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By Jan C. Ting

Where is Paul Krugman on immigration?

Paul Krugman is a Nobel-prize winning economist and a prolific writer, both on economic theory and as a public intellectual. Through his regular column in the New York Times and in his blog which he calls "The Conscience of a Liberal", he has become the most widely read, respected, and dismissed commentator in the United States, and perhaps in the world.

In his column and blog, he has condemned the rise of inequality in the United States and championed the health insurance reforms of the Affordable Care Act as imperfect but necessary and fixable. He has called for government intervention, both in the United States and in Europe, to stimulate economies in recession and to provide jobs for the unemployed. He has repeatedly condemned as needless the continuing unemployment crisis in the United States, and the disinterest of U.S. policy makers in doing anything about it.

In his most recent column, he noted the latest report that two million fewer Americans are employed now than six years ago, even though the population has continued to grow, that the rate of unemployment in May remained high at 7.6% , and that four million Americans have been unemployed now for more than six months. Nonetheless most political insiders considered it "a pretty good jobs report."

Given his concerns, I think it curious that Krugman has not offered his views on the biggest political issue of the summer, the proposed immigration reform that would roughly triple immigration into the U.S. over the next decade, while providing amnesty and entry into the legal U.S. labor market for 11 million illegal immigrants.

Here's what I think Paul Krugman thinks about the immigration expansion and amnesty: Krugman has to believe and recognize that allowing more poor immigrants into the U.S. will increase economic inequality. He has to believe and recognize that allowing so many more immigrants into the legal U.S. labor market will make the plight of unemployed and underemployed Americans even worse than it is now. And he has to believe and recognize that the amnesty will attract more illegal immigration into the U.S. in the future, as was the case after the 1986 amnesty giving rise to the current "immigration crisis".

He also has to believe and recognize that tripling the amount of future immigration and legalizing the millions of illegal immigrants while so many Americans are unemployed will doom the Affordable Care Act to failure and financial collapse.

If Krugman believes these things about the proposed immigration expansion and amnesty bill, why doesn't he say what he thinks in his column? I think he's afraid of venturing outside the liberal intellectual and cultural bubble in which he lives and prospers. What would all his admirers at the New York Times think? Actually weighing in on the most controversial political fight of the summer seems riskier than again condemning the deficit hawks and "Very Serious People" who care nothing for the tragedy of the unemployed.

Does that sound about right, Paul? If I've misrepresented your thinking in any way, you have the means to make your actual views clear, and I hope you will.

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NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a criminal, not a hero, and should be extradited and prosecuted.

Edward Snowden, a 29-year old high school dropout and employee of a contractor working for the National Security Agency, has claimed credit for releasing secret and classified documents, including a court order authorizing the collection of telephone records, and the revelation of a program called Prism to collect internet data on foreigners from service providers like Facebook and Google. He has fled to Hong Kong, now a semi-autonomous part of China, from which he has granted interviews.

No government action disclosed by Snowden's leaks appears to be illegal. Government efforts to prevent terrorism after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by monitoring "chatter" were widely but only generally known. Snowden's disclosure reveals the details of the U.S. government's efforts, wasting enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars and human effort in trying to create a system for gathering information. By allowing terrorists to know such details, the disclosure will enable them to make informed efforts at avoiding such surveillance.

The fact of a federal court order authorizing surveillance practices is evidence of government efforts to comply with the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which predated the 9/11 attacks by nearly a quarter century. Trying to strike a balance between liberty and security was the reason for the 1978 act which created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which issued the secret but now leaked order. All judges who serve on that court are regular Article 3 federal judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Congress has often amended the FISA statute to fine-tune whether, when, and how the U.S. government can engage in surveillance to try to protect Americans from foreign threats. Federal judges make that determination on a case by case basis, not individual leakers in the federal bureaucracy.

The practice of obtaining the records, but not the content, of telephone calls pursuant to court order is standard practice not only in foreign intelligence surveillance, but also in domestic criminal prosecution. The internet presents new issues and challenges, but federal judges are the right persons to decide how existing legal principles apply to new facts and technology. Congress provides regular and informed oversight for all intelligence-gathering practices, and can amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act at any time.

By unilaterally revealing secret but legal surveillance practices, Edward Snowden has increased the likelihood that terrorists will be successful in avoiding surveillance and committing acts of terrorism. The blood of future American victims will be on his hands.

The United States must apprehend and prosecute the NSA leaker to demonstrate that we are still a nation of laws.

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Jobs disaster continues, but Congress debates increasing immigration?

 

The most underreported news story of the current year and of President Obama's second term is the continuing jobs crisis, and the determination of both the President and the Congress to ignore it in trying to enact big increases in future immigration and an amnesty of 11 million or more immigrants illegally present.

The official unemployment rate for May actually ticked upward to 7.6% from 7.5% in April. The employment/population ratio has been flat, around a low 58.5% through the recession.

That's officially 12 million of our fellow Americans still looking but unable to find a job, which doesn't include millions of other Americans either underemployed or who have given up trying to find a job after years of unemployment.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is beginning debate on the Schumer-Rubio so-called immigration reform that will more than triple the number of legal immigrants over the next decade to 33 million from current legal immigration of about 1 million each year, and will also increase the numbers of temporary workers allowed to enter and work.

The proposed bill will invite future immigrants to violate U.S. immigration law by providing amnesty to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. A similar amnesty was enacted in 1986 which had that effect.

Why is Congress ignoring the interests of suffering unemployed and underemployed Americans? There are two reasons: money and politics. Employers and business interests want the largest possible pool of labor to drive down their labor costs. They are actively lobbying (and making campaign contributions to) members of Congress to support the legislation to expand the labor pool.

Elected officials hope that a pathway to citizenship for more immigrants will lead to more votes for them and their party in the future. Democrats are hoping that immigrants will reward their efforts with a permanent majority. Some Republicans have been persuaded that the permanent majority for Democrats is likely to happen unless they, too, fall in line and support the bill in the hope of attracting a fraction of the future immigrant vote for Republicans.

While immigrant voters as a group are as politically divided as everyone else, it is true that Hispanic and Asian voters have been skewing Democratic in recent elections, which is the basis for the hope for a permanent Democratic majority. There's enough truth to that possibility to wonder how Republicans could believe they help themselves by joining Democrats to enact the Schumer-Rubio bill.

It's also true that no one feels the impact of competing with new immigrant labor more than the immigrants who arrived earlier. So speculation on how new voters will vote is just that, speculation.

Meanwhile, Sherry Lockhart, 53, of Enumclaw, Washington, is having her jobless benefits slashed as a result of federal spending cuts. She tells the New York Times, "I just feel I've done my best over the years, and I feel like I haven't failed the system. The system has failed me, and millions more."

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Politically correct immigration amnesty is advanced, and immigration law enforcement is ...

On April 2, 2013, the Associated Press announced amendments to its style book effectively banning the use of the word "illegal" to describe a person, as in "an illegal immigrant." This announcement was followed by similar pronouncements from other news sources including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Denver Post.

Why should a useful and descriptive word be banished? My Webster's dictionary defines "illegal" as "not according to or authorized by law" and also "not sanctioned by official rules". Black's Law Dictionary, which is commonly used by lawyers and law students, actually defines an "illegal alien" as "An alien who enters a country at the wrong time or place, eludes an examination by officials, obtains entry by fraud, or enters into a sham marriage to evade immigration laws."

I regard these actions to banish "illegal" as a concerted effort to blur the distinction between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants, as if their immigration status and U.S. immigration law shouldn't matter at all. I see these actions as in direct support of the on-going effort to enact an amnesty for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, and to prevent the application of current U.S immigration law to them.

Perhaps encouraged by the successful banishment of the word "illegal", immigration lawyer Careen Shannon says we should also stop using the word "alien" to describe foreigners because that term is now associated with extraterrestrial aliens in science fiction literature and movies. Like provincial Americans might actually think foreigners in the U.S. come from other planets?

"Alien" is another useful and descriptive word that we should not abandon in pursuit of political correctness. Black's Law Dictionary defines "alien" as "A person who is not a citizen of a given country; a person not owing allegiance to a particular nation."

The current immigration statute of the United States expressly defines "alien" as meaning "any person not a citizen or national of the United States." The statute contains hundreds of references to "alien", so banishing the term from our law would be a major undertaking. We can't just substitute "non-citizen" for "alien" because there are non-citizen nationals of the United States, like the residents of American Samoa, who are neither citizens nor aliens.

Careen Shannon concludes, "Let's just call them people." Hey, if we're all just people without distinctions, who needs immigration laws?

Finally, the supporters of amnesty for illegal aliens in the U.S., like Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, insist that we shouldn't call his proposal "amnesty", because, "Amnesty is the forgiveness of something." His bill is instead "comprehensive immigration reform" and "a pathway to citizenship" for the illegal. Right.

The last time the U.S. enacted a big amnesty for illegal aliens in the U.S., in 1986, Senator Rubio was a teenager in high school. At that time, everyone including the sponsors called it what it was, an amnesty. Black's Law Dictionary actually gives as an example for "amnesty": "the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already present in the country".

Because the 1986 amnesty encouraged much greater illegal immigration to the U.S., causing the current demand for an even bigger amnesty, the current sponsors would prefer to somehow distinguish their proposal from the 1986 amnesty. But the current proposal is substantively indistinguishable from the 1986 amnesty, and certainly does provide "forgiveness of something."

The proponents and supporters of amnesty and increased immigration to the U.S. are trying to prevent the use of common descriptive terms to describe the substance of their proposal. If the American people understand the substance of so-called "comprehensive immigration reform", they will prevent their representatives in Congress from enacting it into law.

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Jobs for Americans or Immigrants?

Temple University hosted its annual Neighborhood Job Fair on Thursday, May 23. Over 65 employers participated, including many federal, state, and city agencies, along with many private companies including CBS Radio, Independence Blue Cross, Sheraton Hotel, Sugarhouse Casino, Target Department Store, and Verizon Wireless.

Thousands of job seekers packed Mitten Hall. And thousands more waited patiently in a long line, dressed to impress, holding folders of resumes. The line stretched from the front of Mitten Hall north up Broad Street to Beasley's Walk, then east and as far south as the Performing Arts Center and Barrack and Wachman Halls. Later arrivals were understandably discouraged by the long line.

The length of that line was stark testimony to the persistence of unemployment, not only in Philadelphia, but throughout the U.S., where the national rate of unemployment continues to hover just below 8%, which doesn't include discouraged job seekers who have given up trying. That most of those in line were African-American attests to the depths of unemployment in that community, still in excess of 13% nationally.

With that kind of high and continuing unemployment, why is Congress trying to grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants, plus their families, and increase significantly the numbers of future immigrants? Won't most of those immigrants compete with unemployed Americans in the search for good jobs? Isn't it enough that we admit around a million legal immigrants every year, that we issue more green cards for legal immigration and a clear path to full citizenship than all the rest of the nations of the world combined?

The reality I believe is that both political parties have written off long-term unemployed American workers. Automation, robotics, and computerization will continue to erode the numbers of American jobs. Many employers prefer to hire the lowest-wage workers they can find, and prefer the work ethic and desperation of new immigrants to that of unemployed Americans. Organized labor which has suffered from declining membership and dues collection, looks to new immigrant labor as potential members and dues-payors.

What's the future for long-term unemployed and underemployed American workers? Food stamps. Food stamp enrollment in the U.S. has surged 70% since 2008, with 48 million Americans now receiving them, about 15% of the population. The cost of our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is now $75 billion annually, about twice what it was in 2008.

Illegal immigrants are not yet eligible for food stamps. But so-called "comprehensive immigration reform" will expand eligibility and insure that all those numbers continue to go up. We are headed for a dystopian future that some futurists have called, "Blade Runner with food stamps."

The alternative is to re-focus attention on the priority of jobs for Americans, including if necessary federally-funded jobs as were created during the Great Depression by alphabet agencies like the CCC, the WPA, and the TVA. A good first step would be the defeat in Congress of so-called "comprehensive immigration reform."

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