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Immigration: "Round 'em up and send 'em home"?

As you were forewarned, more on the immigration issue. In comments to the original post, one reader suggested the possibility of solving the problem by deporting the estimated 8 - 12 million illegal workers already here. This is an often-encountered argument among the "enforcement first" or "enforcement only" advocates. It relies on multiple false presumptions, though.

Now, even most of those with this view realize it is impossible to "round 'em up" with law enforcement. For example, we currently have about three million people incarcerated in this country. They are serving an average sentence of three years, but their actual average time served is eighteen months. This means that we catch and convict about 2 million serious criminals per year - that includes ALL levels of law enforcement, though: federal, state, and local. So in order to capture and deport 12 million illegals beyond the current law enforcement efforts in, say, three years, would require increasing the total number of law enforcement officers in this country by 200%. Where would these people come from, who would train them, how would they operate? Will we have checkpoints? "Papers, please."

Of course, this is only a nightmare, so the proponents of such fantasies suggest businesses who employ illegals might be forced to stop, and turn them in, with the threat of draconian penalties if they fail to comply.

Leaving aside for the moment the concept of government requiring private citizens, untrained and unarmed, to enforce the laws the government itself, with its virtually unlimited resources, cannot, may we recall this has already been attempted?

One feature of the Simpson-Mazzoli bill was to require employers to submit a form, the "I-9," verifying each new hire, which would include photocopies of three forms of ID, at least one of which must have a picture. Employers who failed to comply would be subject to drastic penalties, so we all did - religiously. Now, if an ID is faked well enough to pass a layman's inspection, it might be good enough for a photocopy to even pass an expert's examination. Not that it had to - so many of these forms were being received, they overwhelmed the ability to examine them, so they simply didn't examine them. And this did . . . exactly what good?

Even if it were possible to somehow detect and deport 12 million illegal workers immediately, who would replace them? I warned before that math would be involved:

Our current labor force is roughly 158 million people, and the unemployment rate at 4.6% equals 7.28 million people currently unemployed - but most of them aren't really available for employment. Economists agree there is a level of unemployment which cannot long be breached, because some people are always going to be technically unemployed as they go back to school, start a business, have a baby, or even are just "between jobs." What this "full employment" level is remains a matter of debate, but nearly all agree it lies somewhere between 3.0% and 4.0%. Taking the lower figure to calculate the number of "unavailable" unemployed workers, we see that about 4.75 million of the 7.28 million total of unemployed are simply not presently part of the active labor pool, leaving only 2.5 million unemployed and actually available to work to replace 12 million workers you just deported.

But that number includes all job categories. Among the 2.5 million are unemployed teachers, dental assistants, librarians, secretaries, and engineers - not likely candidates to take openings in roofing or other construction labor trades, or to pick cantaloupes.

So with fewer than 2.5 million eligible to replace 12 million booted out . . . um, do we have anything but a labor shortage which would ignite a wage-price spiral, endangering the economy?

Before some wag brings up "discouraged" workers, let me note their numbers have never ranged, since the stats were first compiled in the '80s in an effort to find a way to discredit the Reagan Recovery, beyond that of 1.3% to 1.9%, and currently reside in the upper-middle range of 1.7%, or about another 2.7 million workers. But these are usually older workers who couldn't find work in their salary range and have managed to figure out how to survive until retirement kicks in, not people who will come out of "unemployment" to cut your grass.

The numbers tell the tale: you can't replace 12 million workers with 2.5 million or even 5.2 million or 7.28 million. Do the math.

It's not a question of "jobs Americans won't do," it's a matter of "jobs there are no Americans TO do." Any realistic approach to the issue requires the facts of the situation be considered, and there is no majority in the Congress to expel the bulk of people who are here illegally, but working and not engaging in criminal activities, even if it were economically feasible to do so.


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Comments (10)

I said in your earlier post... (Below threshold)

I said in your earlier post that the enforce the border first people only want to see a realistic demonstration that our government can in fact stop the illegal migration into this country. IN a year or two, if and when that has been demonstrated, most of us would be open to discuss the workers currently in this country. I would settle for a guest worker program. I do not want citizenship offered for years to come. After all, they did break the law, and I have to obey all federal laws and will be held accountable for any I breach. I live in Texas and I am well aware of the drain the illegals put on counties. Not to mention the comeback of diseases like tuberculosis. ww

Enforcement doesn't have to... (Below threshold)

Enforcement doesn't have to mean we deport all 10+ million overnight. I'd be satisfied if that 10+ million number was on a decrease, even if it was glacial.

And you don't have to physically arrest and return the 10+ million. If the jobs dry up and when you are caught its actually meaningful it will encourage their return home under their own power. Just like they got here under their own power in the first place.

How about When we arrest th... (Below threshold)

How about When we arrest the Criminals We ICE them? Then as to the Illegal Aliens When ICE makes a sweep Process Them and Deport Them. In the Case of the Illegal Employers Why Don't we Fine Them $10,000.00 For Each Illegal and Raise The Fine To $50,000.00 The second time and Double fines from there?
In addition The Illegal Employer would Have to pay for Incarceration,Health needs and Transport back to the Country of origin.
I would Think that would Dry up the Incentive for a illegal work force and We could concentrate our resources on Terrorism and Criminal Enterprises

You're oversimplifying it. ... (Below threshold)

You're oversimplifying it. Just off the top of my head, what you did not factor in is that if we did the impossible and deported 12 million illegals, that's also 12 million less consumers. How many of those jobs simply wouldn't be necessary as there are 12 million less people consuming the products?

I'm not saying that you don't have a valid point, but I think that needs to be factored into the equation if you want anything close to accuracy.

You math is off. How many ... (Below threshold)

You math is off. How many of those "12 million" illegals are actually working?

Also, how many criminals are there in this country that are caused by the lack of decent jobs for lower income workers?

Let's start enforcement by stopping any more coming in illegally, then we deport the ones that break other laws. Then we will discuss the rest. Maybe we can work out a penalty for the rest and go from there.

"Leaving aside for the mome... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Leaving aside for the moment the concept of government requiring private citizens, untrained and unarmed, to enforce the laws the government itself.. cannot"

Don't 'untrained and unarmed' private citizens already do this? How does a company manage to take taxes out of employee paychecks, for example?

You have good points overall, but to suggest that citizens have absolutely no responsibility, because the .gov will 'take care of everything', is too extreme.

Didn't the 'count' of the c... (Below threshold)

Didn't the 'count' of the criminal immigrants just shoot up two to three times the 10-12 million. Could now be over 30 million.

"Didn't the 'count' of the ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Didn't the 'count' of the criminal immigrants just shoot up two to three times the 10-12 million. Could now be over 30 million."

Heh. It depends, I guess.

When the Pro-illegal crowd want to talk about how powerful they are, voting-wise, consumer-wise, political-wise etc..,there's about 30 million.

When they want to talk about the negatives of illegal immigration, then suddenly it's "Oh, there's only about 12 million illegals! Not many, really!".

Anyone else notice this in the media?

Attrition seems to be effec... (Below threshold)

Attrition seems to be effective. Cities and states that have created a hostile environment for illegals find they move away. So increase the pressure.

Plus check everybody who gets arrested. If they're illegal, deport them. Depending on the circumstances you might want them to serve a prison term (assuming they get convicted of what they were arrested for) but even if they're cleared of the charges for which they were arrested - deport them!

Doing that also serves to create a hostile environment which helps the attrition process.

You forgot the option of ar... (Below threshold)
civildisobedience Author Profile Page:

You forgot the option of armed conflict and war. It becomes more viable everyday. Got guns?






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