Immigration Reform-ATiM Style

I’ve been thinking about this post all week and trying to come up with a clever angle to get a discussion going.  After a few brief exchanges with some of you I realized that most of us probably support some variety of reform that leads to citizenship, so what’s there to discuss right?  One thing I’d like to understand more clearly is why some of you support open borders or how you think that would actually work in reality.   I’m also curious about what everyone thinks the chances are of the Senate bill passing first the Senate and eventually the House.  I’m not really expecting it to pass the House at this point but think it might squeak past in the Senate.  And also, at 844 pages with 300 amendments already offered isn’t it just another boondoggle anyway?

The first thing I had trouble finding was a good summary of the bill, I love you guys but I’m not willing to read that many pages of gobbledegook to come up with the gist of the bill.  I’m reading a book I’m really enthralled with right now and am not giving that up for ATiM.  The best summary I could find was Marco Rubio’s…………..funny huh?

Here are a few highlights:

This legislation contains the toughest border immigration enforcement measures in U.S. history. It is based on six required security triggers that must be achieved before the newly legalized are allowed to apply for green cards. These six triggers include:

1. Border Security Plan: DHS must create, fund and initiate a border security plan (within 6 months of bill’s enactment).

2. Border Fence Plan: DHS must create, fund & initiate a border fence plan (within 6 months of bill’s enactment).

3. Border Security Metrics: DHS must achieve 100 percent border awareness and at least 90 percent apprehension rates in high-risk sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border (within 5 years of bill’s enactment).

4. Border Commission: If DHS fails to achieve #3, a Border Commission of border state officials and stakeholders is required to create & implement a plan to achieve 100 percent border awareness and at least 90 percent apprehension rates in high-risk sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border (within 10 years of bill’s enactment).

5. Employment Verification: Universal E-verify must be implemented (within 10 years of bill’s enactment).

6. Exit System To Stop Visa Overstays: Visa exit system must be implemented at all international airports & seaports (within 10 years of bill’s enactment).

Conservative Economists Say Modernizing Our System Will Grow Our Economy And Create Jobs: The modernization of our legal immigration system will be a net benefit for America as we make historic reforms towards a more merit-based immigration system that will help us attract entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, skilled workers and people driven by the desire to build a better life for themselves and, in turn, create jobs for American workers.

Protecting American Workers: This bill protects American workers from unwarranted immigration for jobs that Americans are willing and able to do. For example, the proposal would not allow any work visas to be issued if the unemployment rate in a certain area is above 8.5 percent, which is the norm in many cities.

Highly Skilled Workers: After educating the world’s brightest and most innovative minds, we will no longer send them home to benefit competing economies like China and India; we will instead staple green cards to their diplomas. We will also expand the highly skilled H1-B visa program from 65,000 to 110,000 to fill jobs Americans can’t do. To accomplish the move to a more merit-based immigration system, we eliminate certain categories of family preferences that have allowed for chain migration and completely eliminate the diversity visa lottery, among other reforms.

Guest Worker Program: The bill establishes a guest worker program for lower-skilled workers that ensures our future flow of workers is manageable, traceable, fair to American workers, and in line with our economy’s needs. The modernization of our visa programs will ensure people who want to come legally – and who our economy needs to come legally – can do so.

Agricultural Worker Program: A new agricultural guest worker visa program would be established to ensure an adequate agricultural workforce to safeguard our food supply. This program will also allow current undocumented farm workers who have made a substantial prior commitment to agricultural work in the United States to obtain legal status.

And then it goes on to detail how the bill deals with the illegal immigrants here now.  It explains why it’s not amnesty, how they’re going to deny Federal benefits until certain criteria are met, what to do about children (dreamers) brought here unwittingly by their parents and how the path for  immigrants who came her illegally will be longer and more difficult than it is for those who chose the legal path.  There’s a lot in there, and you can tell where the compromises are.

Here are a few comments from various people here that I would love to hear more about and am also wondering what everyone thinks of the bill the gang of eight crafted.

Mark:  I am for need based immigration. I think we should permit immigrants with talent and skill to come here and apply for citizenship after five years. I think we should allow many more immigrants in toto than we do now. But I want them to actually learn American history and become acculturated and be fluent in English before they take their oath of citizenship. I want their knowing and proud allegiance to our country. And I don’t want extended family reunification – I want it limited to spouse and minor children.

I agree with George that immigrants are our lifeblood. But without selectivity, I believe we can get blood poisoning.

Brent:  On immigration, I am to the left of both parties. Our economy’s biggest growth came during periods of greatest immigration. While there is a correlation / causation issue there (were immigrants flocking to the US because the economy was great or were immigrants making the economy great?) I think we need an influx of young people to balance out the aging baby boom generation. Since we can’t go back and change fertility rates, well that leaves immigration.

McWing:  I’d give citizenship on day one, also, I wouldn’t have any language requirement though I would not publish anything official in anything other than English. A common language is important, IMO. And since I think the welfare state will collapse anyway, sure, let them have at it, though I dont think that is why the overwhelming number of immigrants come here, for welfare. I, perhaps naively, think they come here to live and work in a society who’s governent interferes in their lives less than where they came from. Also, they’ll be paying taxes, so the schools will be funded adequately. I hope the parents demand English only/immersion for their kids, to give them a fighting chance once they hit the working world. I don’t think the border states will be swamped, people move to where there are jobs, immigrants are no different.

Scott:  I am instinctively in favor of open borders and easy immigration. But that cannot coexist with the kind of welfare state that we now have. I suppose if you assume the welfare state as it exists must eventually collapse anyway, then accelerating it and getting on with the recovery process sooner rather than later makes sense. In which case open borders and immigration is even more attractive.

Perhaps more of you have weighed in and I missed it so I’m curious what the rest of you think and is there any chance that the Senate bill is a launching pad for the kind of reform each of you wants?  As a Californian with a keen interest in Mexico and it’s people I probably wouldn’t go as far as McWing, although I might be persuaded, but the bill looks a little constipated with stumbling blocks to me.

There’s been all sorts of coverage lately and I’ve read a lot of it but one of the most interesting to me was this email exchange Greg Sargent had a couple of days ago on Cornyn’s suggested compromise and perhaps thwarting Presidential aspirations:

This has put Marco Rubio in a box, and it needs to be acknowledged that Cornyn’s move really does threaten the prospects for reform. Frank Sharry, of the pro-immigration America’s Voice, explains why in an email to me:

“Cornyn is trying to box Rubio in, and if he does, we’ve got a problem.  Cornyn is taking dead aim at hardening the triggers – threatens the path to citizenship in a big way – in hopes of dragging Rubio to the right. The problem is that Rubio going right loses many Dems. Dicey moment. Cornyn stepped out in front with a proposal for more border security in way that undermines the path to citizenship. Rubio either goes with Cornyn — to look more conservative — and threatens the bipartisan core support for reform, or says no to Cornyn and looks weak, damaging the chance to get 15 Republicans to come in board.”

In other words, Cornyn has undercut Rubio by staking out a position much further to the right of the Gang of Eight compromise that Rubio had been taking.

I’ve read, in a variety of opinions, that the only way immigration reform will pass is if Republican leadership and the big donors want it to pass and they’ll have to pressure Boehner to put it up for a vote and hope the Democrats will get it across the finish line.  I can’t help but wonder if that would finally be the end of Boehner’s Speakership though.

Morning Report – Jobs report in line with expectations 6/7/13

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change Percent
S&P Futures  1631.1 8.4 0.52%
Eurostoxx Index 2695.6 19.4 0.72%
Oil (WTI) 94.28 -0.5 -0.51%
LIBOR 0.275 0.001 0.33%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 81.47 -0.067 -0.08%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.11% 0.03%  
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 102.2 0.1  
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 100.6 -0.1  
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 202.2 0.3  
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.98    


Markets are higher after the jobs report came in pretty much in line. Bonds and MBS are flat / down small.
The jobs report showed that nonfarm payrolls increased by 175,000 in the month of May, slightly higher than Street estimates (which were lowered after the ADP report). April was revised downward from 165k to 149k. The unemployment rate ticked up from 7.5% to 7.6% as the labor force participation rate ticked up from 63.3% to 63.4%. Earnings and workweek were flat. Since the report was pretty much in line with expectations,we aren’t seeing any big reaction in the markets.
Remember my question about mortgage rates on Wednesday? Basically how did the Bankrate average 30 year mortgage rate jump from 3.9% to 4.1% when the bond market was flat and we had a weak day in Fannie TBAs? Well, whatever it was, it has been reversed, as the Bankrate average 30 year mortgage rate fell 18 bps back to 3.98%. Strange.


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