It’s the Immigration Law, Stupid!

By Roberto BobRow

I don’t like Andrés Oppenheimer’s column when dealing with Latin-America issues, usually. But I must recognize this time he nailed the core of the ‘illegal immigrants’ problem.

So, who will do all the work if the unfitted immigration law was to be applied and all the illegals were to be forced to leave?

“The U.S. labor market [officially] demands up to 500,000 low-skilled workers a year, while the current U.S. immigration system allows for only 5,000 permanent visas for that category, according to the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration reform advocacy group.”

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Roberto Aníbal Bobrow (a.k.a. Bob Row) is a professional cartoonist. Many of his later images can be found at  The image in this feature can be found here.

5 responses to “It’s the Immigration Law, Stupid!

  1. Hi, Bob – thanks for the piece!

    I agree there’s a disconnect among those who resent ‘illegal’ immigrants by their failure to recognize that many businesses and homes rely on such labor.

    There is, however, an argument to be made that undocumented workers depress wages; if they were legal, they’d be subject to labor protections including the right to strike for better wages and benefits.

    This would benefit American low-skilled workers as much as undocumented workers. This would benefit local economies, elevating people out of of poverty and thus reducing crime.

    Many of them also resent the free medical care provided to such people – yet ignore how absolutely inhumane it would be to turn away someone in need.

    Another comment I have – not that you raised this, but because of what Oppenheimer wrote – his logic fails in the “Second Reason” why workers ought not be deported. He says:

    “[D]eporting up to 10 million undocumented residents would be incredibly costly and impossible to carry out unless we turn this country into a police state.”

    First he tells us that the US requires “up to 500,000 low-skilled workers a year.” Then he indicates there are ten million illegal aliens. He seems to be mixing apples and oranges.

    Next, he says we’d have to turn this into a police state (as if we haven’t already) in order to find them and deport them. But then he says:

    “For national security and law enforcement reasons, it would be much better to know who they are, where they live, and to subject them to a series of steps — learning English and paying taxes among them — to regularize their status.”

    Here, he is describing a police state! The man is confused.

    And, finally, I am often baffled that my Libertarian friends wholly support free trade across borders, but not free travel for humans — as if money has more rights than people do.

  2. There is also a conflation of issues with illegals who come to work, and those who are involved in the drugs-to-the-north/arms-to the-south smuggling trade. Plus increased violence and fear in border areas is a direct result of NAFTA as well as failed Immigration policies.

    The neglect and wink-wink approach that has continued for so long has resulted in a very tangled problem which needs to be addressed on several fronts. What I fear is that a simplistic jack-boot approach may be all our ‘leaders’ are capable of.

    Free Trade is a myth. Exploiting poor people in sweat shops is hardly free. Without basic international labor standards, “Free” Trade has just become the third act of Colonialism.

  3. Hi, Rady, thanks goes to you.
    I’m completely with you about Oppenheimer’s contradictions. To resume it: if the first reason is true (and I think it is), the second is impossible and the third is unnecessary in traditional liberal economic terms.
    But in a crisis time like the current one, the Capital usually takes advantage from the worker’s needs to increase its disciplinary control.

    So, I wonder if the immigration law reform will find its way. But, if it does (because of massive mobilizations), that will be great news for migrant workers in other countries as American capitalists should press on their competitors in order to equalize the stakes.

    If it’s true that immigrant workers are key to keep the American economy on trails, then it’s up to the coordination of these worker to take measures (like a national day of strike) so to convince the middle class “home employers” to add their voices in favor of the reform.

    My best

  4. The powers that be don’t much care which peons serve them. They are very happy to have our citizens forced to compete with desperate immigrants for whatever low pay is available while they further concentrate wealth and close the door to any rational remedies. All they are leaving us with is violence and anarchy as an option. Vive la Revolution!

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