Immigration: Overstated and Uncorrectable

Illegal Immigration: Overstated and Uncorrectable

It is interesting how much attention illegal immigration receives considering how few illegal migrants are actually crossing into the United States. There are roughly 15,000 people in CBP custody on any given night. Presumably some are on their second attempt or more, meaning there is probably substantial portion who are not new migrants. (1) The average stay of a migrant in CBP custody is about a month.(2) Meaning if CBP did nothing, the United States would gain only (15,000 per month x 12 months) 180,000 illegal immigrants per year, which isn’t likely to have a perceivable impact on the lives of citizens.

180,000 people, joining a population of 330 million, is the equivalent of having $1833 and adding $1 or losing 1$. That is the extent to which illegal immigration is a problem. Of course the conditions in which migrants are held in detention facilities has become a source of concern, but as a problem itself, in regard to how illegal immigration impacts the lives of American’s, illegal immigration is overstated.

One opinion I found interesting on the subject of conditions, is how many people were against the conditions and against congress funding the Department of Health and Human Services to improve conditions. 1.3 Billion is being allocated to the Department of Homeland Security. (3)

Opposition likely stems from the perception that money is being provided for additional facilities and to fund raids, but your primary objection is the conditions in which migrants are held. Immigration laws will be enforced regardless of whether or not facilities exist for hospitable detention. The idea that the funding somehow hurts migrants is really the result of an attached dislike to government agencies, to the degree that people become incapable of recognizing when the thing they hate has done something good. Good by the definition of their cause, i.e. improving the condition of migrant detentions.

Activists are like a horrible concert audience. The band plays a song and the activists say we don’t like that song. The band plays another song and they say we don’t like that song. After the third song, the band asks what song would you like to hear? The activists say we don’t know what song to play but we don’t like the song you’re playing. They have grievances, but propose nothing of merit to address their grievances.

Activists contribute to the over stating of illegal immigration, but they are only an exaggerator and an amplifier, not a cause of the overstatement. To attract members, funding, and attention, activists must exaggerate every incident associated with their cause to maximize the appearance of the injustice taking place. Activists must interpret the world to produce the subject of their cause, which includes omitting details that reveal circumstances and context. The activist’s deception is not only for the purpose of bringing a problem to the attention of the public and the accompanying benefits to their organization, but also for self deception, as the creation of the propaganda fuels the righteous purpose of the activist’s life. Which isn’t to say that no cause is worth serious attention, only that many causes are exaggerated in degree, effect, and frequency by activists.

For example, I cite a Vox article that produced quality source numbers as reported by CBP to congress, but the article itself mentions lice and lack of toothbrushes as horrible conditions. Among groups of migrants you are going to have lice outbreaks and some facilities are probably not as prepared as they should have been to address the problem. A lack of toothbrushes is hardly a horrible condition, it is an inconvenience at worst. The article discusses how some people are held for weeks and then shows a picture of a holding cell where there is very little room for anyone to move. To the reader this implies that people and more specifically children are being held in these rooms for weeks at a time. Perhaps they are, but I find the claims at face value incredulous, as my own experiences in police custody typically consisted of spending 1 to 3 days in booking under similar conditions, no blanket, crowded cell, no tooth brush, eating bologna sandwiches 3 times per day until I was moved to a dorm.

A main point to consider is this. Everyday 7500 people die in the united states,(3) in a population of 330 million people. Meaning 1 person out of every 44,000. If people in CBP custody died at the same rate as the general population one person would die in CBP custody every 3 days (1 person out of 15,000). NBC reported that 22 people have died in immigrant detention facilities in the last two years. (4) If the conditions are as deplorable as the words used to describe detention facilities you would expect to see an amount of deaths that exceed the proportion to the general population. Proportionate would be 121 deaths per year. Instead we see an average of only 11. Although immigrants are primarily under the age of 45, there is still a significant number representing ages over 45, which is to say people of all ages are detained for illegal immigration and reflect the full spectrum of age as does the general population.

The cause of the overstatement stems from the protection of the American myth, associated with good intents and shared prosperity. I use the terms to describe the general indoctrination of Americans, the purity of the founding intents, the inherent opportunity and inclusion of the systems, power wielded through democratic mechanisms, and American intents are being good abroad. Illegal immigration is used as a scapegoat for the shortcomings of the political and economic systems. The poor and middle class struggle can be reduced to the impact of illegal immigration. The reason people are poor and the middle class is struggling isn’t because America has produced these effects, it is because of illegal immigrants taking the good jobs, siphoning from the public welfare systems, and overcrowding the schools preventing American children from getting a good education. People want to believe this because they are trained to believe this. People would rather believe their team lost a game because the ref missed a call than to acknowledge their team isn’t good. Not only are they receptive to a message that scapegoats illegal immigration, it is exactly what they wanted to hear.

Trump’s campaign benefited from the inflation of the problem of illegal immigration which is why publicizing the issue, good and bad, has been a great asset through his presidency, because it can be used as a key point of consistency between his campaign and his presidency. The bad is good because his base is largely indifferent to the conditions, and it creates an incentive for the media to report on it. Media reports on what attracts ratings. Because people are both for illegal immigration, and against illegal immigration, any story on illegal immigration is going to attract attention, and the more attention a network or news article can attract the greater the opportunity for ad revenue.

I seen a comment on the Democracy Now youtube channel for a report explaining illegal immigrant rights in preparation for ICE raids. The comment asked why people are for illegal immigration?

Anything that is, is because something produced it, nothing comes into being except as an effect of a cause. Illegal immigration through the southern border is caused by inhospitable conditions existing in Latin American countries that is largely the result of the last century of US foreign policy in the region. Sanctions, coups, the support of despots, use of the IMF and World Bank to impose loan conditionalities that govern economic decisions, and other action that provides US and multi-national corporations market access and advantage.

The people of the United States are responsible through indifference to the policy that has produced the poverty, insecurity, and otherwise unlivable conditions that cause people to migrate. Given the fact that the absorption of Latin American migrants requires no sacrifice from the American people, I think not being opposed to illegal immigration is the minimum in regard to justice, for their government whose policies not only produced the conditions that exist, but continue to impose such policy produced conditions.

In anticipation of the previous paragraph being misinterpreted, I am not for open borders. The figures provided for illegal immigrants is based on a policy where entering the country intent on residency without going through the proper procedures is illegal. Presumably there are people who do not migrate because they know it is illegal and may result in them being returned to their countries having gained nothing for their effort. If the United States had an open border policy where citizenship was granted by crossing the border it could create an immigration problem. It is for that reason that I am for illegal immigration.

After explaining some this to the commenter whose youtube name is simply A H, I was asked what solution I recommended? The short answer is it doesn’t require a solution, because it isn’t much of a problem. Improving conditions within the detention facilities, and the remainder is a legal matter. What are the requirements for an illegal immigrant to gain citizenship or at least protected status? I don’t know what the processes are, but there should be a criteria for illegal immigrants to become citizens, considerations of duration in the country, residency, income, and the ability to pay a fee are among some of the points I’d consider.

The Obama administration deported more illegal immigrants than any other administration in history (5), but Obama didn’t campaign on immigration and therefore didn’t have an interest in highlighting the point, and neither did the “progressives” who supported him. In the last decade there has been a reduction of the number of illegal immigrants from Latin American countries. Which is to say the job being done by ICE and CBP is enough, requires no additional resources, no costly wall, and not nearly as much attention as it has been receiving except in respect to ensuring humane conditions exist within detention facilities.

What’s interesting is the average time a migrant spends in detention has increased from 21 days under Obama to an average of 34 days under Trump. Which will have the effect of inflating the problem of immigration as the average turnover is almost two weeks longer.

An actual solution to illegal immigration, as in eliminating the desire of people to leave their own countries and come to the United States is not possible. It is basically a complete reversal of US foreign policy towards Latin America. Complete debt forgiveness, removal of sanctions against countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, suspension of support for repressive leaders who have come to power through dubious means, like Juan Hernandez in Honduras, or Bolsonaro in Brazil. It requires the withdraw of US support for the drug war in Latin America. It requires no strings attached aid for economic development in Latin American countries whose leadership is representative of popular interest.

The problem is, US foreign policy is intent on market access and market advantage. The Washington Consensus has been in effect for decades, which consists of reducing public spending, increasing taxes on the middle and lower class, lowering marginal tax rates, relaxing regulation to increase foreign investment, and privatization, and these policies center on creating advantage for foreign investment. (6) The representation of an interest in the US government is equal to the money behind it verse the money of any interest it is adverse to. Industry decides foreign policy which is reflected in the history of policy, where motivation is known and consistent. You cannot reverse the policy because policy is a product of the deciding interest, and reversing policy is adverse to the interest determining policy. When the farmers policy on security for the hen house is decided by the wolf, the wolf has no reason to increase the difficulty in his procurement of chicken. The same as industry has no interest in creating impediments to the advantage it enjoys in global markets, by increasing market competition with states and improving the living conditions of a population to prevent them from migrating.

1: Vox, 6/25/2019 “The Horrifying Conditions Facing Kids in Border Detention, Explained”, by Dara Lind. Vox cites CBP reporting to congress on number of migrants in custody. “between May 14 and June 13, US Border Patrol facilities were housing over 14,000 people a day — and sometimes as many as 18,000.” (https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/25/18715725/children-border-detention-kids-cages-immigration)

2: The Texas Tribune, 6/27/2019 “Here’s What’s in the 4.6 Billion Dollar Aid Bill Passed by Congress”, Adam Willis. (https://www.texastribune.org/2019/06/27/border-aid-migrants-passed-house-senate-bills-are-different/)

3: Freedom For Immigrants “Detention by the Numbers”. “In FY 2017, the average length of stay at any one immigrant prison or jail was 34 days, compared to 22 days in FY 2016 and 21 days in FY 2015.”(https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/detention-statistics) Source: National Immigrant Justice Center “November 2017 ICE Facility List”

4: Center for Disease Control, “Deaths and Mortality”. Average of 7708 people die per day. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm)

5: NBC 1/6/2019 “22 Immigrants Died In ICE Detention Centers in the Last Two Years”. Lisa Seville, Hannah Rappleye, and Andrew W. Lehren. (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/22-immigrants-died-ice-detention-centers-during-past-2-years-n954781)

6: The Intelligent Economist, 5/3/2019 “The Washington Concensus” Prateek Agarwal, (https://www.intelligenteconomist.com/washington-consensus/)