Border Controls

rakesh bhandari djones at
Sun Feb 4 01:54:08 MST 1996

Thanks to Michael L, Chris B, and Matt K for beginning this discussion.
(Michael's message as to the urgency of this issue comes in just as I send
this out.)

I have a question: does anyone know the status of the immigration bill
which has been introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R. Texas)?

In  the Wall Street Journal (1/19/96), the policy director of Alexis de
Tocqueville Institution in Arlington, VA Stuart Anderson raised several
criticisms of the features and implications of this legislation:

1. The Bill mandates  the construction of a national computer system that
would monitor every hiring decision made in America.

2. The Bill lays the groundwork (Andersen claims) for a national
identification card; he also mentions the possible use of a biometric
(fingerprints, retina scans) border-crossing national ID cards primarily
for Mexican businessmen and shoppers.

3. severe restrictions on immigration for the purposes of family unification.

4. a severe reduction in acceptance of applications for asylum and from refugees

5. more red-tape for companies using foreign professionals.

I want to throw in a few  ideas/suggestions/questions to this discussion.

A. Far from protecting jobs for "citizens" only, couldn't these cards carry
information for  the identification of any and all "problem" workers and
thus serve to instill even more work discipline?  Also, as in South Africa,
these cards could eventually be used to exclude from certain spaces those
whose cards would reveal that they have no employment there.

Mustn't we clarify that such immigration legislation, ostensibly offered on
the behalf of citizen-workers, are actually a mechanism for the control of
the working class as a whole?

B. To what extent are attempts at border control real?  In fact,  I
remember reading a *Wall Street Journal* editorial by (I think) this same
Stuart Anderson who argued for the elimination of forms of public aid to
undocumented workers and their children.  His reason was *not* to
discourage illegal immigration, but to make it more politically palatable.
His argument was that if the citizen public could be assured that they will
not have to bear the costs of more illegal immigrants, they are more
unlikely to oppose it.

C. Don't we need a theory of uneven development in order to demonstrate why
capital  can only develop in certain locations or at certain poles,
creating both the conditions for migration and the selective demand for
labor in these growth areas?  I haven't studied the "Schumpeterian"
spatial-economic theory of Francois Perroux; he  is cited by Mandel in
*Late Capitalism* and, I believe, in the latest work of Manuel Castells
about whom Doug Henwood has had some very interesting things to say.

D. What are we to make of the brain drain now that so much design work can
be done abroad?

E. Sometime ago, I offered a few comments on Saskia Sassen's The Mobility
of Labour and Capital.  I would recommend this book.

F. What are we to make of what some expect to be the exodus of the rentier
class from Hong Kong?  How will countries compete or what will they charge
for these  emigrants?

G. To what extent is the argument that the globalization of capital will
help to lessen illegal immigration by creating employment opportunities
abroad true?

H. How do the concerns about biopower which have historically undergirded
policy (see Maria Sophia Quine, 1996. Population Politics in 20th Century
Europe. Routledge)affect the formulation of immigration policy and
regulation of movement today?


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