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Posts Tagged ‘Immigration’

Border Walls and the High Cost of Healthcare

May 12, 2011 2 comments

President Obama’s signature legislative achievement goes a long way toward improving America’s healthcare insurance system – now he’s calling on congress to fix our defective immigration rules. But healthcare costs still pose significant problems and America continues to overpay for medical services compared to other nations. So the president might as well aggravate the anti-immigrantion Right further and break down the wall separating these two issues. The GOP keeps saying they want more free market solutions for healthcare, President Obama should offer one.

The administration should seek an international agreement to recognize foreign medical accreditation, increase visas for qualified doctors, and encourage insurance companies to finance patient travel. Fred Hansen in an Institute of Public Affairs article writes,

Although up from 500,000 in 2006 to 750,000 in 2007, the number of Americans traveling abroad for healthcare is tipped to increase to 6 million by 2010.

Unfortunately I can’t find more up-to-date numbers, but it is clear that medical tourism will continue to grow. Of course, many people naturally fear the idea of foreign medicine, but if importing medical services or traveling abroad for them lowers prices or provides access to otherwise unavailable higher quality care to a suffering patient that xenophobia can be an expensive and dangerous delusion.

In 1993, the trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati wrote a piece for the Journal of Commerce advocating that Hillary Clinton’s healthcare task force open the borders for medicine and doctors.

The entry of more foreign doctors wouldn’t require anything as formidable as easing immigration restrictions. Temporary visas for providers of professional services can be made available readily to qualified doctors from abroad.

[…]

Economic research strongly suggests that the AMA makes [foreign medical] examination tougher when doctors’ earnings are under pressure, thereby reducing the pool of eligible applicants for visas. Limiting entry eases competition among doctors and keeps their earnings-and the cost of health care-higher than it might otherwise be.

As the healthcare cost graph (linked above) shows, Americans spend $64 billion in excess costs because of overpriced healthcare workers. As President Obama goes around the country to push for immigration reform he might think about how he can build on his previous success by tearing down a few walls.

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DREAM or Nightmare, pt II

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

As promised I wanted to post David Frum’s responses to Will Wilkinson’s critique. You can read part I here if you’re unfamiliar with the original arguments. Excerpts from his responses below. Click the links to read the full replies.

Frum 1:

Immigration proponents are so convinced that more immigration is good in itself that they do not always worry as much as they should about the way in which they achieve their aims. They sell huge society-changing transformations as small incremental steps.

When the sales pitch proves wrong or hugely exaggerated, they seem untroubled. Wilkinson’s own blitheness perfectly exemplifies the pattern. Running through his first post is a persistent undertone that the very idea of immigration laws is a big mistake. “Yes, the DREAM Act also incentivises illegal activity. But if the activity is not one that ought to be illegal, perhaps we should consider changing the law?”

Frum 2:

But it’s just fanciful to imagine that the secondary beneficiaries of the DREAM amnesty will be substantial taxpayers. The parents and siblings of the people who will be amnestied under DREAM will be poorly educated, low-skilled, and likely to qualify for a range of services from food stamps to Section 8 housing to Medicaid and then very likely Medicare and Social Security. DREAM means millions of new claimants on US public services and billions of dollars in new costs for the federal government and the states. As CIS calculates today, simply the subsidies for DREAM beneficiaries’ college tuitions will cost $6.2 billion a year.

Frum 3:

In other words: yes it was true (sorry Will!) that previous versions of the DREAM act offered amnesty to the illegal immigrant parents of DREAM beneficiaries. Yes it was true (sorry again!) that the bill offered large subsidies to people currently present in the country illegally. Yes it was true (sorry once more!) that the legal language about “good character” didn’t mean very much. And yes it was true (sorry a fourth time!) that the bill potentially applied to many more people than the 60,000 or so Wilkinson mentioned in his very first post.

The good news is that the fixes offered by the Democrats constitute a genuine improvement in the law that address the concerns whose reality Wilkinson was denying just the day before yesterday. And with a few more improvements, the law could be on its way to being a genuine humanitarian measure.

I’m not aware if Wilkinson has since responded, but here’s a good Forbes blog post written by Conor Friedersdorf, a senior editor at The Daily Dish, with an interesting take on immigration, the DREAM act, and the Frum/Wilkinson kerfuffle.

[The] mere possibility of fraud exists in any immigration system. That it could theoretically happen is irrelevant. David Frum wants more highly skilled immigrants to be admitted to the United States. Wouldn’t applicants under that system have “new opportunities” to commit fraud? And is it really so bad if someone who came here at age 17 instead of age 16, stayed out of trouble, and went to college ends up wrongfully slipping in? I am not much troubled by the prospect, especially since absent the legislation he’ll still be in the United States, just illegally. And the range of folks who could commit this kind of fraud is very small. A 28 year old is going to have a hard time passing himself off as years younger. 16 is an arbitrary line. If we wind up getting some 17 and 18 year olds we’ll still wind up ahead.

Frum is basically right that immigration proponents think immigration is so good that we often fail to worry about the drawbacks of different ways of achieving that goal. I plead guilty to a certain extent. I do think legal immigration is that beneficial. But I should try to better emphasize the downsides of different approaches (I think it is more of a matter of emphasis not recognition). In honor of that, go read the David Frum links on the shortcomings.

Ok, done? Even with all the potential and actual flaws, the DREAM act greatly improves the lives of responsible young adults whose only home is the United States at either little cost or even benefit to US citizens as a whole. Compassion often means accepting some downsides.

[Update] Conor has more to say here responding to Reihan Salam.

What I do think is that longtime residents of the United States brought here by illegal immigrant parents during childhood are in a unique position: through no fault of their own, they’ve long resided in a country where they don’t have a legal right to live or work (partly due to an incentive system set up by American citizens who are glad to employ illegal immigrants). It’s a tragedy for the affected kids. Economically they’re better off than lots of people in Third World countries who’d like to come here. But life is more than economics. Unlike would-be immigrants, potential Dream Act beneficiaries have developed friendships, formed romances, an invested themselves into communities in the United States. All that will be lost if they are forced to leave, and along with American complicity in their plight

(via The Daily Dish)

DREAM or Nightmare

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve collected a decent back-and-forth between two respectable thinkers offering divergent views on the DREAM Act. I’ll post some excerpts but read the whole posts, none is very long.

Back on November 21st Will Wilkinson wrote a thoughtful piece on The Economist’s DiA blog about the decency of the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act sends the message that although American immigration law in effect tries to make water run uphill, we are not monsters. It says that we will not hobble the prospects of young people raised and schooled in America just because we were so perverse to demand that their parents wait in a line before a door that never opens. It signals that we were once a nation of immigrants, and even if we have become too fearful and small to properly honour that noble legacy, America in some small way remains a land of opportunity.

David Frum at The Week challenges Wilkinson and explains why he thinks the DREAM Act will be a “nightmare.”

DREAM stands as an ongoing invitation, forever and ever. DREAM’s benefits extend not only to people who happen NOW to be illegally present inside the United States. DREAM’s benefits will be extended to all those who may enter illegally in future. DREAM’s message goes forth to Indonesia, to Egypt, to India, to China, to anywhere where teenagers find $7 an hour more attractive than $7 a day: come now and come early. Don’t waste your time acquiring an education before you arrive. We’ll subsidize your education right here in America.

Wilkinson responds and asks Frum for a correction.

Suppose DREAM becomes law in 2011. Your kid applies right away and earns status as a “conditional legal resident” (or “CLR”). Now, can you your kid sponsor you for legal permanent residency? No, she cannot. Only citizens can sponsor their parents. Suppose your kid goes to college and stays out of trouble. The earliest she can apply to become an “LPR” or “legal permanent resident” (ie, get a green card) is 5 1/2 years after approval for conditional permament residency. That’s some time in 2016 at the earliest. Now, a green card-holder can apply for citizenship after five years. Under DREAM, as I understand it, once a CLR is approved for a green card, the time spent as a CLR counts toward citizenship. So someone approved for a green card under the auspices of DREAM ought to be able to apply for citizenship right away. Let’s assume miracles from the bureaucracy and say all these applications are processed and approved at the speed of light. So, thanks to DREAM, your daughter will be a citizen no sooner than 2016, at which point she can finally sponsor you (as long as she’s over the age of 21). But don’t get excited yet! You entered the country illegally, and were working illegally before applying for a green card, and that means you aren’t eligible for a green card. ( See question 10 here.) So, sorry, DREAM can’t help you.

I often enjoy Frum, but I think Wilkinson holds the correct position on this. Make up your own mind. I’ll update if David responds. Until then, please read this perspective from a undocumented Harvard student that would be affected by the DREAM Act.

It is November and I have already lost the ability to think in the future tense, as if my heart had anesthetized my mind in preparation for the possible disappointments of the next several months. I sleep without setting any alarm clocks. I speak faster in hopes that I might get more English words in. I kiss slower to feel more, here, longer. I’m at a road that bifurcates into continents and I am terrified because I know I might once again have to live with a decision that is not mine to make. It would hurt to be forced to leave, but it hurts to stay the way I’m staying now. I belong to this place but I also want it to belong to me.

I’m always surprised and saddened when people are so eager to throw out immigrants like this talented young woman.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Immigration Addition

November 22, 2010 2 comments

My friend asked me the other day about how someone can become a legal immigrant. Here’s a helpful illustration.

Ya turns out it’s not so easy.

(found this on DiA but originally from Reason)

Categories: Immigration Tags:

Best Story of the Day

October 7, 2010 1 comment

This makes me so happy!

But with his relentless diatribes against “illegals” and their employers, [Lou] Dobbs is casting stones from a house—make that an estate—of glass. Based on a yearlong investigation, including interviews with five immigrants who worked without papers on his properties, TheNationand the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute have found that Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper. (my emphasis)

Amazingly this isn’t an Onion story but a perfect real life example of hypocrisy and sweet irony. I don’t have many words for this; I just have an amazing feeling of joy.  


(photo from here)
(h/t Radley Balko)

Oil and Water, ctd

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

It wasn’t just 1 Republican…

Oil and Water

August 13, 2010 12 comments

What happens when you mix real journalism and right-wing paranoia? 

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