Deportation and Deals

    Many Americans – mostly supporters of Trump – want to deport the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. They usually cite one or more of the following reasons.

    Illegal immigrants…

    1. Broke the law.

    2. Are using up our resources.

    3. Are taking jobs.

    4. Are lowering our national IQ (the racist view)

    5. Commit new crimes while here.

    Here’s the interesting part. When I was getting my MBA at Berkeley, years ago, a professor taught us that so long as two parties do not want the same limited resource, you can usually reach a deal. That is an extraordinarily important concept, and one that has made a difference in my own life. Whenever you think there is no deal to be had, you’re usually wrong, unless both parties want the same limited resource.

    That’s why Israel and Hamas will never agree to peace. They both want the same limited resource. They both want the same land. No deal can be had.

    But with the issue of deportation, there is no such limited resource. When you add people to an economy – and you do it right – everyone is better off. So in theory, there is a “deal” that could make everyone happy.

    If your reason for favoring deportation involves a principle that law-breakers must be punished, would you be happy with a deal that makes illegal immigrants pay all of their own taxes and some of yours as well? That benefits you directly while punishing a law-breaker. Problem solved. Everyone wins.

    If your problem with immigration is mostly about preventing incoming criminals, wouldn’t most of your problems be solved by building a wall and keeping new ones out? The criminals already here are currently subject to deportation if caught. So in the long run, a wall and better border control takes care of the crime problem from immigration.

    If your problem with immigration is that new immigrants are taking jobs, here again the solution is the wall. The economy makes new jobs every day. We can easily “absorb” the illegal immigrants already here. What matters is stopping the flow of new ones. (Pro-immigration people will argue that “net” immigration is already negative.)

    By analogy, it doesn’t matter how much fiscal debt the United States has now, so long as the trend is not out of control. As the economy grows, a stable debt will become smaller over time as a percentage of the GDP. Likewise, a growing economy will quickly absorb everyone who is already here. The only long term problem involves the rate of new people coming in. The wall solves for that. The rest works itself out over time.

    If your argument against illegal immigrants is that they use more public resources than they create, would you be happy with a deal that reverses that? Suppose an illegal immigrant agrees to join the military, or pay a multi-year penalty in taxes to create more benefit for the country than cost. Would you be okay letting that person stay?

    Or suppose we create a system in which a legal resident can buy a performance bond to “sponsor” an illegal immigrant to stay. That works like insurance. If the sponsored immigrant doesn’t pay taxes, or commits a crime, the sponsor loses the value of the bond. That way we move the risk from citizens who don’t want extra risk to sponsors who have personal relationships with illegal immigrants and trust them. Would that deal work for you?

    If you’re a racist, and your main issue is that you want to avoid the lowering of the national IQ – according to you – there’s no changing your mind. But I would argue that IQ is less predictive of success than intelligent risk-taking. And immigrants are people who have taken intelligent risks. That smells like entrepreneurship to me. Where I live, in Northern California, there is a large percentage of folks with Mexican heritage. The schools in my town are all rated 10 out of 10. Crime is low. Startups are humming. Things are great. 

    And racists need to explain why the United States with its diverse population is doing so well compared to just about everywhere else. To the racists, I see your math, and I know how to calculate averages. But the experience of the real world seems to reject your math. The United States is doing well as an immigrant nation.

    My point is that there is probably a “deal” to be made that satisfies the pro-deportation folks who are not racists. If you want legal justice, and you don’t want outsiders taking your resources, we can probably fix most of that with an intelligent deal.

    If Trump asks Americans for suggestions on how to handle deportation humanely, he wins. A big part of the problem is that citizens don’t believe politicians are hearing them on this issue. Trump is listening. If he solicits suggestions, you have half of what you wanted – attention and priority. 

    But ask not what your country can do for you. Come up with a plan yourself. Social media will judge it and forward it to the mainstream media and the candidates themselves. Ask yourself what you want and create a deal structure that gets it for you.

    Who is stopping you?

    You might like my book because you’re a human being.