Reposted with permission from Sonoran News, Cave Creek, Arizona.
Fourth in a series of articles on the Southwest Conference on Illegal Immigration, Border Security and Crime hosted by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Nov. 4 and 5.
By LINDA BENTLEY, Reporter for Sonoran News
SCOTTSDALE – Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., flaked out on participating in Friday’s afternoon panel discussion: “Federal Immigration Reform – Real Solutions or ‘Amnesty?’” as did Steven Moore from the Wall Street Journal.
That left Tamar Jacoby from the Manhattan Institute, a think tank whose mission is “to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility” and John Leo from U.S. News and World Report to discuss the issue.
Jacoby began by saying, “The status quo is unacceptable.
Erosion of the rule of law is unacceptable. We all agree on that.
“We pass laws to make one side happy then we don’t enforce them to make the other side happy,” which she referred to as a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink policy.” Jacoby expressed being troubled by a fence being the main line of defense and an interior enforcement policy, which she claimed would “have law enforcement stopping people all across the country without probable cause.” Although Jacoby believes we need to enforce our laws, she firmly believes there is a large demand for unskilled labor.
Jacoby said a friend of hers, who owns a resort in Sedona, told her increased border security could force her to shut down, citing, “We’d be asking employers to slit their own throats.” Jacoby commented, “In 1960, one half of all American men dropped out of school and went into the unskilled labor force. Now it’s 10 percent.
“This is not about a bunch of greedy employers getting rich on cheap labor.
We can pretend this isn’t true, or we can increase the number of unskilled workers.” Her statement brought to mind an earlier comment made by Wall Street Journal’s John Fund about needing to vastly improve education in our public schools.
Although Fund didn’t elaborate on the direction reform needed to go, Jacoby’s comment would indicate Americans may be placing too much emphasis on higher education, as public schools emphasize academics and college preparatory classes, while virtually eliminating shop and trade-oriented classes for those not inclined to go on to college.
Leo said, “We disagree on several things, without smoke coming out of my ears,” joking about how secondhand ear smoke was probably illegal in Scottsdale.
He said, under our current “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” policy, the Mexican government doesn’t have to take responsibility and uses its consular offices to lobby and distribute Spanish-language textbooks.
Leo went on to say, “Voting rights for illegals and reforms in Catholic churches all came from the bottom,” adding, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club no longer address things such as environmental damage at the border.
“This morning’s discussion was quite illuminating,” he said, “We can’t have another amnesty, even without the word. There’s no trust.
We need to show enforcement, and we have to put some pressure on Mexico to stop dumping its poor on us.
“They’ve created an industry on not taking care of its own people.” Citing tolerance for illegal immigration needs to stop, Leo concluded his opening statements by saying, “We need to have enforcement.” Moderator Steve Twist from VIAD Corporation said there was a lot of “pent-up demand” in the audience to ask questions, the first of which was directed at Jacoby wanting to know what kind of country this would be without a fence, while taking exception to Jacoby’s statement about jobs Americans won’t do, citing they would if American corporations would pay decent wages, and her statement that illegal immigrants don’t collect benefits.
Jacoby responded, “Sure, supply and demand and let the lack of supply force an increase in wages. Agriculture would move to the third world.’ She said “paying busboys and carpenters $20 per hour” was not an answer, adding, “Meanwhile we have an economy we need to run.” “Illegal immigrants are not eligible for welfare,” continued Jacoby, “Most immigrants come here to work, not to collect welfare,” adding, “Of course we don’t want to have a porous border.” Twist asked Leo if the current policy regarding employers was fair to U.S. citizens.
“All of these costs shouldn’t be dumped on us,” Leo answered, stating, “Businesses claimed they couldn’t function without sweatshop wages,” as he talked about how industries have responded with automation, citing the sugar cane industry in Florida, which was able to eliminate the need for large numbers of unskilled laborers.
Leo said, “The economy would adjust, and I don’t think that’s a reason to complicity accept illegal immigration.” Jacoby said, “Maybe if we can figure out ways,” suggesting insurance pools as a possible answer.
Even though $7 billion in Social Security is paid by illegals she also noted hospitals in Arizona were closing.
However, she said, “Cracking down harder and building a fence is not realistic.” Jacoby cited Prohibition, which she also dubbed “unrealistic,” and said, “We do not have enough resources.” Leo commented how reform was coming from below, as the Minuteman movement has proven. “They’re making a symbolic protest,” he said, adding, “Bush’s plan gives me a headache. A $2,000 fine, probably over 20 years …” “There are 11 million illegals here,” said Jacoby, insisting, “The best way to do something is to have them come forward and register with the government.” Leo said, “I’m more interested in stopping the flow of illegals. The U.S. government has been so untrustworthy on this issue seriousness has to be displayed for a few years before amnesty is discussed.” When Twist asked Jacoby if she thought the United States should be expanding its guest-worker program without border and interior enforcement, she said, “Give employers tools like swipe cards to verify worker eligibility.
I think it’s more realistic to do at the same time.” Leo repeated how “stronger enforcement” was necessary and said, “I would lean on the universities to not be part of the problem by pushing separatism. It needs to be taken seriously,” referring to MEChA organizations on campuses throughout the country that promote a Hispanic separatist agenda.
“Politically correct plays right into the problem. Culturally, we have to take seriously assimilation.” Jacoby said she didn’t believe people didn’t want to assimilate, although she agreed, “We should have expectations.
After 15 years we should expect people to learn English. We need to put some incentive into assimilation.” Leo stated, “I agree with Tom Tancredo. We have to show enforcement first.” Jacoby disagreed, citing, “We need a realistic law and enforcement at the same time.” “One more plea about the Mexican government,” Leo mentioned the Mexican government’s booklet on how to come to the United States illegally, and said, “Both sides are too scared of losing the Hispanic vote to lean on the Mexican government.” Twist said, “Several people have said it’s a myth there are jobs Americans won’t take.” “As a non-economist,” said Leo, “I don’t believe we need to bring in low-skilled workers to keep our economy moving. Japan has a functioning economy without any immigration.” “I think I share the views of everyone in this room,” Jacoby concluded, “It’s just a matter of how,” after which Leo concluded, “I want enforcement first.”
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