Specializes in: Government
Some people watch football; I watch politics.
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration. This gives me the skills to dissect the rhetoric and locate the actual motives. Rather than to describe my work, allow me to demonstrate.
A law in Colorado makes it a crime to provide government-funded social services to people who are in the country illegally. It sounds simple and reasonable enough. Why should a random person from another country get a free bowl of spaghetti? We cannot feed the whole world, and why should we? It is absolutely appropriate to examine any public policy in this light: what are we doing for whom and why? Let us set aside concerns of 'tackiness' for a moment.
There is no doubt that our public services have been hurt by illegal immigration. Services were not expanded to accommodate such a large, un-planned population growth. Schools and roads are over-crowded and under-expanded. We often speak of "government services" as if they were pedicures. Nothing could be further from the truth: they are the bedrock of our country. Fire departments, schools, roads, police, safe drinking water, and public sanitation are all government services. They make our economy possible.
How well does this law address its' stated goal: illegal immigrants should not be the beneficiaries of public services. Every person physically in the US are among those benefiting from government services. Thus, illegal immigrants are beneficiaries of public services by their very presence in the country. There are two ways to eliminate the illegal presence of people in the country. Either change their legal status or their relationship to the border. There are already laws on the books to do both of these things, and an agency that enforces them. The most cost-effective way to achieve the goal would be to task and fund the INS, and let them do their jobs.
However, that is not what this law does. First, it is limited to social services, rather than to all services. Secondly, it also delegates the task to social workers who are not experienced in immigration law enforcement. Third, enforcement is done piece-meal at scattered, little agencies. The execution of this goal is so haphazard; it looks like it is not really the goal.
To look for a possible real goal, reverse-engineering may be illuminating. Giving enforcement activities to social workers increases the number of tasks allotted to each social worker. The law does not provide the social agencies with additional personnel to handle the extra work-load. It creates a bottle-neck. All bottle-necks create a vacuum in the next step of the process, no matter what the process is. The vacuum being created: fewer people approved to receive social services regardless of citizenship.
Another factor is that the law makes bureaucratic errors a crime. It is unusual and inefficient to escalate an error to a matter of handcuffs and jail cells, rather than re-working the offending file. It makes a special effort that creates an element of fear. Workers in such situations will not yield to common sense. Colorado is a rural state, and many people are born on ranches rather than hospitals. This changes the type of paper-work they have to prove that they are Americans. Social workers are afraid to accept it, and deny a larger number of applications.
The effect of the law is that fewer people get services; that lowers the costs. It lowers the costs in a way that does not put any bureaucrats out of work. It is a political and administrative win-win. The sorts of people left in the lurch are people are Americans who cannot get birth certificates because there are none. There are also people who cannot locate birth certificates because they cannot tell anyone the county of their birth: people who are senile, retarded, brain-damaged, comatose, etc. In other words, the most vulnerable among can be excluded from benefits that make the difference between life and death.
Casting brain-damaged people onto the street is distasteful to say the least. If the law that does this is marketed as 'saving us from a deluge of illegal immigrants,' that sounds much better.
Last updated: 10/18/2016 ()