Give ‘em credit for trying. The Senators attempting to hammer out a comprehensive immigration reform bill have come up with something. But their premises are wrong, so they reforms they propose are fundamentally flawed.
The essential premise behind this immigration bill, and all that have come before it, is that the government is like God, wise and powerful and good, so much so that it can ascertain the particular quality and quantity of new arrivals which would be most beneficial for the nation to welcome, and which should be turned away. It can do no such thing. It is neither wise enough, nor powerful enough, nor good enough to even try.
Taking each mistaken attribute in turn–the government is hardly wise enough to anticipate which quality and quantity of immigrants would be most beneficial. In a dynamic economic system, where literally trillions of decisions are made by individual economic actors every single day, the government stands as a plodding afterthought. The US government is no better at anticipating human needs and desires than was the politburo of the Soviet Union. Attempting to bureaucratically manage the human capital flowing in and out of the country has been about as successful as the politburo’s attempt to keep the stores stocked with bread and vodka. Economic needs and desires flow from the bottom up, not the top down. All that is needed from a top-down economic perspective is the provisioning of security in a manner sufficient to instill confidence among the economic society that the benefits of an economic transaction, once entered, will ultimately be realized.
The government is not powerful enough to enforce the laws it now has. There are roughly eleven million unauthorized immigrants in the US at this writing. These are people who managed to slip past the vast bureaucratic and militaristic apparatus arisen since the end of World War Two to control immigration. Is there any chance, short of commencing with summary executions of unauthorized entrants, of securing the (mainly Southern) borders against any and all attempted infiltrations?
At its founding, the US had no immigration policy. Anyone who wished to come simply came. In the span of less than two hundred years, this laissez faire immigration policy yielded the wealthiest, most powerful nation the earth has ever known. But now, the nation thus arisen seeks to use its power and riches to close down its entry points; to maniacally, bureaucratically control who gets in and who doesn’t. History has not been kind to nations that have tried to limit the human impulse to movement. Migration is hard-wired into the human soul. There is no other way to explain how the whole globe could have been so quickly colonized by Homo sapiens except that H. sapiens was born to move. Beginning about 200,000 years ago, man migrated out of the Rift Valley in Africa to finally, about 20,000 years ago, inhabit every inhabitable corner of planet Earth. History has proven that no government long endures that tries to fight the human impulse to migrate.
The US government (and to some extent, the American people) think it exists to exalt itself. It therefore creates the most outlandish of schemes for whom it deems acceptable for admittance, and who it rejects, based on the premise that it knows what is best for itself, and the corollary that what is best for the government is necessarily best for the nation. The young Ben Franklin would surely have been rejected as a permanent resident under the current scheme. At best, he might have got an H-1B visa, if the allotment had not already been exhausted. Immigration law and policy should not be directed at doing that which is cravenly beneficial for the US government, or even the US economy, but should take an enlightened view; that whatever is good for people who wish to come to the US to pursue their dreams is good for the US, the government’s selfish prerogatives be damned. Government is not good. It is selfish, just like every other organism or organization. Unfortunately, the US government’s selfish impulses make it a poor arbiter of immigration law and policy, yet immigration law and policy is directly within its purview.
So, let’s look at the law. The following breakout of the law comes courtesy of Yahoo! (God , what a stupid name!). The law has three main thrusts. It offers a path for citizenship for unauthorized arrivals; it provides for a more secure Southern border, and it provides more liberal policies for the immigration of agricultural and tech workers, from the article (called a Factbox):
* “High-risk” sections of the southern U.S. border with Mexico will be targeted for increased security. Washington would set a goal of catching or turning back 90 percent of illegal entries. A high-risk area is defined as one where apprehensions top 30,000 a year.
* $3 billion in new funds would be provided to improve border surveillance and detection, add law enforcement officers and operate aerial surveillance.
* Another $1.5 billion in new funds would be used to improve border fencing.
* If the 90 percent effectiveness rate has not been reached during the first five years after enactment of the law, a new border commission would be created. It would be staffed by the four border-state governors or their appointees and experts appointed by bipartisan leaders of Congress.
* The commission would recommend ways to improve security. Washington would provide another $2 billion to carry out the recommendations.
~Any bets as to whether a “90 percent effectiveness rate” will be reached during the first five years? Exactly. Just another meaningless bureaucracy will be permanently entrenched. Just another bureaucratic hurdle erected for immigrants to leap will be created. It is vanity and conceit that yields the belief, in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, that short of a hostile invasion, the US will do much of anything to control its southern border. It does not now control the impulse to migrate across the southern border (which is a good thing). This law will stand as another lie, like 55 mph speed limits in the seventies, that we all agree to pretend to believe. Only a fascist regime would attempt to close its borders to people who wish to come, and so far at least, the US has not slipped completely into fascism.
LEGALIZATION OF UNDOCUMENTED RESIDENTS
* Foreigners living in the United States illegally could apply to adjust their status to “registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status” within 180 days after enactment, provided the secretary of Homeland Security submits to Congress a strategy for securing U.S. borders.
* Only those who arrived in the United States before December 31, 2011 could apply and they would have to pay a $500 fee and back taxes. Those convicted of felonies or three or more misdemeanors would not be eligible.
* Immigrants who win RPI status could work for any employer and would be allowed to travel outside the United States.
* RPI status would last for six years and can be renewed.
* After 10 years, those with RPI status can adjust to a permanent resident status if they are working regularly and speak English. Permanent residents are among those who under current law may apply for citizenship.
* Two groups would be put on a faster track to permanent resident status: children brought into the United States illegally and certain farm workers. They could get “green cards” in five years. The children would be eligible for citizenship immediately after getting green cards.
~Let me get this straight—if you came to the US before the end of 2011, you will have the chance at an Orwellian-named “registered provisional immigrant status”. (Apparently there is something magical happened by the arbitrary end of 2011 on the Julian calendar.) But only if the borders are secure (see first comment, above). Those convicted of felonies, or three or more misdemeanors must remain in the shadows, undoubtedly compelling even more felonies and misdemeanors among this benighted populace. After a whole decade of acting like a resident, and paying taxes like a citizen, the unauthorized arrivals could apply for citizenship, but only if they speak English (presumably, most would have learned the language by osmosis, if nothing else, by then). But children could gain permanent resident status in only five years, and become citizens immediately thereafter. We want your children, but the adults that produced them, not so much.
* About 40 percent of employment-based visas would be allocated to professionals with advanced degrees to work in the United States in the sciences, arts and other professions, including certain people with foreign medical degrees. Those holding graduate degrees in engineering, mathematics, science and technology from U.S. universities also would be included.
* Employment visas for skilled workers and certain professionals would be increased to 40 percent of the total. And a new visa would be created for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start their own companies in the United States.
* The “V visa” would be expanded to help unify families by allowing foreign relatives to live in the United States and for certain other family members to visit the United States for up to 60 days per year.
* Immigrant visas for siblings of U.S. citizens would be repealed 18 months after the date of enactment.
* A backlog for family and employment-based immigrants would be eliminated.
* A merit-based visa would be created the fifth year after enactment and would award points to individuals based on education, employment, length of residence in the United States and other considerations. There would be 120,000 such visas available annually, with the number rising by 5 percent per year if demand exceeds supply and the U.S. jobless rate is below 8.5 percent. It would be capped at 250,000 visas.
Is there any shortage of dimwitted professionals in the US today? It seems that every last immigration reform seeks to make things easier for professionals. We seek to play a game of beggar thy neighbor, robbing other countries of their intellectual capital, whilst trying to prevent their poor huddled masses from seeking the relief promised of Lady Liberty. And God knows, we need more entrepreneurs. Maybe they could come and start new cupcake franchises.
* Employers would have to use an “E-Verify” system to ensure that they are hiring legal workers. It would be phased in over a five-year period.
* The cap on H-1B temporary visas for high-skilled workers would be raised to 110,000 from a current base limit of 65,000. In future years the cap could rise to as high as 180,000.
* A new “W-Visa” for low-skilled workers would be created and spouses and minor children of those workers would be allowed to accompany them to the United States. The number of visas would be capped for the first four years at 20,000, 35,000, 55,000 and 75,000 respectively.
* A new government bureau would determine changes to limits on such visas and devise methods for determining domestic labor shortages in regions.
* Wages for low-skilled immigrant workers would be dictated by either the wage paid to other employees with similar experience or based on a prevailing wage level for occupations in geographic regions, whichever is higher.
* Current undocumented farm workers would be able to win legal status if they have made a “substantial prior commitment” to farm work in the United States. A new agricultural guest worker visa program would be created to ensure an adequate workforce.
Phrases like “substantial prior commitment” are catnip for lawyers and bureaucrats. And to imagine the US government can determine where in its economy exist labor shortages such that immigration for those occupations is okay is the essence of governmental hubris. The government simply doesn’t know that much (see the first comment, on the limitations of government omniscience, above). What happens when an immigrant (actually non-immigrant, as the rule is for issuing visas) arrives to fill the demand for labor in a field that is experiencing shortages? Does he then become an indentured servant, not able to ever leave the field on the pain of deportation?
The sum total of all this nonsense is just as I stated before. It will fail because the premises upon which it is founded are false. The government is not smart enough to know who should be allowed in, and in what quantity. It is not powerful enough to enforce its prerogatives for limiting immigration to only those it desires. And it is the absolute worst entity in which to vest all this power, because it has only its own exaltation in mind when crafting laws such as these (which is to say, the law will only serve to make the government trolls more bureaucratically powerful).
I say open the borders and let the people come, from whatever background, from whatever country. And thank God above that there are people still clamoring to get in. The US will only have a real immigration problem when people decide that pursuing life, liberty and happiness in the US no longer holds any appeal worthy of the effort.