29 October 2014

Amnesty Will Lead to Financial, Social, and Political Harm

Stephen Kershnar
Amnesty and Democrats
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
October 26, 2014

The election less than a week away is about two issues: amnesty for illegal aliens and Obamacare. The U.S. is at a tipping point on whether or not it will become more socialist than capitalist and whether Constitutional protections will largely fade away. Amnesty will tip us in the wrong direction on both issues.

A vote for Democrat candidates is a vote for amnesty in that almost every Democratic politician (see, for example, Martha Robertson) either has or will support some type of amnesty. The same is true of the many Republicans in name only, but they are more vulnerable to pressure from the Republican base.

Consider an analogy. A community lives in a rural part of Montana and, on average, they are reasonably happy, financially successful, and have strong families and community ties. In short, their town works well for them. The mayor plans to invite people from a variety of third world countries who are poorer, less educated, less intelligent, and less committed to family values. If this happens, taxes will go way up and the town’s poor people will face stiffer competition for jobs and lower wages. The community ties will weaken as people become less interested in communal life and increasingly distrustful of their neighbors. The townspeople should fire the mayor and his cronies and escort them to the door. The American people should do the same. 

The flood of illegal aliens (75% are Latino and 59% come from Mexico) is a bad deal. Compared to current Americans, illegal aliens are poorer, less educated, less intelligent, and less committed to family values. What’s more, these conditions are likely to persist for several generations. None of the comparative claims is controversial.

Consider poverty. According to a 2012 study by Center for Immigration Studies, 30% of illegal aliens and their US-born children live in poverty, more than double the rate of other Americans. Consider education. According to a 2013 study by the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector and Jason Richwine, the typical illegal alien has a 10th grade education. Consider intelligence. There is little debate that illegal aliens have lower IQs and that this will persist for at least another generation. The debate focuses on what explains the gap and whether it will disappear with time. Most likely it won’t, but even if it will, this is still a problem for a while. 

Consider family values. Writing in City Journal in 2007, Heather Mac Donald points out that 45% of children born to Hispanic women are out-of-wedlock. Only black women do so with greater frequently. My assumption is that those who have children out of wedlock are, on average, less committed to family values than those who do not. 

The reason for the economic problems with amnestying illegal aliens, according to Rector and Richwine, is that the U.S. government massively redistributes wealth. They point out that well-educated households tend to pay far more in taxes than they get in benefits (specifically, direct and means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services). For example, in 2010, they note that, on average, the average college-educated household (head of household has a college degree) received, $24,839 in government benefits and paid $54,089 in taxes. They thus put in $29,250 more than they took out. 

Other households, Rector and Richwine point out, get far more in benefits than they pay in taxes. The government has to pay for these households by taking money from more successful households or by borrowing it (national debt is now $18 trillion). For example, in 2010, they note, households headed by people without a high school degree received, on average, $46,582 in government benefits and paid out $11,469 in taxes. They thus took out $35,113 more than they put in.

Rector and Richwine argue that the difference between those putting money in and those taking it out matters here because the typical illegal alien has only a 10th-grade education, half of illegal-alien households are headed by an individual with less than a high school degree, and another 25% are headed by an individual with only a high school degree. That is, illegal aliens will take far more out than they’ll put in.

In addition to being bad for taxpayers, the flood of low-skill illegal aliens is bad for the American poor. The estimates here vary. The dean of immigration economics, Harvard University’s George Borjas, in a 2005 study, found that Mexican immigration significantly reduced high school drop-outs (immigrants’ competitors) wages both in the short and long run. Some other economists, although not all, found a similar pattern. 

Current Americans will likely lose out socially as well as economically because Hispanic immigrants are dissimilar to them. Friendships are surprisingly homogeneous. Writing in the Washington Post, Joel Achenbach points out that friends are as genetically close to us as fourth cousins. Marriages are more likely to be successful when the couple is similar. Harvard professor Robert Putnam argues that people in diverse communities have weaker community ties. Specifically, they tend to withdraw from collective life, distrust their neighbors (regardless of the color of their skin), withdraw from even close friends, expect the worst from their community and its leaders, volunteer less, give less to charity, and work on community projects less often.

There is some evidence that Barack Obama is gearing up for a massive executive amnesty. He’s already taken the first step. When Obama asked Congress to exempt certain illegal aliens (particularly children) in his proposed Dream Act, Congress refused to do it. Obama merely proceeded as if the Act had been passed and ordered immigration enforcement agencies to act as if it were in effect.

More recently, roughly 70% of immigrant families the Obama administration had released into the U.S. following the recent surge from Central America never showed up weeks later for follow-up appointments. Also, the Obama administration has supposedly been telling activist groups that after the election it will implement amnesty via executive order.

One can see why Obama and Democrats would welcome amnesty. The recent class of immigrants votes very differently than do natives, especially those of European ancestry. 71% of Hispanics voted for Obama and, on one poll, 75% support bigger government. Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner points out that were the Obama-Romney election to have occurred with the 1980 electorate, Romney would have easily won. The Senate amnesty program would have legalized more than 30 million immigrants, enough to shove the country far to the left.

Voters face the following issues: do they want amnesty and, if not, is this an important issue? If you answer no and yes, it becomes harder to vote for the Democrats. 

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