Asta Charles

Asta Charles
Los Angeles, California, USA
December 12
Myth Maker
A foul-mouthed commentator on life, society, politics, pop culture, and economics. I spend a lot of time in bars. I wrote a manuscript about the perils of online dating and its ultimate cost to society. It's not published. Meh.


APRIL 23, 2010 5:49PM

Broke States + Illegal Immigrants = BFFs

Rate: 4 Flag

Arizona just signed a law into effect that will made "illegal status" a crime. Arizona won't just be wasting money placing non-violent drug offenders behind bars, they may be incentivizing police offers to seek out illegal immigrants. They are creating a punishment that does not fit the crime. 

Click here for's timeline of immigration in the United States.

The cause of all of this is rage. Rage over taxes being utilized on people that themselves are not paying taxes. Rage over people who are accused of taking jobs away from Americans (when really, we don't want to do them and the ones who should be accused of this are large corporations shipping manufacturing overseas). And rage over crimes being committed by the notorious "illegals".

And so of course it is the American way to take the easy way out. To show punishment by examble rather than providing a solution to eliminate the crime.

Ahhh the un-thunk. 

In the southwestern US, there are too many people in general and too little funds pouring into the coffers.

The simple brilliance of this social algebraic equation is gleaming:  not everyone that lives here and thusly should be contributing to taxes that pay for needed well...putting in.

In Los Angeles, we estimate that we have 8 million citizens. That probably isn't true, we likely have around 10 million that are utilizing an infrastructure built for 8 million (LA Almanac estimates we have 1.3 million illegal immigrants). What happens when you try to cram four people into a sleeping bag built for two? The sleeping bag will wear out too quickly, the citizens of the sleeping bag will be sweating, cramping, and there will probably be some farting. Also, the two that were originally there are going to be super pissed at the two newcomers.

Those 2 million, or 2 in the sleeping bag analogy, aren't really supposed to be here.  I say "supposed to" in the purely legal sense. Do they have documents that state it's okay to be in the US, or in the sleeping bag? If not, they probably don't want to admit that they are there. There are numerous ways in which they might be tricked into 'fessing up their whereabouts:

- Jobs that take taxes out of a paycheck: if you pay taxes, you have a federal taxpayer ID, which is a social security number. If you're not supposed to be here, you don't have a social securitynumber. Hence, you aren't paying taxes.

- Government reporting such as the Census: if you aren't supposed to be here, you probably don't want to report to the government that you are here.

- Getting a lawyer that doesn't speak your language and your English isn't too stellar: he might fool you and report you to the feds, it could be a trap! If you can't read the gobbledigook he's putting in front of you on paper, how can you be sure what he's up to?

- Using your address to send your kid to school when you and your kid don't have a social security number: the school is going to ask and you're going to throw your hands up in the air. So what to do? Use somebody else's information.

All of this is easier than attempting to become a citizen of the United States. Which can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take decades.

After all, if you're in the United States and aren't supposed to be, you're probably not doing it for fun and games. You're doing it for economic security of yourself, your family, and your future. It's not a fucking walk in the park.

 I can attest to the difficulty of immigration in this country. I've watched a green card marriage make its attempt because there was no other choice. I've seen dear friends try to fly under the radar and sacrifice seeing their families for years, just to be here. I've also seen the ease at which a rich person can fly through path to citizenship by forking over $20,000 for the right lawyer. The opportunity to become a US citizen is not fair and equal.

The elimination of the "immigration problem" is excrutiatingly simple: don't make it illegal. I don't mean that everybody that rolls in gets to stay just because they feel like it without having to hand over any personal information. But if it were easier to become a legal citizen, then everyone that did would be able to pay taxes. Those taxes would go towards services used by those of regardless of our status:

- Roads

- Police

- Schools

- Universities

- Prisons

- Other emergency services

Back to the sleeping bag: If you want four people to fit in a sleeping bag built for two, well it sounds like you're in for a wild sexy night. Aside from that, you'll need some money to add some material to the sleeping bag to make it bigger. The two that are already in it shouldn't pay for that. The newcomers should, and I'm sure, would be more than happy to if they were allowed.


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The basic conflict in our immigration situation is this: amnesty "seems" wrong because technically it is REWARDING lawbreakers. And sending all illegal immigrants back seems heartless and isn't possible anyway.

So here's my pragmatic solution (and by pragmatic I mean it will piss off people on both ends of the spectrum, but will work for the 60% of us in the middle):

1) Create an amnesty period of 1 or 2 years, during which EVERY illegal alien who comes forth and registers will receive a green card and will be allowed to stay in the country unless they have committed a felony.

2) The catch is that as PUNISHMENT for being in the country illegally, these people can NEVER, EVER, EVER become citizens. They blew it by entering the country illegally. Sorry. You can live here and work here but you can NEVER become a citizen.

3) If you don't register during the amnesty period, there will be a no mercy policy and the INS will actively seek to identify you and arrest you, at which point you will serve a 1-year sentence in a Guantanamo-like detainment center that will make you never want to wind up there again. Then we will kick you out of this country and back to where you came.

Of course even this approach relies on us being able to control our borders to a large degree, which currently we aren't very good at.
As long as there remains potential for unions to wield any political power in this country, we will keep the "illegal aliens" as a boogey man to foist our fears upon. The reason Reagan granted amnesty was because it added 6 million non-union workers to the workplace. Bush wanted to do the same with 16 million. Its all about corporate power.
When I was a kid I had jobs mowing lawns in the summers, then cutting trees. My brother worked as a roofer in high school. These were fine jobs for kids. Not today, when you can pay someone the equivalent of a 3rd world wage. The jobs that will be left in this country once free trade has moved everything except finance and politicians to China (or Africa next, just watch) will be the ones these undocumented workers will do and those of us who grew up thinking we would better ourselves than the jobs we had in HS will find there isnt anything left.
So, thats my rant and I'm sticking to it. I like your analogy of the sleeping bag, and the thinking that went into this post. I especially like fins2theleft's proposal and will give that some real thought. But finally, nothing will change until the laws that make hiring undocumented workers illegal get enforced and factory owners and CEOs go to jail.
If someone is willing to pony up to a coyote thousands of dollars and cross a deadly desert border just to get a sub-minimum wage job, scaring them with potential jail and/or deportation isnt going to do a thing. But try taking a few bucks and a little freedom away from the guy who owns the meat packing plant and you'll see this problem get solved overnight.
@Fins2theleft: I like your plan. And you're right, a big part of the problem with all of this is that we can't control our borders. I don't know why we've failed so horribly at this. Other countries, that aren't necessarily islands, don't seem to have as much of an issue. Though, island nations have a great incentive to manage their immigration closely: limited space.

My grandfather lives in New Zealand six months out of the year. As he does not hold a visa, that's his maximum stay. One year, he stayed seven months. The NZ immigration service showed up at his door to find out when he was planning on leaving. They expected proof of a ticket back to the US as soon as he obtained in. That would NEVER fly in the US.
@Tim4Change: I'm definitely with you on the corporate contribution to the problem, but they do have their hands in everything after all. I would think large companies wouldn't want illegals to leave anyway, as they purchase products and increase purchasing power.

And you're absolutely right, Africa is next. Can't wait.
This was a great post on the problem and I loved your fantastic sleeping bag analogy.

Also, to fins, that was the best solution I've seen in YEARS!
Excellent post. Why is it people like you can't be governors? What you have to say is so sane and what the pundits say is so insane. Thanks. Will read you more.
Excellent post. Why is it people like you can't be governors? What you have to say is so sane and what the pundits say is so insane. Thanks. Will read you more.

Thank you very much for the kind sentiment.

I can't be governor, or president, or senator, because I'm not rich enough. I can sure try to undermine them though.