We will solve our affordable housing crisis with vastly expanded immigration

From the New York Times, a tireless cheerleader for more low-skill immigration into the U.S…. “Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up”:

Even before last year, about 11 million households — one in four U.S. renters — were spending more than half their pretax income on housing, and overcrowding was on the rise. By one estimate, for every 100 very low-income households, only 36 affordable rentals are available.

When your hospitals are 110 percent full, the solution is more immigration. When there are 3X as many people who need affordable housing compared to the supply, the solution is more immigration.

One block back from the sand in Atlantic Beach, Florida:

(in other words, migrants are welcome, but not the big concrete condo and apartment buildings that could actually house an expanded population; note that signs of virtue/justice were extremely rare in Florida (January 2021 trip) compared to here in Maskachusetts; I took this photo because it was an unusual scene)


  • “Hunter Biden and wife Melissa upsize into $25k-a-month canal-front home in Venice, California” (Daily Mail): “Interestingly the homeless people who were living up along the street he now lives on are gone. … His two-year-old daughter with stripper Lunden Roberts, 29, was not present. … The stylish 3,700 square feet home boasts 25-foot acoustic ceilings hanging over contemporary limestone white floors in the living room.” (a fairly spacious house; will Hunter Biden be willing to dedicate a spare bedroom to housing one of the migrant families that his father tells Americans it is their responsibility to shelter?)
  • “Turned Back by Italy, Migrants Face Perilous Winter in Balkans” (NYT, today): “To escape persecution in his homeland, a 27-year-old Pakistani man walked over mountains and through woods on an arduous 18-month journey across Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia until he finally reached the Italian border.” (the remaining 216 million people in Pakistan must suffer continued persecution? Italians don’t want to solve their own hospital and housing overcrowding situation by taking in more migrants?)
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How does Indian-American intersect with BLM?

Message in a discussion group from an (East) Asian immigrant:

My town is half Indian. Everyone is “Love is love”, “BLM”. I want to see their daughter fall in love with a Dalit boy.

Readers: How are your Indian-American friends doing with BLM? What does it mean to folks who recently showed up and missed nearly 400 years of Black-white relations? Are they identifying with the oppressed or the oppressors?

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Should we hire Guatemalans to guard the U.S. Capitol?

My friends on Facebook are delirious with joy that Washington, D.C. is being closed off to ordinary people and that more 26,000 U.S. military troops are guarding the Capitol against potential domestic enemies. I’m not sure why the 3,800 D.C. police officers, 2,300 Capitol police officers. U.S. Secret Service agents, FBI agents, U.S. Park Police, et al. cannot protect the U.S. government from its subjects. But I wonder if it could be done at a lower cost.

“Migrant Caravan, Now in Guatemala, Tests Regional Resolve to Control Migration” (New York Times):

As many as 7,000 migrants from Central America are hoping to reach the United States to escape poverty intensified by hurricanes and the pandemic. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to ease asylum rules.

Wielding truncheons and firing tear gas, Guatemalan security forces on Sunday stepped up their efforts to stop a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants who have surged in from Honduras in recent days in hopes of reaching the United States.

Shortly after dawn on Sunday, migrants tried to force their way through the phalanx but were beaten back by security forces with truncheons, shields and clouds of tear gas, according to the local news media and a video circulated by the Guatemalan government.

“Fortunately, our security forces managed to contain this pitched battle,” said Guillermo Díaz, director general of the Guatemalan Migration Institute. “We managed to calm everything in a very complicated situation.” He added, “We are talking about national security here.”

Instead of mobilizing costly U.S. military forces, why not pay the Guatemalans to keep us safe from ourselves?

Separately, I had always wondered why we needed to spend nearly $1 trillion per year on a military that served no apparent purpose. The Soviet Union was mostly an enemy in our own minds. Canada and Mexico still haven’t invaded. Our military didn’t do anything to stop up to 29 million undocumented migrants from crossing the border and settling down in recent years. Maybe the real purpose of the U.S. military is simply domestic policing?

Tikal, Guatemala, from 2000 (captured with the Mamiya 7 medium format camera):

And the flower market in Chichicastenango

Before coronapanic, friends regularly traveled to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Antigua, Guatemala for Spanish lessons and relaxation. Why not travel there to find folks with a proven track at controlling a determined crowd without lethal violence?

Update from Facebook:

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The UK’s new immigration system: a PhD in STEM has real value

Now that is it out of the EU, the UK is shutting down low-skill immigration (a boon to the rich; a bane to the working class). If you’ve been feeling like a failure for having a Ph.D. rather than a useful M.D. (see “Women in Science”), the new UK system will cheer you up!

From “The UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement”:

We are ending free movement and will introduce an Immigration Bill to bring in a firm and fair points-based system that will attract the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services. We intend to create a high wage, high-skill, high productivity economy.

We will reduce overall levels of migration and give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers. Importantly we remain committed to protecting individuals from exploitation by criminal traffickers and unscrupulous employers.

We will replace free movement with the UK’s points-based system to cater for the most highly skilled workers, skilled workers, students and a range of other specialist work routes including routes for global leaders and innovators.

We will not introduce a general low-skilled or temporary work route. We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation. Employers will need to adjust.

People will need 70 points to begin an application process. 20 of those can come from having a STEM PhD:

Separately, do the Republicans need some pitches like this one? Republicans say that they would be popular with Americans if not for Donald Trump, but wasn’t Trump the guy who brought out voters in 2016? Now Republicans have failed to win even a single Senate seat in Georgia, a fairly conservative state. Imagine if Republicans could explain in a clear manner what their proposed policies were designed to accomplish and how it would benefit the American working class, small business owners, and everyone else who isn’t securely on a local, state, or federal government gravy train.


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Immigrants versus Black labor circa 1900

“Effects of Immigration on African-American Employment and Incarceration” (NBER, 2007):

For white men, an immigration boost of 10 percent caused their employment rate to fall just 0.7 percentage points; for black men, it fell 2.4 percentage points.

That same immigration rise was also correlated with a rise in incarceration rates. For white men, a 10 percent rise in immigration appeared to cause a 0.1 percentage point increase in the incarceration rate for white men. But for black men, it meant a nearly 1 percentage-point rise.

How was it different in the early 20th century? I’m reading Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America and the chapter on cotton plantations along the Mississippi has some relevant passages:

[Senator LeRoy] Percy declared: “The South must not be dependent for its prosperity upon the negro. There is not enough of him, and what there is is not good enough.”

Immigrants were then pouring into America by the millions, filling northern cities and factories, providing cheap, good, white labor. Percy decided to recruit Italians. In the 1870s, Delta planters had made a concerted effort to bring in Chinese from Hong Kong and from the labor gangs of the intercontinental railroads. The Chinese had left the fields, many opening tiny grocery stores, over fifty in Greenville alone.

in 1904 Percy boasted to the Manufacturer’s Record that Italians were “in every way superior to the negro…. If the immigration of these people is encouraged, they will gradually take the place of the negro without their being any such violent change as to paralyze for a generation the prosperity of the country.”

So far I recommend the book, most of which is about the efforts to understand and control the river.

Some photos taken from a Robinson R22 helicopter that I was ferrying from Los Angeles to Boston in December 2005, four months after Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans. These include the FEMA trailers.

the Superdome…

the low-lying neighborhoods:

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Harvard hires for the Department of Ethnicity, Indigeneity, and Migration

“[Faculty of Arts and Sciences] unveils anti-racism agenda” (Harvard Gazette, August 20, 2020):

Calling on the FAS community to be “relentless, constructively critical, and action-oriented,” Gay said that she would: restart the search for four new senior faculty in ethnicity, indigeneity, and migration (EIM); establish a new visiting professorship in EIM; appoint an inaugural associate dean of diversity, inclusion and belonging; expand the Inequality in American postdoctoral fellows program; initiate a study of racial diversity among senior staff; and create a task force to examine the FAS visual culture.

What happens when you kick everyone off campus five months earlier?

“The calls for racial justice heard on our streets also echo on our campus, as we reckon with our individual and institutional shortcomings and with our faculty’s shared responsibility to bring truth to bear on the pernicious effects of structural inequality,” she said. “I am clear-eyed that the work of real change will be difficult, and for many it will be uncomfortable. Change is messy work. Institutional inertia will threaten to overwhelm even our best efforts. If we are to succeed, we must challenge a status quo that is comfortable and convenient for many.”

A lot of echoes in those empty buildings! The mostly-empty campus will have some new signs:

Finally, Gay outlined the charge for her new Task Force for Visual Culture and Signage. Led by Dean of Arts and Humanities Robin Kelsey, the group will be comprised of faculty, students, and staff, and will pursue a comprehensive study of FAS’s visual culture and articulate guidelines for evolving imagery across campus.

What if the new professors of Indigeneity suggest giving the campus back to the rightful owners of the real estate, i.e., perhaps the Wampanoags or the Massachusetts (the tribe, not to be confused with the current Commonwealth of Maskachusetts)? Will Harvard dip into its $40+ billion (thanks, Donald Trump!) endowment to pay rent on the Native American-owned campus?


  • Not everyone at Harvard got the memo regarding the benefits to natives of migration. From a Harvard economics professor: “Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers”
  • also from Harvard’s econ nerds, “Effects of Immigration on African-American Employment and Incarceration” (NBER): For white men, an immigration boost of 10 percent caused their employment rate to fall just 0.7 percentage points; for black men, it fell 2.4 percentage points. That same immigration rise was also correlated with a rise in incarceration rates. For white men, a 10 percent rise in immigration appeared to cause a 0.1 percentage point increase in the incarceration rate for white men. But for black men, it meant a nearly 1 percentage-point rise.
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Banksy can sell anything except migrants

The British artist Banksy can sell almost anything, including a more-than-$1-million work that shreds itself as soon as purchased. We are informed that low-skill immigration makes a country richer and yet Banksy cannot sell the migrants that he has collected. See “Banksy’s migrant rescue boat stranded at sea with more than 200 on board” (Reuters):

A rescue boat funded by British street artist Banksy has issued urgent calls for help, saying it is stranded in the Mediterranean and overloaded with migrants who it has been unable to bring ashore.

The Louise Michel, named after a French feminist anarchist, started operating last week. It is trying to find a safe port for the 219 migrants it has picked up off the coast of Libya since Thursday.

Another said the boat was unable to move and “no longer the master of her own destiny” due to her overcrowded deck and a life raft deployed at her side, “but above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance.”

The 30-metre long Louise Michel, a former French Navy boat daubed in pink and white, was bought with proceeds from the sale of Banksy artwork.

From designboom:


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Tsarnaev appeal might go to the Supreme Court

In April 2015, I wrote the following:

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted by an impartial jury of 12 locals wearing “Boston Strong” T-shirts. Now they are deciding what to do with him.

In July, the appeals court agreed with me that a local jury was unlikely to be impartial (NPR):

The higher court noted that the judge who presided over Tsarnaev’s trial had rejected the defense team’s request for a more distant trial venue where prospective jurors might be less likely to be prejudiced against the Chechen immigrant. That judge did so, the ruling maintained, promising that local jurors would be adequately screened.

But the three-judge panel ruled that the trial judge had failed to impanel an impartial jury.

In another part of the opinion, Judge Juan Torruella wrote that the District Court judge relied on “self-declarations of impartiality” by prospective jurors, calling that “an error of law and an abuse of discretion.”

Today we learn “Justice Department asks Supreme Court to review decision to vacate Boston bomber death sentence” (CNN). The Marathon bombing was more than 7 years ago and featured a governor’s “shelter-in-place” request:

Readers: Does the epic length of proceedings against/related to Mr. Tsarnaev reveal a defect in the U.S. legal system? From the Wikipedia page on the trial:

Tsarnaev’s attorney, Judy Clarke, opened by telling the jurors that her client and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted a bomb killing three and injuring hundreds, as well as murdering an MIT police officer days later. “There’s little that occurred the week of April the 15th … that we dispute,” Clarke said in her 20-minute opening statement

In other words, the defense and the prosecution actually agreed regrading most of the facts. Shouldn’t we have had a resolution long before now?


  • “Boston Marathon Bombing Trial: Why Are Judges Loath To Change The Venue?” (Harvey Silverglate, 2014)
  • “Brothers’ Classic Immigrant Tale Emerges as Relatives Speak Out” (NBC, 2013): Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an outspoken athlete who spoke three languages, played the piano, studied engineering, was a devout Muslim and aspired to represent the United States at the Olympics. … The brothers were part of a family refugees who fled the war-torn Chechnya region of Russia and immigrated to America a decade ago. … “They immigrated and received asylum,” Ruslan Tsarni, the brothers’ uncle, told reporters outside his home in suburban Maryland.
  • “Russia’s Warning on Bombings Suspect Sets Off a Debate” (NYT, April 2013): In March 2011, the Russian security service sent a stark warning to the F.B.I., reporting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “a follower of radical Islam” who had “changed drastically since 2010” and was preparing to travel to Russia’s turbulent Caucasus to connect with underground militant groups. Six months later, Russia sent the same warning to the C.I.A. … F.B.I. officials have defended their response to the Russian tip, which prompted agents to interview Mr. Tsarnaev and his parents and check government databases and Internet activity. The bureau found nothing.
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The Greeks dump gold into the sea

Our politicians inform us that low-skill migrants will make any country richer and the existing residents of any country better off. Apparently, not everyone got this memo. “Taking Hard Line, Greece Turns Back Migrants by Abandoning Them at Sea” (NYT, August 14):

The Greek government has secretly expelled more than 1,000 refugees from Europe’s borders in recent months, sailing many of them to the edge of Greek territorial waters and then abandoning them in inflatable and sometimes overburdened life rafts.

Since 2015, European countries like Greece and Italy have mainly relied on proxies, like the Turkish and Libyan governments, to head off maritime migration. What is different now is that the Greek government is increasingly taking matters into its own hands, watchdog groups and researchers say.

​For example, migrants have been forced onto sometimes leaky life rafts and left to drift at the border between Turkish and Greek waters, while others have been left to drift in their own boats after Greek officials disabled their engines.

The most confusing part of this: Since migrants make a country rich, why aren’t other countries rushing in with surplus cruise ships to pick up these valuable migrants and invite them to settle permanently? There is no country on Earth that wants to be richer?

Some 2004 images from Santorini, the all-American Greek island:

Separately, does the NYT running stories about the travails of migrants mean that we’re nearing the end of coronapanic? Will it soon be time to return to climate panic, for example?

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Joe Biden agrees that the U.S. needs refugees… but wants to limit to 125,000 per year

“America Needs Refugees” (NYT):

The statute became the basis for the successful resettlement of more than three million refugees escaping violence and persecution. The country can take pride in that sustained humanitarianism, which has also made the United States stronger.

His first executive order, in January 2017, indefinitely suspended the resettlement of Syrian refugees, froze resettlement admissions and barred entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. Later that year, Mr. Trump announced that he was capping refugee admissions at 45,000, — less than half of the 110,000 the year before under President Barack Obama. It was the first time that the ceiling was below 67,000.

A former widget in the Refugee Industrial Complex is now getting a paycheck from the Refugee Industrial Complex:

Marwa Al Ibrahim, a refugee from Iraq, now works as the integration program supervisor at Refugee Services of Texas in Fort Worth. Ms. Al Ibrahim worked as a translator for a French news agency in Baghdad. Her family was targeted in a car bombing that nearly killed her father. After the attack, the family applied for refugee status in 2008. In 2014, they were finally resettled in Fort Worth. Resettlement gave them a chance to be safe at last.

An entire ecosystem works together to support refugees like Ms. Al Ibrahim. Resettlement agencies partner with faith communities, volunteer networks, hospitals and employers in cities all over the country, to provide them with basic needs like housing, medical care and job skills. They help with immigration and legal services, cultural orientation, and trauma-informed mental health care. It is the unlikeliest thing — a bureaucratic program laced with good will and hope.

With more Syrians living here, we could be having more and better protests:

The Trump administration’s destruction of the refugee resettlement program is too important to ignore. I keep thinking of the Syrian artist in Idlib Province who painted a mural of George Floyd in June. It was especially poignant to see support for the Black Lives Matter movement coming out of Idlib, the last region of Syria where rebels resist Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Syrians are still barred from entering the United States.

There is hope:

If elected, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to end the “vile Muslim ban” on his first day in office. He plans to set the admissions cap at 125,000 refugees and “raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values and the unprecedented global need.”

The question for today… We know that low-skill immigrants make America great/rich. We know that low-skill refugee immigrants make America even greater if not, perhaps, even richer than non-refugee low-skill immigrants. Why is it rational to have a limit of 125,000 per year? If we are morally obligated to accept people who claim refugee status, isn’t it immoral to have any kind of limit? If immigrant refugees make us better off, isn’t it irrational, on a purely selfish basis, to have any kind of limit?


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