100,000 Illegal Immigrants in this State and Yet I Can Pay No One $2 an Hour to Put Up With My Grouchy Ass

I have some questions.  For starters, doesn’t it seem like, if you call your blog Tennessee Conservative Watch, that you are watching conservatives?  If I had a blog called B.’s Boob Watch wouldn’t you expect to find boobs being watched, not a blog of things watched by my boobs?

Maybe I’m just overly picky.

Secondly, saying that “We estimate that the annual fiscal burden on the state’s taxpayers is about $285 million” is effective.  $285 million dollars seems like a heavy annual burden.  “That equates to a cost per native-born headed household of more than $122”?  Not nearly as effective.  More than $122 a year per household?  I’m sorry.  Yes, it’s an amount of money.  But reading that literally caused me to laugh out loud.

Oh no!  Not $122 a year!

And where is this vast, massive $122 per native born household per year going?

$23 million goes to health care.  That means the roughly 2,336,000 native born headed households are paying $10 a year to provide healthcare for illegal immigrants.  Ten whole dollars!   I bet we have that in change in our couch.

Okay, what about law enforcement?

The uncompensated cost of incarcerating deportable illegal aliens in Tennessee state and local prisons amounts to about $5.7 million a year.

Um, I’m supposed to be outraged at $2.45 a year?  Yes, so far illegal immigrants are costing my household $12.45 a year to make sure that they have healthcare and go to jail.

So, I’m still not feeling how this is an undue burden on the taxpayers of Tennessee.  After all, since we don’t have an income tax and everyone who shops here pays sales tax, that $2.45 per native born household is less than that in actuality.

But, you ask, what about the education costs?

Based on an estimate of the 100,000 illegal immigrants in Tennessee in 2007 and estimated per pupil costs of $7,850 per year for public K-12 schooling, Tennesseeans spend nearly $228 million annually on education for the children of illegal immigrants. An additional more than $27 million is being spent annually on programs for limited English students who likely are children of illegal aliens.

And, this, my friends, is why it’s so important to keep an eye on the conservative rhetoric when it comes to illegal immigration.  You see how quickly the rhetoric shifts from being about illegal immigrants to being about U.S. citizens?  And then watch how it slides from U.S. citizens who definitely are the children of illegal immigrants to U.S. citizens who are “likely” the children of illegal immigrants.

I’m tired, so I want to, for the moment, overlook the intellectual dishonesty necessary to come up with the $228 million number (does it assume that there are an equal number of male and female illegal immigrants in Tennessee?  How long does it assume those immigrants stay here?  How are they identifying which children are the children of illegal immigrants?  Etc.).  But I do want to talk about the two-pronged bullshit of this approach.

One prong is the idea that conservatives promote of the importance of individuality and of each person being judged as an individual and on his own merit, and yet, when it comes to this topic, some of them are more than happy to hold the U.S. citizen children of illegal immigrants responsible for the actions of their parents and to suggest punishing those citizens for their parents’ activities.  Well, which is it?  Is each person only responsible for himself or do we talk about the cost of educating U.S. citizens as a part of the cost of illegal immigration?  Or are we just supposed to ignore that inconsistency?

Second prong is how willing conservatives are to wrap themselves in the flag and to pretend as if they are the super patriots while at the same time being willing to promote this notion that there are certain U.S. citizens who aren’t real citizens and who are willing to promote the unconstitutional idea that being born here isn’t really enough to qualify you for citizenship.

Citizens have a right to a publicly funded education.  Period.  Denying them or working to deny them an education, calling the education of these citizens problematic because of the status of these citizens’ parents, is just about as fundamentally un-American as anything I can think of, with the exception of calling citizens’ education problematic because they are “likely” the children of any despised group.

We are still better than this.  And we can recognize this nonsense for the bigotry it is and stand against it.

Citizens have a right to an education and other benefits of citizenship, regardless of who their parents are or what their parents have done.

25 thoughts on “100,000 Illegal Immigrants in this State and Yet I Can Pay No One $2 an Hour to Put Up With My Grouchy Ass

  1. You have put the image of boobs keeping a blog in my brain. Which, in some cases, isn’t too far off from some conservatives keeping blogs. Either way, congratulations.

  2. But remember, this isn’t at all about race…no no…just…um…citizenship. And so does BoobWatch also calculate the *benefits* to the state (like population growth, which leads to more stuff bought, which in a state that depends on sales taxes rather than income tax is an important source of state revenue and labor-cost savings for business owners and agricultural concerns) so that there can be some sort of intelligent cost-benefit analysis? I’m guessing not.

    Has anyone pointed out that if you quit deporting people, you can save quite a nice chunk of change right there?

  3. > If I had a blog called B.’s Boob Watch wouldn’t you expect to find boobs being watched, not a blog of things watched by my boobs?

    If a blog were called “B.’s Boob Watch”, I would expect you to be reporting about watching conservatives.

  4. I feel the need to correct you on a couple of points.

    First, (and most importantly) I looked in my couch and only found 31 cents, a couple of popcorn kernels, 4 peanut M&M’s, (which were still delicious) and an old pair of cheaters I used to read. In my mind, you owe me $9.69

    And no, apparently there are way too many bright people out there who don’t recognize the bullshit about denying people born here citizenship because of the status of their parents. I don’t think it will ever become law, but it frightens me that we even have to talk about it.

  5. It’s the oldest trick in our republic’s book. Instead of enacting legislation that forces rich people to share more, right wingers encourage working people to demonize and marginalize other working people. That the “other” tends to have brown skin just makes it an easier sell.

    Cue the intellectually dishonest rhetoric (also known as the right wing response)…

  6. And CS, I don’t mean to let the liberals off the hook. But so far, our strategy when it comes to talking about illegal immigration has been to just sit back and, basically, say “Oh, yeah, whatever the Republicans said.” And I just want to be sure that we look at what some conservatives are saying, closely, before we sit back and nod along in agreement.

    Mack, as of this morning, I have sent ten dollars to the state for the express purpose of aiding in the funding of oppressing you.

  7. I don’t know, Aunt B. My strategy is to first do what you’re doing, which is exposing the dominant narrative for its counterproductive and racist nature. Then I advocate the elimination of our southern border.

  8. I don’t know if the sovereign government of Mexico would be so hot on that plan, given the nature of our shared history.

  9. Instead of enacting legislation that forces rich people to share more,

    I love that sentence. It sums up the liberal mindset perfectly. We need to force people to share more, cause that shows that we care.

    We have a right to an education? Wow, I didn’t know that. Is that an inalienable right?

  10. I suspect the contradictions might be diminished if you consider children to be the property of their parents. Then education is really something done for the parents rather than the children.

    I don’t know which attitude is more common “You look funny so you will never really be a real citizen” or “Children aren’t really people”

    (Hi! I’m just a lurker, don’t mind me.)

  11. We have a right to an education?

    Well, if it isn’t a right, why the need then to make it compulsory? It’s a Class C misdemeanor not to send your child to school or to provide adequate homeschooling. So, I’d say that it’s a right that the state provides education. Yup.

    Tennessee Compulsory Attendance Laws
    (Compulsory School Age is 6 Years to the 18th Birthday)
    T.C.A. 49-6–3001 – School Age – (c) (1) Every parent, guardian or other person residing within this state having control or charge of any child or children between six (6) years of age and seventeen (17) years of age, both inclusive, shall cause such child or children to attend public or non-public school, and in event of failure to do so, shall be subject to the penalties hereinafter provided. (The courts have ruled that the word “inclusive” requires a child to attend school until the day before his/her eighteenth birthday.)

    T.C.A. 49-6–3007 – Attendance and truancy reports. – (e) (1) It is the duty of the principal or teacher of every public, private or parochial school to report promptly to the superintendent, or to the superintendent’s designated representative, the names of all children who have withdrawn from school, or who have been absent five (5) days (this means an aggregate of five (5) days during the school year and not necessarily five (5) consecutive days) without adequate excuse. Each successive accumulation of five (5) unexcused absences by a student shall also be reported.

    T.C.A. 49-6–3009 – Penalty for Violations – (a) Any parent, guardian or other person who has control of a child, or children, and who violates the provisions of this part commits a Class C misdemeanor.

    (b) Each day’s unlawful absence constitutes a separate offense.

    T.C.A. 40-35–111 – Terms of Imprisonment or Fines – (3) Class C misdemeanor, not greater than thirty (30) days or a fine not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00), or both, unless otherwise provided by statute.

  12. We need to force people to share more, cause that shows that we care.

    No, it means you pay for the resources you use and don’t let the burden fall on those with the least. No state income tax and a 9% or higher sales tax on EVERYTHING means those making low wages pay a much greater percent of their earnings towards goods and services than those in high income brackets. Meaning, the weight of the tax burden falls on the shoulders of lower middle class and poor rather than the who can afford the extra burden.

    If establishing a state income tax is somehow “forcing” the wealthy to care, well, so be it. I guess you all need a little forcing, whether or not you care. I’m sick of picking up the tab for the Daddy Warbucks of this state every time I go to the super market.

  13. The notion that people of excessive means have ‘earned’ their wealth in a vacuum is a fallacy upon which neofeudal economic policies are based. My semi-serious suggestion that we eliminate our southern border is based upon that notion. Accumulation of excessive wealth depends upon a relatively static supply of cheap labor (and other structural economic inequities). Our proximity to a relatively impoverished state with a much lower standard of living is a boon to our bottom line.

    We have a right to an education? Wow, I didn’t know that. Is that an inalienable right?

    Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. And until the bigots, fascists, and elitists of our fine republic started putting in overtime trying to shit-can it (hmm, do ya think that might’ve started around 1954?), our public education system was one of the cornerstones of our middle class.

    If I may borrow a commonly expressed right-wing sentiment, though, there are plenty of countries to which a non-wealthy person can move if he wants to escape our vestigial manifestations of educational egalitarianism. I don’t recommend any of those feminized European states, though; they’ve long since bought into the fantasy of publicly funded education (among their other socialist pipe dreams), and it done sucked them all back into the Dark Ages. Why, I was riding the Metro in Paris a couple years back, and those backward pansies were resorting to nudity and cannibalism right out in the open! Best to pick a more manly place without any of them nanny-state safety nets, like Afghanistan.

    Better yet, just wait. If the ‘conservatives’ keep getting their way, Arther Silber’s and Octavia Butler’s nightmares might come true sooner rather than later.

  14. The world community (including the US) has agreed since 1948 that it’s a human right:

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Article 26.

    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

  15. Ha! That’s funny. First of all, I think quite a bit of the world community ignores many of the articles of that nanny-state manifesto.

    Just because the UN and Bono say something is a right, don’t make it so.

  16. The US was a principal signatory and author of that document, dumbass.

    Ok, so how about the first significant state document authored after the US Constitution, generally regarded by constitutional jurists and historians as the articulation of what the Founders believed about the good governance:

    Northwest Ordinance, Article III

    Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

  17. Wow, that’s impressive. I’m sure your extensive library includes the bill of rights. Which one says that we have the right to an education?

    Saying something should be encouraged is not the same as saying that it is a right, dumbass.

  18. Exador, it would not be fair to point out that my facetious reference to the “nanny state” preceded your sardonic reference to the same by thirty minutes, as my comment was until recently held up in the moderation queue. However, as a proud, well-paid foot soldier of our own nanny state, I’d like to be the first to ask you if you have ever seriously considered how well you’d fare if all our socialistic, collectivist redistribution schemes were dismantled at once:
    Could you afford to pay for private fire protection? Private police protection? Could you afford to fix all the roads on which you drive? If so, then I say more power to you. I and all my working stiff comrades will meet you and your super-wealthy peers at the ballot box, and it will all boil down to how many of my comrades you can seduce into your feudal wet dreams.

    On a tangent more related to Aunt B.’s original post, last I heard the migration at the Mexico/U.S. border is no longer only in one direction. It seems that many of our fellow citizens have grown tired of sucking at the nanny’s teat, and have decided to invest some of their ill-gotten wealth in a real man’s paradise south of the border.

  19. Exador, there are a lot of different types of rights claims — natural rights, positive rights, civil rights, human rights. What inalienable means is that you can’t sell it — so the first question you asked made no sense, really. Can you sell your right to education? Does it have a cash value? Am I permitted to vend it? That’s not what you meant to ask, right? No, didn’t think so.

    So I guessed that you were trying to ask “is education a natural right” or, as we call them now, “human rights.” These are claims that we can make of our societies because we’re human, not because the particular civic/national community extends them to those under its protection. So, soldiering on (because it is Veterans Day), I produced a document that lays out what the US has agreed are a summary of basic human rights — including education. I can’t help it that you don’t know that the US was both a principal author and signatory or that it’s a document with a sixty-year history of application in international law.

    Then I got to thinking that maybe you were trying to be an originalist and so I presented you a statement from the Founders. I could produce dozens of similar creedal statements from the Founding generation; they wrote about it a lot. It was the Constitutional Convention’s wish that states write it into their constitutions. Some states did. When they didn’t get with it fast enough, Jefferson proposed an amendment to the Constitution in 1806 to place education “as an item of public care.” (Congressmen believed that it should properly remain to the states as a state concern — but no one stood up and said that government had no business funding education. They would not have, as they believed that it was foundational to the practice of citizenship and thus a public good that the government should provide for.)

    Jefferson’s thinking on education as an underpinning right of citizenship and a necessity of democratic life, and thus a necessary public expense to be provided liberally, boiled down to 4 principles:

    1. that democracy cannot long exist without enlightenment.
    2. that it cannot function without wise and honest officials.
    3. that talent and virtue, needed in a free society, should be educated regardless of wealth, birth or other accidental condition; and
    4. that the children of the poor must be thus educated at common expense.

    But hey, you know better than Jefferson what the Founders believed, apparently.

    Moreover, whatever we think about human/natural right, as a nation we created a positive right to education for our citizens that’s been expanding since the 1780s. While those rights have changed somewhat, the right to a public education (at either partial or full public expense) is now well-established and pretty non-controversial (except for certain engineers from Georgia). Each state is responsible for providing such education, which is why it would not have been in the Bill of Rights in the first place. It falls among the things left to the state — again, you can read Madison on that if you’d like. Still, while the state has the authority to provide and to set curriculum and such (Kansas Board of Ed, for example), there are things that it cannot do because the fed has oversight (like, you know, because there’s a federal recognition that US citizens have a right to a public education).

    Since 1954, national law has held that that schools cannot discriminate in the provision of education by race (even if a state thinks it should). The Federal Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974 provides that no state may deny equal education opportunities to an individual because of his or her race, color, sex or national origin. Every citizen has the right to attend school on the public dime. The IDEA provides that disabled children have a right to public education.

    So yes, dammit, citizens have a right to education. We do. Damn skippy. If you don’t like that, your recourse is to organ-niz-zize. But prating about how this thing doesn’t exist is…well, dumbass.

  20. Saying that someone has the right to an education is such a broad statement as to be rendered useless, and therefore the property of the higher castes to interpret For Our Own Good, by which of course is meant, for the the good of the uneducated masses who cannot think for themselves and require our patronage and beneficence of judgment on their behalf.

    If you mean that everyone has the right to enlightenment, then that is an obviously unreachable ideal, even if enlightenment were some objective quantifiable thing, for not everyone can become enlightened. Perhaps they are brain damaged, or perhaps they simply don’t agree with your definition of enlightenment, which I would point out is not infallible.

    This brings us to the finer point, that you have to also define “enlightened”, for what we consider progressive proper thought today may 50 years from now be considered ridiculous, obscene or comic. Enlightenment, as you mean it, is very culturally biased toward a Western European ideal still mired in and totally dependent upon our cultural values.

    So what is in effect being said is that everyone should be compelled to be brought to our culture’s current idea of correct thinking and knowledge, which outside of certain very specific realms of mathematics and science (and even this is debatable) are subjective.

    If what you mean is that everyone should have the opportunity to be exposed to our culture’s current definition of enlightenment as the government has seen fit to present it in the form of public education, then perhaps that could be argued. However it is still compelling those people who may not agree with this definition to pay for that to be imposed on their children and everyone else’s children, while painting with the moral righteousness that renders any argument against it blasphemous.

    I consider myself a liberal person, and I homeschool my child. I find it hard to understand why the “correct” liberal point of view would be in support of cultural bigotry while couching it in moralistic ideologue. This is the same argument the church used to ban books and force people to church. They thought they were enlightened, too.

  21. Selene, back up that truck a moment. I have homeschooled and I have no kick with those who do. You opt of of the public school system. Hey, what do you know? So do me and mine, and probably for not too different reasons. I agree that our public school system is markedly deficient in many ways.

    However, saying that our curriculum needs to be changed is a different proposition than saying that certain people (the children of non-citizens who are themselves citizens) can be systematically excluded from a benefit that is available to all other citizens.

    I don’t see why you’d get behind that.

  22. Plus, I do believe that everyone in our country should have a basic level of knowledge, that they should know the “canon” to bring it into terms that will make English Majors snicker.

    Keeping with the English Major metaphor, there is a story we tell ourselves about what it means to be an American–that story is sprawling and encompasses history, literature, sociology, economics, everything.

    Whether you disagree with the story, whether you think the story is inadiquate or just plain untrue in parts, you have to know the story in order to achieve any level of power in this society.

    Once you know the story, you can critique it and work on revising it (or tossing it out). But depriving children of the story just because it’s problematic and because it’s difficult to teach children about problematic things, seems to me to be cruel.

  23. I love this thread, Aunt B. Maybe it’s my pessimistic mind, but I keep thinking of how public education and immigration are intertwined (along with a lot of other things, but I’ll try to stay focused).

    The notion that you and Bridgett espouse– and that Bridgett backs up with a mountain of hard evidence, as usual– is one that has been under assault by so-called conservatives in this country for a long time. Something you said earlier in the thread strikes me, Aunt B.:

    And I just want to be sure that we look at what some conservatives are saying, closely, before we sit back and nod along in agreement.

    Amen to that. So much of our public discourse has been pulled to the right wing over the last half century; so much so that many of us who consider ourselves liberal and progressive (not like the early 20th century ‘Progressives’, of course) seem to buy into some right wing notions as though they are common sense. Or at least we agree to debate using the terms of those right wing notions.

    But if you take a step back and look at the big picture, you can see what we’ve all been set up for. From what I can see, the right wing narrative regarding immigration is heavy on demonization and short on solutions. Building walls, locking them up, kicking them out, and revoking their U.S.-born children’s citizenship are the kinds of ‘solutions’ about which I seem to read a lot. What will any of that accomplish? Can we really expect that all poor working people are going to stop migrating to where the jobs and money are just because our response to their reality becomes more draconian? I don’t think so. But then, I don’t think that’s what all the right wing noise is all about. The real purpose of these proposed policies is two-fold: first, they are meant to appeal to the reactionary sensibilities of those in our electorate who’ve been convinced that the problem of undocumented immigration can be laid entirely at the feet of the migrants themselves. Second, by making the undocumented more legally vulnerable, you transform them into even more malleable and exploitable labor units. This only helps the bottom lines of those who profit from their labor, while it also (theoretically) drives our domestic labor market down. (I don’t think this is the case right now, but it might be if we decide to really ‘crack down’ on undocumented immigration.) Again, a big win for those who profit from ever-cheaper and more expendable labor.

    What does that have to do with public education, you ask? You have to look at this from a feudalist’s point of view. One other way to secure a cheap, expendable domestic labor market is to ensure that a large percentage of your nation’s population receives a rudimentary education at best. You don’t want them and their children to compete with you and your children, so you rig the system to make sure that those with no higher earning skills and no social capital pass along that status to their children. This is a self-perpetuating dynamic, too; since we have become a nation of consumers rather than citizens, it makes sense that each of us goes shopping for what we can best afford for our own children, while we expend little practical energy on fixing what has been done to education in general. It’s an updated version of the old English proverb about the commons and the goose, with the ones stealing the commons now having the peasants doing most of the dirty work.

  24. If Aunt B can marry a post, can I marry a thread? Because I’m totally thinking of running off with this one.

    I’d marry all of you, but half of y’all are already married, and I hear they frown on that sort of thing.

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