Patterico's Pontifications


Immigration Enforcement Works

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 9:15 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Arizona has begun serious immigration enforcement via employer sanctions that don’t take effect until January 1, but the threat of sanctions is already working:

“Illegal immigrants in Arizona, frustrated with a flagging economy and tough new legislation cracking down on their employers, are returning to their home countries or trying their luck in other states.

For months, immigrants have taken a wait-and-see attitude toward the state’s new employer-sanctions law, which takes effect Jan. 1. The voter-approved legislation is an attempt to lessen the economic incentive for illegal immigrants in Arizona, the busiest crossing point along the U.S.-Mexico border. And by all appearances, it’s starting to work.

“People are calling me telling me about their friend, their cousin, their neighbors — they’re moving back to Mexico,” said Magdalena Schwartz, an immigrant-rights activist and pastor at a Mesa church. “They don’t want to live in fear, in terror.”

Martin Herrera, a 40-year-old illegal immigrant and masonry worker who lives in Camp Verde, 70 miles north of Phoenix, said he is planning to return to Mexico as soon as he ties up loose ends after living here for four years. “I don’t want to live here because of the new law and the oppressive environment,” he said. “I’ll be better in my country.”

He called the employer-sanctions law “absurd.” “Everybody here, legally or illegally, we are part of a motor that makes this country run,” Herrera said. “Once we leave, the motor is going to start to slow down.”

There’s no way to know how many illegal immigrants are leaving Arizona, especially now with many returning home for normal holidays visits. But economists, immigration lawyers and people who work in the immigrant community agree it’s happening.

State Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, the author of the employer sanctions law, said his intent was to drive illegal immigrants out of Arizona. “I’m hoping they will self-deport,” Pearce said. “They broke the law. They’re criminals.”

The logic behind the new law is straightforward:

Under the employer sanctions law, businesses found to have knowingly hired illegal workers will be subject to sanctions from probation to a 10-day suspension of their business licenses. A second violation would bring permanent revocation of the license.

Nancy-Jo Merritt, an immigration lawyer who primarily represents employers, said her clients already have started to fire workers who can’t prove they are in the country legally. “Workers are being fired, of course,” she said. “Nobody wants to find out later on that they’ve got somebody working for them who’s not here legally.”

When immigrants don’t have jobs, they don’t stick around, said Dawn McLaren, a research economist at Arizona State University who specializes in illegal immigration. She said the flagging economy, particularly in the construction industry, also is contributing to an immigrant exodus. “As the jobs dwindle and the environment becomes more unpleasant in more ways than one, you then decide what to do, and perhaps leaving looks like a good idea,” she said. “And certainly that creates a problem, because as people leave, they take the jobs they created with them.”

Pearce disagreed that the Arizona economy will suffer after illegal immigrants leave, saying there will be less crime, lower taxes, less congestion, smaller classroom sizes and shorter lines in emergency rooms.

“We have a free market. It’ll adjust,” he said. “Americans will be much better off.”

I hope New Mexico and Texas get on board. California, too.


41 Responses to “Immigration Enforcement Works”

  1. DRJ, the link to the story is broken.

    Charges of racism coming in 3…2..1…

    Paul (d07d56)

  2. Paul,

    Thank you! I coded it wrong but it’s fixed now.

    DRJ (09f144)

  3. Well someone has remembered history. While using different tactics than the AZ law, under President Eisenhower it was decided to create jobs for veterans by getting rid of illegals by rounding them up and deporting them. Operation Wetback was started in 1954, but while records are spotty, it appears that a large self deportation resulted. The government effort was much more indiscriminate than we would permit today, but the actual forced deportation was considerably less than the self deportation. It is possible that history may repeat itself in AZ and this should be nation wide.

    But remember that there are serious obstacles to that occurring. Example: Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the present Committee Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, sent on November 2, 2006 a letter to Cintas Corp, the nation’s largest uniform maker, that it faces charges if it fires any of its 32,000 workers for using fraudulent Social Security documents to obtain employment. Fancy that action from a federal lawmaker; he “certainly” has placed his loyalties in the right place to protect the American worker and homeland security from illegal aliens abuses of our laws and culture.

    amr (d671ab)

  4. This will be a good test to see how much the economy actually does suffer with illegals leaving in large numbers. It’s ridiculous to suggest that the economy won’t suffer at all. Of course it will. You can’t have thousands of productive workers –often working at very cheap rates– leave and not expect the economy to suffer.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  5. Doc Ramapage:

    You’re forgetting a couple of things:

    1) Many of those jobs are going to be filled by American workers, including teenagers working part time.

    2) Any productivity lost will be regained by the retention of the billions of dollars now sucked out of our economy by the remittances to Mexico. US workers will spend their income in the US creating and supporting jobs.

    3) Government will save billions of dollars currently spent subsidising that “cheap and productive” labor.

    4) Industries dominated by illegal workers will finally be forced to modernize and become more efficent, again increasing productivity.

    gahrie (56a0a8)

  6. ““And certainly that creates a problem, because as people leave, they take the jobs they created with them.””

    Wait! What? I thought they just did the jobs Americans would not do. You mean they CREATED jobs?

    ….often working at very cheap rates–…..
    Even if some were underpaid it was due to their own kind controlling the purse strings while charging normal rates for the services they performed.

    TC (1cf350)

  7. The second half of the problem would be fixed by fixing legal immigration. I review Workers’ Comp cases in California as a part-time job. The ones I see are those that don’t fit the “guidelines,” in other words, those that are questionable. Of these, I would say that 75% are Hispanic and about 2/3 of those require Spanish interpreters. I suspect most, but not all, of those are illegal. The vast majority claim “second grade” education in Mexico and are illiterate in Spanish, let alone English. They are breaking down under heavy labor at ages from 28 to 40. They are then not eligible for vocational training because they are illiterate. They will spend the rest of their lives collecting disability, many of them in Mexico. Is this the workforce that we want ?

    I also know a young German couple who, having had their names come up in the lottery for visas, have immigrated legally to Arizona. He is a master plumber and she is a midwife. They had saved about 120,000 Euros to start a business. He says they could never have their own business in Germany. Both speak English, hers is better than his but, in the four months I have known them, his has markedly improved.

    Which immigrant group do we want ? I know there are hundreds of thousands of people all over the world with skills and education who would love to live here. I’ve talked to them. The quotas are small and they will not come illegally. Why do we keep them out and allow millions of illiterate laborers who will become charges on the public treasury in ? I have no problem with legal immigrants from Mexico and I have no problem, once the border is secure, with figuring out how to legalize the productive illegals already here, working at skilled jobs and speaking English. We have to make the immigration system rational but one of the obstacles is ICE, which recently announced that cutting the backlog of legal immigrant processing would hurt their budget because they depend on fees to fund their operation. Talk about perverse incentives !

    Mike K (86bddb)

  8. Doc, I think you’re right, there will be some effect. Having millions of illegals that you can pay awfulw ages to and treat like crap = low prices. However, these benefits are morally abhorrent. We must treat workers better than that.

    On the converse, the workers who replace the illegals will spend more money in Arizona rather than shipping it to Mexico.

    All these soft on immigration folks are ignoring something: Mexico sucks. So bad people will flee into a country that generally isn’t very good to them. Mexico is corrupt. There are a bunch of billionaires who get rich with the corrupt government’s help and then a ton of poverty for all else. Why don’t our leaders recognize this is bad for everyone, mexican and american? Demand Mexico reforms. Make a list of reforms for that country, and if they don’t meet the challenge, cancel our free trade agreements and impose penalties on trade. We need to flood mexico with propoganda to support politicians that can improve MExico. We need to fund them too.

    I’m totally serious. Mexico ought to be like Canada. A huge nation of good people next to the richest nation on earth ought to have a nice economy. They are safe, have resources, and somehow have become a major burden for the US. Let’s take on the real problem, so Mexicans who just want a nice life can have one without breaking our laws. This is win/win.

    Dustin (9e390b)

  9. test

    blah (fb88b3)

  10. Mexico is a nation of billionaires and poverty.

    NAFTA, by permitting heavily-subsidized US corn and other agri-business products to compete with small Mexican farmers, has driven the Mexican farmer off the land due to low-priced imports of US corn and other agricultural products. Some 2 million Mexicans have been forced out of agriculture, and many of those that remain are living in desperate poverty. These people are among those that cross the border to feed their families. (Meanwhile, corn-based tortilla prices climbed by 50%. No wonder many so Mexican peasants have called NAFTA their ‘death warrant.’
    NAFTA’s service-sector rules allowed big firms like Wal-Mart to enter the Mexican market and, selling low-priced goods made by ultra-cheap labor in China, to displace locally-based shoe, toy, and candy firms. An estimated 28,000 small and medium-sized Mexican businesses have been eliminated.
    Wages along the Mexican border have actually been driven down by about 25% since NAFTA, reported a Carnegie Endowment study. An over-supply of workers, combined with the crushing of union organizing drives as government policy, has resulted in sweatshop pay running sweatshops along the border where wages typically run 60 cents to $1 an hour.

    blah (fb88b3)

  11. blah – I understand how heavily subsidized U.S. corn imports leads to low prices for corn and can force Mexican farmers off their land. How do those low prices for corn translate into 50% higher corn tortilla prices? It seems like there’s a disconnect there doesn’t there?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  12. MEXICO CITY- Mexico’s vaunted experiment with neoliberal economic policies has transformed this country of 86 million profoundly. From automated bank machines to the newly privatized TV Azteca, a joint venture with NBC , Mexico is not the country it was just six years ago, when outgoing President Carlos Salinas de Gortari began turning Mexico inside-out as head of the autocratic ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

    “The opening of the Mexican economy has turned the country into one of the main destinations for investment around the world, one of the best [U.S.] commercial partners and one of the most appreciated stock issuers within the international value markets,” boasts a September 30, 17-page, we-are-open-for-business advertisement paid for by the Mexican government in USA Today. But like other countries in Latin America forced to swallow the bitter pill of structural adjustment and privatization, the prophesized free- market miracles have not materialized. With slow economic growth, falling real wages and growing inequality, the vendors of invisible hand tonic have some answering to do.

    Even while touting its economic achievements, the Mexican government acknowledges the contradiction. The “benefits are yet to be distributed evenly across Mexican society,” the USA Today advertisement admits. “The number of citizens living below the poverty line has increased from 13 million in 1990 to 24 million in 1994.”

    You’re the republican, you figure it out. If you want to blame Clinton that’s fine with me. Google “neoliberalism”

    blah (fb88b3)

  13. blah, you should know the answers to these questions.

    Do you have to read a damn book or something?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  14. I have too many comments in the spam filter already. If this one goes through the others don’t mattter. google “neoliberalism”

    blah (fb88b3)

  15. talk to the spam filter. I’ve done trying to post.

    [Blah, I found your comments in the filter and posted all but a couple that were duplicates. I’m sorry this happened but if it’s any consolation, I found your comments because it filtered my comment, too. I think it identifies certain links as spam. — DRJ]

    blah (fb88b3)

  16. The government’s focus on alternative fuels such as ethanol has driven up corn prices, affecting products like corn tortillas and tamales.

    DRJ (09f144)

  17. blah does not bother to actually understand anything he posts upon, he just collects links that others whose talking points he follows says explain something … regardless of whether they do. And far too often they do not. Usually blah’s comments are: “Go read this link which explains my brilliant thought that I can’t explain myself”

    SPQR (26be8b)

  18. DRJ, exactly. Ethanol fuel is a porkbarrel fraud. And it shows the exact kind of market destroying effects of government subsidies – encouraging economically disasterous policies.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. Judge Neil Wake said any delay in implementing the law which allows suspension or revocation of state licenses of companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers would harm the state and, in particular, legal Arizona residents.

    “Those who suffer the most from unauthorized alien labor are those whom federal and Arizona law most explicitly protect,” Wake said.
    “They are the competing lawful workers, many unskilled, low-wage, sometimes near or under the margin of poverty, who strain in individual competition and in a wage economy depressed by the great and expanding number of people who will work for less,” the judge continued.

    “If the act is suspended, whether for a month or for years, the human cost for the least among us, measured by each person’s continued deprivation, multiplied by their number, will be a great quantum.”

    magyart (9f5bd2)

  20. SPQR – Ethanol is a porkbarrel fraud.

    Oh, yah, have you got that right. What a farce the new energy bill is. I loved the comment of “Scott Faber, a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who complained that ethanol has the same “magical effect” on politicians as the tooth fairy and Santa Claus have on children.”

    A good discussion of the problem we’re creating is here:

    It also appears to be contributing to a world wide problem:

    JayHub (0a6237)

  21. ” he just collects links that others whose talking points he follows says explain something … regardless of whether they do. And far too often they do not.
    I’ll ask again: give me examples, please.

    What are the root causes of mass emigration?
    Emigration that also weakens the Mexican economy and society.

    DRJ, thanks

    blah (fb88b3)

  22. I’ll ask again: give me examples, please.

    Look at your comments with links, and the responses they generate.

    I’ll ask you again: how many times have you been refuted with your own links? Besides by me when you decided to call me a “passive fence-sitter” and challenged me to do some research?

    Or have you “forgotten” that factual analysis pounding I gave you?

    And while you are contemplating that chestnut, how about addressing daleyrocks questions

    How do those low prices for corn translate into 50% higher corn tortilla prices? It seems like there’s a disconnect there doesn’t there?

    with something other than “You’re the republican, you figure it out.” You know…like a fact-filled response that isn’t cherry-picked Noam Chomsky style.

    Paul (d07d56)

  23. ” he just collects links that others whose talking points he follows says explain something … regardless of whether they do. And far too often they do not.”
    I’ll ask again: give me examples, please.

    You either make your case or you don’t, blah. It’s up to you to convince your audience that you’re right whether or not it wants to be convinced. Instead of throwing out links, read what they link to closely, integrate it into your expository style, rephrase it as an argument, and then include the link as your supporting authority.

    nk (c3cc40)

  24. blah, every time we’ve pointed this out to you, you’ve ignored it. Each time we’ve shown that you do not understand your own links, you ignore it. Each time we’ve shown your basic factual mistakes, you ignore it. You got boring with that act long ago.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  25. You got boring with that act long ago.

    I agree, SPQR. That’s why I don’t bother writing lengthy responses with to blah most of the time.

    Paul (d07d56)

  26. This is just plain shameless showing off on my part, but maybe it will help poor blah on the proper use of rhetoric and links:

    There once was a young lady named Ansche
    Who a french fry on the train did munch.
    The policeman, who put her in cuffs,
    Well deserved the public’s rebuffs.
    But is it unconstitutional,
    Or even very unusual,
    For a cop’s brains to be out to lunch?

    nk (c3cc40)

  27. Blah – How do lower corn prices translate into higher corn tortilla prices as your first link claims. You answer that, it was your link. I already know the answer.

    How does posting a 1994 article and link bolster your case that NAFTA had a big impact on Mexican farmers. NAFTA was implemented in 1994. Providing essentially a pre-NAFTA link is flat out stupid on your part unless you were doing it to deflect from your inability to answer the earlier question.

    Your mistakes are obvious on every thread in which you participate. Why do you want the embarrassment of having them repeated?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  28. NK #26 – Well done.

    DRJ (09f144)

  29. Thank you, DRJ. But I really meant it that I am shameless in promoting my poetry. You might get a giggle from this one. Totally off-topic.

    nk (c3cc40)

  30. “And far too often they do not.”
    “Each time we’ve shown your basic factual mistakes, you ignore it.”
    In the discussion of Scalia I linked to omnibus posts. In discussions of Iraq I link to articles or databases. That doesn’t mean I’m agreeing with every single case, my point is either to supply more information or to sow “reasonable doubt.” I’m not trying to make up anyone else’s mind. Just read and make up your own mind. However…

    On the courts: Patterico does not agree with Miranda, but he hasn’t responded to questions about Griswold. There is no “right to privacy” in the Constitution. Should our elected government should have the right to pass a law making contraception illegal?
    Should “the people” have the right to micromanage individuals’ private lives? The court said no.
    Should the courts have a right to say that “separate but equal” does not work? Shouldn’t that be the duty of congress to decide? And what about “cruel and unusual” punishment? Why didn’t the framers say hanging yes/guillotine no/poison ok but not on sunday? And please tell me how the text of the 11th Amendment says anything about limiting suits by citizens against their own state! You can’t because it doesn’t. In Bush vs Gore there were claims made that the country would be harmed by a delay. Ignoring all the other issues, who gave the courts the right to argue that? Where is the basis for such an argument in the text of any law?

    I raised question you can’t answer using the language you prefer to use. That’s all I was trying to do. Nitpicking won’t change anything. If you want to argue that interpretation is not legislation then fine. I can’t argue with someone who doesn’t understand the english language.

    As to Mexico, the question is what is the history of US policy?
    I’m not defending the democrats on this. They sold working people down the river on both sides of the border. Free trade and no regulation? I’m still waiting for some discussion of the banking crisis. Do you know that foreigners are buying stakes in the biggest banking and brokerages in the country? Citibank just went begging in the middle east. I have friends who broke out laughing, almost spitting in the banker’s face, when the schmuck began to offer them pie in the sky bullshit about a mortgage that they would never be able to make. Buyer beware?
    And look what’s happened.

    I post links to serious discussion of the issues. You cherry pick things to dump on and ignore the rest. Maybe some other readers don’t.
    That’s why I do it.

    blah (fb88b3)

  31. In discussions of Iraq I link to articles or databases. That doesn’t mean I’m agreeing with every single case, my point is either to supply more information or to sow “reasonable doubt.”

    In other words, you supply links when you actually have no point. Your comments are useless and you admit it.

    See the look of surprise on my face.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  32. I posted a link. You asked a question. As I said above, I don’t have to take responsibility for everything on every page I link to, and you could have searched yourself. But still:
    NAFTA, Corn, and Mexico’s Agricultural Trade Liberalization [PDF]

    Trade liberalization has had a major impact on Mexican
    agriculture, and specifically on corn farming. Since many
    of the poorest people in Mexico engage in corn produc-
    tion, it serves as a barometer for the condition of the
    most marginalized groups in Mexican society. After ten
    years of NAFTA, results show that the poorest have fared
    exceptionally badly. In asking what went wrong, it is
    important to note that not all of the increase in rural
    poverty can be attributed to membership in NAFTA.
    NAFTA is part of a wider constellation of policies and pol-
    icy changes that affect the rural poor. Mexican trade lib-
    eralization was accompanied by national policy revisions
    that did away with government support programs and,
    instead, focused on increasing export led-growth. It is
    therefore analytically very difficult to attribute negative
    impacts exclusively to any particular free trade agree-

    If you want to quibble and say that I siad NAFTA [nya nya etc] go ahead. The issue is trade policy.

    blah (fb88b3)

  33. ” That doesn’t mean I’m agreeing with every single case”

    meaning every sub-discussion and subcategory on a page I link to.
    If I link to a page with links to 20 documents covering 30 years, I’m not going to claim to agree with everything.
    I thought that that was pretty clear.

    blah (fb88b3)

  34. I’m not trying to make up anyone else’s mind. Just read and make up your own mind.


    So we should just take it with a grain of salt when you make comments like this?

    Paul (d07d56)

  35. blah #32: As I said above, I don’t have to take responsibility for everything on every page I link to, and you could have searched yourself.

    So you don’t take responsibility for any link you use to support your arguments if it turns out to refute you.

    Got it.

    Paul (d07d56)

  36. It is clear, blah. It is clear that you shotgun links without any idea whether it is actually relevant, supportive of your argument or even whether or not you have an argument at all.

    It has long been clear to us. Evidently, you haven’t been clarifying to yourself very well.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  37. blah actually points to a real problem in Mexico, albeit inadvertently. The Mexican economy is pre-capitalist, almost feudal. The peasants were given uneconomic plots of land and expected to feed their families like American farmers did in 1830. They do not own the land; it is in cooperatives with communal ownership, which means no ownership at all. They cannot sell it. It is similar to the Indian Reservation program in the US for 100 years except these people are citizens of Mexico. Land ownership in Mexico, indeed contract law in every application, is insecure. I know people who thought they owned land. In Ensenada right now, there is a crime wave because the former mayor hired 500 unqualified policemen who functioned as political servants. Now he is out of office and the 500 policemen have been laid off. There are warnings to American tourists to be wary of any contact with such people especially in isolated places or at night. That is typical of Mexican politics. It sounds more like Iraq than North America. NAFTA had nothing to do with it.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  38. Blah actually claims a new standard of obtuseness here.

    The links blah posts may or may not have to do with the subject being discussed. They may be posted merely to inform. blah may or may not agree with the information contained in the links. blah will not inform other commenters of her agreement or lack thereof ahead of time.

    Blah, therefore, does not make mistakes.

    Stay in school, fool.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  39. Good for AZ but these things need to be enforced at the federal level because now Arizona is at an economic disadvantage with interstate commerce since they will not have the same downward pressure on workers wages that the other states will have. This affects all AZ companies, not just the ones who were hiring the illegals.

    Fair-trade would require Arizona to impose interstate tariffs against the scofflaw states, and that would be unconstitutional. There is no federalist solution for illegal immigration.

    j curtis (8bcca6)

  40. j curtis…
    No, I think AZ has the handle on this. By tying the use of illegal aliens to business licenses (which are NOT a Fed function), they have an effective tool against businesses within their jurisdiction. If more states did this, they would drag the Feds kicking and screeming into the solution.
    Now, what AZ needs to try and figure out, is how they can punish their businesses for doing business with companies out-of-state that are known employers of illegals. That could be quite a trick. But, you can’t have an interstate tariff – that was one of the reasons we got rid of the Articles of Confederation in 1787 (see: Interstate Commerce Clause).

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  41. The “Federalist Solution” is for each state (or a great many of them) to jerk the business license of companies within its’ jurisdiction who are employing people who are not supposed to be here; therefore, jeapordizing the livlihoods, health, and security of their citizens.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

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