Bruce Kesler has written a data-rich report for the Augusta Free Press Online that is required reading if you want a handle on how illegal immigration affects America. Thanks to Mark Safranski at ZenPundit for finding the report.
In simple businesslike language, Kesler orders the jumble of issues into the tolls that a large illegal population exacts on Americans and illegals:
The toll on the American tax system; the toll on the US federal and local government budgets; the toll on employers, individual taxpayers, schools, police departments--and the toll on the American political system.
Perhaps most troubling is the last. In the space of a few sentences, Kesler explains how the inclusion of illegal immigrants in the census works in practice, and how this robs US citizens of fair representation.
The writing is so clear that Pundita wondered what branch of academia or bureaucracy Mr. Kesler represents. The byline, "Bruce Kesler resides in Encinitas, Calif." threw no light, so it was off to Google's search engine, where the mystery was quickly resolved.
Mr. Kesler "has worked as a finance and operations executive for Fortune 100 companies, and now owns an employee benefits consulting and brokerage firm in Encinitas, California."
That certainly explains how Kesler deftly marshals so many facts and figures on the immigration issue; it's part of his job as an employee benefits consultant. So his piece is not only enlightening, it's also a great example of citizen journalism and shores points I made in the "Getting Unstuck" essay posted yesterday. I will not labor my points, except to note that Kesler's work experience, while outside the bureaucracies that deal with immigrant issues, is nonetheless very valuable toward understanding the issues.
But now I must proceed to dispute the basis of Mr. Kesler's recommendations. With one exception (better efforts by border patrols on the Mexican side of the border), he tasks the United States with the job of solving the problems created here by illegals.
Of course that is a pragmatic approach because the problems have fallen to the US to solve. Yet the approach is unworkable as its been unworkable for decades. Kesler is simply ordering up more of the same.
More of the same; e.g, "a federal law withholding other funds if each state does not institute a minimum $200-per-infraction fine payable to the local governments for hiring illegal gardeners, day-laborers, nannies, house cleaners, etc.," presupposes a vastly expanded bureaucracy and judicial system to enforce new and tougher laws and with attendant expense.
It's an expense that the US should and need not incur, and it's an expense that is ever-expanding because every relevant law on the US books only calls forth the need for more laws and more enforcement mechanisms--none of which work, which only calls for more revenue outlay and more laws. That's a vicious cycle.
To break the cycle, one needs to study data that is not produced by looking at things from the American side; i.e., one needs to study the situations at the points of origin. Kesler inadvertently refers to this need when he writes, "We do not want to follow Germany's path to unassimilated, impoverished Turks, or France's to antagonistic and violent Arab subcultures."
But only one category of the immigrants coming from Mexico can be compared to the category represented by the impoverished Turks and Arabs who flee to Europe. I have argued this point in detail in other essays so I won't trot out the details here.*
Yet there's lots of data to indicate that it's barking up the wrong tree to look at immigration as a monolithic phenomenon; indeed, much of it isn't even immigration. It's daily commuting and temporary (albeit illegal) residence. People in these two categories plan to return to their point of origin, or close nearby, at a foreseeable time in the future.
Point of Origin
So to set up more complex mechanisms in the US than already exist on the books to help vast numbers of illegals assimilate is putting money in the wrong place. If you're coming here illegally because you've been trying for five years to get a housing loan at your bank in Mexico, and the bribe to move the loan process along is bigger than the loan amount, what's the solution? A better assimilation process for you, once you get here? Of course not. The solution is to get the blasted Mexican government to vaporize the mountain of red tape wrapped around antiquated Mexican banking laws.
You can continue a far way down the list of reasons for coming here illegally (from the regions south of the US) before you hit the kind of problems that send waves of African Arabs flooding into Europe. The OECD, IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Bank, and USAID are inching their way to grappling with that bald fact. They've figured out between them that by gum you have to deal with situations at the point of origin if you don't want them overwhelming resources at the arrival point.
As to why those organizations are only inching toward a fact that has piles of data to support it, because development banks and USAID might as well be headquartered on the moon, for all the scrutiny they receive from US voters and Congress. And without the voter breathing down necks of congressionals and the White House, one is routed to Pluto for answers.
There on Pluto you will speak with lobbyists who lean across the desk and say earnestly, "But if you push these governments too hard to join the Nineteenth Century, you do realize, don't you, that they'll get really mad at the USA. Then what will happen to gas and oil prices?"
The Cascade Effect
That reply doesn't stay on Pluto long because it makes such a handy excuse for the shrewd ones that they deploy it right here on Earth. For example, when the Mexican government sees the US handing out that excuse about them, they use it to avoid confronting governments in Central America about their crummy outdated banking laws, which are bringing thousands of illegals across Mexico's border. And each government passes the excuse on down the line--or up the line, as the geographic case may be.
Realize the cascade starts when the obvious leader (in this case, the world's most powerful nation) sets the bar for intelligent behavior so low that a chipmunk could hop over it.
Then governments from south of the US border put on a long face and stand outside the G7/8 annual meetings and honk into mounds of Kleenex. Please give us more money, please forgive our debt, we're soooooo overwhelmed with problems.
Tip for those waiting for the end of the world: Don't hold your breath; any race this full of monkey business is kept around for laughs.
My dispute with his recommendations takes nothing away from the reporting part of Kesler's article; he well understands the American side of the illegals problem and clearly explains it.
A footnote about Mr. Kesler: I found his biography on the Winter Soldier website, which is "dedicated to the American veterans of the Vietnam War, who served with courage and honor."
Kesler is one of a group of Vietnam veterans who make themselves available to "answer questions and accept speaking engagements regarding the Vietnam-era war crimes disinformation campaign."
Pundita is glad to see that the Winter Soldier organization still seems to be going strong. You might want to visit the site, if only to read about Bruce Kesler's accomplishments.
* See today's earlier post, Mexico Desk for a list of earlier Pundita essays on Mexico.