Friday, October 03, 2008by William N. Grigg
The Waterloo Raid: Manacled illegal immigrants muster at an Iowa stockyard in the custody of Homeland Security personnel. As our economy collapses, immigration both legal and illegal is slowing down. Any guess as to the use to which the Homeland Security State will put its immigration control assets once the immigrant flood dries up?
It will be years before we can accurately assess the collateral damage done by the housing bubble's collapse. One likely consequence of the bust will be a sudden reversal of fortunes for a few cynical people making a living as immigration control demagogues as the tide of illegal immigration from Mexico and Latin America subsides. People earnestly concerned about "border security" will welcome this news. Those capitalizing on such sentiments will greet it with something other than unfettered enthusiasm.
A report released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center validates a prediction made by some observers -- most notably economist Mark Thornton of the Mises Institute: Unauthorized immigration from south of the U.S. border would taper off with end of the Federal Reserve's engineered housing boom.
According to Pew, the size of the illegal immigrant population "appears to have declined since 2007"; further, between 2005 and 2008 "the inflow of immigrants who are undocumented fell below that of immigrants who are legal permanent residents. That reverses a trend that began a decade ago. The turnaround appears to have occurred in 2007."
Pew admits that it's difficult to compile definitive statistics, given that we're dealing with an underground economy. But if the trends described in the study are accurate, they follow the contours of the FED's engineered economic boom and its inevitable subsequent bust (which happened no later than August of last year).
Significantly, the apparent decline in illegal immigration comes as economic growth stalls and reverses in the United States, while remaining steady in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Another tangible indication that there has been an abrupt decline in illegal immigration from Mexico can be seen in the volume of remittances -- money sent home by Mexican expatriates working in the U.S.
As the AP points out, "Mexicans living in the U.S. sent home 12 percent less money in August, the largest drop on record since the Bank of Mexico began tracking remittances 12 years ago.... The Bank of Mexico said remittances will likely continue to fall in the coming months because of the `difficult problems the U.S. economy faces."
In fact, remittances have declined by about 30% since 2005. And between 2005 and 2007, the number of Mexican illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol decreased more than 50%, which means that fewer people are trying to sneak across the border.
What this demonstrates is that Mexicans, like all human beings, are both rational economic actors and human beings with organic attachments to particular families, places, and fellowships. Most Mexicans would probably prefer to live and work in their home country, but prevailing economic circumstances made it irresistible to come north of the border -- with or without government permission -- in order to make a living. And with America's economy circling the bowl, Mexicans in greater numbers are choosing to stay home.
This same principle is at work in the small but growing phenomenon of Americans who are expatriating themselves -- even pursuing dual citizenship -- in search of economic opportunity. A few months ago the Palm Beach Post reported that the same slumping economy that is encouraging Mexicans to stay home has prompted Americans, in increasing numbers, to investigate the possibility of migrating to Europe.
An estimated 40 million Americans whose ancestors emigrated to the U.S. from a country that has been absorbed into the European Union would be eligible for dual citizenship, which would make them employable throughout the Continent. "With an EU passport, I can live and work in 27 countries," explained Florida resident Suzanne Mulvehill. "With a U.S. passport, I can live and work in one."
There are an estimated 8 million American "expats" living and working abroad, a population trend that spurred the recent creation of a congressional "Expat Caucus." A surprising number of American Expats have taken residence in Mexico. This is "surprising" on account of the difficulty involved in buying property in that country as a resident non-citizen, and because of the all-encompassing corruption of the Mexican Regime, which I despise nearly half as much as the one ruling us here.
Many American Expats in Mexico are retirees. At least some American retirees have taken up residence south of the border after trips to Mexico to take advantage of cheap but satisfactory dental and health care (which is cost-prohibitive under America's corporatist/fascist health system, an illustration of the collectivist nature of our supposedly "free market" economy). Others, ironically, moved to Mexico as refugees from the housing bubble who bought property and homes in Mexico because they didn't want to deal with artificially inflated home values here. That's another trend that may level out with the end of the bubble, particularly after the dollar collapses after Washington bails out the Housing Bubble Profiteers.
Obviously, in terms of Americans emigrating to Mexico or the new European Soviet, we're discussing a very thin trickle, not a gusher. And just as obviously, most Americans would prefer to live and work here -- just as most Mexicans would prefer to stay in their home country. In both cases, the urge to emigrate is driven by the economic consequences of government corruption and profligacy. And legal emigration of Americans to other countries isn't the same thing as illegal immigration from Mexico or other countries into this one.
But the fact that there is measurable, economically inspired emigration from the United States to any degree is a striking illustration of just how collectivist, and cankered with official corruption, our economy has become. The effects of the economic downturn are being exacerbated by many of the punitive measures passed for the supposed purpose of controlling illegal immigration.
The demagogue and the Brownshirt: Arizona state legislator Russell Pearce with his close political ally, GOP precinct committeeman and neo-Nazi J.T. Ready. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, these guys aren't your typical immigration "reformers."
One splendid example is the imbecilic "employer sanctions" law that went into effect in Arizona last January 1st. Written and sponsored by state legislator Russell Pearce, an immigration monomaniac with some exceptionally pungent political alliances, the Arizona law imposes draconian sanctions on employers who don't winnow illegal aliens from their work forces. Offending business owners suffer the suspension of thier the business licenses on the first offense, and suffer permanent revocation of their licenses on the second offense.
Pearce has been clenched to the bosom of some "constitutionalist" organizations who, when the subject is anything other than immigration control, denounce government control of business owners through licensing and onerous regulation. The Arizona legislator insists that his law is intended to punish those who "put profits ahead of patriotism." But its actual impact has been to amplify the effects of Arizona's post-Bubble economic slide by driving employers to transplant their operations in other states -- or even, in an irony so acute it could serve as a guillotine blade, to Mexico.
Pearce's buddy in his natural habitat: Ready (second from right) and his National Socialist allies demand the Reich of way (see also below right).
As Barron's predicted as the Pearce-written employer sanctions law went into effect, the impact of the measure has been to curb illegal immigration by strangling the state's economy. This is a perfectly satisfactory arrangement for a government careerist like Pearce, whose preaches "patriotic" sacrifice while living comfortably at taxpayer expense. But for people who own and operate businesses in the state that -- unlike government -- actually contribute to the public good, this transaction is hardly a bargain. Illegal immigration -- crossing a border to work without government permission -- has been a significant problem precisely because of government interference in productive society.
As the Mises Institute's Mark Thornton points out, the economic and social problems associated with immigration are actually a product of the welfare state and its subsidiary, officially sanctioned multiculturalism.
"The only national problem [as opposed to isolated regional problems] with immigration is government," writes Thornton. "Because immigrants are relatively poor they tend to pay less in taxes than their use of so-called government services like health care and education, and thus they increase the burden of taxation. We can therefore solve the immigration problem by simply eliminating government programs that provide [so-called] free services."
Earlier I referred to "demagogues" on the immigration issue. Such people can be easily identified as those who promote "limited" government in nearly every aspect of life except for "border control." For example: Such people can be heard denouncing our socialized health care and education system in one breath, and in the next be seen rending their garments and bewailing the fact that illegal immigrants "are ruining our schools, driving up our taxes, over-burdening our health care system, and ruining our economy."
Well, no: It is the government ruling us that is doing all of those horrible things through socialist intervention in the economy, with illegal immigrants (among many, many others) acting as clients of that system. And more recently, concern over the impact of illegal immigration has been exploited by that same government, in perfectly predictable fashion, to justify dangerous enhancement of its powers to regiment our lives and economy.
It is the government ruling us, along with its quasi-governmental appendage called the Federal Reserve System, that has wrecked our economy. A retreating tide can leave behind some very unpleasant debris. As illegal immigration subsides, the lingering residue will include a large movement of people poisoned with the kind of petty collectivist nationalism peddled by the likes of Russell Pearce (and abetted in the past, I am ashamed to say, by Yours Truly).
But the most important remnant of this period will be the sprawling apparatus of enforcement, detention, and harassment created in the name of immigration control, which will be devoted to new and even more unpleasant uses as our economic collapse accelerates.
Video Extra: Who will "Trash Out" the U.S. Economy?
One growth "industry" in post-Bubble America will involve management of abandoned homes, both those formally seized through foreclosure and those abandoned by people who have sent "jingle mail" to their mortgage lenders. The scenes from California's housing bust depicted in the video below is going to be replicated all across the country: Contractors dispatching teams of "trash-out" specialists to remove and dispose of discarded personal effects inside abandoned homes.