30 Issues: Immigration

Monday, October 15, 2012

30 Issues in 30 Days is our election year series on the important issues facing the country this election year. Today: The future of immigration and immigrants in America. Visit the 30 Issue home page for all the conversations.

Open Prep: Questions, Articles, and Links to Get You Started

Key Questions

  • How many immigrants should the U.S. admit?
  • What are all the visas and who obtains them?
  • What is the impact of the DREAM Act and deferred action?

What are your key questions on this topic? Post them below and get the conversation going!



Got a Follow Up?

Each Friday we'll be following up on one of that week's issues. Got a particular follow-up question from this conversation? Comment below or tweet us. 

Comments [48]

Premier Visas from London

These are useful lines where you have mentioned about immigration. I have read it two times. Premier Visas

Jan. 11 2013 03:54 AM
Friday's Show : Self fulfilling skills gap myth from Please discuss

There are many very smart well trained US citizen
in the areas of science, technology, engineering
and math who are - unjustly unemployed.

Their job applications are often thrown out (by computer)
because of lack of RECENT RELEVANT EXPERIENCE (because
they're unemployed). They are perfectly able and willing
to do the work. A few may need some minor on-the-job
retraining, but many dont. There is an AGEIST assumption
that older (and unemployed) engineers lack CURRENTLY APPLICABLE
skills this is arrogant discrimination.

The CORNELL CALLER gives an example of the HARMFUL
ARROGANT assumptions of the successful - they assume
that others LACK ability. This is a lie.

Many are well educated and skilled - BUT IF YOU NEVER




It may be cheaper for Cornell (and mean that they don't
have to provide some minor on-the-job training) but it


Oct. 16 2012 02:05 PM
eleniNYC from Jackson Heights

NABNYC brought up some salient points, among which include awarding amnesty and greencards, and yes, citizenship to immigrants who follow the rules and should be rewarded for doing so. That includes where the employer or company sponsors iummigrants toward their status. Especially those immigrants who have NO felony charges and respect the laws of the US which include filing Fed. and State taxes at the end of every year-- Thomas Pinch is correct when he insists that these people exist!! I can tell you they really do exist and they live in my neighborhood. And they don't expect a handout.
What I find humorous is that the Right is very hung up on the notion that the founding fathers, who, wrote the first 10-15 Amendents, were very nativist in their thinking, America for the "Americans". But NOTHING could be further from the truth. IN TRUTH: the Founding Fathers were very much in favor of immigration and immigrants. Another factoid/ TRUTH: the US has NO OFFICIAL LANGUAGE. This was another brilliant idea by the founding fathers. Another poster mentioned Republicans: Free market economy = illegal immigrants are always available to these types of job creators. Typically, Free Market Enterprise has a tradition of exploiting vulnerable illegal workers who are mostly skilled laborers and not attached to a labor union therefore translate as cheap labor.
As for skilled educated workers, perhaps if this country actually valued education, as well as reinstating financial aid to the working middle class; then perhaps we would NOT need to import educated skilled technicians.
Lastly, Wall Street is known to hand-out H1-B visas to it's bankers and accountants from other countries.

Instead of talking around the topic, Repub. and Dems. are going to need to stop denying the fact that there is a 300lb. gorilla occupying Wall Street and Wall Street is just as guilty, if not more than, as others.

Oct. 15 2012 10:12 PM
Dave Francis from Indianapolis, IN

You understand if the Tea Party fails the liberal progressives will demand and get America to:
• Disarm; Throw open our borders; Delete our heritage; Lose our exceptionalism. KEEP PRESSING FOR THE OBHORRENT “Political Correctness”.
The world will demand our nation be divided, property seized for the greater good, the rich stripped of their wealth and dignity and some prosecuted for their open use of the free enterprise system. The media will be exalted into King-makers as wise sages of truth and world guidance. Heaven help us all. That’s not the world I want and I WILL RESIST, but will you? Are you with US? Can we count on you to vote against a President with irregularities in his past? I just have no idea what to think, but something stinks about Barack Obama and generally I am not a person who besought to conspiracy theorists?

Oct. 15 2012 09:36 PM
Carol from Manhattan

I worked in health care for 35 years. When I retired from clinical practice I came to work for a Government Medicaid over-site department of NYS. I was very disappointed today that the conversation about immigration neglected to mention the cost of health care to our society for the families of immigrants. Many of the immigrants bring their aging parents to this country after they have settled.The health care systems from their country of origin are often poor. As a consequence the parents often have chronic diseases that were poorly managed and are now very costly to treat.
I was also interested in the comments made by one of your guest about the unique problems of NYC immigration. I would be interested in learning more on this subject.

Oct. 15 2012 08:12 PM
Dave Gorak from Wisconsin

Mr. Lehrer:

Thank you so much for devoting time to the subject of our immigration numbers that for the most part are ignored by the mainstream media. If the American public in general were exposed to these numbers cited by Roy Beck, I'm sure that Congress would have a very difficult time continuing its cavalier attitude toward millions of our unemployed citizens and legal residents.

Oct. 15 2012 03:27 PM
Hoffman from Long Island, NY

Seth Pickenstiff
Please ask Mr. Beck if he is in favor of Smaller Government (tm), and how all the money required to stop illegals fits into this.

We have solders all over the peaceful parts of the world. Without spending an additional penny, we have those Troops to guard our Southern Border and kill with extreme prejudice.

Long Island is getting sucked dry with this Nanny State paying out Welfare to Immigrants. The same immigrants that are extremely arrogant and want Americans to speak THEIR foreign language as they argue about 'their entitlements'.

Oct. 15 2012 03:05 PM
Hoffman from Long Island, NY

Until We have 100% unemployment we do not need outside help.
The garbage that the Formal Educators are pushing in the US is the reason we have a country of " I wont do that". The Formal educators are brainwashing our kids with 'We all need to go to college to be doctors and lawyers'. Not true why aren't they teaching " If you do a good job it doesn't matter where you work." The we wont have this influx of Border jumping Criminals. I'm tired of American kids getting the short end of the stick as foreigners get to the front of the line. College classroom as well as State Welfare. Why is it I have to pay taxes for additiona English Second Language Teachers when my kids NEEDED to pass a Comunications test before entering Kindergarten???? Nope, no more None Assimilating outsiders. As we said as kids choosing up sides for a sport. "GAtes are closed"

Oct. 15 2012 02:58 PM

1. No immigrants should be allowed to enter the U.S. if our national unemployment exceeds 6%. Immigration should only be allowed if it is reasonably certain the immigrants can be absorbed into the economy without forcing down wages, benefits, working conditions, or increasing unemployment of Americans. It is not liberal to give your neighbor's job away.

2. No h1b visa workers (engineers, tech workers, nurses) should be allowed into the U.S.. If we need more nurses, build more nursing schools. When foreign workers are imported, it always has the effect of pushing down wages, benefits, working conditions. Nurses' incomes are stagnant precisely because nurses are imported en masse from third world countries. Doctors, hospitals, drug companies incomes have skyrocketed. Let them their cut their income and pay nurses more, and you will have an endless supply of Americans rushing to get a nursing degree. Same with tech workers, engineers.

3. All unauthorized migrants are, and should be, subject to deportation. Long-term residents should qualify for amnesty if they meet certain criteria such as no felony convictions, and a history of employment. Short-term residents have no equitable or other grounds to claim special treatment, and should be deported. All children who were under 14 when they were brought here should become lawful temporary residents, with 5 years after receiving the status or after the age of 18 to become a citizen if they want to. If they don't want to, they should be deported.

4. Employers should be required to use an e-verify or similar system for all employees. Employees with legal status should be able to get cards with fingerprints which can be confirmed electronically to avoid fraud. Any employer who fails to comply should be fined $10,000 for each such employee. Per day.

5. Obviously, we need strict border control. The influx of unauthorized migrants is not a good thing for our country. We allow more immigrants than any other country in the world. Immigration should always be limited to the number of people that can reasonably be absorbed into the country without causing major disruption to any community. The rights of our citizens should always come first.

6. It is also important to keep in mind that a non-citizen has no right to come to the U.S. The only rights are those of the citizens of this country. An immigrant is a person that we invite to join us, but the decision of how many to invite must be based solely on the best interests of the citizens of this country.

7. Refugees are always treated differently. Every nation has a duty to accept a certain number of refugees (people fleeing well-founded fear of persecution in their own country), separate from the issue of immigration of other people.

Oct. 15 2012 01:23 PM
Thom from Manhattan

@ hjs11211
"damisi from Manhattan
your wife is not paying enough.
she is grabbing 2 outsiders for the price of 1 american and putting the rest in her pocket"

Having a lab at Cornell in Manhattan, I assume that damisi's has NIH funding for her projects that also fund the salaries of her trainees. There are NIH mandates for the salaries of students and postdoc fellows, so the salaries are the same according to rank and experience, irrespective of the origin of the student/fellow. So, no, that person does not pocket the rest as you so venomously imply.
I also work in a NYC medical centre, and come from Canada, having finished my PhD in Britain. I can actually attest that the majority of labs in our Institute have postdoc fellows who come overwhelmingly from Europe and Asia. Born and bred Americans are few and far between. Most recently our new recruited faculty members (Assistant Professors) also come from abroad, again Europe and Asia, though they all had postdoc training in the US.
You may draw your own conclusions from this

Oct. 15 2012 12:47 PM
Travis from Hackensack

What about the evidence of Australia, who eliminated recessions by being a stable government with lots of immigration and population growth. People want to invest where demand is GOING to be. I think America is a lot closer to Australia than it is Japan in terms of population growth and more immigration would help. More people is MORE demand and that means more jobs. Especially the jobs that the most vulnerable people have

Oct. 15 2012 11:58 AM
Susan from Manhattan

Given what I've seen in the decline in the science based education in California where I was born I can see where it would be hard to find qualified workers in laboratories as mentioned by damisi.

One of my friends who is a civil engineer complains about how students at the University of California have difficulty completing their programs because the cutbacks in funding have reduced the offering of courses.

Now that I am touring high schools with my son here in New York, I'm finding that the GENERAL science education that I had in a completely regular normal high school in California with a good basic chemistry course with a real fume hood and a physics lab with equipment in the 1970s do not exist except in the specialized and screened schools. Even one of the so-called science schools didn't have a fume hood in their chemistry lab.

My son is lucky enough to have grown up in a good neighborhood and since I went to college he will have the parental support that I didn't had so he WILL get into a good school. But as one parent joked on one of the tours was that the ridiculous process of applying to high schools in New York that the screening was really just to funnel most of the resources to the 1% of students.

I also noticed that only ONE high school that we toured have toured so far had the classes that I took in high school (I was the only girl to do so) in drafting, architecture and woodwork. Unless the cheating scandal suppresses applications to that school -- it is also the school that touts itself as being the top school.

The race for the top isn't really producing more competitive students. It is merely restricting resources to a smaller pool of students who have to compete harder for those scarce resources.

Oct. 15 2012 11:47 AM

hjs1121 -- is there a reason she should pay more than she needs to?

the education american workers need is to 1. eat rice 2. save the $$, then drive the pickup back to some 3rd world country and live like a king.

no more to it.

Oct. 15 2012 11:45 AM

Your guest is ridiculous!!! He is basing his whole argument on one study. I think there needs to be many studies on this issue. Furthermore, he is saying that we should continue this trend of rewarding people who only have a high school degree or very little education. We need to up the education leve and create a skilled and intelligent workforce. This is no longer the 1950s!

Oct. 15 2012 11:44 AM
ethan from bk

couldn't agree with your guest more about the real wages vis-a-vis new york. new york is, and there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this, a city for the ultra-rich and the young and restless. and of course the people who sort of just ended up (or started) there and don't know any better (i.e. that elsewhere in the country there are $600 / month apartments that have windows, safe neighborhoods, human-sized spaces, and no roaches).

Oct. 15 2012 11:44 AM
Ron Fletcher

The man commenting about no one qualified for the Cornell jobs is making a point for not letting these high qualified immigrants in...if we let them in, we don't need to spend on education. More profit for business with less need for taxes. If we force Cornell to actually EDUCATE people for these jobs or not do them...we get education for the smart people of this country.

Oct. 15 2012 11:43 AM

damisi from Manhattan

your wife is not paying enough.
she is grabbing 2 outsiders for the price of 1 american and putting the rest in her pocket

Oct. 15 2012 11:42 AM
Ali from New York City

I think the views of your guest are extremely outdated and borderline racist. Strict immigration policies will deter smart minds in the fields of math and science from coming to our country and developing new technologies and new businesses.

Oct. 15 2012 11:41 AM
Thomas Pinch

"illegals dot pay taxes." -- this is just a flat out lie! Illegals pay sales taxes, some pay payroll taxes under false SS#s, and even property taxes. What they don't do is collect Social Security, Unemployment, and other govt hand outs. Our govt actually makes a profit on Illegals. Please.

Oct. 15 2012 11:41 AM
ray in wesetchester from Westchester

All the developed countries in the world are suffering from low birth rates and therefore population is either static or declining, ala Japan, Italy,etc. This stagnation has created a host of problems for these nations such as declining young work force.

The US has not had this problem because of the immmigration policy which basically encourages immmigration and provides a pathway for becoming a US citizen. For the national health, keep the doors open or better still make is attractive for the best and the brightest to come here!

Oct. 15 2012 11:40 AM

how does one get a job without papers?

Oct. 15 2012 11:39 AM
Vane Lashua from Beacon, NY

How about having immigrants perform some sort of national service for a couple of years, eg armed services, agricultural work, other sorts of slavery? Just like all our citizens should do. And then require citizenship for any federal aid.

Funny how "free market" Republicans oppose "free market" immigration.

Oct. 15 2012 11:39 AM

Why hasn't the US expedited the immigration process for those who want to open small businesses, like Canada did recently?

Oct. 15 2012 11:37 AM

illegals dot pay taxes. DEPORT!

Oct. 15 2012 11:36 AM
RJ from prospect hts

The United Farm Workers union had a campaign called "Take My Job" in which they offered to train and find jobs for anyone willing to work in the fields. They got about 30 responses and only a handful stuck with it. Stephen Colbert featured it by participating in it--in his character's usual style. Their point: *if* Americans don't want these backbreaking jobs, then the people who do them should have good working conditions and good wages, and the same labor protections as native US workers.

Oct. 15 2012 11:35 AM
Katherine Jackson from LES

I just wonder when Roy Beck's ancestors came to the U.S. Did they're coming here "hurt the job prospects of American citizens?" Everyone in this country is from a family of immigrants. What gives Mr. Beck the right to keep others out now that he's here?

Oct. 15 2012 11:34 AM
Stu from NJ

Why do conservatives harken back to "the founding fathers" on gun control and other right-favored issues, but only to the 50s/60s/70s when they talk about immigration? If folks want to curtail immigration, I'd like to hear an honest, conceptual argument as to why (on this issue) we are now a different nation, and that the former nation built by immigrants should be defacto restricted to smart, rich people from other so-called Western nations?

Oct. 15 2012 11:33 AM

There are many jobs that Americans are unwilling to do, even when paid a decent wage. Ask Alabama farmers why their vegetables rotted on the vine because they couldn't find people to pick them after their state scared off the immigrant population with harsh new laws.

Oct. 15 2012 11:33 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, many of the jobs currently filled by immigrants can certainly be filled by trained, fairly compensated native borns.

Oct. 15 2012 11:33 AM
damisi from Manhattan

this current guest is overlooking the fact that there are over 3 million jobs that are going unfilled in this country because Americans are not qualified to take them.

My wife runs a lab at Cornell in the city and can't find enough Americans candidates so she imports because the work has to get done.

Oct. 15 2012 11:32 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I like this idea of lowering the immigration levels. Right now, we have 320 million people in this country and we are thus far unable to cope with the problems of all of them. Why we need additional people in the country, I don't understand.

In any event, we should not be offering amnesty to illegal aliens. Anyone who wants to immigrate to this country needs to do it legally. They should leave and come in the front door, but knock first.

Oct. 15 2012 11:31 AM

Daniel, I am one of the idiots who assumed they were baseless stereotypes who left NYC and moved to such a place. Stereotypes, maybe (although I hadn't really heard them before).

Baseless? I only wish, believe me. I only feel sorry for those who make the same mistake, and then can't escape back into a bubble of some kind or another.

Oct. 15 2012 11:31 AM

Jerry from NYC, have you by chance gone down to the welfare offices to see who is collecting entitlements? Where do you get your info from? I doubt you could find a single reputable source to assert your fantasy.

But, you are partly right: Illegal immigrants work the jobs they do because they don't have valid documents; when they get citizenship they can move on to better jobs, better education, better health, and all the benefits of full participation in our society, which many of us take for granted.

Oct. 15 2012 11:30 AM

Drew: That is all part of the PC globalization imagery. SHHHHH on the fact that many many Americans would thankfully fill the jobs that the Mexicans do now for minimum wages - you can't let people know that college kids have debt or that older workers who were kicked to the curb in the recesion might want to earn their bread!!!

Oct. 15 2012 11:27 AM

what skills can’t americans be trained to provide?

Oct. 15 2012 11:27 AM
Seth Pickenstiff

Please ask Mr. Beck if he is in favor of Smaller Government (tm), and how all the money required to stop illegals fits into this.

Oct. 15 2012 11:26 AM

Good questions Brian -- I only wish they were directed at a CURRENT Mexican authority.

Perhaps along with a Chinese and European authority for contrast and common ground.

Oct. 15 2012 11:24 AM
Jerry from nyc

The illegals do work they do today because they do not have valid documents here, when they get legal status they start heading for welfare offices to collect their entitlements.

Oct. 15 2012 11:22 AM
Drew from Brooklyn

One problem I notice on Wall Street are how many H-1B visas are given out to foreigners to work for the big banks when there are plenty of college educated Americans out of work or underemployed.

Oct. 15 2012 11:21 AM

Swords_not_ploughshares, none of the things you listed are qualities of immigrants in general, nor against any particular requirement to be "American." They are baseless stereotypes.

Do you fault Americans with Irish heritage for referring to Ireland as their homeland? How about Italians? Or is it only Spanish-speaking Americans?

America has no official language, and you should be proud of that. It's one of the greatest things about our country.

Oct. 15 2012 11:18 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, all Americans are immigrants -- except Natives and native-born blacks. But does this mean the borders should be arbitrarily slung open? Or should immigration policy be deliberate and strategic?

Also, the notion of a "demand" for low-wage labor is likely a canard, with the "demanders" being members of the capital class advocating for increased income inequality. We could use an entire segment dedicated to this issue.

Oct. 15 2012 11:18 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

How does Mexico treat illegals from Central and South America? Not very well, and certainly not as generously as the US afford illegals.

Oct. 15 2012 11:17 AM
Wen Mei from Manhattan

So to stop the threat of mexican illegal immigration we should just open up their legal immigation to whatever numbers necessary necessary?! Huh?! And at the expense of other immigrants?! I think not.

Oct. 15 2012 11:14 AM
Daniel from Germany

As an American _emigrant_, I say we greatly relax the immigration restrictions---at least for temporary stays (a few years).

I work in a field that is fairly international with people moving countries every few years, and my colleagues avoid the U.S. because they know it can be hard to get a visa, and once they have it their entrance and exit of the country can be restricted, their spouses might not be allowed to work, etc.

Oct. 15 2012 11:14 AM

There are two kind of immigrants -- those who appreciate and respect the nation of the United States -- and those who are contemptuous takers.

The second group does not bother learning English, refers to a foreign place as "their country" and seeks to scam the big, stupido taxpayer -- whether it's:

- not feeding your kids breakfast or lunch, and not picking them up from school (counting on gringo suckers to feed them/babysit beyond school hours),
-using fake drivers' licenses (& thereby driving without knowing road laws, wreaking havoc in your neighborhood),
- then telling Americans that soon enough the US will be speaking Spanish and it's their duty to have as many kids as possible and let their demographics do the work,
-"buying" houses, converting them into squats, not paying the mortgage, buying SUVs against the houses, then right before repossession stripping the copper and selling it for a few grand before driving the SUV to another place and doing the same "job."
These are examples of the norm, for some reason not even discussed by the Media Elite.

It might be hard for New York City dwellers to relate or believe the above b/c of the unique bubble the city has become. But In CT, NY and NJ and all over the USA whole towns are being gutted.

I couldn't care less about illegal vs. legal, frankly. What isn't right are non-US citizens believing breaking the tradition of centuries of immigration, and using themselves not as plough shares but as swords.

If I vote for Obama, it will be because he refused to say yes to the GOP 1%ers, who would like nothing more than a country-full of low-wage workers no rights or sense of citizenship to do their various tasks.

Oct. 15 2012 11:14 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Clearly your guest doesn't care about legalities. I hope that criminality is not an inborn trait. Mexico and the US are two separate countries, divided by a border that was set in 1847. No one has the right to illegally enter either way. That is aggression. That is invasion.

Oct. 15 2012 11:13 AM

um, europeans have a difficult time immigrating here now and latinos, indians and asians come in droves. Nothing is fair today. And this clown saying large legal immigration from mexico makes sense, because otherwise they would just sneak in illegally is ridiculous.

Oct. 15 2012 11:13 AM

Who's to say "who" or "from where" or how many" should be allowed in? That goes up & down like a yo-yo! When we "need" cheep labor, we "import" immigrants, but temporarily. When that need subsides, we kick 'em out fast.
Our "founders" came here to escape Discrimination & then turn to become the Discriminators! & statistics show that not all Undocumented Immigrants come from Mexico (& are Mexicans) nor are they Terrorists! Too, many undocumented immigrants, of long ago, contributed much to help US grow.
From the first "Pilgrim" that stepped off a boat, some began to "warn" against unlimited immigration. The angst was & is always the same: " 'THEY' are not like 'US'." When the Irish came in it was: They are Catholic (papacy) & have an odd language; Germans: drank beer & loud singing; Italians: more Catholic (papacy) & "poisonous" foods (veggies); Jews: everything about them, their Religion, foods, & culture! & the same for the Asians, Arabs as well. Now it's South of the Border. At one point all were considered Low-Life's: ignorant, filthy, disease carriers, moochers, & n'er do wells.
Immigrants BUILT this nation, with their bare hands. They did the labor the "American's" wouldn't do; the grunt work, the hard & dangerous labor. Immigrants do not "take away jobs" - not the good ones! & many "Educated" immigrants aren't allowed to work in their fields, assumed not good enough, well trained enough to do.
Remember, ALL living here now - come from "foreign born Immigrants" - That is, unless you're one of the many Native Peoples who've been here for many thousands of years. Let's stop blaming immigrants for our ills. Get over your bigotry.

Oct. 15 2012 11:05 AM

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