June 29, 2013

T.A. FRANK IN THE NEW REPUBLIC: Why Liberals Should Oppose the Immigration Bill: It’s about low-wage American workers.

Worrying about illegal immigration today is a lot like worrying about communists in government in 1950. It’s not that the problem isn’t legitimate or serious (there actually were, we now know, a lot of Moscow loyalists working for the U.S. government). It’s that expressing your concurrence links you to a lot of demagogues and bad actors.

Most of America’s college-educated elites are little affected by illegal immigration. In fact, it’s often a benefit to us in terms of childcare, household help, dinners out, and other staples of upper-middle-class life. Many therefore view the problem as akin, in severity, to marijuana use—common but benign, helpful to the immigrants and minimal in its effects on Americans or anyone else. I know, because it used to be my own view. . . .

All in all, I became convinced that high levels of low-skill immigration are good for wealthy Americans and bad for poor Americans. Far more important, high levels of illegal immigration—when you start to get into the millions, as we have—undermines unions and labor standards, lowers wages, heightens social tensions, strains state budgets, widens income inequality, subverts the rule of law, and exacerbates class divides. The effects go far beyond wages, because few undocumented workers earn enough to cover anything close to the cost of government services (such as education for their children) they require, and those services are most important to low-income Americans. In short, it’s an immense blow to America’s working class and poor.

Worrying about insufficient “diversity” links you to a lot of demagogues and bad actors, too, but that seems to be okay.