America and Immigration

What an interesting intersection today’s post is: Neil Diamond is retiring, the State of the Union is tomorrow, and immigrationreform” is on most political minds.

So I thought I’d highlight a few things going forward. Today I am talking about permanent immigrants, not people on temporary work or tourist visas. I can’t see addressing that anytime soon.

  1. Caps. Right now, legal immigration is capped at 675,000 permanent residents, using a complicated formula you’d almost have to be an immigration attorney to fully understand. For context, there’s roughly 3,600,000 DREAMers and 800,000 DACA recipients. So even if all we tried to do was normalize their status under the current limits, it would take over a year just for DACA kids and more like 5 years if we wanted to address all the DREAMers. There’s  a case for and a case against, and I’m not going there today. That’s not even dealing with the backlog of mostly legal immigrants trying to to things right, and it’s certainly not dealing with the estimated 11,000,000 “illegal” or “undocumented” immigrants — which word you use depends on what you think about them. It’s like drinking a gallon of milk with a teaspoon. So the short version is that any immigration “reform” that does not address the cap being too low is at best a band-aid and at worst pure hypocrisy.
  2. Merit based systems. A merit based system sounds great, doesn’t it?  Of course the first item on any merit based system would have to be “speaks English.” Obviously we want immigrants who have a basic grasp of our language, right? Unfortunately, this builds in an unmistakable bias in favor of immigrants from nations that either speak English or teach it in their schools. It in practice it could be just a tweak racist. In fact it’s a laughable since the majority of both legal and illegal immigrants comes from a Spanish speaking nation, Mexico.
  3. Jobs. I’ve seen a disturbing resurgence of the “Jobs Americans Don’t Want” line of thinking. I truly thought Mike Rowe had laid that canard to rest by showing us Americans doing the dirtiest jobs out there. It isn’t the job Americans don’t want; it’s the fact that the job often pays sub minimum wage, has no benefits, few safety protections, and so forth. Some of them are very close to outright human trafficking. What, you didn’t think that employers who break one employment law mysteriously follow all the others, do you?

So a real immigration reform bill would include raising the caps, enforcing existing employment law, and simplifying the system so it’s simply easier to do it right. We must be very careful with the idea of merit based systems. Of course, we aren’t going to get any such thing. In fact, it’s possible we get nothing at all.

Thoughts on the State of the Union Address

The President characterized the Trans Pacific Partnership as “Americans writing the rules.” It would have been more accurate to say corporations writing the rules. I did like how he dealt with Republican clapping when he announced that he’d run his last election. I wonder if maybe he didn’t ask Senator Franken for some tips on dealing with hecklers. Here’s somebody who actually knows something about economics talking about some of the President’s tax ideas. I do hope his college proposal doesn’t just extend the time when youngsters have the security of not having to necessarily have any skills.

The Republican rebutting the President (whose voice I find patronizing and annoying, but that’s on me) called Keystone XL a “jobs” bill when it is nothing of the sort. And once more I ask: if this stuff is so great and it’s going to create so many jobs, how come the Canadians are letting us ship it here rather than processing it there?

On good and bad habits: it’s apparently easier to do yoga while sober (I’ve never done it drunk, so I don’t know); thinking and doing; America isn’t the only nation that has a racism problem; healthy eating tips; avoiding salt doesn’t necessarily have to be one of those tips.

In Closing: fair housing and Ferguson; sensible; pointlessly gendered; 100 students; not a bad simplified explanation of how viruses work; the boy who rode his bike; and exploding kittens.