I'VE GENERALLY FAVORED OPEN IMMIGRATION, but I find myself feeling less and less that way in the face of mass rallies by illegal immigrants like this one.
Illegal immigrants as individuals just trying to make a better life are sympathetic. Illegal immigrants as a mass movement making demands on the polity are considerably less so.
I'm not the only one to get this impression, as Mickey Kaus's report on the rallies in Los Angeles indicates. I think that these marches just made passage of strict immigration laws much more likely.
I can sympathize with illegal immigrants who can't make it into the US through the front door so they sneak into the back door. What I can't sympathize with is their demand to have their illegality honored. And I think its pretty clear others do to. And in perspective the rallies over this weekend will have some major impact on the US political scene.... lets see who tries to go after this hay as Bill Bradley takes us back to a time in the 1990s which I can certainly see the validity of the comparison.
Last summer, I discussed this with one of those 1994 marchers who today spoke at the rally, then labor organizer/now California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.
"“I know I come from an advocacy background,” says Nuñez. “But I learned a lot about negotiation with Miguel (Contreras, the late Los Angeles labor chieftain) and the labor movement. It wasn’t all protest. You know when we had the big march in L.A. against [the anti-illegal immigrant] Proposition 187 in ’94, Miguel tried to talk me out of it. ‘Are you guys crazy?’ he said. But I wanted to march.”
"Nuñez acknowledges that the march, notoriously replete with Mexican flags (which he opposed), may have helped fuel 187’s landslide victory. “But it was the right thing to do. And we mobilized people who had felt powerless under attack,” he notes, arguing that it sowed the seeds for future victory."
So by this logic taking a big loss is better if you get a string of small victories from it? This seems to be the mindset of the folks behind the protests and that shows why we are going to have some problems.
Mickey Kaus however pulls this gem from the L.A Slimes which also puts elements of the big picture into focus.
Many of the marchers were immigrants themselves — both legal and illegal -- from Mexico and Central America. Some had just crossed the border ...
Michelle Malkin however pulls up some stuff I was listening to on C-Span yesterday on my sick bed.
It's a myth that the U.S. economy "needs" more poor immigrants. The illegal immigrants already here represent only about 4.9 percent of the labor force, the Pew Hispanic Center reports. In no major occupation are they a majority. They're 36 percent of insulation workers, 28 percent of drywall installers and 20 percent of cooks. They're drawn here by wage differences, not labor "shortages." In 2004, the median hourly wage in Mexico was $1.86, compared with $9 for Mexicans working in the United States, said Rakesh Kochhar of Pew. With high labor turnover in the jobs they take, most new illegal immigrants can get work by accepting wages slightly below prevailing levels.
First they aren't a majority. Even when you throw in legal immigrants they are not the majority. The presenter on C-Span said that during the Reagan Amnesty their was only a 5% increase in their pay so legal status wasn't that much of a factor.
President Bush says his guest worker program would "match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs." But at some higher wage, there would be willing Americans. The number of native high school dropouts with jobs declined by 1.3 million from 2000 to 2005, estimates Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors less immigration. Some lost jobs to immigrants. Unemployment remains high for some groups (9.3 percent for African Americans, 12.7 percent for white teenagers).
Center for Immigration studies does have an axe to grind. But I think their numbers on the job market problem for low skilled/no skilled/Low Education/No Education workers and how they've been impacted by illegal immigration have to at least be factored into the puzzle of how we are going to deal with this situation.
I think it is very clear though that these people aren't filling jobs no one is willing to take. So as such I think that right there defeats the entire logic of a guest worker program.