Obama Calling the Right’s Bluff on Immigration?

Today marked another dubious day in this country’s immigration policy as a third Predator drone was added to patrol our shared border with Mexico.  The addition means that for the first time authorities will monitor the entire land border between the United States and Mexico.

The addition comes as part of the additional $600 million pledged by the Obama administration to beef up border security and as the immigration debate shows little sign of slowing down.

While many criticized the move by the administration as feeding into increased efforts to militarize the border and criminalize an entire population, taking a step back for a moment it begins to show some savvy politicking on the part of President Obama.  Many Republicans have gone on record saying that they will not even consider, let alone address, comprehensive immigration reform until there could be some guarantee of security along the border.  With constant, unbroken surveillance, it would appear that the next move is up to the Republicans.

The Predator flights also come on the heels of a very specific attack at the nature of immigration reform that has taken shape so far.  In addition to challenging, and largely winning that challenge, the constitutionality of Arizona’s SB 1070, the administration has taken other very public steps to differentiate its approach from the approach of many on the right. 

These steps include citing the federal challenge to Arizona’s immigration law to international authorities that the administration is serious about human rights abuses.  In a required report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the State Department pointed to that challenge as proof of tangible efforts that are underway to protect human rights. 

Needless to say Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer is not pleased.  She’s called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to retract the reference to her state’s immigration law and responded by challenging the federal government to secure the border.  Secretary of State Clinton had no response and now the Predator drones are flying constant surveillance to fully enforce immigration laws.

Gov. Brewer and others on the right, I believe it’s your move now.

photo courtesy of quinn.anya via Flickr


LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

John S.
John S.6 years ago

NOTE: I'm speaking of the rampant abuse of H1-B visas in Information Technology here...

The biggest thing I have yet to see answered is if the H1-B program is so necessary, why is it used on a lie? These arguments around all the innovations that laying off US workers brings are about as founded as the previous president pointing out that terrorism would have been worse had we not gone to war. You can point to what did happen, but not what might have or have not (as in there's no way to point to what the displaced worker may have envisioned).

This is PURELY about IT companies saving money. That is not to say there are no redeeming qualities of anyone on an H1-B, but the largest single user (Infosys) and overall, I believe second largest sector of companies using the H1-B, do not innovate. They code the requirements they're given.

As to the best and brightest, I may start becoming physically ill when I hear that phrase. Our own best and brightest are tossed aside to make room for others' so beyond creating a vacuum elsewhere, I don't see the net gain, beyond dollars.

There are fields where the more the merrier, but IT simply is not one. Bring your economic arguments, but set aside the tired cliches on which the program has been built.

Innovation in IT has virtually nothing to do with how many degrees you have. It doesn't detract, but it's anything but a pre-requisite. How many PhDs did the founders of all of these now touted companies have?

Judith S.
Judith S6 years ago

Please explain how a country with greater than 10% unemployment can have a "massive labor gap" if there were no immigrants. Do you really think all the unemployed Americans are too lazy to take those positions?

Vince D.
Vince D6 years ago


You quoted:

Here's a quote from the CATO institute on the subject: "a peaceful, hardworking 24-year-old in Mexico or Central America who knows of a job in the United States for which no Americans are available simply has no legal means of entering the United States.

BULL! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-2A_Visa

Your CATO institute is funded by the Koch brothers, the same folks funding the “tea party”. Here’s a good read for you…


Here is a clip of a seminar for HR folks on how not to find a US worker:


If this doesn’t make you puke, nothing will. I have seen this process in action as I described in a previous post.

You discount my experience as anecdotal, but I have quite a few contacts in various industries who have seen the same things happening.

Now if you would like me to look at your other sources, please post them. Your CATO Institute has an agenda, please post something objective.

By the way, I agree that we could have an efficient guest worker program with worker protections. The problem is that the employers do not want ANY worker protections.

Patrick K.
.6 years ago

To Vince,

To address your argument about H2A workers, you should note my original post where I explained that the data suggests these visas are severely underused for structural reasons, despite having no annual cap. Not only that, but they are technically only for seasonal agricultural employment, and certainly are not the pathway to documentation necessary to solve our problem with undocumented immigration.

Further, the only reason we appear to have enough low-skilled workers is because there are so many undocumented immigrants filling low-skilled positions. We either need to create a temporary work visa program for them or let them remain in the country undocumented. Otherwise we will end up with a massive labor gap.

I also want to point out something important- there was a fairly popular bill that actually passed the Senate in 2006 about immigration reform, which included a temporary work visa program, capped at 200,000 workers annually. This visa program was pushed heavily by former president Bush, the Democratic Party and the GoP, all recognizing the importance of low-skilled workers. It appears there are few policy experts who disagreed with the need for this kind of reform outside the House, which historically follows more closely with public opinion. The public's opinion, in this case, is illogical and tainted with racism and nativism that smacks of the dis-logic of the 1880's Chinese Exclusion Act.

Patrick K.
.6 years ago

To Vince,
I am not "parroting the corporate line," I am not a worker for a corporation, nor have I ever been. I am simply supporting the most logical side of the debate, judging by all the available evidence as I understand it (not simply one article whose study methods have been widely questioned). I'll give you an example from a critic of Mr. Matloff: "He discounts obvious data such as the overwhelming representation of Asians in engineering schools, science and math awards, significant achievements, and higher pay and education and test scores. In an age when American educators are turning to Asia and its superior academic performance, Mr. Matloff calls Asian education "harmful". Instead, he choses to "prove" that immigrants are culturally inferior, racist, underpaid, and implies that high tech would in fact be better without them. Indeed, he even slams the most successful companines, Intel and Microsoft which hire immigrants as "harmful to innovation" even though they deliver 90% of the world's desktop computers and software" (http://www.arthurhu.com/index/matloff.htm). This delivers a more comprehensive account of his various "studies'" failures and obvious biases. Further, your continued deference to your personal experience places too much value on anecdotal evidence and not enough on data. Regression analysis and a couple of stories about body shopping do not prove the H1-B system is forever flawed.

Vince D.
Vince D6 years ago

Patrick, regarding your response to Jim Steve,

There ARE visas for low skilled workers. H2A's are one example.

When I worked in Colorado, the ski areas brought in thousands of workers from all over the world for the season. A lot were from South America, many from New Zealand and Austrailia. Most were young folks that lived 6 to a condo and most of their pay went for rent. They often had second (illegal) jobs to make ends meet. They were here to have fun and really didn't care about the pay and the companies were very happy to exploit that fact.

There ARE paths to come here legally. Besides, do you imagine that we do not have enough "unskilled workers" in this country?

The fact is that greedy employers simply do not want to pay a wage that will attract an American worker, so they import foreigners. That is the bottom line.

Vince D.
Vince D6 years ago


Now if you want to fix the H1B system, here are a few ideas:

1) Reduce the number of H1B visas allowed, and allocate them by profession, based on need and employment levels..

2) Allow ONLY American companies to bid on these visas for candidates that they have identified to bring here. Auction them off! If these people are so great (and some are!) the companies will recognize their value and be willing to pay.

3) Require that the H1B visa employee be paid 1.25x the going rate for a comparable American in that geographic area. No using Iowa numbers to set pay in California as has been done.

There are simple solutions that would assure that the best get here, and that Americans get first crack at sorely needed jobs.

Vince D.
Vince D6 years ago


Norm Matloff has it right. Having worked in engineering, I personally know what is going on. So do many people that I know in the technical and business fields. You can parrot the corporate line all day, but that doesn’t chance the reality.

There were even immigration lawyers giving seminars to HR folks on how to beat the system! This “system” is working against Americans to depress wages. Period!

Do some of the “best and brightest” get shut out due to the cap? Sure! If the corporations were not bringing over so many of the “cheapest, entry level people”, there would be more room for the “best and brightest”. Yes, our guest worker system needs to be reformed!

We are not losing our competitive edge due to our immigration laws. We are losing our edge because our greedy short sighted corporate elite pad their bonuses by screwing American workers at every level. Jobs are being shipped to low cost countries, low cost workers are being shipped here. Either way, American workers lose, corporate bosses win. Considering who owns our government, it’s no wonder.