in the form of obsequious serfs that are a net liability on the US taxpayer as a complement to the $25 billion or so it gets in handouts from the government, but in an industry that made an estimated profit of $64.4 billion in 2005, a net loss from illegal immigration of $5 billion would hardly force all of our seed planters onto the streets.
The idea that jobs requiring the least amount of skill will ever go unfilled in a free economy is ridiculous. As the need for workers increases, the price paid to workers must also increase to the point where demand for the work by the workers matches the needs employers have for workers. The potential supply of warm bodies is enormous, as nearly everyone in the US workforce at large can do the jobs that illegals are over-representatively doing. Will teenagers and unskilled natives (both of whom have suffered from cheap immigrant labor) clean houses for $5 an hour? Many probably will not. For $7 an hour? $10? Many will. At some price, these positions will be filled. If that price is too steep for employers, then incentives exists to develop more efficient ways of getting the work done. The lawns get cut in Minnesota. Houses are built in Wisconsin. In fact, weather aside, those are two of the nicest places in the country to live--strong test scores, little crime, and a nice standard of living both. Innovation, not cost-cutting, of course, is what propels long-term economic growth.
The only stop on the supply of workers stems from the wages offered. That is, at current prices an adequate supply of workers depends on the use of illegals. For the WSJ, of all sources, to make such an absurd argument that omits this and in doing so disregards basic supply and demand is startling.
Jenkins engages in what might be seen as self-projection:
Armchair wonks say, "[Do not?] Enforce the law and damn the consequences." Every time the government does, however, a few of those couch warriors suddenly become vocal activists on the other side. It's their employer, their brother-in-law, their neighbor who finds himself facing criminal charges. It's their house that doesn't get finished. Don't be surprised if some of the latest politically inspired crackdowns end the same way.The sovereignty crowd puts no thought into the consequences?! Senator Jeff Sessions was personally impugned for actually reading the recent Senate immigraton bill before voting on it and raising questions over what its effects would be on the country. The CIS conducts meticulous analyses on the economics of immigration. VDare and a host of other analysts, pundits, and amateurs cover the whole gamut of effects current immigration trends are having on the US--depressed wages, higher crime, the return of atavistic disease, lower IQs, higher welfare use, greater income disparity, decreasing affordability of housing, cultural balkanization, an increase in anti-Semitic sentiment, pollution, national security concerns, increased population density, ad infinitum.
The burden of proof should be on those supporting open borders, not those opposed to it, yet Randall Parker, who has a day profession unrelated to the immigration debate and doesn't get compensation for his copious writing, has spent more time looking at the consequences of immigration than the entire WSJ op/ed staff. Jenkins' haughty assertion that the pro-sovereignty crowd is comprised of a bunch of hypocrites who don't know what they're advocating is insulting and shameful, but most of all it is hypocritical.
Jenkins' defines those who are concerned about the well-being of less endowed American citizens as "liberals":
In search of a respectable argument, liberal enthusiasts for a border clampdown have lately adopted the obnoxious and condescending reification of "unskilled labor" popularized by some economists. It may be true in some sense that illegals hold down the wages of low-wage workers, but it tells you nothing useful. It tells you only that the supply of immigrant workers has an impact on the wages of mostly immigrant workers for jobs that mostly would not exist if immigrant workers weren't available to fill them.It may be true? On the very same pages economist George Borjas showed that it was true. Jenkins again posits that there are segments of the economy almost wholly dependent on illegal labor that would disappear with the illegals. On the day of the immigration protest strike last month, the jobs that would need filling if immigration laws were enforced were revealed:
Our economic dynamism is hardly being fueled by this:Jenkins continues:Of the hotel industry's 1.5 million employees, 150,000 aren't supposed to be here, according to statistics gathered by the Pew Hispanic Center. In food manufacturing, also with 1.5 million, 210,000 have no right to work. Landscaping, Mr. Penry's line, has 1.2 million workers, 300,000 of them illegally in the country.Virtually every third-world country has these industries. They do not add to America's global competitiveness. The less endowed natives our elites are spitting on can do all of these jobs. We have youths to do them as well.
In turn, a decently functioning job market rewards people for acquiring skills, not for remaining unskilled -- perverse is the idea of wanting to reduce labor competition for unskilled jobs in order to make unskilled jobs more desirable.Except that such a statement applies only to those already in the economy. Acquiring skills and using them in Mexico is less lucrative than coming to the US and working as an unskilled laborer. Minimum wage work alone in the US provides more buying power than the average Mexican citizen enjoys (including aid, remittances, and other income that is not the result of the recipient's labor). And as every good practitioner of the PC religion feigns to believe, Jenkins assumes that the ability to acquire skills that the market puts a premium on are equally achievable for all people. Nevermind that four generations in Mexicans are nowhere near the rest of the American population in educational achievement (twice as likely not to have graduated from high school and only one-fifth as likely to have a post-high school degree). Nevermind that Mexicans in the US have a high school graduation rate falling under 30%. Nevermind that America's working poor have double-digit IQs that make it nearly impossible for them to acquire professional skills or manage complex businesses.
Jenkins explicitly advocates an open border:
So how about just open the door to anyone willing to put down a refundable entry deposit (say, $2,000) in return for a biometric work card? At a stroke, this would take the profit out of a vast underground industry. Chinese "snakeheads" cadge upwards of $40,000 per illegal immigrant. Latin "coyotes" get $2,000 or more. Not to mention the sizeable business done by document forgers and traffickers in stolen Social Security numbers.How about we legalize all drug use? It'll take the profit out of a vast underground industry. Remove laws on child sex exploitation and pornography? It'll do the same. Inanity. If they get a biometric card but refuse to work, will we absorb them anyway? If as many as 1.5 billion people worldwide would potentially come to the US if doing so were so simple (and that number would drop off drastically as the US precipitously plunged to third world status), an end to immigration will be realized when equilibrium is reached--that is, when the US comes to resemble the world at large. Do we want this kind of equity? An average IQ of 90? A life expectancy of 64 years? A literacy rate of 82%? A per capita purchasing power of under $10,000? And he doesn't even consider the qualitative factors like cultural and linguistic unity.
Jenkins closes by opining that the Senate knows better than the American public, that the future of the US is in its Spanish speakers, and, because it wouldn't be an open border op/ed without reference to Hitler, that the only way for the US to remain a nation is for it to do everything that the anti-nationalists favor:
Polls say Americans want immigration cut down and they don't want amnesty for illegals, yet the Senate just passed an immigration reform that would increase immigration and proffer amnesty. The system works! -- at least it works better than it did when Congress jumped off a cliff with the Volstead Act, knowing that though Americans liked the idea of liquor prohibition, they'd end up hating the consequences.Guys like Jenkins are not on your side. They do not care how you suffer, so long as they feel morally superior in giving didactic lectures based on one falsity after another while the big MNCs they back enjoy the slave labor you pay for.
This doesn't please the border warriors, but they're spitting into the wind. In his table talk, a certain German dictator observed that religions have far more stability than states, which tend to come and go, swept away by the tides of history. The U.S., a young nation but already one of the world's longest-lived political states, has a chance to beat the odds thanks to our freedom from any of the usual fatal exclusivisms. But it will have to accept that it exists on a continent whose fastest-growing cultural force is Spanish speakers.