Immigration Reform 2013: An Inside Look At the Faulty Economics in Obama's Immigration Plan

America has become an alarmist society.

Each and every measure President Barack Obama has introduced has been greeted with knuckle-biting and outcries of oncoming doom. Each new bill has been met by immediate and avid opposition, leaving it floundering like a fish out of water.

The new America no longer lives in a state of apathy, but one of gathering ammunition for figuratively, and sometimes literally, firing upon the opposition to their stated viewpoint. It doesn’t relish its new-found recessive state, which is understandable. What isn’t understandable is the unwillingness to create compromises that will carry everybody out of what all agree to be a broken system into one that will have a working plan for getting America back on its feet. By November 14, 2012, all 50 states had citizen-signed petitions to secede from the United States.

This is serious business. It implies a union under duress instead of a voluntary union. Among the bi-partisan issues that have kept the American citizens flogging each other is the immigration bill set to go before the Senate. The four principles of the reform act entail increased border security, strengthening enforcement of existing laws, earned citizenship agreement and “streamlining” immigration. The opposition falls under three categories: in protest are those who maintain the bill removes jobs from the work sector; it’s a forgiveness plan for existing illegal aliens; it would place additional strain on the tax base.

The U.S. Labor Force

Immigrants — both documented and illegal — have constituted the labor force of lowest paying jobs for quite awhile. These jobs usually constitute farm labor, seasonal agricultural labor, dish washing and factory work. As a whole, America’s youth have not been very inclined to pursue unskilled labor. Students finishing high school and going on to obtain a bachelor’s degree or better is at an all-time high, with 85% obtaining their high school degree, and 22% completing their graduate studies. Their battle cry has not been one of being unable to find a job, but of finding a job that justified their years of college education.

President Obama’s ambitious Immigration Reform Program hopes to crack down on businesses and industry that knowingly hire undocumented workers, thus curtailing unfair labor practices. He proposes a fraud-resistant Social Security card to prevent tampering and identity theft. This is, perhaps, the most employee-protective part of the plan, thus the most beneficial to working immigrants.

Where’s the Forgiveness?

Under the proposed reform bill, undocumented aliens must come forward and register. Assuming they were to do this willingly, their processing would entail submitting biometric data, passing a criminal background check, and paying fees and penalties before becoming eligible for a provisional status. They would then take their place in line, behind others who are going through the normal immigration channels. Those applying for green cards must still pay their taxes, but will not be eligible for welfare, health care, tax credit or other federal benefits. All this while waiting an indefinite period for the dangling prize of citizenship, for those who, in the president’s own words, still see the United States as a land of opportunity.

What opportunities exist for them? Well, the children of undocumented parents may remain if, when they come of age, they sign up for the Armed Forces or go to college.

The Real Tax Drain

President Obama feels congratulations are in order for strengthening security at the Mexican border. He points to statistics that show there has been a 54% reduction in border crossings since 2008. This has been credited to doubling the border patrol, using unmanned aerial surveillance and completing 649 miles of a proposed 652 miles of fencing. Customs and Border Protection estimate it would cost $6.5 billion to operate and maintain the existing fence over a maximum lifetime of 20 years. Any additional fencing would cost $16 million per square mile.

It seems that keeping aliens out would be at least as expensive as dealing with the aliens that are already here, which are estimated at 11 million. The Immigration Reform Bill is actually more of a crackdown on immigration than anything we’ve had in the past. The real tax drain would be in discouraging immigration and the accompanying tax base they would bring.

Our Shrinking Population

The truth is, most of the Western world, as well as Japan and Russia have acquired a shrinking population. Birth control, which began gaining momentum by the late 1960's, has produced ever-smaller generations. For several years, the birth and death rate for the United States was basically even. This year, with the baby boomers reaching old age, it has joined the countries in which the death rate has over-taken the birth rate.

Some cities, such as Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis, are dwindling so fast, they are trying to come up with active solutions for bolstering their population centers, including a receptive atmosphere for immigrants. Part of this is due to relocation, part to economic factors. In areas where the population centers are becoming larger, it’s primarily because of relocation, and the promise of higher wages, not because they are having more babies.

Emmigrating From the U.S.

The economic slump hasn’t just created a fractured union, unable to agree upon anything. Retirees have watched their nest eggs dwindle, and their RIA’s turn little to no profit. With soaring inflationary prices, social security checks no longer have any real buying power. Unhappy with watching their dreams go down the tube as they struggle at a poverty or near poverty level, many are seeking retirement homes in foreign countries where the cost of living allows them their customary middle class life styles.

Latin America to the Rescue

Ironically, the very countries the United States is trying to keep out, are welcoming retirees and ex-pats in. Most of the Central American countries, including Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, have created an open door policy for U.S. citizens who wish to buy a small piece of land and live out their golden years. While there hasn’t exactly been a stampede, this service has been enough to create small American colonies of retirees who are quite happy to live by the sea and drink margarita’s while watching the sun set.

Added to the complications of America’s largest population migrating out of the country, taking their retirement funds and savings with them, are the number of young people who have decided the United States is no longer a land of opportunity, and the real shores for adventure, quality life styles and business investment are in Latin America.

The Better Offer

In some ways, it sounds like President Obama is modeling his Immigration Reform Plan off the craftsmanship of Central America, with a few marked differences. While the U.S. keeps its health care plan to itself, doling it out only after immigrants have attained citizenship, Central America not only has an excellent health care program, in Panama, retirees receive a 50% discount. Instead of penalties and fines, Central America offers tax break incentives for industrious workers building their own businesses. While there is a criminal back-ground check, immigrants do not have to submit bio-metric data.

The United States no longer wants the poor, the down-trodden and the huddled masses. President Obama’s plan encourages the settlement of foreign, college-educated students, without addressing the problems of the well-educated citizens already competing for whatever existing jobs are available. Central America wants them more, and is offering better enticements.

The Immigration Reform Plan offers a future, of sorts, to an America that is growing smaller. It will not bring instant prosperity to the immigrants who arrive, or to the ones already here as illegal aliens, but it will provide a tax base. It will fill out some of the vacant holes in the emptying cities and replenish the work force as the tail end wave of baby boomers reach retirement age. It could replace the young entrepreneurs, the college graduates, the pioneer spirited who are immigrating south of the border, although it will take awhile. Immigrants are what started the colonies that became the United States of America. Immigrants may be the only thing that saves it.

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karla fetrow

Karla Fetrow is a free lance writer who supplies guest posts for a number of online magazines. As a native Alaskan, her first commitment is to subsistence issues and rural life styles. Her youthful years were spent as a traveler, primarily in Central America. Her interests are in culture, environment and outdoor recreation.

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