2005 April 15 Friday
Senator Dianne Feinstein Opposes AgJobs Immigration Amnesty

While Senator Larry Craig (R Idaho) is trying to get the AgJobs illegal immigrant amnesty attached to the Iraq spending appropriations bill Senator Dianne Feinstein (D California) is opposing Craig on AgJobs.

When word spread that such additions might be in the wind, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, authored a non-binding resolution that no such measures be added. It passed 61-38. But almost immediately after that resolution passed, the immigration provisions began to be offered. More of the same is expected today.

Feinstein was particularly upset at the notion that AgJobs could be considered now.

"This is going to be a huge magnet" for illegal immigrants, Feinstein warned her colleagues during an impassioned floor speech. "Mark my words."

Feinstein opposes flooding the country with millions more immigrants.

Opposition to the proposal is not limited to the GOP. One of Craig's harshest critics on the Senate floor was Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, who said the program offered "nirvana" to Mexican workers who might be contemplating crossing the border illegally to seek work in the United States.

If they can make it across the border and work 100 hours on a farm, Feinstein said, they could hope to qualify for permanent residency for themselves and their immediate families.

"This is a bill of enormous dimensions," she said. "This could be the largest immigration program in history. It could bring millions of people into this country — workers, their children, their spouses."

Dingbat Senator Barbara Boxer (also D California), never one to flinch from embracing bad ideas, opposed Feinstein on the AgJobs amendment.

"This will open up a long and complicated debate on the floor of the Senate," Feinstein said of the diverse immigration provisions under consideration. "We should not do that." Feinstein's Democratic colleague, California Sen. Barbara Boxer, opposed her on the effort to keep immigration measures off of the Iraq bill. Even though the resolution passed, moreover, senators quickly proceeded to parade their own immigration priorities into public.

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D Maryland) offered a separate amendment to increase the number of H2B visas so that crab seafood processors and tourist businesses in Maryland could get cheap immigrant labor.

Mikulski in February introduced a bill to do the same thing, the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005. Businesses pleaded for the relief after the H2B cap was reached on Jan. 3, leaving many industries, particularly those that needed workers in the late spring and summer, short the number of workers they need.

Industries cannot put in requests for H2B workers until 120 days before the start of their season, which puts summer businesses like seafood processors at a disadvantage.

"H2Bs are a problem," said Chris Foster, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. "When they reach the cap, they shut down. . . . That's a significant impact predominantly on the Eastern Shore."

Foster said with the "very, very seasonal economy" on the Eastern Shore, the unemployment rate can range from 4 percent to 10 percent during the year, but during the summer months it's at zero, and there is a worker shortage.

But if immigrants are not allowed to do the work businesses could respond by raising offered salaries as a way to attract Americans who could move to the area to work in the summer time. The use of migrant labor is done because it is cheaper. Should keeping down the price of labor be the main goal or even a major goal of immigration policy? No! What is wrong with American workers earning higher salaries? And whatever happened to the Democratic Party as supposed defenders of the working men and women of this country? Mikulski clearly represents the interests of business owners at the expense of the larger working and taxpaying public.

You can thank Senator Feinstein for her position on AgJobs at her email web page.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 April 15 02:32 PM  Immigration Politics

Daveg said at April 15, 2005 6:08 PM:

As much as I think Feinstein is an political weather vane, I have to be happy that she is "blowing" our way on this issue. She has extremely good instincts (was way ahead on the death penalty issue, for example).

So, this gives me a small ray of hope that the tide is turning.

PacRim Jim said at April 15, 2005 9:22 PM:

Perhaps the U.S. should outsource its Congress.

john S Bolton said at April 16, 2005 10:59 AM:

What is remarkable is that any responsible politician could believe that the problem with the low income populations here would be that their wages are too high. A malicious destroyer could easily believe that the net taxpayer has too light a burden, and needs more to be brought in from abroad.

john d. said at April 16, 2005 5:45 PM:

There are illegal aliens because there are jobs Americans won't do, or so they say. But if we let the illegals become Americans then they won't want to do those crappy jobs either by definition. So how does legalizing illegals help America get all those crappy jobs done nobody in America wants to do? Besides paying more. It's a rhetorical question.

Mark said at April 16, 2005 10:46 PM:

John most American's won't do many of those jobs because the pay is unbelievably low. While big business gets a bargain, Joe Taxpayer has to subsidize those low wages. However cost via taxes is a secondary issue to that of the cost to American society and culture, which is immeasurable.

Dan Morgan said at April 17, 2005 12:11 AM:

First you seal the border, then talk about amnesty. Here is how: http://nospeedbumps.com/?p=49

Proborders said at April 17, 2005 10:30 AM:

There should not be a general amnesty for illegal aliens even if the borders are made more secure.

Randall Parker said at April 17, 2005 10:37 AM:


No, first seal the border. Cost would be less than $10 billion if we do the same as the Israelis do to seal a border. Then deport all the illegals who are already here. Then cut back on family reunification immigration. Then eliminate the immigration lottery. Then impose skills requirements on would-be immigrants.

Dan Morgan said at April 17, 2005 4:26 PM:


Thanks for the comment. Mass deportations just won't happen, I my opinion. Deporting 15 million people is not politically possible. For people that have lived and worked here for 5 or 10 years, and who have semi-Americanized kids going to schools - I have some trouble deporting them even if they broke the law coming here. Maybe those that have not been here for say 3 or more years could be deported. And this might be politically possible.

To me, if we could actually just stop the rapid growth of the illegal population by sealing the border, that would be a huge step forward. Even this will be extremely difficult politically ... but this is why we blog, to reverse the momentum.

Bob Badour said at April 18, 2005 9:05 AM:


I have some hypotheticals for you:

1) Suppose I steal into the US from Canada and bring some kids with me who became sort of Americanized. I live in Minnesota or Wisconsin for 10 years.

Would you object to deporting me to Canada? Are you suggesting it would present some special hardship on the children?

2) Suppose someone comes to live and work in the US on an H1B visa with his wife and three children: aged 1, 5 and 11 years old. Suppose they live in a nice suburban neighbourhood paying higher than average rent or property taxes to live in a neighbourhood with better schools. Suppose the man earns three times the median family income so--even though his wife stays home to care for the children--the family is a net payer of taxes and will remain so forever. Suppose both the husband and wife are highly educated and make a point of mostly speaking english at home to help their children adjust to their new country--after all the couple are applying for green cards and have no intention to ever leave the US. Four years after they arrive, with children now 5, 9 and 15 years old, a sudden economic downturn shocks the industry where the man works. His employer suddenly loses all of its major contracts at essentially the same time and has no choice but to lay the man off. The greencard application is not yet complete and the man no longer has a job to sponsor the H1B visa.

Do you object to forcing this man and his family to leave the country within 10 days and basically abandon any assets they can neither take with them nor arrange to sell before they leave? Would you yank his youngest child from kindergarden and ship the child off to a country where the child can understand only a few words? Would you take a bright 9 year old who is excelling in fourth grade and ship the child off to a country where lessons are in a language the child has barely spoken in four years and has never seen in writing? Would you force a child in the late stages of puberty to leave her circle of friends and repeat the difficult process of adjusting to a new school system in a different language? Do you object to deporting three articulate children who naturally speak english with a northern California accent and who are generally indistinguishable from native born American children?

I am just curious what your criteria are for semi-americanized children?

The sad truth of the matter is, while the illegal alien family who speaks spanish at home, at work and at school will ignore (even flaunt or scoff at) US immigration law, the H1B family cannot afford to ignore US immigration law and will pack up and leave within the 10 day limit. In fact, many thousands did.

Proborders said at April 18, 2005 6:15 PM:

Dan, if most of the illegal immigrants in the USA were Arab Moslems or black Africans, would you favor an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been in the USA for 5 to 10 years or more?

Dan Morgan said at April 18, 2005 9:10 PM:


These are very fine points and I will have to think about them. I can see the unfairness of giving amnesty to those who have been dodging the law, while deporting those who were here obeying the rules and also being very productive at the same time.

My comment about deporting millions of people back to Mexico, espeically the kids, is that they would typically be shipped back to extreme poverty.Imagine going from a comfortable US working class environment to some awful place in the slums of some Mexican city. A harsh thing to wish on any kid.

Those here on visas that are being deported, say here from Europe or Asia or Canada, would at least be going back to modern places where they have a decent shot at landing on their feet.

... I realize that my arguments here are on rather thin ice, a kind of double standard.

Randall Parker said at April 18, 2005 9:40 PM:


There were and are lots of people from India here on work visas. Ditto Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other places far poorer than Mexico. Mexico has one quarter of the US GDP. It is not that poor.

Also, keep in mind that there are already many more Mexican kids in Mexico than in the US. If it is terrible to send people back (and I have to state that I'm not at all upset at the idea of sending them back) is it not equally terrible to keep out all the ones who are currently living in Mexico? Isn't it then even more terrible to keep out kids who are living on the streets in Dehli and instead let in kids from Mexico?

Craig said at April 19, 2005 7:18 PM:

Here's a story for you:

Just a few months before my high school graduation (back in 1990), I was eating lunch with a group of friends when one of them, Charlie, told us he was going to get a job for the summer paying $18 an hour. (This was back when teenagers were lucky to get $5 an hour). How was he going to make that much? "I'm gunna remove asbestos from old buildings," he said.

So let's see here now: a job is tough, low status, highly undesirable, and potentially dangerous. So what does an employer do? He offers lots of money to the person willing to do it. But of course, that was then. Today what does that same employer do? He says he can't find any Americans willing to do it and so hires a bunch of illegals.

Somehwere in the very recent past we got the idea that just because a job doesn't require a college education that it shouldn't pay a lot of money. Difficult? Back-breaking? Low status? Environmental extremes? "Nobody doing such grungy work deserves to get paid squat." But if you're a lawyer working in a nice, climate-controlled environment, wearing a suit, and eating lunch at some place with a fancy French-sounding name you deserve to make six figures. Ever had to hire a lawyer? It can empty your bank account right quick. But no one seems to be saying that we have a shortage of lawyers in this country and that we need to import more from Guatemala or Mexico. Is it any wonder that something like half the folks in Congress are lawyers?

Dan Morgan said at April 21, 2005 8:07 PM:

Randall and Bob,

Okay, you guys have valid points. There is no reason to give special treatment to illegal Mexican immigrants over immigrants from other countries if any kind of amnesty program is implemented (I know that you both oppose amnesty, period). For that matter, the people that came on visas and obeyed the laws should get the best treatment regarding any amnesty.

In the policy picture, there are really three options:

1) Do nothing like today. Have open borders and no deportations.
2) Secure the border and permit some limited amnesty.
3) Secure the border and begin deporting all that are found to be illegal.

My point is that #2 is far far better than #1. If it took political compromise to get #2, vs. a choice of otherwise we only get #1 - it is definitely worth it.

My reading of the political situation is that to get #2 will be a minor miracle and #3 would be a major miracle. I will take a minor miracle over no miracle at all.

... on the other hand, if you give in politically and grant amnesty, you may get option #4:

4) Do not secure the border and permit amnesty.

This would be a repeat of the amnesty that occurred when Reagan was in office. That was clearly a mistake. If we don't secure the border, I guess we just repeat the amnesty program every decade or so, once we have enough illegals backed up in the system.

So I think that I now oppose a broad amnesty too, because the risk of just getting option #4 is very high. But still, what about someone who has lived here for say 20 years and have worked hard, obeyed the laws, and say their kids just finished college. The idea of amnesty is to legally forgive someone for something that they did wrong, because they have earned some respect for good behavior. Surely there is some room for give here.

Randall Parker said at April 21, 2005 8:58 PM:

Dan Morgan,

Public support for restriction of immigration is building. The worse things get the angrier the public becomes. A deal cut prematurely will not be as good.

Also, items 2 and 4 would never work. The politicians would pass the amnesties and then fail to go thru on the measures to control borders and stop the influx. This is what happened in 1986. Enforcement provisions were gradually watered down and undermined.

Building border barriers and enforcement of hiring practices internally would take time to build up and make effective. These policy changes require sustained support from politicians. There is no way we can hold them accountable to force them to honor that part of the deal once the amnesty was passed. We can't expect them to stick with a deal for amnesty in exchange for a big cut back on who gets in and a raising of standards on how talented immigrants have to be.

So I do not see a deal with the kind of exchange you have in mind as remotely workable in practice. A compromise would turn into a total defeat.

Miles Hendon said at April 30, 2005 2:25 PM:

What is happening in the U.S. is unique in the history of the world. The majority of the population (i.e. whites) being outnumbered in their own country with the approval of an elected government. The native American birthrates are suffering and are below replacement levels because so many formely-family providing jobs now pay SQUAT due to uber-cheap labor. Fact: Blue state non-hispanic white birthrate=1.63 children per female. Fact: Red state Jesusland non-hispanic white birthrateis at 1.93 children per female. Fact: Replacement birthrate 2.1 children per female. Why arent white people having children? Why do only 75% of white women ever give birth AT ALL ANYMORE? Maybe its because jobs that regualar guys could do and used to pay enough to build a little house and have a little life now pay lousy. Maybe its because H-1b visas allow greedy corporations to pay very little for tech workers which makes going to tech school almost a waste of time. Maybe its because "outsourcing" has allowed corporations to move production facilities to China. FACT: Every population on EARTH has people on the left side of the bell curve. We are making guys and gals of whom a high school diploma is the best they can do and extinct group here by devaluing their jobs so much they cant afford kids or even to really attract a mate and MARRY at ALL. At the same time we are providing livelyhoods for the left-side-of-the bell curve in China, Sri Lanka, Mexico et al the abitlity to breed well beyond replacement rates.

What just Effing kills me is that if this issue were brought to a democratic vote amongst the native black, white, native-americans it would no doubtebly be 90% for building A WALL WITH RAZOR WIRE ON THE BORDER with guards instructed to shoot anyone attepting to cross. But no, the gated community rich love getting their lawns cut cheap, the socialist democrats dream of outnumbering the Jesus-freak red staters and constucting a political hedgemony based on taxing the top third to give to the bottom two-thirds. This situation is pathetic.

I had NEVER seen a Mexican back in 1989. In 1990 I saw my first. Now they are a fourth of Nashville, hold every construction job there is here, have little punk gangs everywhere around. Store fronts all over town are in Spanish. Hell, even urinal signs in my old part of town are in Spanish. We never got to vote on this and it PISSES most of us off. I would even vote for Hillary Clinton if she would build a wall. My country is being taken away from me and Im mad as hell about it.

Ron Wilson said at June 29, 2005 3:36 PM:

As an American born citizen who has worked internationally, both legally and illegally – I knew what the risks were before I went overseas. I accepted the risk that if I was caught working in Europe without a work visa that I WOULD be deported. Simple as that.

I have no sympathy for people who come to American illegally and then “expect” to be granted full rights as a US citizen. If they come here illegally (they know what they are doing is illegal) and they get caught – they should be deported. That is the law and that is the risk they take when they come here illegally.

If they suffer financial hardship from being deported – then too bad. That was a risk they accepted when they came here illegally.

Francisco Villa said at April 6, 2006 3:33 PM:

First off let me say that while everyone is entitled to their opinion, it is rather sad to read some of these colse-minded and unrealistic ideas in regards to the solution to the "immigration problem". I comprehensive plan and solution must be fully implimented to successfully deal with this issue. Sealing off the borders completely is unrealistic and unpractical in terms of money, effort, and time. Ive heard numerous times this very same suggestion but the idea remains rather shallow because nobody has provided a way that this country would go about doing this. It can not be expected that the 12 million immigrants living here will be easily identified to be deported. It is ironic that most of the same "radicals" proposing these ideas are the very same people who can be traced several generations ago to having family that came in the very same manner and fashion as most immigrants are doing now. There is unfounded accusations that immigrants are stealing all the jobs from Americans and leaving them without work and a decent job yet the facts and current statistics of the last quarter of 2005 reported having the lowest unemployment rate in the last ten years. Dealing with immigrants in a legal fashion by offering a temporary worker permit and with numerous requirements, offer residency along with improving both the southern and northern border's security will undoubtedly not only improve our economy by substantionally increasing revenue and weeding out people who are not here to benefit the country. Another fallacy in all of these ignorant and intellectually limited ideas is that immigrants are a border to hospitals, social programs, and the country in general. Yet, for those who have a limited education and are unaware of the process of several social programs including social security is that while it is entirely plausible and possible for immgrants to file taxes and many currently do so, they can not receive any of these funds such as social security, unemployment benefits, retirement funds and remain in the system for all of the people here legally to enjoy and benefit from. Before "trying to dispute" any of these factual points think of someone besides the limited number of Indian Americans that are the only true natives of this great country, how many of you or people including your ancestors possible going back many generations and decades that didnt come here as immigrants, as this is and has been the country built by and for all of us immigrants.

michelle said at May 7, 2008 1:13 PM:

Greetings, Senator Feinstein,

My name is Michelle and I think you are wonderful.

I am writing in hopes you can speak to the Superdelegates and ask them to UNITE for "Barack Obama" to be the
Presidential Democratic Nominee.

Barack Obama will WIN John McCain.

Hillary needs to gracefully exit the race.

Thank you for your time.



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