Political Football and Immigration Reform: Is the GOP Playing Games With Our Economy?

Another great post from our guest blogger, Robert Gittelson. My apologies for getting this up late!

Last week people across the country celebrated the beloved American holiday of Thanksgiving, hundreds of millions of proud Americans, (some 12,000,000 or so being undocumented, but American none-the-less), opened their homes to friends and family, feast on turkey, and of course, watch football.

It is that other favorite American Pastime – political football – that is on my mind, as I write this article. You see, earlier this week, in response to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s speech at the Center for American Progress, the Republican anti- Comprehensive Immigration Reform starting team decided to suit up, and get in the game. On November 20th, they wrote a letter to Sec. Napolitano that attempted to explain why, in their narrow minded opinion, now was not the time, (nor would there ever be a time), for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The letter was signed by 12 Republican Restrictionist Senators, (their starting 11, plus a punter – although one could argue convincingly that they are all punters).

It is in the spirit of continuing this football metaphor, that I reference a very good article by Mary Giovagnoli at Immigration Impact.

In the article, she takes the Restrictionist arguments to task and labels their letter thusly: “It’s a playbook for the coming year, showing how to make points that are long on emotion and short on facts.” She makes the following points about the letter, (playbook):

Plays include:

  1. Express mild outrage, disappointment and disbelief that legalization helps the economy. Pretend that immigration reform is all about enforcement, despite the warnings across the political spectrum that failing to get a handle on immigration undermines America’s economy, its security, and its role in world.
  2. Assert, with no facts, that legalizing twelve million people creates more competition for limited jobs. Ignore the growing evidence from all sides of the political spectrum that there is no one-to-one competition for jobs between native born workers and undocumented immigrants; that undocumented workers don’t steal American jobs; and that legalization improves the status of all workers by raising wages and working conditions for all. Ignore the business community who has been begging for reform to improve productivity and grow the economy. In short, ignore the facts.
  3. Demand that Napolitano “refrain” from even talking about legalization in this bad economy. Use this as a code for do nothing on immigration reform.
  4. Pivot to delay and stalling tactics. Criticize Obama administration for pulling regulations that sound tough (ignore that they were universally hated by business and labor).
  5. Call for more worksite raids in order to show solidarity with the American worker. Ignore the devastating impact of these raids, especially in your own state. Almost two years after the raid in Postville, Iowa, for example, the town and surrounding communities still have not recovered from the economic or emotional devastation brought on by the raid.
  6. Grudgingly acknowledge border improvements but conveniently forget that you said you would be happy to support immigration reform once the border was more secure.
  7. End on the stealing jobs note, painting yourselves as remaining vigilant that undocumented workers don’t take American jobs.

The actual letter attempts to argue that CIR will hurt unemployed American workers in their pursuit of gainful employment.

While on the surface, the elementary and frankly embarrassing simplistic viewpoint of these Restrictionist Senators on this issue might seem to make some rudimentary sense, I want to caution readers that the modern global economy, and specifically the American economy, is a little more complicated than these politicians would have you believe.

The approximately 7-8 million undocumented workers are employed predominately in small to medium sized businesses, (which are exactly the business segments that will produce the new jobs that America will need to pull itself out of our current high unemployment recession). These Senators would have you believe that it is in the best interest of our economy to fire and deport these workers, and give their jobs to unemployed citizens. Let me explain why this is a horrible economic plan.

The undocumented that still have jobs, are employed because they are the best workers at their respective companies. During this deep recession, virtually all companies have cut back their workforce to their best and most productive workers, and by doing so, hope to weather the economic storm and survive. Again, at this point in time, almost all American companies are struggling to stay in business, and are employing the minimum amount of employees that will enable them to stay afloat. These remaining workers are experienced, productive, and have proven their worth.

The unemployed workers in this nation are unemployed for a variety of reasons, sometimes due to circumstances beyond their control. Some lost their jobs when their companies failed. However, many were laid off because they were not deemed to be among the best and most productive workers at their downsized companies, or perhaps because they lacked seniority. Some were fired because they were not good workers. The Restrictionists would have us fire good, experienced, and proven – albeit undocumented workers, and replace them with citizen trainees that cannot find jobs in their respective fields, and are theoretically willing to take jobs picking fruit, making hotel beds, or manufacturing products, until the economy expands, and they can get a better job.

Let’s think about their plan for a moment, and honestly explore the impact that their plan would make on our economy. For starters, these replacement workers would have varying degrees of impact on the productivity of their new companies. Some workers might step right in, and seamlessly replace good and experienced workers immediately. However, this would be extremely unusual and rare. A few might be as good, or almost as good as the workers that they are replacing, but this will be the vast exception. Most of these new workers will be less productive than the experienced and good workers that they will be replacing, especially in their first year of training, while our business climate is at its worst. In other words, to varying degrees, most of these workers cannot possibly be expected to replace experienced workers without some level of productivity drop-off.

What will the loss of productivity mean for these businesses, since we are already in a tough business climate, and these companies were already barely struggling to make a profit, or keep their losses to a minimum? Obviously, they will see a decline in revenue, and an increase in cost per unit. In the best of cases, these businesses, their owners, and their employees will contribute less tax revenue. In the worst of cases, these businesses will be forced to close. Make no mistake, at least some of these businesses will fail due to this Restrictionist game-plan. Of that, we can be mathematically certain. I can think of no probable situation in which these businesses will produce higher profit. Therefore, the result of the Republican Restrictionist plan will be lower tax revenues, continued and expanding unemployment, a longer recession, and less new employment from the small to medium size business segments, (who produce most of the new jobs in our economy).

Moreover, we will end up with twice as many people trained for old economy jobs, and fewer people trained for new economy jobs. This sounds counter productive to me. When our economy eventually does pick back up, (which will take considerably longer under this Restrictionist plan), we will reward these small and medium sized businesses by leaving them in the lurch, because these replacement workers will leave for better jobs at the very first opportunity.

Doesn’t it make much more economic sense to keep the government’s paws off of our remaining businesses, and instead have the government concentrate on stimulating new economic growth opportunities through programs such as job training for the unemployed, so that they will be prepared to re-enter the job market with improved skill-sets to assume the new economy jobs that effective legislation can help to achieve for our economy? This Thanksgiving season, the Restrictionists are trying to force us to feed like carrion off the already picked bones of our surviving businesses. They should instead be looking forward, and trying to build our economy, instead of cannibalizing off of the withered remains of the economic “turkey” that the previous Republican administration has left us with.

11 responses to “Political Football and Immigration Reform: Is the GOP Playing Games With Our Economy?

  1. Kathleen Farber

    Are you nuts!? Have you no shame! You are talking about unemployed Americans v/s Illegals,,,Not Undocumented Workers….Illegals. What don’t you get about that word?

    BTW, if you’re an Undocumented Worker, you are NOT an American! I am a second generation American. My grandparents came over and landed at Ellis Island. They had to sign a paper stating that they would not be a drain on the U.S. government, they would not look for, or request any handouts. They swore an oath to the U.S. that this would be the ONLY nation that they would recognize as theirs, from now on.

    I don’t care if it may take longer to train an American worker. (Please prove this statement)

    These are Americans, born and raised here by mothers and fathers that came here LEGALLY to help build this great nation.

    Sorry, but the free ride is over! Please leave our country, and wait your turn in line, and come here legally, and then we’ll talk about who should have jobs here in America!

  2. Our country and economy cannot sustain but so many people. If we try to take in too many, as we are doing today, we end up in the situation we have now. Too many workers for the number of jobs available. So it is necessary to mandate the jobs available go to those who are legally here, and as our economy grows and the need for more workers grow, then more would be “welcomed”.

  3. Your contempt for unemployed citizen’s is a good tool for fueling “restrictionists” ire. Well done. Your reinterpretation of Ms. Giovagnoli’s list is quite an unrestrained pixilation.

    I really wish you would choose to sleep in….maybe dream about an actual fellow citizen’s plight for a split second. The only cannibalism happening here is your fallacious representations and palpable resentment of our US citizen unemployment workforce. A pathetic and deluded analysis.

    “American none-the-less”; what does that mean exactly? More on the “less” side methinks. You managed to create a truly absurd characterization of what you deem the more “productive , worthy and smarter” workers. What’s worse is- you believe this! Potitical football….good one too with many blast and sneak plays.

  4. There is no such thing as an “undocumented American”. I suggest you read the 14th Amendment and it’s Senate debate to understand who is a US Citizen and who is not.

    Terms like “undocumented American” are only used by seditious individuals who reject the US Constitution and US Sovereignty.

  5. James G. Ziegler

    “I can think of no probable situation in which these businesses will produce higher profit.”

    The above statement proclaims loudly exactly from whist your opinions come.

    And “sir”, no one who is “Undocumented”, i.e.: Illegal, is “American none the less.” They are nothing more than interlopers who have circumvented immigration law to do what they damn well please. I might add, at a cost to those who have and are attempting to immigrate legally.

  6. Okay- I would ask that you step away from your crack pipe, but your brain is obviously too corroded now for that to do any good, as witnessed by your repeated use of the PC term “undocumented” vs. the reality of “ILLEGAL”. Yeah- I know, it’s a toughy. The FACT is that for every $1.00 they remit home (which is of course Mexico’s #2 source of “income”) , we have lost $4 out of our economy because that $1 is no longer circulating here, no longer able to have value added to it.

    There are so many ways your dissertation can be picked-apart as to make it laughable, were it not for the fact that you have an audience at all, and the sheer wrongheadedness of it.

    You sir, have no business considering yourself an AMERICAN.

  7. Wow. you were totally non-partisan there? Who could be responsible for every problem and for trying to make it worse? Oh, wait, it is Republicans! Those simple minded unAmerican dopes!
    These people entered this country illegally, are here illegally, and are breaking our tax laws continuously. They are an insult to legal immigrants, who followed the rules.
    The only problem with Republicans on this
    issue is that they should have been stronger on it when they had the chance. Send them home, like Truman and Eisenhower did to make room for returning veterans. Boy, that really started an economic collapse, didn’t it?

  8. Wow…this really takes the cake!!!. Hard to believe this ridiculous rhetoric comes from an American especially in these economic times. Bottom line is this. The Mexican illegal immigrants are felons and don’t belong here, especially 20 million of them!!! They are also the dregs of Mexican society…ignorant, unskilled, uneducated, poor, and indigent….that Mexico wants to rid itself of and dump on the backs of the U.S. taxpayer to support. So we’re not talking about high caliber skilled workers here son. We’re talking worthless flotsam that are displacing the American workforce and are retained by traitorous American employers only because they can pay them under the table with no benefits, no workman’s comp, and no taxes. What planet are you from anyway??? This ain’t rocket science!!!! In the meantime, your beloved Mexican scourge procreates like an uncontrolled virus beyond any abilty to support itself and sucks down taxpayer-subsidized welfare and health care like nobody’s business. And they use, consume, and stress our capital improvements (roads, infrastructure, and water) with no form of contribution whatsoever. They occupy most service sector jobs that Americans without college degrees used to work as well as our kids looking for work experience. Beyond that, they also occupy city and county jobs, fast food, UPS, and many of them from the 1986 amnesty have used our free college grants to obtain law degrees and get into our politics, only caring about Mexico and not giving a damn about America. It is this that you appear to advocate and you make no sense whatsoever. In fact, you’re nothing short of a disgusting feel-good traitor to the longevity of this Republic.

  9. Oh, my God!: “workers will leave for better jobs at the very first opportunity” Geez – who would do that. People might want to do better for themselves?!?! Heresy!!

    What you want is a compliant and cheap labor force that competes, “Grapes of Wrath-style” for crappy and low-paying jobs. As long as the influx exceeds the jobs, you can hold pay down and foist the enormous social cost on the (shrinking) pool of people still paying taxes and people who can’t afford to live in upscale neighborhoods where the help can’t afford to live.

    Once you’ve replaced Americans with cheap imports (and outsourced the rest of the work), what will be left?

    If we’re to allow unfettered flow of labor into this country then we should impose a tax for each “guest worker”: a tax to cover the cost of welfare, education, law enforcement, and medical care imposed by the worker and family members he brings along.

    And while we’re adding taxes, how about a little tax to cover benefits paid to displaced citizens (see the horrendous unemployment rates among black citizens and American Indians).

    Unemployment rates approach 80% on some reservations… are these *citizens* not as deserving of work opportunities as illegals in downtown LA?

    You open-borders business types are greedy bastards.

  10. You realize Mr. Gittleson has absolutely no credibility in this debate, don’t you? He’s been exploiting illegal workers for years, while his wife on the flip side works to make them “legal” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

  11. What hilarious nonsequiter nonsense. Somebody’s really into pipe dreams.

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