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April 29, 2006

Using fear of raids to estimate the numbers of illegal immigrants

it’s been clear for several years that if you want to find out how many workers are working illegally, spread a rumor and see how many don’t show up the next day. The NY Times ran an AP story on this phenomenon arising out of the big IFCO raid of last week, which I have blogged.

The article says: “Len Mills, executive vice president of Associated General Contractors of South Florida, estimated at least 50 percent of workers on construction jobs in the region had not shown up for work. ‘This is costing millions of dollars a day, and I don't know who is going to pay for it,’ he said.”

Rumors of random sweeps were rampant from coast to coast Friday, prompting many immigrants to stay home from work, take their children out of school and avoid church. Their absences added to immigrants' fears, as some thought their friends and co-workers had been arrested. Mills said he believed even some legal workers were afraid. Katie A. Edwards, executive director of Florida's Dade County Farm Bureau, said nearly a third of farmworkers did not come to the fields this week.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Dean Boyd said the agency has received hundreds of calls about immigration raids in recent days. ''However, we don't conduct random sweeps,'' he said. ''All our arrests are the result of investigations, evidence and intelligence.'' ICE officials acknowledged they have stepped up arrests under their ''Operation Phoenix,'' an existing program to find and deport fugitive illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds.

On Friday, ICE announced the arrests of 106 illegal immigrant fugitives and 19 immigration status violators throughout the Midwest over the last 10 days. Of those, 46 had criminal records, according to the department. Earlier this week, ICE announced the arrest of 183 fugitives in Florida alone.

April 28, 2006

Immigrant labor and agriculture today: fully integrated

The Washington Post ran an article highlighting the tight relationship between immigrant workers and food production, especially corporate meat processing, in America. I have discussed this before. Steve Striffler's book, Chicken, is an excellent description of the evolution of the poultry industry hand in hand with Hispanic labor. See my posting on meat processing as a de facto guest worker program.

The article said that “The meat production unit of privately held Cargill Inc on Tuesday said it decided to close down operations at five U.S. beef plants and two hog plants next Monday while employees participate in mass immigration rallies. Similar rallies on April 10 cut U.S. meat production at top meat producer Tyson Foods Inc. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said on Tuesday Tyson was not encouraging workers to participate in planned rallies if it meant missing shifts. “

Reportedly, an INS raid in Nebraska some years ago scared off so many employees in beef processing plants and cattle owners faced a decline in demand for their cattle, cutting cattle prices.

A recent study by the American Farm Bureau Federation said a crackdown on illegal immigrant labor could cause production losses in U.S. agriculture of $5 billion to $9 billion in the first one to three years and up to $12 billion over four or more years. The fruit and vegetable sector would feel the effects immediately, but problems would be felt everywhere in the crop and animal-feeding sectors, notably in the Midwest.
'It's not just a fruit-and-vegetable California problem. This affects anyone who owns the machines, custom harvests,' said Austin Perez, policy director for largest U.S. farm group. These jobs are performed by virtually 100 percent migrant labor, he added. The Farm Bureau says that despite heavy use of machines to plant and harvest the largest U.S. crops -- corn, soybeans and wheat -- Midwestern farmers often rely on cheap immigrant labor to fill positions that family members once performed.

Reflecting the situation with diary workers in my very own Vermont:

Dairy operations from a few hundred to many thousands of cows are round-the-clock milking and feeding jobs. Massive hog and poultry barns now housing thousands of animals in close quarters also require constant labor and monitoring in what can be harsh, unsanitary and dangerous conditions.

RICO suit against Mohawk Industries heard by U.S. Supreme Court

I have previously blogged about how a Chicago based law firm is waging a legal fight against employers who hire lots of illegal workers, calling the practice a violation of the nation’s anti-racketeering law, RICO. Well, the Mohawk Industries case was heard this week by the Supreme Court. Mohawk along with other carpet manufacturers hires large numbers of Hispanics at its Datlon, GA, operations. I’ve been there: huge, faded but well staffed buildings on one side of town; a slice of flag waving America on the other.

The Washington Times
ran an article about the oral presentation before the Court.

The article says that “Winning parties in RICO cases can be awarded triple damages -- notably higher awards than winners in non-racketeering criminal cases. Congress expanded RICO in 1996 to include violations of immigration law.”

The article goes on:

The group of current and former Mohawk employees say the company violated RICO by systematically contracting outside recruiting firms to hire illegals. The lawsuit says Mohawk provided identification cards to illegal aliens, which helped them avoid detection by immigration authorities. The case stalled after Mohawk filed a preliminary motion to have it dismissed, arguing that it was improperly filed under RICO on grounds the company's activities did not constitute a racketeering "enterprise" as described by the language of the law.
Carter G. Phillips, the lawyer who represented the company yesterday, told the justices that providing ID cards to workers was part of the company's regular personnel practices, not a racketeering enterprise. Mohawk denies knowing that it had illegal aliens on its payroll.
The high court agreed to weigh in after two lower federal courts denied Mohawk's motion. Court observers noted the greater immigration underpinnings of the case likely will not come to the forefront until the justices decide whether to allow the case to go forward under RICO or order it to be refiled under another criminal law.

April 26, 2006

Dept. of Labor helps illegal workers in Katrina clean up to get paid

Today’s Wall Street Journal (no link available) reports that the U.S. Dept. of Labor has been actively supporting efforts by illegal workers to get paid for their work from employers who have stiffed them. Credit much of the effort to coordination between the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (no link found) and the Dept. of Labor. For instance, “In February, the Labor Department, acting on worker complaints partly compiled by activists from a Mississippi-based advocacy group, collected nearly $142,000 in back pay from a subcontractor working for Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., for Mr. Hernandez and almost 120 other workers. KBR says it didn't have a direct relationship with the subcontractor responsible for paying the workers.” In fact, the offending employer was a sub-contractor of a sub-contractor.

The article goes on:

Hundreds of other hurricane-cleanup workers -- many of them illegally in the U.S. -- have also complained about wages or working conditions at other employers, advocates say. Despite the furious national debate and increased enforcement efforts against illegal immigrants, the U.S. government has become a key ally to many such workers in Mississippi and Louisiana. The Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance says that partly thanks to the threat of Labor Department muscle it has helped workers recover over $500,000 in back wages which Katrina contractors hadn't paid both legal and illegal workers.
In recent months, federal officials have revved up enforcement actions, say worker advocates. The department says it is now investigating all prime contractors and subcontractors handling federal government-funded debris removal and a program that helps property owners temporarily patch their damaged roofs with blue tarps. In some cases, the department is sending officers to check employer log books to determine whether workers are being paid for hours worked. Some employers are being "shamed" by the alliance into paying without having to go through the trouble of filing a government complaint. In New Orleans, the department says it is working with local Latino groups and sending Spanish-speaking agents to a site that provides meals and services to Hispanic workers to show that Labor Department agents are on the job
A Labor Department spokeswoman said that the agency doesn't collect information on workers' immigration status when they intervene on their behalf with employers. So it doesn't know how many of the 241,000 workers it helped nationwide in the 2005 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, were illegal immigrants.
Long before Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast areas of Mississippi and Louisiana, with a growing number of casino, seafood-processing and construction jobs, were drawing Latino immigrants, both legal and illegal. Coastal Mississippi was home to between 20,000 and 30,000 recent Hispanic immigrants, estimates Vicky Cintra, a coordinator in Biloxi for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance.
After the hurricane, contractors from elsewhere in the country swooped into the region, many bringing along labor contractors who filled trucks with workers that they recruited back home or in stops on the way. Ms. Cintra says a conservative estimate is that the population of Hispanics, mostly cleanup laborers or semi-skilled workers, doubled after Katrina, and that about 70% are undocumented. The figure is particularly difficult to estimate because the region has attracted many Central Americans, some of whom qualify for a special government-issued temporary-protected status under U.S. immigration laws.

Can the U.S. reduce its illegal immigrant population by attrition?

A study issued by the Center for Immigration Studies thinks so. "Attrition Through Enforcement: A Cost-Effective Strategy to Shrink the Illegal Population," estimates that half of the illegal population can be reduced in five years by spending on average $400 million a year, or $2 billion. That comes to annual reductions of 1.5 million persons a year.

Elements of the strategy include using IRS data to track back to illegal workers who file tax returns; much stricter enforcement of work status verification rules (the I-9 form); state and local laws to discourage illegal settlement; tighter border entry-exit record keeping; doubling ICE enforcement resources by $120 million a year; inducing states to pass laws prohibiting the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

Personal observation: This plan smacks of police-state thinking: opening up of IRS files, coordination of state and local law enforcement, and massive ICE enforcement action. Nonetheless it is worth a cold blooded examination of this along with all other proposals to address the issue of illegal immigrants. I remain strongly in favor of the approach being taken by the Senate Judiciary committee.

April 24, 2006

Illegal immigrants want to stay, become U.S. citizens

In an earlier posting, I reported that the National Immigration Forum surveyed several hundred Spanish speaking undocumented workers in late 2005, and released the results at the end of March. That posting mainly addressed their use of documentation for work. This posting addresses preparation and desire to become American citizens. In short, the vast majority does wish to stay here and become citizens. A large minority of them is here with their spouses and/or children.

The results:

Survey information: Survey was conducted in Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago; Country of birth: 60% Mexican, the most divided evenly between Central and South America, with a small number of Dominicans; Duration in U.S. less than a year: 3%; 1 – 5 year, 42%; 6- 10 years, 34%; over 10 years, 21%; 74% never go back to home country. 75% work full time.

With whom do you live?

With spouse 41%
With children 27%
Alone 30%

How do you speak English

Very well 3%
Well 20%
Not so well 41%
Not at all 36%

Do you want to learn English? 98% yes

Where do you wish to live for the rest of your life?

In the U.S. 81%
In home country 19%

If you could become a legal citizen would you? 90% yes

If your could legalize your status, would you? 98% yes

April 23, 2006

Federal government unable to enforce immigration laws effectively

The National Journal has run an analysis of Bush Administration’s struggle to enforce laws pertaining to illegal immigrants. These are 11 to 12 million people, and the government has 325 agents dedicated to rounding them up, and 28,000 holding cells for them. According to the article, the government reported that last year it deported 200,000 persons. However, some 500,000 slipped in illegally. And some 100,000 caught by the government last year disappeared prior to deportation – they were released pending deportation proceedings. Washington is trying to get more expedited deportations (without an judicial review). I doubt the 200,000 figure. I suspect that it includes a lot of people who were nabbed at borders and thus had not penetrated into the United States. The article excerpted below has information on resources used, persons arrested, and the judicial system.

The article, “Washington’s immigration law mess,” reports:

Victor Cerda, former chief counsel of DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, said that Congress would have to give immigration and border-control agencies "a Pentagon-sized budget" to halt all illegal immigration and to locate and expel the 12 million illegals already here. "Even if they gave [DHS] that money overnight, you're looking at a 10-year process to do the hiring, put in the technology, the processes" to bump up the deportation rate.

Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department, and the federal courts -- the three entities that constitute the justice system for illegal aliens -- are already overwhelmed by the few hundred thousand immigration cases they handle each year. DHS continually runs out of bed space for detained immigrants; the overcrowding leads officials to release thousands of detainees into this country, where they often disappear.

The Justice Department is reassigning its lawyers -- even from its Environmental and Natural Resources Division -- to help handle the immigrant caseload. Federal judges have been unable to keep up with a sixfold increase in immigration appeals since 2000; each appeal now takes an average of 27 months. And that's after the case has spent several months wending its way through the Homeland Security and Justice departments.

Some people criticize the legal system for its treatment of foreign nationals, and some gripe about how it lets a large percentage of detainees slip out of its grasp. Nearly everyone who knows anything about the system agrees on one thing: It's busted.

[There are] three main ways that illegals fall under the control of U.S. immigration authorities. The most common way is to be caught by the Border Patrol, which polices the vast expanses of territory between legal border crossings and the areas within 100 miles of a border. More than 1 million of the 1.2 million aliens rounded up by the Border Patrol in 2004 were Mexicans. Most were quickly fingerprinted, recorded, and dropped back across the border to try again.

The remaining 200,000 "other-than-Mexicans," or "OTMs" in Border Patrol parlance, were either detained while their cases were decided or were let loose in the United States after being instructed to show up in court on a given date. (The OTMs cannot simply be sent back across the Rio Grande, because Mexico refuses to accept them.)

The second way to get into the legal system is to be stopped at an official border crossing by immigration inspectors, who, like Border Patrol agents, work for DHS's Customs and Border Protection bureau. Inspectors blocked 384,000 people from entering the country in 2004. About 317,000 of them voluntarily turned around and went home. The remaining 67,000, like the Barbadian grandmother, were detained while their cases were heard or were released in the United States and asked to appear in court.

The third way is to be caught well inside this country by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE agents focus on arresting criminals and people who threaten national security, but they also conduct workplace raids and nab immigration violators who attempt to get legal status through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is also part of Homeland Security. In 2004, ICE's 8,000 agents caught 80,000 illegal immigrants inside the country.

After Homeland Security grabs immigrants, the department's officers have the authority in some instances to interview them and deport them quickly, without further review. DHS has been increasingly relying on such "expedited removals" to free up space in detention centers and to reduce the number of immigrants who just get released. In 2004, the United States deported some 46,000 illegal immigrants without review, and that number has been growing, according to Homeland Security officials and immigration advocates.

Even with the increase in expedited removals, judges decided 265,000 immigration cases in 2005. Those judges work for the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review, the only vestige of the dismantled Immigration and Naturalization Service that was left at DOJ when Congress created Homeland Security in 2003.

This complicated legal system has three potential outcomes: Immigrants go home, get to stay legally, or become fugitives. Last year, 200,000 were deported and 40,000 were granted legal status. More than 100,000 absconded at some point during the legal process; Homeland Security estimates that it actually deported only 66 percent of the aliens whom it had orders to deport.

The American Bar Association is urging Congress to eliminate expedited removal and to guarantee immigrants the opportunity to appear before a judge. The ABA and immigration advocates also want the government to reduce the use of detention and to rely instead on supervised release programs, using ankle bracelets and regular check-ins, for example.

Enforcement advocates, meanwhile, argue that the government should crack down on employers of illegal immigrants as a way to reduce the demand for illegal labor -- and ultimately reduce the supply. They also argue that detention policies and quicker removal proceedings act as a deterrent: More detention and faster deportation would reduce the flow of immigrants into the justice system, they say.

One basic fact is that the government will need more judges and lawyers and agents if it wants to force more illegal aliens out of this country quickly.

Another is that the government will have to hire more judges and lawyers and agents if it wants to give more illegal aliens the chance to make their case to stay.

A third basic fact is that if Congress does nothing, immigration cases will continue to overwhelm the U.S. justice system.

April 21, 2006

Nursing shortages: foreign workers to fill them?

The United States employs about 2 million nurses, 60% of them in hospitals. We need more. A South Korean newspaper reports that 10,000 South Korean nurses are “likely be hired as nurses at U.S. hospitals over the next five years, a South Korean state firm said Friday. [It] said it plans to sign a contract with San Francisco-based worker dispatch company HRS Global and New York-based St. John's Riverside Hospital…” In 2000 new nursing graduates totaled about 76,000, down from 95,000 in 1993. Based on current staffing requirements, there is today a shortage of about 125,000 nurses, as noted in this report. (A 300,000 shortage figure sometimes heard seems to be a substantial exaggeration.) Domestic graduations are not expected to increase. What would happen if nurses were paid 20% more?

Here’s the plan:

Under the contract, the Korean nurses will go through a 10-day job training upon arrival in the U.S. before being assigned to 36 hospitals in New York as intern nurses for per-hour salary of US$25, according to the South Korean firm. After a one-year English language education by HRS Global, the Koreans will be promoted to full-fledged nurses if they pass the English proficiency test IELST, the service said. They will later be able to apply for a permanent U.S. residence as nurses, it said. There are currently about 6,000 South Korean nurses working in the U.S.”

Go here for a government report on staffing requirements and workforce gaps.

And here are some data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

What is behind the ICE initiative on illegal immigrants

It is my impression that the ICE raid on a 5,000 workforce, IFCO, netting over 1,000 illegal workers and a large handful of middle and low level managers, is 90% bark and 10% bite. There are several compelling reasons why ICE would undertake this kind of action, and several more why it will be hard to repeat on a regular basis. ICE needs to show that it had not abandoned enforcement of the illegal worker provisions of law passed in the 1980s – IRCA. Another motivation at this time – though the raid was apparently a year in planning – is Karl Rovian. It is efficient way to challenge the easy-does-it demeanor of congressional Democrats regarding day-to-day enforcement. It may be effective in putting the Democrats on the defensive, on this one single issue of national visibility around which the party has coalesced around, speaking with a common voice.

And here are the reasons why I think that ICE can pull off at best just a few raids of magnitude. First, they consume a lot of resources, and ICE has only 325 agents assigned to immigration law enforcement. Second, they take time, many months, to plan. Third, ICE may have thought through the downsides of such raids. They will focus on low level managers because it is much more difficult to establish the culpability of senior executives. They will elicit sympathy from a potentially large number of parties such as churches.

The Bush Administration would, I believe, prefer to focus on illegal immigrants who have not obeyed orders to leave the country or who have committed crimes (many of which I expect are minor). One major barrier prevents this: the execution of such a search and arrest program requires the participation of local police forces, who not only have shown they have other priorities, but who also are not used to working with this population. I note that the Georgia law just passed went so far as to require local law enforcement personnel to be certified to enforce immigration law. One way or the other, the Administrator will get into a tussle with local law enforcement it is leans on them to implement a policy hatched in Washington.

April 20, 2006

ICE raids an employer, IFCO, for hiring illegal workers

ICE woke itself up from its indifference and made a aggressively publicized enforcement raid on an employer, pursuant of IRCA, Immigration Reform and Control Act. The Washington Post reported that ‘Federal agents on Wednesday arrested seven current and former managers of IFCO Systems, a manufacturer of crates and pallets, on criminal charges, and more than 1,100 people were arrested on administrative immigration charges at more than 40 IFCO sites in the U.S.” This is more of a publicity stunt, because ICE likely has no real resources to make many raids, but the raid might well work to temper the enthusiasm of many employers for hiring undocumented workers and to drive many employers more underground. According to the Post, ICE has only 325 agents to cover the entire country. I expect that raids of this size -- in many company sites, apparently -- will be rare.

The last enforcement action of this magnitude may have been the Tyson case, which I have written about here. That ended in no convictions of the company, but only of fall guys.

IRCA prohibits the employment of illegal aliens and imposes criminal and civil penalties (fines between $250 and $10,000, and six months imprisonment) against persons who knowingly hire unauthorized aliens.

According to a federal government website, “all U.S. employers are responsible for completion and retention of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and non-citizens. On the form, the employer must verify the employment eligibility and identity documents presented by the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9.” You can find here a copy of the form.

The Post went on:

"We are going to move beyond the current level of activity to a higher level in each month and year to come," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. He pledged to "come down as hard as possible" on violators.

Chertoff has said this before, regarding the Tyson case, and then as Assistant Attorney General.

Authorities raided offices and plants of IFCO Systems in Arizona and at lease seven other states in the culmination of a yearlong criminal investigation, law enforcement officials said. IFCO systems, shown Thursday, April 20, 2006, in Phoenix, was one of several sites where Immigration agents arrested seven executives and hundreds of employees Wednesday as part of a crackdown on employers of illegal workers. Authorities raided offices and plants of IFCO Systems in Arizona and at lease seven other states in the culmination of a yearlong criminal investigation, law enforcement officials said. Federal agents on Wednesday arrested seven current and former managers of IFCO Systems, a manufacturer of crates and pallets, on criminal charges, and more than 1,100 people were arrested on administrative immigration charges at more than 40 IFCO sites in the U.S. Chertoff denied the timing of the stepped up enforcement had anything to do with recent immigration demonstrations, saying the investigations began more than a year ago. The Netherlands-based company describes itself as the leading pallet services company in America. More than half of the company's roughly 5,800 employees during 2005 had invalid or mismatched Social Security numbers, the government alleges. The case began after officials got a tip that IFCO workers in Guilderland, N.Y. were seen ripping up their W-2 forms because they did not intend to file tax returns, Chertoff said.

Six of seven current and former IFCO managers charged with felony conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens were released on bond and are to appear May 4 in Albany, N.Y., where the criminal complaint was filed and the investigation began at a suburban IFCO facility. The managers could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each alien involved, as well as forfeitures. Most of the 1,187 illegal immigrants arrested are being processed for deportation, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Sciocchetti in Albany. "They were getting cheated on their overtime," she said. "There were 10 to 20 people living in a house sleeping on air mattresses. They weren't the greatest employment conditions." If Congress provides the money, officials said they plan to add about 200 more agents by the end of next year as they go after companies that violate immigration laws. There are now about 325 agents. Federal officials also are asking Congress for greater access to workers' Social Security data to help uncover illegal aliens who use bogus identification data.

April 19, 2006

New Georgia law on undocumented workers S. Bill 529: worth a look

Georgia Governor Sunny Perdue signed Senate Bill 529, Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, on April 17. This law includes some very interesting provisions which, in effect, codify the role of states in immigration status verification, employer and employee responsibilities, and the provision of public services to undocumented persons. The law surely contains some problematic language. However, I am impressed by the evenhandedness and reasonableness of many of the provisions. For instance, local law officials must be certified by the state in order to enforce federal immigration law; undocumented persons under 18 can presumably continue to receive public benefits; and persons 18 and over can continue to receive Good Samaritan services. There is a special section devoted to stemming human trafficking.

This may well become a model for other states. I have excerpted large sections of the law.

For a complete copy of the law, go here. For the summary provided by the Governor’s office, go here.

Governor’s Office fact sheet on the law: go here:

Excerpts from the law:

From section 2:

On or after July 1, 2007, every public employer shall register and participate in the federal work authorization program to verify information of all new employees. No public employer shall enter into a contract for the physical performance of services within this state unless the contractor registers and participates in the federal work authorization program to verify information of all new employees.

From section 3:

Anti-coercion and human trafficking provisions

'Coercion' means exposing or threatening to expose any fact or information that if
revealed would tend to subject a person to criminal or immigration proceedings, hatred, contempt, or ridicule;

Maintaining the status or condition of a person arising from a pledge by that person of his or her personal services as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of
those services are not respectively limited and defined, or preventing a person from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of such debt; or

Promising benefits or the performance of services which the accused does not intend to deliver or perform or knows will not be delivered or performed. Evidence of failure to deliver benefits or perform services standing alone shall not be sufficient to authorize a conviction under this Code section.

'Labor servitude' means work or service of economic or financial value which is performed or provided by another person and is induced or obtained by coercion or deception.

'Sexual servitude' means (A) Any sexually explicit conduct as defined in paragraph (4) of
subsection (a) of Code Section 16-12-100 for which anything of value is
directly or indirectly given...which conduct is induced or obtained by coercion or deception or which conduct is induced or obtained from a person under the age of 18 years; or….

Any person who commits the offense of trafficking a person for labor or sexual servitude shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years. Any person who commits the offense of trafficking a person for labor or sexual servitude against a person who is under the age of 18 years shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years.

Corporate liability

A corporation may be prosecuted under this Code section for an act or omission constituting a crime under this Code section only if an agent of the corporation performs the conduct which is an element of the crime while acting within the scope of his or her office or employment and on behalf of the corporation and the commission of the crime was either authorized, requested, commanded, performed, or within the scope of his or her employment on behalf of the corporation or constituted a pattern of illegal activity that an agent of the company knew or should have known was occurring.

From Section 4

Certification of law enforcement officials

The commissioner is authorized and directed to negotiate the terms of a memorandum of understanding between the State of Georgia and the United States Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security concerning the enforcement of federal immigration and custom laws, detention and removals, and investigations in the State of Georgia.

The commissioner shall designate appropriate peace officers to be trained pursuant to the memorandum of understanding provided for in subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section. Such training shall be funded pursuant to the federal Homeland Security Appropriation Act of 2006, Public Law 109-90, or any subsequent source of federal funding.

The provisions of this subsection shall become effective upon such funding.

A peace officer certified as trained in accordance with the memorandum of understanding as provided in this Code section is authorized to enforce federal immigration and customs laws while performing within the scope of his or her authorized duties."

Verification of nationality of persons stopped for DUI or put in jail

When any person charged with a felony or with driving under the influence pursuant to Code Section 40-6-391 is confined, for any period, in the jail of the county, any municipality or a jail operated by a regional jail authority, a reasonable effort shall be made to determine the nationality of the person so confined.

If the prisoner is a foreign national, the keeper of the jail or other officer shall make a reasonable effort to verify that the prisoner has been lawfully admitted to the United States and if lawfully admitted, that such lawful status has not expired. If verification of
lawful status can not be made from documents in the possession of the prisoner, verification shall be made within 48 hours through a query to the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) of the United States Department of Homeland Security or other office or agency designated for that purpose by the United States Department of Homeland Security. If the prisoner is determined not to be lawfully admitted to the United States, the keeper of the jail or other officer shall notify the United
States Department of Homeland Security.

Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to deny a person bond or from being released from confinement when such person is otherwise eligible for release.

The Georgia Sheriffs Association shall prepare and issue guidelines and procedures used to comply with the provisions of this Code section."

From Section 6

Deterrence of fake immigration lawyers and related abuses

The purpose and intent of this chapter is to establish and enforce standards of ethics in the profession of immigration assistance by private individuals who are not licensed attorneys.

[scope of attorney services specifically stated; non-attorney organizations providing help must disclose they are not lawyers]

Real lawyers, employers and community service organizations free to provide services relating to immigration status

The following persons are exempt from this chapter:

An attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia or an attorney licensed to practice law in any other state or territory of the United States or in any foreign country when acting with the approval of a judge having lawful jurisdiction over the matter;

A not for profit organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals under 8 C.F.R. 292.2(a) and employees, of those organizations accredited under 8 C.F.R. 292.2(d);

Any organization employing or desiring to employ an alien or nonimmigrant alien, where the organization, its employees, or its agents provide advice or assistance in immigration matters to alien or nonimmigrant alien employees or potential employees without compensation from the individuals to whom such advice or assistance is provided.

From Section 7

Employer misconduct to be penalized by removal of expense deductions

On or after January 1, 2008, no wages or remuneration for labor services to an individual of $600.00 or more per annum may be claimed and allowed as a deductible business expense for state income tax purposes by a taxpayer unless such individual is an authorized employee. The provisions of this subsection shall apply whether or not an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 is issued in conjunction with the wages or

This Code section shall not apply to any individual hired by the taxpayer prior to January 1, 2008.

This Code section shall not apply to any taxpayer where the individual being paid is not directly compensated or employed by said taxpayer.

This Code section shall not apply to wages or remuneration paid for labor services to any individual who holds and presents to the taxpayer a valid license or identification card issued by the Georgia Department of Driver Services.


From Section 8

Required withholding of $600 for employees who do not comply

.A withholding agent shall be required to withhold state income tax at the rate of 6 percent of the amount of compensation paid to an individual which compensation is reported on Form 1099 and with respect to which the individual has:

Failed to provide a taxpayer identification number;

Failed to provide a correct taxpayer identification number; or

Provided an Internal Revenue Service issued taxpayer identification number issued for nonresident aliens.

From Section 9

Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to state government, is amended by adding a new chapter at the end thereof, to be designated Chapter 36, to read as follows:

Limitations on public services on behalf of undocumented persons over 18, with important good Samaritan – type exemption

Except as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section or where exempted by federal law, on or after July 1, 2007, every agency or a political subdivision of this state shall verify the lawful presence in the United States of any natural person 18 years of age or older who has applied for state or local public benefits, as defined in 8 U.S.C.
Section 1621, or for federal public benefits, as defined in 8 U.S.C. Section 1611, that is administered by an agency or a political subdivision of this state.

Verification of lawful presence under this Code section shall not be required:

For assistance for health care items and services that are necessary for the treatment of an emergency medical condition, as defined in 42 U.S.C. Section 1396b(v)(3), of the alien involved and are not related to an organ transplant procedure;

For short-term, noncash, in-kind emergency disaster relief;

For public health assistance for immunizations with respect to immunizable diseases and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases whether or not such symptoms are caused by a communicable disease; or

For programs, services, or assistance such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter specified by the United States Attorney General

[provision for accepting certain persons into public post secondary education programs

April 18, 2006

How illegal workers get and use documentation

The National Immigration Forum surveyed several hundred Spanish speaking undocumented workers in late 2005, and released the results at the end of March. Some of the more interesting items involve the obtaining and use of several sources of documentation. Only a minority are paid in part or all by check, and only 39% of those have taxes deducted from their paychecks. Here are some interesting points:

Survey information: Survey was conducted in Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago; Country of birth: 60% Mexican, the most divided evenly between Central and South America, with a small number of Dominicans; Duration in U.S. less than a year: 3%; 1 – 5 year, 42%; 6- 10 years, 34%; over 10 years, 21%; 74% never go back to home country. 75% work full time.

Identification used:

Home country driver’s license: 57%
Consular ID: 57%
Home country passport: 48%
Other kinds of documents: 45%
U.S. driver’s license: 13%
Other: 3%

What kind of documents did you need to show to your employer?

None: 67%
Facsimile of Social Security Card: 28%
Consular ID: 5%

Would you be able to prove that you have worked in the U.S?

Yes: 64%
No: 36%

How are you paid:

Cash only: 52%
Check: 21%
Check and cash: 28%

If you are paid in check, is money deducted from your pay check for taxes?

Yes: 39%
No: 61%

April 16, 2006

Another look at immigrant workers and declining labor force participation

The bumper sticker to this posting is that among several factors causing relatively fewer Americans to be employed or look for work, one of them is higher numbers of illegal workers. And one of the factors buried in the statistics of incremental decline in labor force rates is a positive one: not working in order to invest in education. Many young Americans continue to arrive at adulthood poorly educated, and they are vulnerable regardless of the presence of illegal workers. It is short-sighted to isolate the illegal workforce out of a more complex and more difficult set of conditions.

Economists such as Borjas and immigration experts such as Camarota (both with several postings by me) say that poorly educated immigrant labor has been driving Americans out of the workforce, and lowering the wages of many stay in workforce and are employed. They try to correlate foreign worker trends and lower American workforce rates. The correlations are often there – as in Nevada (see below). However, there are factors other then immigrant labor at play. It is not clear how strong are causal links.

The competition for jobs would be mainly between poorly educated Hispanics and Americans with limited education.

Is America producing poorly educated youth? Definitely, Yes. According to Jay Greene, who has studied education dropt out rates, about one million youths each year leave high school for good before graduating, and even more graduate without the credentials to enter and succeed in college. “Only 51% of all black students and 52% of all Hispanic students graduate [from high school], and only 20% of all black students and 16% of all Hispanic students leave high school college-ready.”

And force participation rates of youth and of blacks have been declining. As I posted before, in Nevada, with one of the highest penetration rates of illegal workers,

In 2000, 55.1% of Nevadans between 16 and 19 were either employed or looking for work. By 2004, that number slipped to 45.8%. Among people age 20 to 24, the participation rate dropped from 81.3% to 77%. The number of blacks participating in the state's work force fell from 71.1% to 64.9%.

Cause and effect link made between immigrant labor and labor force rate declines? Yes and No. The fly in the ointment is presence of several factors that appear also to be driving down labor force rates particularly among young persons: (1) more are going to school; (2) when enrolled at school, more appear to be not taking jobs; and (3) more can Afford per parental financial success to live without working.

A forthcoming Brookings Institution study* of labor force participation trends reports that labor force participation rates of 16-19 year olds has been going down for decades. In the 2000-2005 period, rates both genders and all age groups between 16 and 54 declined. Some of that was due to the recession. Most age groups have largely bounced back. However, the rate for 16 to 19 year olds has not bounced back. Males in that age range had a 52.8% participation rates in 2000, and a 43.2% rate in 2005. The authors assign that drop in part to prolonged impact of the recession on this group, more educational involvement, and to something they cannot explain.

*Stephanie Aaronson, Bruce Fallick, Andrew Figura, Jonathan Pingle, and William Wascher (2006), "The Recent Decline in Labor Force Participation and its Implications for Potential Labor Supply," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity

Medicaid's new strict identification requirements to create barrier to illegal immigrants.

The New York Times reports that “more than 50 million Medicaid recipients will soon have to produce birth certificates, passports or other documents to prove that they are United States citizens…The new requirement takes effect on July 1." To what end? "The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will save the federal government $220 million over five years and $735 million over 10 years. Estimates of the number of people who will be affected vary widely. The budget office expects that 35,000 people will lose coverage by 2015. Most of them will be illegal immigrants, it said.” -- An infinitesimal number, about one fifth of one percent of illegal residents.

I have posted already about barriers created unadvertantly through imposing strict documentation requirements, for instance in Mississippi regarding the dispensing of prescribed pain medications to work injured persons.

Under the law, the Deficit Reduction Act, states cannot receive federal Medicaid money unless they verify citizenship by checking documents like passports and birth certificates for people who receive or apply for Medicaid.
In general, Medicaid is available only to United States citizens and certain "qualified aliens." Legal immigrants are, in many cases, barred from Medicaid for five years after they enter the United States. Under a 1986 law, applicants for Medicaid have to declare in writing, under penalty of perjury, whether they are citizens and, if not, whether they are "in a satisfactory immigration status."

Congressional poll on immigration bill

The National Journal surveyed Congressional members about their preferences for an immigration bill. Only 7% of Republicans want the guest work-focused bill approved by the Senate Judiciary committee; compared to 53% of Democrats. To me, this signals the death of prospects for a bill to be passed this year, as I have noted before.

Here are the results: first, the option, then the Republican response, then the Democrat response.

enforcement bill only: 32%, 11%
temporary guest worker program plus tighter borders: 54%, 11%
path to citizenship plus tighter borders: 7%, 53%
enact nothing: 2%, 26%
other: 5%, 0%

April 14, 2006

Ten reasons why illegal immigrants should file income tax returns

The very well managed About.com site, by Jennifer and Peter Wipf, on immigration issues has has a checklist of reasons why it is in the interest of undocumented workers to file income tax returns. Bob Alcorn, a Dallas CPW, prepared the list. Here is a summary.

According to Alcorn, “Non-citizens who reside in the U.S. for more than 183 days [generally] meet the definition of a ‘tax resident,’ or a ‘resident for tax purposes.’ They are "subject to the tax laws as if they were citizens (with some minor differences).”

1. It's the Law.
2. Proof of Presence
This proof may be required if and when any future guest worker program or amnesty provisions are made.
3. Proof of Spouse's Presence and/or Spousal Relationship
Tax returns indicate your marital status (single, married, head of household), thus possibly later improving or proving a spouse's eligibility for any guest worker or amnesty claims.
4. Proof of Dependents' Presence and/or Relationship
5. Proof of Income and Self-Sufficiency
6. Possible Eligibility for Tax Benefits/Credits
Tax returns allow you to receive certain tax benefits - such as the Child Tax Credit, including the refundable portion of the Additional Child Tax Credit if you otherwise qualify.
7. Tax Payer Identification Number Eligibility
Filing tax returns provides a legitimate basis for getting an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Having a legitimate TIN is actually much less of a red flag than using a fake Social Security number at work or for finances and taxes.
8. Proof of Income as Basis for a Mortgage and Other Credit
9. Demonstration of Good Moral Character
In any immigrant legalization process, the applicant needs to demonstrate "good moral character."
10. It's Good to be Prepared, Just in Case

April 13, 2006

recruitment of foreign nurses to the United States

The New England J of Medicine on 10/27/05 carried an article about global patterns of recruitment of nurses. There is a global shortage of nurses. In the United States, the shortage is estimated at 126,000.

In an earlier posting, I reported that of the roughly 3,000,000 nurses in the country, about 11% are foreign workers. The authors say that the United States cannot expect to resolve a nursing shortage by foreign worker recruitment, in part because of global shortages of nurses. A letter responding to the article asserts that low compensation and few education slots are responsible for the nursing shortage.

The article reports that in 2005 a new law to expedite nursing recruitment from overseas was passed: the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief. The law provides for 50,000 new foreign nurses. The law discards a prior policy of requiring that each recruitment be backed up with a prevailing wage certification.

this problem is the fact that as baby boomers are growing older and their medical needs are increasing, enrollment in nursing schools is declining. Increasing demands on nurses, partially a result of the shortage of nurses, have led to early career burnout, with as many as 20 percent of nurses retiring early. The Department of Health and Human Services projects that by 2020, the shortage of registered nurses in relation to demand will reach 29 percent, with more than 1 million nursing positions left open.

About recruiting of foreign nurses in the United Kingdom….

For years, the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom relied heavily on the direct recruitment of nurses from African countries such as Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe — all former British colonies. These very countries have been among those hit hardest by the HIV pandemic; some have a prevalence of HIV infection of 30 to 40 percent, with a majority of the young, working population debilitated by disease, and are reporting huge nursing shortages themselves….More than half the nursing positions in Kenya and Ghana remain unfilled. As a result, many health clinics in Kenya have closed and many others are severely understaffed. The nursing shortage in the developing world is being felt more intensely even as increased foreign aid becomes available to provide drugs for millions of people with AIDS.

Although the British government promised in 2001 to stop the direct recruitment of nurses from countries with nursing shortages, large private-sector institutions continue to lure nurses from many African countries; 7000 African nurses have registered to work in the United Kingdom since 2001. Meanwhile, the NHS continues to recruit nurses from India, the Philippines, and Spain: countries that supposedly have a national surplus of nurses but that have regional or specialty-specific shortages. Private-sector hospitals in these countries tend to retain their nurses longer than public-sector hospitals do.
Ironically, for every two nurses recruited from overseas to work in the United Kingdom, one nurse certified in the United Kingdom emigrates. Many of these nurses end up in the United States, along with nurses from other developed countries such as Canada, Ireland, and Australia, all of which have their own nursing shortages. In effect, the nursing crisis is global, with developed countries stealing nurses from one another and developing countries subsidizing richer countries with nurses they cannot afford to lose. Entire public health systems are at risk of collapse because of the growing shortage of nurses in the developing world.

Economists surveyed about impact of illegal immigrants

On 4/13 The WSJ reported a survey of economists about the undocumented workforce’s impact on the economy. Basically, the economists say that the workers have made it difficult for some Americans workers, but that the overall impact is positive. According to the article, “Nearly 80% of economists who responded to questions about immigration in the latest WSJ.com forecasting survey said they believe undocumented workers have an impact on the bottom rung of the wage ladder. Twenty percent believe the impact is significant, while 59% characterize the effect as slight. The remaining 22% said there is no impact.”

About half of the economists said the presence of illegal immigrant workers has slightly reduced the overall rate of inflation in the economy, while 8% said the inflation rate has been reduced significantly. But 41% said they believe undocumented workers have had no impact at all on inflation.

On balance, nearly all of the economists – 44 of the 46 who answered the question – believe that illegal immigration has been beneficial to the economy. Most believe the benefits to business of being able to fill jobs at wages many American workers won't accept outweigh the costs.

April 12, 2006

Economic impact of a guest worker program on American agriculture

Fox News
carried on 4/10 a story, “Farmers Keep Wary Eye on Immigration Debate” which has some good interview quotes. The nub of the article is that farm owners need Hispanic workers and they need them cheap ($10 and hour). A guest worker program will provide the workers, but I expect at a noticeably higher cost. I have noted that the bill sent out by the Senate Judiciary Committee had an “AgJobs” component.here.

Here is my posting about my own remote state of Vermont depending on Hispanic workers to keep its diary industry alive --if only for the tourism industry.

From the Fox News article:

Cutting farmers' access to cross-border workers without giving them an alternative could cost the industry up to $9 billion in annual production, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has long lobbied for a streamlined temporary worker program.
Illegal immigrants make up about 53 percent of the nation's roughly 1.8 million farmworkers, and cutting off the flow of willing workers — legal or not — to the fresh fruits and vegetables that need picking would spell the end for many farmers, Rousseau said. [PFR—the Pew Hispanic Center believes that about 25% of farmworkers are illegal workers]. "We know local folks won't take those jobs, at any price," said Rousseau, who hires up to 700 seasonal workers to harvest his crops in Phoenix.
The average wage for skilled and unskilled farm workers is about $10 an hour, said Austin Perez, a labor specialist with the federation. If that were raised to $14, up to a third of the nation's fruit and vegetable farms might be forced out of business, he said. And that still might not be enough to recruit large numbers of native-born workers, Perez added.
While a border crackdown is a vision of doom for many farmers, the numbers show consumers wandering supermarket aisles might hardly feel the difference. That's because very little of the price of produce actually goes back to the farmer. When you take home a $1 head of lettuce, only 19 cents go to the farmer; and six cents of that go to the worker who picked it, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The real difference would be whether the food is grown in America or abroad. The shift has begun already, as American farmers face steeper labor, fuel and other costs.
For instance, the town of Gilroy, south of San Jose, still calls itself the "Garlic Capital of the World," and anoints an annual Garlic Queen. But China, where production costs are much lower, now grows about 66 percent of the world's garlic, according to the Agriculture Department. Fear of an immigration crackdown is already chasing some ag businesses across the border where the workers are, said vegetable harvester and shipper Steve Scaroni.
His company hires 1,500 people in California and Arizona during harvests to pick fresh produce and take it to companies who bag it and give it a brand name. But some of his customers are so concerned that they're shifting their operations to Mexico. And he's following. The solution farmers are hoping for — one not promised by any of the current bills — is a program allowing farmers to bring as many workers as they need across the border, without the time or expense of the current guest worker program.
Chalmers Carr, who ships about 1 million boxes of peaches from his 2,500-acre operation in South Carolina, has been using the existing program to bring in up to 300 workers a year from Mexico. It's expensive — he estimates it costs him about $500 in fees and transportation costs to bring in one worker for one season, not including the mandatory housing expenses. It's also time consuming — in February, he asked for the workers he'd need in April and was still waiting for approval this week.

This week’s immigrant demonstrations make big impact

"People Power" is how the New York Times painted the large and many orderly demonstrations this Monday. In Washington DC, Ted Kennedy addressed the crowd like a modern day Henry V, evoking future memories of that day. Demonsrtators read from sheets the following phonetized pledge of allegiance: “Ai pledch aliyens to di fleg, Of d Yunaited Esteits of America, An tu di republic for wich it stands, Uan naishion, ander Gad, Indivisibol, Wit liberti an yostis, For oll”

The immigration rallies of recent weeks have drawn an astounding number of people around the country: Monday's "national day of action" was attended by an estimated 180,000 in Washington, 100,000 each in Phoenix and New York City, 50,000 each in Atlanta and Houston, and tens of thousands more in other cities.

Adding in the immense marches last month in Los Angeles and Chicago, the immigrants and their allies have carried off an amazing achievement in mass political action, even though many of them are here illegally and have no right to vote.
The marchers in white T-shirts poured out of the subway doors and merged into a stream, flowing like blood cells through the tubular innards of the Washington Metro, past turnstiles and up escalators and out into the delicate brilliance of a fine spring day. On the street, they met up with the others — young parents, old people, toddlers in strollers, teenagers in jeans and jewelry — and headed to the Mall, where they and their American flags dissolved into a shimmering sea of white, red and blue.

The AP reported the following:

"This is bigger than the civil rights movement in the sixties. This is huge," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday on CBS' "The Early Show." "What this is building is enormous pressure on the Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration bill _ tighten border security, more border patrol agents, secure the border from drugs and illegal traffic, but also a sensible legalization plan that brings the 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows," he said.

Out of Many, One: The Far-Reaching Touch of the Crowd” was the title of an analysis in the Washington Post on 4/11 by a reporter clearly impressed by the orderliness of the demonstration. “The crowd as historical actor is acting again.”

April 11, 2006

A few handy figures about immigration to work in the U.S.

There is no easy way to estimate the net change from year to year in foreign workers coming to the U.S. and the number of foreign workers in the U.S. at any time. The following figures can help. One can infer from these figures that upwards of half of the net increase in foreign workers has been illegal workers. The entire set is divided among official permanent admissions, official temporary admissions, and illegal entrants.

Number of foreign-born persons in the U.S. today: 35 million

Subset of 35M who have become American citizens: 12 million

Subset of 35M who are eligible for citizenship but have elected to become citizens as yet: 8 million

Simple math suggests that about 15 million foreign born people in the U.S. are neither citizens nor on a citizen track. The estimated 12 million illegal immigrants make up the large majority of these persons.


Number of persons (adults, children, retirees) formally admitted into the U.S. each year for permanent residence (which can lead to citizenship): roughly about 1 million

(This and other official figures below are rough due to volatility from year to year, driven in part by paperwork backlogs)

Subset of these 1M persons who are working age adults: 400,000?

Subset of these 400,000 +/- working age adults who were admitted on the basis of employment criteria (“employment based preferences”) as opposed to family ties, other: about 150,000


Number of new H-1B temporary professional workers formally admitted each year (i.e. Bill Gate's programmers): 95,000

Number of new H-2A temporary agricultural workers (special agricultural workers) admitted each year: 200,000? less those returning

Number of other temporary workers admitted for miscellaneous programs: to be found but probably well under 50,000 (types: H-2B, H-1C, E, L, O, P, R, for nurses, ministers, ahtletes, etc, etc.)


Number of new illegal workers each year: roughly 350,000

Lessons from immigration reform in 1986

David North closely analyzed the 1986 reform effort – IRCA, or the Immigration Reform and Control Act, and found lessons for today. In his paper published at an immigration lawyer website, he lists six attributes of IRCA worth noting:

1. Large numbers—often much larger than anticipated—of aliens sought legalization and the overwhelming majority of applications were accepted.

2. The compromises leading to the passage of the legislation led to an extremely complex program, full of internal inconsistencies. [This is already evident in the guest worker and amnesty provisions proposed in 2006 – PFR]

3. There was a great deal of many different kinds of fraud in the program; much of the apparent fraud did not lead to the denial of applications.

4. The promised balance—of a large legalization program for currently illegal aliens joined with a strict enforcement program against the future arrival of illegal aliens—did not eventuate. Yes, there was much legalization, but there was little enforcement of the law forbidding the employment of the undocumented (employer sanctions). [It may well be that the law enforcement system in the U.S. is so poorly acculturated to personal identity enforcement (“big brother”) that it will always be messy – PFR]

5. Within the legalization process there was a built-in (if probably unconscious) bias toward Hispanics and away from other undocumented populations. [We will see a lot of Europeans and Asian computer specialists coming out of the woodwork – PFR]

6. Demographic considerations (are there too many of us?) and equity in the labor market (are we widening the disparity between rich and poor?) were largely overlooked. [These issues have of course been much more openly addressed, especially in the past few months. There is a lot of research on these issues, serving as a foundation for books and articles. - PFR]

April 9, 2006

Opinions by Washington Post, NYT's Nicholas Kristoff

I am excerpting two opinion pieces from this weekend: the Washington Post’s editorial 4/8/06, 'Nirvana,' Lost Thanks largely to Democrats, the Senate missed an opportunity, and Nicholas Kristoff’s column today 4/9/06 in the New York Times, “Compassion that hurts.”

The editorial says that the compromised bill was working in the right direction and that Democrats killed it. I have a problem with an unstated premise of the editorial, that the compromise bill would not be savaged on the floor of the Senate. More likely, no bill will come out of conference with the enforcement-focused House of Representatives. Sure, Democrats at the time would very much like to run in November with a partisan pro-Hispanic position and no legislation enacted with a Republican majority in Congress.

Kristoff essentially repeats arguments made and cited before by me, that massive immigration by poorly educated Hispanics are to the detriment of America’s poorly educated. (To find the several entries, search for Borjas and Camarota.)

The Washington Post’s editorial (link not available):

The Senate could have left town yesterday with a workable, if imperfect, immigration bill that would have let millions of people living here illegally come out of the shadows. It had before it a deal that could have attracted 70 votes; it had the backing of the White House and the support of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), despite his previous, enforcement-only stance.
But after two weeks of slogging toward compromise, the deal blew up over a procedural standoff on whether to move forward with voting for amendments. "It's not gone forward because there's a political advantage for Democrats not to have an immigration bill," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). "The Democratic leadership played politics with the prospect of 10 million immigrants getting on a path to citizenship," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration group. "It seems that Democratic leaders wanted an issue, not a bill."
Too bad, because, as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) described the measure, "compared with the status quo, it's nirvana." The compromise was a slightly tweaked version of a bill produced by the Senate Judiciary Committee and modeled on the proposal by Mr. McCain and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). As retooled by Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), the bill still would have entitled almost all of the nation's 11 million or more illegal immigrants to legal status and, ultimately, citizenship. Moreover, it would have reduced incentives for future illegal immigration by creating a significant supply of legal guest worker permits -- a new program that would, as well, give foreign workers the chance to become permanent residents and ultimately citizens

Nicolas Kristoff's column of today:

I used to favor a program to allow in guest workers, thinking it would be good for them and also great for America by providing a source of low-cost labor — just as it was good for America to admit our own ancestors. But I've changed my mind on a guest worker program, because of growing evidence that low-wage immigration hurts America's own poor.

Kristoff cites studies by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz and by Steven Camarota. I have posted on these studies before.

I can't write about this issue without thinking of Elmer, a neighbor when I was growing up. He's a high school dropout now in his 50's, but when I met him in 1971, he was earning $26 an hour in a union job. He's very hard-working, but for the last decade he's been reduced to janitorial jobs paying not much over minimum wage. People like Elmer haven't been heard from in the immigration debate, but they have the most at stake. {He is now working at close to minimum wages.]
The 1986 immigration amnesty ended up bringing in waves of unskilled workers. They care for our children and mow our lawns. But as they raise living standards for many of us, they lower the living standards of Americans [with poor education.]
Children are hit particularly hard, because they are disproportionately likely to be poor. Nearly half of American children depend on a worker with a high school education or less. The broader problem is that our immigration program is structured so as to bring in cheap laborers more than brilliant minds. At last count, only 16 percent of admissions for permanent residence went to those with employment qualifications, while the great majority went to applicants on the basis of family ties.
When I lived in China, American diplomats complained that under the law they had to deny visas to brilliant physicists while granting immigrant visas to elementary-school dropouts who had a relative in Chicago.
So let's go ahead and regularize longtime illegals, rather than leaving them forever in the shadows. But instead of bringing in a new flood of guest workers, let's recast our generosity more toward biologists and computer programmers…That's the immigration flow to expand….An influx of hundreds of thousands more unskilled laborers would impoverish them further — and to me, that does not feel like compassion.

April 7, 2006

U.S. Senate struggles on April 6 with immigration bill compromise

The Senate this week came up with a compromise which in my judgment is doomed to fail, for at least two reasons. First, the anti-amnesty lobby wants to shred it. Second, it will be incredibly hard to enforce. To me, this is a means by some Senate Republicans to record a pro-business, pro Hispanic voter vote for a McCain-like bill before such a bill is mauled in conference committee by the House. The business lobby and Hispanic community appears to be strongly in support of the McCain-like bill as it will provides for a continuity of residence and work.

The Senate is (as of right now) proposing in effect to modify the bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is modeled after the MeCain bill. This bill pretty much allows all illegal immigrants to stay in the country for a nominal penalty and sets them on the road to long term residency or citizenship. I addressed the Committee’s March 27 work here.

The compromise creates artificial categories of immigrants defined by duration of illegal residency so far in the U.S. The Pew Hispanic Center quickly came out with an estimate of the duration of illegal residency so far. It says it has “produced estimates of the unauthorized population according to the categories established in the legislation now before the Senate. These estimates are based on the March 2005 Current Population Survey. For a full report based on that data please go to” here.

Time in the US

Five years or more: 6.7 million
Two to five years: 2.8 million
Less than two years: 1.6 million

Total: 11.1 million

Based on analysis of other data sources that offer indications of the pace of growth in the foreign-born population, the Center developed an estimate of 11.5 to 12 million for the unauthorized population as of March 2006.

April 5, 2006

Case study of Nevada: Do immigrants take jobs from Americans?

The Las Vegas Sun talked to two immigration experts. Jeff Passel, from the Pew Hispanic Center, said the relatively high illegal worker population did not seem to have a negative impact on unemployment among citizens. Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies said that the damage is evidenced in lower workforce participation, to him a truer measure.

Per Passel, Nevada had the second-highest proportion of unauthorized workers in the nation in 2004, the state's unemployment rate of 3.8% was one of the country's lowest - a full point lower than the national rate of 4.8%.

( My posting here estimated the size of undocumented workforce relative to total state workforce as of March 2005. Note the high percentage for NV.)

Nearly one in 10 workers in Nevada was unauthorized in 2004, second only to Arizona, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Center report. Of the 10 states with the highest shares of illegals in the work force, seven had unemployment rates below the national average. NV’s unemployment rate of 3.8% for 2004 was a point below the national rate of 4.8%.

However, Steven Camarota says you need to look at unemployment rates just for the most impacted cohorts, such as male teenagers. In 2004 male teenagers between 16 and 19 had a 16% unemployment rate.

More importantly, one needs to look at the drop in labor force participation. In 2000, 55.1% of Nevadans between 16 and 19 were either employed or looking for work. By 2004, that number slipped to 45.8%. Among people age 20 to 24, the participation rate dropped from 81.3% to 77%. The number of blacks participating in the state's work force fell from 71.1% to 64.9%.

developed world pop growth: mostly immigrants

The Financial Times on April 4 reported on a United Nations prediction that population growth in the developed world in the future may be almost entirely from international migration.

“Given the low fertility levels in developed countries, net migration has become the major source of population growth, accounting for half that growth in 1990-95, two-thirds in 1995-2000 and three-quarters in 2000-05,” the UN said. “If current trends continue, between 2010 and 2030, net migration will likely account for virtually all growth....“In addition, the governments of countries of origin have become more proactive in encouraging the return of their citizens and strengthening ties with their expatriate communities.”

The report, prepared for this week’s meeting of the Commission on Population and Development, said there were 191m migrants globally, up from 175m in 2000 and 155m in 1990. That represented a slowdown in growth compared with the 15-year period between 1975 and 1990, which saw 41m new migrants. But between 1990 and 2005, 33m out of 36m migrants moved to the developed world, with the US alone gaining 15m and Germany and Spain each accounting for 4m. The UN report said, “Today, one in every three migrants lives in Europe and about one in every four lives in northern America

Douglas Massey of Princeton: a blast of fresh air on Mexican immigrant workers

Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University professor, has closely studied Mexican immigrants and comes up with energetic, constructive interpretations of worker migration into the United. States. I will summarise several of his books. He also wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times on Monday. One of his most intensely argued points is that border security-alone advocates hugely misperceive what the Mexican worker migration is all about. Massey's broad view puts our immigration issues in the context of 160 million immigrants troughout the world.

Crossing the Border (2004) (co-editor)

The full title: “Crossing the Border: Research from the Mexican Migration Project” (2004). Per the review in Amazon, the book draws from “the largest, most comprehensive, and reliable source of data on Mexican immigrants currently available". It is a myth-breaking book:

The migrants are not driven by primarily impoverishment; they do not intend to settle here permanently; their remittances back are made in part to compensate for the poor banking system in Mexico; most Mexican farm workers pay their fair share in U.S. taxes and—despite high rates of eligibility—rarely utilize welfare programs; strict barriers at popular border crossings have not kept migrants from entering the United States, but rather have prompted them to seek out other crossing points, which are often more hazardous to traverse; the militarization of the Mexican border has actually kept immigrants who want to return to Mexico from doing so by making them fear that if they leave they will not be able to get back into the United States.

Backfire at the Border (2005) co-author

The summary of the book from the publisher, the Cato Institute, reads in part: For the past two decades, the U.S. government has pursued a contradictory policy on North American integration. While the U.S. government has pursued more commercial integration through the North American Free Trade Agreement, it has sought to unilaterally curb the flow of labor across the U.S.-Mexican border. That policy has not only failed to reduce illegal immigration; it has actually made the problem worse.

Increased border enforcement has only succeeded in pushing immigration flows into more remote regions. That has resulted in a tripling of the death rate at the border and, at the same time, a dramatic fall in the rate of apprehension. As a result, the cost to U.S. taxpayers of making one arrest along the border increased from $300 in 1992 to $1,700 in 2002, an increase of 467 percent in just a decade.

Enforcement has driven up the cost of crossing the border illegally, but that has had the unintended consequence of encouraging illegal immigrants to stay longer in the United States to recoup the cost of entry. The result is that illegal immigrants are less likely to return to their home country, causing an increase in the number of illegal immigrants remaining in the United States. Whatever one thinks about the goal of reducing migration from Mexico, U.S. policies toward that end have clearly failed, and at great cost to U.S. taxpayers.

A border policy that relies solely on enforcement is bound to fail. Congress should build on President Bush’s immigration initiative to enact a temporary visa program that would allow workers from Canada, Mexico, and other countries to work in the United States without restriction for a certain limited time.

International Migration : Prospects and Policies in a Global Market (2004) co-editor

According to Amazon, the basic premise per Amazon is that international migration is not rooted in poverty or rapid population growth, but in the expansion and consolidation of global markets. The insertion of non-market societies into global networks of trade unleashes structural transformations that displace people to create migrants. Globalization also creates infrastructures of transportation, communication, and social networks to put developed societies within reach.

April 4, 2006

Study: without immigrants, almost 2 million poorly educated Americans would be back in labor force.

The Center for Immigration Studies issued a report in March which estimates the negative impact of poorly educated immigrants upon the employment of poorly educated Americans. It finds a strong impact.

Dropping Out: Immigrant Entry and Native Exit From the Labor Market, 2000-2005” by Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies points to higher unemployment rates by industry and lower workforce rates of Americans, by age cohort. He estimates that without the increase in immigrant labor, amost 2 million Americans with a high school degree or less would be in the labor force.

He concludes in part:

The findings of this report call into the question the idea that America is desperately short of less-educated workers. In 2005, there were 3.8 million unemployed adult natives (18 to 64) with just a high school degree or less and another 19 million not in the labor force. Moreover, between 2000 and 2005 there was a significant deterioration in the labor market prospects of less-educated adult natives. The labor force participation has fallen significantly for both natives without a high school degree and those with only a high school degree. Had it remained the same in 2005 as it had been in 2000, there would have been an additional 450,000 adults without a high school degree in the labor force and 1.4 million more adult natives with a only high school degree in the labor force. This decline in particularly troubling because these workers already have lower labor force participation and higher unemployment than more educated workers. They also tend to be the poorest Americans.
Among teenage natives (age 15 to 17), labor force participation has also declined. At the same time that natives have been leaving the labor market, the number of immigrants with a high school degree or less in the labor force increased by 1.6 million. Wage growth among less-educated adult natives has also lagged well behind more-educated workers.

April 2, 2006

The Tyson Foods - illegal immigrant case: past and present.

Steve Striffler’s highly informative book, “Chicken: the dangerous transformation of America’s favorite food”, gives the story behind the indictment and trial of three Tyson Food executives for systematically hiring illegal Hispanic immigrants. I will relate in skeletal form the story. It starts with the arrival of a 20 year old man from Chihuahua into the U.S. in 1979, runs through the poultry industry boom in the 1990s, the federal indictment of and subsequent jury vote in favor of Tyson Foods, and a current effort to sue Tyson for RICO violations.

1979 – 1989

Amador Anchondo-Rascon slips over the border, is arrested after a ten day hike, deported, and slips into the U.S. again. He begins work in Florida, marries an American citizen, and becomes a legal resident. In 1989 he moves to Shelbyville, Tennessee, where there is a Tyson Foods’ poultry processing plant. Pay there is higher than in farm work. He starts working at the plant


The United States experiences a huge boom in poultry. Russell Cobb, a PhD. grad student, writes that

In 1990, the U.S. exported 500,000 metric tons of chicken overseas, while in the year 2000 that figure increased five-fold to 2,500,000, as China and Russia became the two largest consumers of U.S. chicken.

In this decade the Hispanic population in Shelbyville grows from 100 to 2,300, or 15% of the population. This growth pace is typical of numerous rural locations from North Carolina to Arkansas. As black and white workers moved up the economic ladder, Hispanics filled in the gap. Not all were in meat processing (poultry in the south, beef and pork in the Midwest). In North Carolina, for instance, 90% of farmworkers were Hispanic. Poultry towns absorbing large numbers of Hispanics were Shelbyville, TN, Roger, Arkansas, Russellville, Arkansas, and Duplin County, north Carolina (for turkeys).

This rush of Hispanics creates entrepreneurial opportunities.

1995 – 1998.

Leaving the employ of Tyson, Amador opens in Shelbyville a grocery, Los Tres Hermanos, He begins to sell fake social security cards and other fake documents. Two local police officers take notice. They contact the INS in 1997, who buy undercover fake IDs at the store. Amador is confronted, and agrees to work with INS officials. At a meeting in 1998 in the Tyson plant, Amador and an undercover agent are asked by a Tyson manager to provide 2,000 Guatemalian workers, and Amador is offered up to $200 per head as a “recruitment fee.”

By 2,000 Amador is doing so well off smuggling Hispanics that he has bought two stores, five houses, and several automobiles.

December, 2001 – March 2003

The INS in collaboration with other federal agencies and local police forces obtains a 36 count indictment against Tyson Foods, two current company executives, and four former managers. The U.S. Justice Department claims that 15 Tyson plants in nine states have been conspiring since 1994 to recruit illegal immigrants, and that this practice was known by senior executives at Tyon corporate headquarters. Undocumented workers were allegedly preferred because of their vulnerable situation. Tyson denies any wrong doing, saying that the managers were rogue employees.

According to rural Migration News, On January 7, 2002, Amador Anchondo-Rascon, pleads guilty to conspiracy to smuggling illegal immigrants into the country.

Assistant AG Michael Chertoff (now head of Homeland Security) says that Justice is serious about enforcing immigration laws. (The number of companies fined for hiring illegal workers went 417 in 1999 to 3 in 2004.)

Three Tyson managers admit guilt and testify. (One commits suicide.) The prosecution fails to implicate senior executives. On March 26, 2003, the jury votes not guilty. According to the New York Times, one of the attorneys for Tyson said that

Tyson officials had voluntarily adopted a government-sponsored computer system for ferreting out fake identification documents. ''Tyson was in the 1 percent of employers who volunteered to go on a computerized identification checking system. Tyson was cooperating with the government every time there was the slightest wrinkle or knowledge of a hiring problem.''

According to Rural Migration News, Tyson, the largest meat processor in the US, with 120,000 employees at 130 locations.

Tyson, like most meat processors, uses the INS's Basic Pilot program to verify the right to work of newly hired workers- employers submit the A-numbers of newly hired non-US citizens to INS for verification. However, the government alleges that "Tyson utilized workers that were hired and provided to Tyson by temporary service agencies that did not utilize the ... Basic Pilot Program, well knowing that most of these workers were unauthorized for employment within the United States."
Tyson admitted that it used temporary employment agencies to obtain foreign workers, but denied responsibility for the violations committed by the agencies. For example, in 2001, 22 Chinese workers lost their temporary work visas less than nine months after arriving in the US to work at the Glen Allen, Virginia plant. Each worker had paid $10,000 to a Chinese company for the chance to work for as long as two years in jobs that paid $6 to $7 an hour.

RICO suit

Howard Foster, a Chicago attorney, sues Tyson for violation of RICO, alleging a conspiracy to depress wages and deprive Americans of work by knowingly hiring illegal workers. His suit is dismissed by the judge. Foster’s appeal is pending. See the suit here, Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 370 F.3d 602 (6th Cir. 2004).

Anti-guestworker panel argues its case

I have condensed the transcript of a March 3 2006 panel discussion called: Guestworker Programs: Do They Make Sense for America? The meeting was sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies, and the transcript came from its website. All the panelists are vocal critics of the guestworker program. I have divided the posting into major segments: (1) 1986 IRCA failed in processing, enforcement, and numbers of evaders, (2) economics of farm labor and what happens when labor costs rise (we adjust) (3) net cost to taxpayer even after guestworker program of $10B, and (4) How to deal with current 12 million illegal immigrants (attrition).

The panelists were moderator, Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies; and panelists Bill King, Retired Border Patrol Agent, Mike Cutler, Fellow, Center for Immigration Studies, Philip Martin, Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of California, Davis, and Steven Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies

MR. KRIKORIAN: Will Rogers had a joke that he wasn't worried so much about what people didn't know as what people did know that just wasn't true, and unfortunately, that seems to be the guiding philosophy of the immigration debate in Washington. The problem is that there are a lot of basic things that people in this debate, especially in Congress, seem to know that just aren't true, and I wanted to put a panel together to address some of these issues, the administrative feasibility of whatever it is that congressmen are dreaming up.

We'll start with Bill King. He's a long-time Border Patrol agent, retired now, but many years in the Border Patrol. Among other things, he was head of the Border Patrol Academy, and most relevant for this panel, he actually administered the 1986 amnesty program for the western part of the country -- California and Arizona, neighboring states -- which was the most, sort of the busiest part of the amnesty program.

Then, next to him is Michael Cutler. He's a fellow here at CIS, a 30-year veteran of the Immigration Service, and he was not in the Border Patrol side but in the immigration enforcement side of what used to be the INS -- a special agent -- and has a done a lot of the narcotics-related, national security-related, fraud-related activities and has an enormous body of experience in this issue. He's also a frequent guest on TV and radio and testifies before Congress.

To my right is Philip Martin, professor of agriculture and resource economics at University of California, Davis, and really is the top person in the country -- probably in the world -- on the mechanics and the impacts of guestworker programs here or abroad, and in that capacity was one of the members of the Commission on Agricultural Workers that looked at some of these very issues that Congress is going to be debating.

And finally, Steven Camarota, the Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, who is one of the top people on the effects of immigration on the United States -- the fiscal effects, the economic effects of immigration policy in the United States.



Failure of IRCA: processors overwhelmed and no enforcement

As a planner, I was asked to provide my recollections of what it took to put the 1986 program on line, and to put it bluntly, I feel that the '86 amnesty was just one more bale of goods sold to the American public. It called for the amnesty of all these eligible aliens, but it also called for a guestworker -- I mean, an employer sanctions program -- and strong border enhancement, which never occurred. We took in 3.1 million applications for amnesty; 2.7 million of which were approved, but the improved border security enhancements never happened, nor did the interior enforcement. And 20 years later, they're still going.

But to fully implement the '86 amnesty program it was necessary for us since we had no outside help to locate, lease, furnish, and equip 115 temporary legalization offices across the nation, including another four regional processing facilities.

….To get to the McCain and Kennedy bill or the president's guestworker program, the logistics involved in implementing a program of that sort just stagger the imagination. What we went through with the '86 program would be minuscule in size compared to what we would have to prepare for with today's alien population. And the idea of soliciting guestworker applications from abroad, it doesn't make any sense.


Federal agencies don’t care and/or are overwhelmed.

I spent 30 years with the INS, enforcing a whole broad spectrum of laws that fall under the purview of what was the INS; now it's a part of ICE. The problem is that immigration enforcement has never been seriously attempted by our country.

We have a multiple of that number in terms of illegal aliens scattered across a third of the North American continent, and we have about 2,500 special agents who are supposed to enforce the laws. As of late, they're not even offering Spanish language training to the agents going through the academy. When I went, it was a requirement.

They are providing many -- apparently, according to some bills -- to do document training, to be able to have our inspectors know when someone offers them a phony document. That training isn't being offered to the special agents. Right now, almost 80 or 85 percent of the field offices are headed up legacy Customs bosses who have no experience with immigration law enforcement and no inclination to enforce the immigration laws.

MR. MARTIN: Well thank you very much. I want to make three points in the next few minutes. We're going to talk now not what has happened, we're going to talk about agriculture, so one specific sector.


Farm labor economics

The first is that most farm work in the United States is done by U.S. citizens and their families; it's done by white U.S. citizens and their families. Most farm work is done by farmers and their families, and they happen to be white. So the first thing we'll do is explore who does the farm work.

Bracero program – when it stopped in 1964

The second is that the United States once had a bracero program. It ended in 1964 in the middle of the civil rights movement. The takeaway lesson from the ending of the program is that the people who were closest to the program were in the worst position to predict what actually happened. The prediction of farmers, of processors, and everyone else was that the industry most dependent on bracero workers processing tomatoes would either shrink in the United States and disappear or move to Mexico, whatever. We now produce five times more tomatoes at about half the cost than we did. It's not that they were -- you know, it's hard to predict the future, and the people making the predictions were wrong.

Removal of illegal immigrant for hire paid domestic labor – little consumer impact

The third is, the third point is, regardless of what we do in terms of an agricultural guestworker program, the average consumer won't notice it. I mean, the reason we have low food costs is because we have high incomes and very productive land, not because wages are low.

So we'll walk through those three things in a little more detail. But the three takeaway messages are: most farm work is done by white U.S. citizens; secondly, there are adjustments that are very hard to predict; and thirdly, whatever happens, it's not going to affect the average American. You just don't eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, according to our government data.

Where migrants work within agriculture

So the first thing to keep in mind is agriculture is a small part of a big economy. Farm sales are a little over $200 billion a year. The U.S. GDP is about $12 trillion. So it's a little under 2 percent. Most of agriculture does not rely on hired workers. Most of agriculture is grains, cattle, livestock, et cetera. The place where hired farmer workers is concentrated are in fruits, vegetables, and greenhouse and nursery crops. They're about 20 percent of U.S. agricultural sales. And we know that dependence on hired workers varies by very well known parameters -- big employers producing fruits and vegetables and these greenhouse specialties primarily in Western states and Florida. What has changed is that those are the states that have traditionally hired immigrants. There are now -- there's been -- the last 15 years have seen a spread of immigrants. So among the hired farm workers who do about a third of U.S. farm work, about 80 percent are immigrants -- there are still U.S. citizens who do farm work for wages -- and of those immigrants, roughly half are considered unauthorized.

So the first takeaway point is that hired workers are important to agriculture, but most farm work is not done by hired farm workers. And since U.S. farmers tend to be -- the average age of U.S. farmers is in the low 60s, they tend to be white, they tend to be male, and those are the people who do most of the hours of farm work.

Now, what happens in agriculture and the reason immigration is so important is because we think that there are about 2.5 million people employed for wages on U.S. farms sometime during a typical year. So on the peak day in September, there might be about 1.5 million people employed. But of course some day in January there's only half a million people employed. And it's not always the same people. So when you add them all up, that's about 2.5 million individuals employed sometime during the year. But farm work is a job, not a career. And as best we know, about 10 percent of the people who are hired workers -- that is, you did at least one day of work for wages during the year -- about 10 percent leave every year. So if you have a stable industry -- and it's been pretty stable -- about 2.5 million people, and 10 percent leave, that means every year you want a new 250,000.

So that's the farm worker dilemma. The new entrants are born abroad. The farm workers of tomorrow are growing up today somewhere outside the United States. New entrants are almost exclusively foreign born. And the issue is, how are people going to get access to those foreign workers? That's, in a sense, what the guestworker debate is all about.

Enforcement during the 1942 – 1964 Bracero program worked

So one option, if course, is to reduce access. And that's the second point. That's what was done in 1964. And what happened during the so-called bracero program, from 1942 to '64, is that Mexican workers arrived, worked seasonally, and were to return.

And the thing to keep in mind is that there were almost 5 million admissions of Mexican workers over those 22 years. Each time -- if the same person came back twice -- that counts twice.

There were about 5-1/2 million apprehensions during that same 22- year period, and same persons apprehended twice count twice.

But if we just count numbers, there are actually more apprehensions than there were admissions of legal guestworkers. So one of things that people often overlook is that there is unauthorized migration alongside legal guestworkers.

But at the end of the program, toward the end of the program, the Department of Labor started enforcing the standards. The program shrank.

And the commodity that really was in the spotlight in the early 1960s was so-called processing tomatoes, not the tomatoes you buy at the store but the tomatoes you buy in bottles of ketchup and salsa and stuff. About 85 percent of the workers were braceros, and they picked the tomatoes in lugs that weighed roughly 60 pounds. And you put the lugs together. You took them to a factory, where they were steamed and then turned into ketchup and all the tomato products.

And of course the theory was that . . . ending the program would end the industry. And it was a fairly important industry in parts of California. And there was lots of testimony in Congress about why the program has to be continued, because there's no other way to get the work done.

How the tomato industry responded to rising labor costs

For better or worse, the program ended. And I think the important thing to take away is how fast the industry changed: in the early 1960s, 85 percent [were] braceros picking the tomatoes. By 1970, the industry had completely mechanized and roughly doubled in size. It's now since increased in size.

What happened? Well, they made a tomato that was not round but instead oblong. They made a machine to harvest and sort them. And the two together wound up lowering costs.

One small point to make is that government played an enormously important role, because [it regulated tightly the accuracy of tomato harvests]. That was a key role that government played in getting that industry to make a transition. There's probably room for government to play a role like that again as industries adjust.

Third and last point is, what would happen to the average consumer? If there were to be a change, there would not be an overnight of 'today workers, tomorrow no workers.' It's really a question of, in the case of agriculture, attrition out of the labor force. It's a process that, as I have suggested, is roughly 10 percent a year.

How wages increased, future impact on consumer

And the way that I used the example was, what happened after the bracero program ended? Well, for those of you who remember, there was a small union named the United Farm Workers Union. And in 1966, they got a 40 percent, one-year wage increase -- 40 percent in one year, in part because of a boycott but also in part because there were not braceros available. Suppose we were to have a 40-percent wage increase again. What would happen? Well, if those wages were totally passed through -- that is, if there were no labor-saving changes -- then that roughly 6-cent- cost of a pound of apples would rise to about 7-1/2 cents. And for better or worse, you really don't buy that many apples. And for the average family, you would spend about $10 a year more on all fresh fruits and vegetables.

So the bottom line is, if history were to repeat itself, the increase in the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables for an average family would be about $10 a year, or about the price of a movie ticket.

Raisin industry very manual

But at the low end of the labor market, if I am, let's say, a raisin farmer in Fresno, the largest labor-intensive activity in North America -- 50,000 people for six weeks. If I say that there are not people willing to do -- picking raisins and laying them in the sun to dry, picking grapes and laying them into the sun to dry into raisins, that's right; there aren't. But this country had 90 percent of its people in agriculture 200 years ago at the first census. We've now got well under 2 percent. The way in which we make changes when there is a labor shortage or a labor need is the flexibility, on the demand side of the market, not the supply side. In other words, you know, when wages evolve, attitudes change, we figure out some way to get the work done in a different manner. Then employer groups will say, "Well, tell me exactly how that's going to happen." Well, some of the employers won't survive the adjustment. I mean, I can tell you that there are raisin growers who will not survive in an adjustment to higher wages. But it's -- we know the general direction of change. The flexibility is on the demand side of the market, not the supply side.

Case study of gas stations

And I guess, let me just say, the way I try to answer this question is when I was a teenager, one of the common jobs that teenage boys had was to work at a gas station, pumping the gas and cleaning the windshields. Now, suppose you were the head of the Gas Station Operators of America back in 1970, and you said there's a baby bust generation coming. Who's going to run out there and fill the cars with gas? You would have predicted an enormous labor shortage because there were fewer teenage kids coming along.

Well, we all know what's happened. There has been . . . we have closed about a third of all gas stations in the U.S. We have far fewer than we used to have, and people do their own [gas pumping]. It's not easy to point to the trajectory of change for every particular industry, but I think the take-away message is: You know there is going to be a change, and if wages rise, the general direction of change is demand shrinks, supply increases.


MR. CAMAROTA: Thank you, Mark.

Net cost to taxpayers = $10B – mainly due to low income status of most illegal families

I would like to shift gears and now talk about another issue that obviously comes up a lot in this debate in various ways, the fiscal cost; that is, the cost to taxpayers. I've done a fair amount of research on that, and let me tell you what I and other people have found in that area.

Now based on U.S. Census Bureau data, we estimate, just looking at the federal government, that illegal immigrant households use about $10 billion more in services than they pay in taxes each year, though that's because they're paying about 16 billion (dollars) in taxes -- about half of illegals are paid on the books -- and we estimate 26 billion (dollars) in costs, roughly a $10 billion net deficit, for just the federal government. The costs at the state and local level, which we have not estimated, and it's much tougher to get estimates for, would likely be bigger.

Now among the largest costs, for those who are interested, are things like Medicaid, about 2.5 billion (dollars); treatment for the uninsured, 2.2 billion (dollars); food assistance programs -- food assistance welfare programs tend to be large, about 1.9 billion (dollars); the federal prison system is large . . . very tiny expenditures on cash assistance welfare programs. Illegals don't get what we now call TANF, what we used to call AFDC. There are a few who seem to show up in the data.

Food stamps -- not so much. California seems to have a problem with fraud in its food stamps program, but other than California, not too much in food stamps. A lot in a program called WIC -- Women, Infants and Children.

A lot in free school lunches, that sort of thing.

Now I think maybe perhaps most important for this discussion, we found that if illegal aliens were legalized and began to pay taxes and use services like legal immigrants with the same education levels, the estimated annual fiscal cost would roughly triple, to about $29 billion a year.

Now why is this the case? Why do the costs go up if you legalize illegal aliens?

Heavy use of government programs

Well, all researchers agree, including the Urban Institute and the Pew Hispanic Center and so forth, that illegal aliens are overwhelmingly unskilled. I estimate that about 60 percent-plus of illegals haven't completed high school. Another 20 percent have only a high school degree, or more like 25 percent. So you're looking at about 80, 85 percent have no education beyond high school.

So the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low levels of education and resulting low tax payments in the modern American economy. And it's not their legal status or an unwillingness to work. Most illegal aliens work.

Giving illegal aliens legal status increases costs because illegals would still be largely unskilled, and thus their tax payments would continue to be very modest. But once legalized, they would be able to use government services. We've estimated that if we legalized illegal aliens, tax revenue per household would rise about 77 percent, partly because the other half of illegals would now be paid on the books and partly because we expect income to go up significantly for the illegals.

But unfortunately, we also estimate, given what legal unskilled immigrants -- or legal immigrants, I should say, with the same education levels -- we estimate that costs would rise 118 percent. So in other words, if we legalize them, tax revenue goes up 77 percent, but unfortunately, costs goe up 118 percent.

Now costs rise avoidably with amnesty, again because of the education level of the immigrants. And legal status would now allow them to use a lot of programs. And again, it's not cash welfare.

Earned Income Tax Credit will be available

To understand why the costs rise, it's helpful to consider a program like the Earned Income Tax Credit. Based on some internal numbers the government has done and our estimates from the Census data, this program, the Earned Income Tax Credit -- which pays cash assistance to low-income workers, [and] you have to work to get it -- illegals right now account for just 1.5 percent of the costs of that program.

But if we legalize them, and they began to use the program like legal immigrants with the same level of education, we estimate that the costs would roughly go up ten-old, because now they would be able to use it. You can' get it if you have a bogus Social Security number.

Now remember, this dramatic rise in cost is not due to laziness on the part of immigrants, legal immigrants or illegal aliens. In fact, only those who work get the credit. The dramatic rise in costs simply reflects the low educational attainment of illegals --60 percent-plus, no high school; another 25 percent, high school only.

To the extent that policymakers have considered the fiscal costs of illegal immigration, they have generally tried to reduce the costs while allowing illegal aliens to stay in some way or another. But this strategy has not been effective, because the average illegal alien already receives less than half as much in services from the federal government as do other tax . . . other households anyway.

Moreover, many of the costs associated with illegal immigration -- and this would be true under a guestworker program or any other legalization [program] -- are programs that they get on behalf of their U.S.- born children. And those children have welfare and other eligibility, like any other American citizen. So efforts to bar legal immigrants or illegal aliens from welfare and other means-tested programs are largely ineffective, because the child gets the benefit.

The cash assistance programs are small anyway. It's really things more like the food assistance program, WIC, food stamps, free school lunch, and the medical assistance programs, Medicaid -- those programs dwarf the cash assistance programs.

So we really have two options. Either we begin to enforce the law and significantly reduce the number of illegal aliens in the country, or we accept the costs they create. There's no middle ground here.

Now of course employers don't see those costs because they're diffuse. They're borne by everyone. But nonetheless, the costs are very real.

Net cost by level of education – not HS, HS and college

Now if you're wondering about our estimates, let me talk to you about the National Research Council. They did estimates in '97, looking at the fiscal impacts of immigrants overall. They found that an immigrant, in the course of his lifetime, who lacks a high school education, will use $89,000 more in services than he pays in taxes. That's an immigrant without a high school education. And remember, 60 percent of the illegals fall in that category.

An immigrant with only a high education uses $31,000 more in the course of his lifetime than he pays in services.

And these costs actually do not include the children. They were just trying to look at the original immigrant. Now I should point out that the immigrant who has a college education -- he pays more than $100,000 -- pays 100,000 (dollars) more in taxes than he used in services during the course of his lifetime. The problem here is educational attainment.

Interestingly, just to give you another example, the Inspector General has actually done a detailed analysis of tax returns filed by illegal aliens. They give out about $10 billion in returns a year to people they're 99 percent sure are illegal aliens. It turns out practically none of them have any tax liability. Again, that situation arises because given the education level of illegal immigrants, they're just not going to pay any taxes.
to anybody. But if anybody is interested, I'd love if you have a question, if you could identify yourself, please.

Q. [what about impact of labor shortages in other industries?]

MR. MARTIN: That's a good question. I mean, you know, if we have a market economy, the way we bring supply and demand into balance is by having prices adjust. So if the weather destroys the peaches, there are fewer peaches, the price of peaches go up, and some people switch to apples and low and behold the peach market clears.

The labor market also works, but the labor market's a little different. I mean, there can be lags. You have to train people. It's possible that people's social mores change, and they find some jobs less attractive than others. If we're thinking of -- so at the high end of the labor market, the argument always is if you have a sudden ramp up in demand, it can take time to train more nurses or IT or whatever, and that's a separate kind of issue about how you do that.


Unemployment among HS dropouts
Or maybe more specifically, unemployment among high school dropouts is like 14 percent in the United States. There are 800,000 people, in the Census data collected in 2005, who report that they're adults 18 to 64. They have previously worked in construction, and now they're unemployed. Over that same time period, about 600,000 immigrants came in. Now, there's about 400,000 people who say they're in the building, cleaning, and maintenance trades who are adult natives who are unemployed. They say they don't have a job, they're looking for a job, and the last thing that they used to do was building and cleaning, and we've taken in about 400,000 immigrants.

It would be a mistake to assume that there is a one-for-one trade between every job taken by an immigrant and every job lost by a native. countries are also doing the same thing. I know that the Indian government is complaining that there aren't enough H-1B visas being made available for people to come to our country in the high tech fields.


Q: [How do you deal with the illegal immigrants here now?]

MR. KRIKORIAN: Let me at least start that.

We only deported last year 40,000 people from within the United States. That's it. Or, since that can't work, we have to legalize them all, that somehow it's presented as though those are the only choices. In fact, neither one of those can work.

And the only thing that can work is a middle way, which is attrition -- enforcement of the immigration law so that we have an annual decrease in the total illegal population instead of a continual, annual increase; the point of which is after 8 or 10 years, you revisit the situation and then decide: are there some long-term illegals remaining that you might want to amnesty, and you do it honestly and you force them to allocute publicly to their crimes and then forgive them, or do you just live with the remaining population of illegals as a nuisance?

But the point is you can't have that debate until you've reasserted control over the problem.

There are all kinds of specific pieces of it, and I think we'd be happy to talk about it afterwards, but that's kind of the . . . and I'd have to say, that's as far as I can tell, the implicit strategy behind the House legislation as well.

Demographics of foreign workers coming and going now: will assist attrition

MR. CAMAROTA: Oh, just so you know, here's what the demographers think, people like Bob Warren at the INS and so forth. About 150,000 illegal aliens, we think, go home on their own each year. So if you made it hard to get a job, if you made it hard to open a bank account, if you cut them off from more of the normal things of life and it made their life more difficult, you might get that number up to 2(00,000) or 300,000 a year.

We also give out green cards to about 150(,000) to 200,000 people a year who are here illegally. They marry an American, they win the lottery, their name comes up in the queue. So right now we have, if you will -- and about 40,000 get deported, if you want to know, 30(,000) to 40,000 get deported; and about 10(,000) to 20,000 die each year. It's a very large population. So you might have as many as a half a million people leaving the illegal population right now.

If you could get that up to a million or a million-and-a-half a year and, as you say, stop future illegal immigration, over the course of five or eight years you could get rid of most of the illegals. And then at that point you decide what to do with the rest, which is a very difficult decision, but at least we should be honest. We shouldn't say, well, we're going to turn them into guestworkers, even though we know none of them are going to go home. We should tell the American people, look, it's not temporary; we're giving them all green cards, and that's that -- if that's the debate we want to have.

But I do think we could probably get rid of two-thirds, three-fourths of illegals through enforcement, but the rest -- and that's not a trivial number -- is an issue that would be with us and we'd have to decide. And I think at that point we could consider giving them green cards. That's not an unreasonable -- it's not off the table, as far as I'm concerned. But it's certainly off the table to give them green cards or legal status out of the gate.

AgJobs bill passes Judiciary Committee March 27

AgJobs legislation was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 27. This bill significantly revises the government’s H-2A guest worker program for farm workers. Key is an earned legal immigration status provision which the Fund estimates will cover several hundred thousand undocumented farm workers. The bill creates a “blue card” status which can lead to a green card.

According to a Farmworker Justice Fund press release,

AgJOBS contains two basic programs. First, the earned legalization program would allow many unauthorized immigrant farmworkers to earn legal immigration status by demonstrating their recent agricultural work experience in the U.S. and by continuing to work in agriculture for three to five years. Second, it would revise the H-2A agricultural guest worker program to streamline the process for employers while retaining major protections for workers.

All of the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, led by Senator Edward Kennedy, supported AgJOBS. The Committee Republicans who voted for AgJOBS were Senators DeWine, Brownback, and Specter. Senators Hatch and Graham “passed,” choosing not to vote on the AgJOBS amendment. The Republican opponents were Coburn, Grassley, Kyl, Sessions, and Cornyn.

Provisions include

* To enter the earned legalization program, farmworkers will have to show that they performed at least 150 days of agricultural work in the U.S. during the 24-month period ending December 31, 2005. (This is not a per-year requirement; it is a total of 150 days.)

* Once the person shows eligibility, he or she gets a "blue card" to demonstrate temporary resident status. Previously, there was no special card or color.

* Once the farmworker obtains a blue card, the farmworker's spouse and minor children obtain temporary resident status and the spouse gets work authorization. These family members may also then travel across the U.S. border.

* To earn a green card, the farmworkers must perform agricultural work for at least 100 work days per year for five years, or perform 150 days per year for three years. Participants may work outside agriculture but only if they continue to meet the annual agricultural work requirement.

* Disqualification will occur due to conviction of a felony or three misdemeanors or a single crime that involves bodily injury or injury to property in excess of $500.

* In addition to an application fee, farmworkers will have to pay a fine of $100 upon obtaining a blue card.

* To obtain a green card, farmworkers must pay a fine of $400 and must be current on their income taxes.

* The earned legalization program has a cap of 1.5 million.

* The H-2A temporary foreign worker program will allow employers in the dairy industry to hire workers even if they are year-round workers.

The Farmworker Justice Fund

This organization, now in its 25th year, promotes improvement in working and living conditions of farmworkers, especially immigrant migrants. It has backed AgJobs legislation, the topic of a future posting.

It’s “Pro-Farmworker Agenda” focuses on

1. Farm Labor Housing and Housing Development Capacity: Farmworkers’ low wages, reluctance to allow farmworker housing in some communities, failure to maintain existing housing, inadequate government funding and other causes have led to a crisis-level shortage of housing and inadequate sanitation.

2. Workers’ Compensation: Farmworkers continue to be discriminated against in many state regarding access to workers’ compensation for work-related injury and illness.

3. "Right to know" about toxic occupational chemicals. Farmworkers have been denied coverage under the hazard communication program of the Occupational Safety and Health Act ….We suggest a federal pilot program in several states to examine whether granting farmworkers the right to know about occupational chemicals reduces the incidence and severity of work-related illness and injury.

4. Farmers’ transition away from toxic pesticides to safer pest control methods would substantially benefit farmworkers by reducing their exposure to toxic chemicals at work.

5. Freedom of Association: Farmworkers employed in an industry substantially supported by government deserve the right to join and organize labor unions free from retaliation, but they presently lack that right. The federal National Labor Relations Act grants that right to other workers but specifically excludes farmworkers. We suggest amending the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the principal federal employment law regarding farmworkers, to grant workers the right to organize, join and participate in labor unions without being discharged or discriminated against in any way by their employers or labor contractors.

6. Unemployment compensation benefits: Business difficulties and the nature of seasonal agriculture prevent many farmworkers from working year-round. Most workers in seasonal industries, such as construction and tourism, can rely on unemployment compensation if they cannot find other jobs during the off-season. a minimum, a business receiving government support should provide unemployment insurance.

7. Transportation to and from work: Many farmworkers do not own their own motor vehicles and live or work in rural areas where there is not public transportation. In many locations, a dangerous business practice has developed. Contractors take money from farmworkers and deliver them to the work site, often in dangerous vehicles, many of which are minivans that lack seats and seat belts.

8. Overtime Pay: Federal law excludes agricultural workers from the payment of time-and-one-half for work in excess of forty hours per week. In California, state law grants overtime to farmworkers after ten hours of work in a day and California remains a highly productive, profitable agricultural state.

9. A Living Wage: The federal minimum wage is utterly inadequate as a minimum wage rate, especially for seasonal employees like farmworkers, whose annual earnings average only about $7,500. A government-supported business should be expected to provide decent work, which includes compliance with all labor laws and a living wage.

April 1, 2006

David Brook’s illuminating column about immigrants

New York Times columnist David Brooks penned what may turn out to the most interesting pro-immigration argument by a moderate conservative. He says that he supports Hispanic immigration for four reasons.

"My first argument is that the exclusionists are wrong when they say the current wave of immigration is tearing our social fabric...My second argument is that the immigrants themselves are like a booster shot of traditional morality injected into the body politic. Immigrants work hard...My third argument is that good values lead to success, and that immigrants' long-term contributions more than compensate for the short-term strains they cause...My fourth argument is that government should be at least as virtuous as the immigrants themselves."

I have quoted his column in full:

Everybody says the Republicans are split on immigration. The law-and-order types want to close the border. The free-market types want plentiful labor. But today I want to talk to the social conservatives, because it's you folks who are really going to swing this debate.
Skip to next paragraph

I'd like to get you to believe what Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas believes: that a balanced immigration bill is consistent with conservative values. I'd like to try to persuade the evangelical leaders in the tall grass to stop hiding on this issue.

My first argument is that the exclusionists are wrong when they say the current wave of immigration is tearing our social fabric. The facts show that the recent rise in immigration hasn't been accompanied by social breakdown, but by social repair. As immigration has surged, violent crime has fallen by 57 percent. Teen pregnancies and abortion rates have declined by a third. Teenagers are having fewer sexual partners and losing their virginity later. Teen suicide rates have dropped. The divorce rate for young people is on the way down.

Over the past decade we've seen the beginnings of a moral revival, and some of the most important work has been done by Catholic and evangelical immigrant churches, by faith-based organizations like the Rev. Luis Cortés's Nueva Esperanza, by Hispanic mothers and fathers monitoring their kids. The anti-immigration crowd says this country is under assault. But if that's so, we're under assault by people who love their children.

My second argument is that the immigrants themselves are like a booster shot of traditional morality injected into the body politic. Immigrants work hard. They build community groups. They have traditional ideas about family structure, and they work heroically to make them a reality.

This is evident in everything from divorce rates (which are low, given immigrants' socioeconomic status) to their fertility rates (which are high) and even the way they shop.

Hispanics and Hispanic immigrants have less money than average Americans, but they spend what they have on their families, usually in wholesome ways. According to Simmons Research, Hispanics are 57 percent more likely than average Americans to have purchased children's furniture in the past year. Mexican-Americans spend 93 percent more on children's music.

According to the government's Consumer Expenditure Survey, Hispanics spend more on gifts, on average, than other Americans. They're more likely to support their parents financially. They're more likely to have big family dinners at home.

This isn't alien behavior. It's admirable behavior, the antidote to the excessive individualism that social conservatives decry.

My third argument is that good values lead to success, and that immigrants' long-term contributions more than compensate for the short-term strains they cause. There's no use denying the strains immigration imposes on schools, hospitals and wage levels in some markets (but economists are sharply divided on this).

So over the long haul, today's immigrants succeed. By the second generation, most immigrant families are middle class and paying taxes that more than make up for the costs of the first generation. By the third generation, 90 percent speak English fluently and 50 percent marry non-Latinos.

My fourth argument is that government should be at least as virtuous as the immigrants themselves. Right now (as under Bill Frist's legislation), government pushes immigrants into a chaotic underground world. The Judiciary Committee's bill, which Senator Brownback supports, would tighten the borders, but it would also reward virtue. Immigrants who worked hard, paid fines, paid their taxes, stayed out of trouble and waited their turn would have a chance to become citizens. This isn't government enabling vice; it's government at its best, encouraging middle-class morality.

Social conservatives, let me ask you to consider one final thing. Women who have recently arrived from Mexico have bigger, healthier babies than more affluent non-Hispanic white natives. That's because strong family and social networks support these pregnant women, reminding them what to eat and do. But the longer they stay, and the more assimilated they become, the more bad habits they acquire and the more problems their subsequent babies have.

Please ask yourself this: As we contemplate America's moral fiber, do the real threats come from immigrants, or are some people merely blaming them for sins that are already here?

Large Los Angeles immigration rally echoed protests about Proposition 187 in mid 1990s

On Saturday, March 25, a huge, largely Hispanic attended rally in Los Angeles protested anti-illegel immigrant proposals in Congress. Some compared the rally to Hispanic protests against a mostly Republican-backed crack-down law passed by California in 1994, which a federal court later overturned. As noted below, Prop 187 had "devastating impact" on Republican access to Hispanic votes.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times,

A crowd estimated by police at more than 500,000 boisterously marched in Los Angeles on Saturday [March 25] to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall along the U.S.' southern border. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa briefly addressed the rally. "We cannot criminalize people who are working, people who are contributing to our economy and contributing to the nation," Villaraigosa said.
Spirited but peaceful marchers — ordinary immigrants alongside labor, religious and civil rights groups — stretched more than 20 blocks along Spring Street, Broadway and Main Street to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting, "Sí se puede!" (Yes we can!). Saturday's rally…. coincides with an initiative on the part of the Roman Catholic Church, spearheaded by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, to defy a House bill that would make aiding undocumented immigrants a felony. And it signals the burgeoning political clout of Latinos, especially in California.
"There has never been this kind of mobilization in the immigrant community ever," said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "They have kicked the sleeping giant. It's the beginning of a massive immigrant civil rights struggle."
Largely in response to the [immigration] debate in Washington, hundreds of thousands of people in recent weeks have staged marches in more than a dozen cities calling for immigration reform. In Denver, police said Saturday that more than 50,000 people gathered downtown at Civic Center Park next to the Capitol to urge the state Senate to reject a resolution supporting a ballot issue that would deny many government services to illegal immigrants in Colorado. Hundreds rallied in Reno, the Associated Press reported. On Friday, tens of thousands of people were estimated to have staged school walkouts, marches and work stoppages in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta and other cities. In addition, several cities, including Los Angeles, have passed resolutions opposing the House legislation. At least one city, Maywood, declared itself a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.

Proposition 187

Californian Hispanics may be smarting from the attempt, Repblican-led, to crack down illegal immigrants . Wikipedia recounts this 1994 legislative adventure as follows:

California Proposition 187 was a proposition introduced in California in 1994 to deny illegal immigrants social services, health care, and public education. A number of people and organizations were involved in bringing it to the voters. It was introduced by assemblyman Dick Mountjoy (Republican from Monrovia, California) as the Save Our State initiative. It passed with 59% of the vote, but was overturned by a federal court.
Proposition 187 included several additions to the law, falling into two categories.
* All law enforcement agents who suspect that a person who has been arrested is in violation of immigration laws must investigate the detainee's immigration status, and if they find evidence of illegality they must report it to the attorney general of California, and to the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Local governments are prohibited from doing anything to impair the fulfillment of this requirement. The attorney general must keep records on all such cases and make them available to any other government entity that wishes to inspect them.
* No one may receive public benefits until they have proven their legal right to reside in the country. If anyone applies for benefits and is suspected by government agents of being illegal, those agents must report in writing to the enforcement authorities. Emergency medical care is exempted as required by federal law but all other medical benefits have the same test as above. Primary and secondary education is explicitly included.

The LA Times' story went on:

Some Republicans fear that pushing too hard against illegal immigrants could backfire nationally, as with Proposition 187. Strong Republican support of that measure helped spur record numbers of California Latinos to become U.S. citizens and register to vote. Those voters subsequently helped the Democrats regain political control in the state. "There is no doubt Proposition 187 had a devastating impact on the [California] Republican Party," said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political consultant. "Now the Republicans in Congress better beware: If they come across as too shrill, with a racist tone, all of a sudden you're going to see Republicans in cities with a high Latino population start losing their seats."