House Conservatives Make Populist Case against Immigration Reform

by Andrew Stiles

A group of 16 House conservatives led by Representative Mo Brooks (R., Ala.) rejected President Obama’s continued push for comprehensive immigration reform in a letter to the White House on Wednesday. 

The letter, which makes no mention of the must publicized aspect of comprehensive reform (a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants), strikes a populist tone in light of the president’s focus on income inequality. It questions the wisdom of White House-backed reforms that would dramatically increase the number of low-skilled legal immigrants admitted to the country over the next decade, and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, decrease the average wages of American workers.

The Senate immigration bill, which the White House supports, would “permanently displace American workers” at a time when millions are already out of work, the lawmakers write, while enriching the large corporations who are eager to get their hands on cheap labor.

“The White House has entertained a parade of high-powered business executives to discuss immigration policy, all while shutting out the concerns of everyday wage-earners who overwhelmingly oppose these measures,” they write. “So-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform may be a good deal for big businesses who want to reduce labor costs, and it may be a good deal for progressive labor unions seeking new workers from abroad, but it’s an awful deal for US workers – including African-American and Hispanic communities enduring chronically high unemployment.”

“Job number one for Congress should be to reduce the unemployment rolls, get families and communities out of poverty and government dependency, rebuild our deteriorating communities and collapsing middle class, and increase wages for American citizens,” the lawmakers write, noting that the president’s immigration proposals would “do the exact opposite on every count.”