Bloomberg Talks Nonsense on Immigration

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg testifed before the Senate today in support of the Senate bill to allow illegal aliens to become legal permanent residents and citizens.  I strongly oppose this bill, but I recognize that plenty of smart people support some sort of "amnesty" as part of so—called "comprehensive immigration reform."  This is a very important debate that the country is having right now.

What surprised me about Mayor Bloomberg's testimony, however, was how ignorant and unreasonable it was (at least the parts reported in the media).

First, Bloomberg claimed that the nation's economy would "collapse" if all illegal aliens were deported.  This is obviously false, and nothing more than cheap scaremongering.

To begin with, illegal aliens represent no more than 3—5% of the overall labor force and are concentrated in lower—value service industries, like agriculture, restaurants, cleaning services, yard work, and domestics.  They are little represented in the core industries that make up the heart of the American economy, e.g., the automobile, aerospace, and energy sectors, banking and financial services, health care and pharmaceuticals, computers and communications, manufacturing, education, and entertainment.

Moreover, no one is proposing —— and it would be impossible, in any event —— to deport all illegal aliens.  While the numbers of deportations (and voluntary departures) would rise under a more vigorous immigration regime (which I support), this increase would happen over time.  Thus, there would not be a massive, immediate shock to the economy, but rather a more gradual adjustment process as higher—wage workers (citizens and legal immigrants) replace lower—wage illegal aliens.  While this adjustment process would have a greater impact in places like New York City and California where more illegal aliens are located, it would hardly cause the nation's economy to "collapse."  That is just absurd.

Mayor Bloomberg also stated, in response to concerns about the need to control the borders, that

"believing that increasing border patrols alone will achieve that goal is either naive and shortsighted or cynical and duplicitous.  No wall or army can stop hundreds of thousands of people each year." 

This statement, too, is obviously false.  Of course a "wall" and an "army" along our southern border would prevent hundreds of thousands of people from crossing into our country illegally.  How else does Mayor Bloomberg think they are going to get here?  They're not going to sneak in via airplanes or boats.   

The notion that effective border control is impossible is a liberal shibboleth without any basis in reality.  Indeed, open borders advocates, like Mayor Bloomberg, trot out this argument precisely because they know that stepped up border security will cut off the flow of illegal alien workers that they believe the economy needs.  Well, the American economy does not "need" illegal alien workers.  It may benefit certain businesses and individuals to have them here, but the country as a whole would do just fine with far fewer of them.  Mayor Bloomberg may be a very successful businessman, but he's out to lunch on this issue.

Steven M. Warshawsky  7 5 06

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg testifed before the Senate today in support of the Senate bill to allow illegal aliens to become legal permanent residents and citizens.  I strongly oppose this bill, but I recognize that plenty of smart people support some sort of "amnesty" as part of so—called "comprehensive immigration reform."  This is a very important debate that the country is having right now.

What surprised me about Mayor Bloomberg's testimony, however, was how ignorant and unreasonable it was (at least the parts reported in the media).

First, Bloomberg claimed that the nation's economy would "collapse" if all illegal aliens were deported.  This is obviously false, and nothing more than cheap scaremongering.

To begin with, illegal aliens represent no more than 3—5% of the overall labor force and are concentrated in lower—value service industries, like agriculture, restaurants, cleaning services, yard work, and domestics.  They are little represented in the core industries that make up the heart of the American economy, e.g., the automobile, aerospace, and energy sectors, banking and financial services, health care and pharmaceuticals, computers and communications, manufacturing, education, and entertainment.

Moreover, no one is proposing —— and it would be impossible, in any event —— to deport all illegal aliens.  While the numbers of deportations (and voluntary departures) would rise under a more vigorous immigration regime (which I support), this increase would happen over time.  Thus, there would not be a massive, immediate shock to the economy, but rather a more gradual adjustment process as higher—wage workers (citizens and legal immigrants) replace lower—wage illegal aliens.  While this adjustment process would have a greater impact in places like New York City and California where more illegal aliens are located, it would hardly cause the nation's economy to "collapse."  That is just absurd.

Mayor Bloomberg also stated, in response to concerns about the need to control the borders, that

"believing that increasing border patrols alone will achieve that goal is either naive and shortsighted or cynical and duplicitous.  No wall or army can stop hundreds of thousands of people each year." 

This statement, too, is obviously false.  Of course a "wall" and an "army" along our southern border would prevent hundreds of thousands of people from crossing into our country illegally.  How else does Mayor Bloomberg think they are going to get here?  They're not going to sneak in via airplanes or boats.   

The notion that effective border control is impossible is a liberal shibboleth without any basis in reality.  Indeed, open borders advocates, like Mayor Bloomberg, trot out this argument precisely because they know that stepped up border security will cut off the flow of illegal alien workers that they believe the economy needs.  Well, the American economy does not "need" illegal alien workers.  It may benefit certain businesses and individuals to have them here, but the country as a whole would do just fine with far fewer of them.  Mayor Bloomberg may be a very successful businessman, but he's out to lunch on this issue.

Steven M. Warshawsky  7 5 06