Saturday, February 10, 2007

How Will Illegal Immigration End?

We hear all sorts of solutions for ending illegal immigration. Build a wall! Beef up border security! Fine employers, and create a massive guest-worker program. Or America could insist on tamper-proof identification cards, or detention, deportation or even amnesty for some illegal aliens -- or all of these measures somehow combined.

But ultimately the solution lies in the hope that a Tijuana might become as prosperous as a San Diego -- now a few miles away but a world apart.

After all, Hong Kong used to be a magnet for illegal immigrants who streamed in from impoverished Red China. Not so much any longer. Shanghai, for example, in two decades has become almost as wealthy as the old British colony.

East Berliners used to risk their lives to cross the wall into the West. Now billions of dollars are being invested in restoring the eastern half of a united Germany's capital.

Since World War II, poor workers from largely agrarian, Catholic and authoritarian Spain flocked northward into industrialized, Protestant and more democratic Germany and France to find work. Today, Spain's employment and growth rates compare favorably with those of its northern neighbors.

In each of these cases, once poorer regions bordering far wealthier societies have -- either by emulation, absorption or coercion -- radically liberalized their economic systems. With jobs and capital almost as plentiful at home as abroad, few wish to leave.

When Mexico follows suit, its relationship with the United States will resemble our connection with Canada. That should be our goal. Our northern neighbor's economy and political system are comparable to America's -- and thus the number of Canadians arriving here is small and almost the same as the number of Americans leaving for Canada. And by any benchmark, the weather, arable land and coastline of Canada are not nearly as inviting as Mexico's.

Yet currently, Mexico's per capita gross domestic product is about a quarter of the United States'. Wages in Mexico are far lower than in America. No wonder Mexicans come here by the millions.

So how will Mexico ever achieve parity with the United States?

The Mexican government must begin selling off inefficient state enterprises, especially in gas and oil. It should offer greater protection of property rights and ensure title searches. Mexico must stop the old nationalist rhetoric and welcome foreign investment, create a transparent judicial system and allow land to be freely bought and sold.

Most importantly, the Mexican bureaucracy must end endemic corruption that so exasperates foreign investors who would otherwise bring to Mexico efficient job-producing businesses.

There is no chance of Mexico being absorbed by its neighbor as East Germany was by the West. America will not create a continental union as happened in Europe and which so benefits Spain. Nor can even we count on complacent Mexican elites to believe they can become richer by deregulating their economy and competing in the global marketplace as has happened in China. Apprehensive Chinese leaders, after all, changed their rules only because they thought they had no choice after seeing the Soviet Union fall.

So what can the United States do?

Offer both help and tough love.

Granting Mexico favorable trade incentives is cheaper in the long run than dealing with the social problems caused by illegal immigration and the economic consequences of billions of U.S. dollars being sent southward from Mexican workers. The North American Free Trade Agreement, however controversial, has probably helped decrease Mexico's general poverty rate and increase its gross domestic product.

By closing the borders, the U.S. would stop subsidizing Mexican failure. At present, workers come to America not only because of higher wages, but also on the assumption that their cash income will often be untaxed and augmented by subsidized state health care, housing and education.

Tax evasion and American entitlement help to free up workers' dollars to be sent back to Mexico. In economic terms, that translates to the United States economy subsidizing millions of the unemployed in Mexico through $20 billion annually in cash remittances. This money weakens the incentive of millions in Mexico to seek employment or to demand government reform.

Finally, we need honesty about the problem. Mexico masquerades as a revolutionary socialist state, replete with flashy radical slogans that date back to the old days of Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa.

In truth, Mexico City's creed is elitism and a fossilized cronyism. Its privileged few have hurt millions of their hardworking citizens who deserve far more humane treatment -- and sometimes find it only here in America.


thxs Victor Davis Hanson
RealClearPolitics

52 comments:

PJGoober said...

Um, I think we need to end immigration sooner than "when hell freezes over" (aka when Tijauna is as prosperous as San Diego). Read this study by Ruben Rumbaut of UC Irvine and Alejandro Portes of Princeton. The hispanics we already have need plenty of help. Importing more takes resources away from helping them:

http://today.uci.edu/news/release_detail.asp?key=1529

Study sheds light on how young adult children of immigrants assimilate

Largest, longest study of children of immigrants reveals certain groups are left behind

Irvine, Calif., October 4, 2006
While the vast majority of young adult children of immigrants experience upward economic and social mobility, a new study finds that a significant minority are suffering from lower levels of education, lower incomes, higher birth rates and higher levels of incarceration. Furthermore, it is the U.S.-born children of Mexican, Haitian and West Indian immigrants who experience these problems in the largest proportions.

The study, led by sociologists Rubén G. Rumbaut of UC Irvine and Alejandro Portes of Princeton University, appears online this week in the Migration Information Source. The largest and longest-running study of children of immigrants yet conducted, the study also confirms the critical importance of education.

“The greatest educational disadvantage is found among children of Mexican immigrants and Laotian and Cambodian refugees in our sample – close to 40 percent of whom did not go beyond a high school diploma,” said Rumbaut. “Education is the key to successful upward mobility among children of immigrants, so the discrepancies that emerge in educational achievement among immigrant groups tend to persist in trends for income, employment and incarceration.”

The researchers also point to the influence of human capital (the skills and education of immigrant parents) as well as family structure, racial prejudice and government policies toward certain immigrant groups – particularly the undocumented – that influence this “downward assimilation” process.

The researchers found that children of Laotian and Cambodian Americans as well as Haitian Americans had the lowest median annual household income at just over $25,000. They were followed closely by Mexican American families, which had a median annual household income of about $30,000. On the other end of the spectrum, children of upper-middle-class Cuban exiles in Southern Florida reported a household income of more than $70,000, and Filipino Americans in Southern California had more than $64,000, followed by Chinese immigrants.

Furthermore, the study found that the most educationally and economically disadvantaged children of immigrants were most likely to have children of their own at a young age, compounding their difficulties at pursuing higher education. When surveyed at the average age of 24, none of the Chinese Americans had children, while in contrast 25 percent of Haitians, West Indians, Laotians and Cambodians did, as did 41 percent of Mexican American young adults.

Differences in arrest and incarceration rates are also noteworthy, particularly among second-generation, U.S.-born, males. While only 10 percent of second-generation immigrant males in the survey had been incarcerated, that figure jumped to 20 percent among West Indian and Mexican American youths.

“Unfortunately, these trends perpetuate the racial and ethnic stereotypes that contributed to their situation in the first place,” Rumbaut said. “On the positive side, we see that children of immigrant families with little money and low human capital can move forward positively in American society. But there is clearly a minority segment among the native-born children of some immigrant groups that is getting caught in a cycle of downward mobility, and we need to understand the trends that drive this process.”

There are more than 30 million U.S.-born children of immigrants. Rumbaut is continuing to explore the major events influencing the social outcomes of the immigrant second generation, focusing on early childbirth for women and incarceration among men.

About the Study: The surveys were conducted over more than 10 years with random samples representing 77 different nationalities originally drawn in 1991 in San Diego, Calif., and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., of more than 5,000 respondents who were then in junior high school, The most recent surveys were conducted from 2001 to 2004 when the respondents were between the ages of 23 and 27. The surveys are part of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study, which was designed to examine the in-depth interaction between immigrant parents and their children and the evolution of the young from adolescence into early adulthood. Results from the CILS surveys provide the most compelling current evidence to date of how the second generation adapts – from education and income to unemployment, family formation and incarceration. The study was funded with support from the Russell Sage Foundation. More: www.russellsage.org.

also, did you read this? :

Coming US Challenge: A Less Literate Workforce

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0206/p02s01-legn.htm

Factfile said...

For the other side to the Peter Kimber story.

Peter Kimber Mexico Prison

Factfile

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