Immigration Issues of the U.S. Election

Nake M. Kamrany, University of Southern California, Ghaffar Mughal, Qatar University, Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Mathew Jackson, University of Montana and member of the Global Income Convergence Group, Jessica Greenhalgh, Global Income Convergence Group and Sam Kosydar, Global Income Convergence Group

The recent surge in immigration is caused because more bombs being dropped, millions are dead, and millions more march to perceived safety, or in many cases internment camps in Europe. And all the while America still does nothing except to threaten massive deportation of some 11+ million who have lived in the U.S. for years. Although President Barrack Obama may have tried to avoid getting more in the Middle East war of entanglement, but he is presiding over one of the largest humanitarian disasters of this century.

To be fair, Obama's hands have been tied. No American president of the modern era, with the exception of perhaps FDR in last term, has faced a Congress as obstructionist or as intent on undermining the legislative policies of its chief executive. Even if Obama moved to take in more refugees or send ground forces into Syria, would Congress allow him? The answer would most likely be a resounding no. And while criticism can be leveled at both parties, Robert Kagan's assertion that the current Republican Party is suffering from a "racially tinged derangement syndrome" is starting to gain credence with a lot of Americans, particularly young Americans. More importantly, American leadership has not expressed no interest in giving PEACE a chance as an alternative.

This frustration has funneled itself into what has to be one of the most anti-establishment, 'let's burn the house down' style presidential campaigns of the last sixty years. Trumped with anger, popular discontent has once again found its willing historical victim: immigrants. Particularly, the 11 million undocumented immigrants who call America home have been singled out. The bluster and braggadocio of the primary season alone, in which we have heard assertions of building walls and mass deportations have rendered the once storied words, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free" all but hollow.

Immigration issues in the United States transcends those of Europeans, although the root causes are substantially different. U.S. immigration issue consists of some 11+ million non-documented due to economic disparity. Europeans receive a flood of people who are seeking both economic equity, personal safety and political asylum as refugees.

Immigration consists of peoples' movement for resettlement from sending countries to receiving countries due to (1) political and social repressions in the home country or political immigration caused by dictatorial home governments such as the Syrian exodus. And, (2) economic immigration due to wage/income differentials between the sending and receiving countries who are motivated by economic incentives.

Historically the world has experienced several waves of non-documented immigration, mostly motivated by economic incentives and opportunities, and they have largely proven favorable for both the receiving and sending countries just the same as the mutual benefits of un-impinged free international trade. All parties have gained by international trade and immigration. Sending countries have gained from the annual remittances of the immigrants who have send billions of dollars annually to their home countries.

Concurrently, the receiving countries have benefited by the availability of cheaper labor than the prevailing labor cost. However, in the current wave of immigration into Europe, the receiving countries confront the European Migration Crisis and are overwhelmed with political refugees which have overwhelmed the infrastructure and socio/political /economic capacity of the receiving countries. The United States is confronted with millions of undocumented immigrants who must conform to U.S. Immigration laws.

However, the current immigration issue in the United States election is the existence of an alleged 11+ non-documented immigrants that candidate Donald Trump has singled out for deportation and to build a tall wall between Mexico and the U.S. borders. Although these measures may have some impact to stemming the flow of non-documents into the U.S., however, these measures do not augur well with the public. Donald Trump has highlighted the issue of immigration in the forefront of the U.S. 2016 presidential election. However, a majority of the American public would opt a humanitarian approach for those non-documents who have lived in the U.S., have held jobs, have paid taxes, have raised families, are law abiding individuals and are productive individuals the same as productive citizens. Equity demands a fair and humanitarian treatment.

In a recent survey conducted by USC Dornsife /Los Angeles Times statewide poll found that 62% of the voters said that they believed illegal immigrants in California is at least a major problem while 36% believed the issue was a small problem. Or not a problem at all. However, the state voters rejected the measures proposed by presidential front runner Donald Trump's mass deportation proposal. More than three- fourth of the voters expressed the view that immigrants who are already in the U.S. be granted permission and allowed to stay and apply for U.S. citizenship. By 2 to 1 voters opposed building a wall along the southern U.S. border to prevent immigrants entering the U.S. without proper legal documentation. The young voters in the state of California, which is housing the largest non-documented immigrants in the U.S. have taken a nuanced approach in contrast to older voters who are more likely to favor mass deportation of illegals.

President Obama has submitted a bill to Congress designed to grant millions of non-documents to avoid deportation from the United States. The issue is being challenged by some states on grounds of jurisdiction issue over immigration subject of the federal government vs. the state governments. During the Supreme Court initial deliberation on April 20, 2016 the prospect vote ostensibly will be on ideological line rather than on the merit of the subject which means the lower federal ruling will prevail in view of 4-4 split in the Supreme Court.

Walls and deportations have been tried before and they are not effective in addressing the issue of immigration as long as political repression and economic disparity prevail on global scale. The solution to immigration issue is to single out the above two problems and devise and apply an effective global approach.

With respect to political repression, most notably tribal, religious, and sectarian divide must be countered through democracy, education, communication, and technology. Measures of domestic, political, social and economic indicators as they apply to repression must be established for troubled countries and followed over time under the auspices of the World Bank/IMF.

Positive and negative incentives must be applied to encourage progression over time. With respect to economic immigration the response to stem it must be to stimulate economic development and employment opportunities in the home countries. The target should be 4% annual growth of the GDP and an unemployment rate of less than 6%. The affected countries and the international community of the rich countries must work together to increase the per capita income and wage level and employment opportunity of the sending countries. When these indicators reach some proximity to development standard, then the flow of emigration due to economic incentives will subside. There exist an innate desire for a majority of the people to remain in their homes and villages. Whenever emigration from sending countries reach equilibrium the issue will subside or get resolved. This approach will require transfer of substantial amount of investment funds from the rich to low income countries. However, resources are scarce everywhere.

However, the sources of these funds could be tapped by re-allocating the military budget in the rich countries and apply it for reducing economic and political immigration in the low income countries. This process may continue until the income and wage level in the sending countries reach a level of income that would stem emigration. In the past the rich countries had agreed to allocate up to 1% of their GDP for economic development in LDCs, but it never materialized due to former cold-war - East-West completion.

Global immigration issue must be dealt with ethical and humanitarian precepts including generosity and altruism. Needless to say, there is a dire need to pay attention to this income gap issue. For instance the current poverty wage in the low income countries is set by the World Bank at $1.25/day in 2005 while the minimum wage in the United States is targeted at $15/hr. Or $120/day. That means that he figure in low income countries should move towards (96 * 1.25) over time. Alternatively the measure of per capita income could be used to estimate the annual flow of resources from the rich to low income countries...

Additional References
LINTHICUM, Kate, "immigration Still worries Californians," Los Angeles Times, 3/31/2016, P. 1.