Posted by: L | May 22, 2007

T is for Trillion – Mike Chertoff will make a wreck of the border

Among other gag-worthy characteristics, the new immigration bill announced last week is said to cost over 2 trillion (yes, it seems we have a couple of trillion to spare, according to the new, new math).

A country already mired in debt and credit needs to shell out 2 trillion about as much as breaking the law is the prerequisite for citizenship under the rule of law.

The 380-page bill, fruit of three months of high-sounding wrangling, gives the immediate right to work (the Z visa), to some 12-20 million illegal workers who got into the United States before January 1, 2007. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries within eight years, and they would be guaranteed the right to return. Applicants would also have to cough up a $5,000 penalty. That’s thousand. Chump change for migrant workers, of course.
Confirmed. This administration’s math is delusional, its laws are contradictory, and now we also know its alphabet is backward:

“Z visa” is followed by “Y,” a guest worker program which has some merit to it, in so far as it emphasizes good education and skill sets. Brownie points for that. Never mind that guest workers families are broken up and they themselves usually end up held hostage to their employer’s whims and ever-changing paper requirements.

But “Y” follows “Z” in another way too. As in, Y bother. If you’re going to have a law, then apply it fairly to everyone. Or don’t have the law.

Ted Kennedy claims the whole business is about bringing people in from the shadows. If lurking in the shadows is the criterion, why not bring in the Sunni and Shia……that would also put an end to the killing of troops; it would supply cheap labor to businesses. And solve a crisis that, after all, the government did create.

Of course, the government created this one too.

Does anyone think migrant workers paid less than minimum wage are going to be able to cough up $5000? And if they could or couldn’t, would it matter? Because, we already know where this will end – with some border patrolmen hand-in-glove with criminals who will run a racket on it; with a whole industry of racketeers built on that, as there already is on fake documentation; with the innocent in trouble and the guilty off the hook. And then, finally, when the abuse stinks to heaven, there will be even more high-sounding wrangling in government (all at taxpayer expense), and everyone will decide the simplest thing is to cancel the whole thing and go home….until they come back with the next way to drive a nail into the coffin of the US economy.

So, when we are told that this alphabet of errors is not going to be recited until the number of border patrol agents has been doubled (adding 6,000 new agents, bringing the total to 18,000), border fencing strengthened (200 miles of vehicle barriers and new surveillance towers), and a verifiable, high-tech ID-card system for immigrants operational, all in the space of 18 months, let’s figure that the Noah Webster standard American usage definition of this is that it’s a whole new era of bungling bureaucracy about to be inaugurated.

And the only new money forthcoming to finance this fiasco-in-waiting will be collected from employers, who will now be fined for hiring undocumented workers.

Perfect. The federal government shunts the costs of its own inability to man the borders to tax-payers. Then it shoves off the mess of this guacamole onto its citizens.

If Americanness is defined by citizenship and citizenship is defined by law, can the government enforce its own laws while violating the law of the land?

If Americanness is not defined by citizenship, then we need a debate about that.

Nobody wants to demonize immigrants. Least of all an immigrant like me.
If money can go anywhere in the world to make a return on investment (and it should), labor should be free to move where it wants to find work.

But here’s the rub. Not all movement of capital is the genuine productive result of investment activity. A lot of it is driven by interference in the market in the form of state intervention in the money supply. The result of that is speculation – and speculative flows can flood a country, jack up the prices of everything and then in a trice flow out, creating financial disaster. That’s not the free market. That’s state-created financialization.

We know that. And the state affects the labor market like that too.

Letting labor move as it will is one thing. Subsidizing and incentivizing its movement through public services is another.

That imposes unbearable costs on local communities, bankrupts the state, and causes cultural and economic problems. Add to that another thick layer of DC bureaucracy and you have a recipe for disaster. Especially when the registration of these 12-20 million has to be done in 90 days.

In an article in the Washington Times, Emilio Gonzales, the director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services thinks that time-line should be doubled or tripled if the process is not going to go the way of the fraud-ridden 1986 amnesty of a mere 3 million people:

“We’re litigating cases today from 1986,” he says.

But, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff thinks it’s all fine and dandy.

“Chertoff told CNN that the bill would help him better focus his resources. “Right now, I’ve got my Border Patrol agents and my immigration agents chasing maids and landscapers. I want them to focus on drug dealers and terrorists. It seems to me, if I can get the maids and landscapers into a regulated system and focus my law enforcement on the terrorists and the drug dealers, that’s how I get a safe border.”

(“Immigration Breakthrough Could Pave the Way for Citizenship,” CNN, May 22, 2007)

By the way, Michael Chertoff, chief muck-a-muck of the Department of Homeland Security, knows all about how to handle terrorists.…and immigrants….and safety.

He’s the guy on whose watch New Orleans was hit, first with Katrina… and then with FEMA.

It was he who ran the 9-11 investigation. Chertoff was the senior Justice Department official on duty at the F.B.I. command center just after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

With all but impossible speed, he ID’d the terrorists and made the link to Osama bin Laden. He pushed to merge domestic surveillance and foreign espionage which, until then, had been kept strictly apart under US law. (“The Patriot Act’s Impact,” Duke Law Journal, Nathan C. Henderson, November 15, 2002. Here’s the pdf file: see also, “Crackdown,”Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, November 5, 2001).

Chertoff also authorized the unconstitutional detainment of thousands of Middle Eastern immigrants – including Middle Eastern Jews–without charges. As head of the DOJ’s criminal division, he told the CIA how far to go in interrogations. (“Amid Praise, Doubts About Nominee’s Post-9/11 Role,” Michael Powell and Michelle Garcia, Washington Post, January 31, 2005).

With Viet Dinh, he co-authored the unconstitutional USA PATRIOT Act, enacted on October 26, 2001. (“Homeland top job to Patriot Act architect,” AFP, January 13, 2005).

He’s even done a stint as defense in a terrorist trial.

Put in charge of the 9-11 investigation, Chertoff defended Dr. Magdy el-Amir, a leading New Jersey neurologist at the heart of a terrorist web based in Jersey City, alleged to have funneled millions to Osama. Some say Chertoff may have shielded el- Amir from criminal prosecution. (“Trail of Terror,” Chris Hansen and Ann Curry, NBC’s Dateline, August 2002 and The Record, Bergen County, NJ, December 11, 1998).

Nice resume.

According to CNN, Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray of California, chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, had this to say about the new immigration bill:

“The ‘compromise’ announced today by Sen. Kennedy will reward 12 million illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship — what part of illegal does the Senate not understand?” he said in a written statement.

At least, we already know what part of the Constitution this government doesn’t.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says the bill “wound up being about what it means to be an American … I think we’ve got a deal that reflects who we are as Americans.”

Maybe, under this administration, we have.


  1. Sample of comments from readers, with names deleted:

    Saw your article on LRC today and discovered your and Bill’s upcoming book. Hope it’s as good as the others. I’m recommending the book on an internet book I’m finishing up


    Thank you for another excellent article.


    From :
    Sent : Wednesday, May 23, 2007 12:09 PM
    To :
    Subject : Illegal Immigration
    MIME-Version: 1.0
    X-OriginalArrivalTime: 23 May 2007 12:09:23.0539 (UTC) FILETIME=[33729A30:01C79D33]

    I am ashamed for the decent people who wait in line, legally, to enter. And, I’m ashamed that the Church is complicit! Sincerely,



    Speaking of the Katrina Disaster, and the Aftermath, There was also the “Martial Law” fiasco that was involved as well, not to mention the unprecedented actions of Foreign Militaries on U.S. Soil. While I was in San Antonio I witness with my own eyes a Military convoy featuring armed, and uniformed soldiers from Mexico. The vehicles had the Flag of Mexico Adorned upon them, making a sizebale insignia, and a bold declaration of foreign Militaries.

    Libertarian in Arizona

    The US tax payers take it in the shorts again.

    I’ll been following illegal immigration for several

    years now, and poll and poll and poll show

    that, at minimum, 70% of the tax payers do

    NOT want the illegal immigrants in this country.

    We are, unfortunately, a Republic in name only

    any more. Things have changed so very much

    since I was a child, current events seem like

    science fiction.

    Where the US is now is a manifestation
    of human nature. The entire US Republic
    experiment can be discarded and tried
    again, and the results will be the same.
    You can’t cheat on your diet, the 2nd
    law of Thermodynamics or trying to change
    human nature. Like Ben Franklin, I
    believe that a Republic is the best form
    of govt, and, like Franklin, I would give
    the same answer to those who asked what
    is the nature of your new government:

    “A Republic, Madam, if you can keep it”.

    If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous,
    he will not bite you; that is the principle difference bet-
    ween a dog and a man.

    Sam Clemens


    Let’s not forget Chertoff’s role as Inspector Clouseau in “The Vince Foster Mystery” where he asks every question that DOESN’T shed light on what actually happen. Doesn’t ask why, contray to every police procedure, the officer immediately assumes suicide. Doesn’t ask how “key” pieces of evidence weren’t found until later. Doesn’t ask why officers had to revisit the crime scene. Doesn’t ask why family lawyers were taken to the body. In fact doesn’t ask anything remotely challenging to the official view.


    You write:

    The 380-page bill, fruit of three months of high-sounding wrangling, gives the immediate right to work (the Z visa), to some 12–20 million illegal workers who got into the United States before January 1, 2007.

    Don’t forget the problem with determining which undocumented workers got here before and after that date. Of course this is an oxymoron, which will only result in millions more crashing the border in order to claim they beat the deadline.

    Also I wonder if the A-Z-plan applies to every nation? I’m sure plenty of other workers besides Mexicans would want a piece of that action… and fair is fair. Just erase the lines between the two oceans, and make the entire US into international territory.


    Exactly..why bother…

    And I do understand labor issues. Make the process simple and humane, but don’t have a law and then say it doesn’t apply


    I just know that I spent four years wrangling with the state-department to get a visa for my wife, and now this AmneZty is the ultimate insult.

    To which I say: Mr. Bush– PUT UP THAT WALL!



    What a poorly-written article on your part. That’s the title of your article and nowhere in it do you mention where the trillion figure came from.

    I thought you might make some outlandish claim like a border fence, which isn’t even aprt of the bill, would cost “a bajillion dollars” or something
    like that.

    Or, I thought you might talk about the net tax loss from every immigrant household, $20,000 according to a recent Heritage Foundation study (for a grand total of $89 billion a year).

    Instead, we got incoherent rambling on your part…


    Sorry. the two trillion is from a heritage foundation report.
    I will link it.

    I fail to see why its rambling. The salient point its a contradiction in terms and expensive and probably wrongheaded.

    The details I will leave to policy wonks.


    Right; but I couldn’t even see the point of the article — were you taking the libertarian line that the bill is bad because it restricts immigration, or were you taking the libertarian line that it costs too damn much. Based on your email, I know it’s the cost


    No -how did you get that?
    Because I think there should be fairness? What are you telling all the immigrants who waited in line and did it the right way?

    Look at the article…how can you have a country with laws when you negate your own laws?

    Second point – bureacracy and police state issues..
    and the long riff about Chertoff is because of the police state issues..the financing issue adds to it…

    If that money goes there, it comes from somewhere else.

    And yes – I care about money issues. Money represents people’s work effort and saving…it should be fairly decided at the state level and the policing effort should be by the communities..maybe immigrant groups can support their own, that might be one way to do it..

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