Immigration Hardliner Governors Likely in Many States

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

Suzy Khimm has a good piece at Mother Jones today on the crop of immigration hardliners who are favored to take over as governors of Georgia, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, South Carolina and Nebraska. For immigration reform advocates, the future looks bleak: Congress is unlikely to tackle immigration reform, meaning more states will take on enforcement measures on their own. Lawmakers in a number of states have discussed copycat legislation to Arizona’s SB 1070, and many Republican candidates for governor have also jumped on the pro-enforcement wagon.

But how likely is it these would-be governors would actually enact Arizona-style immigration laws? It varies from state to state. Georgia and South Carolina were on the “danger list” in a report from a pro-immigration group Immigration Works USA earlier this week on which states are most likely to be the next Arizona. Both Georgia governor candidates have said they would mimic Arizona’s law, and the likely winner, Republican Rep. Nathan Deal, has pushed for a number of extreme anti-illegal immigration positions. His efforts against birthright citizenship, among others, earned him an A+ from NumbersUSA, a pro-enforcement group that grades politicians on immigration toughness.

South Carolina Republican nominee Nikki Haley also supports an Arizona-style law, although NumbersUSA picked her primary opponent as the “true reformer” on immigration.

Colorado, where third-party candidate Tom Tancredo is leading in the polls for governor, was on the “maybe” list for passing a copycat law to SB 1070, as was Nebraska. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) is favored to win re-election and has predicted Arizona-style laws in every state within the next year. But both states might lack support for immigration enforcement bills in their legislatures, according to Immigration Works USA.

On the less likely list: Nevada, where Khimm notes Republican candidate Brian Sandoval has shifted right on immigration. When a state lawmaker announced a plan to create an Arizona-style bill in the state earlier this year, though, business leaders came out strongly against the effort, arguing it would hurt tourism. Two industry groups successfully killed the idea this summer.

New Mexico did not make the Immigration Works USA list of states likely to pass immigration enforcement legislation. While Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez has criticized the “sanctuary” policies of her opponent and promised to repeal immigrant-friendly state laws, she may face opposition in the legislature. New Mexico is one of the more pro-immigrant states, with Latinos making up 45 percent of the population, and might not let go easily of laws that allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses that supporters claim are needed for public safety.

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Comment posted October 29, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

my country has emmigration problems..with all the gipsys going in other countryes and making us looks bad.

Comment posted October 29, 2010 @ 10:55 pm


Even the government misuses the system: According to a January 2010 report released by the SSA Inspector General, the agency failed to use E-Verify on 19 percent of its new hires. SSA also improperly ran checks on 169 volunteers and individuals who had not yet been hired and violated program rules with respect to the timing of its verifications 49 percent of the time. The fact that one of the two agencies responsible for administering the E-Verify program misused it in direct violation of the law does not bode well for expanding the program or making it mandatory for all employers.

Proposals that tout mandatory E-Verify as a silver bullet would be prohibitively expensive: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the SAVE Act, which would make E-Verify mandatory, would decrease federal revenues by $17.3 billion from 2009 to 2018 because it would result in an increase in the number of people working in the underground cash economy, outside the tax system. At the same time, it would increase spending by over $23 billion, resulting in a whopping price tag of over $40 billion over the next 10 years. CBO also estimated that SAVE would cost U.S. employers over $136 million to comply in at least one of the first five years its mandates are in effect.

The impact of a mandatory program, without safeguards, could harm Social Security benefits: Scores of organizations, including the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), have serious concerns about overloading the Social Security Administration with new mandates. If E-Verify were suddenly mandatory, SSA would see an estimated 3.6 million extra visits or calls to SSA field offices by Americans trying to fix errors in their records so they can work. With Americans already waiting up to 500 days for a disability claim decision from SSA, and 78 million Baby Boomers soon to be eligible for retirement benefits, the SSA can’t become a required stop for millions of frustrated Americans unable to work because of government database errors.



Many Americans fear that immigrants disproportionately use welfare programs or public benefits. Some believe that immigrants are eligible for special benefits that Americans cannot receive. The fact is that unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for most public benefits and do not use them surreptitiously. Legal immigrants are also restricted from receiving many benefits. Immigrants pay taxes to fund welfare programs, but are not eligible to reap the benefits of many of them.


Unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for federal public benefits: This includes income supplements—e.g., Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), health care (Medicaid and Medicare), and food stamps.

Legal immigrants face tough restrictions on accessing public benefits: Federal law also imposes harsh restrictions on legal immigrants’ eligibility for public benefits. Most documented immigrants cannot receive federal Medicaid, TANF, food stamps, or SSI during their first five years or longer in the U.S., regardless of how much they have worked or paid in taxes.

Immigrants use less health care, on average, than U.S. citizens: Low-income immigrants are less likely to receive public benefits than are U.S. citizens. Immigrants do not come to the U.S. to receive public benefits, and once they are here, they do not disproportionately use public benefits. According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, immigrants do not impose a disproportionate financial burden on the U.S. health care system. The per capita total health care expenditures of immigrants are less than half those of U.S.-born persons, and immigrants are significantly less likely to use the emergency room than are citizens. Further restricting immigrants’ access to benefits is not a solution to our immigration problems. In fact, the more people paying into a healthcare system, especially healthier working-age people, the more the costs are spread out.


Immigrants pay taxes into the system that funds public services: Even the majority of unauthorized immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. And all immigrants pay sales taxes and property taxes. Many studies have found that immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. The National Research Council estimated in 1997 that “the average immigrant pays nearly $1,800 more in taxes than he or she costs in benefits.” Many state-level studies have also found that immigrants contribute more to the economy than they take out.



As the debate over unauthorized immigration continues to rage, some pundits and policymakers are claiming that unauthorized immigrants do not pay taxes and rely heavily on government benefits. Neither of these claims is supported by the facts. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, unauthorized men have workforce participation rates that are higher than other workers, and all unauthorized immigrants are ineligible for most government services, but pay taxes as workers, consumers, and residents.


Like the rest of us, unauthorized immigrants pay taxes: Between one-half to three-quarters of unauthorized immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. All unauthorized immigrants pay sales taxes (when they buy anything at a store, for instance) and property taxes (even if they rent housing).

Unauthorized immigrants pay into Social Security, but do not collect: The Social Security Administration (SSA) has concluded that unauthorized immigrants “account for a major portion” of the billions of dollars paid into the Social Security system under names or Social Security numbers that don’t match SSA records; payments from which immigrants cannot benefit while unauthorized. As of October 2005, the reported earnings on which these payments are based—which are tracked through the SSA’s Earnings Suspense File (ESF)—totaled $520 billion.


TEXAS: A 2006 study by the Texas State Comptroller found that “the absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our gross state product of $17.7 billion. Undocumented immigrants produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received.”

OREGON: A 2007 study by the Oregon Center for Public Policy estimated that unauthorized immigrants in Oregon pay state income, excise, and property taxes, as well as federal Social Security and Medicare taxes, which “total about $134 million to $187 million annually.” In addition, “taxes paid by Oregon employers on behalf of undocumented workers total about $97 million to $136 million annually.” As the report goes on to note, unauthorized workers are ineligible for the Oregon Health Plan, food stamps, and temporary cash assistance.

IOWA: A 2007 report from the Iowa Policy Project concluded that “undocumented immigrants pay an estimated aggregate amount of $40 million to $62 million in state taxes each year.” Moreover, “undocumented immigrants working on the books…and their employers also contribute annually an estimated $50 million to $77.8 million in federal Social Security and Medicare taxes from which they will never benefit. Rather than draining state resources, undocumented immigrants are in some cases subsidizing services that only documented residents can access.”

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The persistent myth that immigrants are more prone to criminality than the native-born continues to circulate viciously among politicians, commentators, and the public despite a century’s worth of contrary evidence that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to be in prison, and that high rates of immigration are not associated with higher crime rates.


Immigrants are five times less likely to be in prison than the native-born: A 2007 study by University of California-Irvine sociologist Rubén G. Rumbaut found that the 3.5% incarceration rate for native-born men ages 18-39 was five times higher than the 0.7% rate for immigrant men in 2000. The lower incarceration rates of immigrants compared to natives “holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.”

Unauthorized immigration is NOT associated with higher crime rates: Although the unauthorized immigrant population doubled from 1994 to 2005, the violent crime rate in the United States declined by 34.2 % and the property crime rate fell by 26.4% during the same period. Border cities and other cities with large immigrant populations also experienced decreasing crime rates.


• Crime is lowest in the states with the most immigrants: According to a 2008 report from the conservative Americas Majority Foundation, crime rates are lowest in states with the highest immigration growth rates. From 1999 to 2006, the total crime rate declined 13.6% in the 19 highest-immigration states, compared to a 7.1% decline in the other 32 states. In 2006, the 10 “high influx” states—those with the most dramatic, recent increases in immigration—had the lowest rates of violent crime and total crime.

o New Jersey: An analysis of data from the New Jersey Department of Corrections and U.S. Census Bureau by New Jersey’s Star-Ledger in April 2008 found that “U.S. citizens are twice as likely to land in New Jersey’s prisons as legal and illegal immigrants.” In fact, “non-U.S. citizens make up 10% of the state’s overall population, but just 5% of the inmates in prison.”

o California: Foreign-born adults in California have lower incarceration rates than their native-born counterparts. According to a June 2008 report from the Public Policy Institute of California, “the incarceration rate for foreign-born adults is 297 per 100,000 in the population, compared to 813 per 100,000 for U.S.-born adults. The foreign-born, who make up roughly 35% of California’s adult population, constitute 17% of the state prison population, a proportion that has remained fairly constant since 1990.”

• The argument that unauthorized immigrants are “criminals” because they are “illegal” is highly misleading. “Unlawful presence” in the United States (such as overstaying a visa) is a civil violation of immigration law, not a criminal violation. “Entry Without Inspection” (entering the United States without authorization) is a misdemeanor. More importantly, neither of these offenses constitutes a threat to public safety—unlike crimes such as murder, assault, and robbery, all of which immigrants are much less likely to commit than natives.

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Recently there has been increased public attention on the role of state and local police agencies in immigration enforcement. Currently, about 67 localities have entered into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through the 287(g) program. The 287(g) program refers to the section of federal law created in 1996 that establishes a program for local police to be trained by ICE to enforce immigration law. Approximately 1,075 police and correctional officers had been trained as of January 2010. Even when local police officers are not deputized to perform immigration enforcement, ICE does work through the criminal justice system to identify deportable noncitizens through programs such as the Criminal Alien Program (CAP) and the Secure Communities program. Critics argue that these policies which involve local police in the enforcement of federal immigration law lead to increased discrimination and racial profiling, stretch the limited resources of law enforcement, and erode—rather than promote—trust between immigrant communities and the police, thus endangering public safety.


There is strong and broad-based opposition to local police enforcement of immigration laws: Advocates for victims of domestic abuse, faith-based organizations, immigrant rights groups, elected officials, and law-enforcement officials all agree that state and local police should not be enforcing federal immigration laws.

When police enforce immigration laws, or are perceived to be enforcing immigration laws, public safety decreases: When police are turned into immigration agents, immigrants (legal and unauthorized) who are victims or witnesses of crime are fearful of cooperating with the police. This puts entire communities at risk.

When police enforce immigration laws, other crimes go uninvestigated: The experience of Maricopa County, Arizona, has shown that when police are highly invested in enforcing immigration laws, other crimes do not receive the attention they deserve, and response times to emergency 911 calls increase.

Enforcing immigration law is costly: The federal government does not cover the costs incurred by localities that enforce immigration laws. After only three months, Maricopa County had a deficit of over $1 million. The Prince William County, Virginia, jail spent nearly $800,000 more than expected to hold suspected unauthorized immigrants. This money could be better spent on public safety.

When local police enforce immigration law it is likely to lead to racial profiling, discrimination, and costly litigation: When local law enforcement gets involved in immigration enforcement, particularly without proper training and oversight, people are often targeted on the basis of their accent or appearance. This can lead to serious violations of the civil rights of legal permanent residents and even U.S. citizens.

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Anti-immigrant groups and legislators have persisted in their attempts to restrict or repeal birthright citizenship in State Houses and the U.S. Congress. Several bills have been introduced that would deny U.S. citizenship to children whose parents are in the U.S. without authorization or on temporary visas. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution—the cornerstone of American civil rights—affirms that, with very few exceptions, all persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Following the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, the Fourteenth Amendment restated the longstanding principle of birthright citizenship, which had been temporarily erased by the Supreme Court's “Dred Scott” decision denying birthright citizenship to the U.S.-born children of slaves. The Supreme Court has consistently upheld birthright citizenship over the years.


Eliminating birthright citizenship would impose a significant burden on all Americans, who would no longer have an easy and inexpensive way to prove their citizenship. If simply being born in the U.S. and having a U.S. birth certificate were not proof of citizenship, Americans would have to navigate complex laws to prove their citizenship. Other than a birth certificate, most Americans do not have government documents that establish U.S. citizenship.

All American parents—not just immigrants—would have to prove the citizenship of their children through a cumbersome process. Some Americans would have to prove they derive U.S. citizenship through one or both of their parents—a process that can be difficult for even experienced immigration attorneys. In some cases, whether one’s parents were married or unmarried at the time of one’s birth makes a difference in determining citizenship. Moreover, the gender of the U.S.-citizen parent can affect the determination.

Eliminating birthright citizenship would not solve the problem of unauthorized immigration. Since children born to unauthorized immigrants would presumably be unauthorized, the size of the unauthorized population would actually increase as a result of the new policy. While some children could acquire the citizenship of their parents, others would be left with no citizenship or nationality, leaving them stateless.

Eliminating birthright citizenship is a distraction that moves us away from fixing the real problems with our broken immigration system. Immigrants come to the U.S. to work, to reunite with their families, or to flee persecution. Denying birthright citizenship will not discourage unauthorized immigrants from coming to the U.S., and it will not encourage those already here to leave.

Comment posted October 29, 2010 @ 10:55 pm






The Immigration Policy Center, established in 2003, is the policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a 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 policymakers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers, and the media. IPC is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office. Visit our website at and our blog at



Americans are justifiably frustrated and angry with our outdated and broken immigration system. The problem is complex, and a comprehensive, national solution is necessary. Politicians who suggest that the U.S. can deport its way out of the problem by removing 11 million people are unrealistic. The U.S. needs a fair, practical solution that addresses the underlying causes of unauthorized immigration and creates a new, national legal immigration system for the 21st century.

Immigration reform must be rational, practical, and tough: It is unacceptable to have 11 million people in our country living outside the legal system. To enhance our security, we must have smart border and interior enforcement, target the real causes of violence along the border, and prosecute those who exploit immigrant labor and those who profit from smuggling. Additionally, unauthorized immigrants should be required to come forward to legalize their status, pay back taxes, learn English, and pass criminal background checks. Finally, we must create sufficient legal channels to support the level of immigration our country needs in the future.

Efforts simply to deport are often political games, not serious policy proposals: Over the past two decade, tens of billions of dollars have been spent on immigration enforcement. The annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased nine-fold and the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border has increased nearly five-fold since Fiscal Year (FY) 1992, yet the unauthorized population has tripled in size. Billions in taxpayer dollars are wasted every year when we attempt to spend our way out of the problem rather than solve it.


A majority of Americans favor realistic reform over unachievable rhetoric: Polls consistently find that Americans support a tough but comprehensive solution for those here without authorization over an enforcement-only immigration policy. According to polls of likely 2010 general election voters conducted for America’s Voice by Lake Research Partners and Benenson Strategy Group, 66% of all voters and 74% of Latino voters supported comprehensive immigration reform as opposed to enforcement-only measures. This included 62% of Republicans, 67% of Independents, and 69% of Democrats. Finally, 67% of all likely voters believed that unauthorized immigrants “should be required to register, meet certain conditions, and eventually allowed to apply for citizenship,” rather than leaving the country or being allowed to stay only temporarily.

The public sees comprehensive immigration reform as consistent with, not working against, our nation’s economic recovery: Nationwide, 67% of voters said “We would be better off if people who are in the United States illegally became legal taxpayers so they pay their fair share,” vs. 28% who said “We would be better off if people who are in the United States illegally left the country because they are taking away jobs that Americans need.”

The best way to solve the problem is to face reality: Most unauthorized immigrants are integrated members of U.S. families and communities. Nationwide, unauthorized immigrants comprise 5.1% of the workforce, and in states like Arizona, the unauthorized share of the workforce is even higher. In certain sectors, like agriculture and construction, unauthorized workers comprise up to 25% of the workforce. Nationwide, there are approximately 4 million U.S.-citizen children with at least one unauthorized parent, and policies that target their parents have grave effects on the children. Approximately 53% of unauthorized immigrants have been in the U.S. ten years or more. The vast majority of unauthorized immigrants are simply here to work. Unauthorized immigrants who work,


pay taxes, do not commit crimes, and want to be Americans should be required to come forward and register for legal status.


First and foremost, the United States needs a legal immigration system that enhances our security, strengthens our economy, and supports our communities: The most practical and realistic way to reduce unauthorized immigration dramatically is to bring U.S. immigration policy in line with economic and social realities. Lawmakers should devise immigration policies that are responsive to labor demands and ensure fair wages and good working conditions for all workers, both native-born and foreign-born, and which require unauthorized immigrants already living in the United States to apply for legal status. Lawmakers must also build a more flexible and responsive system for temporary and permanent employment-based immigration that can adapt quickly to changing economic times, supports innovation and entrepreneurship, and allows those who want to contribute their skills and talents to this country an opportunity to do so. Finally, lawmakers should address the delays and restrictions that impose unreasonably long waiting times on hardworking families seeking to join close relatives in the U.S.



It is generally undisputed that immigration is important to America’s economic success. During an economic downturn, however, many argue that immigration reform should not be a priority, while others argue that fixing our broken immigration system and allowing unauthorized immigrants to earn legal status would be detrimental to the economy. However, reforming our broken immigration system is an important part of improving our economy. Currently, unscrupulous employers are able to exploit unauthorized workers and create unfair competition by violating labor laws and paying sub-minimal wages. This is harmful to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers. Our immigration system needs to work for all Americans, not just for those employers looking for low-cost labor. We need to recognize that it would be far better if all immigrant workers were here legally and could exercise the same rights on the job as native-born workers. Leveling the playing field for both workers and employers by legalizing unauthorized workers and enforcing labor laws against bad-apple employers will eliminate unfair competition and improve the wages and working conditions of all workers.


Legalization brings economic benefits. A 2010 report released by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), Raising the Floor for American Workers: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, finds that comprehensive immigration reform which includes a legalization program for unauthorized immigrants and enables a future flow of legal workers would result in a large economic benefit—a cumulative $1.5 trillion in added U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over 10 years. In stark contrast, a deportation-only policy would result in a loss of $2.6 trillion in GDP over 10 years.

Observers across the political spectrum agree on the economic benefits of legalization. A 2009 report by the libertarian Cato Institute came to startlingly similar conclusions. Cato found that legalization would boost the incomes of U.S. households by $180 billion in 2019. Cato also concluded that tighter restrictions and a reduction in less-skilled immigration would impose large costs on native-born Americans by shrinking the overall economy and lowering worker productivity.

Leveling the playing field will benefit U.S. workers and the U.S. economy. We need to ensure that unauthorized immigrants come forward, pay a fine, undergo background checks, and get on a path to earning legal immigration status and citizenship. This will put more workers and employers on the tax rolls, and level the playing field for all workers and law-abiding employers by eliminating the pool of exploitable labor.

Legalization raises wages for all U.S. workers. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) resulted in the legalization of more than 2.7 million unauthorized immigrants within five years. A 1992 survey by the U.S. Department of Labor on the “Characteristics and Labor Market Behavior of the Legalized Population Five Years Following Legalization” found that legalized workers saw a 15% mean hourly wage increase. The mean hourly wages of U.S. workers grew by even more than that of the legalized workers. Increased wages result in increased consumption and tax revenue.



The U.S. economy will eventually improve, and immigration helps to expand the economy: A 2007 report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers concluded that immigration increases GDP by roughly $37 billion each year because immigrants increase the size of the total labor force, complement the native-born workforce in terms of skills and education, and stimulate capital investment by adding workers to the labor pool.

Immigration raises wages for most Americans: A 2010 report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that the “effect of immigration from 1994 to 2007 was to raise the wages of U.S.-born workers, relative to foreign-born workers, by 0.4% (or $3.68 per week).” Even the small (and shrinking) number of “U.S.-born workers with less than a high school education saw a relative 0.3% increase in wages (or $1.58 per week)” as a result of immigration during this period.

The purchasing power of immigrant communities is enormous—and growing: According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, the purchasing power of Latinos totaled $978.4 billion in 2009 and is projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2014. The purchasing power of Asians totaled $508.6 billion in 2009 and is projected to reach $696.5 billion by 2014.

The entrepreneurship of immigrant communities employs millions of people: The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2002, 1.6 million Hispanic-owned firms provided jobs to 1.5 million employees, had receipts of $222 billion, and generated payroll of $36.7 billion. The same year, 1.1 million Asian-owned firms provided jobs to 2.2 million employees, had receipts of $326.4 billion, and generated payroll of $56 billion.



For more than two decades, the U.S. government has tried without success to stamp out unauthorized immigration through enforcement efforts at the border and in the interior of the country, without fundamentally reforming the broken immigration system that spurs unauthorized immigration in the first place. While billions upon billions of dollars have been poured into enforcement, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has increased dramatically. Enforcement alone will not solve our immigration problems.


Taxpayer dollars are being misused to act “tough”: The annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol stood at $3 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010—a nine-fold increase since FY 1992. The number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border grew to 17,000 in FY 2010—a nearly five-fold increase since FY 1992.

We can’t deport our way out of this problem: For years the U.S. government has attempted to use employer sanctions, border walls, worksite raids, and other deportation-only measures to stop unauthorized immigration, but the unauthorized population of the United States has tripled in size, from roughly 3.5 million in 1990 to 11.1 million in 2009.

It’s not enforcement—it’s the economy: Some are saying that increases in immigration enforcement are working because the unauthorized population of the U.S. has recently declined in size. However, most researchers agree that unauthorized immigration to the United States is driven largely by economics. According to a June 2008 report by Wayne Cornelius, Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California-San Diego, “undocumented migration clearly responds to changing U.S. economic conditions, with steep increases in the flow toward the end of expansion phases of the business cycle and significant decreases during economic downturns. Moreover, the pattern of undocumented migrants responding to economic conditions rather than policy decisions has continued during the border enforcement build-up that began in 1993.”

America needs leaders to balance good immigration policy with enforcement priorities: The most practical and realistic way to reduce unauthorized immigration dramatically is to bring U.S. immigration policy in line with economic and social realities. Such a policy must include the following elements: a realistic legal immigration framework that protects U.S. workers while providing needed labor to American businesses; controlled but reasonable limits on family immigration which encourage unification of families and stable communities; and a tough but fair legalization program for those here without authorization. The undergirding of such an immigration regimen is enforcement at the border and the workplace which is targeted at wrongdoers and genuine threats, rather than those merely seeking a better life.



Unauthorized immigrants primarily come to the U.S. to work, and—according to the Pew Hispanic Center—approximately 5.1% of the American labor force is unauthorized. Enforcing the law at the workplace is important because it protects vulnerable workers from exploitation, and protects U.S. workers and law-abiding employers from unscrupulous employers who hire unauthorized workers. Employers must be held accountable for employment and labor-law violations.

One enforcement measure that has been expanding is E-Verify: a largely voluntary electronic employment-verification system through which an employer verifies the work authorization of all employees—even U.S. citizens—using the databases of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). Currently, approximately 216,000 employers of the over 7.4 million in the U.S. are signed up to use E-Verify. Making E-Verify mandatory would require running 60 million new hires through the system per year, where just over 13 million were processed in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. Moreover, there are still some serious problems with E-Verify that must be addressed. The databases upon which E-Verify relies contain errors which could result in U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants being incorrectly denied permission to work. There are also concerns regarding potential misuse of the program by employers.

Even an improved E-Verify is not, by itself, a magic bullet and will not fix the broken immigration system. Simply expanding E-Verify will not resolve the underlying problems with our immigration system, and can have a negative impact on U.S. workers. E-Verify is part of a comprehensive solution that also includes improved enforcement of employment and labor laws, legalization of the current unauthorized workforce, and creation of sufficient legal channels for future immigration so that needed workers can come to the U.S. legally.


We need practical and sensible solutions: We cannot expect to use raids or employer audits or E-Verify to deport 11 million people, and we cannot deny employers the workers they need until there are legal channels to bring them to the U.S. We need a new immigrant-worker program that provides visas for workers who can fill U.S. labor needs, while protecting U.S. workers and businesses from the unscrupulous employers who exploit vulnerable immigrant labor at the expense of U.S. workers.

Enforcement must include employment-law enforcement. Comprehensive reform must recognize that strong employment protections for all workers reduces the incentive for unscrupulous employers to hire and mistreat unauthorized workers, thereby improving wages and working conditions for all workers.

Despite improvements, even the government has trouble making E-verify work: The SSA estimates that 17.8 million of its records contain discrepancies related to name, date of birth, or citizenship status, with 12.7 million of those problem records pertaining to U.S. citizens. This implies that as many as 1 in 25 new hires could be erroneously flagged as ineligible to work. These errors mean that thousands of U.S. citizens could be denied work because of government errors. Even though the government has reduced the possibility of error by cleaning up databases, any kind of immediate, mandatory program is likely to overwhelm the system, resulting in problems for employers and workers. Any expansion of the program must go hand in hand with protections ensuring that employees can correct and challenge inaccurate decisions

Comment posted October 30, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

Dear Stephan,

In response to your comments about eligilbility/use of public benefits by illegal immigrants.

As a medical doctor, here is what I see, all day, every day:

1. Illegal immigrants receive 100% free healthcare in the ER. (Poor legal residents, immigrant or not) are billed for their ER visits. There is no expectation by the illegal patients, by the Hospital administrators, by the doctors, by the nurses, that the illegal individuals will pay for anything.

2. When the illegal immigrant patients are admitted to the hospital ( for a skin infection, a pneumonia, a stomach virus, whatever….), they also receive 100% free care. Their entire hospital stay is free of charge to them, unlike the legal resident patients ( immigrant or not), who are billed by the Hospital and doctors for their care.

3. The Hospital social workers rush to “help” the illegal immigrant patients sign up for Medicaid as soon as possible ( that is the only way the Hospital receives any reimbursement for their care). To say they are “not eligible” for medicaid, thus inferring that they do not receive it, is disingenuous and false. I see them receive it every day that I work.
(It is a “don't ask, don't tell” situation – the social workers don't ask if they are illegal, and they, of course, don't tell. Thus they are indeed signed up for Medicaid benefits).

4. We also observe the illegal immigrant patients being readmitted to our hospitals, but giving different names, and addresses, each time they come in.

The poor, legal resident patients ( immigrant or not), are billed and often driven into financial ruin. The illegal immigrant patients receive 100% free healthcare.

Whether you think this is fair, just, appropriate is not the point. It is the truth.Isn't that we we all want and need to know?

Comment posted October 30, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

Thank you hospitalmd for enlightening us on the real story in hospitals.

It's fascinating that our ruling elite seem so interested in screwing the typical American and providing illegals with valuable services. The elections hopefully will be a change in the right direction.

Comment posted October 31, 2010 @ 12:05 am

hospitalmd you should learn to read:


TEXAS: A 2006 study by the Texas State Comptroller found that “the absence of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in Texas in fiscal 2005 would have been a loss to our gross state product of $17.7 billion. Undocumented immigrants produced $1.58 billion in state revenues, which exceeded the $1.16 billion in state services they received.”

OREGON: A 2007 study by the Oregon Center for Public Policy estimated that unauthorized immigrants in Oregon pay state income, excise, and property taxes, as well as federal Social Security and Medicare taxes, which “total about $134 million to $187 million annually.” In addition, “taxes paid by Oregon employers on behalf of undocumented workers total about $97 million to $136 million annually.” As the report goes on to note, unauthorized workers are ineligible for the Oregon Health Plan, food stamps, and temporary cash assistance.

IOWA: A 2007 report from the Iowa Policy Project concluded that “undocumented immigrants pay an estimated aggregate amount of $40 million to $62 million in state taxes each year.” Moreover, “undocumented immigrants working on the books…and their employers also contribute annually an estimated $50 million to $77.8 million in federal Social Security and Medicare taxes from which they will never benefit. Rather than draining state resources, undocumented immigrants are in some cases subsidizing services that only documented residents can access.”

Comment posted October 31, 2010 @ 12:08 am

hospitalmd my friend,

they contributions are far more then some help in the hospitals by the the way good that you are not a doctor!

Comment posted October 31, 2010 @ 1:35 am

Dear Stephan,

I am not an economist, I am not a politician. I am a doctor – I love taking care of sick patients, and would never change to another profession.

I was brought up to think critically, and to speak the truth that I see.

I, and my nurse colleagues, are taking care of illegal immigrants for free, while legal immigrants/residents are being financially devastated.

Again, I state: Whether you think this just, fair, etc is not so important at this time…… it is the truth of what is happening that must be spoken of.

Sincerely, a doctor in the field

Comment posted October 31, 2010 @ 11:54 am

The oath of hypocrates should tell you the truth and that truth is in the facts

Comment posted October 31, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

give each immigrant a green card and then enforce the law its win win for everyone. americans can stop being rasist and use the brains and think twice.

A Diasporan Exodus | Blogs@RelativeProgress
Pingback posted November 1, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

[...] blue sky exits. Sentiment has disturbingly begun to turn against foreigners in places from the U.S. to Europe. The H1B visa crisis here in the U.S. risks alienating future Indian (or any foreign) [...]

Comment posted November 2, 2010 @ 12:49 am

Great idea.

Then we can give a get out of jail card to all drunk drivers and child molesters – makes the same sense to just further reward behavior we don't want and act all surprised when it doesn't work.

We've tried amnesty 7 times. After each it just got worse. Do you know why? Because the rewards are still there. We still give them jobs. Still get free medical, free schooling, citizenship for their kids, who then get food stamps/housing/welfare/etc that the parents get too.

And until we remove all of those rewards they will still come. Once we remove 'em they will self-deport at no cost to taxpayers. Jobs will open up for citizens and legal immigrants. Wages will go up and stay here in our economy. Taxes will be paid rather then having them paid under the table.

Amnesty, pathway to citizenship, comprehensive reform or whatever you want to call it will never happen again. The public is wise to the sob stories and know the only ones who gain from illegals are the wealthy, illegals themselves, immigration groups and big business.

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