Posted tagged ‘immigration’

On Boycotting Arizona

May 18, 2010

I have yet to hear a call for a boycott of Arizona that made an accurate reference to the Arizona law that is at issue. The full text of the law is here. The new Arizona law will require that if someone is stopped by police for other legal reasons, and the person also presents other legal reasons for doubting their citizenship status, that the police must then check citizenship status with the Federal Authorities.

President Obama claimed that under the Arizona law, anyone could be stopped and checked for citizenship if they were no more than going to an ice cream store.  The President is wrong. The Arizona law requires that there first be a “lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official” which means that the person was stopped for some other legal reason, and then after that also have reason to suspect that they are illegal. Federal agents, by contrast, can stop a person to check immigration status without any such constraint, and the liberal Ninth Circuit has upheld the Feds’ constitutional authority to do so.

The Highland Park High School girls’ basketball team has had its trip to an Arizona tournament canceled by a school superintendent because of “safety concerns.” The “safety” issue is that if one of the girls is an illegal immigrant, is stopped for some crime, and then found to, say, be unable to speak English, her citizenship could then be checked. In other words, the danger that is presented is the danger of the laws against illegal immigration being enforced.

Do schools have a general obligation to protect criminal students from law enforcement? If a precocious teen is dealing crack in the high school, is the school obliged to maintain his cover? Must a field trip to a local police station be canceled for fear that a narc might finger him? A civil rights attorney on The O’Reilly Factor claimed that the school might be sued for subjecting a student to potential arrest.

Because the school authorities in Illinois believe this to be unfair, they won’t allow the students to travel to Arizona. They do allow students to travel overseas, even though students must present passports to reenter the States. China, of course, is a model of civil rights compared to Arizona.

Facts have not gotten in the way of celebrating the joys of self-righteousness. San Francisco and Los Angeles are in the forefront of boycotting Arizona, and there is move afoot for state boycott legislation. It is self-righteousness at it’s most joyous because a boycott can hurt Arizona without significantly harming the righteous Californians. Californians can take their vacations and schedule events in other states, no big deal.

California, however, gets one-third of its electricity from Arizona. That’s a consequence of many years of refusing to build ugly dangerous environmentally-unsound power plants in California, while having Arizona do it for them was just fine.

It would be reasonable for Arizona to asked, pointedly, if California would like to extend their boycott to electricity? I suspect that errant self-righteousness would not be so much fun practiced in the dark.

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Health Care for Illegal Aliens

September 14, 2009

President Obama made the point in his speech this week that H.R. 3200, the leading health care bill in the House, specifically excludes coverage of non-citizens. That brought the infamous outburst, “You lie!” from South Carolina Republican Jim Wilson. Wilson’s outburst was inexcusable, and he rightly apologized. But what is the planned coverage for illegals, and what should it be?

While non-citizens are specifically excluded from the pending legislation, there is no provision for enforcing the restriction. The is no requirement to check citizenship status and no penalty for failure to report non-citizens. All the medical bills will be paid by the government. So while they are specifically excluded, they are implicitly included. For those who think receiving care and paying the bill is relevant, they are covered.

Illegal workers pay some taxes, but it amounts to only a third of the services they receive. Currently, they generally receive health care through the emergency room system. The Congressional Budget Office has proven that health care costs increase when emergency care is supplemented with general care. That’s for essentially the same reason that the long waits in national health care systems reduce costs: people endure pain as the alternative, they drop out of the system and seek private care, and some people die while waiting in the queue. Liberals easily confuse receiving care with not receiving care while waiting, but in practice that’s not a distinction.

Illegal workers are often employed in agriculture, construction, and the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants). Because the taxes paid by illegal workers do not cover the government services they use, the rest of taxpayers subsidize the consumers who use the products and services provided by those industries. One could argue that “everyone” consumes manually harvested crops, uses hotel rooms, and enjoys restaurant meals. That’s not completely true, and more importantly some people get advantage from the subsidies a great deal more than others. Why should people who frequently stay in hotels be subsidized by those who do not? Why should those who eat labor-intensive lettuce be subsidized by those who eat mechanically harvested corn?

Beyond the inequity of some taxpayers subsidizing the consumption of others, providing a hidden subsidy distorts the market for those things. If the true costs of the labor were reflected in those markets we would expect less of the more expensive products to be consumed, legal labor to be more competitive with illegal labor, more automation to replace labor, and some products to be produced increasingly abroad.

For example, labor-intensive field crops may be produced more in Mexico and Chile and less in the United States. That is appropriate and it supports the economies of developing countries while freeing American capital to be applied to better uses.

The solution for this aspect of health care is to require the employers of non-citizens, legal or not, to provide for their workers’ health care. They can do that by providing health insurance for their workers and families of the workers or by being directly responsible for their health care expenses. Employers would pass the costs along to consumers, and markets would then be a better reflection of true costs.

Do we need comprehensive immigration reform first? No, we should make incremental improvements when possible. This gets back to the radical idea that nothing short of a revolution is acceptable. That is the false presumption of the Left, who care far more about accumulating government power than finding practical solutions to problems. That is a form of obstructionism.

As a consequence of Congressman Wilson’s outburst, there is now a move afoot to provide checking of citizenship to receive the proposed benefits. So was it true that President Obama was lying? Well, yes, it was true by any reasonable assessment. Obama certainly knew that there was no checking of citizenship, so he knew non-citizens would received de facto coverage. Nonetheless, the Congressman’s outburst was inexcusable. The end does not justify the means. There were other ways to make the point.