Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Not A Glamorous Idea

It may not be surprising that a conservative talk show radio host, syndicated nationally from St. Louis, would tweet "First black president snuck $221 million to the Palestinians instead of sending it to Flint where he received 100% of the black vote twice."

In 2017, the USA agreed to send the Palestinian Authority $263 million dollars, a reduction of $27 million. This reporter explains

The US does not deliver aid money directly into the PA’s coffers. Instead, to avoid possible misuse of funds, particularly to pay the salaries of convicted terrorists, the US channels aid into specific projects.

For example, the US can directly pay PA contractors who work on water or electricity infrastructure, and pay bills for schools and hospitals.

And of course the obvious question: what on God's green earth does aid to Flint, Michigan have to do with money sent to the Palestinian authority?

Not much-  but Stacy Washington makes much more sense when she talks about illegal immigration. Or at least she did when she recently wrote

Requiring all businesses to use E-Verify would drastically reduce illegal immigration by turning off the jobs magnet that attracts illegal laborers. That would protect American workers and boost wages. And unlike most Washington regulations, it would do so without burdening taxpayers and businesses or infringing on citizens' civil liberties.

The Department of Homeland Security administers E-Verify. The site cross-references employees' I-9 work authorization forms against their Social Security numbers, visas, and other government records. In a matter of seconds, the system either green-lights a hire or issues a "tentative nonconfirmation," which lets employers know that the person might not be authorized to work.

Erecting a physical structure to block entry into the USA of hordes (or over the last several years, trickles) of illegal "aliens" (obnoxiously, "illegals") is sexier and makes immigration critics hot.  But that does not address the largely unaddressed problem, as Stacy explains:

Mandating E-Verify would curb illegal immigration far more effectively than even the highest border wall could. That's because 40 percent of illegal immigrants arrive legally and then overstay their visas. Making it nearly impossible to hold a job without legitimate work papers would compel many illegal workers to return home and discourage others from illegally immigrating in the first place.

That should be a compelling motive, thus far from the thoughts of most conservatives, who are much more determined to keep immigrants from voting or receiving from government benefits such as education or health care.

Stacy concludes that mandatory application of E-verify would be

the quickest, most efficient way to deter illegal immigration. It would boost wages and open up job opportunities for American citizens and legal immigrants. And since this electronic wall is already in place, nobody would have to pay for it. Not even Mexico.

The case that immigration reduces wages and benefits has not been convincingly made, despite the claim, as cited by Stacy, that "immigration reduces (lower-paid) workers" wages by up to $1,500 per year." The belief is intuitive, yet in this case is reminiscent of the retail promo "prices up to 50% off" (which may turn out to be 5% of less in most cases).

But the argument that unemployed and already-employed workers would benefit by e-verify (or generally tougher enforcement of immigration laws) has not been proven largely because it has little constituency.  Democrats are not exorcised by increased immigration nor the prospect of allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country. The GOP's popular base wants a hard wall, a visible symbol of their antagonism toward immigrants, and probably of more.  And employers are not energized by thoughts of increasing compensation of their workers, nor that the latter can be free to speak up without fear of deportation.

As Stacy explains, requiring use by employers of E-verify would be more effective and far cheaper than building a wall. Nor would it create a structure which decades, even centuries, into the future would be not only literally, but figuratively, ugly.

It also would not require re-invention of the wheel. Howver, in an age in which a politician can appeal to voters by proclaiming he will "utterly destroy" a major terrorist organization and "I alone can fix it" (no matter the "it"), that does not bode well for its prospects.

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