The Purpose of This Bl;og

By and large, liberals are very decent, kind, and compassionate people who genuinely want what is best. This should be kept in mind as we explore the Law of Unintended Negative Consequences near invariably resulting from Leftist big-hearted solutions to societal problems.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Illegal Immigration - Voter Impact

According to Wikipedia, "Hispanic and Latino Americans have received a growing share of the national vote in the United States by their growing number. They have traditionally been a Democratic constituency, in the main." (See HERE) intimates, "Latinos have often been characterized as more socially conservative than most Americans. On some issues, such as abortion, that’s true. But on others, such as the acceptance of homosexuality, it is not. When it comes to their own assessments of their political views, Latinos, more so than the general public, say their views are liberal....Latinos are more likely than the general public to describe their views as liberal. Overall, 30% of Latino adults say this, while just 21% of all U.S. adults say the same." (See HERE)

Couple this with the fact that an increasing majority of Hispanics have a positive view of "unauthorized immigration" (see HERE), which sentiment is reflected among liberal Democrats as a whole (see HERE), then is it any wonder that while illegal immigration tends to be a hot potato issue, it crops up like clockwork each election cycle, and is used in get-out-the-vote campaigns by both sides?

Conservative pundits have even claimed that the amnesty-like pathway to citizenship favored by liberals is a double-barrel strategy to expand the Democrat electoral base--not only by currying the favor of the liberal Hispanics and bring them to the polls, but also exploiting naturalization as a means of Democrat voter registration. (See HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)

While this may have some ring of truth, it may be of interest to note that the majority of foreign-born Hispanics consider themselves to be conservative (see HERE and HERE), though the longer they live in the U.S. the less conservative they become (see HERE), and some Republican leaders figure illegals will vote Republican (see HERE

If so, one of the Leftist LUNCs here may be that were Democrats successful in passing their so-called "immigration reform," which provides a fast tract to citizenship for illegals, this may inadvertently expand the Republican voter rolls rather than their own, though I have my doubts that this will happen.

However, more to the point, the reason voter impact is a point of concern is because it gives indication whether the broken system of immigration, as Obama calls it, will break further or eventually be fixed.  Since liberals have have had the voting majority for the last half decade; and they haven't worked on the problem, let alone tried to fix it, and have even made matters worse (as indicated in my previous posts in this series), and if they manage to bring the 11 or 12 million people out of the shadows and naturalize most or all of them, thereby expanding the liberal voting rolls all he more; the Leftist LUNC here is that the prospect of a continued and increasingly broken immigration system is virtually assured.

For an explanation as to why these Leftist LUNCs may occur, please see: Gov: Wrong Tool for the Right Job - Introduction and Cold Nanny as well as The Politics of Compassion, Emotions, Ignorance, Denial, Blame-Shifting, Equality, and Victimization

Friday, March 7, 2014

Illegal Immigration - Costs

What cost, if any, is there in having 11 to 12 million people living illegally in the U.S.?

In 2002, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reported the following: "This study is one of the first to estimate the total impact of illegal immigration on the federal budget. Most previous studies have focused on the state and local level and have examined only costs or tax payments, but not both. Based on Census Bureau data, this study finds that, when all taxes paid (direct and indirect) and all costs are considered, illegal households created a net fiscal deficit at the federal level of more than $10 billion in 2002. We also estimate that, if there was an amnesty for illegal aliens, the net fiscal deficit would grow to nearly $29 billion." (See HERE)

Their findings include:
  • Households headed by illegal aliens imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government in 2002 and paid only $16 billion in taxes, creating a net fiscal deficit of almost $10.4 billion, or $2,700 per illegal household.
  • Among the largest costs are Medicaid ($2.5 billion); treatment for the uninsured ($2.2 billion); food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches ($1.9 billion); the federal prison and court systems ($1.6 billion); and federal aid to schools ($1.4 billion).
  • With nearly two-thirds of illegal aliens lacking a high school degree, the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low education levels and resulting low incomes and tax payments, not their legal status or heavy use of most social services.
  • On average, the costs that illegal households impose on federal coffers are less than half that of other households, but their tax payments are only one-fourth that of other households.
  • Many of the costs associated with illegals are due to their American-born children, who are awarded U.S. citizenship at birth. Thus, greater efforts at barring illegals from federal programs will not reduce costs because their citizen children can continue to access them.
  • If illegal aliens were given amnesty and began to pay taxes and use services like households headed by legal immigrants with the same education levels, the estimated annual net fiscal deficit would increase from $2,700 per household to nearly $7,700, for a total net cost of $29 billion.
  • Costs increase dramatically because unskilled immigrants with legal status -- what most illegal aliens would become -- can access government programs, but still tend to make very modest tax payments.
  • Although legalization would increase average tax payments by 77 percent, average costs would rise by 118 percent.
  • The fact that legal immigrants with few years of schooling are a large fiscal drain does not mean that legal immigrants overall are a net drain -- many legal immigrants are highly skilled.
  • The vast majority of illegals hold jobs. Thus the fiscal deficit they create for the federal government is not the result of an unwillingness to work.
  • The results of this study are consistent with a 1997 study by the National Research Council, which also found that immigrants' education level is a key determinant of their fiscal impact.
A more recent study (2010) by the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), concluded that : "the annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion; nearly $29 billion at the federal level and $84 billion at the state and local level. The study also estimates tax collections from illegal alien workers, both those in the above-ground economy and those in the underground economy. Those receipts do not come close to the level of expenditures and, in any case, are misleading as an offset because over time unemployed and underemployed U.S. workers would replace illegal alien workers." (See HERE as quoted HERE)

 A statistical organization on illegal immigration (see HERE) summarized the findings:
  • $113,000,000,000 - This year's cost of US  illegal immigration. Approximately 75% of that cost is absorbed by the states.
  • $1117 - The average amount you and your family paid in taxes this year to support illegals.
  • $52,000,000,000 - The cost of educating the children of illegals. This is by far the single largest cost to the American taxpayer.
  • $2,700 - The average dollar amount a single illegal household costs the US federal government.
  • 51% - The percentage of Mexican immigrant households that use at least one major welfare program. 28% use more than one.
  • 1,400,000- The number of illegal immigrant households that use at least one major welfare program. (food stamps, WIC, school lunch programs, Medicaid, TANF, SSI, and/or public/rent-subsidized housing) - Source
For a quick breakdown of cost incurred by each state, see HERE.
Now, in light of these new findings, some people may argue that if we are losing hundreds of billions of dollars because of illegals, then why not legalize or document them and eliminate the problem?
While this seems to make sense on the surface, it ignores a number of factors noted in the 2002 study and elsewhere. For example, the Washington Post reported in May of 2013: "An exhaustive study by the Heritage Foundation has found that after amnesty, current unlawful immigrants would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay more than $3 trillion in taxes over their lifetimes. That leaves a net fiscal deficit (benefits minus taxes) of $6.3 trillion. That deficit would have to be financed by increasing the government debt or raising taxes on U.S. citizens." (See HERE)
So, not a good idea, though a LUNC just waiting to happen on the Left.
As staggering as these cost may be, they do not include various sociological and psychological costs, particularly to the undocumented residents, themselves, which in some respects may be more burdensome.
I am not just talking about the labor vacuum created in the "home" country, or the oft appalling conditions under which many illegals enter the U.S., or the stigma of being a so-called "wet back," or the exploitation by U.S. employers, or the constant and debilitating fear of being apprehended and deported and forced into "the shadows," as President Obama aptly put it, or going without necessities for want of finances or fear of detection, or socio-political strains put on newly formed friendships and loving relations in observing the challenges to immigrants and anguishing over solutions,  (See HERE and HERE and HERE)

There is also the oft unnoticed, yet profound impact on the young children of illegals, and this beyond their exposure to the culture of illegality. They are thrust into school conditions where they must compete with fellow students who aren't hampered with language and socio-economic barriers and educational deficits, which unavoidably puts them at a significant disadvantage. Consequently, too many are misdiagnosed with learning disabilities, and thought of as mentally handicapped (I witnessed this personally while teaching Special Ed.), and either retreat into silent isolation or act out. Is it any wonder, then, that there is a disproportionately higher rate of school dropouts and gang presence among Hispanics? (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)

The staggering financial costs also don't include other intangible expenses to the host country. The Heritage Foundation explains: "Typical illegal aliens come to America primarily for better jobs and in the process add value to the U.S. economy. However, they also take away value by weakening the legal and national security environment. When three out of every 100 people in America are undocumented (or, rather, documented with forged and faked papers), there is a profound security problem. Even though they pose no direct security threat, the presence of millions of undocumented migrants distorts the law, distracts resources, and effectively creates a cover for terrorists and criminals. in other words, the real problem presented by illegal immigration is security, not the supposed threat to the economy. Indeed, efforts to curtail the economic influx of migrants actually worsen the security dilemma by driving many migrant workers underground, thereby encouraging the culture of illegality." (See HERE)

And, this doesn't factor in the sizable criminal element among illegals. As mentioned in an earlier post, of the 850,000 or so illegals who entered the country in 2012, and the 650,000 who left the country (either by force or choice), almost 200,000 were criminals--199,445. (See HERE, table 41) This means that between a quarter to a third of illegals who entered the country in 2012, have committed crimes, and this doesn't even account for the illegals in prison (they represent 11% of the prison population). (See HERE)

I could go on, but hopefully the point has already been made. The Leftists LUNC here is the enormous real and hidden costs from the liberal immigration policy of "benign neglect." (ibid.)

For an explanation as to why these Leftist LUNCs may occur, please see: Gov: Wrong Tool for the Right Job - Introduction and Cold Nanny as well as The Politics of Compassion, Emotions, Ignorance, Denial, Blame-Shifting, Equality, and Victimization

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Illegal Immigration - Size of the Problem

By now most of us are familiar with the 11 or 12 million figure representing the number of people living illegally in the U.S. (See HERE)

This number has gone up fairly steadily from 540,000 in 1969 to 11.7 million today, as well as in terms of percentage of the total population-- 0.3% of the people in the U.S. lived illegally in 1969 as compared with the high of 3.9% in 2007, more than a ten-fold increase. (ibid, and HERE)

However, since 2007, the percentage dropped shortly to 3.5% in 2009, but rose once again to 3.7% in 2011 and 3.74% in 2012. (ibid. and HERE and HERE)

Evidently, the bad economy produced the Leftist LUNC of deterring illegal immigration/residency for awhile (see HERE), but because of Obama's relative inaction on immigration, the Leftist LUNC of expanding immigration problems has returned.

Let's see how this happened by looking year-to-year and determining how many illegals crossed the borders, how many were apprehended, why and how many went back home, and how many remained in the U.S. illegally.

According to my estimates using Homeland Security and Census data HERE, below is a graph of the number of people who illegally crossed our borders each year, form 2001 to 2012::

In some years, the number of illegal border crossings was staggering, and tended to track both economic and public policy fluctuations. Clearly, the borders haven't been secured.

The good news is that not all who illegally enter the country remain in the U.S. each year. In fact, many of them return to their homes on their own account. For example, n 1970 there were about 303,348 who returned by choice, whereas in 2000, at the peak, there were 1,675,876.

During the eight years of Bush administration, the number of returns dropped somewhat to 811,263 in 2008, but declined dramatically during Obama's first term--returns were down to only 229,968, which is about where they were at in 1969. (See HERE, Table 39)

However, many illegals haven't returned by choice, but were removed by force of law-i.e. deported. In 1960, there were little over 7 thousand forced removals and about 52 thousand chosen returns, as compared with in 2012 where there were 419 thousand forced removals and 229 thousand chosen returns. (ibid)

Interestingly enough, since 1931, the number of forced removals each year were outnumbered by chosen returns, often on orders of magnitude. For example, in 2006 there were about 281 thousand removals and over 1 million returns, a ratio of almost 1 to 4. Yet, as indicated above, in 2012, the end of Obama's first term, the number of forced removals was almost double the number of chosen returns (419,384 vs. 229,968). (ibid.)

What explains this alarming inversion during Obama's administration? Why have so many more people in recent times need to be forced to leave this country than were previously willing to leave on their own? Could this be a Leftist LUNC?

Who knows for certain? Perhaps it has something to do with the steady decline over the last six years in the total number of illegals who have left the country and returned back home (see red bars in graph below)

Then, there is also the matter of apprehending illegals. Apprehension of illegals went up from 70,684 in 1970 to the peak in 2000 at 1,814,729. (See HERE, table 33) Thereafter it remained fairly level during the Bush years, from 2000 to 2008, but began to drop sharply once Obama took office, going from 1,043,774 in 2008 to 643,474 in 2012, or down to about the same level as in 1973. (ibid. see also the green bars in the graph below)

This means that about 2/3rds of the illegal entries were apprehended in 2012 (643,474 out of 849,342). (ibid.)

Naturally, about half of the apprehensions occur at the boarder--364,768 out of 643,474 in 2012, with the rest coming from Homeland Security and law enforcement investigations. (ibid) And, as may be expected, the number of border apprehensions declined significantly from 1,189,395 in 2005 to 364,768 in 2012, the last year of Obama's first term. (ibid)

So, even though more people were crossing the borders, less illegals were being apprehended under the Obama administration.

In addition to the decline in apprehensions (border or otherwise), there are two other points of interest. First, only a portion of the apprehended illegals were deported--419,384 out of 643,474 in 2012. (ibid.) In other words, the Obama administration has been letting about a third of the apprehended illegals, or 65% of the illegal entries, stay or leave as they choose. Why, then, would they leave if even when they are caught they aren't deported?

Again, even though more people are crossing the borders, and less illegals are being apprehended, a good chuck of those being apprehended aren't sent back home.

Could this explain the sharp drop in illegals returning on their own in proportion to those who are forced to leave? I believe it is a factor.

Second, of the 850,000 or so illegals who entered the country in 2012, and the 650,000 who left the country (either by force or choice), almost 200,000 were criminals--199,445. (See HERE, table 41)

This means that between a quarter to a third of illegals who entered the country in 2012, had committed crimes, and this doesn't even account for the illegals in prison (they represent 11% of the prison population). (See HERE)

To me, this is huge, particularly in terms of national security, if not government costs (which I will address in future posts).

Be that as it may, here is a graph that depicts what I have indicated above,

Note also, in purple bars, the annual net results of illegal migration (entries - returns). Five out of the last twelve years have experienced a net drop in illegal immigration--i.e. more illegals left the country than entered during those years.

Yet, when you subtract the amount of negative immigration in those five years (-2,190,00) from the amount of positive immigration during the other seven years (+5,430,000), we ended up adding about 3,240,000 more illegals to our population.

More pertinent to this post, during the Bush years the illegal population in the U.S. increased on average about 392,500 per year, whereas under Obama it increased on average about 780,000 per year..

The Leftist LUNC here, then, is that because of Obama's liberal immigration policy, the number of illegals who have come into and remained in this country each year, is about double that under Bush. The borders have become less secure and the apprehensions have been in decline.

Now that we know the size of the problem, and can reasonably figure that it will grow larger rather than smaller during the remainder of Obama's second term, lets look now )see the next posts in the series) what it may end up costing the U.S. and how it will impact votes in the future--i.e. whether the same kinds of people that helped break the immigration system and/or failed to fix it will continue to be reelected.

For an explanation as to why these Leftist LUNCs may occur, please see: Gov: Wrong Tool for the Right Job - Introduction and Cold Nanny as well as The Politics of Compassion, Emotions, Ignorance, Denial, Blame-Shifting, Equality, and Victimization

Illegal Immigration - Intro

Liberals in general, and Obama in particular, have had much to say about illegal immigration.

During his first run for the presidency, then Senator Obama proclaimed: "We need immigration reform that will secure our borders, and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor; reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day." (See HERE)

That same year he said: "We need stronger border security. We are cracking down on employers that are taking advantage of undocumented workers because they can’t complain if they’re not paid a minimum wage and not getting overtime. Worker safety laws are not being observed. We have to make sure that doesn’t lead to people with Spanish surnames being discriminated against. We have to require that undocumented workers go to the back of the line, so that they are not getting citizenship before those who have applied legally." (ibid.)

He also intimated: "The American people want fairness, want justice. They recognize that the idea that you’re going to deport 12 million people is ridiculous, that we’re not going to be devoting all our law enforcement resources to sending people back. But what they do also want is some order to the process." (ibid.)

After being elected, and then later when running for a second term, Obama's position remained pretty much the same, with the possible exception of allowing young immigrants to stay in the U.S. (See HERE and HERE)

As of today, Obama's website declares: "America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country." (See HERE)

So, while liberals, under the leadership of President Obama, have expressed good intentions regarding immigration reform, the question before us is, have their intents progressed beyond mere wishes and vacuous campaign rhetoric, particularly given that during the first two years of Obama's administration the Democrats held both houses of Congress?

The Leftist LUNC here is that liberals failed to keep their promise to make immigration a priority from day one and enact immigration reform during the first year. (See HERE)  And, they still haven't managed to do any better in the four or five years since.

In short, the borders haven't been secured--they still leak like a sieve, our values as a nation of laws aren't being asserted, the 11 or 12 million illegals who have taken up residence are still in the shadows, and may not have to go to the back of the line in gaining citizenship, fairness and justice isn't being served, and Obama is right that even today, after five years in office, the immigration system is still broken.

As will be shown in the posts to follow, there are several other Leftist LUNCs in relation to the liberal immigration policy--what little there is to it.

For an explanation as to why these Leftist LUNCs may occur, please see: Gov: Wrong Tool for the Right Job - Introduction and Cold Nanny as well as The Politics of Compassion, Emotions, Ignorance, Denial, Blame-Shifting, Equality, and Victimization