Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post staff writer
Tuesday, May 25, 2010; 4:10 PM
President Obama will deploy an additional 1,200 National Guard troops to the southern border and request $500 million in extra money for border security, according to an administration official. The decision comes as the White House is seeking Republican support for broad immigration reform this year.
The official said the new resources would provide "immediate enhancement" to the border even as the Obama administration continues to "work with Congress to fix our broken immigration system through comprehensive reform, which would provide lasting and dedicated resources by which to secure our borders and make our communities safer."
The 1,200 troops will join about 340 already working in the border region, the official said. They would provide support to law enforcement efforts against drug trafficking by increasing monitoring of border crossings and performing intelligence analysis.
The move by the president is a direct appeal to Republicans in Congress, who have argued that the federal government must get serious about securing the border before they will support broader changes to the system.
Arizona's two Republican senators -- John McCain and Jon Kyl -- asked Obama to send guard troops to the border in a letter last week. McCain announced Tuesday that he plans to introduce an amendment that would fund 6,000 troops on the southwest border.
"The violence has crossed the border and escalated to a point where many Arizonans do not feel safe within their own homes or on their own property," McCain and Kyl wrote last week. "It would be irresponsible not to do everything we can to stop the escalating violence along the border with Mexico."
Republican senators said Tuesday that they were underwhelmed by Obama's proposal. The president told GOP lawmakers during a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday that he was committing greater resources to border security than his predecessor, President George W. Bush, "but I don't think that's the point," said Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine). "The point is, how much do we need to get the job done?"
Upping the ante, Senate Republicans offered an amendment this afternoon to an emergency war spending bill to provide an additional $2 billion in border funding -- four times the size of Obama's proposal. The funds are aimed at improving security and stopping the flow of illegal immigration. "We need to regain the public's confidence and trust. It needs to be credible," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).
Many conservatives favor construction of a massive border fence, something that Obama opposes. In an ad for his primary campaign, McCain said the government should finish "the danged fence," something he had called ineffective during his 2008 campaign for the presidency.
The idea of sending troops to the border is not unprecedented. In May 2006, in an address televised live from the Oval Office, then-president Bush called for the short-term deployment of up to 6,000 National Guard troops, though he said they would not be involved in direct law enforcement activities.
Called "Operation Jump Start," the troops were sent to the border for two years but have largely been pulled back.
Then, as now, the troop deployment was fueled by concerns about the security of people living along the border and by political pressure aimed at setting the stage for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration policy.
That effort failed in 2007, but during his presidential campaign, Obama said he would continue to push for an eventual "path to citizenship" for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Anti-Immigrant Group Recommends Economic Self-Destruction for Arizona
May 18, 2010
Washington D.C. - In data released "exclusively to FoxNews.com," the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) - architects of the new Arizona law SB1070 - claim that unauthorized immigrants in Arizona are costing the state's taxpayers $2.7 billion per year for education, medical care, and incarceration. The release of this "fiscal analysis" takes advantage of the absence of any legitimate economic analysis by the state on what SB1070 will cost. However, judging from FAIR's track record when it comes to these kinds of state estimates, it is likely that their numbers are virtually meaningless. In its most recent state studies on unauthorized immigration in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, for instance, FAIR has dramatically exaggerated the fiscal "costs" imposed by unauthorized immigrants by including schooling and medical care for their native-born, U.S.-citizen children in its estimate, and conveniently forgetting to account for the economic role that unauthorized workers play as consumers who help support local economies.
FAIR's latest data fails to account for the property, sales, and income taxes paid by unauthorized immigrants. Nor does the data account for the consumer purchasing power of unauthorized immigrants - what they spend on goods, services, and housing - which actually creates jobs and generates additional tax revenue. They seem to forget that deporting workers also means deporting consumers and taxpayers.
However, in all fairness, they do acknowledge that the costs of implementing SB1070 will add to the economic strain on the state. In the absence of any state-generated fiscal data on the cost of the law's implementation, some Arizonans have pointed to a fact sheet produced by Yuma County Sheriff Ralph E. Ogden in response to similar legislation proposed in 2006. The Yuma county snapshot of enforcement costs is a sobering reminder of the overwhelming financial costs - up to $100 million for just one Arizona county - that will ensue if the state attempts to enforce its new law. Ultimately, this law will cost Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. Yet those costs are only part of the story and don't even account for lost revenue from losing a part of the workforce, not to mention a growing boycott and expensive lawsuits from which the state will have to defend itself.
For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-507-7524.
The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational national conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC, formed in 2003 is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.
A division of the American Immigration Council.
Visit our website at www.immigrationpolicy.org.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
May 19, 2010
The 800 Pound Gorilla That Sits in the Middle of Arizona
By Mark H. Ayers
The current firestorm that has erupted as a result of the enactment of the “Show Me Your Papers” law in Arizona has further enflamed the already contentious debate about illegal immigration.
Proponents of the Arizona law flatly state that it was needed because of the federal government’s failure to act on comprehensive immigration reform that would address issues related to border security.
Critics, on the other hand, say the Arizona law is nothing more than a pathway to provide state and local police carte blanc authority to racially profile and harass Hispanics.
Either way, because of this firestorm, there are discussions now underway in Washington, DC relating to the introduction of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
On April 30, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and several of his fellow Senate Democrats introduced a framework for an overhaul of immigration laws in light of the Arizona law. The Senate Democrats’ approach would impose tougher sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants, create new identification cards for immigrant workers, reform temporary worker programs, and provide a sensible pathway for responsible immigrants to become full-fledged U.S. citizens.
For his part, President Barack Obama voiced his support for the plan, saying it is "a very important step in the process of fixing our nation's broken immigration system."
In truth, the entire debate around the issue of immigration never seems to effectively address the real problem - our collective national addiction to cheap labor and low wages. In America today, it’s all about next quarter’s profits and the bottom line. While exploitative businesses and their apologists hide behind empty slogans like “free markets,” we know the only freedom they are fighting for is the freedom to exploit workers, steal wages and cut corners.
It's no secret certain industries, such as construction, rely heavily on illegal labor. In recent years, prior to the economic downturn, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, undocumented workers accounted for as much as 25% of the entire U.S. construction workforce. And in the residential construction sector, that number has been even higher.
In many states, attempts have been made to require employers to check prospective employees on their legal status through the production of a driver’s license, state ID card, or other positive means of identification. But this is hardly a fool-proof method of dealing with the problem, as evidenced by the results of an undercover operation spearheaded by Jobs for Georgians and the North Georgia Building Trades Council, and as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
“Jose Alvarez first asked about a bricklaying job with M&D Masonry at the Atlanta airport in March, and the foreman assured him that being an illegal immigrant wouldn’t be a problem.
‘Do you have a picture ID?’ said Bob Beaty, hiring foreman for the Americus, GA-based masonry company working on the new $1.4 billion international terminal.
‘But it’s not legal,’ Alvarez told him.
‘I know, I know, none of our guys are, but if you have a picture ID, you can get on here,’ Beaty said. ‘Everybody turns in a Social Security number and we take taxes out for that number. I know none of those numbers are right.’
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of our national immigration problem.
And when states move to address these issues, they are inevitably thwarted by those whose business models are now predicated upon an addiction to cheap, easily exploitable labor.
This was the case in 2006, for example, when the state of Colorado attempted to crack down on employers who hire illegal workers. Governor Bill Owens was initially supportive of the bill, but when business leaders told him the price of a house might go up by 5 percent because some homebuilders could lose their exploitable labor, he backed away.
You can be sure, with talk about immigration reform heating up, that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders, and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) are all gearing up to engage lawmakers, because their “race to the bottom” business model relies upon the continued exploitation of workers who do not have the same right to join a union or recourse under the law as U.S. workers.
Let us examine what this “race to the bottom” approach (predicated upon the exploitation of undocumented workers) has done to the U.S. construction industry, and to U.S. construction workers. For starters, real wages for construction workers were lower in 2006 than they were in 1973! Adjusted for inflation, construction workers in 1973 earned the equivalent of $22.13 an hour in today's dollars. However, actual average hourly pay for construction workers in 2006 was only $18.29 – 17 percent below the 1973 rate, adjusted for inflation.
Additionally, even when contractors are making money, workers are not seeing the gains. According to the federal government's economic census, contractors' profits grew between 1977 and 2002. However, workers did not get their fair share of the gain; instead the proportion of construction receipts spent for payroll and benefits actually declined by almost 14 percent during the same period!
With those types of statistics in mind, it is simply idiotic for us, as a nation, to pass law after law – like the one in Arizona – and arrest someone with brown skin who can't produce an ID; or confiscate their cars; or deport people and break up families; when we don’t have the sense or the courage to address the real issue - companies maximizing profits at the expense of workers, using a business model that relies on the lowering of standards and wages industry-wide by exploiting a workforce without the legal standing to demand justice.
Instead of demagoguery and divisiveness, we need comprehensive immigration reform that stops this exploitation. America’s Building Trades Unions and this great country were built by immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Whether it’s a temporary worker program that denies full rights and wages to those working in this country or the “Show Me Your Papers” law, anytime we treat immigrants like second-class citizens, we undermine our core values as Americans, and undermine the American Dream for all of us.
America's building trades unions will never stop in their quest to expose organizations like the Home Builders and the ABC for what they truly are – defenders and practitioners of an abhorrent business model that is contrary to our American beliefs.