Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We Need This Bill

The immigration and border security compromise working its way through Congress is deeply flawed... but that still makes it far better than the current system, which has broken entirely. We need this bill. As Sen. Harry Reid put it, the new bill would allow us to, "refocus our limited resources on those who would do us harm, rather than those who would do us proud." There are three big components to the bill:

(1) Z-Visas. The "Z-Visa" would grant legal status to those here illegally since 1 Jan 2007. These would not be granted until certain border security benchmarks are met, and applicants would have to pass a background check and pay a $1000 fine. In time, those with a Z-Visa could apply for permanent residency ("Green Card"), although not until all current applicants have been reviewed (Z-visas go to the back of the line). This is the so-called "Amnesty" provision.

(2) Guest Workers. The "Guest Worker" program that would permit about 200,000 workers per year (reduced from 600,000 in the original bill) to come for a two-year period. After a one-year wait, another two-year visa would be granted. None after that. This is the provision that the unions don't like.

(3) Point-Based Evaluation. Under the current system, applicants for permanent residency can file based on family ties or an employer's affidavit. These would now be combined into one system that allows applicants to accrue "points" based on family , education, employment, etc. Such a system would make it harder to bring in more distant relatives and would make it easier for people to apply on their own. This is the provision that Hillary Clinton and others are trying to water down.

I approve of the Z-Visas because we need a realistic way to deal with the current security hazard posed by so many millions of people living outside the law. I approve of the point-based evaluation system because the current one is fossilized and almost any update would be an improvement.

The deepest flaw in the bill is its failure to deal adequately with the problem of future illegal immigration. The "guest worker" program is too small and too limited, and furthermore the very idea of it violates a basic American promise: that all those who come here (legally) are fully welcome, and should put down roots and invest in their community. Still, it will reduce the illegal immigration somewhat, and may be amended in the future.

The real solution to the whole problem is just to lift the caps, end the quotas, and issue a lot more visas and green cards to those who want to live and work here. But as always, the ultra-nationalists want to burn the welcome mat as soon as they enter the golden door.


Dead Parrot said...

The biggest flaw in the bill (among several) is that it only addresses the part of the immigration problem above the border. I don't hear anywhere on Capitol Hill a discussion on how to create more opportunity in Mexico and Central America so that people don't want to cross the border. In conjunction with a new immigration law, we need to put diplomatic and economic pressure on the Mexican government to take care of its people. The standard of living in parts of Mexico is that of a 3rd world country. I don't think that any US law can materially reduce illegal immigration from Mexico unless we (or the corrupt Mexican government) can improve the subsistence living conditions south of the border.

Raised By Republicans said...

NAFTA and free trade is changing Mexico rapidly. This transition is resulting in a spike in emmigration from those regions most effected.

It's interesting that our friend Dead Parrot says that "standard of living in parts of Mexico is that of a 3rd World country." 20 years ago it would have been the entire country.

Dead Parrot is right that we should give carefull attention to what's going on with the supply side of the this migration issue. But that part of the equation will take a long long time. Mexico has come a long way in just one generation. But it may take a generation or two more before Mexico looks like Canada with warmer weather.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The Z-visa thing is amnesty. I don't see the confusion in this. Every illegal immigrant here legally will be given the right to stay here and work. That's all they ever wanted. Path to citizenship? That's not really what most of the illegals are after. In 1986, the "amnesty" bill only granted amnesty to those who could prove they had been here already since 1982. I would have no problem with such a provision today in the Z-visa category, but it's for everyone who was here as recently as just 5 months ago. How hard will it be to hop across the border tomorrow, gin up a couple of docs from 2006, and get the Z-visa? Not hard at all.

This bill "cleans up" the illegal immigration problem by fiat, making them all legal. It will do squat to discourage future illegal immigration. So, in 20 years, we will be looking down the barrel of another amnesty.

I support the idea of amnesty, but only if we really figure out how to prevent the re-growth of an illegal underclass.

Dr. Strangelove said...

To understand why a "Z Visa" is not exactly amnesty, you need to consider the question: what is the proper punishment for living and working in the U.S. illegally?

If you assume the punishment is exile (deportation), then obviously the new law would not do that to those who arrived here before 1 Jan 2007. But there are other punishments less draconian than deportation--such as fines and being put at the back of the line for future dealings with the INS--that are not at all trivial for people living paycheck to paycheck.

More than a few immigrant advocates argue that the penalties associated with a Z Visa are in practical terms so high that millions of illegal immigrants will not go through with it--they would rather risk staying here illegally. To them, it looks nothing like amnesty.

It is not a path to citizenship so much as a path to permanent legal residency that they seek: they seek security in their personal lives. And the truth is that the Z Visa provides only a little security--more than they have, but less than anyone would desire. Indeed, many will be reluctant to sign up for such a half-measure out of fear that the government will at some later date revoke all the visas, round up everyone who applied, and deport them all en masse. That is a real fear I have heard from people who might be affected.

USWest said...

In addition to all of this, INS has increased many fees associated with takign on legal status. It was reported this morning that the cost of citizenship is going to increase by up to 60%.

The cost of bringing over a future spouse will now cost $455, up from $170. A green card will now go from $325 to $930. Usually to get a green card, there is the need for an attorney, which can run into the thousands of dollars. Furthermore, there are electronic fingerprinting costs, processing fees, etc.

I we often have an idealized notion of citizenship. I know I did until recently. I always thought people became citizens out of some sense of patriotism or even out of a little affection for this country. Now that I work with many immirgants, I have heard stories like, "I am seeking citizenship for my mother so that she can travel here more easily." I was bothered by that. But then you hear what some people go through just to visit this country and you have to sympathize. There are many motiviations for citizenship, most of them economic. That has important ramifications for what has traditionally been a "melting pot" or "salad bowl" or whatever else you want to call it. Among the most important is the maintenance of an integrated, mulitcultural society. I fear that we may end up balkanized. There is so little that seems to join us around a common sense of citizenship now that I worry about what happens when we fail to educate people about our idea of civic responsibility. But what do you expect when you replace a social contract basded on common values with one based on common economic interest.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dr.S. asks, re: amnesty, "What is the proper punishment for living and working in the U.S. illegally?" My thoughts are different.

The legal analogy to my mind is the doctrine of "laches" - this says that you can lose your rights if you have slept on them too long and others have come to rely on your not asserting them. For illegal immigrants who have been here for a while, I think laches applies. The US government basically aided and abetted them by looking the other way for years while companies hired them by the thousand and million. Most have been here for years making their lives. And there are just too many to consider deportation, even if that were just. So I'm okay with legalizing, by fiat, those who have a track record of being here for 2 or 3 years. But instant legal status for anyone who hopped the fence as recently as last December isn't the answer. We can deport the last year's worth of immigrants and make them follow the rules, if we also then pass fair rules and enforce them properly.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I think the "laches" concept makes sense here... it is certainly a mitigating factor when it comes to choosing the punishment for illegal immigration, if nothing else.

I wonder, though, if you realize that there are shades of "legal status"--that it's not all or nothing--and the Z visa gives a reduced and limited legal status in exchange for more-or-less making it very hard to get anything better for many years.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Does the Z visa let you work and live here indefinitely? More or less, yes.

Dr. Strangelove said...

The z visa can be revoked at any time. Such as a new Republican congress.