Immigration Reform and Economic Growth

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Virtual Town Hall on Immigration Reform
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Recently on our Facebook page, I linked to Ezra Klein's analysis of immigration legislation with a quote that summarizes the bi-partisan consensus that reform must include a path to citizenship.

A man named Christopher replied with this:

We have a path to citizenship, however right or wrong it has been circumvented at our southern border for a long long time, by tens of millions...

Eric Byler reply:

That isn't accurate, but I understand why the rhetoric is appealing. Believe it or not, in the 21st century we still have quotas per country, so, whether you come from a tiny nation an ocean away, or, you come from a neighboring country where macro-economics demand a free flow of labor supply to meet the needs of a (hopefully) growing economy, the quota is the same. 

daniel_9500_Liberty.jpgNo nation can be more than 17% of our total immigration for a year. And the total immigration we allow each year is NOT enough to meet the needs of a growing economy, not by a long shot. Mexico was colonized by Spain instead of England, and, for various reasons the Native Americans who lived there are still a large percentage of their population. The border has moved on them a few times over the past 200 years. But if we decided to bring liberal economic capitalism to this continent, we should not resent or hate the notion that native peoples partake in it, regardless of what language they learned from their conquerers centuries ago.

During this period of wrong-headed immigration law, our choice was simple — include illegal immigration as part of our economic system, or, spend billions to militarize the border, create a police state, and prevent the growth of our economy.

Except for a few states like Alabama and Arizona, America has made the right choice for our economic security, public safety, and quality of life — given that we have out-dated immigration laws written to control demographic shift rather than on sustaining a growing economy and a free, vibrant society. Now, we are about to make a better choice: Comprehensive Immigration Reform that allows legal immigration to meet the demands of a growing economy, and, brings low-wage workers out of the shadows so that they contribute more fully to our tax base, and, so they cannot be exploited, which will bring wages up for everyone.

Also, we will bring millions of workers into our economy — hard-working taxpayers who are at the prime of their lives. If we can get over their complexion, and appreciate their incredible work-ethic and their entrepreneurial spirit, we should also appreciate the fact that a rapid infusion of workers will rescue us from the fiscally disastrous ratio of workers to retirees as the Baby Boomer generation retires. That ratio must go up — not down as it is now — if we are going to put our fiscal ship in order, pay down our debt, and balance our budget. We must implement policies that stimulate growth. Comprehensive Immigration Reform is a crucial part of the only path we have to continued prosperity.

Christopher:

No it is accurate... We have a path to citizenship in place, those who have arrived here and work without compliance to it are violating the law right or wrong.. the border to our southern border is a loophole, now as a nation we must address how to legalize all those who have circumvented the existing legal system Eric Byler you have put forward stats, and labor needs, but failed the essential core issue, illegal is illegal, we now have to change that somehow and help those who are here illegally recieve legitimate citizenship.

Jim then replied to Christopher in a way that was more direct:

If you had a choice between waiting 15-20 years for the slight chance to enter legally, or sneaking across the border to get away from your miserable life of poverty and into a country where you at least have a chance to succeed, which would you do?

We need real immigration reform.

Eric Byler:

"Illegal is illegal" is a slogan, and I understand why it has appeal. But the fact that it is easy to memorize and seizes the moral high ground DOES NOT mean that it could lead to a good policy, or, any policy at all to be honest. 

Slavery was once legal. Now it is not. Laws can change, and, as it happens, we are at a point in our history where our immigration laws will change. Did you know that until 1882 we had no immigration system or laws defining "legal" and "illegal." But at that time there was a rash of hatred and hysteria caused by Chinese immigrants, including some of my ancestors. The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882 because there was a fear that immigration would eventually impact the racial make-up of America. In a democratic Republic, this was almost as frightening as allowing former slaves to vote — that's why they didn't in the South from the end of Reconstruction until the 1960's. It was also in the 1960's that we reformed our immigration laws with less of a focus on preserving the white majority. We need to do that again, and this time with NO focus on preserving the white majority. 

Perhaps that is easier to say because I am half Asian and half white, but no matter what your hair color or your complexion, isn't it time we admit that the economic viability of our nation is more important that its ethnic make-up? 

The American people seem to feel that way. Congress is getting there. Let's embrace our future. We are and always have been a nation of immigrants — that is what has made us the greatest nation on earth. Yes, our founding fathers were from England. But, if we carry forward the principles and the values they enshrined in our Constitution (before there were any immigration laws at all), and if we allow our country to remain the world's beacon for entrepreneurship and invention, I don't see what difference it makes what percentage of us hail from England, Western Europe, or anywhere.

Please add a comment below to continue the conversation.  And please participate in our Virtual Town Hall on Immigration Sunday Feb. 10 at 3:30 pm ET

If you're interested in why I am so passionate about immigration. Check out 9500 Liberty, my 4th feature film and 1st in collaboration with Annabel Park:

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commented 2013-02-10 13:35:05 -0600 · Flag
Wikepedia on H1-B criticisms:
“Wage depression is a chronic complaint critics have about the H-1B program: some studies have found that H-1B workers are paid significantly less than U.S. workers. It is claimed that the H-1B program is primarily used as a source of cheap labor.”

“…Milton Friedman as stating that the H-1B program acts as a subsidy for corporations.”

Predatory Capitalism (aka The Amerian Way) is treating you and yours as chattel, Bea.
commented 2013-02-10 10:51:52 -0600 · Flag
I am a woman in her sixties who can’t afford to retire. I work in the IT field, and everywhere I have worked in the last few hears has an overwhelming majority of male IT workers from India. At one office park I visited in NJ, the only women present were security guards.

I know several other women like me who can’t get work though we have excellent technical skills that are in high demand. One of these friends works as a dog walker and one survives by collecting cans and bottles on the street! Why does the government plan to expand H1-B visas when Americans, both mean and women, need these good jobs?

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