Thursday, June 30, 2011

What does it mean to become a "Public Charge"?

From the US Code, our official federal law book:

Sec. 212. [8 U.S.C. 1182]

(a) Classes of Aliens Ineligible for Visas or Admission.-Except as otherwise provided in this Act, aliens who are inadmissible under the following paragraphs are ineligible to receive visas and ineligible to be admitted to the United States:

(4) Public charge.-

(A)  In general.-Any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.

A public charge is someone who must rely on the government to take care of them.  That clause has been around for 100 years, but our social programs have not.  In 1890 there wasn’t a state welfare office or food stamps or a home insulation program. 

The safety net back then consisted of your neighbors, fellow immigrants from your home country, relatives or your church.  You either made it or you went home.

Now there are all sorts of programs designed to take care of the needy.

But guess what?  In the infinite wisdom of Washington they have excluded many of the entitlement programs, declaring that an immigrant can use these taxpayer-funded plans and still not violate the “public charge” clause.

In other words, help yourself to the largesse of the United States and there is no penalty. 

Now, I understand that someone stuck here in an emergency ought to be taken care of.  A medical emergency or food for a few days is understandable.  But such assistance should be short-term, and the burden should be shifted quickly to your embassy.  (And we ought to at least BILL the embassy for your benefits received.)

But it doesn’t work that way.  Here is a list of benefits you can receive on an on-going basis and still qualify for a green card, amnesty, a visa, a visa renewal…even citizenship:
  • Medicaid and other health insurance and health services (including public assistance for immunizations and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases; use of health clinics, short-term rehabilitation services, and emergency medical services) other than support for long-term institutional care
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Nutrition programs, including Food Stamps, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, and other supplementary and emergency food assistance programs
  • Housing benefits
  • Child care services
  • Energy assistance, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Emergency disaster relief
  • Foster care and adoption assistance
  • Educational assistance (such as attending public school), including benefits under the Head Start Act and aid for elementary, secondary, or higher education
  • Job training programs
  • In-kind, community-based programs, services, or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter)
  • State and local programs that are similar to the federal programs listed above are also generally not considered for public charge purposes.

The rule seems to be that you can't hand an immigrant cash (unless it is TANF cash).

And we’ve got some do-gooder organizations like ICIRR (which receives government grants to operate) and Centro de Informacion that teach immigrants how to use the system.

Below are a few snippets from the Centro website, encouraging immigrants to use public benefits.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Citizenship For Sale

This is one of my favorite political cartoons.  It captures the essence of pandering at the expense of our own society.

Now, some will be quick to note that illegal aliens cannot vote.  Well, at least they aren’t supposed to vote.  The GAO has proven that many ineligible people are on the voter registration rolls.  But I digress.

The push for citizenship has been a staple in presidential politics for the last 20+ years.  I believe this is partly due to the pathetic lack of naturalization.  It is a national embarrassment that we have so many immigrants and so few of them become citizens.  A rational person might believe that these immigrants don’t want the American Dream at all; they just want to make money and send some of it home.

Citizenship drives are an effort to make the faux narrative seem palatable.

As Clinton approached the election for his second term he sent Al Gore out to manufacture voters through his Citizenship USA campaign.  There were significant discrepancies and background check procedure flaws, but the program went forward.

Bush 41 was more show and less shoe leather, choosing instead to fill a stadium with mostly Cuban immigrants who were more likely to vote GOP, and administer the oath to about 10,000 people en masse as a campaign stunt.

Later, Bush 43 would push for citizenship by warning people that the price for the paperwork was going up.  It was sort of like the mortgage guys on the radio, shouting “We’ll never see rates this low again.  Act now before they go up!”  The increase was based on actual processing costs and took the fee from $330 to $595.  And there was a significant bump in activity.

But Obama has topped them all, and you probably didn’t even know it was happening.  How about FREE?  That’s right, NADA.

Obama has a program in place where applicants can have their fees waived if they cannot afford it.  The program began last November.

Now, let’s think about that one.  If you are too poor to afford the $700 for the citizenship application, do we really want you as a citizen?  Aren’t we in effect adding people to the entitlement line, a line we are already struggling to pay for?

It’s hard to believe, but true.  Read it and weep:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lessons Learned - The Vargas Case

It seems to me that we have learned something from the strange case of Jose Antonio Vargas, illegal alien who has been working since he was 16.

Bring back the No-Match Letters!

Think about it.  The government knew or should have known that Jose was working under a social security number that was not valid for employment.

How hard would it be to send out a letter to Vargas with a copy to Wa Po telling him to report to the SSA Office within 30 days with his original documents in hand.

So, Jose knows the forgery job he and Gramps did on his Social Security Card at Kinko's years ago and he doesn't show up.  Wa Po gets a letter stating that Jose has failed to comply and should be terminated.

At this point Wa Po can continue to pay him or send him packing.  They no longer have any deniability when ICE comes knocking.

But that would be real enforcement of the law, and that would take cojones.  As I have said before, this problem cannot be solved by the feds because they cannot maintain their sacred political correctness and enforce immigration law at the same time.

I suspect that Vargas will hire someone like Margaret Wong, the immigration lawyer who sprung Obama's aunt.  And Wong will get him a green card.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where babies come from

Perhaps you noticed the AP story in your local newspaper recently; the one about babies.

The news is that white babies are no longer the majority.  They have been surpassed by minority babies.  As the lead paragraph says, "For the first time, more than half of the children under age 2 in the U.S. are minorities, part of a sweeping race change and a growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and fast-growing younger ethnic populations that could reshape government policies."

Source link:

But the story misses the point.  Family size is a function of immigration, as shown here in a Congressional Research Service report issued in January:

Source Link:

Our immigrant population is growing, and so are their US-born families.  And perhaps you didn't know that immigrants have more children in the United States than they do in their home countries.

Look at this:  

Source Link:
There is something about the United States that boosts fertility levels.  Of course, a significant percentage of those immigrants are illegal aliens, about 30% by most estimates.  

Of course, we can't know for sure because Latino activists fought hard (and won) to keep the question of immigration status off the census survey in 2010.

But it is clear that Washington politicians have been doing some social engineering through immigration policies and lax enforcement of immigration laws that have allowed record-high immigration rates of about a million people a year, resulting in 38 million foreign-born people PLUS 12 million illegal aliens allowed to remain here virtually undisturbed.

As Mark Krikorian writes in his book, The New Case Against Immigration, "The American people didn't ask for 100 million more people.  In fact, through the accumulation of millions of [reproductive] decisions that American couples have made over the past generation, we have effectively voted for a modern demographic profile and a stable or slow-growing population, not a rapidly growing one."

It appears that the elites are winning this battle.  And the media is failing to report the source of all these minority babies.

Vargas Violations

If we were to prepare a case against Jose Antonio Vargas based on his own story in The New York Times, we would come up with the following counts.  (Note: The blue text is the actual verbiage in the Vargas story, presumably his own words.)

Fake uncle-Philippines: I was introduced to a man I’d never seen. They told me he was my uncle. He held my hand as I boarded an airplane for the first time.

California DMV clerk: One day when I was 16, I rode my bike to the nearby D.M.V. office to get my driver’s permit.

Lolo (Jose’s grandfather): But instead of mentioning that my mother was a married woman, he listed her as single.

Lolo: The “uncle” who brought me here turned out to be a coyote, not a relative, my grandfather later explained. Lolo scraped together enough money — I eventually learned it was $4,500, a huge sum for him — to pay him to smuggle me here under a fake name and fake passport.

Lolo: After I arrived in America, Lolo obtained a new fake Filipino passport, in my real name this time…

Lolo: … adorned with a fake student visa…

Lolo: … in addition to the fraudulent green card.

Lolo and Vargas: Using the fake passport, we went to the local Social Security Administration office and applied for a Social Security number and card.

Lolo and Vargas: When I began looking for work, a short time after the D.M.V. incident, my grandfather and I took the Social Security card to Kinko’s, where he covered the “I.N.S. authorization” text with a sliver of white tape.

Vargas: While in high school, I worked part time at Subway…

Vargas: … then at the front desk of the local Y.M.C.A….

Vargas: … then at a tennis club…

Vargas: … until I landed an unpaid internship at The Mountain View Voice, my hometown newspaper….eventually I began covering city-hall meetings and other assignments for pay.

His employers: …employers have rarely asked to check my original Social Security card. When they did, I showed the photocopied version, which they accepted.

Vargas: I also began checking the citizenship box on my federal I-9 employment eligibility forms.

Jill Denny, the choir director and Vargas: …told me she was considering a Japan trip for our singing group. I told her I couldn’t afford it, but she said we’d figure out a way. I hesitated, and then decided to tell her the truth. “It’s not really the money,” I remember saying. “I don’t have the right passport.” When she assured me we’d get the proper documents, I finally told her. “I can’t get the right passport,” I said. “I’m not supposed to be here.”  She understood. So the choir toured Hawaii instead.

Lolo: I needed to marry an American woman in order to gain a green card.

Pat Hyland, HS principal: …they connected me to a new scholarship fund for high-potential students who were usually the first in their families to attend college. Most important, the fund was not concerned with immigration status. I was among the first recipients, with the scholarship covering tuition, lodging, books and other expenses for my studies at San Francisco State University.

Rich Fischer, Superintendent of schools: See Pat Hyland above.

San Francisco State University:  As a college freshman…

The San Francisco Chronicle: I found a job working part time…

The Philadelphia Daily News: First I landed at The Philadelphia Daily News, in the summer of 2001…

Vargas:  My only solution, the lawyer said, was to go back to the Philippines and accept a 10-year ban before I could apply to return legally.

Rich Fischer: “Put this problem on a shelf,” he told me. “Compartmentalize it. Keep going.”

A friend’s father: …he allowed me to use his address as proof of residency.

Rich Fischer: … sent letters to me at that address.

Pat Hyland: … sent letters to me at that address.

Mary Moore: … sent letters to me at that address.

Oregon DMV: At the D.M.V. in Portland, I arrived with my photocopied Social Security card, my college I.D., a pay stub from The San Francisco Chronicle and my proof of state residence — the letters to the Portland address that my support network had sent. It worked. My license, issued in 2003, was set to expire eight years later, on my 30th birthday, on Feb. 3, 2011.  The license meant everything to me — it would let me drive, fly and work.

Vargas: I was using an invalid Social Security card and writing false information on my employment forms.
The Washington Post: …offering me a full-time, two-year paid internship that I could start when I graduated in June 2004.

Peter Perl, Washington Post employee: I told him everything: the Social Security card, the driver’s license, Pat and Rich, my family.  Peter was shocked. “I understand you 100 times better now,” he said. He told me that I had done the right thing by telling him, and that it was now our shared problem. He said he didn’t want to do anything about it just yet. I had just been hired, he said, and I needed to prove myself.

Huffington Post: I left the paper and moved to New York to join The Huffington Post. I met Arianna Huffington at a Washington Press Club Foundation dinner I was covering for The Post two years earlier, and she later recruited me to join her news site.

Arianna Huffington: see Huffington Post above.

Vargas: But I’d been able to get jobs in other newsrooms, I figured, so I filled out the paperwork as usual and succeeded in landing on the payroll.

Washington State DMV and Vargas: I obtained a driver’s license in the state of Washington.

That's quite a list of indictments!  Note that all of his co-conspirators fall into four categories:
  • Relatives
  • Educators
  • Journalists
  • DMV Bureaucrats in liberal states
Let the charges and investigations begin! 

Source Link: 

Famous Illegal Aliens

This idea is MINE.  Perhaps a series on History Channel.  Or maybe a reality show in prime time.
It's like a series of Horatio Alger stories without a moral.

Of course, my first star will be Jose Antonio Vargas, the illegal alien who rose to soaring heights in journalism and even visited the White House.

And then he bravely came out and proudly told the world he was illegal.  Like a fugitive, he said he was tired of running.  (It seems like he was doing pretty well.  I'm not sure ICE would have any trouble finding him.)

Now, the story is just beginning to emerge about how Jose pulled it off.  He tells it in his own words, but how do you trust a guy who has been living a lie since he was 12?

He says his grandfather (a naturalized citizen) arranged fake documents to get him out of the Philippines when he was a 12-year-old boy.  Gramps paid a smuggler who used a fake passport to bring him here.  Gramps also got him a different fake passport and a green card.  They used them to get Jose a real Social Security Card.

Then Gramps had a color copy of the SSN made, sans the part about restricted employment.
Jose tried to get a license at the DMV and the clerk told him his green card was a fake.  She further told him not to come back.

But Jose shopped around and found an Oregon driver's license was easy to get, so he got one there.
His fake and altered docs got him into college and later he was employed as a journalist.

Jose confessed to his bosses and the Washington Post and they continued to cover for him.  He even used his fake credentials to get into the White House.

And now he is considered a hero, especially since illegal aliens are encouraged to "come out of the shadows" for the DREAM Act.

Here's a partial list of people who aided, abetted and harbored him.
  • His grandfather
  • Bogus document forgers
  • The DMV clerk
  • The DMV in Oregon
  • His high school principal
  • His high school superintendent
  • The universities he attended
  • The DMV in Washington State
  • His bosses
  • His managers
For the record, he is coming out now to launch a campaign on behalf of all the illegal aliens to push for the DREAM Act.  I guess that passes for a noble act these days.

Watch for more illegal aliens in high places.  But remember, the idea is mine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Analyzing the Mormon position

This will be lengthy and a bit painful (at least for me), but I think it best to put it in one place.

On June 10, 2011 the LDS Church issued a press release regarding its position on immigration.  The full text can be read here.

Is it authoritative?
Well, there can be no doubt that it is a genuine Church press release.  They weren't punked.  And it was not crafted off the reservation.  The Brethren had a hand in it for sure.

Beyond that, it is simply a political statement to address a political problem, timed just a week before the Utah GOP Convention.  The Church has in the past issued canonical statements called "Official Declarations" regarding polygamy (1890) and the priesthood for those of African descent (1978).  In both cases they were announced and explained by the Prophet, widely publicized as such, voted on by the Conference and published in the scriptures.

(As an aside, we sometimes assume something is as good as scripture, only to find that it is not.  For 15 years Mormons have considered "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" to be revelation.  Last October, after a flap over a speech given by President Packer in Conference, his remarks were edited from this: "The Family: A Proclamation to the World..qualifies according to scriptural definition as a revelation." this: "a guide that members of the church would do well to read and to follow.")

The church could have, and might yet someday, issue a statement from the pulpit that directly addresses the question of immigration.  To date they have not, yet they are getting more bold all the time.

Problems with the content
Most Americans agree that the federal government of the United States should secure its borders and sharply reduce or eliminate the flow of undocumented immigrants. Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable.
To that assessment I would say we have long ago reached that destabilized point.  At the low-ball estimate of 12 million, illegal aliens represent ONE THIRD of all the foreign-born inhabitants of the United States.  And keep in mind that millions more once were illegal but were granted some form of amnesty along the way.  HALF of all immigrants alive today either are or once were illegal aliens.  HALF!  Add to that 4 million anchor babies.  And with 6 million illegal aliens working, they make up 4-5% of the workforce.  May I then edit the press release thus: "Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize has destabilized society and ultimately has become unsustainable."

What to do with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now residing in various states within the United States is the biggest challenge in the immigration debate.  The bedrock moral issue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how we treat each other as children of God. 

The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved.  This should give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage.

This is a villainous characterization.  It conjures up images of gassed Kurds or mass expulsions and murders in Kosovo and Bosnia and the violence of Kristallnacht.  Let's be honest here; there has been more violence over teacher benefits in Madison, Wisconsin than there has by anti-illegal alien advocates in the entire State of Utah.  The church cries out for civility when what they really want is silence.  Is it uncivil to demand that our government stop coddling and start enforcing the law?

The Church statement above also attempts to play the race card with their "mostly from one heritage," comment.  Every source I've read confirms that 75-80% of all illegal aliens are from Latin America.  That is a demographic fact.  It is only natural for Latino activists to pretend the issue is racial in nature, but when three out of four illegal aliens are Hispanic they are going to feel most of the pressure.  DUH!

The sad part is that legitimate enforcement efforts like 287g and local police stops have been gutted over false accusation of racial profiling.  The truth is, they work TOO well when it comes to identifying illegal aliens.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God. 

Another straw man is being propped up here.  Getting caught breaking the law does tend to disrupt your life and that of your family.  Our nation and the State of Utah have a long history of fairness and upholding human rights.  When someone is deported they are given opportunities for appeals, treated humanely in detention facilities and returned to their hometowns at our expense.  They are not rounded up in the middle of the night and transported to the nearest border in cattle cars.

The Church has long taught accountability for our own actions, and yet this flies in the face of that teaching.  

Such a statement also begs the question of treatment of other violators of the law.  People are arrested all the time.  Are they not separated from their families?  Do they not suffer the consequences of their punishment?  How does "the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God," apply to the arrest and detention of other people in jail? 

The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship. 

OK.  There are on the books laws about immigration violations.  For example, unlawful presence calls for removal from the country.  That is the law of the land.  That is how you "square" yourself with the law in this case.  What's wrong with that?
What the Church is calling for here is a guest worker program similar to Utah's HB116, the very source of the controversy.  Note that HB116, if it survives the recall movement and the constitutionality test, won't take effect for a couple of years.  Meanwhile, the law of the land is deportation.

The phrase "...without this necessarily leading to citizenship," is a bit humorous.  The Church seems to be ambivalent about loyalty to our nation as long as illegal aliens get to work here.  They obviously understand that naturalization rates are pathetically low and they aren't going out on a limb to promote it.

In furtherance of needed immigration reform in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports a balanced and civil approach to a challenging problem, fully consistent with its tradition of compassion, its reverence for family, and its commitment to law.

And their last paragraph adds the Mormon voice to the call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  The Church doesn't at any point call for stronger enforcement of the law in an effort to give people the opportunity "to square themselves with the law" through self-deportation.

As I said at the outset, the press release was a political document issued for political persuasion.  FYI, the Utah GOP convention voted to repeal HB116, choosing good public policy over the dramatic recommendations of the Church.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pesky facts about prices

We've all heard the scare tactics about the cost of fruits and vegetables if the illegal aliens are sent home.  Tomatoes will be $3 each.  Lettuce will be $8 a head. 

It turns out that those figures are just that; scare tactics.  The real numbers are far more reasonable.

A few years back The Seattle Times did an article about the topic.  It is worth repeating.  Here you go:
Low-paid illegal work force has little impact on prices

 More than 7 million illegal immigrants work in the United States. They build houses, pick crops, slaughter cattle, stitch clothes, mow lawns...
By Drew DeSilver  Seattle Times business reporter

More than 7 million illegal immigrants work in the United States. They build houses, pick crops, slaughter cattle, stitch clothes, mow lawns, clean hotel rooms, cook restaurant meals and wash the dishes that come back.

You might assume that the plentiful supply of low-wage illegal workers would translate into significantly lower prices for the goods and services they produce. In fact, their impact on consumer prices — call it the "illegal-worker discount" — is surprisingly small.

The bag of Washington state apples you bought last weekend? Probably a few cents cheaper than it otherwise would have been, economists estimate. That steak dinner at a downtown restaurant? Maybe a buck off. Your new house in Subdivision Estates? Hard to say, but perhaps a few thousand dollars less expensive.

The underlying reason, economists say, is that for most goods the labor — whether legal or illegal, native- or foreign-born — represents only a sliver of the retail price.

Consider those apples — Washington's signature contribution to the American food basket.

At a local QFC, Red Delicious apples go for about 99 cents a pound. Of that, only about 7 cents represents the cost of labor, said Tom Schotzko, a recently retired extension economist at Washington State University. The rest represents the grower's other expenses, warehousing and shipping fees, and the retailer's markup.

 And that's for one of the most labor-intensive crops in the state: It takes 150 to 190 hours of labor to grow and harvest an acre of apples, Schotzko said, compared to four hours for an acre of potatoes and 1 ½ hours for an acre of wheat.

The labor-intensive nature of many crops is a key reason agriculture continues to rely on illegal workers. A report by Jeffrey Passel, a demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center who has long studied immigration trends, estimates that 247,000 illegal immigrants were employed as "miscellaneous agricultural workers" last year — only 3.4 percent of the nation's 7.2 million illegal workers, according to Pew statistics, but 29 percent of all workers in that job category.

Eliminating illegal farmworkers, by shrinking the pool of available labor, likely would raise wages for those who remain. Philip Martin, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of California, Davis, noted that two years after the old bracero program ended in 1964, the United Farm Workers union won a 40 percent increase for grape harvesters.

A decade ago, two Iowa State University agricultural economists estimated that removing all illegal farmworkers would raise wages for seasonal farmworkers by 30 percent in the first couple of years, and 15 percent in the medium term.

But supermarket prices of summer-fall fruits and vegetables, they concluded, would rise by just 6 percent in the short run — dropping to 3 percent over time, as imports took up some of the slack and some farmers mechanized their operations or shifted out of labor-intensive crops. (Winter-spring produce would be even less affected, they found, because so much already is imported.)

If illegal workers disappeared from the apple harvest and wages for the remaining legal workers rose by 40 percent in response — and that entire wage increase were passed on to the consumer — that still would add less than 3 cents to the retail price of a pound of apples.

Cluster in construction

Illegal immigrants, like legal ones, tend to concentrate in particular locales and industries, increasing their impact on wages and prices there.

Pew's Passell estimates that more than two-thirds of all illegal immigrants live in just eight states: California leads with nearly a quarter of all illegal immigrants, followed by Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Similarly, legal and illegal immigrants tend to cluster in specific industries, among them construction.

Based on census data, Passell estimates that in construction specialties, illegal immigrants range from 20 percent of carpet, floor and tile installers to 28 percent of drywallers to 36 percent of insulation workers. Overall, about 14 percent of all workers in the construction industry are in the United States illegally, he says.

How does all that illegal labor affect the price you pay for a new house?

The National Association of Home Builders pegs labor's share of the cost of a new home at 20 to 25 percent. For a typical U.S. single-family home that sold for $298,412 in 2002, then, about $68,000 went for construction labor. If Passell's estimates are correct, around 14 percent of those workers would be illegal.

But illegal workers generally are less skilled than legal ones, points out Barry Chiswick, an economist at the University of Illinois, Chicago, who has studied illegal immigration for decades. You're more likely to find illegal drywallers or painters, say, than illegal electricians or plumbers.

Since higher-skilled workers earn more than less-skilled ones, Chiswick said, the "illegal share" of construction labor costs — and, by extension, the wages illegal workers receive — will be smaller than their numbers would suggest. But even if illegal workers make only half as much as legal workers, that would work out to about $5,000, or about 1.6 percent of that "typical" home's sale price.

If the supply of illegal workers were cut off, wages for those low-skilled jobs presumably would have to rise enough to attract legal workers into them. If, hypothetically, wage levels rose by a third, that would either add around $1,600 to the cost of the typical house or shave half a percentage point off the builder's 12 percent average profit margin.

"If I'm buying just one home, there's not that big an impact," Chiswick said. "But if I'm building a lot of homes and I can save a few thousand on each one.... "

Even in service-intensive businesses with high incidences of illegal labor, such as hotels and restaurants, customers get only a small benefit.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study estimated that every 10-percent increase in the proportion of low-skilled immigrants in the labor force lowers the price of immigrant-intensive services — gardening, housekeeping, baby-sitting and dry cleaning — by 1.3 percent, and of other services by 0.2 percent.

Take hotels. Industrywide, more than 44 percent of hotels' expenses are for salaries and benefits (including employee meals), so labor is a major factor.

"We've got a lot of jobs that are tough to fill," said Dan Mount, who teaches hotel management at Penn State. "To find someone who's going to clean 16 guestrooms a day for $6 or $7 an hour — people aren't lining up for those jobs."

Illegal workers help close the gap. According to Pew's Passell, 22 percent of maids and housekeepers (including domestic help) are in the United States illegally.

Similarly, in restaurants an estimated 20 percent of cooks and 23 percent of dishwashers are illegal immigrants.

Jim Harbour, a former restaurant manager who now teaches at Washington State University's School of Hospitality Business Management, estimated that, without illegal immigrants, wages for dishwashers and other "back of the house" staff would have to rise anywhere from 10 to 20 percent to attract the necessary workers.

With labor costs averaging around 30 percent of operating costs, passing on that kind of increase might raise the cost of a meal anywhere from 3 to 6 percent.

Under a similar scenario, Mount said, hotel-room rates would rise, but the increase likely would be measured in dollars rather than tens of dollars.

How much could be passed on to the consumer is another question. On the one hand, Harbour said he's raised menu prices by 10 percent across the board with few customer complaints; and hotels in the Seattle area are fuller now than they were a year ago despite higher room rates.

On the other hand, hotel and restaurant operators' ability to pass on higher wage costs isn't unlimited, said Terry Umbreit, director of the WSU hospitality school. At a certain point, he said, people won't pay any more for a room or a meal; budget hotels and casual-dining restaurants, which compete most on price, likely would reach that point soonest.

Benefits top layers

Of course, the "illegal-immigrant discount" affects different layers of society differently.

The more often you eat out, stay in hotels or get your yard trimmed, the more you benefit from the illegal-immigrant discount.

And by increasing the supply of low-skilled labor relative to high-skilled labor, illegal immigration effectively boosts the purchasing power of the better-educated, more-skilled — and richer — portion of society.

The MIT study, by researcher Patricia Cortes, estimated that the low-skilled immigration wave of the 1990s — much of it outside the bounds of immigration law — raised the "real wages" of college graduates by 0.71 percent, and of high-school graduates and people with some college by 0.59 percent.

High-school dropouts? No discount for them: Cortes estimated that their real wages were cut by 2.66 percent. But since most adult Americans have at least a high-school diploma, Cortes concluded that most people benefited from low-skilled immigration — at least a little.

Source Link:


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mormon campaigns

The Mormon Church has always had its hand in politics.  Tax law changes and threats of losing status have caused all churches (including LDS) to be more careful about their activities.

Growing up in Utah I was aware of "The Church" getting involved in legislation.  In the 1960s it was Sunday Closing Laws and Liquor-by-the-drink.  In the 1970s, it was X-Rated Movie Houses.  Then they took a stand on the Equal Rights Amendment.  And they dabbled in the MX Missile debate.

The courts are still sorting out the Prop 8 situation in California, regarding the definition of marriage.

Still, the Church considers itself politically neutral.

But they are not shy about protecting their interests through political efforts.  The Utah State Legislature meets in session each winter.  And each winter they invite Democrats and Republicans separately to meet in closed session with Church leaders.  The Church identifies those issues they are concerned about and make a pitch to the elected officials.

And lobbyists are on hand at the capitol to twist an arm now and then.

On the federal level, the Church hires lobbyists to represent them before Congress.

FYI, there are about 6 million Mormons in the United States.  Utah is about 60% Mormon by most estimates, but geographically, many rural districts in Utah are still 90% LDS.  In urban areas, Mormons comprise about 50% of the population.

The current issue is immigration reform.  The Mormon Church has made it clear that they favor some form of amnesty for the 12 million illegal aliens living in the United States.  But this message has taken some time to develop.

The writing has been on the wall for a few years, with a General Authority signing an Alliance document in favor of legalization.  But the Church was quick to distance itself from that position, stating that he was acting alone.

Earlier this year the Utah Compact was drafted by the business community and endorsed by various pro-amnesty groups.  The Church stated that they agreed with the Utah Compact principles, but declined to sign it.

HB116 is a bill that passed the Utah Legislature this winter.  In part, it creates a state-level guest worker program, drawn from people living here illegally.  The Presiding Bishop of the Church attended the signing of HB116 in mid-March, participated in the photo op and even gave a short speech praising the politicians for their fine work.

On April 20, 2011 The Church posted its most forceful statement to date.  It read:

"Members of the public who contact the Church Public Affairs Department asking for the Church's position on immigration have been given the following response:

"The Church has spoken a number of times about the issue of immigration. Specifically, it has spoken in support of the Utah Compact and has described the package of bills passed by the Utah Legislature, taken together, as "a responsible approach" to the difficult question of immigration reform.

"The Church's position is based on three basic principles:

"The commandment to "love thy neighbor."

"The importance of keeping families intact.

"The federal government's obligation to secure its borders.

"The Church appreciates the package of bills that the legislature had passed, including House Bill 116. The Church feels that this package was a responsible attempt to address the principles outlined above.

"The February 28 Deseret News editorial, "A Model for the Nation" (see reprint below) also accurately reflects the position of the Church regarding immigration reform, including measures that will allow those who are now here illegally to work legally, provide for their families and become better contributing members of our community—but without establishing a path to citizenship or granting amnesty.

"The Church may speak further on this subject if it is necessary to refute any misunderstandings or correct distortions of its views that have found their way into the discussion taking place on this important topic."

Two urban counties held their GOP conventions and voted to repeal HB116.  One county convention refused to talk about it, calling the issue "too divisive" to vote on.  (Hmmm.)

And the state GOP convention was held today, June 18, 2011.  In an effort to clarify its position further ahead of the state convention The Church issued an even stronger statement a week ago.  It is posted here.

I am pleased to report that the Utah State GOP convention rejected the Church, the Utah Compact and the Sutherland Institute and voted to repeal HB116.

This despite intense efforts to sway them, including various pity pieces in the Church-owned Deseret News, which has posted all sorts of articles about lack of agricultural workers, the plight of the deported and their families, editorials and even a poll showing that most Utahns want amnesty.

The Church is powerful and will not stop here, but at least today the people won this battle.

With that as background, I will soon talk about the most recent statement point-by-point.

For more information about Mormons and immigration, written by a member of the Church, I invite you to read this link:


Obama caves

The Obama administration has caved to political pressure and de-fanged the Secure Communities program.  It goes the way of 287g, bound up in so much red tape that it is no longer a deterrent to illegal aliens.

A little background before I quote the article.  Secure Communities came about in May of 2008 as the Bush administration was coming to an end.  The idea was quite simple.  ICE would tap into the computers at law enforcement agencies (county jails and state prisons mostly) and when a perp was booked into jail the fingerprint scan would automatically be picked up and analyzed for a match at Immigration.  Then ICE would decide which ones needed to be picked up and put a hold on them.

The intent was to have the perp serve his time here and then be deported after his conviction.  These deportations would be prioritized based on availability of resources like detention beds and ICE agents available.  The worst criminals would be selected first.

Eventually the program was to include smaller city jails and lesser crimes.  But Latino activists have been complaining that Secure Communities was deporting small-time criminals and people with families.  So Obama thought something needed to change.  Here's the story:

ICE turning attention to serious criminals


The Associated Press
Published: June 17, 2011 06:37PM

Atlanta • Federal immigration authorities said Friday they’re changing the way they enforce immigration policies in an effort to focus on the most serious criminals and to give government field attorneys more discretion.

Many of the changes were prompted by concerns from local law enforcement agencies and communities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said Friday during a conference call with reporters.

“We’re listening to those concerns and addressing them head-on and directly today,” he said.

Some changes will be made to the Secure Communities program, which enables local law enforcement to share fingerprint information with federal agencies to be checked against the FBI criminal database and against immigration databases. The program is a critical tool for law enforcement agencies but needs to be tweaked to “do a better job of ensuring that the program is more focused on targeting those that pose the biggest risk to communities,” Morton said.

Critics have said Secure Communities can discourage immigrants from reporting crimes and can lead to the deportation of people who haven’t been convicted of any crime. Several states have declined to participate.

A new policy directs ICE officers and attorneys to use appropriate discretion to make sure victims and witnesses to crimes are not put into deportation proceedings.

Morton says he’s also creating an advisory committee on changing Secure Communities to focus on serious criminals. A first report, due within 45 days, will provide recommendations on how to avoid deporting people who are charged with, but not convicted of, minor traffic offenses if they have no other criminal history or serious immigration violations.

The agency has also revised its detainer form to emphasize the current guidelines that local authorities aren’t to keep any person for more than 48 hours on an immigration hold alone. The detainer form is a document ICE sends to local jurisdictions to signal potentially deportable people to the agency.

ICE has also worked with the Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights and civil liberties division to develop a new training program on implementing Secure Communities for state and local law enforcement agencies.

Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said creation of an advisory panel suggests ICE is listening to critics.

“There was enough said to make me think this may be more than window dressing,” she said. “Everything remains to be seen, but the thinking is in the right direction.

Attorneys at the association’s annual meeting in San Diego said the more significant development was new guidelines on whom to target for deportation, giving field attorneys and agents more latitude to leave some people alone. Critics have complained that government lawyers have been compelled to cast too wide a net.

“It’s going to empower (the field attorneys) to be able to make the right decisions and do the right thing,” said Cleveland attorney David Leopold.

Having been in the United States a long time and having family in the country are factors that government attorneys may consider when deciding who to leave alone, said Laura Lichter, a Denver immigration attorney who was briefed by ICE on the new rules. A criminal record or a history of immigration violations would weigh in favor of deportation.

Lichter likened the new rules to instructing a police force to go after bank robbers instead of jaywalkers.

“This is all very commonsense,” she said.

Several immigrant rights and civil liberties groups said the changes were encouraging but not enough.

“These changes are nowhere near sufficient to address the well-documented problems with the Secure Communities program that has, thus far, torn apart countless families across the country by funneling people into a detention and deportation system rife with abuse,” said Andrea Black, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, a coalition of organizations and individuals. “The flaws with Secure Communities run so deep that the only solution is termination of the program.”

The governors of Massachusetts, Illinois and New York have said their states will not participate in the program. The offices of each of those three governors did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon. Cities and municipalities in other parts of the country have also declined to participate.

The Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general Charles Edwards said last week he would begin a review of the program in August rather than later as originally planned.

He said the review will determine the extent to which Immigration and Customs Enforcement uses Secure Communities to find and deport immigrants who are dangerous criminals. Immigration officials check fingerprints of all people booked in local jails to find immigrants to deport.

California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren had asked the inspector general to investigate whether Homeland Security employees lied to the public, local governments and Congress about Secure Communities after reviewing thousands of federal emails made public.

Lofgren’s office declined to comment on the changes Friday, saying the staff hadn’t had a chance to thoroughly review them.

Source Link:

Needless to say, I am not amused.  This merely shows that we still lack the political will to enforce existing law, even when we have illegal aliens in custody.  Half of the fatalities at the hands of illegal aliens are because of DUI.  Many of the illegals have prior rap sheets.

By design this program puts our public safety at risk because a garden-variety DUI does not qualify for deportation under these new rules.  I guess separation of families is no big deal to Obama...if your loved one is taken from you by an illegal alien.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Flag Day

May it proudly wave at your house, even if others don't see it that way.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Startling New Data – (Not really)

As Gregg Esterbrook famously said: “Torture numbers and they’ll confess to anything.”

The Brookings Institution has recently published a new report telling the world that we have been wrong all along about the educational level of immigrants.  We have been conditioned by the media, the politicians and other global institutions to read the term "immigrant" as "undocumented," or at best combining the two.

And indeed the Brookings report lumps them all together without distinction.

Their source of the raw data is the 2009 ACS data from the Census Bureau.

And here is what the chart looks like:

It would appear from the release of the report that the stereotype that Hispanic immigrants and Hispanic illegal aliens have a low educational level is incorrect.  Or perhaps that the flow of immigrants from Latin America has slowed, and the pace has significantly increased from developed nations.

It turns out that Brookings is merely slicing the pie a bit differently.  They have created a middle category they are calling “Mid-skilled,” which means a range from high school diploma to some college.  (One could examine the quality of a high school diploma from the Third World, knowing that what some countries call “Engineers” are really just draftsmen, and “Attorneys” are little more than notaries public.)

Pew Hispanic Center looked at the exact same data and released a report in January of 2010 and came up with this chart:

An analysis of this chart without that “Mid-skilled” parsing shows this result:
Americans HS Diploma or less
Americans with college
Foreign Born HS Diploma or less
Foreign Born with college
Mexican Born HS Diploma or less
Mexican Born with college

I am showing the Mexican Born data because that one country represents over 28% of all the foreign-born residents of the United States and a whopping 60% of all illegal aliens.  And those numbers do not include their US-born children.

Here is another Pew Research chart showing the education level of Americans compared to legal immigrants and illegal alien.  (In this case Pew attempts to separate illegal aliens from immigrants, and concludes that there are significant differences.)

In conclusion, this is a puff piece released during the amnesty season in Washington to distort long-standing data about the skill level of illegal aliens.  Like Obama, they want Americans to think of Microsoft employees when they hear the word “undocumented,” but it is hard to ignore reality.

Did I mention that Brookings gets their funding from George Soros and isn’t really anything like their motto of “Quality. Independence. Impact.”?  But their website looks clean and professional if that counts for anything.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Politics in the Pews

This is a new statement from the Mormon Church on the immigration debate:

Immigration: Church Issues New Statement

10 June 2011 — Salt Lake City

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today issued the following official statement on immigration:

Around the world, debate on the immigration question has become intense.  That is especially so in the United States. Most Americans agree that the federal government of the United States should secure its borders and sharply reduce or eliminate the flow of undocumented immigrants. Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable.

As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.

What to do with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now residing in various states within the United States is the biggest challenge in the immigration debate.  The bedrock moral issue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how we treat each other as children of God. 

The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved.  This should give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage.

As those on all sides of the immigration debate in the United States have noted, this issue is one that must ultimately be resolved by the federal government.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God.

The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship.

In furtherance of needed immigration reform in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports a balanced and civil approach to a challenging problem, fully consistent with its tradition of compassion, its reverence for family, and its commitment to law.

Related topic:
Responsibility of Church Members: Avoiding Being Judgmental

10 June 2011 — Salt Lake City

The First Presidency has for many years taught that undocumented status should not by itself prevent an otherwise worthy Church member from entering the temple or being ordained to the priesthood.

Bishops are in the best position to make appropriate judgments as to Church privileges.  Meanwhile, Church members should avoid making judgments about fellow members in their congregations.

I originally thought I would make comments about the statement paragraph by paragraph, but I shall resist the temptation for now.