Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune offers "Let Haitians in U.S. stay a while" (link) about yesterday's announcement from the Department of Homeland Security that illegal aliens from Haiti who are currently in the U.S. will be able to remain for (at least) 18 months. He misleads about the impact that would have and the policies he promotes would make things even worse:
...[Obama] oddly overlooked a bigger, long-term way to help Haitians help Haiti, one that doesn't cost U.S. taxpayers a dime. Obama should have immediately given the estimated 30,000 undocumented Haitians in this country who are in danger of being deported a chance to stay here a while and work.
Actually, that costs far more than a dime. Many or most of those illegal aliens will be low-skilled, and in the U.S. low-skilled labor is heavily subsidized. For instance, many of those covered would be in Florida, Massachusetts, and New York. Those states spend $6,056, $9,856, and $11,546 respectively in per pupil spending (source here). A low-wage worker with two children in public schools is not going to be covering more than a small fraction of those costs. And, as legal workers, they'd be eligible for a broader range of other public services than when they were here illegally. And, the low-wage jobs that many or most of the Haitians would be doing could have been taken by unemployed Americans, some of whom will instead be forced to subsist on unemployment insurance.
Clarence Page would have us subsidize Haitians working at the same time as we subsidize Americans not working.
Then, he promotes remittances:
Like other large immigrant groups here, Haitians send millions of dollars back to family and friends in their homeland every month. For Haiti, whose $7 billion economy equals about $2 per person per day, that cash goes a long way. According to the World Bank, remittances provide almost a fourth of the island nation's gross domestic product.
Remittances are like subsisting on candy. They create a dependence on the U.S. and in some cases that would become an intergenerational part of their culture. And, it would come at the expense of them working to develop industries that will help their long-term growth.
Page also fails to note that many of those from other countries who were put into Temporary Protected Status years ago are still here. He also fails to note that those under TPS, through the network effect, make it easier for family members, friends, and others to come here illegally.
More of the downsides of TPS are discussed here, and if Page wants to suggest something that would be effective he should promote some sort of jobs training plan for Haitians in Haiti. For instance, a replicable, non-corrupt, closely-monitored program that would have them building earthquake-safe infrastructure such as hospitals. Those Haitians who are in the U.S. illegally doing that instead of taking jobs here makes far more sense long-term.
Sat, 01/16/2010 - 13:45 · Importance: 4