Opposition to Immigration Restrictions in Los Angeles

The LA Times covers the reason why I decided not to go into the office on Saturday:

Joining what some are calling the nation’s largest mobilization of immigrants ever, hundreds of thousands of people boisterously marched in downtown Los Angeles Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall on the U.S. southern border. Spirited crowds representing labor, religious groups, civil-rights advocates and ordinary immigrants stretched over 26 blocks of downtown Los Angeles from Adams Blvd. along Spring Street and Broadway to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting “Si se puede!” (Yes we can!). The crowd, estimated by police at more than 500.000, represented one of the largest protest marches in Los Angeles history, surpassing Vietnam War demonstrations and the 70,000 who rallied downtown against Proposition 187, a 1994 state initiative that denied public benefits to undocumented migrants. The marchers included both longtime residents and the newly arrived, bound by a desire for a better life and a love for this county.

I say good for them! Talkleft covers the LA protests as well as HR 4437, which is the legislation that prompted this protest.

Whereas Pat Buchanan is against not only the free flow of goods but also against allowing more immigration, I’ve expressed my general sentiments for free trade in goods as well as capital – so it would be hypocritical of me not to support labor mobility even across national borders. I bring up Mr. Buchanan as he recently stated that President Bush is to the left of Senator Clinton on this issue.

Even as I want to say I support the President’s position, we should note what Kevin Drum said about the guest worker proposal:

If we truly decide that we want to keep immigration limited, then we should face down the low-wage business bloc of the Republican Party and get serious about keeping illegal immigrants out of the country in the first place. But if we want to allow more legal immigrants into the country — as a guest worker program tacitly acknowledges — then we should encourage them to be good citizens by offering them the chance to earn actual citizenship. Because they don’t do that, guest worker programs end up perpetuating both a culture of low-wage labor that’s ripe for exploitation and insular communities that have no incentive to think of themselves as Americans — because they aren’t. It’s the worst of both worlds.

While Andrew Samwick is generally supportive of President Bush’s efforts, he seems to agree with Kevin on this particular point.

Update: Via Mark Thoma comes both a Wall Street Journal op-ed and some very good insights from Paul Krugman. James Hamilton tells a touching personal tale.

Update II: Quiddity does a nice job summarizing Paul Krugman. Brad DeLong does an excellent job of capturing my view on Paul’s op-ed.