Episode 31: Ricochet Special Podcast: Immigration

Mickey Kaus, Mark Krikorian, James Pethokoukis, and Josh Treviño
Feb 12, 2013
Direct Link to MP3 File

This morning, we assembled an esteemed panel to discuss the topic of immigration. Mickey Kaus (Charles Krauthammer observed recently that Mickey was “doing the best writing in the country” on the topic),  Mark KrikorianJames Pethokoukis, and Josh Treviño debate where we’ve been, where we should go, and what the Republicans can do to keep at least some of the new citizens in the party.

After you’ve heard the panel’s take, please give us your views in the comments below. We’ll have the panel keep the conversation going in the comments.

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  1. Indaba

    Excellent podcast with such high quality ideas and input. Very well done.

    The MacLeans magazine article is on the Members’s feed and Jason Kenny has radically changed immigration.

    The USA is crazy to think the illegals will stop without changing anything. My family wanted into the US and came to Canada instead. I have South African friends who are running house reno business in the USA without a green card using non American workers.

    canada is getting your educated non Americans and are growing a mini silicon valley. So keep on kicking out your smart grads, we will accept them.

    i just had lunch with a man from India who was a farmer and us now a corporate finance exec. I am from Zambia so we know our backgrounds and guess what, he is conservative and loves Harper.

    He is Hindu and is glad Kenny put into the Citizenship many comments aimed at the extreme Muslim such as no honour killing or you will be jailed fir life, no hitting your child or spouse or you will be jailed.

    He particularly liked Harper for kicking the Iran embassy out of Canada.

    Education, family, discipline.

  2. Indaba

    Josh’s view is exactly right. The Republicans need to call him and get him to do their immigration policies. Also, get Kenny on a podcast. He helped Steyn in his Human Rights case. He is a remarkable man.

  3. Aaron Miller

    The point about a post-industrial economy needing different immigrants than an industrial economy is fascinating.

    Here’s the possible flaw in linking Mexico’s declining birth rate with illegal immigration: Which Mexicans aren’t having kids? In wealthy nations, it is the affluent and secularized who fail to procreate sufficiently. But illegal immigrants from (and through) Mexico tend to be poor people. Poor people usually have plenty of kids.

    (still listening…)

  4. BlueAnt

    That was the most contentious podcast we’ve had on this site, with the most disagreement and flat rejection of opposing points.

    And yet it was still civil, informative, and well-mannered!

    Chalk up another Ricochet win for civilized debate on the Internet.

  5. The Cloaked Gaijin

    Wow!  I just lost a certain amount of respect for Josh Treviño and James Pethokoukis.  

    Yeah, immigration is definitely an up-down issue instead of a left-right issue.  Mickey Kaus and Mark Krikorian would be considered quite liberal on the issue in many parts of the leave-me-alone coalition of the country.

    I don’t mind the science-technology-engineering-medicine immigrants and honest, English-type-speaking legal immigrants who actually love America the Small Constitutional Republic, but we all know that that’s not what this debate is about.

  6. Brandon Shafer

    I was especially frustrated hearing the idea that we don’t know that we’ll get another 11 million.  Of course we don’t know the future, but that doesn’t stop us from preparing for it.  

    In any case, I’m very open to the idea of more open borders, like the prohibition I think regulation works much better than out right bans.  However, of particular concern to me is how illegal immigrants are used as cheap labor, and even to the point of an indentured servant class.  Its not just that they are paid little, (I’m against minimum wage laws anyway), but they are often paid what would be illegal to pay a normal resident.  Taxes and other labor practices are ignored and subverted when with legal employees they would not be.  Businesses are finding it hard to compete with the cheap labor of other businesses that use illegal immigrants because the whole cost of that employee (taxes, overtime, osha standards) are subverted and ignored by those willing to go that route.  The problem with allowing and rewarding illegal immigration, in my eyes, is that you are dis-incentivizing following the law. 

  7. Thursday
    The Cloaked Gaijin: Wow!  I just lost a certain amount of respect for Josh Treviño and James Pethokoukis.  

    I had the completely opposite reaction. Josh in particular was incredibly articulate and thoughtful. It’s clear he knows what he’s talking about.

  8. Franco
    The Cloaked Gaijin: Wow!  I just lost a certain amount of respect for Josh Treviño and James Pethokoukis.  

    Yeah, immigration is definitely an up-down issue instead of a left-right issue.  Mickey Kaus and Mark Krikorian would be considered quite liberal on the issue in many parts of the leave-me-alone coalition of the country.

    I don’t mind the science-technology-engineering-medicine immigrants and honest, English-type-speaking legal immigrants who actually love America the Small Constitutional Republic, but we all know that that’s not what this debate is about. 

    Agreed. These people are pathetic. They have no shame in how they argue. Might as well be Nancy Pelosi. Ignore reasonable arguments and make assertions. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

  9. Joseph Eagar

    I feel there was little real discussion in this podcast.  Debates on immigration always seem status-quo centric to me—for example, just because unskilled Americans won’t take the jobs illegals fill now doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take those jobs in a properly tight labor market, where wages would be higher

    I was especially amused when Joshua Trevino (whom I greatly admire on many other matters) said that “globalization” and not unskilled immigration were responsible for the plight of American unskilled workers.  Excuse me, isn’t immigration part of globalization?

  10. Joseph Eagar
    The Cloaked Gaijin:

    I don’t mind the science-technology-engineering-medicine immigrants and honest, English-type-speaking legal immigrants who actually love America the Small Constitutional Republic, but we all know that that’s not what this debate is about. · 5 hours ago

    There’s another upside to that as well.  One of the more common explanations for rising American inequality is an imbalance between skilled and unskilled workers.  Import more skilled workers, and the result should be, if this theory holds, less inequality in society (or rather, inequality would fall to its “natural,” market-optimum level).

    That’s the idea, anyway.  Myself, I think unskilled immigration is only part of the problem; other government distortions probably play a role as well (occupational licensing, housing restrictions in many urban areas, our failing education system, bad labor laws—especially the Wagner Act—etc).

  11. Aaron Morse

    Great podcast.  Ricochet needs more of this.  I love Ricochet because I enjoy the interaction between like-minded people on our side.  But after the election I felt very out of touch with what happened, like I was part of the “right-wing echo chamber”.   We need more spirited debate like this.

  12. Lucy Pevensie

    I have often wondered how much of a market for unskilled illegal workers there would be in the absence of a minimum wage.  Isn’t the reason people want to hire them, at least in part, that they can work for wages lower than we will allow someone to pay someone within the law?

  13. Lucy Pevensie

    One thing that I will never understand is why no one talking about enforcement of immigration laws ever talks about the complete bureaucratic nightmare horror that is the USCIS (formerly INS).  The travesty is that legal immigration of desirable immigrants is 1000 times harder than walking across the border.

    For example, the podcast talks about how we will never legally separate spouses of citizens.  Obviously none of the podcast speakers knows anyone who has married a non-US spouse.  USCIS routinely screws up people’s paperwork or enforces rules in ways that result in extended separation of spouses. For example, a young man I knew was separated from his Canadian bride for more than 6 months–because she traveled home to try to see her dying mother. In fact, USCIS prevented her from leaving the country for 48 hours, so that she missed seeing her mother before she died–but she was able to make the funeral.  As a result, she was not allowed back in the country for something like 6 months, and only then because a congressman intervened.

    All our immigration enforcement seems to be focused on making life difficult for desirable legal immigrants.

  14. Joseph Eagar
    Lucy Pevensie: I have often wondered how much of a market for unskilled illegal workers there would be in the absence of a minimum wage.  Isn’t the reason people want to hire them, at least in part, that they can work for wages lower than we will allow someone to pay someone within the law? · 16 minutes ago

    There’d be a lot more unskilled immigrants.  In the end, unskilled American workers will not work for nothing, while immigrants will (especially when you take various government benefits into account that have the effect of subsidizing their wages).

  15. Sean

    This is 100% correct.

    The “fiance visa” process prevents the newly arrived legal immigrant from re-entering the US (legally) for months at a time while INS processes paperwork. There are several gaps where a legal immigrant lacks sufficient documentation to cross the border/

    Lucy Pevensie:

    For example, the podcast talks about how we will never legally separate spouses of citizens.  Obviously none of the podcast speakers knows anyone who has married a non-US spouse.  USCIS routinely screws up people’s paperwork or enforces rules in ways that result in extended separation of spouses. For example, a young man I knew was separated from hisCanadianbride for more than 6 months–because she traveled home to try to see her dying mother. In fact, USCIS prevented her from leaving the country for 48 hours, so that she missed seeing her mother before she died–but she was able to make the funeral.  As a result, she was not allowed back in the country for something like 6 months, and only then because a congressman intervened.

  16. We’re going to do another special podcast on gun control early next week. 

    Aaron Morse: Great podcast.  Ricochet needs more of this.  I love Ricochet because I enjoy the interaction between like-minded people on our side.  But after the election I felt very out of touch with what happened, like I was part of the “right-wing echo chamber”.   We need more spirited debate like this. · 2 hours ago

  17. Lucy Pevensie
    Sean: This is 100% correct.

    The “fiance visa” process prevents the newly arrived legal immigrant from re-entering the US (legally) for months at a time while INS processes paperwork.  .  .  .

     

    And it’s only one of many examples of USCIS craziness. 

    For example, in adoption: You should have seen the nightmare we went through to try to get a certificate of citizenship for my daughter, who by law was a citizen from the moment she entered the country (adopted at three months in 2002).  One major question always being asked on international adoption boards is the time USCIS is taking at any given time to process the paperwork of potential adoptive parents.  Occasionally someone will manage to find a secret phone number that allows you to actually reach a human being; otherwise, to even ask a question you must drive to a USCIS office (in our case, 2 1/2 hours away). 

    Employment: Does anyone else work with legal aliens with work visas?  How often have you suddenly had to make do without a colleague for weeks or months because the person had to leave the country for a visa renewal and USCIS screwed up the paperwork for re-entry?

  18. Lucy Pevensie

    USCIS is like the IRS on steroids. It is the perfect example of why conservatives hate big government, and would make a great illustration, for anyone who has ever dealt with it, of why conservative principles are good ones. It seems completely nuts to me that we don’t use this argument to help sell small-government conservatism to legal immigrants and new citizens. 

  19. Joseph Eagar
    Thursday

    The Cloaked Gaijin: Wow!  I just lost a certain amount of respect for Josh Treviño and James Pethokoukis.  

    I had the completely opposite reaction. Josh in particular was incredibly articulate and thoughtful. It’s clear he knows what he’s talking about. · 8 hours ago

    Honestly, I didn’t find any of them particularly convincing, because they all mostly talked past each other.  Or at least, there didn’t seem to be much genuine communication.

    Ultimately, this comes down to a battle between people who think unlimited unskilled immigration is good for America, and people who think it is bad.  In the end, only one side will win; immigration reform will either enforce the border, or it won’t.  Amnesty is politically inevitable, but open borders is not.

  20. The Cloaked Gaijin

    It looks like I owe Josh Treviño a bit of an apology. 

    I just listened to him on the Ricochet Flagship podcast and noticed his very excited, nervous, and rapid-fire speech pattern that was a bit harsh on the ear for a debate on a controversial issue like immigration.

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