Monday, May 9, 2016

Round ‘em Up and Ship ‘em Out!

Donald Trump has pledged, dreamers (who’ve never really lived anywhere else) or not, taxpayers or unproductive, acculturated or criminal, he’s shipping 100% of undocumented aliens – Europeans, Asians, etc. but about half are Mexicans (80% are from all of Latin America) – out of the country. Eleven million give or take. About 3.5% of the entire population or slightly over 8% of the workforce.
A gargantuan task that will require massive (and very expensive) levels of manpower from state and federal law enforcement agencies and perhaps even the military. Or perhaps just a huge restaffing of border patrol agents. Once out, they can apply to be readmitted… another gargantuan task that will require massive restaffing of embassies and consulates the world over. Assuming we even are willing to entertain the thought of letting any back in. Oh sure, there will be mistakes, more than a few American citizens will be swept up and out, and probably more than a few casualties along the way, but that’s a price the Donald and his constituents are most willing to pay… with the lives of others.
But what about what the rest of us will pay? Admittedly liberal Keith Olbermann, writing for the (April 25th), drills down into some of the economics we are likely to face. “For the moment, let's brush past the morality and the ethics and the economic impact, and the resultant $20 tomato and the nationwide repetition of the year Georgia expelled all its ‘illegals’ and had nobody to harvest the crop, and $140m… of it rotted in the fields, and the sheer Sisyphean nature of the thing (so - you get them all out of here and none of them ever come back because [of the] wall, even though they might think of coming back because [of the] tunnel)…
I'm positing something outlandish, almost to the point of being science fiction, but I truly believe that those who live here under constant threat of exposure and removal, doing the worst jobs, for the lowest pay, almost always outside the most minimal protections of the law and the lawmen, would not respond to a Trump administration ‘deportation force’ like kids caught in a game of hide-and-seek. They might, you know, resist.

 “But let's say I'm wrong. Let's say 11 million people here do choose - in Mitt Romney's gloriously naive phrase – ‘self-deportation.’ No hesitation, no resistance, no struggle, no relatives hiding them, no documented immigrants or birthright citizens standing up for them. Just ‘Exit, stage right.’ How is Trump going to pull even that trick off?... “To date Trump has offered only two details:

“He would have a ‘Deportation Force.’ But don't worry, because he adds, ‘You would do it humanely.’… His policy website (OK, policy-under-construction page) indicates he would ‘triple the number of immigrations and customs enforcement agents.’ Well, that's dandy. Right now the three government agencies that would seem to constitute Trump's posse (US Customs and Border Protection, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services) combine to employ a little fewer than 100,000 people. Even though this number includes not just actual border personnel but also the guys who keep out illegal plants and vegetables and stuff, we'll count them all as ‘agents.’ A Trump trebling gives us 300,000 ‘immigrations and customs enforcement agents’ - to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants… That's a ratio of 37 immigrants per agent…

“If the entire expulsion process from round-up to judicial acquiescence and appeal was somehow sped up to an average of six months, and it somehow required a ratio of just one agent per immigrant, Trump's "Deportation Force" would be on pace to be able to clear them all out some time in the year 2035. If for some reason it took longer, or you kept the speed but found you needed say, three agents to give these people their parting gifts, including a home version of The Trump Entertainment Resorts Collector's Edition Monopoly Game, the process wouldn't be over until around the election of 2072.

“Even if these wildly optimistic numbers turned out to wildly underestimate the American spirit to throw out the newest arrivals in fear that they somehow endanger the penultimate arrivals, the absolute best-case scenario still stretches out over a decade. ICE (an acronym for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement - a name almost as bad as Homeland Security) claims it could deport 400,000 undocumented immigrants a year. Apply Trump's triple formula not just to the staffing but to the results and it's still 2027 before the last of them is gone, and again this presumes nobody puts up a fight, nobody tries to come back, and nobody new tries to get in.

So what do you do with all of them between now and 2027, 2035, or 2072? You'd need to keep them somewhere.

“I mean, physically, you can't throw 11 million people out of the country at the same time. Especially if there's a wall there. 11 million is a little less than the population of Ohio. ‘OK, Ohio, everybody out of the pool!’ doesn't work.

“You'd need to keep them somewhere.
Detention camps.
Processing camps.

“Perhaps 10 huge camps, each big enough to house the population of Dallas. Or 20 smaller camps, including one for the estimated 500,000 undocumented workers in New York City alone - a population larger than that of the New York borough of Staten Island.

“And around the beds, hurricane fences, barbed wire, guard towers, detainees arriving via train in some empty corner of Wyoming - all the dystopian details we've seen unfolding at the refugee/migrant camps in Calais and Greece and throughout Europe - would be a particularly American touch: a lovely redux of the imagery of World War Two Japanese internment - or worse.”

Meanwhile, crops would remain unharvested by the billions of dollars worth per annum. States that have tried to eliminate undocumented pickers have found that there didn’t seem to be an hourly wage that could attract American workers. Even when the U.S. unemployment rate hit 10% during the Great Recession, even as the United Farmworkers invited U.S. citizens to apply for the jobs held by roughly 500 thousand farmworkers, mostly undocumented, they represent, they found a paltry 4,000 U.S. citizens were willing to apply and that most of those that actually accepted the work (a fraction of that number), even at $100/day, left after a week or less. Americans don’t like the back-breaking work of picking crops or some of those hand-digging and nasty construction jobs. We don’t like to be housekeepers or dishwashers either. So what will it take to harvest those crops? $200/day? More? And exactly what will that do to the cost of food, restaurants, housekeepers, child care, construction?

Extreme politicians tell us that “illegals” cost this country $338 billion in government services per year. If that were true, it would pay to get rid of them all. But according to, the cost of undocumented aliens on welfare, for example is pretty low, about $10.4 billion, $2.5 billion in Medicaid, $1.9 billion in school lunches, $17 billion in public school costs, but numbers to be sure but far, far less than the touted numbers.

The Congressional Budget Office could not come up with a solid number but concluded that most of the estimates determined that illegal immigrants impose a net cost to state and local governments but ‘that impact is most likely modest.” “A Department of Justice report from 2003 found that only 1.6 percent of the state and federal prison populations was under Immigration and Customs Enforcement jurisdiction, and thus known to be illegal immigrants. Half of these prisoners were detained only because they were here illegally, not for other crimes.” But what value do they add to our country? (January 28, 2013) tells us that these undocumented folks pay over $11 billion in federal income tax a year, that they have added over $1.5 trillion to the overall U.S. economy over the past decade and that just making the dreamers legal here would add an annual $329 billion to our economy. Just playing out the numbers tells you that the economic value brought in by undocumented workers vastly exceeds the cost.

Instead, some of our politicians want to to get rid of undocumented aliens, risk leaving crops rotting in the fields, spurring skyrocketing food and construction costs for us all plus the massive costs required to deport them. Clearly, these silly goals are not yet the official policy of the GOP, but in the end, we do need to secure our borders and create a sensible immigration policy, much like that supported by the entire family of Bush Republicans.

I’m Peter Dekom, and somewhere I remember my mother telling me not to cut off my nose to spite my face.

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