July 11, 2005

In Solidarity….

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:32 pm

US flag US flag Union Jack
Middle graphic courtesy of Are You Conservative?
OUTRAGE (HT Andrew Sullivan): BBC scrubs initial “terrorist” references;
More BBC outrage links at Michelle Malkin;
Fully vetted at Weapons of Mass Discussion

Illegals Across America (for 071105): Business Press Coverage Has Gone Mad

(Another entry in an irregular series of items worth noting that I’ve come across [usually three in each post] about those in America illegally)
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So in spite of the likely involvement of non-citizen immigrants (perhaps legal, perhaps not) in the London terrorist bombings last week, and the clear dangers to our survival inherent in America’s immigration non-policy, the American business press, with no sense of the obvious irony, has put its efforts towards convincing us about the desirability of having a permanent horde of illegal immigrants in our midst into major-league overdrive.

This post will contain a few choice paragraphs from each link I’m citing; each article appeared within a few days of the London terror attacks. I will do my level best not to comment (you’ll note that I failed, as two comments just gushed forth, and I somehow managed not to violate my own site’s standards of language cleanliness in the process).

ITEM 1. Business Weak cover story–Embracing Illegals (link is free for now):

At the same time, though, the fast-growing undocumented population is coming to be seen as an untapped engine of growth. In the past several years, big U.S. consumer companies — banks, insurers, mortgage lenders, credit-card outfits, phone carriers, and others — have decided that a market of 11 million or so potential customers is simply too big to ignore. It may be against the law for the Valenzuelas to be in the U.S. or for an employer to hire them, but there’s nothing illegal about selling to them.

So with a wary eye on the heated political debate, business is targeting the Valenzuelas and millions of others who have entered the country illegally. Many companies do so more or less openly. Wells Fargo has half a million matrícula accounts, a majority of them, they acknowledge, opened by unauthorized aliens who lack regular residency or citizenship papers. At the Valenzuelas’ branch, fully 80% of accounts are opened by matrícula holders. Blue Cross of California, whose parent, WellPoint Inc. (WLP ), is the nation’s largest health insurer, sells health insurance to matrícula holders from company-staffed desks set up inside Mexican and Guatemalan consular offices in the U.S. Sprint Corp. (FON ) accepts such an I.D. for cell-phone contracts.

… The corporate Establishment’s new hunger for the undocumenteds’ business could have far-reaching implications for America’s stance on immigration policy, which remains unresolved. Corporations are helping, essentially, to bring a huge chunk of the underground economy into the mainstream. By finding ways to treat illegals like any other consumers, companies are in effect legalizing — and legitimizing — millions of people who technically have no right to be in the U.S. It’s even happening in mirror image, with some Mexican companies setting up programs to follow customers who move to the U.S. All this knits the U.S. and Mexico closer together, further blurring the border and population distinctions.

ITEM 2. The Wall Street Journal on expanded banking services for illegals (link requires subscription):

MILWAUKEE — Javier and Araceli Garcia, illegal immigrants from Mexico, never imagined that the U.S. government would help them realize their dream of owning a home.

But last year, the couple secured a $54,600 mortgage to buy the gray, 1,158-square-foot bungalow that they had been renting for eight months. The Wisconsin housing authority financed the loan. The Internal Revenue Service gave them an identification number that enabled them to apply for it at local Mitchell Bank, which was happy to take their business.

“We thought we would never buy a home, because of our [illegal] status,” said Mrs. Garcia.

Competition for new customers is driving banks to offer home loans and other financial services to illegal immigrants — and they are getting help from government agencies, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The FDIC encourages banks to lend and invest in underserved markets regardless of customers’ immigration status.

… Because most undocumented immigrants don’t have a credit history, the (Mitchell) bank decided to consider utility, rent and overseas-remittance receipts in assessing their creditworthiness. A letter from a pastor was also welcome.

As demand for home loans gradually increased, a problem arose: Taking on the loans was creating more risk than a small bank could shoulder on its own. That’s because unlike other mortgages, the loans were not sellable on the secondary market to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which currently don’t deal in loans for illegal immigrants as a matter of official policy. That means Mitchell Bank had to hold all the loans in its portfolio rather than spreading out the risk.

The issue was resolved last year, after Mr. Maloney made a presentation to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. Its mission is to help low-income families buy homes by offering mortgages at preferential interest rates that are fixed for 30 years. The housing agency regards its home-ownership program as key to combating predatory lending, which has exploded in poor inner cities, and revitalizing downtown neighborhoods. The state agency decided to start a pilot program for undocumented immigrants.

“We can stick our heads in the sand and pretend these people don’t exist, or we can help them be in the U.S. with assets,” says executive director Antonio Riley, the head of the Wisconsin housing authority. He has received applications from many banks interested in offering loans to undocumented immigrants.

The housing authority finances the mortgages, which Mitchell Bank and other institutions sell to their customers. Thus, Mitchell Bank no longer retains the risk for the loans.

So the taxpayers or bondholders get to absorb the risk of homeowners defaulting on their loans because they shouldn’t be here and got deported. Zheesh.

ITEM 3. In The WSJ, Stephen Moore believes that illegals deserve kudos for contributing to our long-term economic expansion (link requires subscription):

The latest U.S. Census Bureau data confirm that America is in the midst of one of the most dramatic demographic transformations in our nation’s history. Driving this transformation is what has been called the “fourth great wave” of immigration to these shores. The first wave came from Western Europe during the nation’s founding. The second wave arrived in the middle of the 19th century when the U.S. first began to industrialize. The third wave was the great Ellis Island influx in the first two decades of the 20th century, when nearly one million immigrants arrived each year — from every corner of Europe.

Those earlier immigrant groups generally prospered here and were instrumental in the building of America’s economic might. How about this latest fourth wave? Since 1980 about 20 million immigrants have come, with about three of four arriving from Asia and Central America. Over the past quarter-century the percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign born has about doubled from 6.2% in 1980 to 12% today — which means that about one in eight of us is an American by choice, not by birth.

Just stop; I can’t stand it any more (I know; I promised; I can’t help myself). Memo to WSJ: A large plurality, if not the majority, of the “Fourth Wave,” is not interested in doing what those in the first three waves had to do to stay here–namely, commit to becoming citizens, buy into this country’s values and heritage, and assimilate into the general culture while of course maintaining unique features of their ethnic identity. And we’re not making them do it. There are 10-20 million people in this country whose presence and day-to-day existence is based on illegality and lawlessness; many of them are direct threats to our personal safety and/or our national security. Because we have tolerated this lawlessless for at least 20 years, even after successful terrorist attacks carried out by people who should not have been here, we will, on a not-too-distant day, wake up and not recognize the country we’ve become.

Continuing with Moore (sigh):

One can only marvel at how over the past 20 years the U.S. free market system has absorbed millions of new immigrants into the economy and labor force almost seamlessly. The 1980s and ’90s were two of the fastest economic growth decades in American history, in overall and per capita GDP growth, at the very time when immigration was peaking. Financial and housing assets in the U.S. have more than quadrupled in real terms since the early 1980s, making the past 20 years the most rapid period of wealth creation in American history. Immigrants may not have caused this burst of prosperity, but they certainly didn’t prevent it.

For those of us who believe that the melting pot is a vital and unique feature of American society, this finding that the new immigrants are integrating into our modern economy is highly reassuring. Even more encouraging is the knowledge that a generous immigration policy can coexist with high rates of economic growth and low unemployment. The nativists have gotten this story all wrong for at least the past 20 years; perhaps it would be wise to stop listening to them.