As head of Missouri’s largest taxpayer organization, and later as a newspaper editor, I spent many decades of my life gleefully torching business interests for betraying free-market principles in the political arena. I opposed them on public-school taxes, on public-debt issues, and on the whole panoply of subsidized urban redevelopment that created the now-obvious overinvestment in retail malls, casinos, and sports facilities. Ask Ramesh. He was there.
But I have no intention of opposing business when it is right. I have three — no, four — serious objections to kicking 7 million illegals out of the workforce. The first is: It’s not going to happen. The second is, if it did happen, the result would not be more jobs for American workers, but the catastrophic collapse of our rural export industries, and a substantial contraction of many branches of industry that depend on seasonal peak hiring to maintain their year-round staff. The third is, the overwhelming majority of these “illegal” workers were legally hired, under the I-9 verification laws enacted by politicians for whom you and I voted. The fourth, with which I don’t expect you to agree, is that the entire scheme is grossly immoral.
In your posted query to me, you characterize the owners of business in which illegals work as “wishing to hire cheap, illegal labor.” You describe them as “bent on violating federal law.” These are slanders. These entreprenuers wish to hire legally going forward, as they have in the past. They are eager for a new federal law, rather than the patchwork of state laws that deny them the safe harbor they require to run their businesses.
As to “cheap” labor: I eagerly await your plans for the ranchers, general contractors, farmers, meat-packers, seafood processors, hoteliers, computer software designers, restaurateurs, health-care providers, and home builders who disagree with you. Tell me, pray, what the wages should be for different job categories in these industries, since you seem to know.
As to Arizona: Yes, you can pass E-Verify there, no “illegal” benefits there, official English there. But what you cannot do there, or in any other state on the border, is elect politicians who refuse to negotiate a comprehensive immigration reform that mediates these goals with the legitimate interests of business and Hispanics.
Incidentally, I am not hostile to Randy Graff, J.D. Hayworth, Tim Bee, Sidney Hay, or Dave Schweikert – good conservatives all, defeated in Arizona House districts recently held by Republicans. What I resent is this: The death of the business-social conservative alliance in Arizona will deny me their votes on right-to-life, national defense, taxes, and the budget.
Now, John, permit me a question of my own: Do you honestly think that “no amnesty” is a wedge issue that politically benefits Republicans? If so, on what basis?
— Richard Nadler is president of the Americas Majority Foundation, a public-policy think tank in Overland Park, Kan.