Liberals should fret about poor’s fate, post-immigration ‘reform’

June 28, 2013

By Chris Reed

Cesar ChavezOne of the most striking things about the debate over changing our immigration laws is the refusal to have a real discussion about what would happen to existing citizens with relatively few job skills if we allowed millions more unskilled people to become citizens. It’s striking that for much of his career as a union organizer, including when he was on the cover of TIME at right, Cesar Chavez was a strong critic of illegal immigration because he feared the negative effects on farm workers who were already here.

This should be a social justice issue with the left, one would think. But except in the blogging and columns of Los Angeles Democrat Mickey Kaus, this pretty much never comes up. That’s why it is so surprising, and welcome, to see a liberal writer, T.A. Frank of The New Republic, make this point, explaining how he started out with the standard views that “decent people” are supposed to have on immigration before his life experiences and growing familiarity with the history of immigration led him to a different conclusion:

‘Immense blow to America’s working class, poor’

“All in all, I became convinced that high levels of low-skill immigration are good for wealthy Americans and bad for poor Americans.  Far more important, high levels of illegal immigration—when you start to get into the millions, as we have—undermines unions and labor standards, lowers wages, heightens social tensions, strains state budgets, widens income inequality, subverts the rule of law, and exacerbates class divides. The effects go far beyond wages, because few undocumented workers earn enough to cover anything close to the cost of government services (such as education for their children) they require, and those services are most important to low-income Americans. In short, it’s an immense blow to America’s working class and poor. …

“… a lot of Democrats have also convinced themselves that even if there’s a wage loss to low-skilled workers, the massive new voting bloc of mostly left-leaning immigrants will ultimately help the little guy. But if millions of new Democratic voters oppose strict immigration control, then there will no Democratic support for meaningful immigration control. And generous social benefits cannot coexist with an open border.  (Nor can a more egalitarian society.)”

Good for Frank. He’s actually willing to think through the implications of what will happen if the House adopts legislation similar to what the Senate passed Thursday.

Unfortunately, we can’t have a real debate about this because skeptics of immigration reform, as Frank notes, are not considered to be “decent people.” But such skeptics aren’t all nativists by any means. Some of them are realists. And some of these realists think hurting the job prospects of existing low-skill Americans isn’t the right thing to do.



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  1. Donkey
    Donkey 28 June, 2013, 19:37

    Ted Cruz Exposes Amnesty Bill: $5000 Penalty For Hiring Citizens Over Legalized Aliens

    We can’t possibly expect our Senators to read a 1200 page bill before voting on it. Can we? Well Thank God Ted Cruz read it. Not only did Cruz read it but he schooled anyone who would listen from the Senate floor on Tuesday. Cruz found a loophole that actually penalizes an employer $5000 for hiring a citizen over a legalized alien. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up. Senator Cruz was quoted as saying:

    “I filed an amendment that would have corrected one of the most egregious aspects of the gang of eight bill as it intersects with Obamacare legislation, namely a penalty imposed on U.S. employers for hiring U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. This bill says if an employer hires a citizen or a legal immigrant, the IRS can impose a $5,000 penalty on that employer. But if the employer instead hires someone with RPI status, that penalty will go away. That is utterly and completely indefensible.”

    “Nobody in this body wants to see African-American unemployment go up. Nobody wants to see Hispanic unemployment go up, youth unemployment go up, union household unemployment go up, legal immigrant unemployment go up. Yet every one of those will happen if this Gang of Eight bill passes without fixing this problem. If that happens, all 100 members of the U.S. Senate will be accountable to our constituents for explaining why we voted to put a federal penalty on hiring U.S. citizens and hiring legal immigrants. I hope this body will choose to pass my amendment and fix this grave defect in the Gang of Eight legislation.”

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 June, 2013, 22:20

    Excellent commentary by TA Frank…..

    Reply this comment
  3. us citizen
    us citizen 29 June, 2013, 08:45

    It just better fail in the house.

    This is but another bill that congress has not read. Who in the hell voted these dumb shits into office in the first place!!! Anddddd why in the hell do they think they can run a country by not reading anything. I gotta wonder about the voting public………gee are they all as stupid as Trayvon Martin’s girl friend? Because it sure is starting to look like no one can read anymore….congress and public.

    I am absolutely SICK of the crap going on lately. It’s like everyone took a stupid pill and its getting worse.

    Reply this comment
  4. Queeg
    Queeg 30 June, 2013, 20:54

    You doomers are ripe for the shaking….your best future lies in a desk clerk job at Motel Six eating red hots and drinking instant coffee on the graveyard shift to keep awake!

    Reply this comment
  5. CharlieRangel
    CharlieRangel 1 July, 2013, 08:29

    Queeg eats the most stupid pills…

    Reply this comment
  6. Test Name
    Test Name 12 August, 2013, 15:02

    Testing comment on an older post

    Reply this comment

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