Conservative Values

Radley Balko writes on illegal immigration, and asks the following question,

I guess I just don’t understand all the anti-immigrant fervor. Mexican immigrants (yes, the illegal ones) risk life and limb to come to the U.S. so they can work long, hard hours for low wages, in a bid to provide a better life for their families. Hard work. Supporting one’s family, even at the risk of one’s own safety. Close-knit kin. Religious faith. Aren’t these purported conservative values?

My guess is that the response would be, “Yeah, but they are breaking the law!” All these other good qualities/values of Mexican immigrants apparently are trumped by illegally crossing the border. Well that and some lame economic arguments, but that seems to be the gist of why conservatives don’t like illegal Mexican immigrants. The fact that generally these people are law abiding in other areas, work hard, value family, are religious, opposed to abortion, etc. are insufficient to overcome crossing the border illegally.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Race and Politics, US Politics, ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. cirby says:

    I’m not really concerned about hard-working illegal immigrants of the sort mentioned above, if that was all we got with the current system.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the only sort of people who come over the border.

    I’d prefer a system that made it fairly straightforward for the true hard workers to get in here, while keeping out the “I’ll live with my cousin until I can get hooked up” losers.

    I work in the hospitality industry in Orlando, so I know a lot of immigrants (from pretty much every country you can think of). Most of the “green card” folks get sorta pissed off at the guys who just snuck in. If a guy from Ghana or Mongolia can make it here and get a real job, why can’t a guy from Guadalajara figure it out, too?

  2. denise says:

    Another part of the problem from the conservative standpoint is that illegal immigrants (and even legal immigrants from Central America) are increasingly unable or unwilling to assimilate. In particular, they are not learning English. Also, based on conduct at recent demonstrations, at least some do not feel any loyalty to the US.

    These points are debatable, of course, but the law and order argument isn’t the only conservative value that the current immigration situation offends.

  3. Bithead says:

    Denise stole my fire…

    That’s exactly the largest point in all of this.

  4. Randall says:

    There is a great conservative argument for controlling immigration, and that is that bringing large amounts of people from one culture into another could be destabilizing.

    Conservatives don’t tend to like instability.

    The idea that the immigrants are mostly – in essence – really “conservative” (religious, hard working…) is debatable, but the concern that an uncontrolled intake of immigrants might stress the social fabric (including that part of it that gives a non-intellectually gifted blue collar worker a realistic hope for a standard of living somewhere close to the American average) does not make a conservative hypocritical.

  5. Don Bistrow says:

    My father was an immigrant. He came through Ellis Island, legally, worked in the mills of U.S. Steel for 36 years.

    He went to night school and learned English and earned his high school diploma. He followed the laws of the United States.

    My father assimilated into American culture, he respected the flag of his new country and adopted home. He volunteered during WWII.

    He never asked for things to be in a language other than English to suit his needs, he followed George Washingtons advice and learned English, used it in public and asked for no special services because he was an immigrant.

    If he was alive he would be appalled at demands from people who can’t follow basic laws. It would sicken him to visit an ATM or use a phone and be asked what language he prefers.

    If legal immigration was good enough for my father, it’s good enough for every immigrant coming into the United States.

    It’s odd we use “economics” as a term for low paying jobs, in many cases below the legal minimum wages. Upton Sinclair is rolling in his grave! Adam Smith declared, “There is no free lunch.”

  6. Fersboo says:

    Steve,

    Of all illegal immigrants, how big of a proportion do you believe these hard-working, law-abiding (expect for that whole illegal entry, fraudulent Social Security Card, fraudulent Driver’s License thing), and God-fearing constitute?

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    I work in the hospitality industry in Orlando, so I know a lot of immigrants (from pretty much every country you can think of). Most of the â??green cardâ?? folks get sorta pissed off at the guys who just snuck in. If a guy from Ghana or Mongolia can make it here and get a real job, why canâ??t a guy from Guadalajara figure it out, too?

    Uhhmmm, it is actually very hard to get into the U.S. legally without somebody already hear that is a family member.

    Another part of the problem from the conservative standpoint is that illegal immigrants (and even legal immigrants from Central America) are increasingly unable or unwilling to assimilate.

    Two points here.

    1. How prevelant is this “unwilling to assimilate” problem? People talk about it all the time as if it is an established fact, when in reality I suggest everybody is simply MSU.

    2. Going after illegals with the intent to deport them isn’t going to make assimilation any easier.

    …but the concern that an uncontrolled intake of immigrants…

    I don’t think this is problem. My guess is that it is any form of immigration. Look at the highly negative reaction to a guest worker program, which in theory could replace uncontrolled immigration with controlled immigration.

    If he was alive he would be appalled at demands from people who canâ??t follow basic laws. It would sicken him to visit an ATM or use a phone and be asked what language he prefers.

    How parochial. I see it as good business. If a large segment of a frim’s customers are more comfortable with a language other than english, so what if that firm wants to cater to those customers?

    Itâ??s odd we use â??economicsâ?? as a term for low paying jobs, in many cases below the legal minimum wages. Upton Sinclair is rolling in his grave! Adam Smith declared, â??There is no free lunch.â??

    Talk about cognitive dissonance. On one hand you cite the “father of the free market”, yet decry the free markets response to people who speak a foreign language.

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    Fersboo,

    Most for men.

    Link 1

    Link 2

    Labor force participation of undocumented immigrants: Virtually all undocumented men are in the labor force. Their labor-force participation rate (96 percent) exceeds that of men who are legal immigrants or who are U.S. citizens because undocumented men are younger and less likely to be disabled, retired, or in school.

    Less for women.

    Undocumented women are less likely to be in the labor force (62 percent) than undocumented men or than women who are U.S. citizens. One reason is that proportionately more undocumented women are of childbearing age, and undocumented women are more likely than U.S. citizens to have children and remain in the home.

  9. cirby says:

    Uhhmmm, it is actually very hard to get into the U.S. legally without somebody already hear that is a family member.

    The part of my comment that you obviously missed:

    “I�d prefer a system that made it fairly straightforward for the true hard workers to get in here, while keeping out the “I�ll live with my cousin until I can get hooked up” losers.”

    The view that it’s “very hard” is sort of dismissed by the large number of folks I know who are here legally, many of whom have no family here. Then, of course, there’s the whole “live with my cousin” part of my comment above, which is extremely common among the illegals I’ve met. There are enough second and third generation Mexican immigrants that it’s hard to believe that most of the illegals can’t find someone to sponsor them, if they’re really hard-working and honest.

  10. Christopher says:

    I guess we could have said the same thing about the Nazis!

  11. Doug says:

    Steve,

    Have you been to a US Barrio of late? Would you walk down the street at night in one?

    Have you been in a car accident with one of the thousands, possibly millions that don’t have auto insurance?

    Have you worked in an industry where the immigrants have pushed the wages down so far that a non migrant can not work in that industry?

    Is it fair to take away the middle class from hard working people so you can pay low wages to illegals?

  12. Steve Verdon says:

    I guess we could have said the same thing about the Nazis!

    I hereby invoke Godwin’s Law.

    Oh…and Nazi’s were not Christians.

    Have you been to a US Barrio of late?

    Yep.

    Would you walk down the street at night in one?

    No, however, the same goes for any poor neighborhood as such neighborhoods all tend to have a rather high crime element.

    Have you been in a car accident with one of the thousands, possibly millions that donâ??t have auto insurance?

    Nope, but this strikes me as just as much of an argument for legalizing as for deportation.

    Have you worked in an industry where the immigrants have pushed the wages down so far that a non migrant can not work in that industry?

    This is somewhat misleading. Sure immigrants depress wages, but the impact is at most 3-4%.

    Is it fair to take away the middle class from hard working people so you can pay low wages to illegals?

    The problem with this argument is that it literally makes no sense. There seems to be this protectionist mindset amongst most people. The idea is that by walling ourselves off from international competition we can all be better off. The actual matter is that we’d all be worse off.

    Sure, some low skill/low wage jobs will see immigrants displacing natives. However, if this is what we are defining as middle class, you have defined middle class downwards. The argument here can be reduced to: get rid of the illegals so that Americans can have those low pay/low skill jobs. The idea that Americans might instead try for higher skill/higher paying jobs just doesn’t even seem to be on the radar.

  13. Christopher says:

    Hey the Nazi’s worshiped themselves as the master race. That counts! They were only trying to take care of their families! Give them a break, just like the libs want to give illegal immigrants a break!

    I don’t care about rising prices if their are no illegals to pick lettuce. I just want the illegals gone, or if not gone then the border CLOSED! so that no more come over. Com on! Lets get SERIOUS!!!

  14. Doug says:

    When I dropped out of college and started working in the construction business, Journeyman Plasterers in Texas were paid 19.35 an hour. That was in 1983.

    Today, the average wage for a plasterer is around $13.50.

    In 1983, $19.35 an hour was middle class, especially if you add in over time.

    Today, you can’t pay your bills on $13.50. Those are real numbers, not some made up 3 or 4% you pulled out of your hat.

    When I started, 85% of the people in the stucco industry were either white or black, today it is 98% Hispanic.

    The plasterers of 1983 did better work, got better production, but priced themselves out of the market by needing a living wage.

    This is the detriment to LEGAL residents. And there was never a shortage of people wanting to get into the industry, now you couldn’t drag a non hispanic into it for the wages they are paying.

    So, it displaced a huge amount of construction workers, not just here in Texas, but all over the USA.

    Your argument rings hollow. It’s not protectionism to expect people to follow the existing laws of this country. It’s not racism to expect the US to enforce the laws to where we don’t have crime ridden barios all over the southwest.

    It’s the fact that there are 11 million of them here and there is NO plan in place to keep them from coming. It’s fine and dandy in a booming economy, but what happens during a major recession….not like the last couple, but maybe like one in the early 80’s where there was 10% unemployment. Or the depression where there was 30% or greater?

    And illegal immigrants can buy auto insurance, they choose not to because what are we going to do to them? Deport them?

  15. floyd says:

    steve; what part of “national sovereignty” do you not understand. you don’t like the bush administration running things, why do you like to kowtow to every whim of the fox administration. you are really twisted boy; but i love ya anyway![lol]

  16. Steve Verdon says:

    Hey the Naziâ??s worshiped themselves as the master race. That counts! They were only trying to take care of their families! Give them a break, just like the libs want to give illegal immigrants a break!

    Christopher, I’ve invoked Godwin’s Law, the corollary to that is that you’ve lost. Now take your little anti-immigrant arguments home and come back when you can play nice. Sheesh.

    Doug,

    Today, you canâ??t pay your bills on $13.50. Those are real numbers, not some made up 3 or 4% you pulled out of your hat.

    Actually there Doug, if you read the first link I posted, back up in the comments, you’d see exactly where the 3-4% comes from. It’s an average. You do know how averages work right? Some wages decreases will be more than 3-4% others will be quite small.

    Tell me Doug, do you want your children to all be plasterers? I know I don’t want my son to do that. The point is why shoot for the low skill/low wage jobs? I just don’t get it.

    When I started, 85% of the people in the stucco industry were either white or black, today it is 98% Hispanic.

    The plasterers of 1983 did better work, got better production, but priced themselves out of the market by needing a living wage.

    Yep, welcome to the market. Competition can impact both quality and price, in both directions. Big shock.

    This is the detriment to LEGAL residents. And there was never a shortage of people wanting to get into the industry, now you couldnâ??t drag a non hispanic into it for the wages they are paying.

    Well there are also the benefits such as keeping prices lower than they otherwise would be. Further, benefits such as keeping housing prices down also benefits people at the lower end of the income spectrum as such people tend to spend more of their income on things like housing, food, and clothing. I know it is tempting to count only the costs, but at least try to have a shred of intellectual honesty here.

    Your argument rings hollow. Itâ??s not protectionism to expect people to follow the existing laws of this country. Itâ??s not racism to expect the US to enforce the laws to where we donâ??t have crime ridden barios all over the southwest.

    Yes, it is protectionism as it is basically the same argument about American companies offshoring/outsourcing. As for the crime, crime tends to go with poor neighborhoods, it isn’t just a hispanic thing.

    Itâ??s the fact that there are 11 million of them here and there is NO plan in place to keep them from coming. Itâ??s fine and dandy in a booming economy, but what happens during a major recessionâ?¦.not like the last couple, but maybe like one in the early 80â??s where there was 10% unemployment. Or the depression where there was 30% or greater?

    Well lets see. We have a massive underfunding of Medicare. We have a somewhat less massive underfunding of Social Security. In not too long droves of Baby Boomers will be retiring leaving a huge gaping hole in many labor markets, and the increased demands they put on things like health care and elderly care will mean lots of demand for workers.

    This means that there probably isn’t going to be some horrible apocalypse that you seem to fear. And try a bit of economic history there Doug. The recessions in the 1980s were due to horrible monetary policy due to excessive inflation. The immigrant issue was not even a factor.

    And illegal immigrants can buy auto insurance, they choose not to because what are we going to do to them? Deport them?

    This problem also applies to most poor people, not just illegals. If you are going to make an argument sit down and think about whether or not it is just illegals that do something or not. If you are going to argue illegals are bad because of X, at least make sure that the natives ain’t doing X as well.

    And it is also kind of hard to buy insurance if you don’t have a valid drivers license as many states prohibit if you are an illegal (e.g. California).

    And lastly a guest worker plan would be a plan to control the inflow and allow for background checks. If you think the U.S. will be better off without more immigrants you are quite delusional. Our policies (Medicare and Social Security) mean that either we have the immigrants or we have substantial tax increases to foot the bills.

  17. Steve Verdon says:

    Oh and Doug, I’m calling you on those wage numbers for plasterer. Although, the wages are lower for the border states that are shown. But relocating to Illinois, Minnesota, or Connecticut sure could help with that problem.

    Further, it is quite dubious to blame the entire decline in wages on a single cause like illegals. What has the contruction business been like in Texas? Is it cyclical? Has demand slacked off, was there a change in things like union requirements? You have to factor in ALL the factors that can impact the wage rate for a given job market. Both on the supply AND demand side. Simply posting the market wage doesn’t tell us the impact of any single factor.

    As for not being able to pay bills on $13.50/hour I disagree. It wouldn’t be a great life style, but one sure wouldn’t be living in poverty if one is careful with his/her choices. Getting married and cranking out 3 kids would be a problem. Being single or married with zero or 1 kid might be do-able depending on where one lives. Toss in a bit of overtime and it wouldn’t be bad at all, depending on where one lives.

    You can blame it all on illegals if you want, but it wont speak well of you at all.

  18. Tina says:

    I’m all for better enforcement pre-arrival, but I don’t actually object to the current post-illegal arrival now. Live in the shadows, do s*** jobs, never report being the victim of a crime. That’s your sentence for being here illegally. The upside is that your children will do better than you.

  19. Doug says:

    Davis Bacon job rates are not the norm, that is why Bush suspended them briefly in New Orleans. NOBODY south of Kansas City pays them unless they are doing government work.

    Sure, most of the white and African American plasterers did move north and join a union. Guess what? After the last amnesty program, a lot of the then legals moved north and started bringing their families up there to work, driving their wages down.

    And do you really think they pay overtime in construction in the south? Lots of these guys are lucky to get straight time on the weekends. Most are contract labor getting paid X amount every day, and those days can be 12 hours.

    And, construction is booming in Texas, and has been since 1991. We had a bad recession here in the late 80’s, and it started the down slide of wages. It didn’t stop when the work came back. In fact, I know people that haven’t gotten a raise in 10 years….no cost of living, no nothing.

    And no, I don’t want my kids to be plasterers, as I’m not one. I own the company.

    The difference between comparing offshoaring jobs to illegals is totally different. We aren’t providing benefits to the guys in India answering the phones for Dell. In Dallas County Hospital Hospital, over 80% of the babies born are born to illegals. And guess who foots the bill?
    Our jails are full of illegals. Our schools are full of kids that can’t speak the language. Our border towns are turning into quasi Mexican towns where Border Patrol agents get shot at (I have a brother in law who is an agent in charge of a station on the border, and another BIL that is a undercover NARC in ICE).

    And your point about keeping housing prices down, have you priced a house in SOCAL lately? 50% Hispanic population there, and probably close to 80% of construction workers are Hispanic, and the highest housing prices in the nation.

    I never said the recession in the 80’s was due to the immigrant issue, nor did I say that any future recession would caused by it.

    But what happens when there is a major recession? When we have 11 million illegals here that will continue to drive all wages down?

    What will happen when their offspring will do YOUR job for 20% less so they can send money home to their parents who have sense moved back to Mexico to collect their Social Security?

    This is a sovereign nation. If we intend to stay that way, we can not continue to accept people into our society that will not assimilate.

    Do you know what Mexico’s number two source of hard currency is? Behind only Oil?

    We have a nation on our southern border that is corrupt to it’s core. One that has a great wealth of natural resources. One that is in the same hemisphere as the USA and Canada.

    Why is it that their economy is in shambles? Why is it that they are so corrupt? This isn’t Ethiopia or the Sudan, stuck in the African Desert with no natural resources.

    They will bring the same corruption and instability of the economy to us. It’s already obvious in the border region. Give the 11 million the right to vote, and they will accomplish their goal to turn the southern border region back into Mexico

  20. floyd says:

    steve; look at the census records, there is no baby boom. not to mention,the present population is nearly twice what it was in ’64.

  21. jacob says:

    My guess is that the response would be, �Yeah, but they are breaking the law!�

    Well we sure can’t have any of that gol durn law breakin. Been too much of it already up thar in Warshinton. That george bush fella shore seemed nice but after they done caught him out as a liar and such and then he seems might friendly with that deelay – in jail I believe and friendly with ambrahoff or somesuch (hebrew fella I think) and goin to jail……jes don’t know anymore.

  22. Christopher says:

    Bush did not break any law—you liberals saying it over and over again doesn’t make it true.