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Pitting Worker Against Worker

Posted on Apr 30, 2010
AP / Bob Bird

By Moshe Adler

Editor’s note: In this May Day special feature, economist Moshe Adler argues that the answer to our immigration, labor and broader economic problems is more immigration and more welfare for all.

All that is wrong with our immigration and labor policies—for the two cannot be separated—is on full display in New York City, where it plays out every day in the city’s small grocery stores. Virtually all of the workers in these stores are undocumented Latin American immigrants. Yet in the adjacent supermarkets, the same jobs are held by American-born workers of all colors. The usual excuse that these are jobs that “Americans won’t do” obviously doesn’t apply. What is the explanation then?

In 2002, then-New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer discovered the answer: The small grocery stores pay their workers about half the minimum wage. And what did he do about it? Not much. In exchange for a promise from the grocery store owners not to do it again, he forgave them for their past wage theft. What Spitzer did not do was hire workers to enforce the minimum wage law. (This would have required tax money, and he had his eye on the governorship.) Instead, Spitzer devised a plan by which the merchants would pay for the enforcement themselves. Nothing came of it. Eight years later, the workers in these small grocery stores are still overwhelmingly undocumented immigrants and there is little doubt that their employers continue to steal their wages.

Do illegal immigrants depress the wages of other workers? Of course they do. Supermarket owners will refuse to pay much higher wages than the wages that their competitors pay. Yet the law is not enforced, either against the illegal immigrants, although they swell the ranks of those who seek employment, or against the employers, even though they hire these immigrants at illegally low wages. What is a worker to do?

The academic literature about whether immigration depresses wages is contradictory; some studies find that it does, while others find it does not. But all of these studies suffer from the same methodological problem, which is that interpreting them requires broad assumptions that may not actually hold. These assumptions are significant enough that each camp can continue to dismiss the other. When I present these studies to those of my students who are union construction workers, they laugh them off. They have no use for complex mathematical models when they can drag anybody to construction sites that employ illegal immigrants at low wages—and they know firsthand that this puts direct downward pressure on their own wages. This is what employers tell them. “You are too expensive,” they hear all too often.


Square, Site wide
Once we admit there is a problem, must we back draconian, Arizona-like measures against illegal immigrants? On the contrary. If illegal immigrants did not need to fear discovery, the small grocers would not be able to pay them illegally low wages. But legalizing immigrants would not end the problem that immigration creates for underpaid workers, because immigration changes the makeup of the work force to the disadvantage of workers with low levels of education in particular.

Immigration does not have any effect on the share of workers with college degrees, regardless of the level of degree. The percentage of workers with a bachelor degree, for instance, is 22 percent among U.S.-born workers, but it is also the same 22 percent in the entire work force, which includes immigrants (both legal and illegal). The percentage of workers without a high school diploma, however, is 6 percent among U.S.-born workers, and 9 percent in the entire work force. This is an increase of 50 percent in the share of workers with low levels of education, an increase that certainly has an effect on wages.

Of course, more workers means greater demand for goods and services and, therefore, more jobs, but here is where balance matters. If the growth in the labor force is weighed against one group, that group will suffer. When the additional workers are paid low wages, the negative effect is larger, because the economic stimulus that poor workers generate is small. In 1950, a worker without a high school degree earned 60 percent of the pay of a worker with a college degree. By 2000, the wage of the worker without a high school degree decreased to just 8 percent. There is no doubt that globalization and the loss of manufacturing jobs had a lot to do with this deterioration, but there is also no doubt that immigration—which is the flip side of globalization—was also a contributing factor.

How can we deal with the imbalance that immigration creates? One way would be to open our immigration doors even wider in order to increase the share of immigrants with high levels of education, and to permit immigrants who are professionals to practice their professions. Many of us have had a taxi driver who was a doctor or an engineer in the old country. With more immigration of the highly educated, the relative position of workers with low levels of education will improve. 

Another way would be to enforce the existing labor laws in order to prevent employers from playing immigrants against citizens, and to add government programs that address the problems that immigration creates for underpaid workers, regardless of whether they are immigrants or not. American workers who walk every day into coal mines put the lie to employers’ claim that there are jobs “Americans won’t do.” But workers must be able to support themselves and their families. The minimum wage law should be enforced—and the minimum wage raised—in order to turn all the jobs that currently only destitute immigrants are willing to do into jobs that can support families.

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ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, May 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment


What is your position with regard to the effects of pauperization on the populace caused by Privatized Capitalism, and are you ror or against dispauperization?

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By ThomasG, May 13, 2010 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Forcing the populace to be dependent for their subsistence upon capitalism by the making and enforcing of legislated law and order that denies the American populace the alternative of independent subsistence resources is unacceptable tyranny and oppression, that was originated in 16th Century Britain and has been utilized by privatized capitalism from that time to the present to subordinate the independent subsistence needs of the populace to the private needs of capitalism for the benefit of privatized capitalism of the few at the expense of the independent subsistence needs of the populace.

It is time for a change from the populace being dependent for their subsistence upon the unreliable whims of privatized capitalism to the populace being independent of privatized capitalism for the means of the populace’s subsistence.

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By ThomasG, May 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment


Pauperization uses legislated law and order to make and enforce laws that by expedient means expropriate and confiscate independent subsistence resources of the populace and force the populace to be dependent pauperized employees, dependent upon privatized capitalism for subsistence; privatized capitalism does not provide sufficient dependent subsistence resources as fpay for the populace to subsist beyond the level of poverty; and, as a result, privatized capitalism then accuses, condemns, denounces, rages against and ridicules the populace, that capitalism has intentionally pauperized, by Capitalism forcing the populace to be dependent upon Capitalism for subsistence while at the same time denying the populace the independent means of subsistence for reasons that Capitalism calls an evil of socialism.

If Capitalism is incapable in the United States, after over 230 years, to provide dependent subsistence to the populace beyond pauperized standards, the United States as a nation must make and enforce legislated law and order that provides independent subsistence resources to the populace similar to what was enjoyed by the populace prior to Britain’s enclosure movement as exemplified by the Feudal Peasant Economy, so that the populace is no longer dependent upon Capitalism for subsistence.

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By ThomasG, May 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

The doctrine of the political economists that tried to redefine Adam Smith’s Theory along with Thomas Malthus’ Theory on population is what this is all about, and both were found to be fallacious arguments in the 19th Century; why is failed economic policy of the 16th and 17th Centuries political economists being rehashed, and pretending that it has value, when history says otherwise?

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By nickmammano, May 6, 2010 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

As others have pointed out, proposing Israel’s policy toward immigrant Jews as a workable alternative to U.S (and Arizona) policy toward Mexicans is absurd.

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By ron hansing, May 6, 2010 at 8:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The reality is that the world and many in the USA hates our country. But, get this, they all want to come here… Why… freedom and opportunity.

That is why I probably will not leave, since all the other places are worse.

But besides the point, the minimun wages hurts young people…. the most. Denying them a chance to reach for the brass ring.

The solution, enforce the emigration laws, protect American workers first… The reality is that undocumentated workers, suppress wages for the citizens, the poor, blacks and latinos americans the most. With decrease supply, wages increase.

That was the lesson, the Lords and Vassels learned after the Bubonic plague wiped out the labor force in europe, ( The rich quarantined themselves in the castles, thus more likely survived in far greater numbers.

So, if a vassel wanted his crops picked, he had to pay the highest competitive price.

Ironically,the plague was the cause of the rise of the trades, and the middle class.

It’s simple, supply and demand…. And the governemnt’s first responsibility is to protect jobs of citizens.

Why does Al Sharpton lambast the AZ law… Is he not advocating taking away jobs for the blacks…

Ironically, Mexico has very strict immigration laws… And Israel… bans non-Jews to immigrate.

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By jimch, May 5, 2010 at 11:15 pm Link to this comment

“I say Bravo to Arizona and their law. Wish I made enough money to go on vacation there.”
To which I say YES!
And furthermore…Jan Brewer for President!

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By sensato, May 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

Adler’s column is a Swiftian satire…right?
The cure for immigration problems is to end it completely and totally. FDR did not allow immigration during the Depression and in very many ways we are in worse shape now. Immigration picked up as businesses decided to challenge the New Deal for a new generation and purchased the needed politicians. To their thinking the best way to end or curtail “benefits”,ie The New Deal, was to flood the country with people from the third world who had no idea about democracy or rule of law. Also, ever read about the gov’t study that purports to statistics that says if you or your family have been in America more than a few generations you are not as productive as “new” people. If the gov’t believes this it certainly explains why our educational system is so poor. Why bother educating when we can replace. I say Bravo to Arizona and their law. Wish I made enough money to go on vacation there!

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By Jackie, May 5, 2010 at 10:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In our current world one pretty much needs money to have survival needs like
food, shelter and clothing met. How do we get money? By working or stealing.
Can someone be blamed for wanting to obtain money legally, i.e. getting a job?
So if illegal immigrants are getting jobs, isn’t someone hiring them? Isn’t the
source of the problem the employers who enrich themselves by exploiting illegals
and cheating citizens of jobs? What does it solve to blame and go after illegals
instead of employers? We need to seek solutions instead of devolving into
emotional hissy-fits and abstract theories. Life can be a soap opera or not, up to

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By melpol, May 5, 2010 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

The vast majority of illegal immigrants work for budget minded home owners.
Even the sheriff employs them. The anger against the illegals is mostly coming
from redneck malcontents or renters that drink moonshine and smoke weed while
illegals do the repairs.

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By bogi666, May 5, 2010 at 5:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I admire the socialist government of Israel American taxpayers should realize that it is their tax monies which enable Israeli’s to enyoy benefits for mostly Jews only especially the immigrants, 100%. Americans provide $1,000 per year for each Israeli which enables Israeli’s to have socialized medicine which includes massages with snakes and/or chocolate lotion. The USG should be as considerate with its citizens as the Israeli government is with theirs.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

“And I looked, and behold a redhorse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

You paint an apocalyptic picture of illegal immigration.

The experiences you relate remind me of a scene from a Chuck Norris movie, but your experiences differ greatly from my experiences, so I have difficulty relating to them.

“There are a number of latino websites that now openly call for a new separate latino homeland (Aztlan) within the United States. This militant separate racist faction has infected the dialogue about illegal immigration and has been the main force behind implementation of the “racecard” to silence discussion.”

I’ve done a little research, and as far as I can tell, Aztlan is the name given by Mexicans to the former Mexican territories taken by the U.S. I’ve seen references to Aztlan: Shoes, art galleries, tattoos, graphics, clothing, art, and a L.A. rock fusion band. There is a website I accessed that claimed Spanish speaking High School and College students were Castro loving communists. I can recall similar comments made about U.S. High School and College students during the 60’s. Let me caution you about websites. Sometimes the information you get on websites is not reliable, and disinformation and propaganda are prevalent. I visited a website where David Duke claimed the Jews destroyed the Twin Towers. I visited another website where it was claimed that

“The late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the 20th century’s most acclaimed literary figure and historian, reported in his final book, Two Hundred Years Together, that the Jews were the revolutionary conspirators and mass murderers responsible for the Communist holocaust in which a mind-warping 66 million innocent victims were tortured, imprisoned in filthy, gruesome gulag camps and, finally, unmercifully executed.”

Luckily, “,” The 20th century’s most acclaimed literary figure and historian, missed the unmerciful execution of the 66,000,000, he was deported to the West by the Soviet Union. And then there is Goebbels, who first blamed the Jewish Bolsheviks, then Jewish Czechoslovakian and Polish rapists and murderers, and finally Jewish plutocrats from the West.

I don’t like to post this kind of lunacy, because there are some people who will believe it.

There is “one” website I found that posted comments by Castro, wherein Castro recommended that the U.S. should give back the former Mexican territories to Mexico. Whether Castro is the secret force behind illegal immigration has not been verified yet. Any further information you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Whether this website which represents a “…militant separate racist faction (That) has infected the dialogue about illegal immigration and has been the main force behind implementation of the “racecard” to silence discussion,” has been as successful as you claim, is debatable, there seems to be a great deal of discussion about this issue, and I’ll suggest that the “Main force” in opposition, has come from, some progressives, and civil libertarians. Have these progressives and civil libertarians been brainwashed by this website? Again any further information you have about this issue would be greatly appreciated.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 4, 2010 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Apacolyptic Horseman (Cont.)

“Many have demanded that latino youth gangs be viewed in the same light as the Irish I.R.A. and their crimes be viewed as legal action agaist white oppression. A “Conquista” has been declared in Mexico for the re-conquest of the American Southwest.”

Who are these “Many”? The only connection between Mexican Gangs and the I.R.A., I can find, comes from a fictional television show called, “Sons of Anarchy.” Again, further information would be helpful. Also, I haven’t been unable to find any reference to the “Conquista” that Mexico is advocating. More info please.

“There have even been towns in South Texas that have made English an illegal language.”

I’ve been looking for these, “towns in South Texas that have made English an illegal language.” I can’t find any reference to them. I did find a town, “El Cenizo, Texas where Spanish has been adopted as the official language with English translation available at meetings and included in all documents. The town has a Spanish speaking population. This town has also declared itself to be a sanctuary for illegal aliens, but as far as making English illegal, no.

“Communist/Socialist influence is also a major factor in the organization behind the demand for eternal amnesty. How could you not believe that Cuba and South American Socialist factions don’t have a finger in the pie.”

I’ll give you this one. I’m not sure, but I’ll suppose socialists and communists are for “eternal amnesty.” Many believe you can get “eternal amnesty” if you become a Christian. I think “Little Jack Horner” may have a thumb in too.

“The primary funder for the Middle East is the drug trade.” Do you mean Afghanistan? Afghanistan is in Southwest/Central Asia. I think the U.S. and Saudi Arabia need to be factored into the funding for the Middle East, Afghanistan, wherever.

“Believe what you want, but I now travel armed. The last of many incidents is as follows. A friend and I are eating in a small restaurant when three latinos enter and sit at another table. Next comes the “mad dog” which we try to ignore. Soon you can cut the tension with a knife. At last their takeout order comes. The last man out makes sure I see the .38 stuck in his belt. I’m sick of this s#@%!! It’s every
other day here. There’s a war going on and the stupid f%#@‘s in D.C. want to give what’s left of my country away.”

Thanks for letting me believe what I want. Like I said, my experience with Spanish speaking people is very different from yours. I live in the Southwest, and I have spent the last three years working with many Spanish speaking people. I have found them to be easier to work with than many whose language is English. There is a lot of conflict because of immigration and drug issues, and there is a lot of crime, blue collar and white collar. If there is a war going on, I believe it would be a war with violent criminals, of all sorts and varieties, and not with illegal immigrants. All white guys are not Dahmers, McVeighs, Blankenships, or BP executives etc. and all illegals are not members of drug cartels, or gangs. Illegals are illegal, but they won’t be after “The stupid f%#@‘s in D.C.” Give what’s left of your country away. Put your gun away, and try to deal with it peacefully, without fear or hate. Based on your post, I’m fairly certain that you won’t.

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By SteveL, May 3, 2010 at 9:42 pm Link to this comment

We have the dumbest trade and tariff policies on the face of the earth.  No other
nation is stupid enough to do this to their own workers.  Change the trade and
tariff policies to something that makes sense and quit blaming the Mexicans
which by the way had nothing to do with congress stupid policies.

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By MarthaA, May 3, 2010 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

AT, May 3 at 6:33 pm,

Cheap labor IS capital.

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By REDHORSE, May 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment

I’ve spent three decades listening to American latinos complain about their distain for what they term “Western Culture” (code for, white people bad).I was always in sympathy for the Mexican worker and still am.

  There are a number of latino websites that now openly call for a new separate latino homeland (Aztlan) within the United States. This militant separate racist faction has infected the dialogue about illegal immigration and has been the main force behind implementation of the “racecard” to silence discussion. Many have demanded that latino youth gangs be viewed in the same light as the Irish I.R.A. and their crimes be viewed as legal action agaist white oppression. A “Conquista” has been declared in Mexico for the re-conquest of the American Southwest. There have even been towns in South Texas that have made English an illegal language. Communist/Socialist influence is also a major factor in the organization behind the demand for eternal amnesty. How could you not believe that Cuba and South American Socialist factions don’t have a finger in the pie. The primary funder for the Middle East is the drug trade.

  Believe what you want, but I now travel armed. The last of many incidents is as follows. A friend and I are eating in a small restaurant when three latinos enter and sit at another table. Next comes the “mad dog” which we try to ignore. Soon you can cut the tension with a knife. At last their takeout order comes. The last man out makes sure I see the .38 stuck in his belt. I’m sick of this s#@%!! It’s every
other day here. There’s a war going on and the stupid f%#@‘s in D.C. want to give what’s left of my country away.

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By melpol, May 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

It is sending good money after bad if an investor has to scrape the bottom of the American barrel to hire an employee. It takes a bullwhip to make them move. Most illegals are sound of mind and ready to work hard without supervision, They make a sound investment even at legal wages.

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By AT, May 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Has anyone figured out the answer of the riddle: cheap labor vs.  capital yet?

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By SoTexGuy, May 3, 2010 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

Let’s not get too gushy over Israeli policy and practice.. they have very strict, some say apartheid, immigration and naturalization laws.. And their military backs it all up.

They also have a neighboring country overflowing with desperate and needy people. Their ‘Mexico’.. is right next door, the Palestinian territories. Israel has fences and laws and guns and tanks and planes and bombs to keep the desperate and poor people out and under control.. and they frequently use those tools.

I’m not advocating such action by the USA to enforce our borders! Yet it seems obvious that even with our current troubles in America .. the dichotomy between the quality of life here and conditions in Mexico is worsening… and something a little like that smoldering war between Israel and much of the Middle East is developing here along our southern border and beyond.

About the waves of cries coming from the Progressive and Liberal community for open borders and amnesty for illegals.. in the name pity and humanity! I have a suggestion..

Much of the collapse of order and more in Mexico and Central America comes from the ascendancy of the ruthless narco-traffickers and government efforts to regain control.. Stand up for poor people and poor nations to our south and beyond.. take away all the funds and power of these destabilizing and lawless gangsters.. Put down your pot and your coke and whatever else.. right now!

Make a difference.. you can personally do this. That one small choice could very well end the Drug war and all the pervasive evil it entails. Including the flow of desperate refugees from our south.

Isn’t it at least worth a try?


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By MarthaA, May 2, 2010 at 10:41 pm Link to this comment

The Republicans are making a propagandized mountain out of a mole hill.  The United States needs to learn from Israel how to handle immigrants.  Moshe Adler’s post is worth reiterating:

“But the problems that immigration creates can and should also be addressed directly. An example of how to do this is provided by Israel, because there the problem of immigration is even larger than it is in the United States. In the U.S., 39 percent of the population growth in the years 1990-2004 was due to immigration. In Israel during the same period, 86 percent of the population growth was due to immigration.”

“Of course, the concern in the U.S. is not about all immigrants, just about illegal immigrants. In Israel, on the other hand, virtually all of the immigrants are legal, as long as they are Jews. While this policy is objectionable in all kinds of ways, it’s nevertheless a useful case study in terms of immigration, since the immigrants to Israel are often poor. (Most of them, 80 percent in the years 1990-2004, came from the former Soviet Union.) So how does Israel deal with this influx of destitute immigrants? By letting them have enough time and enough income to find where they are most needed, they don’t add an imbalance to the work force as a whole.”

“Jews who immigrate to Israel receive welfare for 18 months, which in Israel is not called welfare but “assured income.” Immigrants also get subsidized mortgages if they wish to buy apartments, or rental subsidies for five years if they wish to rent. As for the makeup of the work force, immigrants get free vocational training and university students get stipends. Finally, free health insurance is available to immigrants for six months. The end result is that immigrants are absorbed with little or no opposition from workers: The work force grows, but so does the demand for labor. Some immigrants become construction workers, for instance, but the demand for housing and therefore for construction workers grows as the new immigrants are housed.”

“Needless to say, giving these benefits to immigrants only would never be acceptable to workers who are themselves poor. But what if all poor workers got education, training, subsidized housing, and health care? These policies would be costly, but simply ignoring the problem and unleashing the immigrants on the low-wage job market without assuming any responsibility for the consequences is cruel not only to immigrants but also to low-wage, hardworking citizens. The problem of immigration cannot be separated from the problem of labor, and it’s time we dealt with both.”

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By Carl, May 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment

There are simple solutions!

Here is part of a simple solution from 2002, yet the media nor or corporate political leaders will even mention it.
#1 Establish 24/7 federal courts to instantly hear deportation cases. 

    Most American cities have continuous courts in session, like “night court”, to quickly resolve minor legal issues without keeping people in jail for days.  However, the entire US Court system runs on a formal “calendar” with regular hours and holidays.  Because of the flood of immigration cases, the calendar has backlogged in many districts. Since it is impossible to detain most illegal immigrants who are arrested for several weeks until their hearing, hundreds of thousands are set free each year.  This has become so well-known that one-third of those arrested for violating immigration laws demand a deportation hearing, even those caught “red-handed” crossing the border or presenting false passports or visas at airport arrival stations.  As a result, 85% of those arrested who demand a hearing are freed in the USA after promising to appear a few weeks later; 90% of them never show. 

    Tom Ridge should tackle this problem immediately by requesting the establishment of ten federal immigration courts in areas with high case loads.  Ideally, some of these courts would be inside major airports, like: JFK, LAX, and Miami.  He would request the appointment of 100 new magistrates and introduce the esteemed judges to military and police life of working nights, weekends and holidays so detainees who demand a hearing see a federal magistrate within hours of arrest.  Aliens attempting to play the court game will be sent back across the border or put on a flight home within 24 hours.  In other cases, the judge may determine that a mistake may have been made and order the suspect released, detained, or released on bond.  Ironically, this will eventually save money each year because of lower prisoner detention and transport costs.  Eventually, the illegal immigration game players will learn that the “demand a hearing” loophole has closed and the problem will subside.  This will free Border Patrol agents to spend more time making “new” arrests and allow immigration officers to pursue those who overstay visas.

#2 Aliens arrested in the USA are not eligible for political asylum. 

    The “political asylum” game is well known in the Third World.  A billion people on Earth are repressed and can present an excuse for asylum.  They are welcome to apply at any US embassy or consulate overseas, or while they are legally visiting the USA.  However, they should not be allowed that option after arrest for violating US law by entering illegally or overstaying their visa.  Each year, thousands of people who are caught at US airports with a forged passports or visas demand “political asylum”, and then are allowed to enter the USA anyway pending a hearing.  Thousands more who are arrested for overstaying their visas or lacking any legal documents scream “political asylum” for prompt release.  Over 90% never show up for their hearing. 
This was posted eight years ago:  This would end the crazy “catch and release” game that Bush once promised to end. This also explains why Federal agents don’t like to waste time picking up illegals arrested by local police.

Over 99% of sane Americans like the idea of quick deportations for ALL arrested, but our leaders (and even truthdig) will never post such logic.

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By American Observer, May 2, 2010 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People keep raising this issue of Hitler and Stalin.  In both of those cases, you
are talking about people who were already citizens of a country, having their
citizenship taken away, and being driven out or killed for who they were.

In this case, we are talking about people coming into the country illegally and
taking jobs.  No other country in the world permits this.  They are not fascist
countries.  It’s unacceptable for obvious reasons related to the rights of
citizens to jobs, and jobs with living wages.

We’re not talking about executing people or sending them into the clutches of
a famine.

They are citizens of MEXICO.  Which is an industrialized, westernized nation
with an infrastructure, “free speech,” and a democratic election system. 
Demonstrate in Mexico!  Vote your officials in or out at home!  If you have a
family member in Mexico City, while you live in Los Angeles, you’re closer to
your family members than an American who visits them over Christmas in NY!

Are Americans swarming into Canada to take jobs and health care?  And then
demonstrating because they were able to stay long enough, and out of sight? 

This is absurd in the 21st century.  Send people back, hold the Mexican
government accountable, enforce the borders.

Do something about employment and health care for Americans.  I’m not
interested in voting for any of our clowns in Washington until that is

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By truedigger3, May 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

OzarkMichael wrote:

“If we dont want illegal immigration, then lets stop it. Regain control of the border. This is something that the nation must decide and not one state. “


Although I agree with this 100%, this will never happen with things the way they are right now.
The corporate elite who control both the Democrats and Republicans want the illegal immigration to continue to supply them with continuous stream of cheap and intimidated labor and will do eveything in at their disposal to subvert any REAL control of the borders or any attempt to ENFORCE any law with REAL teeth in it against illegal immigration.

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By samosamo, May 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment


By gerard, May 2 at 6:03 pm

““The world belongs to everybody and everything; it’s not just
theirs, and they are not stupid, so they must know this.  What
goes on inside their heads?”“

You should know what goes on in their greedy heads as they
have self proclaimed that the amount of money and precious
items one ‘owns’ determines who owns what and who tells who
what to do. And I doubt there is a more precise definition for
‘money is the root of all evil’. 

It should go without argument that having parents who spoil
their kids rotten, this is what should be expected, rotten kids
that grow into rotten adults, and humans raised this way NEVER
admit that they don’t own everything or at least more than you
or me.

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By truedigger3, May 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment


I agree with all your posts. Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions with us.

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By OzarkMichael, May 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

As long as illegal immigration is illegal, it generate illegal activity. And who is better at that than criminals?

Much like Prohibition, the illegality of it all attacts and empowers the criminal element, who become stronger and more entrenched every year. While law enforcement is progressively more overwhelmed and powerless. 

Like some of the posters here, I am done with the Democrats who look at illegal immigrants and see a vast field of potential voters. I am done with Republicans who see a vast field of cheap labor. And both see a pool of young workers who will help pay for baby boomer social security checks. Maybe there is more to it, but i think that is pretty much all the motivations right there.

So much is said about illegal immigration but no one ever quite gets around to actually tackling the problem.

I for one will not support any amnesty until we decide if we want unregulated immigration or not.

Nor would I support tougher law enforcement in one state. It isnt really fair to people when they have gained an understanding(from our own laxity) that they can come here and work. In one state they are welcomed and given welfare benefits but now in the next state they will be arrested? One day there is an unspoken agreement that you can be here but the next you are an outlaw? That is not right.

If we do want the immigration, lets stop pretending that its illegal. Lets change the law, and establish a process where all and sundry can gain their citizenship. Again, not on the state level, but on the federal, and the Feds(all the United States) are the ones who should pay for it.

If we dont want illegal immigration, then lets stop it. Regain control of the border. This is something that the nation must decide and not one state. One state alone is arbitrary and will resort to more force in order to catch-up after the fact. That isnt fair to the illegal immigrants.

This is our decision as a nation but for some reason it never gets decided. Therefore I do not support any interim ‘solution’. Yes, Arizona is tired of dealing with it on an ad hoc basis but two wrongs dont make a right.

Arizona, while it is good that you started the conversation, i think your state law is not going to help, and it will hurt instead.

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By American Observer, May 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why haven’t my posts gone up, truthdig?  Is it because I don’t agree with your advocacy of the corporate take-over of our national borders?  Because it’s complete b.s. what your writer says about people with college degrees?  I have a friend who worked past college in construction paying off his student loans.  I worked in the restaurant business after college.  You think people with college degrees don’t work in retail, trucking, hotels, restaurants, construction, lawn mowing, house cleaning, child care .. ??  What planet did you grow up on?  Did you have a job in high school?  What is so terrible about enforcing our borders and sending fence hoppers back home to an industrialized, westernized nation like Mexico with public schools, an infrastructure, and a political system where they can demonstrate and vote out their corrupt officials?

I am not boycotting Arizona.  But I am boycotting goods from Mexico.

35 million Americans out of work.  I don’t support another Ronald Reagan act.

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By Carl, May 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

Here is a classic example of how illegal immigration has devastated the poor working class. A few years back, Walmart began firing its nighttime cleaning workers and replaced them with “contractors.” These Walmart cleaners made just $7 an hour, but then Walmart had to pay for their worker’s comp insurance, and unemployment insurance.

Since Walmart already had the management overhead for these workers, how could it save money by using outside contractors? The obvious answer is they were paper shell companies using illegals who were paid half as much with no benefits, so Walmart earned even bigger profits. Walmart workers complained, so the Feds did some raids and ended this. They got their jobs back, and most were minorities.

So what are the lessons? Workplace raids have been halted throughout the USA, because Obama says they are evil. Workers are told they are either too lazy or too greedy to work menial jobs. Some 22% of legal American workers work for minimum wage, but that is never discussed.

If they demand that police enforce immigration laws using democracy, the media tells them they are racist. Corporate spokesmen, like Obama and Bush, announce the solution is “reform” that allows millions more cheap foreign workers to push them aside.

We are told that if it weren’t for illegal immigration, all hotels would close and no roofs could be fixed or crops harvested because only illegal supermen can do that work. In fact, most workers in those fields are legal, but suffer from low wages due to competition from illegals. Should they demand a higher wage or discuss forming a union, they are fired and replaced by any of the hundreds of illegals living in the areas. If the unemployed ask about work, they are told not to bother, because the overseers know that legals might demand overtime pay and breaks mandated by law.

Does anyone think truthdig might post this comment as a pro-worker, pro-poor, pro-minority article? No, it would upset their corporate sponsors.

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By gerard, May 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

I should have gone farther to say that it is doubtful such a simple system as unregulated capitalism (buy low/sellhigh) can ever bring about anything more than increasing social INjustice. 

I am amazed that these “smart business titans” (or whatever complimentary phrase Obama used) haven’t figured out what is happening, and if they have, why they aren’t more involved in helping to modify their sad impact.  The world belongs to everybody and everything; it’s not just theirs, and they are not stupid, so they must know this.  What goes on inside their heads?

To any “capitalists” who happen to read this:  Speak up, you guys. We’re all listening, and the silence is deafening.

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By Carl, May 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

Finally, he asks:

What is a worker to do?

The only option is democracy. Use the vote to pressure governments to enforce the law. For example, if they have proof that someone is here illegally, they should do something. That’s what Arizonans did, and its has really upset America’s billionaires who control America’s media.

Yes, truthdig pretends to be independent, but this past week its posts are filled with corporate America’s phony BS that democracy is wrong and that millions of illegal foreign workers have no effect on wages or unemployment. If truthdig editors read these posts, they will learn most object. But your poor readers don’t contribute nearly as much money as your covert corporate sponsors.

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By Carl, May 2, 2010 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment

Yes, Israel imported millions of Soviet Jews and can support them with billions of dollars in American aid. Then they put them to work by firing native Arab workers. He should fly to Israel and tell all the mostly unemployed Palestinians how this influx of millions of Russians has helped them.

He thinks American workers are just too dumb to read or understand his math. So he wants to fool the stupid prols with another amnesty, just like Reagan did. Just make all these lawbreakers legal, like we did in 1986. That way they can legally displace native born Americans!

Then in a magical world, no more illegals would come into America to await their “right” to become a citizen. Keep in mind that all the illegals before 1986 got visas, and this new batch of 20 million is the result.

So what would happen if the Feds deported say 500,000 illegals a year rather than just 300,000 in 2009? 1. More jobs for Americans. 2. Less urban crowding. 3. Less crowded county hospitals. 4. Less traffic and pollution. 5. More low cost housing opens up. 6. Less inner city crime 7. Less policing and fewer in jail. 8. Higher wages.

And on and on..

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By Carl, May 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

Here is more mindless and racist BS:

“Immigration does not have any effect on the share of workers with college degrees, regardless of the level of degree”

The H1B visa program has allowed millions of foreigners with degrees to replace American workers at lower wages. Even illegal immigrants have college degrees that allow them to perform complex work. Yet this fool wants to open the legal immigration doors even wider to displace more American workers.

I’m sure the professor’s wealthy friends enjoyed a good laugh at the absurdity of such logic. Let’s fool the workers by pretending to be on their side, then screw them by saying we need more workers even though wages are falling and unemployment is 20%.

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By samosamo, May 2, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

By gerard, May 2 at 3:54 pm

Thank you for presenting another astute reality of consequences
from the unfettered growth of the human species that are
unsustainable for the betterment of societies and civilization.

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By gerard, May 2, 2010 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

Certainly world over-population is causing worker to be pitted against worker, to the ultimate advantage of the capitalist system which proposes to thrive in getting the most for the least amount of expenditure.

It is doubtful that such an over-simple idea can every bring about social justice.

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By SoTexGuy, May 2, 2010 at 11:33 am Link to this comment

This article is one of the better pieces I’ve seen recently on the impact of immigrants.. more about the article in a minute.

Much is said of the trials and suffering of the Illegal immigrants.. and there’s something to it. Both during their journey to come here and in the ways they are exploited once here..

There are also advantages to being undocumented (a popular euphemism for illegal immigrants) .. For example: in Texas there are layers of laws covering everything from where and how you build your home to mandatory insurance for owning and driving a vehicle, even where and when sales taxes are due and payable to our Comptroller..

If I hold a yard sale and don’t pay sales taxes I could be in trouble (a long shot for sure) .. if you are undocumented and hold a flea market on any street five times a month then sales tax laws mean nada to you.. And where do dirt poor people get all that stuff to sell? .. and how is it they can generate five times as much garbage and waste (piled up on the curb and blowing up and down the street) as a legal resident family two doors down?

Driving without a license could cost me a bundle, without insurance even more.. ‘Undocumented’ citizens? .. ‘no hay problemas’! Your license was attained with false information (if you have one) .. the vehicle you’re in belongs to the cousin of your common-law wife’s friend.. or has ‘dealer’ plates.. somehow always miraculously just about to expire.. I own several vehicles that I’ve fixed up.. and must pay to have each one insured, inspected and registered.. Illegals scamming this system? Local law knows busting these people is drilling a dry hole! .. no money, no real address, no real name.. ergo: no fines and court costs to be had..

Even if the worst happens and one of our new friends from south of the border is busted and deported he or she may be back on Monday with a new name. It’s part of the ‘gran juego’.

For citizens there’s occupancy limits, health and appearance codes, safety codes, coastal area Hurricane construction mandates.. but not if your are a ‘povre’ or a ‘migrante’ .. Who cares that the property values in your neighborhood plummet? .. isn’t seventeen members of one extended family (14 are in public schools) somehow camping out in a 1200 square foot single family home.. boosting efficiency?

We should all have in our community dozens of these new ‘open plan’ homes built piece-by-piece from an old single-wide trailer dragged from a dump. If it ends up on top of YOUR house the next time Mother nature brings the big one?! Get a FEMA trailer!

Isn’t it the right of poor people, needy people, to ignore all our laws and regulations? If you are a progressive-liberal blogger living somewhere off the Border and need a nanny or a yard-man (or cheap pot) then apparently these and much more are the rights and privileges of Illegals..

Back to this particular article.. I like it.. but about the open-handed way Israel treats it’s (Jewish) immigrants.. I wonder if they could afford that if the Tax-Paying Citizens of the United States of America weren’t giving them a blank check for their huge military establishment?

Yeah, this is almost a rant and it lacks most anything positive or helpful… my apologies! To make up for that here’s reminding us of the real problem at hand.. and that problem is..

Illegal Immigration!


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By REDHORSE, May 2, 2010 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

It’s all done by legislative committe and the committes are controlled by former workers and lobbyist of the industries they are there to regulate. These thugs are placed on the committes by our Congress people who prostitute themselves for corporate money. Many in our Congress are former executives for major corporations. This is true of any industry and fuels the destructive chaos behind any topic discussed at this site. We all know this. Our so called leaders know we know this and they don’t give a #&@K!!

  Many ponder the question of why the German people went along with the Nazi takeover and eventual outright murder of its’ citizens. The same questions are raised about Stalin. Everyone likes to believe they would have done something in the face of such powerfull evil. (Poor Frodo Baggins crawling toward doom in Mordor.) And yet, we don’t even have the guts to force an overhaul of campaign contributions. The wagons are circled—no help is coming. Whose got your back??

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By American Observer, May 2, 2010 at 9:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

melpol,  show a link with a source on your data about seniors hiring Arizona. 
Back in my day, seniors hired high school or college students, or a fellow retiree. 
Watsa matta?  You need a docile subservient slave, massa?

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By dihey, May 2, 2010 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

I wonder whether Mr. Adler has ever visited the science, medical-biology, and engineering labs of our best Universities. If he has he will know that the languages spoken in these labs are overwhelmingly Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian-English, and Russian. Although this is not a reason to allow immigration from these countries only, the lopsided immigration from South of the Border does not help science and engineering much.
Many of these scientists and engineers are in our country on temporary visas. To change these to “Green Cards” is an unbelievable hassle of years and costs lots of money to pay naturalization lawyers. Yes, the immigration system is broken because we place numerous road blocks into the path of these highly educated persons.

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By melpol, May 2, 2010 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

Senior Citizens Need Cheap Labor
Retirees are the largest employers of illegals in Arizona. They need their homes
cleaned and sidewalks paved. It would be unfair to make them pay 50 bucks for a
domestic or 100 for a construction worker when they can get them both for much
less. Only a racist or a deranged person would try to prevent seniors from trying
to stretch their small pensions. Lets look elsewhere to solve the illegal
immigration problem.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 2, 2010 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

Fear is the normal conservative crutch used in doing
business, induce fear then, then get the word out, fear
travels fast.

Now, I do not know if Illegals are a criminal risk for
higher crime rates in Arizona.  When I visited in Mexico
a while back, they had armed guards standing with
weapons in the backs of trucks going into certain
housing communities. The crime in Mexico seems quite
high from what I see on the media. Some of that may
carry over the border and should be a concern and reason
for documenting workers?

As the populations increase and enjoyment and work
decreases, crime may be an only means of survival for
more people, not quite the same excuse one could use for
Goldman Saks.

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By melpol, May 2, 2010 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

Illegal construction,restaurant,and domestic workers will always find work in
Arizona. The new law only cools the anger of racists and malcontents.

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By photoshock, May 2, 2010 at 5:48 am Link to this comment

‘DaveZx3,The illegal immigrant represents cheap labor to the republican and a large potential voting block for the democrat.  For this reason, they have been virtually ignored for decades.  If not for our present economic woes, we could probably continue to virtually ignore them.

I, for one, do not begrudge the illegal immigrant who works hard and fills a niche.  It would be nicer if they would get legalized though, with some working papers or something.

But lets separate something out when discussing illegal immigration.  And that is the drug gangs.’

Yes, the criminal element among the ‘illegal’ although, economic immigrants are the ones who are causing the problems in Arizona. What about the rest of the country? It is not the fact that they are immigrants, not the fact that they are illegal immigrants, that causes the problems with the economic situation, it is the fact that the employer hires the undocumented worker at sub-minimum wage levels and therefore drives down the wages of those at the bottom end of the economic spectrum.
With the prices for even ‘state-run’ universities rising at a pace far outstripping the rise of the cost-of-living, the lack of demand for college educated workers in the U.S., i.e., middle management and the supervisory capacity workers in manufacturing, this is what is the crux of the problem in the U.S.
No one can doubt that the lack of manufacturing jobs,
the lack of need for skilled workers in manufacturing
and the lack of higher paying, low education jobs is the thing that is keeping the American worker on his knees begging for a chance to compete against an illegal, undocumented worker who will work at jobs that are not being filled by the employer with American workers, who can and do demand a ‘minimum’ wage and work just as hard if not harder to feed their families than the ‘undocumented worker.’
The solution, that is the problem, we need to force the government to pony up to their laws that they passed in Congress and signed by the president. Yet because of the lobbying efforts of the corporatocracy
we the American worker cannot expect to get even a fair shake at the economic table because of the hiring of and the continuing employment by those greedy bastards in the ‘corporatocracy.’
America has now become ripe for social revolution, we
the American people are fed up with the corporate oligarchs running the show, even the president with their large corporate dollars. We, the American people, cannot much longer abide the corporatocracy hiring illegal and undocumented workers without so much as a slap on the wrist from the government enforcing their own laws.
We need to spread the word, loud and clear, by shopping at stores that pay living wages, that hire only legal and true members of our society, and that do not spend hundreds of millions of dollars at the table of Congress and the President to buy their votes to keep enforcement of the laws at bay.
From one such as myself, a tried and true progressive and thoroughly liberal political animal, this sounds harsh and even may be racist, but the economic life of our country is at stake. We need the
Congress to stand up the corporate oligarchs and shove the out the door when they come calling. We need the representatives of the people to listen to the people not at election time, but now and always when we come calling.
Brighten up people, it is the corporatocracy that is running this country and we the sheeple keep right on buying their bill of goods, right down to the last
jobs that are filled by the American worker.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 2, 2010 at 5:45 am Link to this comment

I don’t know the numbers of illegals who are criminals (as you’ve defined them—a fair difference between illegals and criminal illegals), vs legal immigrants and US citizens who are also criminals—there are far too many of those as well.

The first assumption is that the criminal element in Arizona is made up primarily of illegals.

The second assumption made is that the percentage of illegals that are criminals is SO much higher than that of legals and citizens that it justifies a change in law.

I do not understand how these laws will help. If the illegal criminals are there, it’s because there’s so much money to be made.  One may therefore safely make a THIRD assumption:

The illegal criminals will have a pipeline to high-quality forged identification papers, rendering the laws USELESS.

But your analysis, while sounding like a very reasonable defense against the charge of racism, fails with the other policies being enacted. With these new laws banning studies of ethnic groups, and banning English teachers from having “heavy” accents (whatever that means) is clearly aimed at Hispanics. 

Would I, with my NY/NJ inflections that clearly differ from White Arizonans, have a “heavy accent”?  How about Blacks with a different inflection?  My son’s High School English teacher has an Asian accent—hasn’t stopped HIM from teaching The Odyssey or Great Expectations.

No, this law is CLEARLY aimed a Spanish-speaking teachers who are now teaching English.  It is absurd and racist. We are falling back into the hole of segregation and Jim Crow, and Arizona is merely the first state to do so….

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By DaveZx3, May 2, 2010 at 1:24 am Link to this comment

The illegal immigrant represents cheap labor to the republican and a large potential voting block for the democrat.  For this reason, they have been virtually ignored for decades.  If not for our present economic woes, we could probably continue to virtually ignore them. 

I, for one, do not begrudge the illegal immigrant who works hard and fills a niche.  It would be nicer if they would get legalized though, with some working papers or something.

But lets separate something out when discussing illegal immigration.  And that is the drug gangs. 

This is a completely different element.  They are not immigrants, they are criminals.  They do not cross borders to find a decent paying job, they cross borders to commit crime. 

They, the criminals, not the illegal immigrants, are primarily responsible for the measures that the state of Arizona has had to take to protect lives and property.  It has been reported, correctly, I believe, that way over 60% of those crossing the border illegally already have a criminal record and/or are transporting drugs. 

These criminals are responsible for more dead people than the whole Vietnam war. (if I remember the stats correctly)  They have turned Phoenix Ariz into the kidnapping capital of the world only behind one other non-U.S. city.  Arizona says they will no longer tolerate the problems these criminals are causing in their state.  I cannot argue with that.

But these problems, these criminals, MUST be separated from the illegal immigrant (worker) problem.  All US citizens, and all legal immigrants and illegal immigrants must separate their arguments so as not to support the real criminal element.

If by showing my ID every single day, I could help eliminate that criminal element, I would do it.  And I would plead with my peace-loving Latino neighbors, citizens, legal and illegal to be of the same mind.  It is not profiling - it is law enforcement, and it must be seen that way.  Show your ID with pride.  It is not against you, it is against the murderers. 

If an illegal immigrant has current work in the US, they should be given temporary ID’s to allow them to continue,, and they can work towards becoming legally documented.  But if an illegal immigrant has no work, and/or has a police record reflecting violence or drug trafficing, they must be deported.

But the criminal, who cannot in any way be considered an immigrant, must be brought to justice immediately.  These people must be rooted out of the population and put in jail.  It is a hard thing to do, and without the cooperation of all US citizens and immigrants, legal and otherwise, it would be virtually impossible.

I, for one, would have a lot more compassion for those demonstrating against the Arizona law if they would denounce this criminal element.  But I don’t hear anyone saying that.  Probably because there has been no differentiation stated between the illegal worker element and the true criminal/murderer element. 

But, If you want to demonstrate and have an impact on all of us NAZI’s, as you would call us, then you must come out and denounce the murders, kidnappers and true criminals, and separate your issues from theirs, and get the authorities to separate your issues from theirs.

If you don’t separate yourself from them, then you must be one of them, and you will get little continued support.

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By jack kane, May 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s the same old story over and over. In the old days, the owners used blacks to break strikes. Now they use Mexicans. This a scam of the commonest, ugliest type, and it works. Instead of fighting their common enemy, the workers fight each other. Instead of unionizing together with their Mexican brethren, people grovel and scream for the privilege of working demeaning jobs at insulting wages.

Enough of this supply and demand drivel already. It’s all just whitewash. Take unemployment. Unemployment is inherent to capitalism. It allows the owner class to control the workers through the threat of firing, and to depress their wages through the excuse of ‘the availability of excess labor’.
Do we have hungry people? Yes. Do we have homeless people? Yes. Then there is work to do. There shouldn’t be any unemployment. Unemployment is artificial. The idea that in a society where many go hungry and cold it is somehow natural to have a person look for honest work for a year, and not find any, this idea is absurd.

We mustn’t let ourselves get swindled again. The noise against the immigrants and against Iran is the same old tactic rulers have used since the inception of our crummy ‘civilization’. Our demands should be unconditional peace and the abolishment of personal fortunes. Instead of building bigger fences, we need to dismantle the nukes and Wall Street.
The alternative is more of the same: the stick if we get uppity, and a tiny piece of carrot to keep us from starving. Except these days we’re running out of carrots, and the sticks are large enough to vaporize the planet.

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By Alphysicist, May 1, 2010 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

I think comparing the U.S. immigration issue with that of Israel is not entirely appropriate.  As pointed out in the article itself, and by some commenters, Israel allows only Jews to become citizens, so it’s selective.  It would be similar if the U.S. only allowed WASPs to enter, or people of European descent. 

Moreover Israel’s borders with the neighbouring countries are closed.  Let’s assume (the unlikely event) that Israel opens borders for the countries around which are economically much less well off than Israel.  Immigration would likely skyrocket.  Would Israel still be able to provide all the benefits mentioned?  Hardly…

I do not know what the solution is, but the key is to work towards eliminating the economic driving force for emigration.  In Mexico’s case it is clear that there is too much U.S. meddling in its internal politics, and the economic oligarchy there is, if not created, but at least strongly supported from the U.S.  If Mexico was allowed to develop without this U.S. meddling, likely it would achieve a standard of well-being so that economic factors would not provide a motivation to emigrate. 

And I think the same rational is true for most other cases, but with the West substituted in the place of the U.S.

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By truedigger3, May 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment

Re:melpol, May 1 at 8:18 pm #

melpol wrote:
“Opening up the Mexican border is another solution..”
Definitely you are a shill for corporate Ameirca, which wants unlimited supply of cheap labor with no benefits and it doesn’t matter to your benefactors, that this will signal the end of the middle class in this country.

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By American Observer, May 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

American labor and immigration laws should be enforced.  The Mexican government should be held accountable for encouraging so many people to violate our laws and endanger our national security, and for failing to redress the employment issues in their own country.  In the age of airplanes, cell phones, television, it’s no big deal for family members to visit each other on the holidays from San Diego to New York, or San Diego to Mexico City instead.  If people can demonstrate here, they can demonstrate there.  Most of the people crossing in are not destitute .. they have enough cash to buy homes in their own locations or start a small business there.  We’re already a multicultural nation.  This is not about race or ethnicity, it’s about applying legally, and waiting your turn in line.  Or, just read melpol’s coldblooded post.  That’s about the gist of it.  Corporate control of our borders, with no national allegiance.  Just like our health care debacle.  Demonstrations today, May 1, are about scabs and corrupted labor unions.  “We work for American.”  Yes, that’s right, you do.  While 35 million Americans are out of work.  Btw, the writer seems to think that people seems to think that people with college degrees don’t ever want jobs in restaurants, hotels, construction, retail stores, medical clinics, hospitals .. and so on.

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By gerard, May 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So if corporations had not shipped the industrial jobs (and pollutioin) to countries where workers will work for less than in the U.S., what bearing would that have on joblessness here, and on the friction over Mexicans “taking our jobs,” for less wages, and “taking advantage of our welfare system” etc. etc.?

If corporations would invest in workers in the U.S., there would be less reason for friction over Mexican field or contracting labor—that is, IF the economy was function fairly and the corporations, through Wall Street investments, had not undermined the system and concentrated so much money in so few hands?

If U.S. workers are to be “ideal consumers” to satisfy that “system.” they have to earn money to enable their “consuming”, don’t they?

And if Mexicn workers are to eat and feed their families, they have to earn money to enable them to
eat, don’t they?

It can’t be all that hard to understand.  Why pit people against people, nationality against nationality, and create constant resentment and friction?  There has to be a better way to manage human affairs without the greed at the top constantly undermining societies.

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By melpol, May 1, 2010 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

The vast majority of Mexican Illegals toil in the construction industry as sub
contractors, they are also employed by restaurants or work as domestics. Due to
their status none are qualified for welfare payments. They cannot be blamed for
the fact that Mexico is ruled by a fascist and corrupt government whose
unemployment rate is over 40 percent.  The finger of guilt should only be pointed
at Mexico’s rulers, they must be replaced. Opening up the Mexican border is
another solution, at first it would cause many social problems, but with civil rights
it would not take more than a decade before Mexicans are assimilated into the US.

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By truedigger3, May 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

Comparing immigration to Israel to the illegal immigration to the US is like comparing sweet apples to very sour lemons.
Most immigrants to Israel live many years in a subsidised and “incentivised” existence regardless of the heavy costs and that is where the financial assistance and granteed “loans” from the US are very helpful.
The purpuse of immigration in Israel is primarly to attract people to increase the population and especially to settle the occupied lands in the West Bank.
In the US, there is no doubt that illegal immigration are hurting the working people in this country, tremendously, at all levels.
Illegal immigrants are no more just farm hands,  bus boys in resturants and mowing grass.
Many skilled and semi skilled jobs are taken by illegals for example in construction.
The only solution is to make employers accountable with heavy penalties, including heavy fines and prison temrs if they, knowingly, hire illegal immigrants and couple that with the introduction of a National Identity Card that is very hard to manufacture privately just like paper money.

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, May 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

I hate using “economics” to make a point, but in the 21st Century “labor” has been reduced to nothing more than a simple supply and demand metric for corporations, businesses and countries.

Our immigration “problem” is nothing more than a supply and demand scenario:

Labor comes here because it can be purchased at a discount price and we (all of us) encourage people to come here. Period. End of discussion. If the U.S. was really committed to solving the flow of illegals into the country, it would impose draconian penalties on those hiring the illegals. This not only means corporations and businesses. It means people like you and me who pay foreigners under-the-table.

The other economic problem facing immigration reform is also simple: As long as Americans can pay little for food, products and services, they won’t raise a hand to change things.

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By mike112769, May 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Very interesting approach on this subject. It won’t work without amnesty though, and that’s where everyone starts arguing.

The real villains here are the companies that hire illegals, and the government that doesn’t enforce its own laws.

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By Karl, May 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For those of us who care about the environment and treasure our country’s
open spaces, the notion of absorbing millions of additional bodies is
unthinkable. When you stop to consider that most of these new arrivals would
likely be coming from environments where the Catholic Church openly promotes rat-like breeding habits, the idea is even more chilling. Mr. Adler
seems to be of the opinion that this country has an obligation to hasten the
pace of its environmental destruction in order to accommodate throngs of
mostly poor, mostly uneducated people. Any thoughts of how this would
permanently alter the feel and culture of our society are casually dismissed as

Most of the world’s immigrants leave home because there are not enough
resources in their place of origin, and because corrupt government structures
prevent them ever improving their lives. Opening our doors simply moves the
problem from nation to nation. Having fewer children and reforming corrupt
governments always improves human lives.

Mr. Adler’s recipe for massive cultural upheaval is so poorly conceived, so
unworkable, I can’t help but suspect he’s just pulling our leg as a way of adding
some levity to the debate.

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By REDHORSE, May 1, 2010 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

Good article—-reasonable approach—good ideas—yes lets enforce the law—lets have a living/working wage and invest in reasonable solutions for a brighter future. And while we’re at it lets provide support and training for all American workers and immigrants.

In the meantime I’d still like to leave the house without arming myself. I’d like to live in the beautiful state this once was. I’d like them to not find mass graves of raped and murdered women in the desert. I’d like to see the drug war, human trafficking, identity theft, home invasion, kidnapping and black market murder disappear. Never mind the hatchett—lets bury the “racecard”. NO AMNESTY EVER—ENFORCE IMMIGRATION LAW NOW!!

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By gerard, May 1, 2010 at 10:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Leefeller:  Great point!  Controversy and manipulation are a big part of the grand program Divide and conquer!

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By Leefeller, May 1, 2010 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Interesting article and posts.

Is it possible,  illegal workers are not on the table
because the issues and divisiveness is wanted or
preferred for economic and political reasons? Always
seems to me controversy and manipulations are a big part
of the grand program, doing something about them seems
always not in the cards. 

If lobbyists via their benefactors wanted to do
something about, I believe they would.

This seems one of many distractions used for political

If there were no borders, what would that mean? They
would be legal?  As the world population grows and goes,
this is not just a problem in the USA.

Comparing the tiny Israel to the US seems a stretch, but
I believe the authors comments were aimed at the
different options as food for thought!

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By TheBrix57, May 1, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Another ivory tower resident commenting on the state of affairs of which he knows little to nothing about. Did he follow the invitations of his construction students to see firsthand the effects of illegal labor? Why did he always frequent the little grocery that employed non-minimum wage labor?

When you depress wages at the lower end of the scale, you depress wages across the entire spectrum. Construction and Manufacturing were two of the many industries where those without and with a college education could make a comfortable middle class living with only one income in the household. Notice the effect of illegal labor the past several decades have had on just these two industries? Most manufacturing is now done somewhere other than the U.S. and construction pays so little that everyone is leaving in droves.

Thirty years ago, a college graduate could expect to be employed fresh out of college at around $25,000 a year salary. Thirty years later a college graduate fresh out of college can expect a salary of $28,000 a year. But, now with service, manufacturing, construction and many other industries only paying minimum wage or slightly better, that fresh college graduate will be making more money. Still producing nothing, but making more.

Comparing the state of Israel with the small population that it has with the U.S. and the large population that it has is apples and rocks. Israel only allows some to immigrate to their country and the immigrants assimilate into the culture. Here in the U.S., the illegal immigrant wants all the benefits of living here without having to assimilate into the culture. Huge difference.

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By samosamo, May 1, 2010 at 7:06 am Link to this comment


What would really help and allow citizens of this country to
become small business owners would be to brake up the
vertically and horizontally integrated monster corporations, via
no doubt the anti-trust laws, so that people could become
competitive owners of the small companies that make up the
ridiculously huge corporate structure that is little worth to the
people and jobs but sure do benefit the few in the corporate club
at the expense of the people, financially and governmentally.

But this is a sick culture of greed in the good old u.s. of a. and
those aristocrats ain’t giving up their ‘good’ thing any time soon
because the have sort of worked hard to be in a tenuously quasi-
legal position to rob the people blind.

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By melpol, May 1, 2010 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

Open up the damn borders already, and let competition enter the market place.  The jobs belong to those that are affordable, not to those that wave a flag. Cost conscious employers have hired 20 million illegals, they are tired of listening to the moans and groans of fat overpaid workers who no longer can bend over and touch their toes.  This is a nation built on the laws of Capitalism not Communism. Its not how much you need, but how much you are worth.

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By omygodnotagain, May 1, 2010 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

Israel can do provide that assured income because they receive billions of dollars, one third of this countries foreign aid budget, along with all sorts of perks and trading advantages. They also have socialized medicine. Is it not bad enough that this country where 40% of the population has no health care,it should now pay for anyone who wants to cross the border. Israel only allows Jews in (acceptable racism??), and their services are subsidized by us. How about we stop giving Israel billions of dollars and perks and pay for proper border controls… now thats a good idea..

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By tedmurphy41, May 1, 2010 at 4:23 am Link to this comment

What is the point of laws if they are never going to be enforced?

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By Inherit The Wind, May 1, 2010 at 12:03 am Link to this comment

Interesting. While Prof. Adler sidesteps and avoids the simple and clear dynamics of the problem of minimum wage law, he proposes an amazing and hopefully better way.

Minimum Wage law appeals to all of us with a sense of fairness, myself included. If you say “minimum wage laws create unemployment and encourage illegal immigrants” you sound like a conservative GOP Palin-like asshole.

Yet wages ARE determined by supply and demand, just like prices of grapes or Blu-Ray disc players.  At any given wage level, a certain number of employers with offer employment and a certain number of workers will accept work.  If that level is ABOVE the minimum wage, then everyone is happy.

But if that wage level (the “equalibrium” level in dismal science terms) is below the minimum wage then the following things happen:
1) Employers offer FEWER jobs because they must pay MW, which is above the EL wage.
2) More workers are willing to work at MW than would be at the EL wage.

So…less jobs offered to more workers.

But illegals change the equation in two ways:
1) they are willing to work at the EL wage.
2) they are unwilling to complain about violations of the MW law as they are illegal themselves

But if they were legal, then fewer would be willing to work below MW, creating a similar but different dis-equalibrium to the one above, where the illegals don’t come into the equation.

But Prof. Adler’s solution is what Israel does (Oh, how that will BURN the We-Equate-Israel-With-Satan Contingent.)  Embrace the immigrant, house, feed and TRAIN him/her until they find their niche where they are productive.  I’d like to see Israel do it for their native-born Arab population as well.

I like the idea.  Even though our illegal immigrant population is nearly double the ENTIRE Israeli population, it just may work.  I’m not a Socialist.  But I DO believe Government need to step in and help. It’s not just compassion—It’s enlightened self-interest, too.

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