United States policy on illegal immigration should focus on attrition through enforcement rather than amnesty.
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Attrition through enforcement
Attrition through enforcement is encouraging illegal immigrants to leave voluntarily through greater enforcement of the law within the United States. This includes a mandatory employer verification of Social Security numbers and immigration status to deny illegal immigrants available jobs.
This is proving to be successful in Arizona which started requiring all employers to confirm workers legal status using the federal E-Verify system in January 2008. This is causing thousands of migrants to move away from Arizona as they know they can’t get jobs.[[Kris W. Kobach, The Immigration Answer, New York Post, 13th February 2008, http://www.nypost.com/seven/02132008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/the_immigration_answer_97438.htm%5D%5D
The E-Verify system does however have errors and could mean that people who are entitled to work are prevented from working by a machine. It encourages discrimination.[[Tyche Hendricks, Cheers, fears over E-Verify immigration program, San Francisco Chronicle, 10th March 2009, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/10/MNC316AKSH.DTL%5D%5D That some migrants in Arizona are moving away from the state does not mean that the illegal immigrants are heading back to Mexico, many of them will simply move within the US to places where it is easier to get work. This would need to be throughout the United States to work. It would still be questionable whether it would work. Employers of non skilled workers would simply resort to paying for jobs to illegal immigrants in cash thereby meaning they would not pay any taxes so costing the taxpayer more rather than less. The E-Verify system is also not having the results its proponents would like to have us believe. Despite it being required employers have been slow to sign up for the system with only 27,000 or 5.6% of the estimated number of firms in the state by the end of 2008.[[Bradly McCombs, State’s employer sanctions law goes mostly unused, Arizona Daily Star, 11th December 2008, http://www.azstarnet.com/news/271160%5D%5D
Improved information sharing by federal agencies
Improved information sharing by federal agencies would allow for greater deportation for example the Inland Revenue Service knows where millions of illegals live and are employed along with ending misuse of Social Security and IRS identification numbers. 600,000 people work under the Social Security number 000-00-0000, presumably many more were used different made up numbers.[[Social Security Better Coordination among Federal Agencies Could Reduce Unidentified Earnings Reports, United States Government Accountability Office, February 2005, p.3. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05154.pdf%5D%5D
The question is what happens then? Do we immediately deport all these newly found immigrants despite the large cost, what they might be doing at the time, having family in the US? Finding or knowing where illegal immigrants are is not the same as getting them out of the country, in the UK in 2006/7 20,700 people were recorded as failing in asylum requests but the UK only managed to deport 18,280.[[Philip Johnston, Number of failed asylum seeker removals falls, The Telegraph, 21st August 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560854/Number-of-failed-asylum-seeker-removals-falls.html%5D%5D The US would have to deport a much larger number of people if there were millions of illegal immigrants to be deported.
States should tighten existing laws and create new laws to discourage illegal migrants; for example Florida and New York have prevented illegal aliens from obtaining drivers licences. If the federal government won’t act then state governments acting can be as effective. In Tennessee employers that knowingly employ illegal immigrants can have their business licence suspended.[[http://www.irli.org/bulletin607.html]]
we should, there was just no empty yes spaces...
The number of removals should be increased
The U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has only 3000 officers to cover the whole of the US so it is no wonder that few illegal immigrants who have gotten past the border are caught or removed. This need however does not necessarily entail a large increase in deportations as the threat of deportations will cause many people to decide to move back out of the US on their own accord. When the Department of Justice implemented the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System after September 11th this screened aliens from Al Qaeda associated countries, not registering resulted in stiff penalties. The government deported 1,500 Pakistanis. However the Pakistan Government reported that 15,000 left the US on their own with more attempting to get into Canada.[[Kris W. Kobach, Attrition through Enforcement: A Rational Approach to Illegal Immigration, Tulsa Journal of Comparative & International Law, Vol.15, 2008, pp.153-161., p.158. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1157057%5D%5D
This assumes that people will voluntarily self deport rather than going deeper underground. There is only likely to be an increase in emigration due to threats for a short time, as after a while the illegal immigrants will get used to the new situation and not be worried about it. This would move back to meaning the government would have to find and deport as many illegal immigrants as possible.
An amnesty would encourage rather than reduce immigration
First, it would quickly become known that the USA is offering an amnesty, and even if it was for illegals already in the US it would be believed that it would be likely to happen again while some would go to the US in the belief that it is available to all.
Second, Once there is an amnesty those who have been granted amnesty and are able to work legally so have gained a measure of security will bring family into the US to live with them.
This is what has occurred with previous amnesties. After the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act which 2.7 million immigrants took advantage of to become legal residents the number of illegal immigrants arriving in the USA rose to 800,000 before falling back down to a more normal level of 500,000 per year.[[New INS Report: 1986 Amnesty Increased Illegal Immigration, 12th Oct., 2000, Center for Immigration Studies, http://www.cis.org/articles/2000/ins1986amnesty.html%5D%5D Spain has granted numerous amnesties since 1985 as a response to increasing immigration, particularly from South America. There has been an ever increasing number of applications for these amnesties from 43,815 in 1985 to 350,000 in 2001[[Maas, Willem. "The Politics of Immigration, Employment, and Amnesty in Spain" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA, Mar 22, 2006. http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p99612_index.html pp.10, 14]] and then a general amnesty in 2005 that had 700,000 applicants.[[Giles Tremlett, Spain grants amnesty to 700,000 migrants, The Guardian, 9th May 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/may/09/spain.gilestremlett%5D%5D This has been due to the continuing and indeed increasing immigration into Spain.
It is not the case that the Immigration Reform and Control Act encouraged immigration. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas concluded “it appears that amnesty programs do not encourage illegal immigration. If anything, IRCA reduced the number of illegal immigrants in the short run, perhaps because potential migrants thought that it would be more difficult to cross the border or to get a job in the United States after the law was passed.” And also over the long term illegal immigration did not increase. “apprehensions [at the Mexico-US border] were about 11 percent lower during the pre-filing period than prior to IRCA’s passage, controlling for other factors.” While there was little change overall between the periods before and after the amnesty.[[Pia M. Orrenius, Madeline Zavodny, Do Amnesty Programs Encourage Illegal Immigration? Evidence from IRCA, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Oct. 2001, pp.11, 14. http://www.dallasfed.org/research/papers/2001/wp0103.pdf%5D%5D
An amnesty rewards law breakers
An amnesty by its very definition is letting someone who has engaged in an illegal act off the hook. It is also an admission of government defeat; other options have failed and there are still lawbreakers who are not being deported as they should be so there is a need for an amnesty.
An amnesty may be a reward for those that have shown a period of service but it isn't a case of all gain for the illegal immigrants so to speak. It also means that the US and states get to collect more money in taxes from immigrants and they would be subject to all the requirements that all American citizens are expected to abide by. They could also be expected to pay a processing fee over times to cover town or government expenditure amongst other things. So an amnesty wouldn't be a reward in its entirety as much as an acknowledgment and a way to balance the books. [[ Katherine Barney "Mayor Wants Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants" London Evening Standard http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23659506-details/Mayor+wants+amnesty+for+illegal+immigrants/article.do%5D%5D
Immigrants are a drain on the economy
The vast majority of immigrants have few skills. These low skill migrants pay few taxes and take alot of government benefits resulting in each immigrant without a high school diploma costing the US taxpayers $89,000 over their lifetime. Since there are six million illegals without a high school diploma living in the US this adds up to half a trillion dollars. This increases further if they are given an amnesty so are able to claim citizenship and more money and the costs spiral yet further when the cost of educating their children is included with the possible cost rising to $2trillion.[[Robert Rector, Importing Poverty: Immigration and Poverty in the United States: A Book of Charts, The Heritage Foundation, 25th October 2006, http://www.heritage.org/research/immigration/sr9.cfm#_ftn3%5D%5D
This is not the case. Studies underestimate the tax revenue gained from immigrants due to underestimating immigrant income and the contribution of long term immigrants. US census data for 1990 showed that the average immigrant income was $14000 not $9000 used in studies that showed immigrants contributing less than they take. Meaning that immigrants provide at least a benefit to the public finances of $25billion rather than a drain.[[Michael E. Fix, Jeffrey S. Passel, Immigration and Immigrants: Setting the Record Straight, Urban Institute, May 1994, http://www.urban.org/publications/305184.html#V%5D%5D Another study by the National Research Council in 1997 (often quoted for the $89,000 cost to taxpayers see proposition argument) agrees "Immigrants may be adding as much as $10 billion to the economy each year... the vast majority of Americans are enjoying a healthier economy as the result of the increased supply of labour and lower prices that result from immigration."[[Overall U.S. Economy Gains From Immigration But It's Costly to Some States and Localities, National Research Council, 17th May 1997, http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=5779%5D%5D
Cost of deportation
Deportation would cost, a study by the Center for American Progress puts the cost of deporting 8million illegal aliens at $206 billion over 5 years, with the assumption that 20% (2 million) of the 10 million total will leave voluntarily.[[Rajeev Goyle, David A. Jaeger, Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment, Center for American Progress, July 2005, p.1. http://www.americanprogress.org/kf/deporting_the_undocumented.pdf%5D%5D This brings us down to an essential question of how many will leave voluntarily if we have ‘attrition through enforcement’? No one really knows because it has not been tried yet. However even the attrition through enforcement assumes that the number of deportations are going to increase dramatically even if they are providing more of a deterrent than actually reducing the total numbers by themselves. If we assume that as a deterrent the government deports 400,000 a year to keep the numbers pretty stable (there is about an increase of 500,000 per year) meaning that many within the US begin to leave voluntarily so reducing the numbers in the US then we still have a cost of $6.8billion per year ($17,000 per deportation as with the Center for American Progress’ study). There is them more to be added for time spent in detention.
Voluntary compliance would cost less than $2billion or $400million per year[[Jessica Vaughan, Attrition through Enforcement: A Cost Effective Strategy to Shrink the Illegal Population, Center for Immigration Studies, April 2006, http://www.cis.org/Enforcement-IllegalPopulation%5D%5D Precisely because it is voluntary there are very few costs, the cost is met by the immigrants themselves.
Does deterrence really work?
Attrition through enforcement relies upon it getting harder for illegal immigrants to get work and both state and federal governments getting more proactive to deport immigrants. It is then assumed that migrants will find it more difficult and so will leave. Deterrence however does not seem to have worked when attempting to prevent the same migrants from crossing the border in the first place. Millions have been caught and many try to enter again. The numbers caught have declined to 723,000 for the fiscal year 08/09[[Spencer S. Hsu, Arrests on Southern Border Drop, The Washington Post, 21sth May 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/20/AR2009052003644.html%5D%5D so being caught does not seem to have been a deterrence.
There is also deterrence from the natural conditions ‘Many migrants suffer severe dehydration and heat exhaustion as a result of attempting to cross the desert where temperatures can exceed 115 degrees in the summer.’ The number of deaths have been rising from 254 in 1998 to 472 in 2005[[Illegal immigration Border Crossing Deaths have Doubled since 1995; Border Patrol’s Efforts to Prevent Deaths Have Not Been Fully Evaluated, United States Government Accountability Office, Report to the Honorable Bill Frist, Majority Leader, U.S. Senate, August 2006, p.9, 16, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06770.pdf%5D%5D The numbers could well be much higher as these statistics do not include deaths on the Mexican side and only bodies recovered are reported as deaths so those not recovered are not counted.[[Dan Martinez, Unauthorized Border Crosser Death along the Arizona/
Sonora border, Border Health Newsletter, Vol.2, Issue 3, June 2007, p.1., http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/borderhealth/pdf/newsletter2_3.pdf%5D%5D If these people have not been deterred by the possibility of dying when crossing the desert to reach the USA are they really going to be deterred by making it harder to get work once they reach the US?
Maybe the numbers caught are actually an indicator of that deterrence is working. For example the amount of people seen at staging points along the US-Mexico border has been reported by the US border patrol to be significantly lower than before which means that less people are thinking about trying to cross the border illegally . [[Lara Jakes Jordan "Border watch deterring illegal immigration according to officials" AP in The Houstonian http://media.www.houstonianonline.com/media/storage/paper229/news/2006/08/24/Nation/Border.Watch.Deterring.Illegal.Immigration.According.To.Officials-2238548.shtml Accessed 28.08.09]] Also tie that in with falling remittances received from families in immigrants native countries. Granted the economy may be playing a part but so is tougher law enforcement in deterring those from coming. [[Spencer S. Hsu, Arrests on Southern Border Drop, The Washington Post, 21sth May 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/20/AR2009052003644.html%5D%5D
Do we really want those working in the US to leave?
Approximately 6.3 million illegal immigrants are working in the USA, and these are benefiting the economy[[Rajeev Goyle, David A. Jaeger, Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment, Center for American Progress, July 2005, p.9. http://www.americanprogress.org/kf/deporting_the_undocumented.pdf%5D%5D The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says “The pace of recent U.S. economic growth would have been impossible without immigration. Since 1990, immigrants have contributed to job growth in three main ways: They fill an increasing share of jobs overall, they take jobs in labor-scarce regions, and they fill the types of jobs native workers often shun.”[[Pia M. Orrenius, U.S. Immigration and Economic Growth: Putting Policy on Hold, Southwest Economy, Issue 6, Nov./Dec. 2003, http://www.dallasfed.org/research/swe/2003/swe0306a.html%5D%5D
There are thousands of citizens who were recently unemployed who would be happy to have a paying job again. We could fill the jobs in no time at all.
does not deal with the real problem
Attrition through enforcement does not deal with many of the fundamental problems behind immigration; the US is much richer and has more jobs available than Central and Southern America. The USA has a per capita GDP of $47,000 by comparison Mexico’s is only $14,200 using PPP[[https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mx.html%5D%5D the gap with the Central American countries to the south of Mexico is even starker with Guatemalan GDP/capita at $5,200.[[https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gt.html]] Not surprisingly the USA far outstrips the Central American countries in the Human development index; the US is 15th, Mexico 51st and Guatemala 121st.[[http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/]] So long as there is such diversity of income and opportunity immigrants will keep coming, even if it is made more difficult for them to work. Although through NAFTA the US is integrating North America it is specifically excluding labour from this integration while tightening border controls at the Mexican border. As part of this the US should be encouraging economic growth in Mexico so Mexicans think it less worth migrating to the USA and Central Americans stay in Mexico rather than moving on to the US.
Enforcement may not solve part of the fundamental problems behind immigration but it does play a crucial role in curbing the excess of illegal immigration into countries. Besides the US is Mexico's biggest export partner with 82% of Mexican imports being to America. So the US does a lot to help Mexico[[http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749]] Secondly the real problems for some of the main countries when it comes to illegal immigration are down to their own domestic problems. For example Mexico has problems with it's own farming "structural inefficiencies".[[http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749]]
What do you think?