Cartoon: Border Deaths


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After President Trump said (of undocumented immigrants) “these aren’t people. These are animals,” Eugene Scott, writing in The Washington Post, pointed out that there’s a long and ugly history to the political dehumanization of oppressed groups:

Referring to marginalized groups as subhuman has been a way dictators  have justified the abuse of those groups. This happened with the Jewish  people during the Holocaust. It happen with the Tutsis during the  Rwandan genocide. And it is happening with the Rohingya people in Burma.

Trump, as usual, does not speak alone. When, researching this cartoon, I read the comments section of articles about the suffering or deaths of undocumented immigrants, I saw many comments referring to immigrants as “animals.” Calling undocumented immigrants animals is a way of justifying the indifference to their deaths which has become all too common in America.

Immigrants are coming, and they will keep on coming. Nothing short of the total economic collapse of the US, combined with enormous economic growth in Mexico and in the central American countries, will change that. (And if that happens, plenty of Americans will be looking for ways to move south). Increased enforcement, and building walls, cannot stop the economics driving immigration. What it can do, however, is force undocumented immigrants to take ever more remote and dangerous routes into America. And when that happens, people die. By the thousands.

This cannot be an acceptable policy outcome for us.

But some people want immigrants to die. The group No More Deaths, also called No Más Muertes, released a video showing U.S. border patrol agents destroying drinking water that No More Death volunteers had left in the desert to give crossing immigrants a better chance of survival. (Almost immediately after the video’s release, The Border Patrol arrested a No More Deaths volunteer.)

The agents aren’t legally required to destroy lifesaving food and water – in fact, they’ve been officially ordered not to, although I doubt that order is effectively enforced. They’re doing it because they want people to die.

The tragedy of deaths on the border – and of the towns who are overwhelmed by the number of bodies, many of which will be buried without ever being identified – was suggested as a topic for a cartoon by patron Tomas Sanchez, who is thanked on the sidebar of the cartoon. Thank you, Tomas, for all your support – I really appreciate it!


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels.

PANEL 1
Two men are walking through what looks like a hilly park. The man walking in front has a high hairline and glasses; the man walking in the back is bald with a goatee. The man in back is wide-eyed and looks distressed.

GOATEE: Over seven thousand immigrants have died int eh desert trying to cross the U.S. border. Seven thousands!
GOATEE: Some town morgues are overwhelmed by the sheer number of corpses!

PANEL 2
Glasses has stopped and turned back to face Goatee. Glasses has his arms crossed; Goatee has his arms extended, palms up, in a supplicating fashion.

GLASSES: So what do you want, an “open door” policy?
GOATEE: Maybe! Or if we have a closed door policy, design it to stop our closed door from causing thousands of deaths!

PANEL 3
A shot from behind Glasses, looking towards Goatee. Glasses has a hand upraised in a “stop!” gesture; Goatee has put one hand on his cheek and still looks wide-eyed and distressed.

GLASSES: Well, I think we should get stricter. If more of them die, that’s not our problem.
GOATEE: But these are human beings!

PANEL 4
A close-up of glasses, looking stern and angry, one forefinger raised.

GLASSES: That’s where we disagree. I don’t think of them as human.
GLASSES: They gave up their claim to being human by disrespecting our laws!

PANEL 5
Same shot as the previous panel, but now Glasses is transforming like a wolfman; he’s grown fur, his ears have gotten pointy, his nose has pushed forward into a snout.

GLASSES: When people act uncivilized, they stop being human!

PANEL 6
A long shot shows that Glasses has now almost fully transformed into a dog-like creature. Goatee is raising his hands defensively and backing up.

GLASSES: These are animals, and if they die I don’t grrrrr growf! GROWF!
GOATEE: Er…

Below the bottom of the strip, there is a quote.
“These aren’t people. They’re animals.” –Donald Trump, May 16, 2018

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Immigration, Migrant Rights, etc. Bookmark the permalink. 

55 Responses to Cartoon: Border Deaths

  1. 1
    Erin says:

    Ampersand,

    First off, the quote attributed to Donald Trump is misleading (I’ll put it as gently as I can) because he was talking about MS-13 gang members. MS-13 gang members kill with knives and the like, instead of guns, because it causes more pain and agony in the victims. They rape women as an induction into the gang.

    They ARE animals. I will be charitable and assume that you made a mistake, but please check into what I am saying. Trump was not talking about immigrants in general.

    Second, if you want to have anything but completely open borders, and want to prevent deaths, then a suggestion has already been made by Trump. Build a wall. I know that people could tunnel under it etc., but it is a first suggestion. You are not making any suggestion. If there were some type of inpenetrable barrier, then no one would be able to attempt a crossing at risk of their death. Without that, there will be deaths.

    Third, can you understand that conservatives / right-wingers would be a bit offended by your attribution to them that they could care less about human beings and think they are animals? The quote you cited from Donald Trump is drastically taken out of context, but there are direct quotes in context from feminists about killing all men, as an example. One mainstream feminist even talks about daydreaming about mass killing of men (who doesn’t). Even with real quotes, you – as a feminist (ally) – would probably be irritated if these feminists were focused on as being representative of you.

    Fourth, the quote you cited about Trump is not about immigrants as a class. Did I mention that? I assume you got sloppy about the quote and didn’t want to intentionally mislead.

  2. 2
    Kate says:

    There are thousands of people dying along the U.S. border. There are not thousands of men being killed by feminists. One is reality, the other is fantasy. That is an important distinction.

  3. 3
    Erin says:

    Put a different way, Ampersand, would you be irritated if someone drew a cartoon mocking you and then quoted you as saying that …

    You “want immigrants to die.” Barry Deutsch, October 23, 2018.

    The part in the quotation marks is an exact quote from your text above.

    You did write exactly what is between the quotation marks. But context is kind of important, agreed?

  4. 4
    Erin says:

    Well, Kate, everything can be twisted if you want to play the victimhood game. Men commit suicide at three or four times the rate of women in the United States (I think the same numbers hold in the developed countries in the world) – and it can be spun that it is a direct result of feminist policies aimed at them, and the pressures put on men by women (most of whom are feminists).

    Fun game. Everyone can play.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Erin, thank you for repeatedly explaining to me that altering a quote by quoting, say, part of a sentence rather than a whole sentence, is dishonest.

    It’s odd, then, that you chose not to clear things up by quoting Trump’s full context. Why not simply quote the bit where Trump said he was talking about MS-13? Or where he was answering a question about MS-13?

    Oh, wait, because no such bit exists for you to quote, because Trump wasn’t talking about MS-13.

    Here’s what Trump said, following a statement from a sheriff (and of course, I read and considered this before I published my cartoon):

    SHERIFF MIMS: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.

    THE PRESIDENT: We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.

    First of all, Mims was specifically talking about (alleged) MS-13 members in her jail who cannot be shown to have committed a knife murder, or a rape, or any other felony. That’s what “if they don’t reach a threshold” means. But that’s besides the point, because for anyone who isn’t bending over backwards to find ways to defend Trump’s words, Trump clearly isn’t talking about MS-13 members alone.

    Trump is talking about “people coming into the country, or trying to come in,” a group which does not include anyone already in a U.S. jail for non-immigration reasons (i.e., the people Mims was talking about). I know this, because Trump said it. Trump’s talking about people who are deported and return. Again, we know this because Trump said it. It’s not ambiguous. (By the way, although many MS-13 members are from Central America, they’re also from the U.S.. The gang originated in L.A..).

    If it was wildly out of character for Trump to say such an offensive thing, you could argue that Trump misspoke, and we should in fact bend over backwards to give him the benefit of the doubt. But this is hardly the only thing Trump has said which is racist, or anti-immigrant, or both. It’s fully consistent with his character and with the way he’s sometimes spoken about immigrants in the past.

    You’re saying we should ignore that Trump specified that he’s talking about “people coming into the country, or trying to come in.” And that we should ignore that he said he’s talking about people who “because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out.” Instead, we should pretend he never said any of those words, and he was only talking about MS-13 members. That’s not a reasonable reading.

    The very best case you could make is that Trump’s words were ambiguous (and that’s a stretch, imo). I quoted Trump’s entire sentence (two sentences actually), not a truncated sentence, and you know it. If we quote what Trump said before and after that sentence, that still makes it clear he’s calling undocumented immigrants in general.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Objecting to the deaths of seven thousand immigrants is not playing “the victimhood game.” (By the way, seven thousand is a low ball estimate). And I haven’t “spun” those deaths – they happened, in real life. It’s not speculation.

    If you’re not willing to acknowledge that these deaths actually happened and are not just a “game,” and if you’re not willing to say that these are human beings whose deaths should be avoided, then please get off this blog forever. Seriously.

    Nor is the wall an idea that will reduce the deaths. Tunnels exist, as you said. So do ladders. So do ropes. So do sledgehammers. So do wire cutters.

    The only thing that makes a wall really impregnable is guards. And there is no viable way to guard a wall the size of the U.S. border 24/7. So the only result would be to funnel immigrants into the less guarded and unguarded areas – which will inevitably be the most dangerous and remote areas. In other words, a possibly more extreme version of the funnel effect that happens now – which is why so many people end up dying in the desert.

  7. 7
    Kate says:

    Men commit suicide at three or four times the rate of women in the United States (I think the same numbers hold in the developed countries in the world) – and it can be spun that it is a direct result of feminist policies aimed at them, and the pressures put on men by women (most of whom are feminists).

    Actually, men are more likely to die from suicide attempts because they are more likely to attempt sucicide by gun. Women are more likely to attempt suicide than men, but also more likely to use drugs or other less lethal methods, therefore less likely to die from an attempt.
    The pressures put on men by society do lead to men living shorter lives. That is not the fault of feminists. It is the fault of partriarchy.

    Well, Kate, everything can be twisted if you want to play the victimhood game.

    Fun game. Everyone can play.

    Seriously, fuck off.

  8. 8
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Erin,

    If there were some type of inpenetrable barrier, then no one would be able to attempt a crossing at risk of their death. Without that, there will be deaths.

    Walls are pretty penetrable. Ladders and ropes are old technologies.

  9. 9
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I should add that if I wall is built, which I find highly unlikely, it’s a safe bet that enterprising individuals on the Mexican side would sell the service of getting people over it.

  10. 10
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    A complicating factor is that quite a few people who make an attempt that doesn’t end in death make new attempts. So a group that chooses less effective methods will have more attempts, if only because they more often get another chance.

    A second issue is that men seem less prone to seek help (or admit to weakness) in many different ways. This can explain a disparity in reported attempts, when men are less prone to admit to making a failed attempt. For example, I suspect that quite a few ‘gun cleaning accidents’ were actually suicide attempts that were misreported due to stoicism.

    Related to that is the issue that suicide attempts can be done as a cry for help. Presumably, these attempts will usually involve methods that are unlikely to end in death (like taking a small overdose of something and then calling for help). If men are less likely to expect help and/or are conditioned against trying to seek help, it seems less likely that they make these kind of attempts.

    Ultimately, depending on the extent to which these factors play a role, the gender disparities in suicide are consistent with an explanation where men are far more likely to see no other way out than death, but also with an explanation where men choose far more effective methods (due to having more access to guns or other reasons). Or both may be partially true, of course.

    The pressures put on men by society do lead to men living shorter lives. That is not the fault of feminists. It is the fault of patriarchy.

    Patriarchy and feminism partially overlap…

    The idea that men should sacrifice themselves for the benefit of women is both advocates by traditionalists (chivalry), but also by feminists. The main difference is that traditionalists are fairly honest about it, while feminists tend to rationalize it away. That makes the latter extra nasty in my opinion, because not only are men expected to sacrifice, they don’t actually get any recognition or respect for doing so.

  11. 11
    lurker23 says:

    i think the rhetoric is difficult here because obviously it is a very bad thing that people are dying trying to get into the US. It is bad when people die! but that is the last link in a very long chain of events and it is not clear that “the rule on immigration” is the real cause, or that “the US” is the moral bad guy, so it is not clear what to do.

    from philosophy standpoint, it seems to me that in order to blame rulemakers for deaths from taking a serious risk to avoid a rule, you first have to believe that the rule is immoral and unenforceable. the immorality of the rule is what allows the transfer of moral blame.

    imagine that all of those people went on a potentially fatal hunger strike to demand immigration. I do not think that example is so different from a desert crossing. does that mean you have to let them in to avoid their potential death? does that mean it is your fault if you refuse to let them in, and some of them die on the hunger strike?

    i would say no to both because i do not think that it is illegal or immoral for a country to restrict immigration. if i thought that it WAS immoral and illegal to restrict immigration, then it would ALSO be immoral and illegal to refuse to let them in if they went on a hunger strike.

    So when Goatee says

    if we have a closed door policy, design it to stop our closed door from causing thousands of deaths!

    Goatee is just doing what is almost like trolling, which is “propose a condition which you do not think can be satisfied”

    Do you think that is possible? I do not. It does not seem fair to demand a solution which does not exist, or to make someone else dance around your demands.

    imagine the response by Glasses: “I would make any changes you want to how we enforce immigration, if you agree that your plans do not let more people in or change my ability to select who i want.”

    this is hard! If glasses said that to me, i would not have an answer. would you? if we cannot make a solution which would work, does it make sense to think goatee is wrong not to have a solution either?

    also philosophy maybe says you should ask who is most to blame for the forced choice to take the risk / do the hunger strike. if you were going to assign the moral weight to someone other than the person who makes
    the choice, you would want to try to find the root cause i think?

    the first root cause is the decision to cross the border and risk death; we know this is an important thing because most people do not make that choice. but we will ignore that for now.

    the second root cause is “some countries like venezuela and honduras are so bad that their citizens are willing to risk death in order to be somewhere else.”

    the third root cause is “some OTHER countries like Mexico are so bad and so mean to immigrants that people are willing to walk all the way across those countries and risk death crossing a border, rather than stay anywhere else on the way.”

    the fourth root cause is “when they cross the border at the dangerous parts, it is really dangerous.”

    i do not know what the solution is.

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    from philosophy standpoint, it seems to me that in order to blame rulemakers for deaths from taking a serious risk to avoid a rule, you first have to believe that the rule is immoral and unenforceable. the immorality of the rule is what allows the transfer of moral blame.

    I don’t agree.

    Let’s say I don’t want anyone to trespass on my lawn. I don’t think that’s an immoral idea, in and of itself. But it would be immoral for me to set up deathtraps that kill hikers who trespass on my lawn. I think we have to consider not only if a rule is moral or not, but if the consequences people suffer as a result of the methods used to enforce the rule are proportionate.

    imagine that all of those people went on a potentially fatal hunger strike to demand immigration. I do not think that example is so different from a desert crossing. does that mean you have to let them in to avoid their potential death?

    You’re making a bunch of assumptions here that I’m not sure I share.

    Is being forced to migrate due to high rates of random violence, being lied to by criminals who say they can give you safe passage in exchange for payment, and then being left in a desert with an instruction to walk north and a high chance of dying of exposure and thirst, meaningfully similar to going on a hunger strike? I think it’s obvious that there are enormous differences; for one thing, it’s possible that the hunger strikers could have safely stayed at home, and are thus acting with far more agency.

    Goatee is just doing what is almost like trolling, which is “propose a condition which you do not think can be satisfied”

    Do you think that is possible? I do not.

    If the requirement is “practically no one from those areas gets to come in legally and we will make no provisions for those who can’t get in,” then no, it’s not possible. But there’s no reason that has to be a provision. We can have closed borders – that is, people aren’t just allowed to immigrate at will – but still accept enough immigrants who are fleeing violence or poverty so that people feel that they have a good chance of entering legally, and so will be less motivated to take risks with smugglers.

    Also, we could also make it a felony, punishable with ten years in prison, to destroy food and water left for refugees, and stop legally harassing those who leave food and water. Why would that not be possible? We could even make keeping rescue catches stocked a responsibility that the government takes on.

    Let’s also consider that this isn’t an all-or-none situation. Maybe we can’t get the death rate down to zero, but if we could get it down to a dozen or two a year, that would be an enormous improvement and worth pursuing.

    Your assumption that no improvement on the current death rate is possible seems to me unjustified, and needlessly cutting off a discussion before it’s even been had. If we had tried hard and found that nothing we do makes a difference, that would be one thing, but we aren’t even willing to take account of immigrant deaths as a factor we weigh among other factors when designing our system. That’s unjustifiable.

    Finally, although considering and working on root causes is important, I don’t think that frees us of moral responsibility. Suppose a dog person trespasses on my property because they are fleeing from a violent gang of angry cat people. If I shoot the trespasser, the fact that I was arguably not the root cause doesn’t mean that me killing that dog person wasn’t immoral. Even if I just refuse to open the gate, and as a result he is beaten to death in a hail of canned cat food, I don’t think the “root cause” argument frees me of all moral responsibility.

    Of course part of our response should be doing what we reasonably and legally can do to stop violent gangs and influence other countries’ policies to be more humane. But realistically, we have much more ability to control our own policies than we do to control violence in Venezuela and Honduras, and I’d argue that we have more responsibility for things we directly control than we do for things we cannot control.

  13. 13
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    A big complication is that migrants are a diverse bunch who don’t fit easy categorization. Pro-migration people tend to portray them as victims of persecution who merely seek refuge, while anti-migration people tend to portray them as economic migrants or worse.

    Reality is in between, with some migrants being refugees and some merely economic migrants. Furthermore, even the refugees often care a lot about things like economic prospects and living near other migrants from their country. For example, we saw that very large numbers of Syrian refugees really wanted to go to Germany and didn’t ask for asylum in countries that they passed through that would be quite safe for them.

    Then the question is whether the rich and safe countries are obliged to take those migrants, instead of telling them to stay in (or go back to) the first safe country that they passed through. After all, those refugees are not actually asking for asylum in the rich country, rather than the poorer country, for their safety, but it’s for other reasons.

    For example, this story features a Honduran refugee who paid for a smuggler to bring him to the US, but was abandoned in Mexico, where he got asylum and is quite safe.

    We could even make keeping rescue catches stocked a responsibility that the government takes on.

    An issue is that this may then just cause the smugglers to put in less effort, resulting in just as many deaths. When boats started patrolling the Mediterranean, the result was that the smugglers used even worse ships than before, as those boats no longer had to reach European shores. People then still drowned in large numbers when the patrol boats don’t come in time.

  14. 14
    lurker23 says:

    Let’s say I don’t want anyone to trespass on my lawn. I don’t think that’s an immoral idea, in and of itself. But it would be immoral for me to set up deathtraps that kill hikers who trespass on my lawn.

    that is cheating because “setting up death traps” is fundamentally immoral. it would not be immoral for you to build a very high wall topped with razor wire, though, even if the people who tried to cross the wall sometimes were injured or killed. or, to build a rushing waterfall on your property that was dangerous to cross.

    I think we have to consider not only if a rule is moral or not, but if the consequences people suffer as a result of the methods used to enforce the rule are proportionate.

    i think you are using “enforce” in a different way that what it means, and you are mixing it up with “prevent”.

    If you do not want trespassers, then building a fence with razor wire or putting your property in a desert is a way to prevent or deter people who will trespass. it does not mean you are actively participating. what you do when they cross the wire is enforcement.

    If the requirement is “practically no one from those areas gets to come in legally and we will make no provisions for those who can’t get in,” then no, it’s not possible

    i think this is the real thing here. you keep talking as if you really care about the method of HOW to keep people out, but you are actually arguing for a serious change in what we do, and saying a country should NOT keep people out.

    when you say

    “but still accept enough immigrants who are fleeing violence or poverty, and so will be less motivated to take risks with smugglers.”

    again this seems not possible in terms of numbers.

    the highly developed countries where everyone wants to go are very small compared to the rest of the world. usa is 350 million, eu is 500 million, plus japan and a few other countries, say a billion. The other 6.5 billion people are pretty poor, and the number of poor/rich is only getting worse since the poorer places like africa have MUCH higher population growth. look at https://twitter.com/worldbankdata/status/632341186649411585

    perhaps every potential immigrant can have a 1/100 lifetime chance of getting in, say 65 million people. that is about 6.5% of the population of the developed countries, at least now, though you will need to change that as the potential immigrant populations get bigger. But that will not be a high enough chance ” so that people feel that they have a good chance of entering legally” and they will still try to sneak in.

    or you could have maybe a 1/6 lifetime chance of getting inn. Even then it is not clear that “people feel that they have a good chance of entering legally” and they may sneak in anyway. but more to the point that means the developed countries are literally taking their entire population and doubling it by poor immigrants, which is not realistic at all.

    so i do not think your demand is realistic or possible. what chance of getting in (lifetime) do you think people would need in order to NOT have a desire to sneak in?

    Your assumption that no improvement on the current death rate is possible seems to me unjustified, and needlessly cutting off a discussion before it’s even been had.

    i do not want to cut off discussion. i do think it is worthwhile for everyone to be up front about what they are trying to argue for, like “more immigration” instead of “different methods” and i do not think you are entirely doing that as well as you could?

    let me show you what i mean with a sort of “put your money where your mouth is” kind of solution:

    let’s say that the country agrees to run a lot of patrols to prevent death. but they also want the patrols easier so they try hard to make it very unappealing to cross the desert.

    so both US and Mexico could constantly run patrols to pick up people who try to cross! and they reduce deaths from 7000 to 100! And this is great!

    But as part of the package, they also have very hard rules: a) people in that area are never even considered for asylum or refugee status, they just get kicked out, and b) they are fingerprinted, and c) they are permanently ineligible for legal entry, ever, for any reason, and d) they are subject to immediate deportation forever, without a hearing, if they are ever found in the country, and e) they are ineligible to get any benefits of any kind, ever, including health care, birthright, school, etc.

    would that make you happy? it should! if you ARE really concerned about deaths from border crossings, then you would think that hypothetical solution is good, because it prevents a lot of deaths at the border! And it does it without any physical harm to people, at all. It only denys them things that they are not entitled to anyway.

    If you are NOT really concerned about deaths from border crossings, and you are just using death as a lever to try to get countries to let more people in, this solution will look really unfair.

  15. 15
    closetpuritan says:

    Your cartoon made me think of the Dr. Seuss one used in this recent Lawyers, Guns, and Money post. Were you consciously thinking of it? Wolves are a commonly-used metaphor, though…

    I’m having trouble coming up with any sources for this, but one thing I’ve seen discussed in the past is that when you try to secure one part of the border, with demand to cross the border staying constant, it is hard to actually decrease crossing attempts and instead the path of least resistance is to move the location of the crossing attempts. So a more secure official crossing–where people who are using a fake ID, are imposters to a real passport, or are saying that they are temporary visitors when they intend to actually immigrate, are caught–leads to more attempts to cross undetected away from official crossings, and more border security in urban areas leads to more rural area crossings. If the only thing we care about is deterring the greatest number of illegal crossings, it might make sense to not guard the rural and/or dangerous crossings as closely since they wouldn’t be people’s first choice of crossing, but if we’re also balancing that with would-be-immigrant lives, we would put as much or more enforcement in dangerous areas to further discourage people from crossing there, even if, looked at purely in terms of effectiveness at catching would-be-immigrants, we get less bang for our buck that way.

  16. 16
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    closetpuritan,

    Western nations don’t just want to shift the migrant flow from very poor nations so they change routes, they want to throttle it to a very large extent. However, what we see is that that level of deterrence is very hard. You need a huge barrier (like an ocean) to really stop almost all migration. Very difficult barriers like deserts or seas like the Mediterranean only reduce the flow to a limited extent.

    A complicating factor if the goal is to throttle without causing deaths is that many migrants have a high willingness to endure temporary suffering and that many migrants favor economic and other welfare motives over their own safety. So merely creating a large, but safe barrier doesn’t deter as much as generally desired and neither does a fairly, but not immensely unsafe barrier.

    One alternative is to simply open up the borders to anyone, which has the complication that the existing throttling does work, so if you open up the borders, migration goes up immensely, which Western societies don’t accept (anymore). Open borders have serious implications that harm various groups & it may be incompatible with higher levels of welfare, a high-trust society, large government and other such things that many people like.

    Another alternative is to throttle much more behind the border, for example by registering people much more and requiring employers and such to check IDs and refuse the undocumented, making life very hard for them. Then they don’t actually get as many benefits and may go back or never come. Or the authorities may discover them more often, to send them back.

    However, there are various complications. One is that such measures puts a burden on citizens and threaten their privacy, which they may not want to accept. Another is that we have currently calibrated our willingness to treat people as refugees to the already throttled flow. If we keep those norms, but greatly reduce throttling, very many people will be let in as legitimate refugees. This then gives many of the same issues as an open border policy. A third issue is that these measures are only partially effective, so they are likely to result in a boost to crime or undesired behavior, as some undocumented still seek ways to work. So you may get more abusive sweat shops, prostitution under poor circumstances, etc. A fourth issue is that sending people back can be difficult, because some countries refuse to take their citizens back. Some migrants also destroy ID documents to make it very hard or impossible to send them back to their country.

    Ultimately, the only solution that avoids all of these problems is for the poor countries to improve, which is quite difficult and as Ampersand said, something that we can only influence in a very limited way.

  17. 17
    Kate says:

    let’s say that the country agrees to run a lot of patrols to prevent death. but they also want the patrols easier so they try hard to make it very unappealing to cross the desert.
    so both US and Mexico could constantly run patrols to pick up people who try to cross! and they reduce deaths from 7000 to 100! And this is great!

    See, right of the bat…I don’t accept your premise that increasing patrols could decrease the death count to anything close to that degree. We are talking about an enormous region, in which people would be actively avoiding the patrols. In fact, more patrols might increase deaths, as people are forced off of planned routes into territory not known to them.
    When it comes to refugees fleeing persecution, how is saving them from death in the desert to hand them back into the hands of their would-be murderers morally superior to leaving them to die in the desert? I consider accepting refuges as a moral duty of prosperous countries. Many less prosperous, but relatively stable countries, like Mexico, Egypt, Jordan, are doing far more than their fair share already.
    When it comes to not having hearings…how are U.S. citizens and other people in the U.S. legally who are accidentally caught up in these drag nets (because they will be) to get the opportunity to prove their status?
    I also strongly take objection to your characterization of birthright citizenship as a “benefit”. Birthright citizenship is not a benefit for parents, it is the right of every child born on U.S. soil. With the current population of undocumented people in the U.S., if we were to end it, we would without doubt have a population of millions of stateless people, with no country they could legally call home within a generation.

  18. 18
    closetpuritan says:

    LimitsofLanguage,

    I’m not really talking about building barriers, I’m talking about the manpower resources put into personnel at official border crossings and the safer/less isolated areas where you’re not supposed to cross the border, versus personnel at less safe border crossings. Somewhat like the patrols in unsafe areas that lurker is talking about. If people are going to cross the border illegally, in other words, putting more personnel in the safe places that would normally be their first choice will encourage them to cross in the unsafe places, but putting more personnel in the unsafe places would encourage them to cross in the safe places. If they’re just as or more likely to get caught in the unsafe places, there will no longer be any advantage to choosing unsafe over safe places.

  19. 19
    Kate says:

    If they’re just as or more likely to get caught in the unsafe places, there will no longer be any advantage to choosing unsafe over safe places.

    But the things that make the unsafe places unsafe also make them substantially more difficult to patrol.

  20. 20
    lurker23 says:

    I don’t accept your premise that increasing patrols could decrease the death count to anything close to that degree

    it was not a premise, it was a hypothetical just to illustrate my opinion that many “we need to focus on this because people are dying” claims are not actually accurate. instead they are people who have enormous desire to change the entire thing, like you. but instead of admitting what they want, which you did, thank you!, and putting it up to talk about and defend, they will instead simply pick on one particular issue (like death) and say “if only we could stop THAT!”

    you are not one of those people, but your responses are interesting!

    When it comes to refugees fleeing persecution, how is saving them from death in the desert to hand them back into the hands of their would-be murderers morally superior to leaving them to die in the desert?

    i appreciate the idea that they should get in because they feel persecuted, but i still find this response very confusing. are you being literal here?

    many people are not at risk, they are trying to have a better life, this is good but not the same. and even the people at risk , that risk if much less than 100%, so returning them to “risk” rather than “death” is actually a pretty good improvement.

    if you want to ONLY focus on risk then i would use a different hypothetical, note please that this is a hypothetical: if the goal is help people at highest risk why are we letting in people who are NOT from yemen or the countries with highest risk?

    so that hypothetical: if we could build a wall so absolutely nobody got in, and we could deport all the people who are in the us now illegally. and then we could let in that many super-horrible-life-people as are in the US now which is 5-10 million, very many of them. would you support that? would you support turning away anyone who is not the worst of the worst life, so we can let more of those people in?

    When it comes to not having hearings…how are U.S. citizens and other people in the U.S. legally who are accidentally caught up in these drag nets (because they will be) to get the opportunity to prove their status?

    again this was a hypothetical. but not knowing how the system works perfectly i still think it would be OK to have SOME places (like “dangerous foot crossings in the middle of the desert”) where you would never get a chance to prove your status, as long as you have other ways like other entries or consulates, that you can prove status.

    I also strongly take objection to your characterization of birthright citizenship as a “benefit”.

    why? it is a huge benefit,it does not stop to be a benefit because it is coming from the law. it does not stop to be a benefit just because taking it away might cause other problems.

    i personally do not think we should stop it, but it is very odd to think it is not a benefit.

  21. 21
    Kate says:

    it was not a premise, it was a hypothetical

    Hypotheticals can have premises. In order for me to enter into your hypothetical, I must accept that increasing patrols would result in a massive decrease in the number of deaths in the desert. That is a premise, one which I don’t agree with.

    to illustrate my opinion that many “we need to focus on this because people are dying” claims are not actually accurate. instead they are people who have enormous desire to change the entire thing, like you.

    There is nothing inaccurate about trying to work with allies to reduce deaths, when you also have other goals that you don’t share in common. Moreover, nothing I said @19 is changing anything. It is honoring our treaties surrounding refugees. If a person claims asylum, they have a right to a hearing. Your “hypothetical” is the one that would change policy.

    many people are not at risk, they are trying to have a better life,

    Of course. My point is, if you deny people hearings, you have no way to separate those who it would be unethical to deport (both those who are fleeing threats to their lives, and those who are U.S. citizens or legal residents who didn’t happen to have their papers on them*) from economic migrants who one could ethically send back to wherever they came from.

    if you want to ONLY focus on risk

    No, I don’t want to focus only on risk.

    if we could build a wall so absolutely nobody got in,

    But we can’t.

    and we could deport all the people who are in the us now illegally.

    Doing that humanely would be an absolutely enourmous expense. I think our money is better spent elsewhere. So, no.

    As for birthright citizenship…In U.S. political thought, rights guaranteed by the constituion, like the freedom of speech and religion and birthright citizenship are considered inalianable. “Benefits” are earned or bestowed, not inalianble.

  22. 22
    lurker23 says:

    kate, you are obviously not uneducated and i find it impossible to believe that you have never read a hypothetical. schrodinger’s cat does not exist, there is not an unstoppable trolley on a track which will kill one of two groups of people, there is not a convenient drowning child in the river right next to the sidewalk where someone can 100% choose to save him (or not) with absolutely zero harm and zero cost to the saving person and the child will not drown until the decision is done, and so on. those are just ways about arguing philosophy or morals or other things.

    surely when you read a trolley problem you are capable of understanding it or trying to answer it, without saying “I’d just cut the power to the trolley!” and ducking the answer?

    just like schrodinger’s cat or the drowning child, the “perfect wall which lets nobody in” does not exist, of course and neither does the “area where nobody dies.” neither does the “perfect way to rank all potential immigrants and figure out who is worse off”. it is like a trolley problem.

    so if you are interested in discussing this in good faith maybe you will try to accept hypotheticals and stop the silliness of arguing about turning off the power to the trolley.

  23. 23
    Kate says:

    so if you are interested in discussing this in good faith maybe you will try to accept hypotheticals and stop the silliness of arguing about turning off the power to the trolley.

    So, I’m only discussing an issue in “good faith” if I let you set all the terms of the discussion? No, that isn’t how this works. If we are having a discussion we both must agree to the terms.
    I loathe the trolley problem and other such mental masturbation. It’s so reductionist as to be totally divorced from reality.
    But, your hypothetical frames are not innocent logical play totally divorced from reality. Your hypothetical frames demand that I accept the real-world premises of anti-immigration advocates before we even start a discussion about immigration. I’m not interested in discussing this issue under those terms.

  24. 24
    Charles S says:

    No hypothetical is above critique, including the stupid Trolley Problem. Badly constructed hypotheticals (or absurdly leading hypotheticals, as yours are, lurker23) don’t lead to good discussion and are at best a waste of time. Responding to critique of your hypothetical by pretending that hypotheticals are inherently above critique is ridiculous.

    For instance, why are the millions of people you suggests expelling to provide room for the most oppressed people undocumented people? Why not expel Republican voters, or successful entrepreneurs (who have demonstrated their capacity to adapt and thrive, so will be best suited to make a new life elsewhere), or Libertarians (who have always wanted to live in a lawless country, so can be expelled to Somalia or some other failed state)? Sure, they’re currently citizens, but as you say of birthright citizenship, that’s just a benefit, which you are happy to cast aside (for some people) so why not strip that away as part of your hypothetical? Or, since there isn’t actually a strict limit on how many people can be in the country at once, why expel anyone at all? So your hypothetical tells us that you are into the idea of deporting millions of people, more than it tells us anything else.

    Of course, the actual act of deporting millions of people, most of whom have lived in the US for more than a decade, building families, making friends, building communities, would be a horrific act of violence and an immediate humanitarian crisis (no matter whether we expelled Republicans, entrepreneurs, Libertarians, or undocumented immigrants) but you try to hide that horror in a quick aside pushed into your hypothetical. Your tells are obvious, and your sad pretense of being the one trying to have an objective discussion doesn’t fool anyone but yourself.

  25. 25
    lurker23 says:

    Kate says:
    So, I’m only discussing an issue in “good faith” if I let you set all the terms of the discussion?

    No, you are discussing it in good faith if you don’t deliberately duck questions, and if you make a good faith effort to answer the questions you are asked. they may be hard to answer honestly or they may make you feel uncomfortable, but that is the heavy load required to act in good faith.

    also, you can make up your OWN hypotheticals, or make your own arguments, or ask me questions which you think will expose a weakness in my argument or a lack in my argument, while acting in good faith.

    here is an example question: “if it turned out that more enforcement would have no real effect on immigration, would you support more enforcement?”
    here is a bad faith answer: “you claim enforcement would not have an effect, that is stupid, i won’t answer”
    here is a good faith answer: “no, i would not support enforcement in that hypothetical situation, but i think your premise is wrong because i think enforcement has an effect”

    But, your hypothetical frames are not innocent logical play totally divorced from reality. Your hypothetical frames demand that I accept the real-world premises of anti-immigration advocates before we even start a discussion about immigration.

    that is not even slightly true, i think you do not understand how hypotheticals work? see the example above.

    i am trying to isolate things so it becomes possible to discuss them individually, that is the purpose, because immigration is very hard to discuss, it is so complex and there are so many pros and cons to so many people. also it is good to put margins on things.

    some people (maybe you? i am not sure) do not like those discussions because they just like to imagine they are on the side of “helping people” without any trading offs and they are very angry about questions which make them choose between outcomes and face trade offs. that anger is not my fault.

    Charles S says:
    October 29, 2018 at 1:55 am
    No hypothetical is above critique, including the stupid Trolley Problem. Badly constructed hypotheticals (or absurdly leading hypotheticals, as yours are, lurker23) don’t lead to good discussion and are at best a waste of time.

    i do not see why you and kate have collectively spent about 50 times more words refusing to answer my hypothetical question, than you would have spent answering it. whether it would have led to “good” discussion or “bad” discussion was really up to you, you had a lot of space to answer and explain, or answer and ask your own questions. it is odd to try to blame me for this outcome i think?

    if by “absurdly leading” you mean “supports a conclusion that you don’t like,” just ask your own questions.

    For instance, why are the millions of people you suggests expelling to provide room for the most oppressed people undocumented people?

    i chose that hypothetical because it helps to understand how people are placing value on the many different categories of people who are not legal immigrants, and that seems like an important question in the context of talking about illegal immigration. for example, should we give priority to those who wait in line? or those who sneak in? or those who snuck in a long time ago? or those poor folks in yemen who can’t even get here to wait in line and who can’t sneak in, but are even worse off?

    how long should someone who is not here legally have to stay before we give them a special privilege that we don’t give to others and why? what will that do to people who are making the decision about whether to sneak in? those questions can ben made less copmlicated by isolated hypotheticals.

    Why not expel Republican voters, or successful entrepreneurs (who have demonstrated their capacity to adapt and thrive, so will be best suited to make a new life elsewhere), or Libertarians (who have always wanted to live in a lawless country, so can be expelled to Somalia or some other failed state)?

    Is that a proposal? Or a good faith hypothetical question? Do you think you should be unable to ask that?

    Or, since there isn’t actually a strict limit on how many people can be in the country at once, why expel anyone at all?

    Also a common question although a very complicated one.

    do you think you can ask that as a part of a good faith conversation? (i do.) Do you think your opponents should attempt to answer it in good faith (i do)? do you think answering that question requires someone to agree with the belief that we should never deport anyone? (i don’t.)

    the short answer, to show how this would work in a a good faith conversation: maybe we should not expel anyone. but the reason to expel people are very obvious, even if they do not turn out to have more weight than “not expelling anyone”, probably some combination of wanting to make more room for people who are in worse shape, or wanting to deter more other people who might do illegal immigration in the future if we don’t enforce the laws now, or thinking that enforcement is super important.

    you certainly seem to see the value in questions where you like the answer, not so much in questions where you don’t like the answer, maybe this is the real sort of “critique?” not so valid though, i think?

    So your hypothetical tells us that you are into the idea of deporting millions of people, more than it tells us anything else.

    that is silly, and insulting. i am not “into” deporting people and would prefer not to do it.

    Of course, the actual act of deporting millions of people, most of whom have lived in the US for more than a decade, building families, making friends, building communities, would be a horrific act of violence and an immediate humanitarian crisis (no matter whether we expelled Republicans, entrepreneurs, Libertarians, or undocumented immigrants) but you try to hide that horror in a quick aside pushed into your hypothetical.

    no i do not.

    have you read any Bastiat?

    bastiat talks about the unseen and the cost to the unseen.

    so when you are talking about deporting people (for example) you focus on the bad outcomes to the people who are deported. and those are bad outcomes of course, how could they not be? but you conveniently ignore the unseen part of that hypothetical, which was the very GOOD outcomes to the people who are admitted.

    take your own snarky “libertarian” question. it is a perfectly valid question, right? “why don’t we force some rich people out of the us into a second world country in order to make room for some incredibly poor people” is a question which you can ask. and it would be stupid to answer “how can you even consider harming all those rich people?”

  26. 26
    Kate says:

    You are not the leader of this discussion, and I am not your student. Your rules for debate outlined @25 are just that…your rules, which you made up. I don’t accept them. We clearly have very different styles of argument. This does not mean either of us are arguing in bad faith, being silly or being stupid.
    I understand perfectly well how hypotheticals work. If both parties agree on the framing, they can provide a common foundation which will allow them to go deeper into a discussion. But, this only works if there is mutual agreement on the terms. That is not the case here.
    If one party tries to impose a hypothetical on another, they will lead them into an imaginary world where the person who constructed the hypothetical is in charge. I am not going to submit to that. I am not going to construct my own hypothetical, because I am not going to demand that you submit to it either.
    So, can we find a common base to build a mutually respectful discussion from?
    When it comes to immigration enforcement, my first priority is that people following the law do not get punished by the system. That includes people presenting themselves for asylum and people in the U.S. legally (particularly people who are and/or look Latino). This means that we need screening systems that are accurate, fast and minimally invasive.

  27. 27
    lurker23 says:

    if you consider answering pointed questions or hypotheticals “submitting” it will be hard to have a discussion, i think, but we can certainly try. if you make it too general we will just end up spending a lot of time clarifying things which will be very slow.

    as an example

    When it comes to immigration enforcement, my first priority is that people following the law do not get punished by the system.

    when you say it is your first priority, how much weight do you put on it? what does “following the law” mean here and what does “punished by the system” mean? how do you feel about people who do not follow the law?

    That includes people presenting themselves for asylum

    does it matter why? does it matter if they meet the criteria for asylum? do you think those criteria are correct? too loose, to strict? un-changeable?

    as an example, do you think that people who walk to the usa from honduras, or to norway through europe, can claim asylum where they want, or do you think that they are supposed to go to the first country (other than their own) which is not trying to kill them?

    and people in the U.S. legally (particularly people who are and/or look Latino).

    and which of them is your first priority, people in need of asylum or people in the US legally? many solutions will not help both the same. some solutions may trade off one for the other.

    This means that we need screening systems that are accurate, fast and minimally invasive.

    but most systems cannot be all of those things at the same time, many systems seem to only have one of those things and not many even manage to have two. which ones do you want?

    i will say this: if you asked me whether i would support a currently nonexistent and probably impossible “screening systems that are accurate, fast and minimally invasive” and anything else which magically grants all sorts of benefits without any costs i would say yes, of course, why not take benefits without costs? but that is simply the same sort of hypothetical i am asking, the only difference is that you seem to not be admitting it is a hypothetical.

  28. 28
    Kate says:

    when you say it is your first priority, how much weight do you put on it?

    We clearly think very differently. Weight? Are you looking for a percentage, like a pie chart? That’s not how I think about this issue. When I say this is my “first priority” I mean it is a cornerstone of the foundation of my thought structure. If we can’t come to an agreement about this, then there is little point of discussing immigration issues further.

    what does “following the law” mean here

    I gave two examples in the very next line – people who present themselves for asylum and people who are in the country legally.

    and what does “punished by the system” mean?

    For people presenting for asylum, it means being turned away at the border without having their claim assessed in accordance with international law, and being held in inhumane conditions while their case is considered. For people in the country legally, it means being denied due process and imprisoned and/or deported for violations that they are not guilty of.

    how do you feel about people who do not follow the law?

    Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That is far more complicated. We are clearly very far apart both in terms of how and what we think about this issue. Let’s try to keep it as simple as possible.

    does it matter why? does it matter if they meet the criteria for asylum? do you think those criteria are correct? too loose, to strict? un-changeable?

    There are standards in international law, which are, of course, subject to various interpretations, and can be changed. Those standards should be followed in good faith. So, finding that toddlers are competent to represent themselves in court doesn’t cut it, in my view. But, I don’t want to go to far into what those standards are or whether they are correct.

    and which of them is your first priority, people in need of asylum or people in the US legally?

    I see no reason why we need to choose.

    many solutions will not help both the same.

    Which is fine, as long as both are served in some way.

    some solutions may trade off one for the other.

    I can’t imagine why. Can you give an example?

    but most systems cannot be all of those things [eta accurate, fast and minimally invasive] at the same time, many systems seem to only have one of those things and not many even manage to have two. which ones do you want?

    But, this is basically what the U.S. criminal justice system purports to offer its citizens – proof beyond a reasonable doubt for criminal cases/preponderance of the evidence for civil cases; and a speedy and fair trial. “Minimally invasive” refers to following rules about search and seizure, racial profiling, holding people without charges and the like.

    if you asked me whether i would support a currently nonexistent and probably impossible “screening systems that are accurate, fast and minimally invasive” and anything else which magically grants all sorts of benefits without any costs

    I never said without any costs. I am well aware that effective justice systems are expensive.

    but that is simply the same sort of hypothetical i am asking, the only difference is that you seem to not be admitting it is a hypothetical.

    [ETA I agree that it would be a hypothetical if I had stipulated that the system has no cost. But I didn’t.] I’m not demanding that you accept my framing, and accept that you are engaging with it on your own terms. I am treating you as an equal, not a student in need of educating by me. That’s the difference.

  29. 29
    Kate says:

    again this was a hypothetical. but not knowing how the system works perfectly i still think it would be OK to have SOME places (like “dangerous foot crossings in the middle of the desert”) where you would never get a chance to prove your status, as long as you have other ways like other entries or consulates, that you can prove status.

    It sounds rather like you don’t understand the region at all.

    The U.S./Mexico Border Region includes vast expanses of desert-shrub and upland range that have supported cattle and sheep operations for nearly two centuries. In general, the aridity of the area greatly restricts the carrying capacity of the land for cows and sheep. As a result, ranches on both sides of the border are usually very large and include thousands of acres of open range.https://www.e-education.psu.edu/geog571/node/307

  30. 30
    lurker23 says:

    kate,

    Kate says:
    We clearly think very differently.

    yes, we do! i like to think in specifics because i believe that thinking in specifics helps me understand things better early. for example all of the things you seem to want are very nice, sure. unless someone is deliberately trying to be inhumane there is no reason not to agree that a list of good things would be nice, or that it would be nice to help a lot of people have a better life. but in real life the reason that we cannot and do not have or do all of those good nice things is that trying to get them has a lot of trading off, nothing is free or without some sort of results from any change you do, we cannot help everyone, and so on.

    to use an example which is fairly obvious: if you have any fixed amount of money to spend on “helping poor people”, whether a lot or a little bit of money, there is always less money per person if you help more people, that is just math, so in that sense “helping more poor people” and “helping each poor person less” end up being linked.

    if you want me to be general perhaps you will answer some questions, i wrote these very carefully to try not to use hypotheticals that you will disagree with:

    -do you agree that there are going to be some very strict limits on who gets in? (it seems clear to me, at least, that unless we have open borders there are going to be a lot of people who want to get in and not many of them will be allowed. like i said to ampersand above.) i do not know if you agree to that, or if you think we should have open borders?

    -do you think it is good to agree on a hard number of people who we should admit every year? if so how many people do you think the us should admit? i am asking that because it is not clear what magnitude you are imagining will get in and your answer may make it clear how far apart we are, there is nothing wrong with you saying “we should admit ten million refugees per year” but it will make things much more clear in the conversation.

    -do you agree that once the country agrees on any sort of number there are going to be tradeoffs between groups? it seems to me that this is true any time there are not-open borders and a fixed limit. if you agree with this, for example then you would agree that if we want “100 people per year” (chosen because it matches any percentage) they are divided among illegal entries and legal entries and refugees and so on, and divided across countries, and if we let in 50 people from africa and 25 people sneak in, there are only 25 spots left for everyone else.

    -if you think that tradeoffs are OK, do you include “not-legal immigrants who are in the US right now” as part of your tradeoff? i am pretty sure you think we should make everyone a citizen who is already here (am i right?) and i am positive you think we should never deport them, but i do not know whether you think that should have anything to do with how many OTHER people we are going to let in.

    -do you agree that we should admit some people and not other people and have a process for doing so? we can get later on to the question of who we should admit and why, but i first want to know if you agree that we are going to have to have some sort of clear rules about who gets in and who does not. i am pretty sure you do?

    -do you agree that “what is good for existing citizens” is an important thing in choosing who gets in? some people (maybe you, not sure) seem to think only what is good for the people who want to get in, and not consider what is good for the people who are already citizens. this is easiest with a hypothetical which i hope you will agree to: imagine that we have already filled up all of the slots except for one (i know this is not possible, it is just a hypothetical, it applies the same way to groups). there are two families applying for one slot: one family who is just just above whatever you consider to be “refugee” eligible but is in a very hard place and really wants/needs to be here, but we are fairly sure that this family will not really help the country. And there is a second family which is pretty rich and educated and has less need to enter even though they want to, but we are fairly sure that the rich family will really help the country. do you think that it is OK for us to let in the second family because it is better for us, even though the first family would be helped more by being let in?

    It sounds rather like you don’t understand the region at all.

    i have no idea what you mean, i know what the region is. the point i was making does not change if it is or is not a ranch, this all started w/ discussion of dangerous foot crossings and people dying there. “desert” was just simple language (hot, no water, people die of thirst), you can use “scrub ranch” or “badlands” or any other word, the general point was is that it would be fine with me for some areas to become ineligible for seeking asylum so long as other areas are reasonably available.

  31. 31
    Zunf2 says:

    A well-known issue that plays into this is government assistance (“welfare”) versus number of immigrants coming in. An economist – can’t remember the name – said that you can have open borders or a welfare state, but not both. There is just not enough money to pay for everyone in the world.

    The number of immigrants is ultimately limited if you want to provide good social services. Does anyone have any thoughts on that? — especially the open-border people here.

  32. 32
    Polaris says:

    And there is no viable way to guard a wall the size of the U.S. border 24/7. So the only result would be to funnel immigrants into the less guarded and unguarded areas – which will inevitably be the most dangerous and remote areas. In other words, a possibly more extreme version of the funnel effect that happens now – which is why so many people end up dying in the desert.

    Actually it is possible to do so by a network of cameras, censors and autonomous drones/UAV:s though it would kind of defeat the need for a wall in the first place.

  33. 33
    Petar says:

    And there is no viable way to guard a wall the size of the U.S. border 24/7. So the only result would be to funnel immigrants into the less guarded and unguarded areas – which will inevitably be the most dangerous and remote areas. In other words, a possibly more extreme version of the funnel effect that happens now – which is why so many people end up dying in the desert.

    It depends on your definition of viable. The US has 30 times the population of 1988 Bulgaria, and only ten times the land borders, even if you include the both Canada borders. If you only count the land border to Mexico, the US has fifteen time the men-per-kilometer, thirty years of technology, and many, many times the resources. Securing the border, if there is a will to do it, is far from difficult.

    The Bulgarian international borders were very secure. Attempting to cross them in 1988 led to death or arrest more than 94% of the cases, according to our records. The exceptions were two foreign speaking men who fled (back out) once the warning shots were fired, three men and a woman who were returned by the Serbs and Romanians to our great embarrassment (those crossed during local celebrations) and one known fugitive, who was investigated abroad, and was found to have crossed with the assistance of civilians distracting the border guards. There may have been other fugitives… but it is not likely there were many. There were 14 deaths, and 134 arrests. And two others, although I have no idea what those may have been. Probably Greeks who strayed innocently, because no courtesy would have been extended to Turks, or fellow Easterners.

    If you are willing to kill to punish unauthorized entry, illegal immigration by crossing the border can be effectively stopped dead. It will cost.

    Money, for sure, but that cost isn’t prohibitive. Trump’s wall, stupid as it is, is a drop in the ocean of government spending. For real enforcement, you will need technology and manpower.

    The lives of the immigrants is also a cost that I can see Americans paying without too much fuss. After all, not one of the perpetrators of the Nisour Square massacre, Mahmoudiya gang rapes and murders, or Kandahar massacre has gotten the death penalty, while we as a society seem to have no problem with collateral damage when taking out suspected terrorists.

    But what’s the point? The US economy needs the cheap labor, the political parties need the discussion to polarize voters and keep them distracted from other issues, etc. What we have now is terrible enough and serves the interests of everyone who matters. I do not see it changing.

  34. 34
    Charles S says:

    lurker23,

    Do you understand that your idea that immigration would work off of a set number of immigrants, divided among refugees, legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants, with specific numbers of immigration slots available to each region (and country?), where increased undocumented immigration from a specific country (or region) would result in less documented immigration being allowed from that country (or region) bears basically no resemblance to how immigration is currently handled? That it is just some weird system that you just made up?

    I think if you want to think and talk in specific details about immigration policy, it would really help if you educated yourself about immigration policy as it actually is. I think that if you asked detailed questions about how immigration policy actually works here, that several of us would probably be willing to explain to you how immigration policy actually works. You making up imaginary immigration policies and asking Kate (and the rest of us) if she supports them will probably continue to get less than enthusiastic responses.

  35. 35
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Charles S, I’m pretty sure Lurker is just using weird hypotheticals as a way to illuminate everyone’s moral priorities. That’s also why we have Trolly problems.

  36. 36
    Charles S says:

    In that post they specifically said that they were trying not to make up a weird hypothetical, and then described a system that looks nothing like our existing system as though that were obviously how immigration systems work. If they want to ask questions about how we would choose to make modifications to the existing system, they need to have the faintest idea how the existing system works.

    The Trolley problem isn’t about how a trolley wakes up one morning with a cat in a super-position of states surgically attached to it and dependent on it’s liver, and whether we should then shunt it to either kill or not kill the cat. Trolley problems need to be coherent and instantly recognizable (and then they have the problems that Kate pointed out already) or else they are just a hot mess.

  37. 37
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Kate’s criticism of trolley problems was silly, IMO. It’s like a high-school physics student criticizing his textbo0k because frictionless plains don’t exist.

  38. 38
    Charles says:

    That’s nice Jeff. Bless your little heart.

    I think it’s actually more like an economist getting really tired of people trying to base their arguments on poorly understood econ 101. Trolley problems are moderately interesting for exploring a specific axis of response, but people try to use them as though they were profound ethical guides, and – No, just no. Trying to take a super-reductionist ethical puzzle and treat it as thought it were a guide ends in disaster, and trying to reduce a complex policy question down to simplistic Trolley problems as though that might lead to a greater understanding of the complex ethical problem involved leads nowhere particularly useful (even more so when done by an ignorant amateur), and trying to get someone to play that game once they’ve made it clear they aren’t interested is a waste of time and disrespectful.

    Since no one is interested in playing with lurker23’s poor attempts at making up Trolley problems, and since they’ve acknowledged that and moved on to trying not to make Trolley problems, my advice that they should learn about the immigration system before trying to dissect it or other people’s opinions on it still stands.

  39. 39
    Kate says:

    unless someone is deliberately trying to be inhumane there is no reason not to agree that a list of good things would be nice

    1.) There are people who are deliberately trying to be inhumane. The policy of separating children from their parents, which some members of the Trump administration want to resume, is meant to scare away legitimate asylum seekers. That is inhumane. I’d like to see more people on both sides of the immigration debate, writ large set our differences aside and fight on those issues that we can agree on.
    2.) Honoring our treaties regarding asylum; and protecting U.S. citizens and legal residents from being accidentally detained and/or deported and not just “nice”. That word both trivializes the issue and makes them seem like optional gifts we are bestowing on undeserving people rather than human rights and rights of citizenship that we are respecting.

    -do you think it is good to agree on a hard number of people who we should admit every year? if so how many people do you think the us should admit? i am asking that because it is not clear what magnitude you are imagining will get in and your answer may make it clear how far apart we are, there is nothing wrong with you saying “we should admit ten million refugees per year” but it will make things much more clear in the conversation.

    Yes, we need limits (although, I have no idea what you mean by “hard” and, as Charles said, I think you’re a bit confused about how that works in reality). I’m not opposed to open borders as a long-term goal, but I think just opening them up all at once, as the world is now, would lead to chaos. I think you’d be hard pressed to find people labeled in favor of so-called “open borders” who fail to take such a pragmatic approach.

    if you think that tradeoffs are OK, do you include “not-legal immigrants who are in the US right now” as part of your tradeoff? i am pretty sure you think we should make everyone a citizen who is already here (am i right?) and i am positive you think we should never deport them, but i do not know whether you think that should have anything to do with how many OTHER people we are going to let in.

    People who came in or stayed illegally years ago, and are firmly rooted in the U.S. are not in direct competition with new arrivals, so no, I don’t think that they should be included in any hypothetical trade-off.
    I also don’t know how you got these impressions about my beliefs. I think we should create a path to legal status for undocumented people. There are, what, 11 million undocumented people in the U.S.? Rounding up and deporting them all without committing mass atrocities would be prohibitively expensive. But that doesn’t need to be citizenship for most people. I do think that Dreamers should be given a path to citizenship, as they were brought in as children through no fault of their own, raised here, and often have no ties left in their birth countries. I also supported the Obama administration’s policy of prioritizing deportation of people who have committed serious crimes – although that may have unintended consequences in their countries of origin.

    -do you agree that “what is good for existing citizens” is an important thing in choosing who gets in? some people (maybe you, not sure) seem to think only what is good for the people who want to get in, and not consider what is good for the people who are already citizens. this is easiest with a hypothetical which i hope you will agree to: imagine that we have already filled up all of the slots except for one (i know this is not possible, it is just a hypothetical, it applies the same way to groups). there are two families applying for one slot: one family who is just just above whatever you consider to be “refugee” eligible but is in a very hard place and really wants/needs to be here, but we are fairly sure that this family will not really help the country. And there is a second family which is pretty rich and educated and has less need to enter even though they want to, but we are fairly sure that the rich family will really help the country. do you think that it is OK for us to let in the second family because it is better for us, even though the first family would be helped more by being let in?

    This is really classist. You made as similarly classist comment in this thread. You really need to examine that.
    How in the world could we be “fairly sure” that the refugees wouldn’t help the country, but a rich, educated family would? The refugee family might build their own small business, while the rich educated family might compete for jobs that most U.S. citizens would love to have (most wealthy, well-educated migrants are sponsored by their employers, yes?). Maybe the refugee family will give back by volunteering in their community, while the wealthy family will be selfish. Who knows? My husband and I are well off, well educated immigrants to Australia, taking jobs that Australians would love to have. We buy dips and salads from a man at the Farmer’s Market who is a Syrian refugee. He created his own job, that didn’t exist before he came here. Which of us is adding more value? I certainly would be loath to say they should choose me over him in this scenario, and not just out of pity for refugees or lack of caring about what is good for existing citizens.
    There’s also no reason to pit refugees against educated workers (two categories which sometimes have significant overlap) in this way. The U.S. in not in any danger of being overwhelmed by refugees. In 2017, only 28,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S.. That’s fewer than 1 for each of the 35,000 cities and towns in the U.S.. Heck, there are estimated to be 350,000 religious congregations in the U.S. – this level of refugee migration could be sustained if each congregation agreed to transition one family of four every 50 years.

  40. 40
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    If they want to ask questions about how we would choose to make modifications to the existing system, they need to have the faintest idea how the existing system works.

    Yeah, but not if the disagreement is over what are and aren’t desirable outcomes of said policy proposals. Most people view policy as balancing tradeoffs, and that requires assigning moral weight to various outcomes. It’s obvious to me that Lurker is trying to explore these trade-offs, not make policy proposals (yet).

    As someone with mixed opinions on what is and isn’t desirable, I’m interested in exploring this moral mine-field, just as I’m interested in various philosophical takes on trolley problems.

  41. 41
    lurker23 says:

    i will note once again that some people (not kate this time though!) are spending MUCH more time trying to tell me how they do not have to answer any questions at all, and will not answer such questions, and it is wrong to ask questions like mine. those people are spending almost no time, or literally no time at all, answering them even though it is faster to answer than to complain!

    this shows i think, that they do not necessarily have an interest in discussing the issue with anyone who does not initially take on their ideas and percspective and who does not agree at the beginning of the conversation. and of course that is okay, you can think what you want. but maybe you can not pretend so much to be sure you are right? disagreeing with your perspective is not ‘ignorance.’

    for example CHARLES, you seem to think that it is stupid to consider overall number of immigrants from any source. but this is wrong. i think there is probably not a single country in the world that tries to do a good job controlling immigration, where someone in high level policy does NOT keep track of how many people are coming in from every different source.

    say there are 400,000 somalis and 400,000 venezuelans and 400,000 mexicans and 400,000 canadians who want to get in. surely you are not naive enough to think that we will decide individually about each group to admit them or not without considering whether we will or will not admit some or all of another group. to say that we should consider ‘how many immigrants from canada get in’, without also considering ‘how many immigrants from mexico get in’, is very much similar to saying that we should decide how much foreign aid to give away without knowing how much we have spent.

    also “how many people can we let in per year” is also a very common topic of discussion in many countries, among general citizens. and it is here as well, like we could argue about “how many people should the US accept every year” and many do. modern immigration policy always considers real numbers when you are setting it. Do you think that the EU ignores it?

    in all seriousness, it is completely foolish to claim expert status in an immigration conversation and be unwilling (or claim that it is irrelevant) to answer “how many people should we let in every year?” because there is a big difference between “as many as want to come,” “20 million”, “2 million,” “1 million,” and so on. it is also ridiculous to think we would ask “should we do this thing?” without also asking “what will happen if we do this thing?”

    so for example AMPERSAND suggested that we make it so we admit as many people as necessary so that people have not much incentive to try to sneak in.
    that is an interesting idea, so i discussed how in my opinion that would work with numbers, maybe he will answer when he is back from his comic meeting.

    the GOAL of the policy has a lot to do with the selected METHOD of the policy, at least if you are trying to make an intelligent policy.

    note that i think of your perspective as wrong, but i can manage to say so without being insulting. you are coming across very much like the sort of person who says “nobody can disagree, and if they do they just have to read these things i like, and i won’t defend my position because if you disagree you just do not know enough.”

    Kate says:
    October 31, 2018 at 12:11 am
    I’d like to see more people on both sides of the immigration debate, writ large set our differences aside and fight on those issues that we can agree on.

    i would like to understand what policies you are pushing for and what you are trying to do before i agree to “set our differences aside”. i like to know what people actually think before i work with them, though i do not at ALL need to AGREE with someone in order to work with them. for example i think Ampersand can be very clear and is often willing to answer questions and be specific which makes it much easier to find places where people agree with him and to avoid places where they do not. i wish you would do that.

    Yes, we need limits (although, I have no idea what you mean by “hard” and, as Charles said, I think you’re a bit confused about how that works in reality).

    i meant that we try very hard to meet those limits, and that the assumption is that we should basically not go over the limits. if we agree to limit things to three million people per year for example, it would be fine if we let in 2,900,000 (under the limit) and nobody would care much if we let in 3,060,000 but it would be an issue if we let in 3,750,000, and so on. i do not think it is useful to debate how “hard” limits need to be at this point, though, i am much more interested in what you think limits should be.

    I’m not opposed to open borders as a long-term goal, but I think just opening them up all at once, as the world is now, would lead to chaos. I think you’d be hard pressed to find people labeled in favor of so-called “open borders” who fail to take such a pragmatic approach.

    that is probably true. but if you are someone who thinks the goal is open borders it may be that you are approaching immigration (and the state of your country) in a very different way from me, which is what i am trying to figure out.

    People who came in or stayed illegally years ago, and are firmly rooted in the U.S. are not in direct competition with new arrivals, so no, I don’t think that they should be included in any hypothetical trade-off.

    thas position is clear, thank you for being clear. i do not know if we agree on facts? i think existing residents (citizens, green card, or illegally in country) ARE often in direct competition with new arrivals, because all of those people are often competing for lower level jobs.

    also there are interesting arguments about how we should or should not give immigration priority to the people who are here (or who got in) rather than the people who are still trying to get in.

    I also don’t know how you got these impressions about my beliefs.

    reading your posts, tried my best, though of course that is not always right, sorry if i was wrong!

    I think we should create a path to legal status for undocumented people…that doesn’t need to be citizenship for most people…I do think that Dreamers should be given a path to citizenship

    ok, so you’re talking about citizenship for dreamers, and green cards for everyone else, deporting very violent people, which is an incredibly clear answer and i thank you for that. you and i are not so far off on this one, i do not think.

    How in the world could we be “fairly sure” that the refugees wouldn’t help the country, but a rich, educated family would?

    i think all countries try their best to figure out what will help the country. for example if we are short of primary care doctors but have a lot of coal miners and farm workers then we might want to admit more doctors than coal miners.
    but if we have a shortage of farm workers and too many electrical engineers then we would want to admit more farm workers. here is an example for how canada handles things. when a major country gives points for PhDs and “highly skilled trades” and almost no points for “minimal education” or “manual labor”, writing a question to reflect that was not supposed to be classist.

    i tried to make the hypothetical to force a choice between a goal i think you support (helping people who are poor by admitting them where they want to be) and a goal i am not sure you support (allowing the country to pick and choose its favorites without much regard for the wishes of the people that want to get in.) i made sure it was not a refugee because refugees are not treated the same way.

    but my question could be more general, in two parts:
    1) do you think it is okay to give priority to people who the country thinks it needs and to give extra-low priority to the people who the country thinks it does not need?
    2) other than refugees, how much attention should a country need pay to the immigration wishes of non-residents who are also non-citizens?

    note also that it is accurate to think that poor people are (as a class) more likely to need government services which cost money, this is almost a circular argument because “not having money” is what it is to be poor. if we admitted the 100,000 richest people in mexico and if they moved here with all of their money we would have either the same or more money (which we could use to help poor people if we wanted to) but if we admitted the 100,000 poorest people in mexico the reverse would be true. it would be very strange to ignore the effect on social programs between rich and poor.

    There’s also no reason to pit refugees against educated workers (two categories which sometimes have significant overlap) in this way. The U.S. in not in any danger of being overwhelmed by refugees. In 2017, only 28,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S.. That’s fewer than 1 for each of the 35,000 cities and towns in the U.S.. Heck, there are estimated to be 350,000 religious congregations in the U.S. – this level of refugee migration could be sustained if each congregation agreed to transition one family of four every 50 years.

    well that is true if we don’t change the way we deal with refugees. but are we not discussing the possibility of changing very much the way we deal with refugees? in a system of my choice i think we should admit VERY much more refugees, maybe 10 or times as many refugees, or more, they are probably my highest priority, which is one of the reasons that i also at least think about balancing that in other ways. like if the us is admitting about 1 million people every year and we start admitting say 300,000 super-poor refugees (refugees are almost always very poor) and helping them with social support (refugees usually need a lot of support), we may need to adjust what other people we let in to find time and money and effort to support the refugees.

  42. 42
    J. Squid says:

    lurker23,

    They are actually being quite nice to you in explaining WHY they won’t answer your questions. And this really bugs you.

    This reminds me of some of the debates we had here with Forced Birth people way back in the mists of time. They, too, tried to use hypotheticals that were set up to support their position. At the time, we explained that what they were doing was unfair and underhanded. If we don’t accept the premises of your hypothetical, why should we engage?

    If you actually wanted to engage folks here about immigration, you would take their complaints about your hypothetical seriously and either rework it into something that would allow you to have the discussion you so proclaim to desire or you would work with the people with whom you wish to have an honest discussion to create a framework that allows that conversation.

    I can only conclude by your refusal to concede a millimeter wrt your hypothetical, that you do not wish to have a discussion with others on any terms other than your own.

    And this is exactly what people have been trying to tell you. This is also what’s been bugging me about your comments from the time you showed up. You’re adept at using the “just asking questions because sometimes I have a hard time understanding these things” gambit to control the conversation and manipulate others into having unpleasant interactions with you.

    It’s time to either put up or shut up. Either engage with commenters fairly and honestly, or cut it out.

  43. 43
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    There are people who are deliberately trying to be inhumane. The policy of separating children from their parents, which some members of the Trump administration want to resume, is meant to scare away legitimate asylum seekers.

    I think that you fail to understand the background behind the policy and the motivations for it.

    Many who oppose illegal immigration don’t want people who show up at the border to be allowed to travel freely in the US, but to be detained until it’s clear whether they are granted asylum or are to be deported. Reasons for this include:
    – a fear that people will refuse to let themselves be deported if they are refused asylum and instead will hide from the government
    – a fear of terrorists or other criminals entering
    – a fear that people with dangerous diseases may spread that in the US

    Detention of migrants is nothing new and goes back to 1890, when migrants were detained at Ellis Island. Bill Clinton authorized mandatory detention in 1996, resulting in a drastic increase in the number of detained migrants.

    There was a court case about the treatment of children of migrants which ended in a consent degree in 1997 (Flores Agreement), which required that unaccompanied children should be released within 20 days and that detained minors should be treated better. This was then interpreted by the government as allowing the government to detain families with children in more pleasant facilities. The litigation was supposed to end when the government fully complied with the consent degree, which hasn’t happened so far.

    Obama built family detention centers in Pennsylvania and Texas to comply with the consent degree. However, in 2015 U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee found that the consent degree applied more broadly than what the government earlier believed and that accompanied children should also be released from custody within 20 days, even if they were in the more pleasant family detention centers. The process of detaining people and letting them go before they have been processed is colloquially known as catch-and-release.

    Trump wanted to end catch-and-release completely and also to criminally prosecute everyone who entered the US illegally, without a valid claim to refugee status (“zero-tolerance policy”). So his solution was to separate the children from their parents, so:
    – he complied with the letter of the Flores Agreement and the ruling by Gee to release accompanied minors within 20 days
    – he would not release any adults

    Then the courts disallowed this, which led Trump to give up on his zero-tolerance prosecution policy, as he concluded that this policy could not be sustained within the scope of court rulings.

    So the very shitty policy of separating children from their parents seems to be motivated by a strong desire to criminally prosecute illegal border crossings, coupled with a rather unfortunate fact that separating children from their parents was not explicitly disallowed in the Flores Agreement, nor explicitly disallowed by any court rulings at the time.

    I’d like to see more people on both sides of the immigration debate, writ large set our differences aside and fight on those issues that we can agree on.

    I’ve only seen you describe what kind of limits on migration you don’t want. It seems impossible to me to expect to find common ground if you don’t clarify where your actual limits and desired policies are.

    What groups don’t you want to allow in or limit? Economic migrants?
    What policies do you propose to implement your desired outcome?

    It’s easy to criticize any policy, because all choices have major downsides. When making policy, you have to pick your poison.

  44. 44
    lurker23 says:

    J. Squid says:
    October 31, 2018 at 7:59 am
    lurker23,

    They are actually being quite nice to you in explaining WHY they won’t answer your questions.

    i have to say that it does not seem that way to me. you do not seem especially nice here, either.

    They, too, tried to use hypotheticals that were set up to support their position.

    i am confused because you seem to be suggesting that this is a bad thing. do you expect me to support YOUR position? i do not think it makes much sense. also, i do not think you do that, or anyone else here.

    If we don’t accept the premises of your hypothetical, why should we engage?

    because that is how discussion and debate works when people do not agree at the outset? you seem to have a funny idea of how discussion and debate is supposed to happen. do you only discuss things with people who almost-agree with you?

    you could ask me “if open borders had to happen in 10 years, what should we do now?” and i could answer it even though i hate that idea. that is how discussion works, at least for me.

    i do not accept your premises in this post, and i do not think you are right here, either, but i can still answer your question.

    If you actually wanted to engage folks here about immigration, you would take their complaints about your hypothetical seriously and either rework it into something that would allow you to have the discussion you so proclaim to desire

    i do not think you are supposed to be making assumptions about what i “actually want”, especially when your assumption is in direct conflict with what i am saying i want.

    some folks here will not answer my questions, and they do not ask their own questions. they seem to want ME to ask THEIR questions so they can answer them. i do not think this is how discussion usually works. usually, i ask MY questions and I answer YOUR questions, and you do the reverse. is it different for you?

    I can only conclude by your refusal to concede a millimeter wrt your hypothetical, that you do not wish to have a discussion with others on any terms other than your own.

    this makes very little sense to me, i think i have changed a variety of things so this is a strange accusation. but maybe i am wrong!

    please help me. I will post some of my specific questions. can you please explain why each one of them is unfair” or dishonest or whatever term you want, insulting or not? then i will try to rewrite them using your “framework’ to see if i can get an answer.

    1) do you think it is good to agree on a hard number of people who we should admit every year? if so how many people do you think the us should admit? (i thought this was a very basic question, and the second part of it seems to be one of the more common questions in immigration, maybe i am very wrong?)
    2) which is your first priority, people in need of asylum or people in the US legally? (this seemed like it would have a simple answer “same”, “first group,” or “second group,” what am i missing?)
    3) do you think it is okay to give priority to people who the country thinks it needs and to give extra-low priority to the people who the country thinks it does not need?
    4) other than refugees, how much attention should a country need pay to the immigration wishes of non-residents who are also non-citizens?

    if i understood why those four questions were so unfair as not to even deserve an answer and to get me compared to a forced-birth advocate, maybe i could rewrite them.

    also, on forced birth: i am an abortion rights person. and it seems to me that if you really support abortion you have to have a backbone and when someone asks for example “would it be okay to kill a fetus that might live?” you have to say “yes” (or i do anyway) because that will sometimes happen in abortion. i am okay with aborting fetuses even if they would live and i do not think i am allowed to pretend that this is not a tradeoff of my position. or if you want to argue for making it harder to convict people and someone asks “are you okay with setting more criminals free” you have to say “yes” because that is a tradeoff for harder convictions.

    the sort of person who says “i refuse to answer that question it is too unfair and hurts my position” a lot, i think the problem is with that person’s backbone and not usually with the question. hard questions are perfectly fair.

  45. 45
    J. Squid says:

    I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed here. Most regular commenters have been through this style of just asking questions why are none of you brave enough to answer mememe enough times that you’ve seen exactly how far down your path they’re willing to tread. But good luck in your endeavor.

  46. 46
    Charles says:

    lurker23,

    What is the current total number of allowed immigrants to the US per year, combining the various forms of legal immigration, undocumented immigrants, and refugees? What is the method by which permitted total legal immigration numbers are decreased if undocumented immigration increases? What is the method by which it is increased if undocumented immigration decreases? What is the method by which legal immigration is allocated by country of origin? What is the method by which legal immigration from specific countries of origin is decreased if undocumented immigration from those specific countries decreases?

  47. 47
    Harlequin says:

    Kate’s criticism of trolley problems was silly, IMO. It’s like a high-school physics student criticizing his textbo0k because frictionless plains don’t exist.

    I have been summoned!

    Charles, my personal favorite “imagined revenge on physicists” webcomic is this one from SMBC, but I enjoy that this is a genre (and yours was definitely more topical).

    ***

    A well-known issue that plays into this is government assistance (“welfare”) versus number of immigrants coming in. An economist – can’t remember the name – said that you can have open borders or a welfare state, but not both. There is just not enough money to pay for everyone in the world.

    The current US solution is that unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for most forms of welfare. I don’t know enough about this issue to have an opinion about the humanitarian implications of that.

    Of course, in an open borders situation, nobody would be unauthorized. I’m not sure you’d call me an open borders advocate, though I do favor an increase in immigration. But whether we can pay for it really depends on who shows up and what they do, doesn’t it? And also how you do the accounting. For instance, I don’t know that much about economics, but I’ve heard others say that the largest material benefit of immigration is that immigrants’ children are wildly productive, much more so than the children of born citizens and much more so than their own parents. Do you consider that when setting immigration policy? Do you factor in secondary and tertiary effects, like how citizens might be more productive through collaboration with immigrants, or hiring them for support jobs, or something like that?

    Also–even if the borders were completely open, most people in the world wouldn’t want to move here. And if enough people did, we can’t reliably predict what will happen: human society and human economies are very very complicated, and we have no evidence-based model for large-scale changes like “100 million people suddenly immigrate to the United States.”

    And, of course, even if admitting more immigrants costs money in the long term as well as the short term: there are many concerns besides the financial, and it could well be that we decide, as a society, that social support for immigrants is something we’re willing to spend quite a lot of money on, because of the other benefits.

    But in any case, open borders is quite a bit stronger than what Amp is talking about in the cartoon.

  48. 48
    Kate says:

    The current US solution is that unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for most forms of welfare.

    Are authorized resident aliens eligible for welfare? I know that they pay into social security, but can’t collect unless they become citizens. On the other hand, public schools and (I think) the free lunch program are open to all children.

  49. 49
    Zunf2 says:

    Are authorized resident aliens eligible for welfare? I know that they pay into social security, but can’t collect unless they become citizens.

    Kate: That is an inaccurate statement. In fact, authorized resident aliens can get social security, even if they haven’t paid into the US social security system.

    The United States has treaties with many different countries in this regard. You can get US social security payments if you were in a social security system of a different country. Here is an example of a treaty with Germany in that regard:

    https://www.ssa.gov/international/Agreement_Texts/germ_agt.html

    Charles: I’m not sure what your rhetorical strategy and tactics are supposed to be, but lurker23 is trying to discuss what policy should be (seems like a straightforward topic for this type of board) and you are trying to badger him with irrelevant details and an apparent expert stance. Why? From my point of view he seems to be arguing in good faith.

  50. 50
    Charles S says:

    I’d forgotten that SMBC one, Harlequin. I particularly love the splitting “dx/dy” into two variables sequence!

    Some (most?) authorized aliens are eligible for SNAP, and in Oregon and California undocumented immigrants have some access to health care and in-state tuition at Universities (as long as they went to public school in-state). But we aren’t an open borders country, so that claim isn’t disproven by us.

    Kate, I think you’re mistaken about social security. Anyone who has legally worked in the US for more than 10 years full time qualifies for social security (including SSI). It is undocumented workers who pay into social security (if they are not paid under the table) but don’t get to collect.

    [edit: cross-posted with “Zunf2”]

  51. 51
    lurker23 says:

    Charles says:
    October 31, 2018 at 7:24 pm
    lurker23,

    What is the current total number of allowed immigrants to the US per year, combining the various forms of legal immigration, undocumented immigrants, and refugees?

    there is no “total number of allowed undocumented immigrants”. how can you keep claiming to be some sort of expert and ask that question?

    of course there are various people and political parties who want more or less illegal immigration.

    there is a big difference between saying what we DO and what we SHOULD DO, and things like the “total number of immigrants from all sources” come up a lot in questions about what we SHOULD DO, at least among smart people. i am sorry that they seem to make you so upset. (well, not really that sorry about your upset because you are being sort of a jerk, but i am sorry that you are keeping the conversation from happening).

    what is the method by which permitted total legal immigration numbers are decreased if undocumented immigration increases? What is the method by which it is increased if undocumented immigration decreases?

    if that is something that people want to do, the usual method is political action to make changes to the methods and process of entry which will make it more difficult either to enter or to obtain legal status. if they want to do the other direction it is the same method with opposite changes. changes can be simple like “less hours in a border station so less people can be processed” and “higher fees for paperwork”. changes can be complicated like “working to change the immigration point system to make it harder for uneducated laborers to be admitted.”

    again, how do you not know this?

    What is the method by which legal immigration is allocated by country of origin?

    in places where it is openly legal they just say so. in other places it may be technically not be allowed, but most countries consider it i think to some degree, and practically it involves political action and treaties with border countries combined with changes to methods of entry that are similar to those in the first answer. this is possible because the characteristics of immigrants are often different as an average between countries. to use two example, if you make it harder to come by boat/plane and easier to come by land you will have fewer immigrants from outside south and central america, or you can do the reverse. if you focus on ties to islamic terrorist you will have fewer people from middle east.

    i think you are being snarky here because you misread what i said above, you went on a whole rant about something i did not say, but that is not my fault.

    anyway, do you think you are in good faith by asking questions which are basic, while refusing to answer mine? i dont. i do not know what you do for a living but i am certain you are not a high government official who is expert in immigration, or a professor who teaches this and has spent a life time studying it. i do not know if you know more than i do–it is possible but do not think so–but still, i am certain i know this well enough to have a discussion about this and your comments are very pompous and snobby.

  52. 52
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    To me, immigration policy is mostly about balancing economic and social trade-offs. I think a big part of the calculation is the welfare of the immigrants themselves. Almost everyone has a hierarchy of care- I care about my wife more than anyone in the world, then other members of my family, my friends, then my community, then my hometown, etc (I think I’d be really embarrassed if some test was devised that could place the position of my cats on such a hierarchy). It’s just a fact that most Americans care more about the welfare of other Americans than they do the welfare of Hondurans. The size of this difference probably drives most people’s policy prescriptions WRT immigration. Although I usualy care about those closest to me more than those far away, it’s not so much that I want to see immigration lowered- the welfare of immigrants, combined with the economic benefits Harlequin talked about more than make up for the chance that some of my fellow blue collar workers will find themselves less competitive.

    Another way to say this is that most people who want more immigration aren’t viewing this issue like a Koch brother, and most people who want to see less immigration aren’t veiwing this issue like a young Caesar Chavez.

    The trouble is, I don’t know how to even argue that my Hiarchy of Care (is there a name for this?) is the correct one, or even more correct than another person’s. This issue comes up in other places- such as the degree to which evangelicals care about the persecution of their fellow Christians in the middle east, compared to the persecution of non-christians. I know some people like to use the word “othering” to describe this phenomenon, but I think it’s messier than that. I think everyone probably “others” everyone else to some degree, and what matters is how much.

    Obviously, there is more to balancing the trade-offs of economic policy, and more places where people can have differing opinions. There is no consensus opinion about the economic benefits of immigration, even though I think Harlequin’s position is the strongest one. I just think the hierarchy of care defines the sharpest divide between the pro and con sides of the immigration debate, and I have no idea if it’s possible or even good to expand the sphere of caring in a world with limited resources, where “caring” itself is a resource of sorts. For me, it’s mostly a gut feeling that I should care about a block-layer in hunduras nearly as much as one living down the street, but I know from talking to other blue collar men like me that this feeling isn’t shared.

  53. 53
    Charles says:

    lurker23,

    I was asking you questions about the system of immigration that you described in your questions to Kate, specifically:

    if you agree with this, for example then you would agree that if we want “100 people per year” (chosen because it matches any percentage) they are divided among illegal entries and legal entries and refugees and so on, and divided across countries, and if we let in 50 people from africa and 25 people sneak in, there are only 25 spots left for everyone else.

    which you said were not about a weird hypothetical. Obviously, they do not describe the actual world, that was my point in asking the questions. That isn’t how the system works, so asking questions about what people want as though that were how the system works is nonsensical.

  54. 54
    Charles says:

    Jeff,

    I agree that hierarchy of care (or whatever it should be called) is pretty central to the question of immigration. For me, this is why I’m extremely unhappy with the deportation policies of both the early Obama administration and (even more so) the Trump administration. While I believe that higher immigration levels than currently exist would be good for all of us in the US, I believe even more that it is important to protect (and normalize the status of) people already in the US, in my community and across the country. I don’t want my neighbors, friends or acquaintances disappeared because they overstayed their visa or snuck into the country.

    I think hierarchy of care also describes why I think we should forms of legal immigration that match the groups of people who cross the border illegally and who over-stay their visas. If people are going to be in my country and in my neighborhood, I want them to have full access to the legal rights of legal residents. Having people in the community who have no labor rights because they can’t work legally, who can’t access health care because they can’t access health insurance, who can’t have car insurance because they can’t get a driver’s license, isn’t good for them or for the community.

    I think hierarchy of care also describes somewhat why 7,000 deaths on the US border that are the direct result of US policy are more upsetting that the vastly greater number of deaths happening somewhere where we have no control over the policies. Designing a border policy that doesn’t kill thousands is our responsibility, while ending the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not something I have much influence on (even though it has killed nearly a thousand times as many people). I’d like the civil war in the DRC to end, but I feel both powerless and distant from it.

  55. 55
    lurker23 says:

    charles: you ask a lot of pompous questions trying to show i know nothing about immigration, i answer them, and you then ignore them and pretend the response does not exist, and want to talk about something else? you have a very funny idea about what a good faith conversation is, i think and if you think you are having one you might want to rethink your definition.

    for example then you would agree that if we want “100 people per year” (chosen because it matches any percentage) they are divided among illegal entries and legal entries and refugees and so on, and divided across countries, and if we let in 50 people from africa and 25 people sneak in, there are only 25 spots left for everyone else.

    i did not mean that anyone controls immigration on a per country basis, simply that all of the categories went across multiple countries. the “divided among countries” part was a bad language choice but that happens sometimes in life.

    you might have figured it out if you were willing to adopt some analysis that i was not instantly an idiot. you would have figured it out in about one second if you asked me to clarify. you also would have figured it out rapidly if you engaged in good faith conversation. or you might have figured it out by the example i used, given that africa is not a country but rather a continent, maybe you failed to notice the distinction?

    in any case, since you obviously have no interest in discussing this and since you have nothing valuable which you have added to the conversation other than a lot of snark and insults, maybe you should consider not participating in it.

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