Is immigration –especially illegal immigration–good for the economy, or bad? This exact question was asked of the late Libertarian economist Milton Friedman. “It’s neither one nor the other,” Mr. Friedman replied. “But it’s good for freedom. In principle, you ought to have completely open immigration. But with the welfare state it’s really not possible to do that.” “If there were no welfare state,” he continued, “you could have open immigration, because everybody would be responsible for himself.”
Was Friedman suggesting that one can’t have immigration reform without welfare reform? He said, “No, you can have immigration reform, but you can’t have open immigration without largely the elimination of welfare.” (1)
I am a libertarian myself on the conservative side and I am no xenophobe. I lived in Mexico City while working for HP. I was responsible for five years for sales and marketing of our products in an Area which included Latin American, southern Africa, the Caribbean, and also Israel for one year. I was specifically posted in Mexico City because at that time our division of HP was doing big deals with Pemex, the Mexican oil company, as well as Mexican government agencies, and many other customers. HP tasked me to interview and to hire many new employees quickly, but not just any new employee.
I was a first hand witness to the destruction of Mexico’s agrarian culture by the United States, begun with the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986 – which was an amnesty – and continued with the NAFTA treaty and huge U.S. subsidies to U.S. corporate farmers, continuing to this day. Small farmers could not compete with the heavily subsidized prices for their staple corn and wheat. When their farms collapsed, first they moved to Mexico City, but there were no jobs there, then the waves of migrations to America began.
In fact, large groups of Hispanic Americans oppose illegal immigration, oppose high levels of legal immigration, and support the rule of law and support the need for assimilation. Watch this excellent video prepared by several different organizations to explain the problem. Many people in Congress, government and elites need to change their attitudes on immigration or else they must be replaced. “Immigration 110: By the People and For the People.”
That brings me to my first point. There are major cultural and legal differences between the U.S. versus Latin American and African countries (and other countries). We cannot simply open the door and allow all to come here. Business and legal customs in those countries establish expectations and morals that persist. Hundreds of years of imbedded customs do not disappear when someone crosses a national border. I was there to interview and help decide which candidates would be able to abide by U.S. law and HP policy with regard to bribery and also U.S. export laws regarding sales of HP’s high tech equipment to companies and government on various black lists. Bribery was already a well known problem even before this 1980 to 1984 period and it remains a problem today. But the American definition and American law’s definition of bribery, graft, extortion and corruption are not only everyday occurrences in these foreign nations, they are in fact expected business practice in many third world countries.
A similar problem exists in the Middle East and much of the Far East. Following my assignment in Mexico, I lived and worked in Tokyo and was responsible for Japan and Korea. Overlapping all of these assignments for 15 years, I was also responsible for HP’s worldwide business with the International Olympic Committee, and the same bribery problem is well known with IOC events, albeit more sophisticated. I have been taken to the brink, where they would not pay for the HP equipment unless money was transferred to Swiss accounts, and against that, my message was that the event would be unaccredited and teams would not show up if the necessary equipment to test the athletes for performance enhancing drugs was not in place. On my watch, no events were cancelled and no bribes were given by HP.
It takes at least one complete generation for assimilation of immigrants into American culture, probably two in the case of the countries regions I named above. And there are other even more complex cultural problems in other countries, where so far, no one knows if assimilation is possible. For example, in Muslim cultures, it is perfectly acceptable for them to lie in court if the lie protects a fellow Muslim. Obviously, that custom is unacceptable in western jurisprudence. On top of that is the problem that some of the immigrants believe and work toward overcoming our form of government and replacing it with Sharia, or taking over the western states and returning them to Mexico, and then there are the extortive and threatening business tactics of Russian gangs. None of these are small numbers of people in America.
Before getting into the numbers, let me reiterate my first point: immigrants must be assimilated into American culture. Assimilation does not occur if the immigrant moves into a local community in America dominated by their home culture and language. Multiculturalism has failed miserably in Europe and other places. Western European countries that have allowed high immigration are now trying to reverse those policies because their countries have lost their cultures and identities and in many places they have lost control of entire cities and parts of their country.
Do we, here in America, see already negative impacts from the differences in culture and customs? Yes, in long term studies statistics expose rapidly increasing negative impact. Here is one example presented by Dr. heather MacDonald regarding Hispanics, but the problem described is present among other immigrant groups. Dr. MacDonald is John M. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a Los Angeles native. She also is a recipient of 2005 Bradley Prize for Outstanding Intellectual Achievement.
“Mexican girls—who come from by far the largest and fastest-growing immigrant population–now have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. The Mexican teen birthrate is 93 births per every 1,000 girls, compared with 27 births for every 1,000 white girls, 17 births for every 1,000 Asian girls, and 65 births for every 1,000 black girls.”
“Hispanic women have the highest unmarried birthrate in the country. Moreover, 48 percent of all Hispanic births occur outside of marriage, compared with 24 percent of white births and 15 percent of Asian births. Only the percentage of black out-of-wedlock births — 68% — exceeds the Hispanic rate. But the black population is not going to triple over the next few decades.”
“There is no greater predictor of future dysfunction than growing up in a single-parent home. Children raised in single-parent homes are at far higher risk of school failure, juvenile delinquency, emotional problems, teen pregnancy, and poverty than children raised by married parents.”
“Gang life is thriving in Southern California schools, and is spreading across the country with the migration of Hispanic immigrants. Crime involvement worsens dramatically from the first to the second generation of Latinos. The incarceration rate of Mexican-Americans is 3.45 times higher than that of whites. A whopping 28% of Mexican-American males in San Diego between the ages of 18 and 24 reported having been arrested since 1995, and 20%reported having been incarcerated — a rate twice that of other immigrant groups.”
“This summer in Southern California, in two separate incidents just weeks apart, Latino gang members fatally gunned down two grandmothers who had confronted them while they were spraying gang graffiti. The gunmen were not recently arrived illegals, but part of a burgeoning Hispanic-American gang culture.”
“I should also mention that Hispanics have the highest school drop-out rate in the country — a recipe for economic decline.”
“These are problems that are currently taboo to speak about, but they must be looked at unflinchingly as we decide what our immigration policy should be. While many immigrants continue to thrive and to enrich our country, too many from the second and third generation of Hispanics are developing behaviors that will fray the social fabric and cost taxpayers millions in welfare and criminal justice outlays.”
My next point is that the massive number of immigrants is rapidly sinking the lifeboat that is America, and that is true even if we only consider the legal immigrants. Global humanitarian reasons for current U.S. immigration levels are tested by journalist Roy Beck’s colorful presentation of data from the World Bank and U.S. Census Bureau. This short video has been one of the most viewed policy presentations on the internet.
A modest estimate of the total net cost to American taxpayers for our immigration policy and lack thereof each year is $113 BILLION.
Congress has continued to issue 125,000 new work visas a month to immigrants and other foreign workers. This equals 1.5 million new foreign workers each year, who compete directly with American citizens for a limited number of jobs.
Who benefits from allowing 1.5 million new foreign workers into the U.S. each year? Certainly not the 20 million Americans who are currently unemployed.
Asked whether illegal immigrants strengthen the economy because they “provide low-cost labor and spend money” or harm it because they “don’t all pay taxes but can use public services,” an overwhelming 70% said they believe illegal immigrants create a drain on our economy.
According to Heritage Foundation welfare expert Robert Rector, the overwhelming majority of Americans has it right. Rector reports that over the past four decades the educational level of new immigrants has fallen steadily relative to that of native-born Americans, as have their wages and the rate at which their children and grandchildren achieve economic success. Coupled with very high levels of out-of-wedlock birthrates (among foreign-born Hispanics, for example, the rate is 42.3%), the current illegal population fits the classic profile of a group that, if offered a ready route to citizenship, will consume billions more in welfare benefits than they will contribute in taxes.
The historical pattern whereby new immigrants claim fewer welfare benefits than native-born Americans reversed itself about three decades ago as the size and reach of the welfare state grew. In just the last five years, enrollments in welfare programs have skyrocketed. Medicaid enrollment has grown by 50%, Food Stamps by 49% and Pell Grants by 33%. The earned income tax credit program now provides generous subsidies (over $35 billion annually) to more than 21 million low-wage workers.
Not surprisingly, legal immigrant households are now 50 percent more likely to receive welfare benefits than are the native-born. Immigrants without a high-school degree, moreover, were two and a half times more likely to enroll in these programs. “This underscores,” Rector concludes, “the high potential welfare costs that may be associated with proposed amnesties to illegal immigrants.”
Journalist Roy Beck explains in the chapter titled “The High Cost of Cheap Labor” beginning on page 286 of the pdf file at the link below:
“Finally, it is the local community as a whole that is forced to assume the costs of immigration. While many of the owners of business and capital may view immigrants – whether low-skilled or high-skilled – primarily as a source of cheaper labor, those workers can be quite expensive to the rest of the members of a community. And while come private organizations may promote immigration as a way for them to express charitable feelings, all the other members of a community end up paying most of the costs. In myriad ways, a community subsidizes those who benefit from high immigration.” https://www.numbersusa.com/content/files/pdf/TheCaseAgainstImmigration-RoyBeck.pdf
WE THE PEOPLE ordained and established the Constitution to (1) form a more perfect Union, (2) establish Justice, (3) insure domestic Tranquility, (3) provide for the common defense, (4) promote the general Welfare, and (5) secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. The dereliction of Constitutional duty, failure to protect the borders, the safety of citizens and the rule of law by the President and Congress are simultaneously damaging all five of the fundamental reasons for establishing this nation … the very first sentence of the U.S. Constitution.
Your sovereignty and liberty are at stake here. The government that was established by our Constitution has failed in its most solemn and fundamental duty. We are being invaded by people who openly ignore our laws, march in our streets waving their flags and many openly state they want to take over this country. In the U.S. Constitution, we, the people, give duties and responsibilities to the various parts of government. Our elected President and Congress have all sworn an oath to protect and defend our Constitution. For many years now, our government has been derelict in its duty with regard to immigration, borders and security. If a law is to carry moral duty to obey, then the law must apply equally to all, otherwise that law should not exist. “All men are created equal,” means created equal with respect to the law. Obviously, we are not all created equal by God.
The rule of law and consequently our entire culture and quality of life is degraded by this continuing dereliction of duty by the President and Congress. It is not fair to the businessman who employs legally to make him compete with another business which hires illegal aliens. It is not fair to the legal employees who have to compete for jobs with illegal aliens. It is not fair to the citizen who is paying taxes to support the benefits given to illegal aliens. It is not fair to the student who must compete for admission. It is not fair to the injured who must wait to be treated. It is not fair to the Border Patrol or policeman who has undefined rules of engagement and risks his life while fearing his own prosecution. It is not fair to the homeowner whose neighborhoods are unsafe and property value collapses due to illegal aliens living in sanctuary. It is not fair to the illegal alien who must live with their crime, punishing themselves, compensated less than others, unable and unmotivated to assimilate into our culture and yet rejected by his homeland upon returning because now he and his family are a burden. There are many other examples of unfairness.
Our government has failed. Make no mistake about it. They believe they are in control and even now they are scheming to take our property and rights. But, we are not yet at a point of incivility where we must take up arms against our government. We do not need to waste our resources travelling and marching on Washington, and in that event they would pay no attention. We plan, build our supplies and our networks and then we act. We simply use our resources and cut off their funding and vote them out of office. If it becomes necessary, if our government and elites refuse to listen, then thanks to the internet and social networks, we can communicate and a very large number of us can agree on a date upon which we temporarily stop paying taxes until they meet some conditions. They cannot put us all in jail. We will bring our government back to its proper service of the people.
Thomas Sowell, professor of economy, and fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford summarizes our problem:
“Demography is not destiny. But the history of Balkanized and polarized societies in the 20th century is a history of horrors that we dare not ignore.”
“We are not at that terrible point yet – but that is the direction in which we are headed, under the spell of magic words like “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” which have become substitutes for thoughts, even among those who pride themselves on being “thinking people.”
“Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is permeated with ideologies of group grievances and resentments, painting each group into the corner of its own separate subculture, instead of drawing them into the mainstream of the American culture that made this the greatest nation on earth.”
“Unless the fashionable Balkanization is stopped, demography can become destiny – and a tragedy for all.”
I have followed this subject for over thirty years. Let me know if you would like more information.
(1) Ref: The Romance of Economics: Milton and Rose Friedman: Dinner with Keynes?
BY TUNKU VARADARAJAN