Skip to comments.The Gang of Eightís ĎCanít Cut Ití Argument
Posted on 08/30/2013 1:58:48 PM PDT by neverdem
Even the Times once recognized the threat low-skilled immigration presents to U.S. workers.
Amnesty would undermine the integrity of the countrys immigration laws and would depress the wages of its lowest-paid native-born workers. . . . The better course of action is to honor Americas proud tradition by continuing to welcome legal immigrants and find ways to punish employers who refuse to obey the law.
One might reasonably assume that these words were plucked from a recent National Review editorial inveighing against the Gang of Eights immigration-reform bill. In fact, the passage comes from a New York Times editorial published in February 2000 in response to the AFL-CIOs call for the legalization of illegal immigrants, as well as the repeal of penalties for employers who hire them.
The unions proposal was unfair to unskilled workers already in the United States, the Times editors argued, while noting the obvious benefits for Big Labor (a huge new pool of unorganized workers) and Big Business (access to cheap labor). It is an argument that many Democrats echoed when opposing President George W. Bushs push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2006, specifically in regard to the proposed guest-worker program, which would have provided legal entry to more than half a million low-skilled workers.
These concerns have been largely absent from the current political discussion, not least because Democrats have declined to raise them. (When Republicans do, they are mocked.) The Gang of Eights proposed changes to the legal immigration system, for example, have been the subject of very little scrutiny. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Gangs plan would admit nearly twice as many legal immigrants (38 million) over the next ten years as projected under current law (22 million). Because many of those new immigrants, including guest workers, would be low-skilled, the CBO estimates that the influx of immigrant workers would result in a reduction in average wages and an increase in unemployment, relative to current law, over the next decade.
Its the least popular part of the bill, and is conveniently the least polled, and least discussed, says a GOP aide opposed to the Gang of Eight plan. Mainstream pollsters havent bothered to gauge public support for a dramatic increase in low-skilled immigrant labor, but a National Journal poll from late June that found only 22 percent of Americans in favor of increasing high-skilled immigration suggests the aide is onto something.
These particular aspects of the Gang of Eight bill were the result of a grand bargain between Big Labor (the AFL-CIO) and Big Business (the Chamber of Commerce), both of which, as the Times noted more than a decade ago, stand to benefit from an influx of low-skilled immigrant workers. Democrats and their liberal allies in the media are fond of pointing out that even the Chamber of Commerce supports a pathway to citizenship, alluding to its conservative leanings. But, of course, the Chamber has obvious good reasons to lobby for cheap, amnestied labor and something like the guest-worker program that many Democrats found so objectionable in 2006. This may be the first time the liberal media has actively shilled for Big Business, the GOP aide quips.
The Chambers support for the Gangs bill is a complicating factor for the GOP, which has traditionally aligned itself with the business community but remains divided on immigration reform. Some efforts to make an economic case for comprehensive reform have backfired. There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, cant cut it, an unnamed aide to Senator Marco Rubio told The New Yorkers Ryan Lizza in June. There shouldnt be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just cant get it, cant do it, dont want to do it. And so you cant obviously discuss that publicly.
Opponents of the Gang of Eight bill might question the political wisdom of promoting legislation that would dramatically increase the population of low-skilled workers at a time of high unemployment and low wage growth on the grounds that American workers cant cut it. However, thats exactly what some Republican lawmakers appear to be doing.
Last week, Alabama representative Spencer Bachus explained his support for immigration reform by recounting a conversation hed had with a local Chick-fil-A restaurant owner, who suggested that immigrant workers were preferable to American workers because they never ask for a raise or promotion.
Representative Ted Poe of Texas, who is co-authoring a House guest-worker bill with Idahos Raul Labrador, recently attended a panel discussion on immigration reform with a group of business executives, during which the conversation seemed to center on the fact that American workers cant cut it in certain industries, such as construction and food service. We have found in the past that they apply for jobs, American workers, that they were really only checking a box so they could keep their public benefits, said one attendee, the CEO of a construction company in Houston. Poes bill will reportedly include even more visas for low-skilled guest workers than would the Senate bill (a higher number could well strain the labor side of the Chamber-CIO alliance).
At the very least, some Republicans are attempting to discuss a woefully under-scrutinized aspect of immigration reform. Meanwhile, its not surprising that the rhetorical case put forward by GOP supporters of the Gang of Eight which at times can resemble popular leftist arguments appears to be winning few converts.
Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online.
Obama has already told the govt. NOT to deport most illegals. There is your enforcement. There is none!
It’s about time citizens ban together in Pole’s Congressional District ,and begin a recall and get is butt out of office.
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Once again, there is no discussion of what I think is the central reason for amnesty: the desire to bring the illegals into the official economy when they’re currently doing just fine in the underground economy.
Put yourselves in the shoes of the uniparty. If you’re running a big plantation, about the last thing you want is the field hands getting ideas that there is a life outside the plantation. In that sense, amnesty isn’t about the illegals, it’s about the rest of us. Here we have 13 million plus people in our midst who are surviving and frequently thriving on the margins of the official economy. And you know what, people have this nasty tendency to talk to each other and learn from each other.
Heaven forbid the 290 million start learning from the 13 million. They could start getting all sorts of uppity ideas.