An important bloc of conservatives who adhere to the immigration policies of the late Jack Kemp support comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) for reasons worth exploring in detail. Kemp rejected the argument that border security and enforcement of existing immigration laws should be toughened before a guest-worker program was established, explaining that enforcement-first policy could not be reconciled with “the need for future immigration to meet the demands of a growing economy.”
Similarly, Paul Ryan told the Washington Examiner in July, “I always look at [CIR] as an economic issue.” Immigration, Ryan contends, should be based on the needs of the economy, meaning that it should be employer-driven. He maintains that employers need a large increase in the number of both low-skilled and high-skilled workers and that we should therefore develop new guest-worker programs and expand existing ones in various industries. We should also legalize illegal immigrants “so long as the border and the interior enforcement is actually implemented.” The case for the immigration of more low-skilled workers, Ryan asserts, is they “bring labor to our economy so jobs can get done.” If wages were raised “too much in certain industries,” they would go out of business. In the final analysis, he argues, a large increase in the work force would spur economic growth.