The Corner

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Choosing Amnesty over Welfare Reform


Brother Foster argues on the homepage that the various immigration factions on the right agree that immigration reform and welfare reform be combined:

Amend the Gang of Eight bill to include means-testing, market-like competition, and block grants for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, respectively, along with a gradual scaling-back to pre-recession levels for food stamps, unemployment benefits, and the like. Allay the Heritage crowd’s concerns by trading amnesty for significant entitlement reform.

He suggests that such a compromise might “stop the melee on the right long enough to shift the pressure to the Senate Democrats by forcing them to assess their own priorities.” (Chris Edwards, who has the tax policy portfolio at Cato, makes a similar point.)

Of course, he understands that such a measure “would doom ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ entirely,” but says such an outcome wouldn’t be so bad, considering how flawed the Schumer-Rubio bill is.

But that’s the problem with his plea for intra-conservative harmony: The immigration-expansionist Right considers amnesty and de facto unlimited immigration to be more important than reining in the welfare behemoth. It’s not that Grover and Cato and the rest like the expansion of the welfare state that amnesty will cause, but it’s a price they’re willing to pay to continue the important work of tearing down the government’s ability to limit the free movement of people across borders.