Posts tagged ‘ILLEGAL’

Officious Insanity in Alabama

I got a crazy inquiry from the state of Alabama today.  I can't reproduce it without redacting a lot of confidential numbers and such, but essentially they said that we had originally filed to pay unemployment taxes in Alabama in March of 2009, but our first payroll report was not until April of 2009.  I said, sure, once we knew we were going to start business in Alabama, I applied for all my Alabama registrations at one time to make sure they were in place for the start of operations (this includes corporate registration with the secretary of state, request for a taxpayer ID number,  eGov account, state sales tax, state lodging tax, state boat rental tax, County sales tax, county boat rental tax, unemployment tax, and employee tax withholding).  I am sure I am forgetting a few, and to make things more fun, every state is different.  Tennessee, for example, has an entirely different set of tax types for businesses that I still do not fully understand.

Anyway, apparently most of these registrations must be obtained in advance, before starting business.  BUT, at least in Alabama, I was told today it is ILLEGAL (yes, they used that word) to register for the unemployment tax system before your first payroll in the state.  Apparently, one must register in arrears.  Because of this, I was told my account has to be shut down and I have to be issued a new account number  (which of course means more paperwork for me making the switch at my payroll company).   All of this over 4 years later because I did not have any payroll in one month and had the naive notion that it was better to have all my government wastepaper in place before I started operations.  I got the strong impression that this was the results of bureaucrats searching hard for something to keep themselves busy.


Like I Would Know What To Do In The Majority

I never said my immigration opinions were widely held here in Arizona, but apparently they are not popular nationally either:

The new poll finds 61 percent of voters nationally think Arizona was right to take action instead of waiting for the federal government to do something on immigration. That's more than twice as many as the 27 percent who think securing the border is a federal responsibility and Arizona should have waited for Washington to act. . . . Significantly more voters think the Obama administration should wait and see how the new law works (64 percent) than think the administration should try to stop it (15 percent).

Oh well.  Its not like being in the minority is a new thing for me.

What I would really like to understand is:  what drives these folks?

I will take them at their word that it is not racism.

If its violent or property crime, the stats are pretty clear that immigrants don't really contribute to these crimes disproportionately.

If its gang violence at the border, I am wondering what people see in the law's rules that allow easier harassment of day laborers and brown-skinned people with broken turn signals that they think is going to deter gang members supposedly armed with AK47's.

If its competition for jobs, well, I encourage folks to learn how the economy actually works (hint:  it's dynamic, not static), and further, encourage them to figure out why they feel they can't compete with unskilled, uneducated laborers who don't speak the native language.

Finally, if it is, as many of my emailers claim, just a matter of the rule of law -- "THEY ARE ILLEGAL" as I get in many emails, inevitably all in caps, then why not just legalize their presence?  After all, I lament all the hardships associated with marijuana law enforcement but you don't see me advocating new rules to incrementally harass potential possessors -- I am grown up enough to know form history that such efforts are never going to work as long as their is an enthusiastic supply and demand.  I advocate legalization.

Illegal Immigration and the Rule of Law

As is usual when I make an immigration post (wherein I am supportive of open immigration and suspicious of gung-ho enforcement efforts) I got mail saying that the real concern here is the rule of law.   People inevitably want to inform me that this immigration is ILLEGAL (usually in caps) and that these immigrants are BREAKING THE LAW and that the law cannot be enforced unevenly.

First, I am happy to listen to this argument from any commenter who has never broken the speed limit or done a rolling stop at a stop sign.

Second, I would like to offer the rule of law folks, especially those on the right side of the aisle, a thought problem:  Soon, it will be illegal to not purchase a health insurance policy that meets specifications set by Congress.  It is anticipated, however, given relatively low fines, that many people will break this law and not obtain health insurance.   This failure will be ILLEGAL.  These people will be criminals.  Do those of you who seek higher penalties, more robust enforcement, police sweeps, and reduced standards of probable cause for people committing the crime of illegal immigration also plan to seek the same higher penalties for lawbreakers who do not buy an insurance policy?   After all, as you have said, this is not about the law itself but respect for the rule of law.

By your immigration logic, we should be ruthless about lawbreakers who do not have the right insurance policy.  We should encourage the Minutemen to patrol for people without health insurance -- after all, they have said that their concern is with people breaking the law, not immigration or Mexicans per se.  There should be sweeps where people can be arrested for suspicion of not having health insurance, just as they can be arrested under our new AZ law for suspicion that they do not have a green card.

If there is a difference, please explain it to me.  I understand that you may be opposed to open immigration or high immigration rates or immigration by poor uneducated people or whatever.  If so, fine, we disagree -- but stop saying that this is all about the rule of law, or telling me we can't pick and choose what laws we violate.  Because we do the latter all the time.  Our willingness to challenge the state is a large part of American exceptionalism.

PS- Just to avoid misunderstandings from trolls who do not usually read this site, of course I do not advocate the above for health insurance violations.  Just as I don't for Mexicans seeking a better life in this country without obtaining a license to do so from the government.

Disclosure: I have several good friends who are illegal immigrants.  They are wonderful, hard-working people who have been in this country for years.  If we were to conduct tests of people's acceptability to be present in this country, they would pass with scores far ahead of many US citizens.

Update:  I find the argument that open immigration and an overly-generous welfare state can't coexist to be moderately compelling, though I don't see why we could tie citizenship narrowly to receiving these benefits.  I have problems saying that a government license in the form of a green card is required for mere presence in the country.  I have no problem imposing this licensing requirement for receipt of unearned goodies.

When Conservatives Turn Against Private Property and Private Contracts

Update:  Yes, I am aware that it is ILLEGAL as many people have informed me in all caps.  Here is my response, and a thought problem for those posing that issue to me.

Apparently, our Arizona legislature is about to past a tough new anti-immigrant bill, to make sure that no one can work for us or be on our property without the government's permission.  Why is it that Conservatives who are nominally supportive of private property and private contracts disavow these rights when Mexicans are involved?

First, to the issue of property:

A bill empowering police to arrest illegal immigrants and charge them with trespassing for simply being in the state of Arizona, is likely just weeks away from becoming the toughest law of its kind anywhere in the country....

"When you come to America you must have a permission slip, period," said state Sen. Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who sponsored the bill. "You can't break into my country, just like you can't break into my house."

So aren't they essentially using a socialist view of property here?   This means that a person can be found to be trespassing on my property, even if he has my permission, if he doesn't have permission of certain members of the government.   It means that the government has more say over who can and can't be present on property than does the private owner.  This is horrendous precedent that Conservatives will someday come to lament.

As for contracts:

The measure allows police to detain people on the suspicion that they are illegal immigrants, outlaws citizens from employing day laborers, and makes it illegal for anyone to transport an illegal immigrant, even a family member, anywhere in the state.

Oops, so much for my ability to hire and fire at will.  And doesn't it make one all warm and fuzzy to think that having brown skin is officially going to be sufficient probable cause for Sheriff Joe to haul your ass into custody?  Because I am not exaggerating, Arpaio will haul in thousands on mere suspicion of being an illegal immigrant.  He already hauls in hundreds without this law.  What's next, checkpoints with state troopers telling us that "ve vant to see your papers" like we were living in occupied France?  Because the bill essentially requires that people present in Arizona be able to prove they are a citizen at all times.  Do I need to carry my passport when I am jogging?

I know a few paranoiacs here have managed to convince even relatively smart people outside this state that we are somehow in the midst of an invasion.  I live here, and no such thing is true.  We have a large Hispanic population that makes the state more interesting, and the limited number of problems immigrants cause for infrastructure here are no worse than the issues any major city faces.  I operate business all over the state, including right down at the border, and there is simply nothing awful going on here to justify this kind of paranoia.

Postscript:  Just to be clear, I believe I have the right to hire anyone I please, and to lease an apartment to anyone I please.  I don't think that people who happen to be born in another country should have to get a license from the state to be able to contract with me in these ways.  Both Democrats and Republicans are awful about this -- they rail against some modest state intrusion in their lives and then support an even bigger one.

Standing in the Way of Success

Megan McArdle has a good post and excerpts from Adam Shepard, who set out with $25 to see how hard it was to escape from poverty.  I won't re-quote that post here, you should see her site, but I wanted to comment on one thing Shepard says about his early days trying to convince supervisors they should hire a homeless guy:

So, he gave me the secret. To paraphrase, he told me to go to these
managers and tell them who you are, that you are the greatest worker on
the planet and that it would be a mistake not to hire you. If they take
you on, great. If not, move on down the line. By day's end, you're
gonna have a job.

So I did. The next day, I went to see Curtis at Fast Company, a
moving company where I'd already applied. "Curt!" I said. "I'm Adam
Shepard, and I'm the greatest mover on the planet. It would be a
mistake for you not to hire me." He looked at me across the table and
smiled, knowing I was lying like hell to him. But he liked my attitude
"“ especially after I offered to work a day for free "“ so he hired me on
the spot.

This is very normal -- if you want someone to take a risk, you try to reduce the cost for him.  Not sure you want to try our product?  We'll give you a free sample.  In this case, he agreed to work for free to convince the manager he was a good worker.  This makes sense -- to emerge from homelessness and to get a job with no skills and no work history, one needs to be willing to give a bit of a discount on your labor, at least at first, to get someone to give you a chance.

But here is the interesting part -- the arrangement Curtis and Adam Shepard made is ILLEGAL.  The Fair Labor Standards Act, which includes Federal minimum wage law, does not allow Curtis to accept unpaid labor and does not even allow Mr. Shepard to offer it.  The fact that the deal makes so much sense and it so clearly is in the mutual best interest of both parties is absolutely irrelevant under the law.  Fast Company could be busted, should the DOL choose to focus its attention their way.

When people argue that the minimum wage is most harmful to the poor, because it prices the first rung of the labor ladder beyond what their minimal skills can justify, this is what they mean.


One Last Immigration Post

I really wasn't going to post again on immigration - I've said what I have to say and I want to move on before I get too tedious on the subject.  However, I was reading several conservative blogs over the last several days that had a lot of fun pointing out odd signs and screwball supporters of immigration in the recent immigration marches, as a way to mock the those who support immigration (example here).

I agree that immigration supporters have adopted some fellow travellers that they would do better without, particularly the hard-core Marxist remnants who not accidently chose the traditional Marxist-Soviet May Day holiday for their march.

However, I guess two can play at this game.  I would like to walk through some of the key points from a recent emailer to this site.  Below I will address a few of the best passages, but I have included the email in its entirety in the extended post, per the email's instructions.  Really, I encourage you to read the whole thing.  Every paragraph is priceless.

Being born with our rights is fine, HOWEVER the right to live in a PARTICULAR country within a FORMED AND STRUCTURED society of laws that protects those rights IS STRICTLY for THE "CITIZENS" who built that society TO DECIDE who may join them.!

I will call this the nation-as-country-club theory of government.  Basically he is saying that the US is a big country club where most of us get our memberships by inheritance, and we all get to chose the few new members we take in each year.  Of all the theories of government, this is, um, cetainly one of them.  If anything, it reminds me a little of Heinlin in "Starship Troopers" with a society where only those who completed military service are full citizens. 

This is, however, not the theory of government that our country was built on.  In fact, we didn't have any real immigration restrictions in this country for over 100 years after the Contitution was passed.  This model actually has strongly socialist implications.   I will demonstrate that next...

      Liberal Democrats AND SO CALLED LIBERTARIANS (who are really
displaced commis)  will come to be known as the morons who killed the
goose trying to get the gold faster!!!!

Wow!  All along I thought I was a libertarian anarco-capitalist and come to find out I am a displaced commie!  Who knew? 

Let's take an example.  Lets say a person from Mexico wants to rent my house and then go to work for me in my business here in Phoenix.  I believe that I should be able to rent my house to whomever I want and employ whomever I want without government interferance.  The emailer presumably believes that the government should be able to dictate who I can and can't rent my property to, and whom I can and can't employ in my business.  Who is the real socialist here?  I want to let people go wherever they want, and the emailer presumably wants checkpoints demanding to see your paperwork.  Which model looks more like Soviet Russia?

Recently the Arizona state goverment has discussed making it a crime of trespassing for a foreignor to be found anywhere in Arizona without the proper government paperwork.  This law would dictate that if I have a such a foreignor on my property, he is trespassing.  But he has my permission to be on my property, so how is he trespassing?  The only way he can be trespassing is if one assumes that the government, and not me, ultimately own my property.

Of course, half the emails I get still say "but they are illegal - they don't have rights."  OK, here is my counter-example.  Tomorrow, Congress passes a law that says "No one is allowed to criticize any sitting member of Congress for any reason."  What would you do?  I would run to my blog and immediately start posting "Trent Lott sucks;  John McCain sucks;  Hillary Clinton sucks" etc. etc.  Why -- because I still have the right to free speech, even if Congress makes it technically illegal.  Laws and acts of Congress don't change rights.  And if you believe that your rights do flow from Congress, then, well, we better all hold on because we are screwed.

America and the culture it has developed breeds predominantly decent people, these decent people have died to make America (and the world) a better place to live and little by little the world has learned from us and has begun to change for the better.
   Now very silly people act like all the filth sickeness and desease of the world should be welcomed into america?    No No No!!!!

    American society and its culture of law abiding decency must not be overcome by the selfish unwashed unlawful hordes who would come here and destroy what has taken so long for so many to build!!!

This whole cultural assimilation thing always rings hollow for me.  The very timeframe that folks like this get misty-eyed about when this country was built was a time of massive and nearly unfettered immigration.  If you really are concerned about preserving America's traditions and culture (assuming "culture" isn't being used just as a code word to keep non-WASPs out) then I would think you would be strongly pro-immigration.  Immigration is the norm in this country's history, and the current policies are the aberation.  If you really want to live in a country where the government actively defines its role as maintaining the country's culture intact, then you should go to France.

My family, which came over early in this century, was poor, unskilled, and German.  What could be worse from a "cultural" standpoint?  Surely few could argue that for the period from 1875 to 1945 the Germans had one of the top 3 most destructive cultures in the world.  Why would we ever want poor unskilled workers from a militaristic totalitarian culture?  But my family was accepted none-the-less.

By the way, the corruption of our rights and freedoms and government is not coming from the outside - because we already did it to ourselves.  In our original Constitutional framework, government was extremely limited and there was little it could do to influence lives.  In the last 70 years, we have corrupted this framework, trashing Constitutional protections and limitations on government and replacing them with a tyranny of the majority, where 51% can do unto the other 49% in any way they please.  We shot ourselves in the foot before most any current illegal immigrant was even born.

Latinos must be stupid since they dont even have the sense to adopt america!!  Illegals still want to be known as mexicans!!! You know those silly stupid gutless mexicans who allow corruption and filth to be a way of life in mexico??

We fought and died to eliminate that in America but you want to let it back in here??

Wow, I am getting emails from people who have already died!  Anyway, have you ever been to Boston on St. Patricks Day?  The Irish still show a lot of pride in their mother country but they still also consider themselves Americans.  The Irish are a great example -- Easterners in the 19th century rioted in protest of unskilled Irish immigration, but today they are part of the backbone of that American culture you get so misty-eyed about. 

Mexican culture and traditions are one of the things that make Arizona great.  Cinco de Mayo, for example, is a lot more fun than many of our American holidays and many of us anglos have adopted it in the same way most non-Irish have adopted St. Patricks Day.   I am not particularly religeous, but for you conservatives out there I will offer that Mexicans are far more religious than your average American outside of the South.

Oh, and by the way, aren't these "stupid, gutless" Mexicans you don't like actually risking life and limb and arrest to escape the corruption of their home country?

I hope the first victim of a desease from aN ILLEGAL mexican who was never vaccinated is someone you CARE ABOUT!!! jerk!!!!!   

Whoa, you say.  This guy doesn't represent me!  Well, I'll tell you.  I have watched over the last several weeks as conservative blogs have spent a good amount of time picking out the most extreme and unbalanced immigration supporters and using them to mock the pro-immigration position as a whole.  Turn about is fair play.

Update:  I got a second email substantially similar to this one (but with slight variations) from a different email address today, so this is either copied from another source or part of some campaign.   It could even be a mis-direction campaign by immigration supporters, though I doubt it because it is so dead on the tone and content of many other emails and comments I get.

Continue reading ‘One Last Immigration Post’ »

Immigration and the "Legality" Issue

I know some may be bored with my immigration posts, so if you are, that's cool, you can ignore the rest.  I have done something of late I normally don't do:  I have tuned into conservative talk radio for bits and pieces of time over the last several days to get the gist of their arguments to limit immigration.  The main arguments I have heard are:

  1. Illegal immigrants are breaking the law
  2. We should not reward law-breaking with amnesty.  We need to round these folks up that are breaking the law and teach them a lesson.  Or put them in concentration camps if that were logistically feasible
  3. We don't like first generation Mexican immigrants carrying the Mexican flag in parades. (though we love it when 4th generation Irish carry Irish flags in parades)

A recent commenter on my post defending open immigration, which is superseded by this pro-immigration post I like better, had this related insight:

6-10000000 YOU ARE ILLEGAL



It sure is comforting that us "leagal migrants" have to pass a basic English test, or we might come off as idiots when we post comments online.  But you get the gist.  My first thought is that this is certainly a circular argument.  To answer my premise that "immigration should be legal for everyone" with the statement that "it is illegal" certainly seems to miss the point (it kind of reminds me of the king of swamp castle giving instructions to his guards in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) The marginally more sophisticated statement that "it is illegal and making it legal would only reward lawbreakers" would seem to preclude any future relaxation of any government regulation.

Many people writing on this topic today lapse into pragmatic arguments ala "well, how would we pick the lettuce without them?"  Frequent readers of this site will notice I seldom if ever resort to this type argument (except perhaps when I argued that immigration might be a solution to the demographic bomb in medicare and social security).  My argument is simpler but I hear it discussed much less frequently:  By what right are these folks "illegal"?

What does it mean to be living in this country?  Well, immigrants have to live somewhere, which presupposes they rent or buy living space from me or one of my neighbors.  Does the government have the right to tell me who I can and can't transact with?  Most conservatives would (rightly) say "no,"  except what they really seem to mean is "no, as long as that person you are leasing a room to was born within some arbitrary lines on the map.  The same argument goes for immigrants contracting their labor (ie getting a job).  Normally, most conservatives would (rightly again) say that the government can't tell you who you can and can't hire.   And by the way, note exactly what is being criminalized here - the illegal activity these folks are guilty of is making a life for their family and looking for work.  Do you really want to go down the path of making these activities illegal?  Or check out the comment again above.  She/he implies that immigrants without the proper government papers don't even have speech rights, rights that even convicted felons have in this country. 

By the way, I understand that voting and welfare type handouts complicate this and can't be given day 1 to everyone who crosses the border -- I dealt in particular with the issue of New Deal social services killing immigration here.

Our rights to association and commerce and free movement and speech flow from our humanity, not from the government.  As I wrote before:

Like the founders of this country, I believe that our individual
rights exist by the very fact of our existance as thinking human
beings, and that these rights are not the gift of kings or
congressmen.  Rights do not flow to us from government, but in fact
governments are formed by men as an artificial construct to help us
protect those rights, and well-constructed governments, like ours, are
carefully limited in their powers to avoid stifling the rights we have
inherently as human beings.

Do you see where this is going?  The individual rights we hold dear
are our rights as human beings, NOT as citizens.  They flow from our
very existence, not from our government. As human beings, we have the
right to assemble with whomever we want and to speak our minds.  We
have the right to live free of force or physical coercion from other
men.  We have the right to make mutually beneficial arrangements with
other men, arrangements that might involve exchanging goods, purchasing
shelter, or paying another man an agreed upon rate for his work.  We
have these rights and more in nature, and have therefore chosen to form
governments not to be the source of these rights (for they already
existed in advance of governments) but to provide protection of these
rights against other men who might try to violate these rights through
force or fraud.

rights of speech and assembly and commerce and property shouldn't,
therefore, be contingent on "citizenship".  I should be able, equally,
to contract for service from David in New Jersey or Lars in Sweden.
David or Lars, who are equally human beings,  have the equal right to
buy my property, if we can agree to terms.  If he wants to get away
from cold winters in Sweden, Lars can contract with a private airline
to fly here, contract with another person to rent an apartment or buy
housing, contract with a third person to provide his services in
exchange for wages.  But Lars can't do all these things today, and is
excluded from these transactions just because he was born over some
geographic line?  To say that Lars or any other "foreign" resident has
less of a right to engage in these decisions, behaviors, and
transactions than a person born in the US is to imply that the US
government is somehow the source of the right to pursue these
activities, WHICH IT IS NOT.

Disclosure:  A number of my great-grandparents were immigrants from Germany.  When they came over, most were poor, uneducated, unskilled and could not speak English.  Several never learned to speak English.  Many came over and initially took agricultural jobs and other low-skilled work.  Because the new country was intimidating to them, they tended to gather together in heavily German neighborhoods and small towns.  Now, of course, this description makes them totally different from most immigrants today that we want to shut the door on, because, uh... Help me out, because why?

PS - And please don't give me the "government's job is defend the borders" argument.  Government's job is to defend its people, which only occasionally in cases of direct attack involves defending the borders.  I am sick of the rhetorical trick of taking people like the "minutemen" and describing them as patriots defending the border, when this nomenclature just serves to hide the fact that these folks are bravely stopping unarmed human beings from seeking employment or reuniting with their families.  And I will absolutely guarantee that the borders will be easier to patrol against real criminals and terrorists sneaking in when the background noise of millions of peaceful and non-threatening people are removed from the picture and routed through legal border crossings.