Illegal Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too

With all the consternation about how much illegal immigrants cost the taxpayers of Virginia, argue Michael Cassidy and Sara Okos with the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, it’s important to remember that they pay taxes, too.

Virginia’s undocumented population numbers between 250,000 and 300,000, they guesstimate in a new report, and it pays between $145 million and $174 million in state income taxes, sales and excise taxes, and property taxes. Further, undocumented immigrants working “on the books” pay an additional $114 million to $137 million in Social Security and Medicare taxes, a sum that their employers match.

There’s a lot of guesswork in those estimates, as the authors readily admit, but the numbers are as reasonable as anyone else’s. Let’s assume they’re accurate. Taking the high end of each set of estimates, that works out to about $580 in state and local taxes per illegal.

Bacon’s bottom line: Big whoop. Nobody said that “undocumented workers” don’t pay taxes. The problem is the perception that they pay significantly less than they and their families receive in services and the fact that, I know it’s just a technicality, they are here illegally. Trouble is, we still don’t have any reliable numbers on how much illegals cost, so we can’t say for absolutely certain that they are a drain on the public fisc. Let’s develop some credible numbers, compare them to the Cassidy/Okos numbers and see what we get.

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39 responses to “Illegal Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    If you didn’t have the socialist government “services”, people would be free to live where they want.

    Migration is a universal human right.

    Theft from one individual by the government to give to another is not.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    A 2004 JLARC report found that foreign-born (not necessarily illegal immigrants) make a “substantial”and “significant” contribution to Virginia’s economy and tend not to draw much on services.

    Now we have evidence that “illegals” pay taxes and contribute to society even though their papers may not be in order.

    This flies in the face of what state Republicans stirring up anti-foreigner bias would have you believe.

    And,Bacon, that is a “Big Whoop.”

    Peter Galuszka

  3. Ambivalent Richmonder Avatar
    Ambivalent Richmonder

    Jim- Lots of people make the claim that illegal/undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes. Maybe not at the gov’t level, but the grassroots conversations are rife with that accusation.

    And attempts to document the costs of immigration get a bit ridiculous- for example in Prince William Co.’s report on the costs of immigration they chalked up costs for park maintenance to immigration because immigrants use parks. Hmmm. Smells fishy to me.

    As for this sentiment:
    “The problem is the perception that they pay significantly less than they and their families receive in services and the fact that, I know it’s just a technicality, they are here illegally.” People who speed are using the roads illegally. People regularly lie on their income taxes and don’t pay all they ought. And we don’t demonize those illegals in the same way we do folks who’ve immigrated without going through the proper channels, which we all acknowledge are broken.

    I don’t understand why folks who come here to work are so much maligned. I have yet to meet an immigrant who’s said they’ve come here to sign up for the welfare roles.

    We still have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, and as Peter says immigrants make a significant contribution to our economy.

  4. Peter, Of course immigrants make an enormous contribution to our economy, our society and our tax base. I don’t know of anyone who disputes that. But there is a vast gulf between immigrants who are here legally (many of whom have engineering, computer science and other scientific degrees) and those who aren’t (many of whom don’t even have high school degrees).

    Ambivalent Richmonder, When people speed and get caught, they pay the price.(Ever hear of abuser fees?) When people lie about their income taxes and get caught, they certainly pay back taxes plus penalties, and if the lie is big enough, they wind up in jail. (Ever hear of Al Capone?)

    I can’t speak of others, but the only way I’ve maligned illegal immigrants is for being illegal. If they’re here legally and they get caught, I’m not saying fine them or thrown them in jail, I simply say send them back home.

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Somehow that last comment appeared under my wife’s name. Don’t know how that would happened. If she ever saw it, she’d probably would have been shocked and disagree with everything I said. When it comes to politics, she usually does!

  6. The extra cost of educating a child in an English as A Second Language program is just over $3,000 per child per year.

    That’s about 5X the state and local taxes collected per illegal (per the estimate in Jim’s column). And that’s just for the extra cost of ESOL education – not the base cost of education. And that is just the general education fund number, it does not include school construction costs.

    Illegal immigrants hold down the wages paid to the lowest earners in American society. While most economists believe that illegal immigrants provide a slight positive advantage to the US economy (I conclusion which I question) they are clear in thinking that the illegal immigrants make the lot of legally present poor people worse. Thinking mathmatically, if illegal immigrants provide a small positive but make poor people poorer – who gets the benefit of illegal immigration? You got it! Rich people. The construction company owners who pay under the table. The residents of Great Falls who pay less to have their lawn mowed.

    I also love the myth of “all the illegal immigrants want is a good job”. This theory is spouted most often by people from areas with little to no illegal immigration. In fact, plenty of hard working people do illegally migrate to the US. And then the relatives come to live with the first wave of hard working illegal immigrants. Many of these “second wave” illegal immigrants are unemployable or in trouble with the law. “Go live with you Aunt and Uncle in America” say Mom and Dad in Mexico. Many are not hard working people looking for a job.

    If the people of Richmond want to become a sanctuary location for illegal immigrants – they should go ahead and become one. They can instruct the police not to ask about immigration status, refuse to work with federal immigration authorities, refuse to use eVerify to ensure that employers are only hiring legal residents. They can do whatever they want. What they need to stop doing is trying to force a “look the other way” mentality on other jurisdictions that think our laws should be enforced. Once Henrico County has the same percentage of illegal immigrants as Prince William County the Richmonders will be singing a different tune.

    Jim Bacon has this one right. Illegal is illegal. It’s time to start enforcing the law – both on illegal aliens and those who employ them.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    You would not expect to pay a speeding ticket if the radar set was broken. You would not expect to pay an income tax fine if there was no legal way to pay the taxes.

    The immigration system is broken. The immigration control system is broken.

    That is our fault, not the immigrants fault. If you opened a storefront in everytown where illegals could go and get legal, without recriminations, the lines would be around the block. Put whatever requirements you want. Pay large fine, must pass english proficiency test, pay back taxes, Pay 1.5X taxes for ten years, anything you want.

    The lines would still be around the block. Don’t complain about illegal unless you are willing to set a standard that at least some people can meet. Ordinary people, not just PhD’s.


  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think the way to fix this is to give every LEGAL resident a $500 subsidy to make up for the loss to the illegals.

    ..or .. RH.. should it be $1000 ?

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    I still struggle with the question of why we want to import poverty as nation. If I own Acme Construction Company, I want illegal immigrants. If I want to create a new class of socially dependent people to vote for more spending and taxes, I want illegal immigrants. If I want to keep campaign contributions from Acme, I want illegal immigrants.

    But if I’m just about anyone else, I want legal immigrants with skill and education.

    NCLB compliance costs for Fairfax County are in the neighborhood of $70-80 M and rising. These costs are not all related to illegal immigration, but many of them are. Suppose we were to agree that the costs for NCLB compliance related to illegal immigration was $50 M. That amount of money would constitute a full one-half of the FCPS budget shortfall.

    We need legal immigration. We could even use a fair guest worker program. We don’t need illegal immigration. We’d all be better off were 50% of the businesses using illegal immigrants on a regular basis to go into bankruptcy.

    Alternatively, let me decide which tax laws or intellectual property laws I want to follow. I’d pay my real estate taxes and sales taxes, but I sure wouldn’t pay any state income tax.


  10. Anonymous Avatar

    “I think the way to fix this is to give every LEGAL resident a $500 subsidy to make up for the loss to the illegals.”

    You are learning.

    Only, you would not have the state set the price. Let the aliens bid for the right to come. And let Americans who do not want aliens bid for the right to come – and not use it.

    That would solve TMT’s angst because only the best and better funded aliens could come.

    But, if you think undocumented and unskilled aliens are causing a problem, just wait until our proffessionals have to compete with theirs.


  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    well.. we just need to get the Dept of Truth to investigate.

    We can start with the landscapers.

    The ones who get the most business because they have cheaper labor will have to pay subsidies to the more expensive landscapers who do not use cheap labor.

    See that way.. we don’t have to worry about illegals.. because everyone one that comes here will cause their employers to reimburse other employers who don’t use illegals.

    Instead of spending all that money on enforcement.. we spend it on subsidies.

    But if we did that.. wouldn’t that be putting all those border guards out of business? so who would be responsible for compensating them for the action that took their jobs?

    very complicated… we’re in a world of hurt without a functioning Dept of Truth here…..

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    “If you think undocumented and unskilled aliens are causing a problem, just wait until our proffessionals have to compete with theirs.”

    Not sure this is much of an issue as professionals around the world do pretty well even in lesser developed and middle income countries. Professionals are doing well in todays economy since they still add value to an enterprise most anywhere in the world. I haven’t seen too many accountants and engineers sneaking across the border lately.

    Unskilled and low skilled workers are where the issue is. There is too much labor chasing too little work, and this is a problem worldwide. Low skill labor has been either automated or competed out so much that there isn’t much opportunity anywhere in the world. Illegal immigration is really a result of countries trying to protect their blue collar workers through limiting visas. Basically you have too much labor supply for too little demand. This is driving down wage rates and increasing undocumented workers worldwide.

    Ideas out there like closing the border, fines/subsidies or improving education are likely to be expensive and may have marginal returns at best. I’m honestly not sure what the solution to providing low skill workers adequate employment is. There isn’t a Panama Canal, Hoover Dam or National Highway System to build and we’ve become so well off in general that it’s hard to justify most major projects. Until that happens you will continue to have migrants go wherever they have to to keep food on the table.


  13. Anonymous Avatar


    Well said, and a good ripost. I’m humbled.

    “I haven’t seen too many accountants and engineers sneaking across the border lately.”

    “Isn’t this a matter of how we define illegal? It’s legal if you want to come here and do expensive work, but illegal if you come and do cheap work.”

    “The ones who get the most business because they have cheaper labor will have to pay subsidies to the more expensive landscapers who do not use cheap labor.”

    By George, you have been listening.

    Now, how much landscaping do we need?

    I’m pretty much convinced that if I had the landscaping contract for my company, I’d make more than I do at my job. The grass is green, all winter. I can’t even imagine how much fertilizer that takes. But, runoff isn’t a problem because of the way it is arranged. The plantings are all in raised beds with impervious boders.

    We could have more expensive landscapers, and a lot less beauty. Is it a deal, or not?

    I watch the guy (probably hispanic) tha weedwhacks outside my window. That guy weedwhacks at four times the speed I do. He is an expert weedwhacker.

    Why dow we value him less than an accountant from Greece?


  14. Anonymous Avatar

    Following on ZS’ argument. Let’s assume for the moment that we (the US government) should make an attempt to ensure work or, at least, work opportunities for lower skilled workers.

    If that is the case, doesn’t that apply to US citizens before it would apply to any immigrants, much less illegal ones? I’m not arguing against immigration, but just probing ZS’ argument.

    If the goal is to ensure that lower skilled workers have a chance to earn a reasonable living, why expose them to risk of even lower wages by permitting large numbers of illegal, unskilled workers to flood the labor market? That seems inconsistent.

    Moreover, if we were to undertake this task, shouldn’t we put Americans before people from other countries? If elected officials really cared about lower-skilled Americans, they would crack down on illegal immigration.


  15. NoVA Scout Avatar

    The “legality” of the circumstances under which migrants enter the United States doesn’t inform the policy debate very much other than to suggest that US law governing this situation is sorely inadequate to address the economic reality. Whenever laws fail grossly to measure up to the forces of the market, one will get widespread evasion and avoidance. Anywhere in the world at any time in history where one finds a feeble economy next to a vibrant one, you’ll see labor inputs on the move, often at great risk and price to the laborers. I spent some time along the Iron Curtain in the bad old days. Land mines, barbed wire, machine guns, carefully maintained dead zones, and watch towers couldn’t stop people from crossing that border, but I never heard much kvetching about the “illegality ” of those movements. Of course, there was a significant political component there, but when one interviewed fugitives from the East, one found that the political motivations were, to some degree, coded references to the lack of economic opportunity in a socialist system.
    If Mexico had a booming economy and workers in the US couldn’t find a job, you’d find the flow going in the other direction. Frankly, I wouldn’t fault myself or my neighbor for crossing a line in the sand (or a minefield or a barbed wire fence) if he was to leave a hopeless situation behind and violate Mexican law by sneaking off to find work to feed or educate his children. So the discussion of “legality” only shows us that our federal system is way-broken and needs urgent, comprehensive reform. The political intelligence and fortitude to do something about it is lacking.

    The study you sight doesn’t break new ground. Economists generally have been telling us for some time that the benefits of migrant labor (even illegal migrant labor) outweigh the costs. What might be the case, however, is that costs in specific local areas outweigh benefits, but there has been very little effort to quantify that. Instead, one hears a lot of vaguely Brownshirt-like howling about undermining the national “culture”, lawlessness both petty and felonious, health issues etc. Where net local costs of a failed federal system are ably and credibly quantified, federal impact aid should be forthcoming until the overall system is reformed. Hats off to those who tried last year and were shouted down. They need to try again. Right now wouldn’t be too soon.

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    One reason there are not as many foreing-born professionals as legal immigrants is that the H1-B visa program has been cut to shreds. I should look it up, but I think it is about 65,000 a year. This is a post 9/11 reaction.

    Plus, if you ask any college official, you will find that it is harder and harder to get visas for foreign students to attend colleges or for foreign professors to even attend conferences in the U.S.

    One big reason why there are so few well-educated foreigners here is that the U.S. government keeps them out.

    Peter Galuszka

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Futhermore, Laura,

    While we’re on the topic. Let me tell you a story. When I worked in Moscow in the mid-1990s. I had a friend who was a doctor and was a professor of hematology at a Moscow institute. She is a perfectly decent, intelligent professional. She had been to the U.S. to visit a relative. When she wanted to go back for a second visit, some wonkish U.S. consul just said, “no” after a two minute discussion. She came to me for help. I went to the consul and had the window slammed in my face. I got mad. I learned that a young Russian film director had won an international award but the embassy wouldn’t give him a visa to go to San Francisco to pick it up at a convention. The lefties in the Europe media were having a field day.

    I called the embassy press office and asked them if they’d like to have another example My friend got her visa.

    What was in it for me? Let’s see. About a year later one of my Russian staffers in our office was very ill with colitis. She was bleeding to death internally. Her doctor called me with a strange request: there was a shortage of blood in Moscow and could I help? I thought about it and called my doctor friend who found the blood in about a day.

    Peter Galuszka

  18. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “The ones who get the most business because they have cheaper labor will have to pay subsidies to the more expensive landscapers who do not use cheap labor.”

    By George, you have been listening.

    Now, how much landscaping do we need? “

    as much as people want… right?

    surely.. you’d not be in favor of any of those nasty “restrictions” would you?

    We could set up border stations where anyone who wants a job in the US would be welcomed… made “legal” on the spot – and get a letter of reference to the Landscape company of their choice.

    what we are doing now.. is making landscaping more expensive than it should be.. and really out of reach for those struggling to pay the high interest rates on their home mortgages.

    These unfortunate people would be helped immensely if we encouraged even more cheap labor because then landscaping would be more “affordable” for everyone.

    Heck – I bet we could come up with an entire range of opportunities for cheaper nannies, janitors, road paving, etc…

    I just don’t understand what all the hoo haa is about.. here…

    why are you guys fighting this?

    cheap labor that affords every American the God-given right to get affordable landscaping or the nanny of their choice, etc has got to be a core American Principle… right?

    Heck.. I’ll bet even the Homebuilders Lobby would support this….

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    NoVA Scout – I could make your argument for intellectual property just as easily as for illegal labor.

    The legality of how someone obtains access to intellectual property doesn’t inform the policy debate very much other than to suggest that US law governing this situation is sorely inadequate to address the economic reality. Whenever laws fail grossly to measure up to the forces of the market, one will get widespread evasion and avoidance. Anywhere in the world at any time in history where one finds a feeble economy next to a vibrant one, you’ll see you’ll see intellectual property inputs on the move, often at great risk and price to the appropriators.

    Let the Chinese have unfettered access to all of Microsoft’s and Google’s intellectual property. We’d see some amazing and lower-priced applications and technology coming from China or Mexico or …. But I suspect that this result would not be acceptable. Heads, Microsoft wins; tails, the local carpenter loses! That’s the Virginia business community way!

    Why the difference?


  20. Anonymous Avatar

    Actually there are hundreds of thousands of H-1B and L-1 visa workers in the US now. The 65,000 number is just the new ones allowed per year, and actually Congress gave the biz interests an extra 20,000 last year. H-1B’s are for 3 or 6 years, L-1’s for something like 7 years and the L-1’s are unlimited.

    These visas have been used to replace US workers, especially in the area of CS/IT but they can be used for nearly any professional slot – accounting, engineering, nursing, etc. In some instances, US workers have had to actually train their replacements in order to get any kind of severance package.

    Last year an enterprising US programmer managed to catch a law firm advertising its services in helping US corporations get these workers. In its ad, one lawyer admitted that what “we” are doing here is avoiding hiring qualified US workers. Note that is QUALIFIED US workers. While I can see why the biz interests like this ploy, I find it hard to see why the people’s alleged representatives allow it.

    What is happening now is that many US students are starting to avoid those professions that are paticularly affected by outsourcing and what I call colonizing – being replaced internally by cheaper foreign workers.

    In 2003, about a year after I retired and moved to Blacksburg, a student informed me that CS/IT graduates from VT weren’t finding jobs in their field, the word was getting back to lower classmen, and they were switching majors.

    The WSJ had an article in 2005 in which “tech execs” lamented that they couldn’t get their children to go into science/technology fields. The children who were asked were frank as to why: Why spend years studying for a field where your job could be outsourced or you could be replaced internally at whim? Next time Bill Gates comes in to DC whining for more H-1B’s, remember this.

    Naturally it isn’t a good thing for the US to discourage its young people from pursuing STEM professions but that is exactly what is happening.

    Deena Flinchum

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    My understanding is that is that for foreigners to qualify for such visas, a U.S. employer has to stipulate that the foreigners have a high level of skills in short supply and those needs can’t be filled by U.S. workers.

    The fact is that U.S. colleges are not turning out needed levels of technology professionals who are born and bred U.S. citizens. This is a different phenomenon that your example of the U.S. student who shuns a technology field or the oft-repeated anecdote of the old U.S. professional who has to train a foreigner to take over his job.

    The sad truth is that a lot of IT jobs have been so commoditized that they can be easily offshored — just as cut and stitch textile jobs were. However, I doubt very much that the foreigner is here on an H1-B visa. More likely, they are residents of another country, say India, where the U.S. firm is offshoring. If you have clear evidence — and not just another anecdote –that a foreigner here on such a visa is taking jobs away from U.S. citizens, I’d sure be interested in hearing it.

    Peter Galuszka

  22. Anonymous Avatar


    Two web sites are below. As for stipulating that no US workes are “competent” to fill jobs, this is relevant only for green cards. The L-1 is for companies that have out of US sites already and are sending employees from another country to work at their US sites.

    There are other web sites with extended information but I tried to pick 2 recent ones.

    I started in what we then called DP (data processing) back in 1967. I loved my work and retired in 2002. It was exciting, everyday was a new challenge, and I learned my first programming language at 20 and my last in my 50’s. You expected things to change and you were expected to keep up.

    During my main-frame years, I saw young people with degrees in business etc accept positions feeding continuous form paper into computers at high volume IT firms in the hopes of eventually getting the chance to move into programming, so great were the possibilities in that field. Now not a single person that I worked with all those years wants their children to enter this profession. It’s sad but I understand it entirely. People want their children to succeed. That isn’t likely to happen in CS/IT these days.

    Deena Flinchum

  23. Anonymous Avatar

    Can you suggested any studies other than the Center for Immigration Studies, which professes the bias of the anti-immigration arm of the GOP? Anything a little less tainted?


    Peter Galuszka

  24. Anonymous Avatar

    By “tainted”, Peter, I assume that you mean it doesn’t agree with your open borders prejudice? You cannot get an honest story on immigration in the MSM. I suspect it’s because all those reporters don’t believe that “it” can happen to them. They are mistaken, but that’s a story for another day. Try Norm Matloff. — about him, then

    If you need more, I think I can get it. BTW as for “the bias of the anti-immigration arm of the GOP”, I’m probably to the left of 90% of Congress and have voted about 95% Democratic for the last 40 years. I’m just tired of both parties selling out to the biz interests to the detriment of working US citizens.

    Deena Flinchum

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    My apologies, Deena.

    I’ll check the cites out.

    Peter Galuszka

  26. Anonymous Avatar

    No apologies needed, Peter. I suspect you and I are on the same side in many respects, but we disagree as to the best way to go forward.

    After retiring from a wonderful career in IT, I have been spending a substantial amount of time in SW VA working as a volunteer in a variety of social services ranging from lining up musicians for the local Farmers’ Market to raising money for a no-kill animal shelter to helping the 65+ crowd figure out Medicare Part D. I agree with you on a lot of issues (based on your BR posts) but I disagree with you on the issue of immigration.

    Deena Flinchum

  27. Anonymous Avatar

    TMT: (NoVA Scout here – not sure I’ve properly signed myself in on JB’s new identification protocol, so this may show up as “Anonymous”)

    Not sure where your IP point takes you, but let me give it the following thought: If you’re making the point that technology and ideas move even more freely than migrant labor toward situations of economic advantage, I’d fully concur. Technology is essentially a “free good” in economic terms – advantages can only be temporary before imitation wipes out that advantage. This has always been the case and is even more so today with the variety of ways ideas can be transmitted and copied. The strongest economies can stay strong only by staying a jump or two ahead of the imitators and try to “tax” or monetize imitation through patent and copyright protections that either deter imitation or make it pay. But, yes, ultimately, technology migrates, generally with an alacrity and facility that makes the average border crossing menial laborer look primitive indeed.

    Nationl laws protecting intellectual property worked reasonably well into the early twentieth century, because national markets and, in the case of smaller countries like Great Britain, empires, were large enough and unattached enough that one could impose widespread enforcement. The current global economy sets such laws somewhat on their beam ends. This is why one hears and reads a great deal about efforts to memorialize a national-type protection into bilateral and mulilateral trade agreements with other regions or countries abroad. Without consent and active buy-in by the other party, ideas go out the international window without compensation, potentially undermining creative incentives even within nations that have strong IP-protection progams domestically.

    But, as for immigration, my point is that there is no situation in world history where one does not have this issue when disparate economies share a border (no matter how well fortified the border). Our current immigration laws are early twentieth century contrivances, with patchwork amendments, largely inadequate to address the kind of dark of night, cross-border foot traffic that forms the primary basis of vocal public complaint this past year or so. Our statutes are, by the way, similarly and dangerously inadequate to attract the kind of high end immigration that is vital to the national interest and in which we are at a sharp disadvantage with other high tech and industrial nations in terms of attracting modern skills. Both situations need close attention at the federal level. But, if someone wants to engage on the current immigration debate and thinks a good starting and ending place is to observe that that these labor movements are “illegal” under the law of the receiving (or in the case of the Soviet Bloc, the losing) nation, I suspect that not much can be done to protect the interests of the Nation.

  28. Anonymous Avatar

    NOVA Scout — my point was much less sophisticated than your analysis. I submit that most of those in the business community who advocate open borders (i.e., virtually unlimited competition for American workers (especially those with fewer marketable skills) from immigrants — legal or illegal, would certainly argue that full protection of law must be given to American intellectual property.

    That seems inconsistent and, even, hypocritical to me.

    I’m not anti-immigration. I would even support a fair guest worker program. But what I cannot support is “heads I win; tails you lose” policies. Controlling our borders and protecting the interests of those who are legally is not anti-business or racist. It’s just common sense. Fortunately, there appear to be a number of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who have common sense. Unfortunately, there are those who would readily sacrifice the rights of citizens and lawful immigrants for their own financial or ideological gains.


  29. Anonymous Avatar

    TMT: Given your explanation, I don’t think that the analogy/dichotomy between international protection of intellectual property and immigration holds up very well. IP protection involves finding international mechanisms for rewarding invention. While some businesses and businessmen do advocate minimally regulated movement of labor across borders (a fundamentally conservative economic position), I see no fundamental inconsistency between that position and support for international IP agreements. I know of no business leaders who advocate illegal immigration or “open borders”, other than in the context of removal of trade barriers (a la the European Union) to maximize efficiencies in the movement of goods and services in the region (another fundamentally conservative position). The security requirements of controlled personal movements at the borders is virtually universally recognized and not subject to serious dispute. Finally, your verbiage suggests that the purpose of immigration laws is or should be to protect American workers from “virtually unlimited competition.” An immigration policy designed as a protectionist measure to prop up prices for labor inputs is no better than trade policy designed to prop up the price of sugar. It is doomed to failure and represents the worst kind of liberal, left-wing, statist meddling in the economy. Immigration policy needs to promote the most efficient, low administrative/regulatory costs acquisition of labor at all levels of economic activity consistent with physical security and health requirements at the border.

    (NoVA Scout)

  30. Does everyone realize that we allowed people to enter the country and then adjust their status after they arrived here? This was done within the past decade where ‘illegals’ would be able to gain sponsorship through an employer. Now many of these people have been caught in a situation where they didn’t adjust but did purchase homes, have families etc… Do we think it’s just fair to deport these individuals as well? I mean we pretty much invited them, telling them – don’t worry you can fix the problem once you get here. And now we are pulling the rug out from underneath them. That’s un-American. This is why I believe some form of amnesty is required.

  31. Anonymous Avatar

    Good point. Plus, it takes months if not years for an immigrant’s case to be processed.There seems to be an assumption among immigration critics that all these foreigners have to do is go to an office somewhere and wham, bam, allis well. Not so. As they wait, what are they supposed to do? Especially if they live with children born in the U.S. and thus Americans.
    One thing I like about John McCain, by the way, is that he hasn’t joined in the usual GOP nativist lynching mob since he realizes that immigration is a complex problem with few easy solutions.

    Peter Galuszka

  32. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    We have a system where we allow the son and daughter of an illegal immigrant to join our Armed Services and go fight in Iraq.. and possibly be seriously injured.. and come back home …

    .. and we have folks saying that this solider’s Mom and Dad should be deported – no exceptions…

    So.. I don’t know the answer but it seems like to me that if a young person is 20 years old… and the Armed Services accept them for service – that telling them that their parents will be deported is over the top.

    Perhaps this does not describe the vast majority – but what it does point out to me is that the “one size fits all – no amnesty – period” is wrong.

    so when I hear someone say – that is what they support – then I sort of cross them off the list of folks who are truly interested in solutions.

  33. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Larry, you’re arguing on the basis of hypothetical and rare scenarios. Here’s where the debate stands in Virginia: Should we deport illegal aliens who have already been arrested for breaking the law (something different from entering the country illegally)? Nobody’s talking about hunting down illegals, packing them into cattle cars and shipping them back across the Mexian border. Most everyone is resigned to the fact that millions of illegals are here to stay and not much can be done about it. But… if one of them breaks the law, and he happens to get arrested, and it can be demonstrated that he’s residing in the U.S. illegally, then we send him home.

    That is the system we are moving toward in Virginia. (The other issue is what social benefits and government services are illegals entitled to. Of course, that presumes that they’re staying here and nobody’s deporting them down; otherwise there would be no need for such a debate in the first place.)

    So, getting back to your illegal immigrant serving in the military only to have their illegal mom and dad shipped home… It wouldn’t happen unless mom and dad got arrested for breaking the law.

    If you want to put yourself in the position of defending the right of law-breaking illegals to remain in the United States, I suspect you’ll find yourself in a pretty small minority.

  34. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    what’s the definition of “law breaking”?


    jay walking?

    public vagrancy?

    Isn’t there already a law for deporting folks who are convicted felons?

    are you advocating that those who are convicted of misdemeanors get deported also?

    I hope not.

  35. Anonymous Avatar

    JB: I think you’ve missed a lot of what’s going on here over the past year if you think the issue is whether to deport illegal immigrants who commit violent or serious crimes. That’s probably not even slightly controversial and I’m not sure that I have even seen reliable numbers to indicate that it isn’t happening as a matter of course already (there are complaints that it’s too easy for these deportees to sneak back in and there’s probably some disagreement about whether they should be deported before or after serving time here). But the real hoopla, demagoguery, and ugliness go precisely to the issue of deporting the whole lot of them, regardless of criminal record, and whether, short of that, one makes it impossible, through state and local regulation (as opposed to federal action) for them to subsist once here (thus encouraging self-deportation). The loudest noises are coming from folks who have no problem with deporting illegal entrants wholesale (including the parents of the hypothetical serviceman returning from Iraq), regardless of whether they have committed a violent or serious crime other than the unlawful entry.

  36. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous 9:17, You are correct in that a number of very vocal people are saying some extreme things. There have even been some extreme bills submitted to the General Assembly. But most of the crazy stuff never makes it through the legislative grist mill. As a practical matter, the serious debate over public policy — as opposed to fringe commentary on the blogs — is pretty much like I described it.

  37. Anonymous Avatar

    Jim Bacon,

    I hope this is not one of those extreme positions:

    We should not allow children of migrants to automatically become citizens. The case Larry mentions is a good reason to grant citizenship, but automatic anything is not in the best interest of the U.S.

    If we cut off certain accesses to services we will address the issue they are abusing social services.

    If we target some to critical areas like farm labor and the military we will keep the ones we really need and lose the ones who just see us as the land of milk and honey.

  38. Anonymous Avatar

    I see there are lots of liberals here who are blind to how much damage the illegals are doing to the US. Come live in a border state, heroes… you will see the damage. Phoenix was a nice city to live in years ago, but now its dirty, crowded, and dangerous. A good friend was killed by an illegal in a robbery. My father has been in THREE accidents with illegals, none of which had any insurance of course. SEND THEM HOME! They dont belong here.. Of course LEGAL immigrants are welcome. Liberals, open your eyes…

  39. Anonymous Avatar

    To Peter, who wanted “less tainted” information I can cite the situation in GMAC, Winston Salem where almost the entire IT staff was replaced by Wipro employees on H1/L1.

    Were the Wipro employees better qualified? Not really, if anything, less qualified as they are uniformly young.

    Ditto for BankAm in Charlotte- entire apt complexes in the neighbourhood are occupied by Infosys contractors on H1/L1- who displaced Bank Am It staff.

    Back in the 70’s, 80’s and maybe up to the mid 90’s there was a shortage across the board for IT skills which was being supplemented by TCS and Wipro and Syntel. Since then it is mostly supplanting

    It’s bad enough when your job is outsourced to India, way worse when your replacement sits at your desk

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