People have strong feelings about the challenges posed by unauthorized immigration. In a recent thread "What Are Voters Telling Us", some posters suggested that California should stop providing public services to unauthorized immigrants and their American born children as a major step in addressing California's budget challenges.
I decided to start a separate Town Square thread to see if local residents were interested in debating the best public policy responses to the economic and budget implications of unauthorized immigration. My position is 1) the United States should expand legal immigration opportunities for low-skilled workers, 2) existing unauthorized immigrants should be given pathways to legal status that include tough requirements and 3) unauthorized immigrants and their American born children should be given access to education and health services and put in prison if convicted of a serious crime--a continuation of current practices regarding public services and unauthorized immigrants.
My view is that the unauthorized immigrants fill a demand for low-skilled labor and that this process would go more smoothly if existing and future low-skilled immigrants had the protection and met the requirements of legal immigration. My view about education is that educating our children is an important investment for our state and country, an investment where the costs are more than paid back over time.
One poster in the previous thread that only "supporters" of unauthorized immigrants used this term, while other people use the more frequent term of illegal immigrants or aliens. I think that is probably accurate. However, the term unauthorized immigrant is the name used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a practice started under President Bush. It is the official term of the U.S. government.
People who are concerned about the impact of unauthorized immigration and immigrants face two choices. They can argue for deportation of unauthorized immigrants or they can argue for withholding services from these immigrants and their American born children. Each choice was favored by one or more posters in the "What Are Voters Telling Us" thread.
I see serious problems with both positions. If you favor withholding services, what do you favor and what do you think will happen? The right of all children to a free K-12 education has been upheld in all court cases. But putting the legal argument aside, do you favor letting children not get an education but remain here? What do you think will happen? Should unauthorized immigrant criminals not be put in jail? Should people be denied emergency health care?
What about deportation? This is the usual 'answer' from people concerned about the impact of unauthorized immigration. How exactly, are you going to do the deportation? What will the deportation cost in terms of manpower and tearing the nation apart? What do you think will happen to the economy?
But there is a large, mostly unspoken practical problem with deportation. More than half of all unauthorized immigrants and their American born children live in mixed families where most of the children and some of the adults are citizens. If you favor deportation of unauthorized immigrants, what do you propose to do with or for the citizen members of their households? Foster care for the 4 million citizen children? What will the impact on remaining family members when the principal earner is deported?
This is enough to see if there is any interest in pursuing this debate. There is some information and websites (both pro can con) in the other thread and I am happy, if possible, to answer factual questions. I have written on the economic and budget impact of unauthorized immigration on our website www.ccsce.com and my views are presented in these materials and summarized in Web Link.
What is the Best Solution to Unauthorized Immigration
Original post made by stephen levy on May 10, 2009
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