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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Fix Immigration

Category: Immigration
Posted: 03/19/17 15:35

by Dave Mindeman

We are getting immigration all wrong. Completely wrong. And unfortunately, with this administration there is little chance to get it right.

There are some key points to consider....

1) Undocumented immigrants have American citizens in their family.

Many came here during hard economic times and established their family in America. One Texas family has the mother and father undocumented, while they have 4 children born here in America. You can argue about whether that was right or wrong - but the Constitution stands behind those children. And to break up that family because we don't have the political will to fix immigration is the bigger wrong.

2) Most immigrants who came illegally are paying their own way.

This argument that undocumenteds are "draining" the system is simply untrue. In fact, many of them have established businesses that are hiring other Americans and giving them a living. There is an example in a small Illinois town where a Mexican restaurant in town has become a popular business. Everyone in town calls the owners friends. They are neighbors. Now, it has been discovered that they entered the US illegally. Again, they have American born children. And even though the town voted Republican, they want to find a way to help them stay. There are many more like this couple. They pay taxes. They contribute to the economy. They pay Social Security that they can never collect. How is this right?

3) They are not taking away American jobs.

As stated above, undocumented immigrants are creating jobs. They work extra hard... establishing businesses, and some take several menial labor jobs at a time, knowing they do not have the safety net that comes from American citizenship. Our labor force is changing. And right now, business is finding that they have a labor shortage. The college level degrees are not matching up well with what business needs. Businesses often go overseas to get the technical trained people they need. And that creates its own set of immigration problems.

4) It is an economically driven cycle.

Over the last few years...and now, the net migration from Mexico (which seems to be Trump's focus) is zero. In fact, more Americans are moving to Mexico than the other way around. But when Mexico's economy takes a downturn, the vibrancy of our economy is an attraction. People still look to the US as a land of opportunity. They come here for jobs, to escape oppression, or to reunite with family. These are not sinister goals. If you are looking to fight terrorism, you are looking at the wrong place. Terrorists will find more covert ways to enter this country. Taking a chance at the southern border is just not one of them. And we should be happy that America is such an attractive place to build a new life. Immigrants built this country. Immigrants brought innovation and new ideas. Immigrants have empathy with the plight of others and strive for that better world. The ebb and flow of economics will always affect immigration cycles. We need to prepare and address that rather than use the baton of law enforcement in a heavy handed way.

5) Undocumented immigrants are not a danger.

Donald Trump has distorted the description of undocumenteds as if they are a burden of crime. This is not even remotely true. Sure you have some that commit violent crimes. But statistically, that part of the population commits less than the rest of us. It is a categorical fact. We all know by now, that Donald Trump makes up his own statistics - so he would never agree. But for the rest of us, we can know this. We cannot take isolated horrible anecdotal incidents and extrapolate that as a common thing across an entire class of people. That is the type of thing done by repressive regimes all around the world. And it is the type of tactic that many of these immigrants have fled from within their original country.


Here is the bottom line. Our immigration system is the problem...along with a dysfunctional Congress. We need to examine this without fearmongering and discriminatory attitudes. We have come close in the past to legislating a solution. We still can, but with Donald Trump as President, it will be very difficult.

The truth is we need more immigrants. We need more innovation. New ideas. Dedicated workers. Business needs them. Our economy needs them. We are moving into a new technological economy that is needing unique skills and new education standards. And a workforce willing to change and innovate.

We need new language skills. More science skills. More computer technology skills. More out of the box thinking. And yes, a desire to dream.

Americans can do this - but we need more diversity to make it move into the future. And we need a complete overhaul of how we do immigration.

There is a framework. It is in the Senate...but even that is now outdated and needs more critical thinking.

This culture of hate is holding us back. We are going to fall behind other established democracies....or, potentially, we are going to drag them down with us and allow China and Russia to surpass us.

We are better than this. WE ARE MUCH BETTER THAN THIS.

Fix immigration. Then move forward to a better future.
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Trump, The GOP, And Immigration

Category: Immigration
Posted: 07/12/15 02:39

by Dave Mindeman

Republicans are digging a deep hole on immigration and as usual they are trying to push their own inaction on the issue onto Democrats in some kind of desperate attempt to move the spotlight away from them.

The latest diversion is sanctuary cities. Cities that do not move against illegal immigration unless some other law enforcement issue comes into play. The San Francisco tragedy (a woman murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been deported several times) has become Donald Trump's latest exploitation on the immigration issue.

Sanctuary cities are regarded as a necessary status for law enforcement in many largely hispanic communities. If undocumented residents are not routinely targeted via routine police actions, the police can get the cooperation of the community on other crime related matters. Undocumented residents are still investigated for illegal activity and deported when convicted of crimes. But without the sanctuary status, the police get silence and no cooperation.

However, let's review how we got here. In 2013, the US Senate passed a bipartisan version of a decent immigration bill that addressed the majority of issues that are such hot potatoes right now. That bill has since sat in the US House awaiting action; getting none. This bill would have eliminated the need for sanctuary cities. And it would have addressed the problem of undocumented immigrants by giving them a path to citizenship.

But the House has refused to act... and immigration thrives as the most divisive issue in America.

Even now, Republicans could end this debate by taking up the immigration bill and fixing the problem. But the issue has gotten out of control. Facts are lost. And action is impossible.

Now, it seems, we want to build an impenetrable fence when the net border crossings is actually approaching zero. The Mexican economy has improved so much that many families are moving back.

Donald Trump convinces his vocal followers that Mexico is exploiting us. That they are dumping their undesirables across our borders. That the US is getting duped in trade agreements.

All of this is made up by a man who has never had a handle on the truth and does business by saying what people want to hear.

But there is also a willing and receptive group that want to hear this rhetoric. They are also willing to act on it. Trump has found the way to stir the pot.

And if facts are not deployed....if the rhetoric continues to heat up...and if the Republican Party as a whole is not strong enough to meet this anger head on, then the battle lines of division may move beyond the point of no return.

Donald Trump may be delighted at the attention and probably doesn't care where it leads....but that only proves that Trump doesn't really care about this country and if the Republican Party is too cowardly to put a stop to it, then they don't care about this country either.
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FearMongering On Immigration

Category: Immigration
Posted: 07/08/15 13:09

by Dave Mindeman

I would say there is a very good chance that during the Presidential campaign we are going to have another round of fear mongering on immigration. It is a favorite conservative topic -- and one that seldom deals in real facts. Because when it comes to undocumented residents most of the numbers and statistics are just guesses.

Here is how the Census Bureau estimates the undocumented:

Most use data from a survey taken by the Census Bureau each March that asks individuals in a very large and statistically controlled sample to identify their country of birth, and compare the number born outside the United States with the number of permanent resident aliens, authorized temporary workers, asylees and naturalized citizens known to be present. When the latter is subtracted from the former, the residual number of persons are presumed to be illegally present after adjusting upward for an estimated undercount of individuals likely missed in the surveys.

That method has an enormous potential for error. Our complicated LEGAL system of immigration makes it difficult to maintain contact with many who enter the country legally and even more difficult to determine if any of them have stayed past their Visa, left, or have changed status. The immigration service simply doesn't have enough staff -- although we seem to find plenty of money for border agents.

The days of the "drug mules" and people wandering the desert has become an outmoded caricature of our own perceptions of illegal immigration. The majority of it comes from the expiration of legal visa stays.

Pure illegal entry has been dropping for a decade:

At the height of the illegal-immigration crisis in 2000, 1.6 million illegal immigrants entered the United States. Since 2012, the numbers are down to about 400,000 -- and they've gone down so far this fiscal year by another 28 percent over last year.

Frankly, the money we are spending on fences and barriers and more agents is wasted money. At some point, a huge, long fence will become a monument to our own foolishness. Money that should have gone to basic infrastructure is going to attempts at appeasing our fearmongering.

Donald Trump exploits those fears and we let him get away with it, as he uses made up numbers and exaggerated examples. It is noted that in the US about 80 million people are either first or second generation LEGAL immigrants. Our population is a mixture of the world's cultures. Yet, we lump legal and illegal together in this constant parade of fear mongering politicians....all too willing to exploit ideas that can't be factually proved.

I would hope that this surge in discussion will find its way to real facts and solid numbers that give us the true picture of our actual dependence on immigration for our growth and stability.

Unless you are a Native American, we all came from somewhere else.
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