Grateful for Immigrants

by Don Boudreaux on August 28, 2007

in Immigration

Do you think that immigrants working today on the countless efforts to rebuild my hometown of New Orleans are “stealing” jobs from Americans?  Are a scourge?  Are welfare bums?  Think again — as this op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal will cause you to do.

It is by Mario Villarreal and Dan Rothschild.  (Dan is a friend of mine who works with my wife at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.)  Here are some key passages:

Shortly after Katrina hit, while the majority of the city’s residents were still in exile and despite inhospitable conditions, a stream of Latino workers and entrepreneurs poured into New Orleans. They were followed by friends and family. There are now perhaps 100,000 Latinos in the New Orleans area, although nobody knows for sure.

Pundits began to speculate on what the influx would mean. Just weeks after Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin asked, “How do I ensure that New Orleans is not overrun by Mexican workers?”

Critics generally fall into two camps. The first believes that the immigrant Latinos in New Orleans are ignorant, helpless and in need of protection. The second maintains that they are stealing jobs, sponging off of welfare and crippling the city’s fragile infrastructure. Neither claim is true. Out of our surveys and interviews with Latino workers in the post-Katrina New Orleans area, we see a microcosm of immigration and immigrants generally: self-sufficient, hard-working, entrepreneurial, law-abiding people simply trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.

…..

There is little evidence that these immigrants are the scroungers or welfare cheats their detractors claim. They came here for one reason: jobs. As one said to us, “I do not need help. I need a job, that’s all I need.” And they plan to stay, as many people told us, “as long as there is work to do.”

Nor is there evidence that they are taking jobs from native New Orleanians. As of April, the last month for which data are available, unemployment in Orleans Parish was 4.0%, compared with 4.5% nationwide. By comparison, in July 2005, the Orleans Parish unemployment rate was 7%, two percentage points above the national figure.

Moreover, the Latino immigrants in New Orleans are not merely doing construction. They’re also opening stores and restaurants, breathing economic vitality into a city still badly in need of a boost.

St. Claude Avenue, one of the two main drags through the Lower Ninth Ward, remains close to deserted, with only perhaps a half-dozen businesses open. But with its spray painted sign and impressive selection of Latino groceries, soft drinks, phone cards and compact discs, Tienda Latina (essentially, “Latin Store”) is bringing commerce back into the most devastated neighborhood in New Orleans. Its customers, as might be expected, are mostly Latino, although a handful of Anglos come through as well. It was the first store between the Industrial Canal and St. Bernard Parish to reopen.

…..

Whether doing temporary construction work or settling into the community and opening businesses, Latinos are playing a critical role in rebuilding New Orleans. The days are long, the work is hard, and the living conditions are frequently trying. But the work is getting done. People are moving back. Businesses are reopening.

The most striking thing is that in New Orleans, the opportunities for immigrants to add to the local economy are obvious: There are roofs to repair, drywall to be hung, trees to be planted. But less apparent opportunities exist in every city, from opening new stores and restaurants to building new homes and offices.

Immigrants, a versatile and entrepreneurial group, remain an integral part of the American enterprise. It’s unfortunate that it takes a disaster to remind us of that.

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{ 46 comments }

TGGP August 28, 2007 at 11:45 am

New Orleans was screwed up already. It is unfortunate for nearby cities that they will be burdened by much of its former population who do not feel like competing with immigrants. My prediction is that New Orleans will remain screwed up long after the rebuilding process.

Per Kurowski August 28, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Reading TGGP´s comment it seems that he would be suggesting the formation of a national reservoir or perhaps more appropriately named a national protectorate where one could host all those who do not feel like competing with immigrants (or even themselves) so that nearby for nearby cities (or economies) will not be burdened.

Who knows he might be on to something. Instead of having WTO working so much on free trade, why do they not take a couple of years of to work on some innovative trade prohibition regulations that could be used by these protectorates?

John Dewey August 28, 2007 at 1:16 pm

TGGP,

What do you mean by "screwed up"?

Greater New Orleans has enjoyed a strong, diverse economy for as long as I can remember. Major industries include tourism, petroleum refining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, aerospace manufacturing, and higher education. The city is one of the busiest ports in the world. Government workers total over 100,000, employed by such organizations as the Federal Reserve, U.S. Customs, the National Finance Center, the FBI, and U.S. Court of Appeals.

Certainly New Orleans is facing its toughest challenge ever. But I wouldn't describe its pre-Katrina economy as screwed up. Furthermore, I don't think the Mississippi River, its seaport, the refineries and chemical plants, the French Quarter, the NASA space vehicle plant, the shipbuilders, and the universities are going to be moving away.

Keith August 28, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Qoute from John Dewey: "Furthermore, I don't think the Mississippi River, its seaport, the refineries and chemical plants, the French Quarter, the NASA space vehicle plant, the shipbuilders, and the universities are going to be moving away."

Actually, you're wrong on the first item on your list. The Mississippi River only runs past New Orleans because of the Army Corps of Engineers, but they're fighting a losing battle. Ask any geologist or hydrologist familiar with the area and they'll tell you the Mississippi River wants to run down the Atchafalaya River to the west, but the Corps has dammed and diverting it down its present course. New Orleans is one dam failure away from losing its river.

John Dewey August 28, 2007 at 1:48 pm

All right, Keith. Let me change my statement.

I don't think the Mississippi River is going to be moving any time soon. There is just too much industrial investment between Baton Rouge and the Gulf of Mexico to believe the Army Corps of Engineers will allow that to happen.

I don't know if I'm still wrong, Keith. But you don't know, either.

John Dewey August 28, 2007 at 2:21 pm

More about B.,

What makes you think that any former NO residents now living in Houston or Atlanta cannot work in those cities or somewhere else? Anyone who has remained jobless in this strong economy simply wishes to remain jobless.

Continued unemployment of the former New Orleans "underclass" is not the result of illegal workers. It is the result of the government safety net.

Do you remember the television images of "helpless" New Orleans residents at the Superdome or at the New Orleans Convention Center? Those folks weren't going to rebuild New Orleans. Anyone who sits in squalor for days awaiting government help is not interested in working for a living. Anyone who is 60 and 100 pounds overweight is not healthy enough to clean up and rebuild a city in the hot, humid Louisiana climate.

Scott Clark August 28, 2007 at 2:59 pm

It sounds to me like everything "More about Boudreaux" is railing against is a problem with coercive and bumbling government (not to mention the fact that the idea of an underclass being shipped and warehoused implies something about an absense of free will or some kind of absolute submission to the state whereby by these people are herded and blindly follow the shepard of the moment) not a problem with individuals engaging in purposeful human action.

My favorite part about this post and the one that the name links to is the part about how the Mexican government now has an "outpost" in the US, and the way the Chinese government could establish colonies in the US (see the linked post)if immigration were unrestricted. As if someone who was here in the States living their own life would somehow feel beholden or owe anything to the Mexican or Chinese government. And if they did, how that could cause any problems for anybody. If they started stealing stuff or taking things or sabotage or whatever this person is worried about, they would be criminal, and there are established procedures for dealing with criminals. If you think there needs to be more harsh penalties for violent crimes and property crimes, argue for that. My argument would be to take away whole swathes of areas of life and put them out of reach of government purview and thereby diminish incentives to control goverments and purposely manipulate demographics to get voting power(if that is what this person fears).

Robert Higgs August 28, 2007 at 4:17 pm

As a resident of the greater New Orleans area, as well as an economist who has been studying and reading other people's studies of immigration for forty years, I believe I have a good idea of what is going on hereabouts.

First, the notion that the immigrants are stealing jobs is a complete fiction. Even with the influx of immigrants, this area has had a labor shortage ever since the storm. Anybody who wants a job here can get one simply by presenting himself and offering to work. "Help wanted" signs are everywhere.

Second, the notion that the influx of immigrants represents some sort of foreign government or other conspiracy or plan is sheer foolishness. These people came one vehicle at a time, at their own initiative, usually as a group of male friends seeking work and willing to occupy the same living quarters together to cut their costs.

Third, these people work extraordinarily hard: many hours per day, many days per week. They do little but work. They are not here for the welfare–that's the specialty of our native-born riff-raff. I wouldn't have a new roof on my hurricane-damaged house today except for the Mexicans who were willing to do that very demanding work (especially in this climate). Virtually all my neighbors can say the same thing.

I am constantly puzzled by the ugly, ignorant sentiments that people in this country express about foreigners who come here, especially the Mexicans. Americans make these remarks about people they have never met and know virtually nothing about. They seem proud to express the most irrational, collectivist feelings of blind nationalism, a feeling that makes no sense whatever. Am I supposed to feel a kinship with the ne're-do-wells of Maine and North Dakota, but not with my fellow human beings who happened to be born in Mexico? Why? The native-born riff-raff are the ones sponging off welfare at my expense, far more often than any immigrants, "legal" or otherwise. Immigrants didn't destroy liberty in this country. That work has been done almost entirely by my "fellow" Americans, God damn them to hell.

Saum August 28, 2007 at 4:18 pm

Wow, the latinos were brave…. the mushrooming of their community in NO is like new foliage springing up after a forest fire.

JohnSal August 28, 2007 at 4:39 pm

I'll make a short comment here as a retired guy living in a place from where the illegal immigrants originate. From my perspective the issue is solely and only whether or not the USG, and by extension states and localities, is prepared to enforce the immigration laws currently on the books. Frankly, they are not now controlling our borders, thus making the whole issue of legal vs illegal immigrants a cruel joke on those who stand in line.

I don't care about any benefit/cost analysis; I do care about being a citizen of a country capable of understanding and enforcing the Rule of Law. If the libertarians want open borders then start to convince voters and politicians to change the laws. Obviously, the ground was insufficiently sowed last month as the people rose up in righteous wrath to smack down that disguised amnesty masquerading as reform. This is not about "blind nationalism;" it's about the Rule of Law.

John Dewey August 28, 2007 at 4:49 pm

More about Boudreaux: "I'll just stick with un-American."

It doesn't bother me in the least what you call me. But I am curious. What did I write that caused you to decide I am un-American? Was it that I disagreed with you about why the New Orleans "underclass" remains unemployed?

Is your definition of "un-American" simply "anyone who disagrees with me"?

Please show me the exact sentence in my post that made you decide I am un-American.

Adam Malone August 28, 2007 at 5:07 pm

More about B,

I find your comments disconcerting because they do not make sense, especially when your comments are combined.

For example: Above you state that contractors went so far as to advertise in LA and drive to TX to pick up workers. In your following paragraph you liken this work to slavery.

Didn't these folks travel because they exercised their own free will? That is to say, were they thrown into the back of the truck and forced to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles at gun point? OR did they agree to travel because they saw an opportunity to better themselves?

As for the rest of your last post…I don't really understand the whole racist thing you were talking about. In the same breath you decry the work of illegal/legal aliens while calling someone else racist (oh sorry, I guess you actually inferred). Isn't that somewhat backward?

For the record, I am opposed to illegal immigration. I believe we have laws, those laws should be obeyed, and if they are not obeyed they must be enforced. However, I am opposed to laws that are unenforced. And immigration is a pretty difficult law to enforce. Hispanics already cross many, many miles of dessert while on foot. If that deadly obstacle does not deter their efforts to enter our country, what will?

Michael August 28, 2007 at 5:40 pm

Who exactly is the slave master when an illegal walks 200 miles on foot through the desert to find work in the gulf states? Enlighten me…

Person August 28, 2007 at 5:40 pm

More_about, that is the most sickening comment I have ever seen on this blog. You are completely dehumanizing the Hispanic workers who are rebuilding N/O. You're saying that when a Hispanic person looks for a job in N/O, that means a contractor imported him like he was a sack of potatoes? You then worry about the cost of "warehousing" human beings?? Um, humans are not "warehoused". Wares are warehoused. The human beings who came to N/O for the jobs there, are renting living space. *They* are paying the cost. They are not inanimate objects that get "imported" and "warehoused".

I hope to god you were trolling.

Chris August 28, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Don,

Excellent. You have shown an example where immigration is having a net positive effect. I suggest that there are other places where immigration is having a net negative effect. See, e.g.:

http://www.charlotte.com/583/story/218076.html

Recognize that this case is the exception, not the rule. Nevertheless, there are aspects to immigration which cannot easily be quantified and traded off. How many lawns would this one guy need to cut at a better rate before it balances out the harm?

There are other costs. Our school district reprints every flyer home in Spanish and hires a large number of ESL teachers. Immigrants from Mexico have a higher incidence of turberculosis than does the US population. And, they are more often without health insurance or the means to pay for emergency care than the US population.

I point out these examples to show that there is a non-trivial downside to immigration. There are upsides as well, but I have yet to hear a good solid argument that shows why one side balances out the other.

John Dewey August 28, 2007 at 7:47 pm

more about boudreaux: "I must have misunderstood the part where you implied that tens of thousands of NO residents were shiftless layabouts good only for cashing welfare checks and who, no matter the incentives, could not be encouraged to better themselves. I must have got that part of your comments wrong, or something."

I never implied any such thing, sir. Reread my post.

But what does my lack of sympathy for the New Orleans unemployed have to do with your accusation? You did not call me callous or cruel. You called me Un-American.

Can you please admit that you were mistaken or else show me what in my post you consider to be un-American?

marysienka August 28, 2007 at 7:50 pm

There are few things that stir my admiration like reading the excerpts from this article. It reminds me that there are more hard workers out there than we can count, doing their self-appointed tasks day in and day out, building and rebuilding what would otherwise lie inert. The fact that those who have found their niche as rebuilders are immigrants is a side-note, to me.
Rock on, New Orleans!

Nasikabatrachus August 28, 2007 at 8:55 pm

….I'm just curious why More About Boudreaux keeps calling it the MexicanGovernment, as opposed to the Mexican government.

What is it with AntiImmigrationSentiments and odd grammar?

John Pertz August 28, 2007 at 9:08 pm

I think the comments section on this blog has gotten to the point where we should probably have some kind of user registration. There are worthy dissenters who inhabit the GMU blogosphere from time to time, however, this blog seems to attract a ton of simple minded thread highjackers. User registration would allow for some kind of ignore function so we would do not have to deal with all of the riff raff.

Tom Kelly August 28, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Don:

As usual you are a shining star in the universe of common sense.

Thanks for the excerpt of the article.

rufus August 28, 2007 at 10:27 pm

This thing has gotten way too contentious. I think we need to shut this Mexican immigration deal down for a year, or two.

Maybe come back in a couple of years with a new set of immigration laws, and enforce them this time.

Gil August 28, 2007 at 10:39 pm

I was waiting for the part where many a displaced ex-N.O. resident must have been a welfare bludger as they are not racing back to N.O. for work such that there would be no need for migrant labor. I would have thought that welfare advocates who argue for welfare because the economy is running at optimal efficiency and then see migrants stroll in and find jobs have a difficult time upholding their arguments.

ben August 29, 2007 at 5:21 am

I'll bet five bucks "More about Boudreaux" is Muirgeo. IP address, anyone? :-)

Isaac Crawford August 29, 2007 at 6:16 am

Actually, he sounds more like save the rustbelt to me…

Isaac

Russ Nelson August 29, 2007 at 6:56 am

Why does he have to be anybody? There's plenty of aneconomists out there.

T Sowell fan August 29, 2007 at 7:47 am

I have absolutely no familiarity with New Orleans nor its citizens nor the effort to restore it. So, I am responding ONLY to Don

Boudreaux's posting and the responses to it.

I agree that immigrants are beneficial to most countries and accept that the Latino immigrants who flooded into New Orleans

"shortly after Katrina hit" are honest, industrious, law-abiding, have made a valuable contribution to the restoration of New

Orleans and likely will continue to do so. Is that all that Prof. Boudreaux wishes us to take from this posting?

That is, I'm having some difficulty appreciating the point(s) of Prof. Boudreaux's posting — i.e. how does it advance the blog's

participants' understanding of economics or libertarianism or Hayek's ideas (if that was, in fact, his intent). So, some

questions:

1. IF (and only IF) a substantial number of the immigrants who flooded into New Orleans are ILLEGAL, as some participants

have suggested, are they not stealing jobs not only from Americans but also from LEGAL immigrants — including Latino

Americans and legal Latino immigrants, all of whom are presumably as industrious as their illegal counterparts?

2. IF (and only IF) a substantial number of the immigrants who flooded into New Orleans are ILLEGAL, but Prof. Boudreaux's

answer to question 1 is "No", do his reasons for that answer include:

a. They are not stealing jobs from non-Latino Americans because too few non-Latino Americans agreed to work on the

restoration of New Orleans even though the effort to recruit them was as agressive as the effort to recruit Latinos, whether legal

or illegal?

If so, is Prof. Boudreaux claiming that there are jobs that Americans — including the original residents of New Orleans — will not

do regardless of the amount paid? Doesn't that violate supply-demand theory? (Some blog participants have suggested that

there was a lot of money kicking around that contractors ripped off by hiring illegals rather than using it to attract other workers

who would have willingly worked at higher wages.)

b. They are not stealing jobs from LEGAL Latino immigrants because there simply aren't enough of them to get all of the work

done even if all of them went to New Orleans?

c. As some participants have suggested, the displaced former residents of New Orleans are indeed not as industrious as the

Latino immigrants who entered New Orleans after Katrina?

3. IF (and only IF) a substantial number of the immigrants who flooded into New Orleans are ILLEGAL, is Prof. Boudreaux

suggesting that violation of the law is acceptable in this case because of the overriding importance of restoring New Orleans as

quickly as possible? Or, is the posting primarily intended to endorse liberalizing immigration for Latinos, especially from

Mexico?

It seems to me that law and contract enforcement are among the core roles that Hayek's adherents expect government to

perform. Or, did Hayek believe that "bad" laws should be flouted until they were changed? Do I misunderstand?

4. The US government regularly accuses Canada of having a lax immigration system that allows potential terrorists into the

country subsequently giving them an opportunity to enter the US and commit terrorist acts. The nearly porous US-Mexican

border I keep hearing about on this site and others not only makes the few immigration problems Canada may have completely

moot. Does Prof. Boudreaux believe that, in the absence of more liberal Latino immigration laws, that accepting ILLEGAL

immigrants is more important than national security?

5. Does Prof. Boudreaux believe that the industriousness, honesty and law-abiding characteristics of Latino immigrants is

unique to them? If not, is he in favor of liberalized Latino immigration (assuming he is) rather than, say, liberalized Greek

immigration, because of the ready supply of Latinos from nearby Mexico?

What are we supposed to take away from this posting?

Adam Malone August 29, 2007 at 1:26 pm

T Sowell Fan-

It is kinda funny that you have named yourself in such way but at the same time have phrases like "steal jobs from legal Latinos". The mere fact that you have used steal and jobs in the sentence shows that you must only be a fan of T Sowell in theory…because Mr. Sowell would never use or condone that idea.

Jobs cannot be stolen for many reasons, but the simplest lies in the fact that a job is not a "thing". And even if you could steal a job, it isn't like there is a finite amount of them.

Also, all of the "faithful" of this blog would agree that illegal immigration is bad because it shows a disregard for the Rule of Law. However, we would also argue that laws that cannot be enforced are not actually laws in the truest sense (See Dr. Roberts many, many posts regarding Hayek & laws). But the idea in Number 5 of your points is completely off base. It isn't that we are in favor of liberalized immigration for Latinos instead of Greeks, rather we are for liberalized immigration for all peoples, excluding perhaps criminals.

Also likening border control to a means for securing the Nation is kinda silly. None of the 9-11 terrorists hopped over the Mexican border. They came through customs, complete with passports, visas and the like. The most serious offense related to immigration from South is the drug trade. And all have seen that limited effect that the War on Drugs has had.

Lee Kelly August 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm

I do wish people would stop talking about immigrants "stealing" jobs. It is simply a misleading and provocative, a rhetorical trick to entice anger and a sense of injustice, when no such injustice has occured.

Immigrants, legal or not, no more steal jobs than anyone else. The very same reasoning which leads people to conclude that immigrants steal jobs, could be used to claim that I stole my last job from every applicant who was turned down.

If you are trying to say that the demand for employees can easily be met without immigration, then just say so. Do not wrap it up with inflammatory rhetoric, which does not more than obscure and mislead.

I would hope CafeHayek to be a haven from such nonsense.

Per Kurowski August 29, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Lee Kelly: “The very same reasoning which leads people to conclude that immigrants steal jobs, could be used to claim that I stole my last job from every applicant who was turned down.”

Absolutely right, “stealing” seems to make it much too easy… when thinking of all the things we have to do to land a job.

T Sowell fan August 29, 2007 at 4:39 pm

I apologize for the poor formatting in my last post. But, Adam will have to do a teeny bit more homework before telling me what Thomas Sowell thinks. I've read nearly all of his books — including the one on late talkers — and every column he's written in the last 8 years. Hence my alias here.

In a series of columns on illegal Mexican immigration and the recently defeated immigration bill, he has said the following:

1. "If the discussion of immigration laws respected either logic or honesty, we would be talking about a program to legalize home invaders instead of a guest worker program."

"One of the things that make many people such passionate advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants from Mexico is that so many Mexican immigrants are hard-working, decent family people.

That was also true of many Third World "guest workers" in Europe, who were glad to be there, but whose children and grandchildren have developed very different and very poisonous attitudes — with the help of activists, demagogues, and the media.

Today's illegal immigrants are too often analogized to early 20th century immigrants from Europe. But their situation is far more similar to that of contemporary "guest workers" in Europe."

(http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell061407.php3)

2. "Imprisoning known and apprehended lawbreakers for the crime of illegally entering this country, in addition to whatever other punishment they receive for other laws that they have broken — and then sending them back where they came from after their sentences have been served — would be something that would not be lost on others who are here illegally or who are thinking of coming here illegally.

Just as people can do many things better for themselves than the government can do those things for them, illegal aliens could begin deporting themselves if they found that their crime of coming here illegally was being punished as a serious crime, and that they themselves were no longer being treated as guests of the taxpayers when it comes to their medical care, the education of their children, and other welfare state benefits."

(http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell052207.php3)

3. "The first, and perhaps biggest, fraud is the argument that illegal aliens are "doing jobs Americans won't do." There are no such jobs.

Even in the sector of the economy in which illegal immigrants have the highest representation — agriculture — they are just 24 percent of the workers. Where did the other 76 percent come from, if these are jobs that Americans won't do?"

(http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell052207b.php3)

3. "The first of these frauds is the argument that the economy "needs" illegal immigrants to fill "jobs that Americans won't take." Both parts of this argument ignore the most obvious three-letter word that is left out: Pay.

Virtually any job is a job that Americans will not take, if the pay is low enough. Nor is there any reason for pay to rise if illegal immigrants are available at low pay."

(http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell061107.php3)

If anybody is interested in understanding Sowell's ideas on many topics, they can check out an archive of his columns dating back to Feb. '98 at this link:
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell1.asp

T Sowell fan August 29, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Lee Kelly and others too genteel to absorb the overwhelming expression "to steal a job":

Yes, if you were an illegal immigrant when you last won a job competition among Americans and legal immigrants, then you indeed STOLE that job just as surely as you would have stolen it if you misrepresented your credentials and experience in your application or interview.

True_liberal August 29, 2007 at 5:26 pm

How ironic if the — ahem — Latin Quarter becomes REALLY Latin?

John Dewey August 29, 2007 at 5:28 pm

T Sowell fan,

I once read Sowell regularly, and I still appreciate his earlier work. But his harsh stance on immigrants was troubling to me when I first read it some time ago. I have not deified the man, so I can accept that we have a difference of opinion.

When Sowell writes about imprisoning illegal immigrants, I assume he is advocating new legislation. I'm pretty sure that, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a first time illegal immigrant is guilty of a misdemeanor. I do not think such first offenders are subject to imprisonment under existing law.

I think it highly unlikely that Congress will amend the Act so that first time offenders are sentenced to jail terms.

Sowell also suggests that the children of immigrants living in the U.S. should not be educated. That will likely require not an Act of Congress, but rather a constitutional change.

Rob Dawg August 29, 2007 at 5:37 pm

The entire topic is done a disservice by both sides by the constant conflation of immigrants and illegal immigrants.

Banks are surely grateful for their customers; both depositors and borrowers. The economic activity benefits all. Do banks consider embezzlers and robbers customers? Robbery? Excuse me, I meant undocmented withdrawls.

Sam Grove August 29, 2007 at 9:58 pm

The obvious approach would be to make legal entry easy, anyone can work and pay taxes.

Citizenship would require much more effort.

Government welfare should be available to citizens only. That's not a plug for gov't welfare.

Nasikabatrachus August 29, 2007 at 10:24 pm

T Sowell fan said:

Even in the sector of the economy in which illegal immigrants have the highest representation — agriculture — they are just 24 percent of the workers. Where did the other 76 percent come from, if these are jobs that Americans won't do?"

Why should americans have to do all of that work extra work? If americans are willing to take up all of that extra slack, why are so many farms in Idaho losing their crops because illegal immigrants can't cross Idaho's border?

3. "The first of these frauds is the argument that the economy "needs" illegal immigrants to fill "jobs that Americans won't take." Both parts of this argument ignore the most obvious three-letter word that is left out: Pay.

Virtually any job is a job that Americans will not take, if the pay is [high] enough. Nor is there any reason for pay to rise if illegal immigrants are available at low pay

Mexican immigrants, legal or no, typically have a much better work ethic than US born workers. I've heard plenty of cases of immigrants working for high wages (15$/hour) in restaurants because americans just couldn't deliver the kind of work the employer was looking for.

My dear fellow, you've overlooked the other side of the equation. If americans are willing to deliver so much value and productivity, why do their jobs need to be protected by force?

I'm also curious about your focus on jobs and not goods. Don't americans benefit when their goods are cheaper?

Per Kurowski August 30, 2007 at 8:05 am

The fundamental problem is that we have no market clearing mechanism where someone from New Orleans could sell his right to be there for a bundle to a Mexican and perhaps buy himself cheaply a right to go to Honduras and make a living on the difference!!!!

T Sowell fan August 30, 2007 at 8:23 am

Nasikabatrachus (the purple frog):

Sorry, no time to spoon feed you Dr. Sowell's wisdom. I provided the links which answer your questions. You'll just have to read them.

Please elaborate on what you mean by: "If americans are willing to deliver so much value and productivity, why do their jobs need to be protected by force?"

Are you suggesting that because SOME Mexican immigrants have a much better work ethic than SOME US-born people (who, by the way, would include children born to Mexican immigrants in the US), that Mexican citizens, rather than US citizens, should decide how many Mexican immigrants are allowed into the US? i.e. That the border should be wide open?

The focus of my original posting was not on jobs but on the purpose of Prof. Boudreaux's posting, what he believes in and why he believes it.

I'm here to understand what the deep study of economics — by people like him and Dr. Roberts — suggests we should do in a variety of policy areas, like immigration. I'm truly puzzled by Don Boudreaux's position on illegal Mexican immigration and trying hard to draw out as many as possible of the underlying principles (including hopefully economic ones) that guide his thinking.

I find it frustrating that some posters waste time wringing their hands over the use of expressions like "stealing jobs" rather than discussing what the best immigration policies should be and why.

IMHO, it is simply inadequate and unacceptable to base immigration policy on the belief that Mexicans are "typically" harder workers than native-born Americans. Yes, but ….

Nevertheless, I hope you noticed that Dr. Boudreaux's post was about JOBS. Eg: He said: "They came here for one reason: jobs." and "Nor is there evidence that they are taking jobs from native New Orleanians." Appears that discussing JOBS is on-topic to me — altho obviously not the only topic that could arise from the post.

triticale August 30, 2007 at 8:30 am

Some of MaB's assertions regarding the new Mexican work force in New Orleans can be refuted simply by passing along my son's report from Kansas City that the news of opportunities in NO was sufficient to lure KC Mexicans to head down their in sufficient numbers as to create a labor shortage in KC. Which, by the way, improved my son's employment situation for a while.

Floccina August 30, 2007 at 2:12 pm

I will say this for the anti-immigrant crowd:

Perhaps would be Mexican immigrants should be warned that the children of Mexican immigrants on average do not do so well in the USA. USA is o them a foreign culture and their children may not adapted to it. So they should think soberly before comming. Things will improve, even in Mexico, slowly.

Martin August 30, 2007 at 3:00 pm

"Riff-raff"?

Kinda gives the game away.

Don't like your neighbours, so import new ones.

T Sowell fan August 30, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Floccina:

I hope that it is clear that a person can be against illegal immigration without being anti-immigrant.

I hope that you'll agree that the citizens of the US, not the citizens of other countries, should decide what US immigration policy should be.

I hope that, while those in favor of liberalizing immigration from Mexico work to achieve that goal, they will respect and honor the existing immigration laws.

I hope that when the US government says it is serious about stopping and reversing illegal immigration, it will actually behave in ways that might achieve those results — or change the laws to reflect what it really believes is best.

I hope that what the government believes is the best immigration policy is not based on politicians' re-electability.

Per Kurowski September 1, 2007 at 11:03 am

Re T Sowell fan:

“I hope that it is clear that a person can be against illegal immigration without being anti-immigrant.”

Absolutely! And the best ways to show it is to find means to help immigration not having to fall into illegalities.

“I hope that you'll agree that the citizens of the US, not the citizens of other countries, should decide what US immigration policy should be.”

Absolutely! Though in a shrinking world it would not be bad to step up the coordination among countries, as only fools could believe that for instance dumping the weeds over the fence on the lawn of a neighbor that has lower capacity or willingness to manage weeds, could not signify even worse weeds on your own lawn tomorrow

“I hope that, while those in favor of liberalizing immigration from Mexico work to achieve that goal, they will respect and honor the existing immigration laws.”

Absolutely! Though I hope he does not mean that one has to make amend for all past sins all at once. Ok you stop smoking, but you give your lungs the time to slowly get rid of the tar build-up. You do not stop smoking, as difficult as that is, by going into a hospital to have the tar cut out from your lungs.

“I hope that when the US government says it is serious about stopping and reversing illegal immigration, it will actually behave in ways that might achieve those results — or change the laws to reflect what it really believes is best.”

Absolutely! This is one of those wishful-thinking that humanity shares all over the world.

“I hope that what the government believes is the best immigration policy is not based on politicians' re-electability.”

Absolutely! I just wonder of the one who says this is capable to elect his officials independently of whether they have followed or not what he considers the best immigration policy. I myself am not sure I could do that.

taxpayer2 September 1, 2007 at 10:26 pm

Regarding the 'vibrant' NO economy, NO was the only major Southern city to lose population from the 1960s levels. Crime rates were off the charts before Katrina.
Didn't Nagin call FEMA "Find Every Mexican Available"?

John Dewey September 2, 2007 at 8:53 am

taxpayer2: "Crime rates were off the charts before Katrina."

Really? Would you mind showing some statistics to support this assertion?

Here's data from the FBI's report on crime in 2004, the year berfore Katrina hit:

Violent crimes per 100,000 population
(lower number means safer city, taxpayer2)

Atlanta ……..1,842
Orlando ……..1,748
Miami ……….1,677
Tampa ……….1,595
Memphis ……..1,553
Nashville ……1,550
Dallas ………1,315
Houston ……..1,146
New Orleans ……948
San Antonio ……835

Crime in the United States 2004

Incidentally, I'm fairly certain that Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio had higher populations of illegal Mexican immigrants than Atlanta and the Florida and Tennessee cities.

John Dewey September 2, 2007 at 9:55 am

taxpayer2: "Regarding the 'vibrant' NO economy, NO was the only major Southern city to lose population from the 1960s levels."

First, I don't think anyone claimed that New orleans had a "vibrant" economy – whatever that means – only that it had a strong, diverse economy.

Again, your assertion about New Orleans population does not seem to be supported by facts. The New Orleans metropolitan area grew by 35% from 1960 to 2000:

1960 metro population ……987,695
2000 metro population ….1,337,726

The population of the CITY of New Orleans did decline, but it was not the only major Southern city to lose population, as you claimed:

New Orleans 1960 pop …….627,525
New Orleans 2000 pop …….484,674

Atlanta 1960 pop ………..487,555
Atlanta 2000 pop ………..416,474

Population of the 100 largest cities, 1790-1990

Both Atlanta and New Orleans lost most of their white population to the suburbs in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. "White flight" was fairly common throughout the South. You can find data about racial makeup of their populations at:


” rel=”nofollow”>Change in racial composition of large cities

Finally, we should realize that New Orleans has geographical constraints on its growth unlike any other major Southern city. New Orleans also sufferred a major hurricane in 1964 that led to a depopulation of some of the lower lying areas. Although the population eventually was restored with the help of federal grants, the low-lying area within the city limits was never quite the same.

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