Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Immigration System And Laws Remain A Costly Mess

Comprehensive Immigration reform has become a political football. It is often used by those wanting to swing policies in the direction they desire. Do not underestimate the ability of politicians and mainstream media to confuse the issue by claiming it is also a litmus test to measure whether a person is compassionate or cares about their fellow human beings. The immigration system is badly broken and will remain a problem until it is fixed. This is easier said than done when most people can not agree on exactly what kind of immigration system we should have. To many Americans, a big issue is how open the borders should be and who should be allowed to enter.

The debate of what people "deserve" and whether those who have it should share is not new. To some people, it comes down to basic human rights. This turns into a wish of how things could be rather than how they are. Remember, borders are a creation of man and men set the rules as to who crosses them and on what terms. While it may seem unfair to exclude or deny individuals this right we must remember that life is unfair and this is a reality of life. Many countries have "controlled" borders that limit those who wish to enter a world of plenty. This means, whether a person has landed in a place of plenty by luck or worked their way in by cunning or toil it is something to be valued.

Trump's Border Wall Is Politically Divisive 
Immigration is the crux of the issue - not "Trump's Wall." One of the reasons countries wish to keep immigrates out stems from the types of people that wish to enter. Sticking in my mind is the line, "they opened the borders so workers would come in but they got people instead." This keys onto the fact that many citizens resent people being allowed to enter the country and joining the group of people receiving government aid. To make matters worse many of these people do not follow or honor the mores and customs that allow a society to function are important in how we govern our day to day affairs.

Since December 21, 2018, the DHS has with their "catch-and-release' system" allowed at least 190,500 border crossers and illegal aliens into the interior of the United States. These people are often given work permits which allow migrants to take jobs in the United States while awaiting their asylum claims. One federal immigration official noted that of these, only around 12% of border crossers actually end up qualifying for asylum, this underscores that wholesale fraud committed by illegals. ICE officials told Congress last month that around 87% of illegal aliens fail to show up to their court dates. This forces the agency to undertake the expensive task of attempting to locate each offender for deportation which is nearly impossible. If you are against immigration, this truly is a crisis.

Those we have sent to Washington should get back to work solving real problems instead of just grandstanding and playing to their base. It is little wonder much of the world appears to have lost faith in America's ability to lead when we have allowed the country to be held hostage over such the mundane issue of a wall aimed at reducing illegal immigration. The fact is walls are a barrier and barriers impede easy access. While such a barrier is not the answer or solution to immigration it is a tool that can help limit and direct how people illegally enter the country. It is ironic that American citizens stand in long lines with passports in hand while long parts of our borders go unprotected. The fact is anyone who has traveled knows you can't just walk into any country without any questions asked.

America's Immigration System Is Broken
A lot more of our political attention should be focused on the broken bureaucratic apparatus that comprises our current immigration system. Immigration has been an issue for decades and not properly addressing it will not make it go away. A reasonable solution to solving our immigration problems has eluded both Republicans and Democrats time and time again and reduced those caught within the system into political pawns. The debate over immigration, processing new arrivals and addressing millions of undocumented immigrants, receives plenty of press but most of our immigration problems lurk below the radar.

Tens of billions of dollars are wasted each year on this costly inefficient system according to an article published by the American Action Forum way back in April of 2015. The article explored the cost of a broken immigration system on American business. The fact is that when the American Action Forum (AAF) analyzed the total costs of the immigration system, they found close to $30 billion in annual regulatory compliance costs. It hardly takes a rocket scientist to determine that reducing the number of people "illegally" entering the country would save billions of dollars and allow the system to function better even in its current poorly crafted form.

Examining paperwork requirements by way of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) the AAF found there are 20 requirements dealing specifically with the labor implications of hiring an immigrant worker. Of this, there were seven paperwork burdens that specifically applied to employers. AAF used agency estimates on the amount of time for each requirement, the number of forms, the length of applications, and the number of applicants. When an agency failed to provide a cost for the paperwork burden, AAF used the Department of Labor’s estimate of “Real GDP Per Hour Worked:” $60.59 and assumed $180 per hour as a reasonable cost for an immigration attorney.

Immigration also takes a toll on American employers, these burdens increase the cost of doing business and place a barrier to firms wishing to hire qualified workers. AAF found that a hypothetical firm hiring an immigrant would have to manage up to six federal forms, totaling 118 pages, and at a cost of approximately $2,200 per firm, per hire. Even small businesses in my state, far from the border, is required to confirm a worker is legal to work, this is a bit ridiculous for small firms with only a few workers, all from their own family, and these are people they have known since birth, but that's the law. 

Another article in The New York Times from September of 2016, titled; “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration” cites a 509-page National Academy of Sciences Study that reinforces the fact this is a very controversial issue. The report allowed interest groups on both the left and the right to claim it vindicated their positions. America’s Voice, a liberal advocacy group, declared from the pro-immigration side it "confirmed immigrants benefit America." while conservatives calling for more restrictions on immigration read the same report but had a very different interpretation saying it showed "workers and taxpayers lose, businesses benefit.”

The last Presidential election showed that many Americans are opposed to releasing border crossers and illegal aliens into the interior of the country. GOP voters indicated building a border wall and reducing both illegal and legal immigration is a priority. According to a Harvard-Harris poll, around 2-in-3 American voters are opposed to catch-and-release, and according to GOP voters, conservatives and Trump supporters, reducing overall immigration remains a priority. At current rates of illegal immigration, border apprehensions for the calendar year 2019 are expected to outpace every fiscal year of former President Obama. Meanwhile, DHS officials have said only about 42 miles of mostly replacement border wall barriers have been constructed since President Trump’s inauguration.

By assigning Trump's modest request for funding to build a wall or barriers on the border as a "non-starter" immigration supporters are shooting themselves in the foot. This is tantamount to someone supporting the "America first" agenda denying any type of foreign aid in a situation where it will obviously have big benefits for America. In theory, those opposed to Trump should be ecstatic about the offer Trump made to extend DACA and protection to some 300,000 immigrants for three years in return for some minor funding. If immigration advocates are confident their numbers will grow and Trump will not win a second term, this gives them the opportunity to knock the ball out of the park and resolve the whole immigration issue strongly in their favor when he's gone.

Of course, none of this is a solution to the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) situation. Loading millions of people on buses and deporting them will never happen. At the same time, those wanting more open borders should realize the current situation does not work either. Washington should step away from the "emotional" aspects of immigration such as flowery debates about the rights of people and what they "deserve" and focus on the key issues of restoring a functioning government and getting on with real immigration reform. In the overall scheme of things considering America's multi-trillion dollar budget the 5.7 billion dollars requested for the wall is peanuts. In truth, it is easy to see how America will get a good economic return on money spent on a barrier that works 24/7 year after year. Most taxpayers, if asked, would see this as a far better investment than paying government workers to stay home, as we did during the last government shutdown.

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