Monday, February 05, 2007

Immigration: Practical and Complicated Considerations

Last Tuesday, I attended The Real Estate Council's annual breakfast at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field. The theme for the morning: "Rebuilding Neighborhoods in Central Cities."

Richard Baron, Co-founder and Chairman and CEO with McCormack Baron Salazar based in St. Louis, has been developing innovative, mixed-income, mixed-use housing projects in inner cities all over the United States. He and his firm are not afraid to tackle tough neighborhoods with depressing histories. From what I saw, Baron has a great track record that combines risk-taking with sound business and development practices.

I loved what he shared with us in words and photos. But, this morning I am remembering one of his "throw away" lines related, not to development, but to immigration.

"And speaking of plans to secure our southern border, who the $#&*@ is gonna build the wall?"

Good question, don't you think?

Consider these facts about immigration:
  • Of 31 million total immigrants, 12 million are undocumented with 1.4 to 1.6 million in Texas (5% of the state's population)
  • 43% of Dallas area Hispanics are immigrants and only 19% are citizens
  • Dallas Federal Reserve reports that around 30% of U. S. immigrants are undocumented
  • DFW International reports that in Dallas almost 1/2 of the "foreign born" residents have no documentation or 10% of the city's population
  • 50% of these immigrants live in poverty and have no health insurance
  • Dallas County gained 175,000 Hispanic residents between 2000-2005
  • Exit polls during last November's General Election reported that 2/3 of voters listed immigration concerns as "extremely" or "very important" and 50% said undocumented residents should be given a chance to gain legal status, while 1/3 were in favor of deportation
  • Entering the country without proper documentation is a civil matter, not a misdemeanor or felony
  • In 2006, approximately 70% of workers sent $24 billion home to Mexico--an annual increase of 25%, representing 2.5% of Mexico's GDP
  • Every 10% increase in remittances sent home to Mexico result in a 3.5% reduction in Mexican poverty levels
  • In Texas, Latin American immigrants contribute $52.8 billion to local economies
  • Undocumented Texas workers contributed $1.58 billion to state coffers in 2005
  • If all undocumented Texas workers suddenly disappeared, the gross state product would drop by $17.7 billion in revenues
  • Jobs follow market needs: a skilled carpenter in Mexico earns $125 per month; the same laborer can earn $2,299 in the U. S. where food costs are also lower
  • Sixty families in Mexico control 40% of the wealth
  • Unemployment rates in Dallas-Ft Worth stand at about 5%--the result is a labor shortage
  • 70% of the Dallas construction workforce is immigrant and largely undocumented
  • Texas Workforce Commission reports that Texas will need almost 125,000 additional restaurant workers and over 35,000 truck drivers
  • A language other than English is spoken in 43.9% of Dallas homes, as compared to 19.4% nationally
  • High School graduation rates for Hispanics in the DISD is 32%--graduation rates for undocumented are even lower
  • Over 2/3 of all DISD students are Hispanic
  • The City of McKinney spent $138,000 to build a labor center for immigrant day laborers to "catch out" for work in an orderly manner--Plano and Garland also have such centers supported by public funds
  • Parkland Health and Hospital System, the public hospital in Dallas County, wrote off $7.6 million in unpaid medical bills from patients residing in adjoining Collin County which has no public hospital

(D Magazine, "Mexican Invasion," by Rod Davis, February 2007, pages 42ff)

If you are really interested in the whole question of American jobs taken by immigrants, you may want to take a look at the article in yesterday's Dallas Morning News by Daniel Gross ("Reeled In," Sunday, February 4, 2007, Points section):


justin said...

I can't stand the rhetoric of the populist protectionist people. I don't call them conservatives because they aren't. They are scared to death (irrationally of course) of people that look different than them, and who are willing to work for less than them, and whose culture is different than theirs. So they want to keep them out.

There are lots of problems with that. Our economy depends on illegal immigrants. They will work harder for less than some of our spoiled white bretheren, which makes our homes and businesses and products cheaper for everyone. Simultaneously, illegal immigrants are helping out everyone here, and helping themselves and others in Mexico escape poverty... something that is unavoidable in that country due to the inefficient, corrupt socialist government.

They are doing something wrong by coming here, but I'd do the same thing if I were in their situation.

So what should we do? Make it easier for them to come across legally, just make sure they aren't carrying small pox or something that we have eliminated in this country. Let 'em in and let 'em work and lets share our wonderful capitalistic system that creates wealth to help people beyond our borders.

Anonymous said...

Is this the Justin we all know and love? Are you running a fever? Very good points made by you!
Your Lawyer Friend.

Anonymous said...

You and Scott Adams (the author of Dilbert) share the prestige of my shortlist of favorite blogs.

His recent posting proves my integrity in really, really, appreciating you both. INdulge as I quote him here:

Illegal Immigration
I can’t decide what to think about the illegal immigration problem in the U.S. I suppose I could spend an afternoon using Google to find the arguments on all sides. But I feel it would be like searching for diamonds in my cat’s ass: I believe, without evidence, that all I will find is crap.

Let’s test that prediction.

We can begin by putting illegal immigration in context. Do a little Google search and…the total spending of the government for 2006 was about 2,696 billion, according to this source:

Google again and… the cost to the government of illegal immigration (after subtracting out the extra tax income) was about 10 billion in 2002, according to this self-described non-partisan think tank:

Let’s pump that cost up to 15 billion in 2006 just to be generous. Then do the math, and we see that immigration is about six-tenths of one percent of the budget. It’s not a big percentage, but it’s still more than most people want to pay to give social services to uninvited visitors.

But are those numbers anywhere near accurate? How the hell do you count the number of illegal aliens who are successfully blending in and paying taxes and buying milk at the corner store? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the concepts of “successfully hiding” and “I counted you” appear to be in direct conflict.

And what about the financial impact that illegal immigrants have on inflation? If they are taking jobs from legal residents, they are also keeping the average wages down. What’s the net financial impact of that? Does it hurt the country as a whole, or does it redistribute the benefits away from job seekers and toward consumers, the same way Walmart does?

I suppose I could research all of those questions and get answers. But I wouldn’t trust them. Nor would I trust that building a fence around the country would work. It seems to me that all it would do is make tunneling more popular. If you think a fence would keep the illegal immigrants out, you have to believe they aren’t willing to work extra hard to get what they want. That would be, like, the opposite of the average illegal immigrant personality. I think the first wave would chew a hole in the wall with their teeth. Or swim here. Or catapult.

Then there are the intangibles. How can you dislike someone who takes a big risk to better his family’s life, works incredibly hard at a productive job, and wants to live in your country? Are we really better off with fewer people of that character? I’d be amazed if the kids of illegal Mexican immigrants don’t become unusually successful entrepreneurs in a generation.

What’s the net? Beats me. That’s why I don’t vote.

Truth, Justice, and the American way. That makes you and Scott SUPERMEN in my book

God bless you, Larry

Steve, a grateful admirer

justin said...

I tried to tell you I'm not a Republican. I disagree whole heartedly with a lot of their policies... I just disagree with more of the democrats policies than the republicans, so people like to lump me together with them.

I guess you could say I'm a classic liberal.

PJGoober said...

We seriously need to focus on helping the hispanics and blacks we already have before we import millions more hispanics. Both groups NEED help. But money to help the less fortunate is finite (progressive policies do not change that fundamental finiteness). We can choose to have a big hispanic population that we have at least half a chance in hell of uplifting, or a gigantic hispanic population with far less of a chance for them or poor blacks ever getting out of the underclass:

“Longest, Largest” study of the children of immigrants yet conducted, by Alejandro Portes of Princeton and Ruben Rumbaut of UC Irvine:

“Differences in arrest and incarceration rates are also noteworthy, particularly among second-generation, U.S.-born, males. While only 10 percent of second-generation immigrant males in the survey had been incarcerated, that figure jumped to 20 percent among West Indian and Mexican American youths.”

“The researchers found that children of Laotian and Cambodian Americans as well as Haitian Americans had the lowest median annual household income at just over $25,000. They were followed closely by Mexican American families, which had a median annual household income of about $30,000. On the other end of the spectrum, children of upper-middle-class Cuban exiles in Southern Florida reported a household income of more than $70,000, and Filipino Americans in Southern California had more than $64,000, followed by Chinese immigrants.”

Also, see this:
“Coming US Challenge: A Less Literate Workforce”