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Imaginary Immigration Bills


That Fox News poll from my security-first post this morning reminded of the vague and thoeretical nature of much of the advocacy for the Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill. The poll’s 66 percent support for amnesty is touted by supporters of S. 744 as proof of public backing for the bill. But the question describes an imaginary bill that requires payment of back taxes and the mastery of English, elements which do not exist in S. 744. And, in an example of how advocates compound the falsehood, Ralph Reed’s tweet crowing about the poll said people expressed their support for a measure that said “illegals must pay fines, back taxes, learn English, get job, & go to back of line,” when neither fines nor jobs nor a line are ever mentioned in the question.

Likewise, the letter from conservative and libertarian economists organized by Douglas Holtz-Eakin’s outfit was promoted by amnesty-pushers as further evidence that Republicans should vote for S. 744. But the letter merely supports a “broad-based immigration reform bill that includes a U.S. visa system more attuned to economic policy objectives,” and not the actually existing piece of legislation. Maybe that’s because, as Conn Carroll points out, S. 744 is not a free-market measure: It enacts statutory wage controls, down to the penny, for various occupations; it establishes a State Committee for Planning Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, whose bureaucrats would divine future labor demand and set targets; and it would, in combination with Obamacare, place a large effective tax on the hiring of Americans when compared with immigrants. (This last part is not unknown in immigration; a summer work program for foreigners, for instance, exempts employers from paying Social Security, Medicare, or federal unemployment-insurance taxes, making those young people far more attractive hires than Americans.)

Now, you could say that the Schumer-Rubio bill is a large package and not all supporters will like all its parts. Two responses come to mind. First, that’s yet another reason Congress should never pass “comprehensive” bills about anything. But second, if you’re supporting a package deal that includes things you don’t especially like, you’re implicitly saying that the parts you do like are more important to you than the parts you don’t. So, the “conservative economists” could well have said “S. 744 contains elements reminiscent of Soviet central planning, but we’re willing to support further growth in state direction of the economy in exchange for further weakening of the borders.” It would have been awkward to put it that way, but that’s what they’d be saying by specifically backing S. 744. Instead, they support a vague generality like “immigration reform” and then advocates misrepresent what that actually means.

In contrast, the open letter, signed by Rich Lowry, John O’Sullivan, Mark Levin, and scores of others, is quite specific in opposing S. 744.


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