(Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

On Tuesday, the bipartisan group of U.S. senators dubbed the “Gang of Eight” unveiled an immigration reform bill that would include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people who stay in the U.S. illegally. We talk about the legislation and its controversial proposal that would allow immigrants to become citizens after a 13-year process.

Guests:
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based research institute that examines the impact of immigration on American society
Laura McGann, deputy managing editor for POLITICO
Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project

  • wandagb

    California and the Bay Area need millions of more immigrants to provide the workers for all the jobs that are going begging; our schools have too many empty chairs and their ample resources are underutilized and should be offered immigrant children; our highways have unused capacity that should be exploited by newcomers.

    Come one, come all. We who are about to be overwhelmed salute you.

    • Guest

      Sarcasm and catastrophizing are always helpful when discussing challenging topics. Thanks for this trenchant contribution to the civil discourse.

      • thucy

        Wanda should have the privilege of expressing her thoughts using whatever civil methods she sees fit, sarcasm and exaggeration included.

        Moreover, if sarcasm is somehow outside the bounds of civil discourse, we’d have to edit out a significant portion of Plutarch, Moliere, Euripides, Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, and Hawthorne. Come to think of it, ESPECIALLY Nathaniel Hawthorne.

        If you disagree with Wanda’s point, then make your case. But scolding Wanda and any number of other commenters whom you regard as “uncivil” is not in itself a point.

        • Guest

          Always good to know you’re on the beat, Thucy. Protecting the helpless and the innocent from all the twisted things I never said. Keep up the good work.

      • Bob Fry

        Sarcasm and catastrophizing are often a convenient and quick way of making a point. Sounds like you need to find a sense of humor.

        • thucy

          I agree, long live the ghost of William Hazlitt!

        • Guest

          “Oh Bob, you just crack me up.” LOL.

          …Hey, you’re right! That is a lot easier than thinking it through. Sort of like greasy, fast food for the brain.

          • thucy

            okay… first you decry sarcasm, then you employ it yourself. I generally appreciate your comments, Christine, but d’ya think you might be holding others to a standard you yourself refuse to meet?

      • aa aa

        Sarcasm is as good a tactic as any other when pointing out that there certainly is no need to import more lower-skilled labor into the US, which has had stagnant or declining real wages for low and even medium skilled workers for some thirty years..
        This bill is just more of the same:
        1. enabling unscrupulous employers to improve their bottom lines by paying the lowest possible wages to the lesser-skilled. The costs of not paying such workers enough to live on is then foisted on taxpayers, who have to pay income supports (foodstamps etc.) to make up for their unlivable wages. (Happened to me. Despite 3 college degrees, I needed all those income supports just to survive, since $11,000/year is not a livable salary).
        2. enabling the so-called “left” to improve their political standing by claiming that evil Republicans are “anti-immigrant” all the while that they are actually making the labor market position for their supposed constituency (legal low and medium-skill workers) much worse.

      • I. Bokonon

        Regarding sarcasm, pot calling kettle black, no? Also, your use of sarcasm was a personal attack that did not contribute to the debate but just wasted our time, whereas Wanda’s was directed at the issue under discussion to make a point. Regarding “catastrophizing,” where did Wanda engage in that?

  • Livegreen

    As the husband of a legal immigrant I’m disappointed by the prioritization of illegal immigration over legal immigration, especially about “catch and release”. AFTER the border patrol catches an illegal immigrant they are given a court date and released to come back to court later. Except they almost never do. Then they become part of the new illegal immigrant community, they start families here and are obviously upset when their family members are deported.

    Just this morning KQED had a program about a lawsuit guaranteeing that court date.

    Will “catch & release” change or stay the same? If it stays it simply will not solve the problem.

  • Guest

    Immigration is one of the tent poles of the American experiment. It is critical that our immigration policy be nuanced, effective, robust and well considered. We need to get this right. So, in era when Washington, DC is generally considered to be dysfunctional, I am pleasantly surprised and welcoming of the Senate’s efforts on this issue. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to join us in the 21st century, at least with regard to domestic policy that reflects real world demographics.

    • aa aa

      Real world demographics? Do you mean effective open borders? Make no mistake about it, The US has had stagnant real wages for those at the bottom for thirty years now. You simply cannot have massive immigration of relatively low-skilled workers (which is what most unauthorized workers are) here and expect US real wages to go anywhere for those in the bottom half. Learn the basics of supply & demand.

      • Guest

        By real world demographics, I mean the ones which listed here:

        http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml

        I took three university level economics courses, including micro and macro, just last year and did very well, thank you. You know what I learned? Real wages are affected much more by educational and technological considerations than by supply and demand. Low-skilled workers compete for low-skilled jobs and low-skilled jobs are increasing because of increases in production capacity largely due to technological advances during the last 30 years. If we want to increase real wages in the US, we need to decrease costs for education and learn to build better robots, not better fences.

        • aa aa

          Of course real wages are affected by educational and technological levels but they are ALSO affected by labor supply, and in the US (as opposed to a technologically backward country with low or stagnant productivity growth) that’s been more important for labor compensation in the last 30 years That’s why, despite the fact that technological, educational and productivity levels have been increasing at a quite substantial pace here, real wages are still stagnant or even declining for the bottom half. US labor supply of low and medium skill workers continues to outstrip our very substantial productivity increases, and thus the increased profits from those productivity increases has been captured almost entirely by capital rather than low and medium-skill laborers…

          It sounds good to say we should “decrease costs for education” (who is against that?) But just who is going to pay for this? You can bet that the biggest costs won’t be borne by those who benefit most from illegal/unlimited immigration, but rather will continue to be borne by those legal workers who benefit least from illegal immigration. As a very low income worker (making about $10,000/year), I applied to get a teaching credential in the hopes that it would finally lead to a job that paid a living wage.Despite having extremely low income California offered me almost no financial aid at all, at the same time that it was subsidizing in-state tuition for the BA’s of “undocumented” immigrants, so I could not afford to get the credential. When you have a limited pot of money (state supported financial aid) dividing it among more people means less for those who need it most. Are you, who are so eager to proclaim your willingness to “share” willing to finance my obtaining a teaching credential?

        • thucy

          “If we want to increase real wages in the US, we need to decrease costs for education and learn to build better robots, not better fences.”
          You’re eliding the reality that better robots displace workers, and thereby displace “real” wages, period.

    • Ehkzu

      We needed immigration when America had the population density of a patch of Arctic tundra. Now we’re looking at water rationing across much of America. Unless you can magically conjure up a lot more natural resources than even America has, you’re going to have to confront the lifeboat morality of an America overrunning its natural resources instead of the shallow idealism of statements like this.

      • Guest

        Thanks for parroting the latest scare tactics from the Federation for American Immigration Reform. I can think of quite a few ways to make better use of existing resources that don’t entail criminalizing millions of persons.

        According the highly partisan CIA World Factbook, the U.S. net migration rate for 2012 was 3.62 and ranks 26th in the world. Our population growth rate is a whopping 0.9% (124th in the world). Our unemployment rate, at 8.2% is not great but is still better than 95 other countries. So if you want to sit in the lifeboat, go right ahead. For now, I’m willing to share.

        • aa aa

          To be willing to share you must have something substantial to begin with. Forcing those of us who have hardly anything at all (no savings, three college degrees that our parents depleted their savings to help us get, and still nothing but poorly-paid work) to “share” is not moral. Current immigration policy of massive immigration of the relatively low-skilled is harmful above all for those of us in the bottom half of the income ladder who compete most with them for rental housing– whose prices continue to skyrocket according to the laws of supply and demand, and modestly-compensated jobs. It is immoral for the elites represented by Senators, lawyers, and others in the top 20% who face very, very little competition for jobs and a high standard of living to tell the rest of us that we should be willing to accept the stagnant or declining real wages that are the result of their immigration non-reforms.

        • wandagb

          “Our population growth rate is a whopping 0.9% ”

          Hmmm. Do I detect a touch of that sarcasm that you so doth protesteth?

          To put that 0.9% in perspective, the world is growing at 1.096% according to the web site you cited. Thus the U.S. is close to the world rate which is frightfully high adding 80 million to the planet every year.

          Now, for the math challenged (no names implied), a growth rate of 0.9% means that the population will DOUBLE in 80 years. So, this seemingly tiny number of immigrant spurred growth rate means the U.S. population of currently 317 million will balloon to 634 million by the year 2100. And that number is based upon current immigration rates. After the machination by the Gangrape by Eight in Washington that number will seem small.

        • Kurt thialfad

          Europe is .1%. At one percent, we double every 50 years.

  • Guest

    Please remind your guests that *behaviors* are illegal, not people. It is unfair, unkind and unhelpful to constantly be labeling people as such.

  • Bob Fry

    Couple of thoughts. First, why is US citizenship so important? Permanent residency (“green card”) provides the legal ability to get work, change jobs, pay taxes, pay Social Security and eventually get those benefits, travel back and forth between the US and home country, etc. Wouldn’t an immigration compromise be easier to arrive at if the Democrats would give on this aspect?

    Second, as an engineer, I’m a little tired of the corporations whining about more H1B visas needed. That’s largely the same old tactic of getting more, cheaper labor to compete with existing labor.

  • Jason

    I’m a legal citizen among millions and contribute to society via holding a full time job, paying taxes and planning for the future. How about providing amnesty to our student loans if working in a non-profit industry? If we’re gonna’ break rules here, lets look in-house first and open some doors for those who could use a break.

    • aa aa

      In an ideal world.perhaps…but the reason the US pols won’t work for free higher education but will work for unlimited immigration to the US is that banks profit enormously off student loan interest. (I had to pay student loan interest of almost 9% on a $7000 loan my parents took out in 1982, despite the fact that the only jobs I could get after finishing college in the 1990s were so poorly paid that I needed income supports to survive, Hence the taxpayers ended up subsidizing the banks’ 9% interest (not just their principal) as I was forced to pay the loan despite needing welfare to supplement my low-paid work. What a handy thing for banks: get taxpayers to contribute to their net profits).

      Conversely, wealthy business and land-owning interests profit off of mass immigration because it keeps wages low and rental prices high. .

      • Jason

        Thanks for the reply. A forum on student loans and education would be great to hear (I’m sure it’s been covered already). Economics aside,it would be nice if such efforts (this immigration bill in discussion) were directed and reformed to make your life easier in paying student loans than ignoring existing immigration laws. Too bad profit is the driving force behind this bill.

      • Kurt thialfad

        A side point, in that educated foreign workers are often attractive because they don’t come with high student debt, the tuition in their home nations being practicallr free.
        I hear some arrive with their own national healthcare.

  • Chemist150

    I don’t believe that this woman had the nerve to suggest that more people in the work force would not create a downward pressure on what they employer will pay! Just look at the great depression… With women’s suffrage and blacks entering the work force, the work force effectively doubled in a short amount of time and led the country into the Great Depression.

    I’m a believer that the economy needs to support everyone in it whether people are here legally or not but this lady needs a course in economics.

  • Ehkzu

    This bill omits the only thing that would let us really control who lives here: a universal biometric ID database like the one India is deploying. No border fence can catch visa overstays, for example.

    And then we won’t just be guessing about how many illegals are here, and where they are, and how they’re impacting the economy.

    Note that your ACLU rep will never lose her own job to an illegal immigrant, or get her wages depressed by same. American blue collar workers have seen their wages drop 5-25% due to illegal immigrant competition. And this bill’s provisions may not comprise amnesty but they’ll be seen as that by all the people in Mexico who want to come here. Every amnesty hangs a giant green light over the border.

    Lastly, we have an overpopulation problem in America–we’re running out of potable and irrigation water due to overpumping the porous aquifers. And there’s a worse overpopulation problem in Mexico–it went from 20 million in 1940 to 100 million in 2000, over half living in poverty. They wouldn’t be coming here if their own country wasn’t massively overpopulated.

  • Sam Badger

    A more than ten year wait for citizenship is utterly absurd, especially because it is contingent entirely on the ability of CONGRESS to do their job by fixing the border crisis. This bill should be shot down as bad for immigrants.

  • Andrew Shinn

    The dirty little secret of H1B’s: The top 10 users of this particular visa program are IT outsourcing firms such as Tata and Infosys etc. SOP is to rotate people over, and then rotate them back ad infinitum.

  • aa aa

    Wong claims that there will be no more illegal immigration because the bill is “chock full” of enforcement. If we have millions more illegal immigrants in a few years after this bill, will she and the Senators agree to resign from their jobs for hoodwinking the US public for their dubious claim that this bill will end illegal immigration?

  • Ehkzu

    A note on language: the legal term is “illegal alien” commonly shortened to “Illegal.” The AP style book is politically correct but both linguistically awkward and misleading. “Undocumented immigrant” implies that they don’t have documents. Most do, however. Their documents as Mexican citizens. “Undocumented immigrant” is a propaganda term that seeks to decriminalize people here illegally by definition–a cheap rhetorical trick.

  • KR

    Good program!

  • Thuy Nguyen

    Where are the rights for the legal immigrants? My family had to
    sell everything that we had to pay for the paperwork fees and plane
    tickets for two adults and 4 kids to travel from Vietnam to America.
    When we came to America my mom didn’t have more kids so she can go on
    welfare. She said, “We were generously given the chance to live on
    someone else’s land. We need to make our way by ourselves and not drain
    from the government.” We were never able to get fat using food stamps,
    we ate chicken that we raised and cabbage that we grew in our tiny
    garden; to this day I still cannot stand the smell of chicken and
    cabbage.
    My family worked so hard and suffered so much to make
    it in America and we are grateful every day for the opportunity. In
    fact, the day that we became naturalized citizens is celebrated every
    year as a family holiday. This is why I have no sympathy for ILLEGAL
    immigrants that can come to America (Santa Clara County specifically)
    and get free healthcare, free educate, and free food. They drive
    Escalades and buy steaks with their food stamps. Every year on Cinco de
    Mayo they deface public property and destroy personal property.

    • Sam Badger

      What a bunch of racist tripe … most illegal immigrants don’t buy escalades and run around taking advantage of free health care. They work long hours with poor wages such that goods sold here are affordable.

      Also, as a legal immigrant, I am wholly in solidarity with all illegal immigrants. The illegal immigrants have worked JUST as hard and you have no clue about the political and economic context that made them go to the United States.

    • thucy

      I find it interesting that you would denigrate immigrants for making use of food stamps and driving “Escalades”. How do you know the people driving Escalades are on food stamps? Do you pull them over and check, or are you just making a racial assumption? Most “illegals” I’ve encountered who qualify for food stamps don’t drive. That means they’re not profiting from the “welfare” of fuel subsidies. Do you drive? Then you’re collecting a form of welfare (while you pollute the air.)
      When my family came here (legally) they survived much as your family did. But they profited from the “welfare” of excellent public schools and public universities. Why should we who attended free public school deny food to other 99%’ers, whether they are black, hispanic, asian or white? (And btw, for rational reasons, most poor Asian immigrants aren’t shy about collecting welfare.)
      We would not dream of denying food stamps to poor people because we are well aware that most “welfare” is actually corporate welfare in the form of tax breaks for the 1%.

    • Lauren

      I wholeheartedly agree. I go to Safeway in Los Gatos and I always see these people buy seafood and steaks with their CA EBT Card (aka foodstamps card) There was actually one family that i saw loading their government groceires into a brand new Mercedes Benz, how do I know? I am a welfare fraud investigator 🙂 and you can bet those people suffered the consequences.

  • Ehkzu

    Your ACLU rep’s dismissal of a universal biometric ID database sounds like the kinds of arguments Republicans use against new ideas–the idea of ID theft happening, or of errors losing jobs, is total nonsense. For one thing it avoids considering the amount of ID theft now being perpetrated. For another it grossly overestimates the error rate from an ID system that doesn’t use cards that can be faked. It’s tough to fake a retina.

    So I find the ACLU rep’s dismissal to be propagandistic that casts doubt on her probity in other areas.

  • Kurt thialfad

    deportations may be up under Obama. But what is the net? That would seem to be the important number. If Obama lets more people in, then deporting more would be meaningless. So again, what is the net?

  • Naina

    I echo ‘Livegreen’ in that legal immigrants should have equal or higher priority as illegal immigrants. We are a highly-educated, hardworking lot who pay our taxes, have excellent credit and are law-abiding. My husband’s mom is right now very sick with cancer and he can’t go to visit her in India because he is worried he might not be able to come back easily inspite of being legal! He is an engineer and very valued by his team but still faces this issue. If this bill is passed he will get his Green Card much faster and won’t have to think twice about visiting India at a time like this.

  • The last caller, Victoria’s comment about how this policy will affect poor African American – I don’t see how immigration reform will affect poor African Americans. 2nd, you mentioned that it’s not true that the illegal immigrants work in jobs that Americans don’t like to do — take a look at the farming industry, the fruits are spoiling becase they do not have people working the crops – this is just one example and there are many – it’s time do something about the immigration issue.

    • Ehkzu

      You don’t see how poor American blacks have their wages depressed by competition from poor Mexican illegals who will work for less and won’t complain if they’re underpaid or even not paid at all?

      Even liberal economist Paul Krugman conceded that a large pool of immigrant laborers depresses the wages of citizen blue collar laborers.

      The current unemployment rate of American blue collar workers is much higher than for educated Americans. If American employers are forced to pay a living wage for blue collar work, prices for goods will rise a bit. And they should.

      Which makes your comment tribally self-serving propaganda, to put it kindly.

  • Chris Hayes of MSNBC’s “All In” stated the following: “There is some wage depression on the low end of the labor scale by the kind of immigration we have…. When we’re talking about human dignity, we’re talking about people literally being torn apart; we’re talking about a level of violence to one’s integrity as a person and one’s family that I don’t believe there is an interest on the other side.”

    When Kevin Williamson of the National Review replied: “You send people to jail you tear up families too” Hayes retorted, with an awkward laugh “…well, that’s a whole other story.”

    It is not a different story. It is a story that is very much linked. People, Liberals in particular, continue to espouse a rhetoric of humanity that denies humanity to the poor and to African Americans, in particular. Our plight is rendered invisible and not worthy of discussion in this debate. Most supporters look at data that affirm their own beliefs and positions rather than look at what’s really happening. I’m not saying deport them all; what I’m saying is less be HONEST about what’s happening.

    http://youtu.be/ac0ugelp2ek

  • Matthew

    Cutoff at 23:35 reveals the liberal bias from KQED/host. Effectively censorship, the Host cut off Jessica Vaughan right in the middle of a valid point, and then, after the break, did not extend the courtesy for her to finish. Had she been making arguments more in line with the liberal agenda of this program, we’re confident she have been allowed to finish/continue.

    Forum is smooth, but not unbiased.

  • Matthew

    Great moderator in MichaelK, with a wide audience, and thoughtful guests. Too bad this greatness is “guided” by censors.

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