Archive for June 27th, 2007|Daily archive page

Framing, Immigration and Thomas the

I recently got into a minor online spat about the newly passed immigration laws in Oklahoma. According to the AP article,

The legislation builds on measures passed by other states but focuses on deterring unauthorized employment. Among other things, it contains employment, labor law and civil rights provisions to protect citizens and legal immigrants who lose their jobs at companies that employ illegal immigrants to perform the same or similar work.

The article continues with,

The measure targets employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens in order to gain a competitive advantage. Key elements of the bill focus on determining worker eligibility, including technology called the Basic Pilot program, which screens Social Security numbers to make sure they are real and that they match up with the job applicant’s name.

The first sentence is blatantly false. The law does no such thing. I defy anyone to find either the work competitive nor advantage in the law. The law is more about keeping “unauthorized aliens” from using state (and federal) support systems within the state. The strange language logic behind the law can already be detected in the second  section.

The State of Oklahoma finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship and lawlessness in this state and that illegal immigration is encouraged when public agencies within this state provide public benefits without verifying immigration status.

While the first finding is debatable and the third deniable; the second – that illegal activity causes lawlessness – is perverse. Breaking the law means someone broke the law? Oh, right.

My argument against the Oklahoma laws is that it will have little or no effect on the immigration “problem” in America. It’s like painting rust, it might look better for a while but the underlying problems are still there.

Why? Well, partially because there seems to be a little disinformation going on.

First, the AP article about this law pointed out that there are reportedly 100,000 illegal immigrants in Okalahoma. That would make about 2.7% of the people there illegal, not too far from the reported national estimate of 3.6%. However, if one takes a quick look at the US Census Bureau data, only 6% of the Oklahoma population is Hispanic. This means that about half of them are illegal. Now. If I can do this math; do you think the racial profilers in the Oklahoma state government will be doing the same thing? Do you think life just go more difficult if you are Hispanic, legally in the state of Oklahoma and not named Alberto Gonzales?

The article also uncritically points out that one of the goals of the law is pointed toward lowering the costs incurred by illegal immigrants. Costs that according to the anti-immigration lobbying organisation, the Federation of American Immigration Reform, FAIR, could reach as high as $200 million dollars per year. Of course, FAIR never mentions that many illegal immigrants receive normal pay checks using faked social security numbers; meaning they pay the same federal, state and local taxes as an American in the same job. FAIR also never mentions that the immigrants pay local sales taxes supporting schools and other institutions.
The new law in Oklahoma targets both support systems, such as receiving identification and other services as well as allowing undocumented residents from enrolling in state universities or getting any financial aid. (Wait! The final version passed by the state Senate lets undocumented illegal high school graduates enroll in higher education but they have to totally promise to get – like – documents.)

Notice, that while there is a section making knowingly transporting an illegal alien a felony punishable by one year in prison or a $1000 fine, there are no similar penalties on employers. If you really want to stop illegal immigration, isn’t the best way simply to make sure they can’t find work? If the owner or manager of a restaurant is given a mandatory 5 year sentence for knowingly employing “unauthorized aliens” do you think there would be a problem. The same goes for farmers. Why doesn’t the law target the employers?

In fact the only provisions in the bill pointed at bosses seems to be at those who are public employers, contractors or subcontractors. And then the only proviso is that it is not lawful to enter into contracts with companies who hire “unauthorized aliens.” No penalties are mentioned. There is also a requirement for employers to sign up to take part in a system for “verifying” social security numbers. There are no penalties mentioned if one doesn’t actually use the system. Yawn.

I see this legislation as simply another log on the fire of hate being kindled in America. Brown is bad and “Reconquista” just around the corner. * Sigh *

Perhaps the problem that I see is that the issue shouldn’t be  protecting America’s borders in America. The issue should be trying to keep the people away from the borders in the first place. Since having a death penalty doesn’t seem to convince murders to stop killing, having a law to send someone back home after earning money in America seems less than convincing.

The problem of illegal immigration needs to be fought in Mexico, Central and South America and not in America itself. As long as there is a huge economic north/south gradient, the pressure on the Southern border in America will continue to rise. Measures like this are like trying to add height to an already leaky dike while the water is rising. It doesn’t effect the leaks and doesn’t try to slow the flood. This legislation is a stop gap that won’t do anything.

Wouldn’t it be better to change the language? Wouldn’t it be more effective to give those trying to earn money in America a economic incentive to stay at home? Wouldn’t it be better to push American industry to export manufacturing jobs not to China and Asia but to Mexico?

And why doesn’t it happen? Workers in the western hemisphere are too expensive. It is too easy for activists to check to see how people are being treated. For an example of how Chinese industry handles reporters, I point to the recent article in the New York Times about one business reporters odyssey in China when looking at the factory that produced the recalled Thomas the Tank Engine toys. Oversight is expensive and you would have more oversight in South America.

Better make measures that create hate and mistrust than spend more for that T-Shirt. Right?

Rudi’s Ferret Foolishness

Just remember, if you are a ferret fan, you probably won’t be voting for Rudy next year…

Slates take on the issue.