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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Anti-Immigration Activist Criticizes Obama Deportation Changes

Dan Stein is the longtime president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). (steinreport.com)

Dan Stein is the longtime president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). (steinreport.com)

“A backdoor amnesty” is what Dan Stein calls the Obama administration’s plan to not deport immigrants who’ve lived in the U.S. for years who also haven’t committed crimes.

Stein shares his perspective on deportations and immigration reform with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson, following our interview Tuesday with Enrique Acevedo of Univision, who supports the deportation policy changes.

Since 1988, Stein has been president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which opposes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Interview Highlights: Dan Stein

On “minimizing” the felony status of illegal immigration

“The polar extremes of anyone who’s in the country illegally should be excluded, and anybody who comes in illegally should be allowed to stay, leaves no nuance in the center. The point is, there’s an effort going on right now to minimize the idea that illegal immigration a crime. Jeb Bush, by saying it’s an act of love, is trying to minimize the fact that it’s a felony under federal law. And there’s a further effort to try to minimize the moral consequences of people who jump the line in front of millions of people who jump the line in front of millions of people to try to grab a shot at residency in the U.S. Ultimately, though, many of the people advocating on behalf of the illegal immigrants are saying the don’t really care whether they become citizens, they just want to be able to work here and send money back home. That’s not the traditional model for what immigration’s all about in this country. Assimilation is a part of the naturalization process, and we should expect people who come to aspire to become citizens, and respect for law is the cornerstone of what makes a new citizen a good citizen. And if people have shown a routine willingness to break the law, then that’s not a good sign.”

On how he believes illegal immigration should be dealt with

“People who are here illegally find ways to adjust status — through marriage to a U.S. citizen or some other vehicle. There are people who simply don’t have the means of doing it who can leave the way they came back in. If the argument is that Obama is the deporter in chief and he’s deporting a million-plus illegal immigrants every year, then it’s not a big deal to ramp up enforcement and discourage most people here either illegally to go back home, or for people who have strong equities, and who have been here for a very long period of time, under extraordinary circumstances, you would maybe consider a case-by-case adjustment, or a statute of limitations similar to what’s already in the immigration law.”

On Latino sentiment about immigration reform

“FAIR doesn’t agree with the idea that Latinos all support high levels of mass and illegal immigration across our border, or that it should be rewarded with an amnesty. And there’s nothing about the polling data that suggests that Latinos vote immigration as their number-one issue. In the 2010 election, it was clear: Americans voted for strong, state and local cooperation with effective federal immigration law enforcement. In 2012, the argument was made — speciously, we believe — that somehow, because there was a heavy skew toward Obama among the Latino vote, that somehow, the Republicans had been punished for that. We don’t see the empirical evidence to back that up. What we do see is that there is a strong, partisan interest among the Democrats in trying to galvanize Latinos around the idea that anybody who supports strong border and immigration controls is somehow anti-Latino. The idea that there’s one class of people who can jump in front of 30 to 40 million people around the world, who have waited in line and patiently respected our system and our borders — that’s just not the American way.”

Guest

  • Daniel Stein, president of Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

This is HERE AND NOW. And it doesn't look likely that comprehensive immigration reform will pass through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives this year, but that doesn't mean the debate over immigration reform is going anywhere. Earlier this month, former Florida governor and potential 2016 candidate Jeb Bush broke with many in his party when he said this at a Fox news event.

JEB BUSH: Someone who comes to our country because they couldn't come legally, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work, to be able to provide for their family, yes they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's kind of a - it's an act of love.

HOBSON: That view is at odds with many Republicans who continue to block a Senate bill in the House, a bill that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as well as increased border security. Democrat Chuck Schumer recently told MSNBC he thinks opposition to comprehensive immigration reform will cost Republicans at the polls in November.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Leaders like Boehner and like Ryan still want to try to figure out a way to do it. If you wait until June or July when most of the Tea Party primaries are over, we still have a shot. If not, they're going to have big trouble, and Jeb Bush knows that. Jeb Bush represents the most positive wing of the Republican Party on this, and that's why he said what he did.

HOBSON: On Tuesday we spoke with Enrique Acevedo from Univision about an Obama administration plan to stop deporting undocumented immigrants who have been here for years but haven't committed crimes.

ENRIQUE ACEVEDO: We have to understand where these people come from. We have to understand in some cases they've been here for decades. They have children and grandchildren who were born in the U.S., they've never committed a crime, they're just model citizens, you know, in every way you would want to look at it.

HOBSON: But many Americans have a different view, and we want to hear that perspective now. Dan Stein is president of the group Federation for American Immigration Reform, and he's with us from Washington. Dan, welcome.

DANIEL STEIN: Glad to be here.

HOBSON: After we spoke with Enrique Acevedo from Univision, we got letters from a number of our listeners who had some version of this to say, basically anyone who is in the country illegally has broken the law, and therefore they should all be deported. Is that your sense?

STEIN: Well look, there's tremendous frustration building all across the country. I don't think it's getting the kind of coverage from the national media that it ought to be because the general public's view on the whole issue is being completely excluded, and we're not hearing it expressed on television shows, cable news or what have you.

HOBSON: But do you agree with that idea, that anyone who is in the country illegally should be deported because they've committed a crime?

STEIN: Well, look, the polar extremes of anyone who's committed - who's in the country illegally should be excluded, and anybody who comes in illegally should be allowed to stay, it leaves no nuance in the center. The point is there's an effort going on right now to minimize the idea that illegal immigration a crime. Jeb Bush, by saying it's an act of love, is trying to minimize the fact that it's a felony under federal law.

And there's a further effort to try to minimize the moral consequences of people who jump the line in front of millions of people to try to grab a shot at residency in the U.S. Ultimately, though, many of the people advocating on behalf of the illegal immigrants are saying they don't really care whether they become citizens, they just want to be able to work here and send money back home.

That's not the traditional model for what immigration's all about in this country. Assimilation is a part of the naturalization process, and we should expect people who come to aspire to become citizens, and respect for law is the cornerstone of what makes a new citizen a good citizen. And if people have shown a routine willingness to break the law, then that's not a good sign.

And one more thing to keep in mind: People who come illegally don't just break our immigration laws. In order to be here for any length of time, they have to have committed a variety of other felonies, generally associated with fraudulent ID use, identity theft, failure to file taxes, a whole range of other things that we would call crimes of moral turpitude in the old days, and it's really not fair to say, well the only thing people did was break our immigration laws.

If they entered through fraud, then you can be sure that there's a variety of other felonies that have been committed in the course of being here illegally. it's just not fair.

HOBSON: But there is a big difference between murder or theft or something like that and using false documents to get a job somewhere so you can send money back home to your family, isn't there?

STEIN: Well, look, we have to clear away the smokescreen here. This is not about reforming immigration law because reforming immigration law would mean trying to fix the system so we don't see a recurrence of the same situation in the future. In 1986, there was at least a pretense of an effort to bring that about. If you take a look at what Chuck Schumer drafted with the Gang of Eight in the Senate, there's not even a pretense of trying to fix these problems in the future.

Instead it's ally ally in free thing that says if you broke the immigration law, you get to stay, and by abandoning state and local cooperation with the executive branch, secure ID and effective interior control operations with an efficient detention deportation proceeding, we're going to just be right back in the same mess along with skyrocketing massive future overall immigration rates at a time when our economy's not producing jobs for the Americans here today.

HOBSON: Well, so give me a yes or no on this. Would you have all of the 11 million undocumented people in this country be deported?

STEIN: I'm not going to give you a yes or a no to a hypothetical that doesn't exist in the real world. People who are here illegally find ways to adjust status, through marriage to a U.S. citizen or some other vehicle. There are people who simply don't have the means of doing it who can leave the way they came back in.

If the argument is that Obama is the deporter in chief and he's deporting a million-plus illegal immigrants every year, then it's not a big deal to ramp up enforcement and discourage most people here either illegally to go back home, or for people who have strong equities, and who have been here for a very long period of time, under extraordinary circumstances, you would maybe consider a case-by-case adjustment, or a statute of limitations similar to what's already in the immigration law.

HOBSON: But isn't that what the Obama administration is trying to do?

Well, take a look at the DACA deferred-action program they've been running for the people brought here when they were younger. The approval rates are running over 99 percent. There's obviously no rigorous background checks or identity verification being done. The administration, by virtue of the way it's administering the program, is undermining both the credibility of its future commitments to enforce the law and the assurance that it would actually administer these programs consistent with our national security.

Let's take a step back. I want to ask about this issue in general because after the 2012 election, it was conventional wisdom on both the Republican and Democratic side of the political spectrum that there needed to be immigration reform, that Latinos were moving more and more to the Democratic side and that Republicans needed to change their tune on immigration in this country. Do you agree with that, or what are your thoughts on that?

STEIN: FAIR doesn't agree with the idea that Latinos all support high levels of mass and illegal immigration across our border or that it should be rewarded with an amnesty. And there's nothing about the polling data that suggests that Latinos vote immigration as their number-one issue.

In the 2010 election, it was clear: Americans voted for strong, state and local cooperation with effective federal immigration law enforcement. In 2012, the argument was made, speciously we believe, that somehow because there was a heavy skew toward Obama among the Latino vote that somehow the Republicans had been punished for that. We don't see the empirical evidence to back that up.

What we do see is that there is a strong, partisan interest among the Democrats in trying to galvanize Latinos around the idea that anybody who supports strong border and immigration controls is somehow anti-Latino. The idea that there's one class of people who can jump in front of 30, 40 million people around the world, who have waited in line and patiently respected our system and our borders, that's just not the American way.

HOBSON: Dan Stein is president of Federation for American Immigration Reform. Dan, thanks so much for sharing your views.

STEIN: Thank you very much.

HOBSON: And you can share your views with us at hereandnow.org. You can send us a tweet @hereandnow, @hereandnowrobin, @jeremyhobson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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  • Jess

    Shut him up. FAIR is worthless
    Immigration reform NOW!

    • Rick

      Gee, what a nice way to respond to a viewpoint you might disagree with. ..”shut him up”
      I thought liberals were supposed to be “open minded”? LOL

      • S David H de Lorge

        When you write “liberals,” what do you mean?

        Are all cats the same color?

    • halberst

      Reform means different things to different people. Reform to some might be enforcing the laws, or allowing more migrants from Africa and reducing the numbers from Latin America or fill in the blank. The way “reform” is used in terms of immigration reminds me of the “pro life” vs “pro choice” labels. Why not just do away with the labels and say you are pro amnesty of illegal immigrants, and the other side is in favor of deporting illegal immigrants?

      From the pro amnesty crowd, I would like to hear what the next steps are. So most everybody who is illegally in the US (estimated millions of people) gets citizenship.,,,then how do we pay for all the services they need? What happens to those who tried to get here legally and are still waiting? And why would anybody who can hop a fence and wants to live in a rich country stay at home when they know they’ll eventually get US citizenship and all that comes with it?

  • Rick

    Thank you for giving a voice to another viewpoint on this topic!!!

    Jeremy was much nicer to the pro-amnesty guy from Univision.

    I thought the guest made a very strong argument. I’m betting he won’t be invited back.

    • M S

      I know, that was hilarious. NPR, after receiving probably a ton of complaints, attempts to present itself as unbiased, and this guy (the interviewer) seemingly cannot hide his bias for a few minutes and put up a good front. The liberal is a real curiosity…so ridiculous.

      • billtmore

        because Conservatives are always so wrong on every issue?

        • kpallante

          Yes, yes they are.

  • BJH

    Jeb Bush makes a public remark about how undocumented immigrants are just normal people looking to earn a living for their families, and the radical right marches out Dan Stein to bring on the hate. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, here we go again.

    The truth is that moderates on both sides of the isle strongly support immigration reform. It’s the radical right wing that is afraid of it; and they are afraid of it because they are afraid of what will happen to their narrow value system as their ranks continue to shrink in the face of growing black, Asian and Latino populations in our country – populations who overwhelmingly reject the values of the radical right wing.

    Also, the double-standard is blatant. If a so-called immigration “amnesty” is unacceptable, was it unacceptable when Reagan got amnesty through Congress in 1986? Face the facts – just like Reagan did. We cannot locate and deport the undocumented population in this country – it’s not possible from a logistical standpoint or a financial standpoint. And no matter what Stein wants you to believe, the jobs the undocumented do in the U.S. are not positions that native born Americans are lining up to do anyway. Dan Stein is wrong when he says they are stealing American jobs.

    The foreign born as a whole (both documented and undocumented together) in the U.S. make more money per capita than the native-born. They pay more in taxes than the native born, and are better educated than the native born. In fact, they are net job creators. But their lawful path to permanent residence in the U.S. is all but blocked due to an antiquated legal immigration system, which everyone but a radical segment in the House wants to fix. If this lawfully present, job creating segment of the U.S. population is forced to leave the U.S., they will still buy houses, cars, groceries and pay taxes at their employment-creating jobs. But they will do it in Canada, or Australia, or Brazil, or China. And Dan Stein and his minions would have the credit for that.

    • S David H de Lorge

      And how about those Cubans who set one foot on US sand, regardless of criminal history?

      • BJH

        That’s not quite how it works. You should read the history of the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act. Also, Scarface is one of my favorite movies, mang.

        • S David H de Lorge

          I don’t think I’ll invest my time in that reading. Maybe you’d be kind enough to give a briefing on quite how it does work.

    • halberst

      Dan Stein, at least in the discussion on the air that I heard didn’t sound like many of the lunatics that come out against illegal immigration. Generally I’m on the left and, for one I don’t do a whole lot of paraphrasing of Ronald Raygun. And I’m in favor of trying to enforce immigration laws, only allowing a very very small number of special exceptions. At the same time I’d like to allow more legal immigrants in with much reduced wait times. But I want those who didn’t (seriously) break the laws to get to the back of any line. And I’d like to favor immigrants from other parts of the world based on needs, both to the US economy and humanitarian interests. It may be hard to believe, but there are worse off places than Mexico and Central America. And there is no shortage of unskilled labor willing to work hard for little.

      Another issue, I don’t know any more about Dan Stein than what I just heard on the radio today. But I’m going to hazard a guess that he doesn’t describe himself the way the program summary does above our comments: “Anti-Immigration Activist Criticizes Obama Deportation Changes.” There seems to be this weird disconnect that so many have between criticizing immigration and illegal immigration. You can be in favor of immigration and against illegal immigration, just like you can be in favor of driving a car to work and against red light running while driving to work. One is legal, the other not.

      Here are a few ideas in favor of immigration enforcement from the left: Health, safety and wage standards suffer when people work informally. Social insurance and welfare programs are undermined when people work informally. Universal health insurance is unattainable without a formal and functional immigration system. Many social welfare systems are strained due to high numbers of illegal immigrants. The surplus of low wage, low skill labor drives down wages. etc. etc.

      As for your last paragraph…Can you tell us how *illegal* immigration stacks up in terms of per capita income, taxes, and education and cite a source? Even when lumped together with legal immigration, I have a hard time believing legal and illegal lumped together beat the national average, but would not be surprised if legal immigration does. Do you really honestly believe that the bulk of our *illegal* immigrants to the US would really move to other first world countries like Canada, Australia to spend their money on “cars, houses and groceries” as you stated? As best as I can see from the statistics, both of those countries are estimated to have far fewer illegal immigrants than we do per capita. And move to China and Brazil? I have a hard time believing that.

      If the bulk of illegal US immigrants could legally or illegally live in Australia or Canada, whey don’t they? Probably because they much of the first world has stronger immigration enforcement than the US. There is undoubtedly some xenophobia as part of the reason. But it’s hard to imagine a functional welfare state with a high quality of life and high work standards, like much of Europe, Canada, etc. without a cap on how many people can join in. As an example, many years ago I lived and went to school in central Europe. I (at 17 y.o.) had to provide documents proving I had no criminal history, proof of health insurance, the family I lived with had to register with the local council and pay extra for city services, etc. How does that saying go….taxes are the price of living in a civilized society?

      • BJH

        You’ve said a lot here – much more than I have the time to respond to. However, many of your questions and comments are good ones. A good resource for sourced articles on all these issues, and many more, is the Immigration Policy Center. This link is to several discussing the economic impact of immigration to the U.S.: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/economics-immigration-resource-page . There is a list of several more topics, each with several more articles, under the “Issues” tab. Happy reading.

        • halberst

          A link to an organization with a stated bias doesn’t’ seem that useful. Admittedly they don’t seem as far out as Fox “News”. But I’d love to see a link to any study showing how *illegal* immigrants to the US as a whole are better educated and more affluent than the US population as you stated. Actually you lump statistics of legal and illegal together.

          What bugs some of us beyond just what appears to be a drag on our nation is an attack on the system that gives us the high quality of life. That’s to say alot of why wealthy industrial countries are wealthy and have high standards for health, safety, labor, welfare, tax collection etc is there are laws in place. If those laws are regularly flouted, the system doesn’t work. And as best as I can tell that’s what’s happening. People come here illegally, break work rules and other laws to get jobs, undercut our relatively high standards for low wages. But they bring with them the lack of a system that is why the countries they came from are impoverished. If that method worked well, Latin America would be wealthier than the North.

          • BJH

            I suggest you read the issue reports before criticizing them as biased. Unlike Fox or FAIR, the organization publishing those reports has prevailed in key immigration cases in our federal court system. Federal judges are about as good as it gets in this country to determine fairness. It is easy and convenient to summarily dismiss one’s viewpoints as unacceptable. Taking the time to read and understand those viewpoints – even if you don’t agree with them – is rewarding.

          • halberst

            BJH, I did skim over the site. I’m not saying that this is some radical group, but they are in fact an immigration advocacy group. Read their mission statement. I also read their blog and made a comment (which is “stuck in moderation” and perhaps it will never be published.) I realize that there are a lot of xenophobic nuts who are anti illegal immigration, but I’m not one of them.

          • bjh

            And I skimmed over your irreverent remark about Latinos living high on the hog in Canada. You’re missing the point. The undocumented are here to stay. We must face that reality and deal with it intelligently rather than pander to the likes of Dan Stein, Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump about some fear of losing thousands of produce harvesting jobs Americans want to foreign labor. The professionals being pushed to take their skills elsewhere – largely Indian and Asian professionals – are the lawfully documented immigrant population who the U.S. law adversely impacts because it was last written so long ago based on a cap-quota system that has created delay. If you think the comment you just posted at IPC is inordinately delayed, how about a guy who is a engineer from another country who is forced to wait 10 years before getting a green card? Without a green card, his lawful stay in the U.S. is by definition temporary. He is only able to get a mortgage with a high rate because the banks have no assurance he will be able to remain here for 20 or 30 years. He can’t get in-state tuition rates for his kids – even though they live in-state. And, he and his family are forced to live under the constant fear of his years-long, but temporary stay in the U.S. being terminated due to reasons beyond his control – say a corporate restructuring or a down economy. If he goes to virtually any other developed nation in the world, he can make as much – or more – money for himself and his family, and achieve permanent residency in a fraction of the time. And let’s says this engineer is a real rising star – the kind of guy who graduated from a U.S. university near the top of his class, and is a strong performer. U.S. employers who want to hire talent this good, not only have to pay salary and benefits that are competitive, they also have to pay thousands of dollars in immigration legal fees to employ them, and keep them on board. It would be a lot easier and a lot cheaper to hire a mediocre guy who happened to be born within our borders. But American companies are well aware that in order to be the best in the world, and compete on a global scale, mediocre doesn’t cut it. We need the best. So we hire the best. And that is why this country’s economic position in the world is what it is – or was what it was, depending upon one’s perspective. A strong America requires the best of the best. If our immigration system is too onerous to facilitate that, then the best just take their talents elsewhere. And we lose them to foreign competition. This is not hard to understand. But, it is not reasonable expect to comprehend detailed information on complex matters like this from screen crawls and bumper stickers. Or by skimming.

          • halberst

            I totally get the need for changing the laws. But the vast majority of the type of people we end up with here aren’t the high skilled types we need to fuel innovations in the tech sector. And as you mention those folks can and do find warm welcome elsewhere along with a big paycheck. But what frustrates folks like myself is that for a system to work, there need to be rules and those rules need to be *mostly* obeyed. And folks on your side won’t acknowledge that there is a difference between the Indian engineer who went through the visa process, and the virtually illiterate manual labor who hopped a fence and stands in front of Home Depot. I don’t blame those guys, I might well do the same in their shoes.

            But I don’t think they can blame us either, the reason why things work better in the first world. As an example there was something on my local NPR station a few months back where there was a migrant farm worker complaining about how little he made and how hard it was to support his FIVE KIDS on his ag income. Guess what, being illiterate and having FIVE KIDS doing menial labor is a recipe for poverty documented or not. That’s a recipe that’s followed by poor countries everywhere, and one that is being imported into the rich world and causing poverty and destroying our welfare systems. We can’t fix unless we have a handle on who lives here.

            My ideology is not bumper sticker sized, I am very much in favor of most left leaning policies. But your side does seem to have the bumper sticker ideology, it is simply “let them stay.” That message only compounds the problem. Don’t come here illegally, but if you do you can likely stay for good if you don’t get caught or have a kid or ……

            I want you folks to separate the legal from the illegal and tell us how much it will cost and how we’ll pay for it. There is an economic and social cost and we’re seeing it in the emergency rooms in hospitals, the poor performing schools, undercutting labor costs etc.

            And as for immigration reform I have a compromise. Double or triple the legal immigration and speed the line. But those who “lost their papers” or whatever euphemism for illegal need to actually get in line, fill out the paper work back in their country of origin. And I’d like to see an increase in immigrants from parts of the world you can’t hop a fence from that are also impoverished: Haiti, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan. And have a fast lane for targeted labor skills our economy presently needs.

          • halberst

            Oh, and I look forward to seeing all the illegal immigrants from Latin America and seeing their fancy houses and cars they bought next time i’m in Canada ;-)

  • Mary El

    The assumptions Mr. Stein is making (people here illegally have committed other crimes) are stunning as well as his misstatement of numerous facts. (DACA approvals are running at 99%… for one.) Why mess up your thinking with facts? Maybe they should change their name to un-FAIR.

    • mobed

      Plus … Mr. Stein doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Jeb Bush was right, and Mr. Stein is wrong: entering the country illegally is not a felony, it is a civil offense. There is a distinction, and it’s unfortunate Jeremy Hobson didn’t call him on it. Furthermore, the Senate immigration bill is not amnesty; if it were, it would forgive undocumented immigrants as unconditionally as President Carter’s grant of amnesty forgave those who dodged the Vietnam War draft. There are many conditions an undocumented immigrant must fulfill under the Senate immigration bill, including payment of fines and back taxes. That’s a nuance someone like Mr. Stein – who dodges answering Jeremy Hobson’s direct question about deportation by citing nuance – should understand before calling something amnesty when it clearly is not.

  • Dave

    Protect the USA from Invasion of Foreign Nationals.
    Legal limited immigration good.
    Uncontrolled INVASION bad.
    Get them all out.
    Overpopulation is not an answer to any of our problems.
    Stein was not as forceful as I would have liked, he also spun his answers.

  • S David H de Lorge

    Fraudulent tax filings? Sure, some crooks try that. Most undocumented workers have local, state, and federal income, FICA and payroll taxes deducted from pay which they never recover, either through returns on filing or from eventual social security. All those deductions are donated to the Treasury.

    • halberst

      As best as I can tell there are also a lot of transactions “under the table.” I strongly suspect that all the guys that try to flag me down in front of Home Depot aren’t paying into Social Security, self employment taxes, work permits, buying their own insurance, income taxes etc. Of course its anybody’s guess, since it’s all done informally without the proper paperwork, which is just compounding the problems.

      • S David H de Lorge

        You’re right, of course that’s true for those in the cash economy. I’ve known citizens for decades who do this sort of black market contract work, too. Was worried about the future of an artist friend, for instance, who did well doing freelance fine cabinetry, although he also had some quarters on the payroll of somebody or other, so may be he’s got some minimal Social Security safety net by now that he’s hitting 70. Or maybe his father the surgeon was able to leave him a better inheritance than expected. Some mainstream, majority-member, multi generational citizen, educated, skilled people have been doing that underground economy stuff forever.

        Anyway, as you say, generally the non-citizens who earn this way also fail to pay the taxes I mentioned in my comment, although sales tax, property tax (as renters) and so forth still apply — possibly enough there to pay for their municipal and school district service consumption.

        But it remains true that many, whether sneaking onto a payroll or using “borrowed” SS numbers and other papers, have significant deductions from their pay, and from the employers’ share (stuff like worker’s compensation as well as SS and local income taxes), for which they never have any means of refund or rebate. Millions of illegally employed workers yields billions of “free” tax money to government at all levels.

        • halberst

          I concede that there are also citizens doing the same thing. Just fewer (I assume). And as virtually everything that somebody who is illegally in the country does is off the records it’s hard to figure out how big some such problems are. In my observation the underground economy and poverty seem intertwined.

          And I guess if I had a point it would be that bringing the bad characteristics here to the US that helped cause poverty where they came from is causing both parties harm. It would be best if we tried to impart what makes the first world work on the developing world and their migrants. Not the other way around.

          Obviously there are circumstances where things are different. But in general the rules that work seem to be: having fewer children not too early, educate all of the population especially women, rule of law, basic liberal freedoms of thought, speech etc. functional welfare institutions that provide for health and safety…that sort of thing. I think of the US as being towards the bottom of the list of rich countries in that regard.

          None of this is possible if huge numbers of people break the rules. Not too long ago there were a lot of stories about Greece as their economy collapsed. Doctors, taxi drivers, restaurants would take cash and not issue a receipt. There was one story where only 324 Athenians admitted to having a pool on their tax form- and eventually the tax authorities looked on Google Earth to find 16,974 pools. They wanted to cheat, but expected for northern style rules when it came to collecting benefits. At the same time as Greece was nearly in collapse, Germany, France, NL, Sweden, Norway etc were doing ok It doesn’t work that way. If enough people break the rules the system collapses. Our health, education and welfare systems are at best strained.

          Again it’s hard to do anything but guess because everything is under the table. But it doesn’t take a whole lot of kids in school, emergency room visits, or other public services usage to negate any Social Security payments. And as for sales tax, who knows if that’s getting paid in many instances in the illegal immigrant community? When I see the ice cream vendor at the park, or the tamales sign spray painted on plywood in front of a house I sincerely doubt that sales taxes are being paid (let alone health and safety laws are being followed.)

          • S David H de Lorge

            Oh my. Read back a few decades, when immigration wasn’t the big fuss. Look into concerns about taxes lost to the underground economy. That hasn’t stopped. “Fewer” is unlikely to quantify it accurately.

            Do you suppose it is by preference that most of those seek day jobs by loitering? How many might prefer regular pay for regular work, if only they could get it without getting cheated or busted?

            How many single men are scrambling mostly to send money to family back home? How many family men would prefer settled lives for a satisfying domestic life?

            People who could no longer make a living by working hard at farming in their changing native economies bring poverty-causing habits with them?

            Around the world, it has regularly been observed that birth rates drop as economic security normalizes. People notice that they don’t have to have so many kids in the hope that some will survive to take care of them in old age.

            As your paragraphs proceeded, I found us mostly in agreement. I will say that ice cream vendors and home tamale makers I have encountered cheerfully strive to make ends meet in this underground economy, but they are scraping for pennies. Some would rather be regular home makers, and most would rather have better jobs, but few can figure out how to get there, and most have only the vaguest notions about how taxes worked – if they were legal to get paychecks, they would accept withholding deductions in a heartbeat.

          • halberst

            And I am very sympathetic to those caught up in difficult situations as illegal immigrants or back home in poverty. And I realize that many making similar arguments as I do are doing so out of xenophobia.

            But I don’t think that America has a magic potion that makes people rich. The parts of the world that work well (America barely makes that list IMO) have a bunch of properties that hold them together. High on that list is a reasonable amount of rule of law. The person who works under the table for less money without paying taxes is in competition with those who pay living wages and taxes. The lady who sells tomales from her kitchen without a permit, safety inspection, and paying taxes competes with the restaurants down the street that do. And if something goes wrong, like her customers get food poisoning, she starts a kitchen fire, etc she expects those first world public services.

            I think people on your side of this issue would be hard pressed to find a rich country with good services that lets anybody in. The reason is the ability to pay benefits will be overwhelmed by those in need of said services. As we try and implement universal health coverage (finally!!) in this country I’m puzzled as to how we can do this with such a large informal economy. Can you name another country that has succeeded letting anybody in and insuring all its residents?

            Apparently I can go on forever ;-) I’d love to have a polite dialogue like we are having with others. This tends to be a very divisive issue.

          • S David H de Lorge

            You and I mostly agree in our assessments, although I think you lack some information about social dynamics.

            As to the immediate topic, and problem, then how about solutions. Not under rule of law, you say. Real problem. A solution? Bring them in from the cold and under the rule of law instead of continuing to dither without solution.

  • Adam

    At last – someone who clearly and patiently explains why the liberal rush to immigration amnesty is wrong…make that WRONG. All the thinly veiled excuses aside people who seek profit by avoiding, breaking, and twisting our laws do not deserve citizenship. Neither do those who support them by employing them or condoning their actions.

  • kpallante

    He made an excellent point about Cubans getting a free pass. Why we still let any Cuban who makes it to our borders — while keeping out all others still puzzles me?

    • Dave

      As long as they can run away, why stay home and fight for a better society?
      When will the Cubans stop running away?

  • billtmore

    I can tell from the picture Mr. Stein has not worked out in the hot tomato fields. Immigrants and illegal immigrants do the jobs we could not do. also in my mind the birth rate for Caucasian America is dropping, Immigration may be the only way to keep our country moving forward. GOP and Wingers always on the wrong side of history. But i applaud the hard line approach…My hope is the GOP never holds the White House during my life time GOP NEVER AGAIN

    • M S

      Wow, I can tell you’ve never been to a deli or restaurant in New York City nor have ever read a history book. Jobs once held by Americans are now held by illegals…just next door at the Korean deli, there are five or more illegals working, and I can guarantee you that they’ve never seen a tomato field either. This is something everyone knows, so you are either blind and lying to yourself or are simply putting forth a BS narrative to fit your ideology. As for your poor knowledge of history, you are aware of how extremely racist of an organization the Democratic Party used to be, right? Remember all of those pictures of men in white robes marching in NYC, i.e. the KKK…that took place during a Democratic National Convention! I guess that is what you consider to be the right side of history. Please.

      • Chris Vreeland

        Please keep banging the “throw them all out” drum as loud and as long as you can. Don’t worry – nobody will ever suspect any racism behind the TeaPublican party whatsoever, particularly with your newest spokesperson, Clve Bundy.

        • M S

          Will do. You keep banging the, “it’s not a crime” drum, and we’ll have a land of lawlessness even more than we already have. I wonder if we will forgive every American who has broken the law to feed their family…probably not.

    • halberst

      I’m for the “GOP never again” part… but I really think that yours is the conservative argument. Americans can pick tomatoes. There are people from every country on earth that can do hard unskilled work. US industry is subsidizing the price of tomatoes by exploiting people who are desperate and will work too hard for too little that we illegally import. If agriculture paid a reasonable wages and benefits, more people would do the work. Tomatoes should cost what it takes to produce them ethically. That might mean more expensive produce, but with workers who could afford to pay for it. It might mean more of different kinds of crops. And it might also lead to more mechanization. But arguing that we need to import poor people illegally so they can work their behinds off so I can eat tomatoes at $1/lb makes little sense.

  • Dave

    Anti Invasion.
    Pro USA.

  • Dave

    Backdoor amnesty is a very mild way of describing it.
    It may be treason.
    I still support President Obama but disagree with him on Invasion.

  • Chris Vreeland

    FAIR Should be taken as seriously as the Klan on integration.

    • Chris Vreeland

      Who is FAIR anyway? And, most importantly, where did they get their money from?

  • Dave

    Self deportation is the answer.
    Fine employers, punish employers, use the online verification.
    No job, no housing, no food.
    Foreign nationals have no right to Invade the USA.

  • Steve Villanyi

    Love this guy..tell it like it REALLY IS.

  • antoinepgrew

    Stein’s parents or grandparents probably got into Ellis Island and only encountered a name change.

    Stein demonizes Latinos as interlopers who have no right to be here. His ending comment reflects his ignorance and his prejudice: “The idea that there’s one class of people who can jump in front of 30 to 40 million people around the world, who have waited in line and patiently respected our system and our borders — that’s just not the American way.”

    Two items:

    (1) A great Tony Horwitz NYT op-ed that educates Americans about its real history: Immigration — and the Curse of the Black Legend

    This national amnesia isn’t new, but it’s glaring and supremely paradoxical at a moment when politicians warn of the threat posed to our culture and identity by an invasion of immigrants from across the Mexican border. If Americans hit the books, they’d find what Al Gore would call an inconvenient truth. The early history of what is now the United States was Spanish, not English, and our denial of this heritage is rooted in age-old stereotypes that still entangle today’s immigration debate.

    (2) But perhaps what’s really germane to Stein’s bias: Open Borders Threaten Jewish Clout by Stephen Steinlight in The Forward

    Closer to home, massive immigration will obliterate Jewish power by shrinking our percentage of the 
population – to a fraction of 1% in 20 years. Jews possess political clout despite tiny numbers because
 we are concentrated in large electoral vote states, have legendary voting rates, donate significantly to 
both parties and dominant culture. We will retain residual influence due to campaign contributions, 
membership in institutional establishments and the endurance of our alliances, but the Latino vote will
 eventually overwhelm us.







    Moreover, Jewish-Latino political interests clash. We have fought over both refugee and asylum slots: we
 wanted them for Soviet Jewry, Latinos for Central Americans fleeing the dirty wars in Central America. We 
won, but at a cost. And except for the evangelical part of the community, Latinos do not share any 
particularly strong bond to Israel.

    • halberst

      (1) Living in the West, it’s really obvious that Anglos weren’t the first here. But national borders change. Latin Americans may have lots of Spanish in their blood, and share a lot culturally. But as far as I know Mexicans still need a permit to work in Spain. And Mexico requires documents from immigrants from Guatemala. Why all the fake surprise that immigrants to the US should require permission?!

      (2) Glad to see Jewish stereotypes are alive and well ;-) You just need to top it off with something from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. So Jews go from a little tiny minority to a slightly smaller tiny minority and they need to come up with an anti Latino conspiracy. That sounds like something out of a Colbert skit!

  • Smitten

    I was just listening to the
    ‘Here & Now’ piece on immigration and I thought it would be
    beneficial to share my family’s experience in terrible injustice by the
    United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the entire
    legal immigration ‘system.’

    I am a US citizen who is separated from
    his wife and baby boy due to a lack of prudent and timely action by
    USCIS, National Visa Center, and our elected officials.

    Tomorrow is my wife and my fifth anniversary, but we will not be
    celebrating it together. Last spring we made the decision to move to
    the United States from her country so I could pursue doctoral studies.
    Since August, I have been here in the US while in Japan, my wife waits
    together with my son. I have missed my son’s first birthday, his first
    words, and his first steps due to our government’s disregard for the
    families of American citizens.

    It is a disgrace that loving families seeking legal immigration remain
    parted for over a year while our elected officials consider this
    an “ordinary time frame.” I have come to the realization American families
    do not matter to our elected officials, and because of this, I have
    decided to immigrate to my wife’s country, Japan, when I complete my
    doctoral degree. It deeply saddens me to experience, firsthand, the
    inhumanity, via disdain, by our elected officials.

    We, U.S. citizens and our families are forced into prolonged separation
    for indefinite lonely and tearful months to years while we wait for any
    sign of progress on our applications, yet attention is only paid to
    illegal immigration by the elected officials.

    • Margaret Nahmias

      Your story is an example of why I against illegal immgration

  • Jaimee

    HOBSON: Well, so give me a yes or no on this. Would you have all of the 11 million undocumented people in this country be deported?

    YES!

  • halberst

    Thanks Here & Now for having this discussion. It’s rare to hear an anti illegal immigration discussion by anybody but the craziest right winged xenophobe. And there is a rational point of view that Mr Stein did a pretty good job articulating. Thanks again.

  • Margaret Nahmias

    I hat the term anti-immgriant Not every who is against illegal immgriation is against immgriants I want sensible system that holds those who come her illegally accountable not necessariy criminalizes them. It is not fair for those who com here legally. Why not change the dentention system? Put non violent people under house arrest.

  • Margaret Nahmias

    Unvision plays to it own audience. I watch them a lot to pratice Spanish. I have never seen them give a sympatheic treatment other side. They never talk about alternative solutions besides anmesty. And they always highlight the worst abuses which is fine. but constant stream of it only give one sided view.

  • Fred Seltzer

    OK, National Pravda Radio. It’s an American value to simply be yourself, mind your own business, do your own work, raise your own family, and live your own life.
    That’s called a normal life lived out of the spotlight. In the shadows, if you will.

    Illegals are “in the shadows.” They’re “on the lam”. That’s what happens to those doing illegal things: illegal entry, illegal driver’s license, illegal social security number, illegal access to social services, illegal enrollment in schools, illegal receipt of tax returns, and the list goes on and on.

    How about the poor people who are waiting patiently to come to the U.S.A. legally? How do you think THEY feel?

  • Ray in VT

    We should fine businesses that hire illegal immigrants. We should jail managers and business owners that hire illegal immigrants “under the table.”

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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