Thursday, June 20, 2019

Interview: CAPS's Jo Wideman explains how grand-scale immigration has changed California

Editor's note: This interview was originally published in April 2017.

This is the final article of my discussion with Jo Wideman. The firstsecondthirdfourth, fifth, and sixth pieces are available. 
Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
After several years on the back burner, serious talk about enforcing immigration law finally returned – thanks to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. With his election, executive-level action was at long last taken.
Do not expect Congress to follow suit, however. 
The last time a bipartisan consensus formed on immigration policy was in the then-majority-Democratic U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, it was centered around a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. Mercifully, this legislation did not get through the Republican-led U.S. House.
Among the GOP ranks, opposition to amnesty has solidified since Trump's victory and the 2014 midterm elections. Not long before Trump launched his bid, House GOPers rejected defense legislation because it would have provided for citizenship should an illegal serve in our military.
This move was met with strong criticism, including from center-right voices, which is what made it so commendable. When the rubber met the road, typically spineless politicians chose the more difficult, yet civic-minded, path. "The Honorable" gentlemen and gentlewomen indeed.
Still, kicking the can down the road no longer works. Illegal immigration has grown too vast and far too expensive. The time for legislative action is now, but it must be asked if said action will help or harm the situation.
Before anything else is mentioned, we must realize that the idea of rounding up and deporting illegal aliens en masse is unrealistic. The social consequences of this would surpass imagination, and there simply aren't enough law enforcement officers to do the job.
However, making citizens out of illegal aliens is a plan for abject failure. Not only would unlawful immigration be encouraged, but competition would soar for even the most menial of employment opportunities. 
If one thinks it is difficult to build a good career in post-Great Recession America, just wait and see how hard it will be to make ends meet in post-amnesty America.
All too many illegal aliens have minimal interest in assimilating to our country's cultural norms and earn a substantial – yet illicit – salary through public assistance and/or government-funded private charities. Amnesty is not going to bring the average American any fortune whatsoever. Mitt Romney was onto something when he spoke about self-deportation.
Scores of Democrats support amnesty for building a permanent political majority. No small number of Republicans want a first-class seat on the gravy train as well; especially those whose constituents utilize illegal alien labor.
Few people understand this incredibly complex situation as well as Jo Wideman does. She is the executive director of Californians for Population Stabilization, a group which stands at the forefront of productively dealing with America's immigration quagmire.
"Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) works to formulate and advance policies and programs designed to stabilize the population of California, the U.S. and the world at levels which will preserve the environment and a good quality of life for all," its website declares, later mentioning "that CAPS does not advocate blaming immigrants. We don’t blame people from other countries for wanting to come live here. We are pro immigrant – we strive to meaningfully uphold and nurture the American Dream for people who wants to come to the U.S. through legal channels in numbers that our environment and resources can reasonably accommodate (approximately 300.000 a year). We were founded on and conintue be focused on all aspects of population growth."
Wideman recently spoke with me about many issues relating to American immigration policy. Some of our conversation is included below.


Joseph Ford Cotto: California has emerged as the citadel of opposition to Trump's administration. The Golden State's government has dedicated itself to countering his policies and a viable secessionist movement is gaining steam there. With regard to the ramifications of immigration policy, what can the rest of the country learn from this?

Jo Wideman: “The waves of the future first break on the shores of California.” Other Americans can look at what mass immigration has done to the once golden state, shudder, and resolve to avoid that sorry fate in their own states. In California, mass immigration and uncontrolled illegal immigration on a scale unequaled in any other state have contributed to smog, stifling traffic and regulations, overcrowding, crime, deepening ethnic tensions, disloyalty, disintegration of a once-proud publicly-funded K-12 and university education system, and a dangerously widening gap between haves and have-nots. As CAPS blogger John Vinson writes, California has become “the most unequal state in America in terms of economic disparity and general well-being.” This is progress?

California politicians who were so quick to declare that immigration is entirely a federal  matter when states such as Arizona tried to assist with federal enforcement are now singing a different tune as they enact state laws that mandate interference with federal enforcement. In the short run, our communities become less safe as dangerous criminals are returned to the street. In the long run, California and Californians will suffer as federal funds are barred from sanctuary cities or a sanctuary state.

We need to ask why California has transitioned from a conservative state to the bastion of liberalism over the past quarter century. One significant factor is the huge number of illegal immigrants who now live within California's borders. It is well known that this special interest group overwhelmingly supports the Democratic Party which is most likely to ply them with shelter from immigration law enforcement as well as taxpayer-paid benefits.

It seems evident that as other states embrace high levels of illegal immigration, they will suffer similar political consequences – that is, that special interest identity groups trump the interests of the state and the nation as a whole.

Cotto: Economic fairness is a huge aspect of contemporary American politics. Even though the Great Recession has technically long since ended, the jobs many Americans find themselves eligible for fall beneath traditional expectations. Are immigration trends responsible for this in any meaningful way?

Wideman: Yes.  One cannot repeal the law of supply and demand.  A huge influx of low-skilled workers decreases job opportunities and depresses wages for America’s own less-skilled workers.  Harvard Professor George Borjas, who has been described by both Business Week and the Wall Street Journal as “America’s leading immigration economist,” put it succinctly, “Affluent Americans gain; poor Americans lose.”
America’s prosperity and stability has stemmed, arguably, from a large middle class—some rich, some poor, a large group in the middle.  Current immigration flows include a number of very wealthy and/or well-educated immigrants, along with a massive number of poor, less-educated immigrants—an hourglass shape of income distribution.  This has led to an increase in income inequality in the U.S.
It is often said that immigrants do the jobs American's won't do. That's a false premise and incomplete statement. The truth is that immigrants do the jobs Americans won't do at the prevailing wages being paid. This is particularly unfair to Americans who are economically displaced from jobs that they would and could do in a fair job market.

The sorry outcome, for all too many rank-and-file Americans, is ceaseless struggle and a gnawing sense of insecurity, loss of hope in a better future for themselves and their children, loss of faith in our national institutions, deep resentment towards self-absorbed elites, loss of ability to retire, and even loss of health or life itself due to drugs and drinking.  CAPS blogger Leon Kolankiewicz has written about the rise of death rates among white, middle-aged Americans documented in the recent research of Princeton University economist Angus Deaton.   

Analyzing health and mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources, Deaton, who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics, and his wife Anne Case, found that rising annual death rates among middle-aged, working-class whites are being driven by a combination of increasing suicides, as well as drug and alcohol addiction. Long-time substance abuse and alcoholism may lead to disorders like chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, as well as overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids.  It is a sorry state of affairs.