Feathered Bastard

Arizona Republic's Robert Robb Savaged in Rebuttal by Emil Pulsifer

Arizona Republic opinion writer Robert Robb just got the shellacking of his existence by our own Emil Pulsifer, a frequent commenter on this blog.

Robb recently penned a column called, "A proposal for immigration reform light," to which Pulsifer has written an extensive rebuttal. It's so good, I'm publishing the entire thing here, after the jump.

Kudos to Pulsifer for taking Robb to the woodshed. I don't know if the Republic will publish Pulsifer's piece in the paper, but they should.

Pulsifer's commentary is his own. I'm not editing it in any way, and I'll let him defend it himself in the comments from detractors.

Robert Robb wrote:

"Enforcement has, and can, work. Where border enforcement has been put in place, it has worked. There's no reason to believe that it won't work elsewhere."
Nope.  Illegal immigrants tend to shift from one sector to another, wherever and whenever the pressure is less, relative to other sectors.  San Diego, where they built a fence, experienced a temporary decrease, but since 2001 apprehensions there have been climbing, even as Arizona has been stable.  According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service:
"This suggests that the increasing enforement along the Arizona border has begun to shift the pattern of unauthorized immigration back to California."
It's a game of whack-a-mole.  Fences can be tunneled under, climbed over using portable ramps, smashed through with stolen trucks, or blasted through with a stick or two of dynamite.  There's big money to be had in immigrant smuggling, so the economic incentives are there.  Walls are nothing without men to watch them for breaches, and currently there are 4,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to Arizona's 370 mile border with Mexico.  That's 11 agents per mile.  How many more would "provide border security"?
Even if you built a 100 foot high fence with foundations 200 feet deep, all the way along the 2,000 mile U.S. border with Mexico, it would simply shift illegal immigration to the tourism route.  The Arizona Republic recently carried a front-page article noting that, already, nearly half of all illegal immigrants enter legally, at controlled ports of entry, as tourists, students, and visitors, and simply overstay their visas.  Border enforcement is therefore a fool's game. 
Every year, 24 million Mexicans visit Arizona alone, legally, and spend $2.65 billion dollars in our state.  Unless you are willing to close the border to business, tourist, and humanitarian visitors (e.g., to families living legally here) you can't eliminate illegal immigration via a wall.  And if you are willing to completely seal off the border, kiss the Arizona economy goodbye.  Strange that Mr. Robb, a conservative, doesn't understand that government restrictions in one area encourage greater flow in another.  
Mr. Robb wrote:
"The current federal electronic-verification system works. The only thing it doesn't catch is an illegal using someone else's real name and Social Security number. But, in those cases, Social Security knows the fraud is taking place. If it were authorized to pass such duplicates on to law enforcement for investigation and prosecution of identity theft, that loophole would be nailed shut."
Well, no.  First, not all states are required to use E-verify; that's a matter of state law, at present.  Second, even states like Arizona with "tough" laws requiring its use don't specify a criminal or civil penalty for failing to use it.  Its use is simply prima facie evidence, under Arizona law, that businesses made a good faith effort.  But how many businesses have been prosecuted under that employer sanctions law, or are likely to be?  One?  Two?  The penalty for a first offense is suspension of a state business license for a mere 10 days -- providing that proof can be adduced that the employer "knowingly" hired the illegals: proof that will stand up in a court of law.  Which makes more sense: to save a ton of money, play the overwhelming odds, and only straighten up and fly right if convicted of a first offense?  Or to assume the worst, and lose money up front?  Does Mr. Robb understand the role of cost/benefit analysis in business planning/accounting?
Second, how would Social Security know that a fraud is taking place, when we're discussing individuals who are working, not individials collecting benefits?  Does Mr. Robb imagine that the Social Security Administration spends countless dollars and manpower hours tracking down every address discrepancy?  Does Mr. Robb have any idea how many tens or hundreds of millions of American citizen workers move or get another job without notifying the Social Security Administration of a change of address?  If these "leads" were forwarded to law enforcement, first, there would be too many to pursue, and second, there would be no basis for investigation.  The mere existence of duplicate addresses is does not constitute reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred.
E. Pulsifer
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons