Is Measles A Better Analogy Than #SkittlesWelcome For Our Syrian Refugee Problem?

Donald Trump skittles tweet

Donald Trump skittles tweet

Although I like the creativity of Mr. Trump’s skittle analogy I think how we respond to the threat of measles gives a better grasp of common sense solutions to vetting Syrian refugees. Mr. Nowrasteh over at Cato makes a good point in discussing this analogy that of the approximately 3.25 million refugees from 1975 to the end of 2015 only 20 of the refugees intended to do harm and only three of those 20 were actually fatal. He goes on to conclude that based on these statistics he would accept the refugees. The problem I have with his conclusion is that if he has a child, he is probably responding to the measles threat completely differently. Despite the recent notoriety over a measles outbreak associated with Disneyland, we are averaging about 1 death every 12 years. Despite measles being a lesser threat than terrorism most people in the United States are following Benjamin Franklin’s advice of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and immunizing their children from measles. Based on the CDC statistics the immunization policy seems to be working. So I wonder why we have such a problem with an ounce of prevention in vetting Syrian refugees.

Birthright Citizenship Laws In Europe

With all of the talk by Mr. Trump about revoking birthright citizenship for illegal aliens I was curious how the folks in Europe handled birthright citizenship. Our birthright citizenship policy seems odd and counterproductive. The Library of Congress analyzed this question and found that most of the European policies are quite similar. If we can agree that birthright citizenship policies in the United States is a major stumbling block to immigration reform then a good first step would be to incorporate some of the European pragmatism into the United States immigration policies. Here is an excerpt about Germany’s birthright citizenship.


Germany bestows birthright citizenship only on the children of aliens who have lived long enough in Germany to petition for naturalization in their own right. A child born in Germany to parents who are aliens acquires German citizenship only if one parent has had his or her habitual abode in Germany for at least eight years and either has a permanent German residence permit that entitles him or her to reside in Germany or another European Union (EU) member country or has the citizenship of another EU member country.[3] Aliens who have had their habitual abode for eight years in Germany are entitled to petition for naturalization,[4] if no impediments exist.[5]

A foundling—that is, a child found on German soil whose parents are unknown—is deemed to be a German only for as long as it is not proven that he or she is an alien.[6] Under the generally prevailing principle of jus sanguinis, only a child born to a German parent is a German citizen, with the exception of long-term residents described above.


Is President Obama’s Immigration Plan Showing How Little The Administration Has Learned From Debacle?

I confess that last week I was trying to figure out how the Administration could salvage their immigration plan. I am personally skeptical about comprehensive immigration reform but I was curious how well this Presidential edict would fare on a complex political issue like comprehensive immigration reform.  Is this a step forward or just another stir of the witches brew in election year politics?

My focus was the complications arising from issuing of social security numbers to illegal immigrants and the first issue on the docket was the earned income tax credit. A few years back we legally hired a person from Mexico to work in our barn. He was a better, more reliable worker that was better than the two high school girls we were replacing. At that time our government was less stupid about guest workers so he had a H2B VISA and a social security number. He did not care about the taxes that were collected from us or him, he just wanted a job so he could send money back to his wife and two boys in Mexico. He was just another guy trying to provide for his family and really did not care about earned income tax credits. He was willing to make major compromises in his life so that his family could live a better life. This week the erstwhile friend of the Administration, Mr. Koskinen, said that one of the unintended consequences of the President’s plan is that the illegal immigrants will now be able to file tax returns for previous years and claim earned income tax returns. I am pretty sure that guest workers and illegal immigrants don’t care about Earned Income Tax but when you give out free money somebody will fill out the forms necessary to collect the handout. It looks like H&R Block and Intuit are the big winners here.

My initial thought of resolving this issue was to adopt a modern form of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for income tax filling issues with previously illegal immigrants.  Obviously many of the illegal immigrants told a few lies about their employment status and maybe were part of some crimes along the way. So now we are parsing crimes to figure out which crimes are okay and which crimes are a pretty good indicator that we want to get them on the next plane out of here. So we are a nation of laws except in the case of illegal immigrants. Although we continue to hope that we can resolve immigration without political debate, I think the Administration will find out that there is no easy solution. As an example I still do not understand how this immigration edict is good for those low skill, low education workers we are having the huge problem finding jobs for. Yeah, I doubt this immigration handout is playing well in poor black neighborhoods! The one thing the Administration should have learned from the debacle is that there are no shortcuts and it would be really nice if Congress would provide the Administration some cover. It is a sign of insanity to keep doing stupid stuff and expect good results. Is this the issue we ask the President to put his pen back in the desk, hang up the phone, and ask Congress to do its job? Maybe this time Congress will read the bill and fix the problems before they vote on it. I think the Administration has to recognize its limitations. If you did not accomplish comprehensive immigration reform in your first six years maybe it was never meant to be.

My Idea For Fixing The Influx Of Central American Children Streaming Into The U.S.

Why don’t we set up boarding schools in their native country? It is probably cheaper and more compassionate than George Wills idea. Having your kid in a local government run boarding school is definitely less stress on the family than having the kid in child welfare services somewhere in America with no family or friends. We could call them refuge schools. Maybe we would even ask the Catholic church for some advice on how to run them. They have a few centuries of experience.

Here is another idea. If these kids graduate from a refuge school and a U.S. university or serve in the U. S. military for four years, we could offer them the same immigration opportunities as the Dream Act kids. These are the high value kids we want in the USA. It would be a nice way to motivate the kids.

Will Immigration Reform Make Americans Poorer?

It looks like the folks over at Powerline blog are asking the same question I have been pondering about immigration reform, “Will Immigration Reform Make Americans Poorer?” Last month I wondered out loud, “How Does The Economy Grow with Immigration Reform?” Below is a comment I wrote on the Powerline blog that brought up an aspect no one seems to want to talk about.

I am still confused how the economy can grow if we do not make any progress employing the existing citizens who have low education, low job experience, and low job skills. This employment problem has not gone away. Unfortunately I do not see the businesses that hire low income workers growing. Adding more immigrants into this employment sector will necessarily make this situation more competitive and provide an incentive for the illegal immigrant to maintain their tax free status. At its best immigration reform displaces one disadvantaged group with another disadvantaged group.

About the only way I can see the economy growing under a scenario involving  adding 40 to 60 million new low skill immigrants is if we have a boom in low tech industries that absorbs not only the new immigrants but also the unemployed/under employed. A low tech boom like that has not occurred in the US economy in a very long time and if one was to occur in North America, Mexico would be the more likely choice.

How Does The Economy Grow with Immigration Reform?

I just don’t get this dynamic scoring that Cato is so enthusiastic about. I have a particular problem understanding how it will grow the economy. Back in 2006 before the immigration system got really screwed up we hired a guest worker, Pedro, from Mexico. Since I was somewhat familiar with the tradeoff of illegal immigrants to guest workers for small businesses, I went through the calculations again. We hired Pedro to replace two and a half teenage girls on our payroll. From an efficiency standpoint this worked out for our farm since Pedro could easily do the work the girls were doing. Since he wanted his wages to competitive with the prevailing wages of local illegal immigrants, we raised his salary to cover his portion of the taxes. Using today’s numbers the total tax burden with unemployment and workers compensation insurance would amount to $3,213 or additional 23% burden over an illegal immigrant. So if we assume that the 8.6+ million immigrants are not paying payroll taxes now, when we convert them into quasi-guest workers the employees and employers will transfer some of their spending power to the country in the form of payroll taxes. Whether the extra burden is paid by the employer or the employee, consumer spending is going down. The only winner is the government. The logical conclusion is that if we reduce consumer spending and increase taxes, it will grow the economy. Huh!? This dynamic scoring idea is more political than pragmatic. It sure sounds like they borrowed the idea from Obamacare and global warming.

Thoughts about immigration reform and H2B Visas

Pedro, our dogs, and us in happier times Last week we were notified that the H2B Visa for Pedro was finally approved. We really liked Pedro and his brother-in-law, Fernando. Over a period of about a year, Pedro showed us that he was both a good man and a good worker. He had the highest wage rate on our farm. His brother-in-law did a good job selling us on Pedro’s ability. He wanted us to pay him in cash but I declined. I wanted to see a social security number since I wanted to put him on our payroll. He fussed a little but he complied. I felt bad about withholding US taxes. I doubt he will ever collect the refund he is due. He was pretty close to the perfect employee for us. He easily did the work of two of our normal employees, high school students. He has a wife and three boys in Mexico. His wife’s sister is living near Milwaukee so his wife was interested in eventually moving to the US. It looked like a win-win situation. In April we applied to sponsor his new Visa. The lawyers led us to believe that the Visa would be approved for re-entry around June 15th despite a change in policy. The previous visa was sponsored by a horseman’s group. We were told that option was not available anymore. The new policy required each farm to apply independently. As long as we could get nine months of work out of him and the legal costs were not too onerous, we had a workable plan.

As you can see the visa came in late. We struggled to find help with the farm while he was gone. It is hard to stop being a farm. My wife and I ended up doing a lot of the work he would of done.My wife skipped some of the training she does with our horses to do barn work. I am starting a business and barn work took time away from that activity, too. The legal fees were much more expensive than we were originally told, too. Now that we have the paperwork in our hands, we can see it is valid through February. His visa is good for barely four months. If we want to continue to use him on our farm, we are already two months late in applying for the next visa. We cannot run the farm this way. We went from helping someone participate in the American dream to wondering how many dreams are being killed by this immigration mania. We are disappointed. As far as we are concerned the border is closed to Pedro and Fernando. He tried to do the right thing. We tried to do the right thing. It didn’t work. We will find another way to get the work done. Hopefully, Pedro will find a job that will feed his family.

Immigration Insights | The Online NewsHour | PBS

Immigration Insights | The Online NewsHour | PBS

South Carolina peach farmer Chalmers Carr talks about immigration in the next installment in the NewsHour’s series.

I was a little concerned when I first saw him appear on the television screen but when he starting talking about migrant workers I found myself agreeing with everything he said about the migrant worker/visa issue. We are still waiting for the visa for Pedro so he can return legally. In a perfect world he would have been back working for us in the middle of June. Considering all of the paperwork that I have done to get this far, I have to say our immigration system is set up to discourage legal entry by Mexican. Since our system is making legal entry a pain in the butt you are encouraging the average Mexican woker to seriously consider illegal entry and for the average U.S. business employing Mexican workers to look the other way. The migrant worker visa program needs to streamlined to encourage foreign workers and U. S. businesses to strive to be legal. This part of the immigration problem could be fixed with longer visa’s and reduced annual paperwork.

How the immigraton fuss affects small farms

We have a small farm and we hire several people to help us with the work. For a long time we used local people with mixed success. Last year we hired a Mexican worker, Pedro, who was here on a H2B visa. He has been great. We pay a little more for him but we use one worker where we used to use two. Part of the explanation is that he is male, physcally capable of doing the work without injury, and does not mind working alone. We used to use two female workers and they were happiest if they worked as a group and split the work. Even then the work was physically tasking for them. The females easily preferred grooming over stall cleaning even if it meant less hours. So we found a happy medium for our workers.

Now we have a problem because imigration(illegal alien worker) issues is the hot political issue. Our man had come in on a group visa approval and the government is not approving groups anymore. That’s too bad! The cost to the farm was minimal. Since I prefer to follow the laws I put him on a payroll, paid overtime, and withheld taxes just like any other employee. His cost for the visa was about $300. That is a lot of money but he felt it was pretty reasonable. We had a mutually acceptable plan.

His lawyer recommended that our farm sponsor him. Pedro was getting pretty anxious about the situation so he had a friend write us a letter asking us to help him. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours translating his note and reading the legal papers his lawyer sent us. We are going to sponsor him but it is going to cost almost $1,000 if we are approved. I won’t go in to the details of how we manage the increased cost. Except for the fact that our costs are going up because of this political mess, this immigration mess is much ado about nothing.  If we are not approved, we will be a mess for awhile. Assuming we are approved, we don’t expect to change much.