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If Non-Freedom Economic Development Doesn’t Work… Try, Try Again

Those who find Rhode Island’s governance maddeningly self serving, obtuse, and inept might have difficulty getting past the opening portion of this Sunday column by Providence Journal Assistant Managing Editor John Kostrzewa:

The difficulty of matching unemployed workers with available jobs, a problem called “closing the skills gap,” has bedeviled Rhode Island governors for decades.

Despite spending millions of dollars, the state still has tens of thousands of out-of-work or underemployed people and thousands of employers who complain they can’t find the help they need.

Now, Governor Raimondo is trying again.

She and Scott Jensen, her hand-picked Department of Labor and Training director, have started a new effort, called Real Jobs Rhode Island, that puts the design of skills-training programs in the hands of business managers who know what they need, not state bureaucrats. They already have handed out $5 million in grants to 26 teams of private companies, nonprofits, educational institutions and industrial associations.

In other words, to the list of now-discarded pretenses that used to allow us to pretend that we lived under a representative democracy, we can add the idea that government can take economic development on as one of its core responsibilities without undermining our free marketplace of rights and opportunities. No longer is the State of Rhode Island pretending that it’s confiscating our money in order to improve our neighbors’ capabilities. No, having failed to educate the public and having restricted our ability to make the economy work, the state is now simply confiscating our money to let businesses shape the population to their own needs.

Of course, the businesses aren’t alone in this. Kostrzewa also cites some progressives studies in support of the idea that the state should shift even more of its emphasis toward catering to the immigrant population that it has been luring here in order to justify its many social service programs:

“We need more resources focused on helping adults learn English so they can gain skills they need to support their children’s education and so they can get better jobs,” said Mario Bueno, executive director of Progreso Latino, in the report.

The referenced report is by the Economic Progress Institute, which Kostrzewa strangely characterizes as simply a “nonpartisan research and policy organization based in Providence.” He could have added that the institute is housed with a sweetheart rental agreement at the public Rhode Island College, after having been birthed (if I’m not mistaken) with funding from the private nonprofit Rhode Island College Foundation, which is currently under scrutiny for helping Governor Gina Raimondo hire a cabinet member outside the reach of the state’s transparency and ethics laws. The institute has also received funding from the state government and, as Kevin Mooney reports, is among the left-wing organizations supported by the Rhode Island Foundation.

Incidentally, Progreso Latino is also on the Rhode Island Foundation’s list of grant recipients, but its funding comes mainly from state and local government, having received over $600,000 from the state last year and almost $900,000 from the federal government.


Government’s Unsurprising Preferred Demographic

Apparently for the first time, Bryant’s Hassenfeld Institute released detailed crosstabs from its most recent public-opinion survey. It’s interesting stuff.

Readers may have seen reports that Governor Gina Raimondo’s toll proposal is under water, with more people opposing it than supporting it. Republicans’ pay-as-you-go alternative is also under water, by even more, but the question may have caused that result with the phrase, “may take longer to repair the roads and bridges.” Given a list of four alternatives for funding infrastructure repairs, voters overwhelmingly support “reallocating state money to pay for the repairs,” 37.2% versus a toll-and-borrow plan’s 21.9%. In fact, people are even less supportive of pay-as-you-go with a truck toll (12.5%).

Particularly interesting, though, is the right-direction/wrong-direction question. Rhode Islanders are notably less optimistic than they were in September, although still a little more optimistic than last April. According to the newly available information in the latest poll, a large part of the “right direction” results come from people under 40 with household income under $25,000.

Tracing those groups through the other questions — especially measured by income — shows they tend to fall on what might be called the pro-government side. They are the least likely, for example, to support reallocating other money to infrastructure. They are the least likely to say “locally elected officials” are doing a “fair/poor” job (although more than half still say it). They give elected state officials the best marks.

When it comes to education reform, those with incomes under $25,000, they are the most likely to say principals need more authority, yet the least likely to say that the system has to “make it easier to deal with under performing teachers. (Perhaps they don’t see principals as the managerial employees who would handle underperforming teachers, but more like head teachers, themselves.) They are also among the least likely to support expanded school choice.

Not surprisingly, those with incomes under $25,000 are also the most likely to say that they are Democrats, as the only income group among which more than half of respondents say they are a member of a particular party.

That sheds some light, I’d say, on the state government’s preference for policies to make ours a “company state,” in which the government imports clients for itself, largely from other countries. It also seems relevant to an approach to economic development that places a premium on, as the Brookings Institution report put it, “coveted Millennials.”

The young and the least wealthy also made up the smallest groups in the Hassenfeld Institute’s survey. Many of the policies that our state government pursues can be explained if we assume that government officials want to change that.


A Conservative Path to Open Borders

A long-time reader of Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, I would certainly not challenge his conservative bona fides, but he’s apparently feeling as if that may soon be a risk:

One of those ideals has always been the encouragement of immigration as an engine of American progress and prosperity. I grew up in Ohio, a state filled with Americans-by-choice — including my father, who came from Czechoslovakia in 1948. As my conservatism deepened, so did my conviction that an open and welcoming immigration policy was a self-evident part of the conservative creed. In one of my earliest columns for The Boston Globe, a plea to open the door to Haitian refugees, I described immigrants as the great “growth hormone” of American history. “The vast majority of immigrants repay their adopted homeland with energy, enthusiasm, hard work, and new wealth,” I wrote.

I wrote it as a Republican-leaning conservative. Twenty-two years later, my view hasn’t changed. I’m distressed that that of so many Republicans and conservatives has.

Even as a conservative who would currently characterize himself as non-open-borders, I’m sympathetic to contrary arguments based on both economics and freedom.  The problem, as I see it, is another principle that I would characterize as fundamentally conservative: Policies cannot be developed and implemented as if in an abstract model, as if, to paraphrase Melville’s criticism of Emerson, we believe we could have offered some helpful pointers to God upon the world’s creation.  We have to look at reality, both current circumstances and enduring realities.

It is not conservative to allow indiscriminate waves of immigrants into a country where a political machine is primed to make them dependent, to prevent them from assimilating (see Mike Gonzalez’s thoughts on “Obama’s Ethnic Divide-and-Conquer Strategy“), and to harvest their votes for a party intent on ending America’s run of capitalistic representative democracy.  Such a policy is not conservative any more than it is libertarian to attack cultural institutions that keep people from relying on government or than it’s respectful of freedom to let somebody accidentally fall into a pit with spikes at the bottom rather than to push him back from the edge.

We see this dynamic again and again in history.  The vast majority of people on any side of a question won’t give even their issues of greatest concern the level of nuanced consideration that people who think and write about them for a living do.  Therefore, the latter shouldn’t cling to a nuanced policy when its foundations are gone. That is when the prerequisites to benefit from open immigration are gone, one can’t argue that we must maintain open immigration.

To get to open immigration from where we are now, we have to repair our civic society and economy.  I happen to think that means restricting the flood of immigrants so we have room to fix the ship of state, but at the very least, it means electing people who appear to disagree with Jacoby about the long-term goal.


Where RI Leads in Foreign-Born Workers

Pew Charitable Trusts has a still-new interactive tool to investigate estimated “Immigrant Employment by State and Industry.”  Beginning with national numbers, the tool provides the comparative likelihood that immigrants will be employed in a particular industry compared with those born within the United States.

In construction, for example, the national ratio is 1.5, meaning that an immigrant is 1.5 times more likely to be working in construction than somebody born here.  So, if you randomly selected 100 each of foreign-born U.S. workers and U.S.-born U.S. workers, for every two native-born construction workers, there would be three immigrants.  Viewed this way, the data won’t tell us how many immigrants there are in the state or what portion of the workforce they represent, but it does have some interesting lessons, nonetheless.

Compared with the national numbers, Rhode Island stands out in four industries.  In both “agriculture and extraction” and “construction,” Rhode Island has significantly lower immigrant employment than the national figures, which makes sense in agriculture, although not quite so much in construction.

On the other hand, immigrant employment is notably strong in both “administrative services” (which includes, among other things, low-end office-, facilities-, and waste-related services) and “manufacturing.”  Working immigrants are 2.6 times more likely to work in administrative services than U.S.-born Rhode Islanders, versus a national ratio of 1.7, and 2.1 times more likely to work in manufacturing , versus a national ratio of 1.2.

At another layer of analysis, immigrants tend to be more prominent in those industries that constitute more of Rhode Island’s employment than is true for the United States overall.  Of the 13 industry sectors listed, four account for more Rhode Island jobs than is true nationally.  Of those four, RI has a higher immigrant employment ratio than the nation in three.  By contrast, all of the industries that are less significant for employment in Rhode Island than in the country overall lean toward U.S.-born employees.

Manufacturing adds another interesting data point.  Although the industry is more significant for RI employment than national employment (11% to 10% of all employment, respectively), it is less significant for GDP (8% RI versus 12% U.S.).  To some degree, the specific mix of manufacturing in the United States is likely to play a role in that, but it does make one wonder whether manufacturers in Rhode Island are turning to immigrant workers at a greater rate specifically to trim costs and stay in business despite the hostile economic environment.

One final observation: In both Rhode Island and nationally, “public administration” (i.e., government) leans the most toward U.S.-born employees, and although this “industry” accounts for the same amount of employment, in the Ocean State, it accounts for a little bit more of GDP (14% versus 13% nationally).  Combined with the increased prominence of other industries closely associated with government in Rhode Island, such as education and healthcare (also relatively likely to have U.S.-born employees), that would seem to be evidence of my “company state” thesis, with government importing foreign clients for its services.


The Odd Language of Progressive Activism

A line in Kathy Gregg’s Providence Journal article about protests at the State House today — one against the truck toll proposal and one in favor of giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants — seemed to stumble on language in a telling way:

“No more second class status. All Rhode Islanders should come in from the shadows. It is time for all of RI’s workers to have equal access to our roads,” said Mike Araujo, executive director of the coalition known as “RI Jobs With Justice,” in a media advisory for this 3-to-4:30 p.m. march and rally.

“Second class” is an adjective, and “status” isn’t a very descriptive word.  Second-class what?  Most commonly, in American politics, one would expect the noun to be “citizens,” but that’s clearly not the case, here.  Second-class residents?  That still seems odd.

The phrase “second class status” deliberately attempts to skirt this question in a way that insinuates rights without thought, skipping a legitimate question:  Are there rights and privileges that somebody who came to this country and this state illegally should be denied?  Clearly, the answer is “yes,” unless one intends to claim that anybody who manages to cross a border should be entitled to vote and hold public office.

Such rhetoric, frankly, reveals the lie behind claims like Raimondo’s assurances that granting licenses to illegal immigrants is simply a safety issue.  It’s all about safety in much the same way that same-sex marriage was all about allowing gay partners to visit each other in the hospital… until to turned out to be about forcing Christian bakers to help celebrate same-sex marriages or Catholic adoption agencies to place children in same-sex households.

Americans should stop falling for the bait and switch.  If advocates and progressive Democrat politicians want to push our society in a particular direction, they should make the case.  They shouldn’t try to sneak it in as simply a practical tweak.  Supply the noun.  Giving illegal immigrants licenses would make them “full” whats?


Syria Refugees and Imagining a Good President

Some recent posts in this space and arguments on Facebook prove that I’m happy to argue over the moral principles and civic practicalities around United States policy on Syrian refugees, but I have to admit a level of disbelief that this is what we’re arguing about and holding competing rallies over at this particular time in history.  With that disbelief comes an urge to imagine how this issue might have proceeded under a decent U.S. president.

Imagine if, rather than taunting members of the opposing party, which is expressing views that appear to be held by a significant majority of Americans, President Obama had said something like this:

Events in Syria are a matter of war and national security, but they are also creating a humanitarian disaster.  My administration will therefore continue to hold a higher target for admitting refugees into our country.  But I understand that the American people have reasonable apprehensions about the refugee process, in light of the atrocity in Paris, and that large lines of differing opinion currently run across our nation.

My administration will therefore be pausing the acceptance of such refugees for a very brief time — so brief, I’ll be honest, that I expect it to have a negligible effect on the program.  We’re already in the process of inviting people with widely varying views on the matter — people with credibility among those who hold each viewpoint — to gather together to review our process and our projections.  That review will be wide open to the public, and when it is done, we will adjust our policy or modify our process in a way that addresses valid concerns.  We’ll also put out a brief report explaining how refugee review works and giving the American people some sense of who is in the pipeline now and whether that will change.

Personally, I have great confidence that the concern about these refugees is more a misunderstanding than a disagreement, so I expect we’ll move forward with the policy with little or no change.  But we’ll have to see.

I’d probably want more than that, but such an approach would defuse a lot of the discord and address, not dismiss, Americans’ real and legitimate concerns.

Of course, seven years in, that ship has sailed for the Obama Administration.  He staged some performances along those lines early on, but they were obviously for show.  Just look at the party-line votes on ObamaCare, including one on Christmas Eve, followed by procedural tricks to pass it into law.


A Thought on the Purpose of Government

Nicki makes an important point at The Liberty Zone (via Sarah Hoyt in Instapundit), related to the Paris attack:

So yes. They need to shut their borders down. It might be callous, but it’s the only way to protect the citizens of those nations, and after all, isn’t that the basic role of government?

Americans and other Westerners need to spend some time with that question and discuss each other’s responses.  It should be a basic question during debates and interviews with politicians: What is the basic role of government?

Whatever they might say, it’s obvious that progressives, including the current President of the United States, believe the basic role of government is to organize and run society.  One consequence of that view (which, I’d argue, is really one of its primary motivations) is that a basic role of government is the dispensation of benefits.

When it comes down to it, that’s a central principle behind the governments in Europe and the United States that are throwing open doors for masses of low-skilled immigrants.  They’re offering the benefit of safety, first, but then the security of government welfare and the promise of complete education, healthcare, and nutrition for the immigrants’s children.  Most of the supporters of such activity would probably acknowledge that there is another side — namely, the question of how much our society can bear.  But their thinking generally seems to be no deeper than that of the college student who doesn’t quite know how much “the 1%” can or should hand over, but is certain that it’s more than is currently confiscated and is confident that they’ll always be there to take the hit.

That is, the basic role of government is to dispense the benefits, with the protection of current citizens as a secondary consideration.  If they start to hurt, maybe we’ll adjust things.  (Or better yet, we’ll offer government benefits to those among them whom we deem worthy, whether the ultra-rich investors or the lower classes.)

As a civic matter, this is backwards.  We institute governments to secure our rights and, yes, to preserve our culture.  That view of government can go too far, of course, and become a dangerously aggressive nationalism, but that’s the basic principle with which we should start.  No doubt, it’s easier to run away from that particular duty as the inverse of nationalism, because the consequences are less direct, but the boot comes down on the throat regardless.


Acknowledging Multiple Perspectives on Immigration

Early yesterday, I bookmarked a few things to consider posting, and last night’s atrocity in Paris only made the connections more relevant.  Start with Mark Steyn’s take on the latest GOP presidential debate:

Ted Cruz had a strong night without any breakout moments, unless you count his venture into the immigration debate. It is striking that no moderators want to bring it up. For many Trump supporters, it’s the issue – because, if you don’t have borders, it doesn’t matter having a president or a tax code or a school system or a health-care plan, because they’ll all be overwhelmed. It’s a timelier subject than ever, given the Great Migrations across the Atlantic. Since Chancellor Merkel announced she was abolishing Germany’s borders and embracing all these “Syrian” “refugees”, for example, the country has run out of …diapers? blankets? No, pepper spray. Hmm. …

It is striking that, even in a conservative debate, mass, remorseless, illegal immigration is discussed almost entirely from the illegals’ point of view: as Kasich advises, think of the families, think of the children. Their families, their children. The families of those they’ve supplanted are of less consequence. The argument made by Bush and Kasich against enforcing the immigration laws is an appeal to moral preening: this is “not who we are”. But using mass immigration to destroy the lives of your own citizens? That’s exactly who we are.

This is part of a thread that I’ve been following more closely, lately, with evidence that Rhode Island policies are literally switching out native Rhode Islanders with immigrants, perhaps as part of a push to bring in more clients for the inside interests that make Rhode Island a “company state.”  But to put a sharp point on it, turn to a chilling viral video, running about twenty minutes, that pieces together clips of the massive migration (some say, “invasion”) persisting throughout Europe.

To be sure, 20 minutes of footage from months of activity allows for a slanted view, but the points can’t be ignored.  Toward the beginning of the video, for example, a European woman exclaims, “We are the victims, here, not them.  We have to live like we did before.  We have to live our lives; they took it from us.”  The commentary running throughout the video addresses increasing incidents of rape and violence (including among school children) as well as the cultural displacement of Europeans from their ancestral home: “The Great Replacement.”

We’ve been trained to avoid any hint of xenophobia or racism, and that inclination is right and just, but we — all of us, Americans of every race and ethnicity — have a right to our homes and our heritage.  When those marching across Europe are quite explicit in their aims, when our political leaders speak of changing demographics as marking an unavoidable, often a preferable, future, we have a duty to consider the ramifications.  We have a right to worry about our families, our children.


Refugees and Benefits

Terry Gorman, of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement (RIILE), sent out a Facebook post linking to a Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) analysis of the cost of accepting Middle Eastern refugees:

As Americans continue to debate what to do about the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, this analysis attempts to estimate the costs of resettling refugees from that region in the United States. Although we do not consider all costs, our best estimate is that in their first five years in the United States each refugee from the Middle East costs taxpayers $64,370 — 12 times what the UN estimates it costs to care for one refugee in neighboring Middle Eastern countries. The cost of resettlement includes heavy welfare use by Middle Eastern refugees; 91 percent receive food stamps and 68 percent receive cash assistance. Costs also include processing refugees, assistance given to new refugees, and aid to refugee-receiving communities. Given the high costs of resettling refugees in the United States, providing for them in neighboring countries in the Middle East may be a more cost-effective way to help them.

Gorman says Rhode Island takes in about 500 refugees a year, which equates to more than $32 million over five years, or $6.4 million accumulating every year.

The CIS study does take into account usage rates, which brings down the average cost per program (because not all refugees utilize every program).  The table included with the report provides a total possible average annual payment amount for 10 common programs of $55,374 per year.  That’s almost Rhode Island’s median household income.

Consider that number in the context of the fact that Rhode Island has actively been changing its demographic mix to include higher proportions of people who use these programs as well as the investments that Rhode Island is making in ways to ensure that everybody gets as much government assistance as possible.


RI More Oppressive than Afghanistan?

This part of a New York Times article about the flood of people into Europe caught my eye:

A quarter of Afghans told a Gallup Poll that they want to leave, and more than 100,000 are expected to try to flee to Europe this year.

What’s surprising about that is a comparison to other recent poll results:

Rhode Island ranked at the bottom of yet another national poll.

A recently published Gallup Poll found 42 percent of residents said they would like to move to another state.

Sure, this speaks to the proximity of better options and the ease of movement within the United States, but it’s still another red flag.


Drivers Licenses for Illegals in Brown Daily Herald

Writing for the Brown Daily Herald, Shawn Young notes that Governor Raimondo’s plan appears to have stalled, and I get to be the opposition voice:

“There should be a clear legislative channel for the state to discuss” the issue of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, said Justin Katz, a writer for the Ocean State Current. The government should follow a predictable path so that Rhode Islanders are able to keep track of and control it, Katz said. Right now, there is no state law that “prevents the interpretation that driver’s licenses can go to non-citizens,” Katz said.

Even though it would not be illegal for Raimondo to issue an executive order, Katz does not think she will take this route because there is not enough support for the issue.

One important area of our conversation that Young didn’t include is the “and so.”  In order to ensure that a legislative approach is followed, the General Assembly should immediately (or as soon as possible) pass legislation that either (A) reinforces the status quo of no licenses for illegal immigrants explicitly within state law or (B) forbids the use of executive action to make the change.

Neither is likely, though, because politicians like to ensure that all disputes are political, not legal.  If that’s the game they want to play, then those opposing the driver’s licenses should begin campaigning on the issue, now, so politicians who are ambivalent don’t let the rope slip, either accidentally or greased with the deals and special favors that characterize Rhode Island government.


When the Government Finds a Better Tenant

Yesterday, I mentioned, by the by, that folks who support a broad scope for government tend to assume that the things that they like and that they receive will always be included within that scope.  Well, turn your eyes to Europe:

A woman in Germany is being evicted from her home of 23 years to make way for asylum-seekers, in the second such case to emerge.

Gabrielle Keller has been given until the end of the year to leave her flat in the small southern town of Eschbach, near the border with France.

The flat belongs to the local municipality, which says it is needed to house refugees.

As I’ve also suggested recently, a government built on a central-planning philosophy will also tend to resemble private organizations for which we assume action in self interest.  When the government finds a better use for its apartment buildings, well, it will give the current tenants notice.

The crucial question, in this instance, is why the government believes housing for refugees trumps housing for citizens and how much this example is symbolic more broadly in the West, as Sarah Hoyt implies.


F.A.I.R.? Illegal Immigration Costs Rhode Island $278 Million Annually As of Data from 2009

As you know, Rhode Island was recently classified as one of only two sanctuary states in the country, a disturbing revelation and a costly situation. The figure of just how costly it is to state and local taxpayers popped up yesterday in the course of some related research. F.A.I.R., the Federation for American Immigration Reform, places the cost to Rhode Island of illegal immigration at $278 million per year in 2009.

Think of that. Because state officials have so far declined to implement some very reasonable, simple measures to discourage illegal immigration into the state but have implemented policies that actually encourage it, Rhode Island is needlessly spending an estimated $278 million per year.


Immigration and Who’s Getting the Jobs

I’ve been meaning to highlight this for a few days, but I wanted to see if the Bureau of Labor Statistics has the data at the state level and do a little bit of digging on the Census’s site to see if there was anything comparable, but it was “no” on both counts:

… since December 2007, according to the Household Survey, only 790,000 native born American jobs have been added. Contrast that with the 2.1 million foreign-born Americans who have found a job over the same time period.

In August alone, “698,000 native-born Americans lost their job,” whereas 204,000 foreign-born workers “got a job.”

As with every topic of public interest, the nexus of immigration and employment is complicated, but we don’t give it anywhere near enough attention.  Sure, some of this disparity may be attributable to the retirement of native-born Baby Boomers and the influx of immigrants.  On the other hand, constraining immigration while Baby Boomers exit the market might help to turn around stagnant salaries, as each worker’s value goes up.

At the very least, we should think twice before pursuing policies (like driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants) that are sure to draw even more foreign-born workers with questionable connections to the state or country to compete for jobs that aren’t being created quickly enough as it is.


Where Are the Providence Children Coming From?

Via the RI Taxpayers daily newsletter, I see that Providence is defying the statewide trend of fewer students’ enrolling in public school.  Here’s Anni Shalvey, from WPRI:

In 2011, the Providence School District closed five schools in response to dwindling enrollment. Since then, an unexpected bump in students is bringing the classrooms to capacity.

“We’re looking at a shortage of seats in middle schools that was unanticipated,” said Christina O’Reilly of the Providence School District.

It’s not a huge bump – about a 1.7-percent increase in enrollment since the schools were closed, according to data from the Rhode Island Department of Education.

But this increase is contrary to the overall downward trend happening in Rhode Island – making Providence stand out.

So who’s coming and going in Providence schools?  According to October enrollment data, starting with the 2010-2011 school year, the cumulative increases (meaning each school year’s increase from 2010-11) by racial category was as shown in the following chart.



Providence schools have actually seen a decrease in students identifying as black, white, and Asian.  In just four years, the black population of Providence schools fell almost 10%.  That means the small bump in total enrollment was the result of an even larger increase in mixed-race, native American, and especially Hispanic students.

The next chart looks at the data by categories of services that the students receive. The acronyms stand for:

  • IEP = individualized education plan (i.e., some sort of specialized education or behavioral services)
  • FRL = free or reduced-price lunch eligibility
  • LEP = limited English proficiency



The biggest story, with this chart, is the increase in students requiring some accommodations for a lack of proficiency with English.  Such students increased from 14.3% of the student population to 21.8%.

Summed up, then, the small increase in Providence enrollment resulted from a rather large increase in Hispanic students who need help with English.  That is, the student body is likely to be transitioning toward immigrants from Central and South America.

It’s a little surprising, therefore, that the FRL numbers went down, because they are an indication of income, and one would expect  urban immigrants to skew toward lower-income groups.  However, more than 80% of students are eligible for the program, which means we’re mainly talking displacement.  There are also gradations of the program; poorer students get free lunch, while families with a little bit more income qualify only for reduced-price lunches, and this data doesn’t show whether there’s been a shift between those groups.


Changing the Face of the Country for Votes

Speaking of borders and voting rights, Steven Hayward pulls together some stories on the immigration problem that Great Britain is having with thousands of “migrants” attempting to use the Chunnel tunnel to get from Paris to London in order to get free stuff from the welfare state.  Note this, in particular, from a 2010 Daily Telegraph article (hat tipped to Instapundit):

The release of a previously unseen document suggested that Labour’s migration policy over the past decade had been aimed not just at meeting the country’s economic needs, but also the Government’s “social objectives”.

The paper said migration would “enhance economic growth” and made clear that trying to halt or reverse it could be “economically damaging”. But it also stated that immigration had general “benefits” and that a new policy framework was needed to “maximise” the contribution of migration to the Government’s wider social aims. . .

Voting trends indicate that migrants and their descendants are much more likely to vote Labour.

Luring massive immigration to a country is a way for the government to elect itself another electorate, so to speak, and we have a right not to tolerate it.


Assessing Rhode Island’s ‘Sanctuary State’ Status Left to Suspicion, Anecdotes

An immigrant preparing to cross the United States’ southern border illegally who looked at the Center for Immigration Studies map of localities offering “sanctuary” might notice just two bright green markers for whole states that intentionally reduce their odds of being deported.  One is North Dakota, where the official unemployment rate has not been over 5 percent since 1987, but where the nation’s second-coldestaverage annual temperature is only slightly above freezing. The other is Rhode Island, which is not only more temperate, but provides some of the most generous public assistance packages in the country.

Soon after taking office in 2011, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee rescindedan executive order so that government entities would no longer be required to check job applicants for citizenship using the E-Verify program and state law enforcement and corrections officials would no longer work with federal immigration agents.  Soon after, through another executive action (by way of the Board of Governors for Higher Education), Rhode Island became the third state to extend discounted in-state tuition rates at its public colleges and university to illegal immigrants.

The topic of sanctuary cities, counties, and states has made national news, recently, after an illegal immigrant who had been detained and deported multiple times allegedly murdered a young woman at a popular San Francisco tourist location.  In Rhode Island, the effects of illegal immigration can be difficult to quantify, and evidence is often similarly anecdotal.

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Sum of All Fears; Sum of All Obama Policies

We tend to be nostalgic for the times of our youth, but one burden that I have been very happy not to see darken my children’s minds is the prospect of nuclear explosions.  Sure, as long as they exist (and they will, barring a complete global societal collapse) they will be conceivable, but with the end of the Cold War, there’s been a palpable decrease in the possibility.  Terrorists have striven to fill some of the void, but their capabilities are substantially less than those of modern nations and competing superpowers.

This period of relative tranquility may be nearing its end.  Here’s Investor’s Business Daily (via Instapundit):

In the latest edition of its propaganda rag, the Islamic State says it has enough cash to buy a nuclear weapon from Pakistan and smuggle it into the U.S. through Mexico. This is the sum of all fears, and it’s not overblown. …

Despite falling world oil prices that have slowed IS’ energy revenues to about $2 million a week, the terror group is still raking in more than $1 million a day in extortion and taxes alone. IS has also stolen some $500 million from state-owned banks in Iraq.

The incompetent poseur in the White House has made a hazardous mess of the planet, particularly the Middle East, where dangerous people took the measure of the president far better than American voters did, and they’ve taken full advantage of the historic opportunity.

Meanwhile, in order to tilt domestic political scales, Obama has widened the holes in the sieve that is our southern border.  As a draw, to pull people through that sieve, he and his fellow Democrats (with a compliant lack of resistance from Republicans) have proceeded to expand welfare offerings while adding tripwires to the obstacle course of political correctness.

When history’s most momentous events touch upon our daily lives, they tend to seem impossible until bad decisions make them inevitable.


Electing a New Electorate

In the popular imagination, political coups involve military action, long knives in the night, or some other form of violence, but the Obama Administration and the Democrat Party are arguably working to do the same thing by flooding the electorate with ineligible voters:

Non-citizens are voting in American elections, and the federal government refuses to do anything to stop it.

Worse, the current administration seems to be doing everything they can to prevent the states from trying to stop it. First, they sued states that asked people to present ID before voting. Now, the administration will not let states even ask people to establish they are citizens when they register to vote. …

… Noncitizens are offered the voter registration forms all over the country and are filling them out, and they are being added to the rollsregardless of which [citizenship] box they check.

Add it to the growing evidence of dawning fascism.

Terry Gorman - RIILE

Terry Gorman: Sympathetic Providence Journal Article Encourages Illegal Immigration to Rhode Island

[Terry Gorman of RIILE sent the following e-mail to Providence Journal reporter Karen Lee Ziner in response to her front page article of Saturday. It has been lightly edited for style.]

Regarding your April 18 article in the Providence Journal, “Fight over Obama’s orders“, so much for “HIDING IN THE SHADOWS“. Two women here Illegally delivering 5 children that by current law are U S Citizens. Free pre-natal care, childbirth, post-partum care and long term family planning for two years (evidently not working) all at the expense of taxpayers. Just how much does this group cost US taxpayers and how is it justified in these lean times?

I think this article will only serve to ENCOURAGE many more pregnant illegal alien women to flock to Rhode Island. Why wouldn’t they come if they can arrive Illegally, have as many children as they wish, work Illegally or just not work, receive workers compensation, get free care for a child’s autism, receive subsidies for the new U S citizen children in the form of welfare, SNAP etc., now that it’s been basically ADVERTISED on the front page of a major newspaper? Thanks.


Illegal Immigrant Surge Not Showing Up for Required Court Dates, and Welfare Benefits (By the Way)

Gee, who could have seen this one coming?

The vast majority of the families and minors who where apprehended illegally entering the United States during the border surge of 2012-2014 have vanished to the interior of the U.S., according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies.

According to CIS extrapolations from data obtained by Houston’s KPRC, few of those undocumented immigrants are actually legally allowed to remain in the county, but 91 percent have ignored requirements to appear in immigration court.

Here’s another interesting tidbit that isn’t really a surprise if you were paying attention:

Using the numbers detailed in the report, Vaughan was able to determine that there were more families than unaccompanied minors arriving in the U.S. illegally, even though the problem was often described as an influx of children. Also, she found that at least 92 percent of family units were released into the U.S. even after being apprehended.

There’s no direct link reported (yet), but somehow I can’t help but connect this story with another one, found via the RI Taxpayers‘ daily newsletter.  According to a recent report by Michael Tanner and Charles Hughes, released by the Cato Institute, a few common welfare programs supply the equivalent of a pre-tax income of $43,330, equivalent to $20.83 per hour (if a person were actually foolish enough to work 52 40-hour workweeks to earn it).  Make note, please, that this number does not capture every benefit that’s available in Rhode Island.

According to the report’s Table 4, Rhode Island is number 4 in the country for giving more than the state’s median salary, through these programs.  The $43,330 in government assistance is 117.6% of the median salary of $36,858.

Call me crazy, but this doesn’t seem like a good formula for reviving Rhode Island’s economy.  I wonder if Governor-elect Gina Raimondo will turn this number around.  (Just kidding.)


Where the Jobs Go (What Jobs There Are)

Mark Krikorian points to a study by Steve Camarota and Karen Zeigler, of the Steve Camarota and Karen Zeigler, showing that all net employment growth since 2007 has gone to immigrants, nationwide.  Krikorian emphasizes that immigrants aren’t to blame for seeking opportunity, but policymakers are, for failing to match immigration to national economic needs.

A quick Monday morning search didn’t turn up sufficient data to repeat the research easily for Rhode Island, but a couple of sources give an indication that the story is much the same, here.  The table at the end of this Tennessee iteration of the report shows that Rhode Island’s labor force participation rate for U.S. natives fell from 80.1% in 2000 to 75.6% in 2014, a 5.6% drop, while the native employment rate fell from 76% to 68%, a 10.5% drop.

Historical data for all Rhode Island employment puts those rates at:

  • Participation: 66.7% to 65.1%, a drop of 2.4%
  • Employment: 64.0% to 60.0%, a drop of 6.3%

We’d have to know the percentage of native versus foreign-born people in Rhode Island to figure out the actual numbers.  Rhode Island’s terrible employment situation for the past seven years also makes the numbers a little more muddled than the national scene.  Be that as it may, it’s clear that foreign-born Rhode Island workers are making gains versus U.S. natives in Rhode Island — at least when it comes to having a job.  Otherwise, the native-born population would be doing as well as or better than the overall population.

It makes intuitive sense that Rhode Island would share the nation’s problems, and that they’d probably be worse, here.  After all, the economic policies pursued by the Obama Administration — including loose money and loose immigration — have fostered economic disparity, with the upper crust prospering and everybody else on the decline, including the working and middle classes.  Rhode Island’s ruling class likes to amplify all of the bad decisions made by its national counterparts, so we can be expected to be doing even worse.