Friday, April 30, 2010

A Slightly More Serious Take on the Democrat's Immigration Proposal

Last night's post was somewhat frivolous so here is a short post summing up my impressions more seriously. First of all we have the standard enforcement stuff, more money for the patrols, walls, equipment, etc. I think this is a huge waste of money on an enterprise bound for failure in pursuit of a type of policy that never works but I guess I can lie to myself and pretend it's stimulus spending so no big deal.

The second part is the biometric social security cards. These sound to me like a national ID card coming in through the back door. It involves a lot of inter-agency work and sounds very, very complex to get existing citizens to use it. While I think we have to move in this direction, and I'm not terribly fond of the flimsy cards we get now, I think this will have pretty much no impact on immigration. People always find ways to get around these measures, Europe has national ID cards and they still have a lot of illegal immigration, so as far as immigration controls go, this is also simply burning money but is more excusable since it is generally a step towards modernization of our record keeping.

There's a lot in there about cracking down on employers and increasing penalties on them to force them into compliance. I believe this will work as well as trying to control the economy in this fashion ever works, it will garner some big media circuses as raids happen to make people feel it is working while having a completely negligible effect on actual numbers. More money down the money hole.

The last part is new immigration rules for both high and low skilled workers and a pathway to citizenship for existing immigrants. Not a whole lot to say here that isn't well covered elsewhere. It is an improvement but still inside a broken system.

So since I'm doing all this complaining what would I actually like? Basically, market based mechanisms. Keep enough punishment and enforcement to keep people in legal channels and let the market pretty much take care of itself. Set no quotas but have a system for registration and require some degree of checking in so we know what people are up to, probably just an online database and your standard government documents, such as tax or DMV records, would be enough. To restrict the supply somewhat slap on an immigrant tax. Not sure what the proper level would be, high enough to make some difference but not so high to push people into the gray economy. Maybe a 5% payroll tax on top of other taxes. Perhaps require that immigrants stay legally employed or face deportation to prevent the bogeyman of using up government services. Then let the market take care of the rest.


  1. Where's a short post?

    I basically agree. My preferred policy is giant welcome warehouses at the popular points of entry where identifications are checked, criminal convictions sought and quick swab for leprosy, tuberculosis and socialism before a renewable 6-month work visa is granted anyone not flagged as bearded.

  2. Good call Doug. I'm getting carried away with the immigration thing, I'll have to revert back to some shorter ones again. This should have been two posts. The last one was justified though, I hadn't yet seen anything that examined the Democrat's proposal in detail to call out its sillier aspects.