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  1. zaneoriginal

    zaneoriginal Member

    Jul 14, 2014
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    Denver, Colorado

    Immigration Debate in the US

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by zaneoriginal, Aug 24, 2014.

    For this thread I am referring largely to economic migrants from Mexico coming into the US.

    In the US the debate around illegal immigration is often described as between two major viewpoints. One arguing that undocumented workers are seeking economic opportunities to help themselves and their families while also filling vital roles in the workforce. The other arguing that undocumented workers become a drain of local welfare systems, pose a potential threat by bringing the problems of their home with them and suppress wages for local people.

    I think there are other sides to this that no one ever seems to talks about in great detail.

    What are the humanitarian consequences to the countries where these workers come from, and what are the industrial consequences to US companies from having large pools of low wage workers available.

    For the first point I would ask people to consider the following. When someone leaves their home country, they leave that countries economic system with the exception of money they may send back to their families. At least for the time they are gone. They basically take their work product from their home and bring it to the US. One may say this is no big deal since they send money back home. However I see two potential downsides.

    One that someone who may have started a business or built a piece of infrastructure in their home area, will instead expend their energies elsewhere. Simply put, the absent individual is helping to build up another community but not his own. For some one to leave their home and travel to a foreign land they have to have some level of initiative, and individuals with initiative are usually the one's that build their communities the most.

    Two, money coming into a community without an actual economic development inside that community is not always a good thing. When significant amounts of money come into an area from outside, prices in that area may often start to rise while the local employment market may not keep pace with wages and available positions. If the economic activity were taking place in that community then one would assume a larger portion of the community is getting paid and the wealth is flowing around the community more readily, but when some families are getting money without local activity, it may unbalance that local economy. It may even result in a situation which has occurred in some towns where the lure of money from foreign work outweighs the benefits of working locally, so much so that after a while a community's main economic driver is having its people leave that community. Sometimes indefinitely.

    This second item above also has the dire consequences of a family being entirely dependent on one or more family member sending home money while being in a situation that would not be conducive to maintaining strong family ties. A sad situation that has happened quite a bit is that a man with family back home comes to the US to work. He stays here for a long time sending money home, but being away from home so long he begins to establish another life in the US. Sometimes these individuals find themselves in new relationships and even new families which often results in them severing ties with their old family, sometimes suddenly leaving them without both the money they sent home and a primary provider for that family. This is not to say anything bad about these people, but simply acknowledging that they are human beings like anyone else and prone to the same conflicting desires that people in that situation often face.

    The second point regarding the impact on US industry is more straightforward. In my work I have been significantly exposed to companies of varying degrees of complexity in the work they perform. I would like to compare an example of a medical device manufacture and an agricultural produce processor.

    For the medical device manufacturer, thirty years ago they had a large work force involved in their production. The work ranged from semi skilled to very specialized. As time went on and finding workers to filled the semi skilled positions became more competitive they incrementally invested in automated methods for performing much of the semi skilled manual labor. Today, while they still employ a large body of semi skilled workers, a vast majority of the work originally performed by people is now done by machines. Their productivity is incredibly high, so much so that the economic benefits of keeping the manufacture of their products local has outweighed the benefits of moving oversees. For them, they could not necessarily employ large numbers of unskilled, sometimes seasonal workers, so the push to automate was much greater.

    For the agricultural produce processor, the situation was somewhat different. While they have employed a fair degree of automation of their process, this is generally limited to large bulk processes that could be easily automated with minimal changes to the process. They still employ a vast number of seasonal workers performing minimal skilled work. With a process that could make use of any able bodied person available for a limited time frame they made use of the large migrant worker population without the need to make a full time commitment to them. Having this large body of workers available means they haven't been forced to automate a lot of processes that could easily be done so but would require a long term financial investment. This has also resulted in a population of workers who only have only a limited time frame of guaranteed work before they either have to go home or move somewhere else to find work. The economic conditions of these people is not likely to greatly improve in the near future.

    An analogy might be drawn to parts of Europe that first started employing early forms of mechanisation after the black death had killed off significant parts of the population. In the short term it was a disaster but it would later plant the seeds for greater efficiency.

    In conclusion I would say that there are definitely a lot more variables at play here than just productivity and the availability of workers, but it would seem myopic to only look at this question in terms of providing someone a paycheck to send home. I do not imply to address questions of worker unionization or the humanitarian aspects of people escaping violence or persecution. It is also worth noting that the continued plague of criminal activity fueled by the drug trade is also a huge issue that needs to be addressed since these criminal organizations often hurt many forms of economic development through breaking down the rule of law and spreading fear.

    What I would like to point out is that much of the current national debate ignores the other aspects of the situation as it presently is, in specific, what are the long term potential negative affects of displacing people from their homes on the development of those places.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    As long as immigrant workers result in lower wages in some workforces chances are there are economic pressures on the federal government (via lobbyists) to do nothing. In addition solutions are hard to come by when the issue is being used as a propaganda tool. "Build the dang fence" for example was one of Tom McCain's campaign slogans and while it didn't quite work for him, it works for the Tea Party in general and many local politicians.

    The first step is to identify the underlying political pressures and get them out in the open.

    That includes the political issues we had and have influence over in the countries south of the border.
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