Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Michael Barone is Wrong on Immigration

Normally I find Michael Barone to be insightful and intelligent in his political writings but I must take issue with his review of last night's GOP Debate.

I freely admit that I haven't studied the immigration issue as much as Barone but that makes me seeing the obvious flaws in his reasoning all the more striking. Barone in his article today has a myopia on immigration.
What infuriates me is that this is a debate over water that has already fallen over the dam. Romney mimicked immigration restrictionists’ arguments that in-state tuition and Selective-Service-type amnesty would be “magnets” for further illegal immigration, There’s a theoretical basis for this claim. But empirically illegal immigration has been dropping toward zero and reverse migration of illegals seems to be taking place: the Census Bureau estimates that the illegal population has declined from 12 million to 11 million, and it probably has declined more since.
A couple of points that Barone doesn't mention so I will.

1. Even if the illegal population has decreased to 10 million (as Barone suggests the trend would lead to) - that is still a very large number. If Obama somehow reduced the deficit from $15 trillion to $14 trillion would Barone suggest that the issue of the deficit is no longer important? Of course not.

2. The population of illegals does not exist in a vacuum. A population of 12 million illegals at a time when the country has a 5% unemployment rate is probably less of a problem than a illegal population of 10 million when the country has a 10% unemployment rate. Barone does not even touch that side of the equation. And please don't try to argue the jobs Americans won't do such as migrant farming angle. It is not the illegals doing tomato picking that has the impact - it is illegals taking carpenter, construction and other jobs that causes illegal immigration to be an important issue. When many in the workforce are facing major under-employment then the jobs as waiters and part-timers at Home Depot become jobs that Americans could really use.

3. At a time when state and local budgets are close to the breaking points - any money being spent on services to illegals is money that could be much better spent (or more importantly not spent) elsewhere.

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