PPIC Study Estimates Yolo County Undocumented Immigrant Population, Triggers Knee-Jerk Reactions

Illegal-ImmigrationAccording to a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) study, Yolo County has an unauthorized immigrant population of 12,000 which represents roughly 6.2% of the population.

Overall in Yolo County, Latinos represent, according to Yolo County’s website, 26% with Whites accounting for 58% of the population, Asians 10%, and Blacks 2%.

According to their study, “This population is in the midst of a major shift. After many years of increases, the number of California’s unauthorized immigrants has remained stable or even declined slightly recently.”

Moreover, the number of undocumented workers living in other states has increased substantially, compared to California.  They find, “In 1980, approximately half the nation’s unauthorized immigrants lived in the state, but that share had fallen substantially, to about 26 percent, by 2008.”

The figures are from 2008 and based on a complex estimation system that uses tax returns, previous estimates, and mathematical models.  It relied heavily on those who take advantage of a 1996 provision of the law and file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, which is for taxpayers who do not have a Social Security number.

This might suggest that the study underestimates the numbers.

Los Angeles has the largest number of unauthorized immigrants at 916,000, representing 9.3%.  Several counties have a larger percentage of their population as unauthorized immigrants, including Monterey and San Benito at 13.5%, Imperial at 12.8%, Napa at 12%, Santa Clara at 10.2, and Orange at 9.6%.

The Woodland Daily Democrat ran an article on this, interviewing Matt Rexroad, chair of the Board of Supervisors for Yolo County.

The Daily Democrat reports, “Illegal immigrants are a significant portion of the agricultural work force, including in Yolo County.  “It’s part of our society,” Rexroad said. “It’s part of rural California.””

The Daily Democrat added, “But he said the agricultural industry has changed ‘so much’ and is not as dependent on manual labor. Illegal immigration is not an issue that the Board of Supervisors deals with on a regular basis as it’s determined by the federal government. Rexroad said the federal government is ‘incapable’ of dealing with the issue.”

Moveover, “He said the government is required to provide education but not health care. Rexroad mentioned a past Board of Supervisors meeting where he voted to discontinue the county’s indigent health care program to illegal immigrants because the county could no longer afford it.”

“Clearly we have illegal immigrants in California and as a local government we have to deal with it,” Mr. Rexroad said.

The problem with ending indigent health care programs to illegal immigrants is that it could present a hazard to the rest of the population.  So, while on the surface it is easy to argue, we need to take care of our own, in the broader sense, and this is part of our own as they are fully integrated into society – what impacts them will impact others surrounding them.

I always find the reaction to illegal immigration to be fascinating.  There is a level of emotion reaction that seems disproportionate to the reality of the situation.

As Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton wrote, “To begin with, there is rampant misunderstanding over the act of being in the United States without documentation.  My fellow Americans – it is a civil offense, not a criminal one. If you don’t believe me, look it up.”

He even cites our own Sheriff, Ed Prieto, who “admitted that he too once believed the misinformation.”

“I was always told (being in the United States without documentation) was a felony violation of law,” Sheriff Prieto said in various publications in late May. “But after we met with the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento, we learned it’s not.”

People will point out, as some of the readers did in Mr. Breton’s column, that there is a criminal provision against the act of illegally crossing the border, but Mr. Breton actually addressed this, leading me to wonder if people read his columns any more carefully than they read mine.

He wrote, “If the U.S. Border Patrol  catches an immigrant in the act of crossing the border, it is a violation of Title 8 of the U.S. criminal code. The vast majority of these cases result in deportations, not prosecution.”

But a huge misconception comes in how illegal immigrants get here.  Most of them, as Mr. Breton points out, enter this country legally and simply overstay their visa. 

Writes Mr. Breton, “The ‘illegal presence’ of being in the United States is not a violation of the U.S. criminal code. It’s a civil immigration offense and can result in fines or deportation.”

As I mentioned previously, this debate triggers knee-jerk reactions.  One commentator, John Taylor, on the Woodland site said, “Dont talk about it, load them up and take them home.”

Because, obviously, our county has the resources to search out 12,000 people, determine that they are undocumented, and to deport them.

From a practical standpoint, this just raises too many problems.  Aside from the sheer logistical impossibility of rounding up millions of people across the country, determining who is here illegally, having deportation proceedings, physically removing them and other considerations.

From a political standpoint, the amount of disruption to the immigrant communities, many of whom are here legally, would be tremendous.  There would be a huge backlash to this.

Second, if you suddenly remove a sizable percentage of the population, Yolo’s percent is around 6% of the population, and that appeared to be about the median in the state, that is a huge disruption to the economy.  You would cripple critical industries overnight, such as the farming industry that relies on migrant farm workers in order to cultivate and pick crops.

People really do not think this stuff through very carefully.

People continued with the jobs issue.  “How many unemployed and under employed legal residents do we have in Yolo County?”  John Taylor suggested that they take jobs “that our unemployed can get, because the Y will work for cash and no taxes.”

The jobs issue is one of the bigger red herrings. 

A parallel PPIC study wrote, “Whether illegal immigrants take jobs that U.S. natives will not do or displace U.S. workers has long been a bone of contention among advocates and a topic of study for researchers. Most studies indicate that immigrants (including illegal immigrants) have little effect on the wages and employment of U.S.-born workers. Some estimates suggest that more highly educated U.S.-born workers experience slight gains, as they are not in direct competition with most immigrants, and less-educated U.S.-born workers experience slight negative effects. But even these results are relatively small and debated.”

They continue, “A recent PPIC report concludes that because legalizing formerly unauthorized low skilled workers did not increase their wages, a legalization program would most likely not increase competition between formerly unauthorized workers and U.S-born workers. Most economists agree that immigrants, including illegal immigrants, increase total economic output in the United States.”

Finally, there are huge amounts of claims that “Illegal immigration is a huge problem in California and a huge reason why our state is broke,” such as Matthew Findley wrote on the Daily Democrat site.

In contrast, the PPIC argues, “There are no reliable studies of illegal immigrants’ fiscal impact in California. In 2004, the Government Accountability Office concluded that there was not enough information to estimate state costs even of educating illegal immigrant children. Further, most studies of the fiscal effects of immigration do not separate illegal from legal immigrants.”

The PPIC continues, “Some parties to the debate claim that illegal immigrants and their children are a drain on public coffers. Others claim that they pay more in taxes than they receive in services. Sorting out the fiscal effects is a serious challenge, and the outcomes depend on the accounting methods used.”

They conclude, “According to one study—by an organization advocating reduced immigration—illegal immigrants are a net federal fiscal drain because of their low incomes and low tax payments, not because they are big consumers of public services. Another study, by the Brookings Institution, uses new data from the Current Population Survey to conclude that immigrants and their children contribute more in taxes than they receive in benefits.”

We can probably conclude from this that the costs of illegal immigration are uncertain.  However, a lot of the costs are self-inflicted, the costs of patrolling the borders and enforcing immigration laws.

I have always believed we need to liberalize immigration laws.  I think if we provide people a way to come to this country to work, we cut the legs out from the human trafficking and drug trade that goes along with it and that eliminates most of the worst problems that people attribute to illegal immigration.

In short, I think immigration policy suffers the same problem as drug policies – interdiction rarely works and people will be surprised as to how little tougher enforcement mechanisms will solve things.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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35 Comments

  1. wdf1

    JB: [i]Bachmann is no futher hard right than Nancy Pelosi is hard left, but I understand you distaste for her views. I still don’t know where you get your information that the Tea Party is a movement of social conservatives.[/i]

    Michele Bachmann is head of the Tea Party Caucus in the House. As such she embodies a marriage of more libertarian fiscal policy with social conservatism.

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_Bachmann#Social_issues[/url]

    Here are examples of Bachmann’s social conservatism:

    [quote]Bachmann supports the teaching of intelligent design in public school science classes. During a 2003 interview on the KKMS Christian radio program Talk The Walk, Bachmann said that evolution is a theory that has never been proven one way or the other.

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_Bachmann#Education_policy[/url]
    [/quote]
    and
    [quote]Bachmann supports both a federal and state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and any legal equivalents. In 2004, the Star Tribune reported that Bachmann said of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, “We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders”.

    Bachmann is pro-life and has been endorsed in her runs for Congress by the Susan B. Anthony List and Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life; at a debate among presidential candidates in New Hampshire, when asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, Bachmann responded that she is “100 per cent pro-life”.

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_Bachmann#Social_issues[/url][/quote]
    Bachmann is free to do what she wants, but her presence as a prominent leader of the Tea Party doesn’t help to clarify their principals when she is very much out there promoting her social positions as a Republican presidential candidate.

  2. Frankly

    Don: Bachmann is no futher hard right than Nancy Pelosi is hard left, but I understand you distaste for her views. I still don’t know where you get your information that the Tea Party is a movement of social conservatives. Certainly some politicians that support the Tea Party principles and some of the rank and file supporters are social conservatives. However, the Tea Party platform is a subset of their views and not representative of everything you dislike from conservatives. Most moderates and right-leaning independents and libertarians believe in the core values of…

    1. Limited Government
    2. Fiscal Responsibility
    3. Personal Responsibility
    4. The Rule of Law
    5. National Sovereignty
    6. Free Markets

    There are factions of the Tea Party that have started to spout more social agendas, but this is no different than counting all the goals of left fanatics as somehow being part of the core principles of liberal progressives.

    However, even looking over Glenn Beck’s suggested list of Tea Party principles, I can only see one (#2) that should be objectionable to you. Please let me know if I am wrong and what else you object to.

    [quote]
    1. America Is Good.

    2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.

    3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.

    4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.

    5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.

    6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.

    7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

    8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.

    9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.
    [/quote]

  3. Don Shor

    Because of her views. Michele Bachmann is one of the most extreme right-wing members of Congress. The point I was making was that the Tea Party members are primarily very hard-right on all social issues, and many blur the roles of religion and government to an alarming degree.

    Meanwhile, here is her record on immigration: [url]http://www.numbersusa.com/content/action/michele-bachmann.html[/url]
    Note that she is a supporter of the SAVE Act, which would affect every employer in the country. But that measure appears to have bipartisan support.

  4. Frankly

    Don: [i]“If Michelle Bachmann is your example of a good Tea Party candidate, and then I rest my case.”[/i]

    Interesting. Do you make that point because of her views, or because of her qualifications? If it is the latter, I will respond making a list of hers and Obama’s so we can compare.

    You may not like her views, but she resonates with many Republicans, many independents and most of the Tea Party people. The best her opponents and their media pals can come up with to derail her is that she has headaches. That is priceless evidence of their desperation, don’t you think?

    She has proven to be a very capable politician with strong debating skills that has a good grasp of the issues. She is also one that sticks to her principles… an attribute voters value much more after experiencing the Obama effect.

  5. Frankly

    JustSaying: I would prefer that our government stops playing a shell game with deficit spending no matter what the source. However, I also understand and appreciate the difficulty for us to prevail in any lengthy military conflict when, as a consequence, voters start to feel the financial pain. You and I both know that the left does not mind deficit spending. What they object to is the loss of a strong emotive that could have been leveraged to enflame more public support to stop the war. The cost-benefit argument considering greater future conflict with the world-wide network of Islamic extremists is too abstract and distant for the average American voter… especially when they learn how fighting the war will result in the loss of their cherished free stuff. We have a representative government precisely because of this type of thing… people cannot rule themselves effectively because 90% of them will always lack the capacity or motivation to see and support the big picture. That in and of itself is a ubiquitous political challenge that all democratic leader must overcome. However, we have the media to contend with too.

    I think the Bush administration was brilliant in how they hid the financial pain from voters in order to win a war. The fact that they had to is the real problem we should be talking about.

    You can check the US budget history to see that our defense and military spending excluding wars has significantly fallen as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of our federal expenditures. It is government spending on social services that has blown the doors off… increasing our total spending as a percent of GDP and also consuming most of our current federal budget.

    I agree that we should face our credit card bills before racking up addition debt; however, the Iraq and Afghanistan war costs are a little piece of a much larger deficit problem with roots in our out of control spending on social services and other non-essential programs.

  6. JustSaying

    Jeff, I know Congress has authorized spending billions on wars during the last administration and into the current one. What I was getting at is the question about when will Congress get around to exercise its “power to lay and collect taxes” to cover the phony off-budget spending the conservatives supported during the Bush years.

    We haven’t been Taxed Enough Already until we pay off what we’ve spent since GWB and Congress frittered away our budget surplus and had us fighting wars on China’s and Japan’s yuan and yen instead of our own dime. Do the Tea Party folks find it an honorable mission to dump our responsibilities onto the next several generations?

  7. Don Shor

    [i]The Tea Party developed before Obama took office[/i]
    No they didn’t. The movement began in February of 2009. There was no such thing as a Tea Party before President Obama was inaugurated. Their selective indignation is part of what makes them seem outlandish.

    If Michelle Bachmann is your example of a good Tea Party candidate, then I rest my case.

  8. Don Shor

    [i] I think you support immediate regulatory disruptions to oil and gas companies resulting in higher cost gas which would cause people to consume less and use more sustainable and green (and higher cost) alternatives.[/i]
    No, I favor incentives for the green alternatives and the use of their end products.

    [i]you support through restricting oil drilling on US properties and off shore, and the demand for higher taxes on oil company profits[/i]
    I know that oil drilling can be done safely in many places, but there are significant risks to off-shore drilling. The worst environmental disaster in history just occurred in the United States. I think it is not unreasonable to want careful regulation of drilling for safety and environmental reasons. I am also in a regulated industry whose regulations affect, somewhat, the cost of our end products. I have been in regulated service industries (pest control and landscaping) where the regulations affected, somewhat, the costs of the services. We make those tradeoffs all the time. But you are talking about a drastic and wrenching change in the highest-cost part of the agricultural industry: the labor force.
    In general, when policies will affect payroll they will have the greatest impact on business. As you know, it is the biggest expense most businesses have, by far. Most other regulatory issues are of much less consequence, except perhaps for high-polluting industries.

    My children have experience with hard work; my daughter in particular under rather arduous conditions. You must be thinking of someone else’s pampered and spoiled kids. Surely not your own! :-)
    I agree that this would be an opportune time to start transitioning to a domestic labor source for agriculture. Too bad the chances of any kind of immigration reform are non-existent in the next 2 – 4 years. Neither party will take the issue on, but the Tea Party folks are especially rabid on the issue of immigration. Republicans have more to lose from their base on the issue than do Democrats.
    Personally I would favor a very broad amnesty combined with some other labor recruitment process. Farmers rely on labor contractors to provide labor. The current process isn’t going to look outside the current labor force. Labor would just get very scarce, as happened in Georgia. The unintended consequences could be very adverse for businesses, consumers, and workers alike, and it’s hard to see the benefits.

  9. Frankly

    [i]“Are you a tea party activist, Jeff?”[/i]

    I don’t really even know what that question means since the left made “activist” a career title. I honestly have never been to any Tea Party event. However, I believe in the same Tea Party principles I just listed. They are the same that any good conservative libertarian believes in. I believe that people who marginalize and discredit the Tea Party movement are missing the bigger picture…. and maybe at their political peril. Sharron Angle was a joke of a candidate that allowed Harry Reid to be re-elected and also probably allowed the Dems to control the Senate. However, Michele Bachmann is not a joke and her popularity seems to underscore that the message of the Tea Party resonates with many Republicans… and maybe many independents too.

    The Tea Party developed before Obama took office, but you can still blame him and the Democrats in Congress for what they wrought since they provided the motivation to grow.

  10. Frankly

    Don:[i]” But the Tea Party movement is, in fact, overwhelmingly white, anti-immigrant, heavily Christianist, and comes down very far to the right on social issues, and totally intransigent on most issues.”[/i]

    Tea Party core principles:
    • Limited federal government
    • Individual freedoms
    • Personal responsibility
    • Free markets
    • Returning political power to the states and the people

    These are conservative principles and libertarian principles. Everything that is the core of what the Tea Party stands for comes back to these principles. Note that Obama and the Dems in Congress consistently demonstrate, both in words and in deeds, disagreement with all five of these principles.

    Don: [i]“I picked prunes for a few weeks in Healdsburg in July. I don’t recommend it. Having run a landscape business, I am much less optimistic about the likelihood of teenage and young adult labor filling the millions of jobs presently filled by immigrant labor.”[/i]

    You picked prunes; I picked pears and worked in the tomato and sugar beet fields when I was a teenager. Our pampered and spoiled youth would benefit from the same. So would a large percentage of welfare recipients. I have more faith in people doing what they have to. And, I think we are heading to a new economic reality where the little darlings are going to have to work for their Xbox and gas money, and those looking for a perpetual hand out will discover the cupboard is finally bare unless they themselves work to fill it.

    Also, based on wdf1’s post, we should start this transition now since it appears to be happening already.

    Don: [i]” As with immigration law, it is best to phase things in.”[/i]

    I could be wrong, but I think you support immediate regulatory disruptions to oil and gas companies resulting in higher cost gas which would cause people to consume less and use more sustainable and green (and higher cost) alternatives. The high cost of oil – which you support through restricting oil drilling on US properties and off shore, and the demand for higher taxes on oil company profits – has a huge impact on the cost of food and a huge disproportionate impact on poorer people.

    I’m just trying to understand how you reconcile this.

  11. Frankly

    [i]“who should pay (and when and how) for our current wars that still show up as overdue on the USA’s credit card bill? How can we be Taxed Enough Already when we still haven’t settled up the last decade’s guns and butter borrowing?”[/i]

    The US Constitution, Article 1., Section 8[quote]The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.[/quote]
    It goes on to list the debts we could accumulate and nowhere do I read that it will be from providing free food, housing and healthcare to citizens… let alone illegal immigrants. However, the following specifically address accumulating debt and collecting taxes for military and defense actions to provide protection:

    [quote]To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

    To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    To provide and maintain a Navy;

    To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;[/quote]

    Tea Partiers are patriots too and understand that the Constitution allows some spending. However, while defense spending as a percentage of GDP has dropped since before WWII, spending on everything else has skyrocketed.

  12. Don Shor

    I spend considerable time on Tea Party blogs and forums reading the writings of the founders and active participants. Your assessment of their stand is completely at odds with what I find there. Anything called or resembling amnesty is a complete non-starter to the hard right of the Republican Party. If they stuck to fiscal issues, they might gain more traction. But the Tea Party movement is, in fact, overwhelmingly white, anti-immigrant, heavily Christianist, and comes down very far to the right on social issues.

    I believe that a substitute labor plan that doesn’t rely on non-traditional demographics for agricultural work MUST be in place and functioning before enforcement is ramped up. Personally I do not favor penalizing employers; I realize many leading Dem’s do. Remember, I am in an industry that is basically agricultural in our wholesale end, and the labor force is almost entirely Hispanic. Nursery industry associations always side with ag business groups on immigration reform issues and I tend to agree with them.
    Plus there is a human cost to ramped up enforcement that I think is overlooked. These workers are part of our community, productive and contributing members, often here for many years. I do not want to see the dislocation if immigration reform were to be implemented hastily and without consideration for the economic and human consequences.

    [i]So, what are your views on increased regulations and higher taxes on the commissions for investment banking? Might that also cause a disruption in that industry? [/i]
    I know almost nothing about investment banking, so I don’t really have an opinion on that issue.
    I am perfectly happy to increase taxes on commissions, but I’d rather just increase taxes on income at the higher brackets and leave it at that. I don’t care how they earned it. Just rescind the Bush tax cuts. I’d even accept some flattening of the tax rates overall with elimination of industry-specific tax credits. Eliminate the capital gains tax and just tax the incomes of the people who benefit from it in a revenue-neutral way. As with immigration law, it is best to phase things in.
    I picked prunes for a few weeks in Healdsburg in July. I don’t recommend it. Having run a landscape business, I am much less optimistic about the likelihood of teenage and young adult labor filling the millions of jobs presently filled by immigrant labor.

  13. JustSaying

    Jeff, so who should pay (and when and how) for our current wars that still show up as overdue on the USA’s credit card bill? How can we be Taxed Enough Already when we still haven’t settled up the last decade’s guns and butter borrowing?

  14. Frankly

    [i]”Jeff: Next we should create a list of ”temporary amnesty” eligibility criteria.
    With one word, you just lost Tea Party support for all of your proposals. Thus it would never get through the House.”[/i]

    Don: Remember that the “TEA” in Tea Party stands for “Taxed Enough Already”. Despite the propaganda of the left and the main-scream media to paint it as some violent, racist group of old white people, the Tea Party was formed specifically over disgust and anger about the out of control and unsustainable spending of government.

    If illegal immigrants in this country absolutely contribute more than they consume, I think most in the Tea Party would get over the “illegal” part and support a plan that allows these folk to stay as long as it also ensures assimilation.

  15. jimt

    Don: Re benefits not accruing equally: with a smaller size of unskilled labor pool in state and country and a lower unemployment rate among citizens; current low-wage workers are in a position to get higher wages and will better be able to afford more expensive fruits & vegetables; also like I said there should be tax breaks for farmers and consumers on these healthy food items to keep market costs about the same even with higher labor costs. It seems to me that among 16-25 year olds, many of them would be willing to work in the fields, at least for 20-30 hours per week, for $12-$15/hr; but not at the current $7-$10(?)/hr (Like Jeff, as a youth I worked several weeks in the summer for about 20-30 hrs/week picking strawberries–we were paid based on the volume of strawberries picked; turned out near minimum hourly wage for all but the speediest pickers); we were bused out to the strawberry fields about sunrise and quit by noon before it got too hot).

    I agree that enforcing employment laws re illegals must be phased in slowly and carefully (I would think farmers should have at least one years notice, for example, of any change in employment eligibility laws or changes in enforcement policies). Georgia blew it both from this standpoint and from the fact that they are at a competitive advantage from farmers in other nearby states who can use cheaper illegal labor. Just because Georgia messed up does not mean that its not feasible to do it intelligently in a uniform way across the USA, in a way that won’t drive many farmers out of business.

  16. Frankly

    [i]“More than half of Americans don’t pay taxes, but nearly all buy fruits and vegetables. So your benefits would not accrue evenly.”[/i]

    Don: Democrats overwhelmingly voice preference for penalizing companies that hire illegal immigrants over tougher border enforcement and deportation. How does this jibe with you point… since it would have the same result?

    In any case, more expensive fruits and vegetables would be offset by lower healthcare costs since hospitals would have less uninsured emergency room patients. Also, if we eliminate costs for services consumed by so many illegal immigrants, there will be more resources to provide services to poor legal residents and citizens.

    Lastly, labor is only one component for agriculture production. Energy is another big one. Do you support subsidizing the energy costs of farming and ranching to reduce the cost to consumers?

    [i]” One big problem is that trying to implement this would be very disruptive. Georgia is discovering that right now. The labor supply has to be there immediately unless any restriction is phased in.”[/i]

    So, what are your views on increased regulations and higher taxes on the commissions for investment banking? Might that also cause a disruption in that industry?

    With my own informal surveys of high school and college kids unable to find work… especially work that pays more than minimum wage, I get near 100% confirmation that they would work in the fields picking fruit and vegetables for $12 per hour. It used to be that the kids that did this kind of work were the ones with extra money in their pocket because it paid better than the typical service job they could get. I started working in the construction industry out of high school as a bottom-rung laborer digging foundations, framing and roofing and made twice the minimum wage. Today most of those jobs are done by Mexican immigrants… many illegal… for minimum wage or slightly higher.

    Also, if we bussed able-bodied welfare and food stamp recipients to the fields and gave them the choice of getting nothing or something to supplement their $12 per hour, my guess is that $96 per day would be their choice.

  17. Don Shor

    [i]The costs of many fruits and vegetables will increase. As Jeff notes, many of these costs will be offset by decreased costs of social services, thus lower tax burden. [/i]
    More than half of Americans don’t pay taxes, but nearly all buy fruits and vegetables. So you benefits would not accrue evenly.

    [i]But if all USA farmers are disallowed from using illegal labor, then they can compete with each other on a level playing field. [/i]
    One big problem is that trying to implement this would be very disruptive. Georgia is discovering that right now. The labor supply has to be there immediately unless any restriction is phased in.

    Jeff: [i]Next we should create a list of ”temporary[b] amnesty”[/b] eligibility criteria.[/i]
    With one word, you just lost Tea Party support for all of your proposals. Thus it would never get through the House.
    [i]Today a wage of $12 per hour should attract many people to the fields.[/i] Very unlikely.

  18. jimt

    I agree with Jeff that for a higher hourly rate; American citizens will indeed do the work that Mexicans currently do. Costs of construction, and of hire-out of gardening and household cleaning by the upper middle class and wealthy will increase. The costs of many fruits and vegetables will increase. As Jeff notes, many of these costs will be offset by decreased costs of social services, thus lower tax burden.
    Farmers are forced into the situation of using cheap illegals now because if they don’t, they won’t be able to compete with their neighbors that do use illegal labor to cut costs. But if all USA farmers are disallowed from using illegal labor, then they can compete with each other on a level playing field. Of course they will be in a less favorable position from the standpoint of international competition in the fruit/vegetable market; I would argue our farmers should get tax breaks and there should be some tariffs on imported foods; so that the USA has food security (stays self-sufficient in food supply).

  19. wdf1

    Is Mexico’s ‘secret economic boom’ killing illegal immigration?

    [url]http://news.yahoo.com/mexicos-secret-economic-boom-killing-illegal-immigration-103100615.html[/url]

    [quote]New research suggests incomes and quality of life are improving south of the border — discouraging Mexicans from illegally sneaking into the U.S.

    Illegal immigration may be a thriving political topic, but as a cross-border migration trend, it has “sputtered to a trickle,” at least from Mexico, reports Damien Cave in The New York Times. And a growing body of research points to a surprising reason why: Income, employment prospects, and life in general is getting better in Mexico, making the arduous trek north less appealing.[/quote]

  20. Frankly

    Acceptable politically-correct labels for [b]illegal immigrants[/b]:
    •-Foreign-Born Workforce
    •-Law Abiding Undocumented
    •-Undocumented Workers
    •-Undocumented Immigrants
    •-Undocumented Aliens
    •-Undocumented Migrants
    •-Unauthorized Population
    •-Unauthorized Workers
    •-Foreign-Born Population
    •-Unauthorized Migrants
    •-First Generation
    •-Non-Citizens.

    Cost of [b]illegal immigration[/b]:
    •Illegal Aliens in Country = 23 Million
    •Other Than Mexican Illegals in Country = 607 Thousand
    •Money Wired to Mexico since Jan 2006 = $35 Billion
    •Money Wired to Latin America since 2001 = $292 Billion
    •Cost of Social Services since 1996 = $397 Billion
    •Children of Illegals in Public Schools = 5.5 Million
    •Cost of Illegals in K-12 since 1996 = $172 Billion
    •Illegal Aliens Incarcerated = 456 Thousand
    •Cost of Incarcerations since 2008 = $27 Billion
    •Illegal Alien Fugitives = 779 Thousand
    •Anchor Babies since 2002 = 5 Million
    •Skilled Jobs Provided to Illegal Aliens = 12.3 Million

    We need to be honest and stop trying to win ideological battles over this problem. We are being invaded by our neighbor to the south, and have been for decades. Once immigrants enter the US illegally from Mexico, they launch chain migration of more unemployed dependent family members (wives, grandparents, migrant children, migrant girlfriends, single mothers and anchor babies). These Illegals are less educated and poorer than other Immigrants. They also have much higher birth rates. The number of U.S.-citizen children born to illegal immigrants has dramatically increased from 2.7 million in 2003 to 4 million in 2008, according to a study by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center. The study also found more than a third of such children were in poverty in 2007, compared with about 18 percent of those born to either legal immigrants or U.S.-born parents. Similarly, one in four U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants went without health insurance in 2008, compared with 14 percent of those born to legal immigrants and 8 percent born to U.S.-born parents.

    I think we should be focusing on the unsustainable fiscal drain caused by illegal immigration, and given our current dire budget and jobs situation, take drastic measures to remedy the problem. For a first step we should put the US military on the southern border to seal it for humanitarian reasons and to stop the flow of drugs and guns.

    Next we should create a list of ”temporary amnesty” eligibility criteria. The primary focus would be purely financial: basically requiring the applicant to demonstrate he/she can cover his/her expense nut. However, we should also add some “policy exceptions” like military service and the level of education and language proficiency attained per household. Any material criminal record should result in deportation. We should require all illegal immigrants to apply with a deadline. Those awarded the “gold ticket” of temporary amnesty would be given four years to secure citizenship or risk being deported.

    The argument for farm labor shortages is a red herring. First, we should have a legal temporary guest worker program to help subsidize our needed labor pool. Second, the lower wages farmers pay for illegal labor results in a form of a tax to consumers. We might pay less for our lettuce, but we pay more for our healthcare and schools to subsidize cost. Today a wage of $12 per hour should attract many people to the fields. When I was a boy working on a ranch/farm it paid half-again as much as minimum wage and I was happy to have the work. We should abolish all but the absolute necessary welfare, and replace it with workfare. We should encourage kids to work summers on a farm or ranch… thus helping them develop life-skills for a future where more food will need to be produced locally.

    Another reason to seal the border and deport illegal immigrants is to help Mexico and the Mexican people. Today Mexico’s GDP per capita is about the same as Brazil. However, as Mexico’s next door neighbor with one of the highest standards of living in the world, we are an attractive and destructive nuisance causing the breakup of Mexican families. Mexico is a country forever mired in government corruption. By cleaning up this corruption, Mexico would attract more foreign investment to improve employment opportunities for their people. However, with the US as a Mexican jobs and wages relief valve (Mexicans working in the US wiring about $50 billion per year back home); the Mexican government has little incentive to fix itself. Closing that relief valve would result in more Mexican people rightfully demanding their government step to the plate. In the long term this would be good for Mexico and the Mexican people.

  21. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Elaine has frequently addressed the downside of having public money tied up in “silos” thereby preventing the flexibility to spend money where it is likely to have the most benefit in the long run. Having presented to the board of supervisors on two occasions with regard to the importance and cost effectiveness of preventive health care for our underserved population, I am aware of the dilemma that they currently face. I would argue for consideration of restructuring of how funds are allocated on the state and county level to allow for greater flexibility of spending choices with changing economic conditions. [/quote]

    Amen!

  22. medwoman

    Mr.Toad,

    I agree with you that no one wants to make “these cruel decisions”. However, not only are these decisions cruel,
    they are also short sighted. This decision may temporarily get the country off the hook in terms of the indigent health care program. However, as a society, we will end up paying far more in terms of medical conditions that worsen and eventually end up in our emergency rooms where care cannot be denied and will end up being far more expensive than it would have been had the condition been treated earlier in an outpatient setting or optimally prevented altogether through proactive preventative health measures.

    Elaine has frequently addressed the downside of having public money tied up in “silos” thereby preventing the flexibility to spend money where it is likely to have the most benefit in the long run. Having presented to the board of supervisors on two occasions with regard to the importance and cost effectiveness of preventive health care for our underserved population, I am aware of the dilemma that they currently face. I would argue for consideration of restructuring of how funds are allocated on the state and county level to allow for greater flexibility of spending choices with changing economic conditions.

  23. Mr.Toad

    “Rexroad mentioned a past Board of Supervisors meeting where he voted to discontinue the county’s indigent health care program to illegal immigrants because the county could no longer afford it.”

    I know Matt had misgivings about this vote but the county was broke and the money for the new county building roof was locked up in a different account. Its no wonder nobody wants to run for Supervisor when you have got to make these sorts of cruel decisions.

  24. JustSaying

    [i][quote]“This might suggest that the study underestimates the numbers.”[/quote][/i]I would think you must be right here. Who benefits from filing a tax return, the employer…the illegal worker? I was about to type “neither” when I wondered whether the ITIN program opens the door to Workers’ Comp, tax refunds with earned income and child credits or other employee benefits?

    In any case, there seems little doubt that the present situation invites much, overlooked exploitation of workers. Well-done summary of the current situation, David. And, thanks for including source links.

  25. JustSaying

    The story went around, when I was a kid, that the USA was able to keep Canadians out by asking them to say their A-B-Cs whenever authorities were suspicious about their country of origin.* We were sure it worked ’cause we didn’t see nearly as many illegal Canadians as undocumented Mexicans.
    - – – – – – – – – – – -
    *Upon reflection, the story might have started with one of those nickel pamphlets, “Solve these Mysteries.” Or with my buddy, who was convinced that his version of federal supremacy meant that the post office truck had the right-of-way at a four-way stop over the competing ambulance and police car.

  26. Rifkin

    If you are into sports, the easiest way to figure out that someone is a Canadian is when he says or-gun-EYE-zay-shun instead of ORR-gun-uh-zay-shun.

  27. biddlin

    We’re easy to spot, Avatar. We’re taught English spelling, usage and grammar . Eventually, if we learn to drop the “Eeh ?” at the end of our sentences, we fade, insidiously, into the graffitied background .

  28. Rifkin

    A brief aside on politically correct language:

    [b]Study Estimates Yolo County [u]Undocumented[/u] Immigrant Population[/b]

    I hate when the left refers to illegal immigrants as “undocumented.” That makes it sound as if they weren’t really breaking the law, they just had not got around to signing all the necessary documents yet.

    I should note that I feel the exact same way when right-wingers refer to Democrat politicians, when every intelligent first grader knows that proper English is Democratic politicians.

    Both are an abuse of the language. They detract from clear communication in order to satisfy a political itch.

    However, in this case, even though the Vanguard leads with the lefty-PC term, I will give him a pass. This essay is just shy of 1,500 words, and thus it makes sense to use a variety of terms to break up the monotony. He also uses unauthorized and illegal.

    There are 21 uses of illegal or illegally in this column. However, of those 21 citations, 13 are quotes of others. Of the 8 times the Vanguard uses the non-PC word, 4 times it is in reference to “illegal immigration.”

    There are 7 uses of unauthorized in place of illegal, though a majority of those are quoting others.

  29. Rifkin

    [i]The Daily Democrat reports, “Illegal immigrants are a significant portion of the agricultural work force, including in Yolo County.

    “It’s part of our society,” Rexroad said. “It’s part of rural California.”[/i]

    I don’t understand who would object to this sort of a scheme: let employers, including farmers and food processors and any others who have a demonstrable need for Mexican or Central American workers, sponsor them. After getting a sponsor, a worker would get a temporary work permit. With his work permit, he could legally enter the United States and work for his sponsor at a legal wage. (Note that adult field workers in California make WAY OVER the minimum wage. They are paid usually based on their productivity.)

    The temporary work permit would allow workers to remain in the United States for a fixed amount of time–say 9 or 10 months. He would then have to return to Mexico (or whatever other country he came from) at that point, and could return the following year if his past employer or some other employer sponsored him. Any workers with a sponsored work permit who broke the law in the U.S. (other than some minor traffic tickets) would be barred in the future from getting renewed.

    Also, the sponsors of the temporary workers would have some responsibility for them, including paying for any serious medical bills or other demands on public services that the workers bring about while they were in the employ of the sponsor. (The employers would likely take out some kind of insurance to cover this sort of thing.)

    In this sort of scheme, all immigrant workers would be working legally and would face much less risk of being taken advantage of. The employers (esp. farmers) would have a steady and reliable workforce and they would not have to break the law to operate their businesses. The taxpayers in the United States would also benefit, as the legal employment arrangement would result in more taxes being paid and perhaps less cost in services.

    I don’t think my idea–which is based pretty much on the old bracero program–would solve all of our illegal immigration problems. But it would take a big chunk out of them and would be a benefit to the workers and the employers.

  30. medwoman

    Crops rotting in the field when illegal immigrants are not there to pick them is no news to anyone who has lived in Orange County.
    40 years ago I lived in a typical tract home in Anaheim that backed onto fields tended by hand almost exclusively by Hispanic day laborers.
    It was a common sight for a shout to go out and a field to empty of workers within seconds before an immigration enforcement raid.
    A couple of hours would go by and on signal all the workers would be back. We have been spending huge amounts of money on this ineffective and hypocritical cat and mouse game in which many of the landowners are willing participants because it is to their economic advantage to keep their low cost workers. Their savings on labor is what has allowed those of us who are more affluent to enjoy a food supply that is relatively inexpensive. The people who come here to work in order to keep their families alive are not the culprits in this dirty little part of our history.

  31. David M. Greenwald

    “Figures based on tax returns? LOL Let’s face it, the gov’t has no idea how many illegals are here in this country.”

    That’s one component of it. I intentionally cited the source and simplified it because it was very complex and I did not want to get bogged down in it. If you are interested, click on the link and read the report.

  32. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]The figures are from 2008 and based on a complex estimation system that uses tax returns, previous estimates, and mathematical models. It relied heavily on those who take advantage of a 1996 provision of the law and file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, which is for taxpayers who do not have a Social Security number.[/quote]

    Figures based on tax returns? LOL Let’s face it, the gov’t has no idea how many illegals are here in this country.

    That said, I was reading an article on the Internet the other day. Some state (unfortunately I cannot remember which one – perhaps Georgia?) just passed a stiff anti-immigration law. As a result, illegal immigrants are afraid to show up and pick produce in the fields. In consequence, the farmers are not able to get the produce harvested, and it is sitting in the fields rotting, bc the farmers cannot find anyone to do the work. Something to think about…

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