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Offline bigron

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Solving the Immigration Problem Means Addressing the Realities of Corporate Globalization

The current immigration crisis stems from deeper U.S. policy failures that must be addressed.





By Douglas Massey, Boston Review
Posted on May 28, 2009, Printed on May 30, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/140285/

This article is a response to Joseph H. Carens's Case for Amnesty, and part of a New Democracy Forum on immigration.

Joseph Carens has advanced a strong moral argument in favor of amnesty for irregular migrants in the United States. I agree with the need for some kind of legalization program and share his ethical concerns. The current immigration crisis, however, stems from deeper U.S. policy failures that must be addressed, or the problem of undocumented migration will simply recreate itself.

The core of the U.S. immigration dilemma is Mexico. Of the roughly eleven million people in the United States with undocumented status, about 60 percent -- some 6.5 million people -- come from Mexico. The next closest case is El Salvador, with around 570,000 undocumented migrants, followed by Guatemala at 400,000; the numbers drop off rapidly from there. If we deal effectively with migration from Mexico, other immigration problems become small by comparison and much easier to resolve.

The roots of the Mexican problem go back to 1965, when the U.S. Congress ended a 22-year-old temporary worker agreement with Mexico and enacted a new cap on immigration from the Western Hemisphere. This measure was followed in 1976 by updated country-specific limits. In a few short years, Mexico went from enjoying access to 450,000 annual guest worker visas and an unlimited number of residence visas to having no guest worker visas at all and just 20,000 visas for permanent residence.

The number of migrants entering the United States from Mexico did not change very much after 1965. What changed was their legal status. Before that year there was no significant undocumented migration to the United States, but afterward the population grew steadily to reach an estimated five million in 1986.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was enacted in 1986 to deal with the emerging immigration crisis in three ways: legalizing former undocumented migrants, tightening border enforcement, and criminalizing undocumented hiring. Despite the long history of Mexico-U.S. migration and the obvious demand for Mexican workers in the United States, the law made no provision for the legal entry of additional residents or workers.

The lack of provision for legal movement was especially counterproductive because Mexico and the United States were drawing together economically. By 1994 the two countries had signed a joint agreement to lower barriers to the cross-border movement of goods, capital, information, services, commodities, and certain classes of people. But within the newly integrated North American economy, the United States refused to recognize the movement of labor. Instead in 1993 and 1994 the Border Patrol launched a series of police actions to blockade the nation's busiest border sectors.

The result was predictable. After falling to around two million in the wake of IRCA, the undocumented population quickly began to grow again thanks to the lack of legal avenues for entry. In response the United States further militarized its southern border, increasing the Border Patrol's budget by a factor of ten between 1986 and 2002 and raising the number of agents fivefold by 2008.

In the context of ongoing economic integration within North America and continued labor demand from the United States, this militarization of the border did not reduce the number of undocumented entries from Mexico. What it did do was dramatically lower the number of undocumented exits.

Militarizing the border increased the costs and risks of undocumented border crossing, and migrants quite logically adapted to this new reality by minimizing border crossing. But not by deciding to remain in Mexico. Instead, they hunkered down in the United States once they had run the gauntlet at the border.

In response to tightened border enforcement, undocumented emigration from the United States was halved. By making no provision for the movement of workers within North America and by militarizing the border with our second-largest trading partner, U.S. policy did not merely fail -- it backfired, actually doubling the net inflow of undocumented migrants to produce today's population of eleven million.

Although legalizing undocumented migrants may be a moral imperative, an amnesty will not by itself solve the underlying problem of undocumented migration. Mexico is a trillion-dollar economy with 110 million people, and it is a friendly nation with which we are increasingly integrated socially and economically. Yet in terms of immigration policy, we treat Mexico like any other nation, allocating to it the same number of visas as to Botswana or Nepal. In the absence of legal means to accommodate the legitimate demands for work and residence visas, the flow has been diverted to unauthorized channels.

If undocumented migration is to be solved in the long term, we must address the realities of North American economic integration by providing for the legal movement of workers between Mexico and the United States. Increasing the number of permanent-residence visas and once again making temporary labor visas accessible to Mexican workers is the greater part of that effort.

This policy makes practical as well as moral sense, given that many jobs in the United States are seasonal in nature or do not provide earnings sufficient to support U.S.-based workers in a competitive global economy. Moreover, contrary to what most Americans think, the vast majority of Mexicans do not begin migrating with the intention of settling permanently in the United States. Instead they come to work temporarily in order to accumulate savings or generate remittances to solve an economic problem at home. If they had their druthers, most would return home after one or two periods of short-term U.S. labor. Militarizing the border with Mexico only frustrates the natural desire of migrants to circulate rather than settle, driving up the costs of immigration to the citizens of both countries.


Douglas S. Massey is Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and coauthor of American Apartheid and Miracles on the Border.

© 2009 Boston Review All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/140285/

Offline bigron

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Countering the Spin: Earned Legalization Isn't Penalty-Free "Amnesty"

Drafting immigration policy means understanding necessary structures of American law already in place.


By Marc R. Rosenblum, Boston Review
Posted on May 29, 2009, Printed on May 30, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/140284/

This article is a response to Joseph H. Carens's Case for Amnesty, and part of a New Democracy Forum on immigration.

Joseph Carens argues persuasively that some undocumented immigrants should be able to adjust to lawful status and eventually obtain citizenship by virtue of time spent within the host country. Where undocumented immigrants have strong enough social connections in their adopted states and have otherwise become productive members of society, the "harm" from enforcement (i.e., forced deportation) is "entirely out of proportion to the wrong of illegal entry." Carens also recognizes, without emphasizing it, that the opposite point also follows: for immigrants with very weak connections, the benefits of enforcement outweigh the migrants' moral claims to remain. Thus, the policy question is all about where to draw this line.

I have three disagreements with Carens on how to distinguish between deserving and undeserving cases. First, Carens argues that the overwhelmingly important issue is the amount of time an undocumented immigrant has spent in the United States, and he warns against "subjectively" weighing other mitigating factors like family and community connections in the United States. Yet to ignore these factors also represents a value judgment, and in fact the citizen families (and employers) of undocumented immigrants are among the biggest losers from an enforcement-only policy. The distribution of scarce visas (or scarce opportunities for legalization) must account for the claims of these citizens.

Second, Carens argues against attaching a penalty to legalization (i.e., he favors "amnesty" over "earned legalization") on the grounds that illegal migration is not a serious crime. But his own analogy implies the opposite conclusion: if undocumented immigrants are similar to speeders, then requiring them to pay a fee or to perform community service is an appropriate part of the legalization process. A speeder should not have her car taken away for a first violation, but there is no moral claim against paying a speeding ticket. The legalization process also must be burdensome so as not to encourage future undocumented immigrants -- a consideration Carens is too quick to discount after our experience with the Immigration Reform and Control Act's permissive legalization regime -- and to satisfy Americans' broader sense that misdeeds (such as jumping the queue for legal visas) should be punished.

Third, if Carens is too forgiving of immigrants' culpability in arguing for a penalty-free amnesty, he is also too lenient toward U.S. policies and their promotion of illegal inflows. On a basic level, U.S. policy decisions "constructed" illegality in the first place by imposing a visa regime on an existing social and economic phenomenon. But the more important point is that the underlying structure of migration flows -- the pushes, pulls, and social networks that overwhelm visa restrictions -- are themselves the product of policy choices. In the case of the United States and Mexico, for example, active U.S. recruitment of "guest workers" after World War II initiated the modern migration system; and the failure to include labor provisions in the NAFTA agreement and other trade deals sustains migration pressure.

The harm of an enforcement-only approach to the U.S. citizens connected to undocumented immigrants, and the role of policy decisions in creating the problem both suggest that a more inclusive approach to earned legalization (but not amnesty) is required. Why, then, does comprehensive immigration reform remain so controversial?

One set of reasons, surely, is ideological. Some Americans place more weight on the tradition of personal responsibility than the equally American concepts of forgiveness and rehabilitation. A more troubling form of ideology is rooted in racial and ethnic bias, as some Americans apply different standards to immigrants of color and migrants from the developing world than they do to European migrants, whether recent or from earlier waves of migration.

Yet even if we agree on the morality of earned legalization, designing a successful and fair policy of earned legalization is still a challenge. In particular, how can a penalty structure satisfy our sense of justice and deter future undocumented flows while still accomplishing its primary goal of allowing meritorious immigrants to take advantage of the program and to become full members of U.S. society? The scope of the problem is also daunting, especially because undocumented immigrants will rightly be required to "get at the back of the line" behind would-be legal immigrants with pending visa applications -- a group of some 4.9 million for whom visas are not currently available. Thus, legalization inevitably implies significant growth in the United States's legal migration system, at least in the short-run, which is an especially hard sell in the midst of a historic recession.

The logic of Carens's argument also suggests a framework for resolving this tension moving forward. The United States should consider replacing most non-family and non-humanitarian migration -- including the majority of existing "temporary workers," but also perhaps most recipients of employment-based and "diversity" green cards -- with "provisional" visas. These visas would grant temporary work eligibility and would allow immigrants to transition into more complete levels of membership as they accrue a greater moral claim to permanent residence (based on time in the United States) and as they demonstrate their ability to contribute to the U.S. economy and society (based on a documented history of legal work, payment of taxes, English language acquisition, etc.). The terms of the provisional visa could be set, by definition, to guarantee that immigrants who qualify for a "contract extension" meet the criteria seen as desirable in future citizens.

By opting into this system, immigrants also would agree to make the contracts enforceable, perhaps by accepting additional reporting requirements during the early period of their visas; and they would give up a moral claim to remain in the United States if they fail to meet the requirements of the provisional visa. A system like this would lower the stakes of more generous visa numbers up front because it would recognize that not all immigrants want to be or should be on a path to permanent residency or citizenship. But it would also build in the flexibility to insure that those who remain do so legally and by mutual consent.


Marc R. Rosenblum is Senior Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute and Associate Professor of Poltical Science and Robert DuPuy Professor of Pan-American Studies at the University of New Orleans. He has recently completed a book, Defining Migration.

© 2009 Boston Review All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/140284/

Offline bigron

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Historically, America Both Legalized and Deported Immigrants -- Since 1996 it Only Deports Them

The longer migrants stay in the United States, the stronger their moral claim to remain. So why do we keep kicking them out?


By Mae M. Ngai, Boston Review
Posted on May 27, 2009, Printed on May 30, 2009
http://www.alternet.org/story/140282/

This article is a response to Joseph H. Carens's Case for Amnesty, and part of a New Democracy Forum on immigration.

Joseph Carens offers a persuasive case for granting amnesty to unauthorized migrants. He argues that liberal democracies should acknowledge the social ties that migrants establish over time, which make them de facto members of society, even if they lack formal legal status. The longer migrants stay in the United States, the stronger their moral claim to remain. In effect, Carens says, the better answer to the misalignment of social inclusion and unlawful status is legalization, not deportation.

Carens writes from the standpoint of the ethical commitments that undergird liberal democratic societies. I would like to add a historical argument. The history of American immigration policy suggests two lessons of current relevance. First, as long as we have had restrictions on immigration, we have had provisions for both deportation and legalization. Carens's argument is worthy, but it also is not new; legalization has always been based on the same principles: length of stay and familial ties to citizens. Second, there is a rough correlation between race and legalization. From the late nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth, the United States established myriad policies that enabled some irregular migrants from Europe to legalize their status, but harsh policies toward those from China and Mexico.

From the time of the founding of the republic through most of the nineteenth century, immigration to the United States was normatively open. It may be hard for us today to imagine a system with no passports, visas, quotas, green cards, border patrol, deportations. The first restrictive immigration laws were the Chinese exclusion laws, passed by Congress in 1875 and 1882, first barring "Mongolian" prostitutes and then all Chinese laborers. Enforcement included both extreme interrogation of new arrivals and deportation of those without legal status. In 1892 Congress required legally resident Chinese to carry a permit; failure to produce it on demand was punishable by a year's imprisonment at hard labor followed by deportation -- unless one could produce three white witnesses to vouch for one's legal status. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the permit requirement, ruling in Fong Yue Ting v. United States that aliens entered and remained only by "the license, permission, and sufferance of Congress." The court did strike down the provision for imprisonment at hard labor.

In 1882 Congress also passed the first general immigration law, which excluded from the United States convicts, lunatics, idiots, and persons likely to become public charges. By World War I the list of excludable categories grew to include contract laborers, persons with "loathsome and contagious disease," prostitutes, polygamists, and anarchists. These exclusions indexed concern over potential drains on the public coffers and fears of moral contaminants. The first deportation law, passed in 1891, authorized the removal of aliens who within one year of arrival became public charges from causes existing prior to landing. The expense of deportation was borne by the steamship company that originally brought the unwanted immigrant. Deportation was thus conceived as appropriate only for persons with limited length of stay in the country. Even as Congress extended the statutes of limitations on removal to five years for certain categories in the early twentieth century, it still hewed to this basic principle. However, that appreciation of immigrant settlement and incorporation did not extend to the Chinese, whose exclusion was based on a racial logic that Chinese were inherently unassimilable. There was no statute of limitation for deporting unauthorized Chinese.

When Congress passed the first numerical restrictions on European immigration in the 1920s, it provided no statutes of limitations for violations of the quota laws, evincing a different attitude toward trespass against the nation's sovereignty than it had toward individual qualification. By the early1930s there was public outcry over the deportation of immigrants, especially those of European origin with longtime residence in the United States. Frances Perkins, who as Secretary of Labor was responsible for enforcing the immigration laws, devised various administrative mechanisms that allowed for the legalization of irregular migrants. By the 1940s and '50s Congress passed legislation for suspension of deportation and legalization of status in cases of long-term residence, marriage to a citizen or a legal immigrant, and where deportation would result in "hardship" to the deportee or to family members left behind. The data suggest that far more Europeans were regularized under these programs than were Latinos or Asians. But both racial advantage and disadvantage were often leavened by ideology: the two big "red scares" of the twentieth century, after World War I and after World War II, especially targeted European-immigrant radicals. During the cold war, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) deported unauthorized Chinese in the United States who were leftists, while offering legalization to unauthorized Chinese who foreswore association with communism.

The imposition of numerical limits on immigration from countries of the Western Hemisphere under the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 led to an upsurge of unauthorized migration from Mexico and Central America. There were two responses: on the one hand, nativist outcry against illegal aliens and, on the other hand, mobilization by a growing Latino political constituency for recognition and inclusion. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act responded to these competing interests with a compromise -- amnesty for the undocumented, greater border enforcement to prevent future unauthorized entry, and employer sanctions to prevent employment of irregular migrants (this latter provision was never seriously enforced). During these years the INS adopted a rationalized method for granting suspensions of deportation, involving a balance of equities that weighed the seriousness of one's offense against one's length of residence in the United States, familial and community ties, evidence of reform in the case of criminals, etc.

At the same time, the meaning of "hardship" steadily narrowed so that by the 1990s it was virtually useless as grounds for voiding a deportation order. Indeed the 1996 immigration laws (passed just as Congress was ending "welfare as we know it") made removal mandatory for nearly all cases of unauthorized presence, with no administrative discretion or judicial review. America's long history of practicing both deportation and legalization pretty much came to an end. The United States now only deports people. Amnesty, no stranger to the history of immigration policy, is now considered politically unthinkable. In fact, some of our older policies -- statutes of limitations on unauthorized presence and mechanisms on the books for individuals to adjust their status -- are actually more sensible than one-time amnesty programs because they serve as built-in correctives that prevent the accretion of a large unauthorized population.

When the Supreme Court stated in 1893 that Congress had the absolute authority to expel Chinese migrants, that authority applied to all immigrants, at least in theory. In practice, however, immigration policy was much more forgiving toward unauthorized migrants from Europe. For a time, during the long civil rights era, Asians and Latinos were able to tap into that tradition. But that inclusionary impulse has since given way to exclusionary nativism, in which anxiety over migrant illegality has been arguably a proxy for racism against Latinos. But, in a twist of contemporary colorblindness, it also has become virtually impossible for all unauthorized migrants, regardless of national origin, to legalize their status. In a sense, Justice David Brewer's dissent against arbitrary deportation in Fong Yue Ting, has come to pass: "It is true," he wrote, that "this statute is directed only against the obnoxious Chinese, but, if the power exists, who shall say it will not be exercised tomorrow against other classes and other people?"



© 2009 Boston Review All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/140282/

Offline marra

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We will open our borders when we need more slave labor thank you very much.  We don't need any right now because of the "Terrorists" ... they are better off being slaves... over there
If we simply got together and used our heads, we could have whatever our hearts desired