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Programming note. On this week’s upcoming Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast, Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, my former co-author and current friend will tell us about the status of immigration enforcement in America and how things look now compared to one year ago. The podcast will be posted Tuesday evening. Listen in! (Got a question to ask Jessica? Leave a comment below).
The most positive consequence of the Trump Administration so far – and it hasn’t been nearly as positive as it could be – is the widespread reevaluation of illegal immigration, its impact on our economy and culture, and the question of how (and not if) the laws of the nation should be best enforced.
Heretofore the principal argument against enforcing the laws on the books has been that it was an impossible task. The results of ICE and Border Patrol’s conspicuous (though by no means massive) arrest and deportation policies and their influence on the inflow of illegal aliens through the southern border have essentially demolished that argument – and this is before any workplace enforcement has been initiated at all.
Now however, while many Democrats and liberals have swallowed the illegal alien poison pill which, in the body of the rainbow coalition, will inevitably help the body shed much of whatever healthy tissue remains, a few intelligent liberals and a large swath of the GOP establishment appear to be rethinking the issue. Ricochet’s skipsul recently chronicled the transition that liberal columnist Peter Beinart displayed in The Atlantic. Beinart dared to repeat the talking points of liberals from yesteryear (circa 2005) who viewed illegal immigration unsympathetically.
Similarly, a couple months ago, Slate Political Gabfest über-liberal host David Plotz argued (repeating from memory here) that the Trump supporters had, after all, a superior argument on immigration. Weren’t they simply asking that the laws in place be enforced? What was the response to that?
This is heady stuff.
Meanwhile, previously bought and sold Chamber of Commerce Republicans (CoCReps?) have started to recognize that a world exists beyond their donor base composed of voters…lots and lots of voters. They are no longer as cavalier about comprehensive immigration reform as they used to be.
But there are a few canards that remain – mainly among the educated elite of the left – that irk me. I will list two, and list them briefly at that. Tell me, my Ricochetti friends, if I am alone here.
- Illegal aliens are doing the jobs that Americans don’t want to do.
We’ve all heard it. We’ve all ridiculed it (haven’t we?). But it is still repeated – actually I have heard illegal aliens in various rallies saying this themselves. I had a doctor tell me the same thing last week.
The claim that illegal aliens are doing jobs that Americans won’t do is a blatant concession that illegal aliens lower wages. There are no (non-criminal) jobs that Americans won’t do for the right price (I know this because there are no jobs that *I* won’t do for the right price). If there are jobs that illegal aliens will do at a given price that Americans won’t, then that is because the job does not pay enough. If the employer is not willing to pay the wage that a legal American would take for that job (e.g. as a housekeeper or a nanny in Northwest D.C.) then the job is economically unfeasible in America. Workers cannot be found for that job at the rate which makes it profitable to employ someone. Economies are filled with such jobs. It does not mean that there is no one willing to do the job. But perpetual dependence on an illegally imported class of people to do those jobs at bargain prices is not a solution…it is a dependency.
- We need to force illegal aliens to learn English in exchange for amnesty.
This is, to me, infuriating. The condescending ignoramuses who espouse this tenet of comprehensive immigration reform (cf. Jeb Bush) have fundamentally missed the point. Americans have derided the now prevalent need to “press 1 for English” or the hassle of dealing with people at lunch counters who don’t understand English. The Jeb Bush’s of the world have concluded that the anger of the average American is produced by the inconvenience of having to “press 1” or to have to explain more slowly that you want mustard not mayonnaise.
In fact, the rage that Americans feel about the encroachment of Spanish on our daily culture results from the fact that having to press 1 for English is evidence that more illegal aliens are entering our society and our society, far from enforcing the law, is simply adjusting to the influx. The minor inconvenience is not the point. The point is that no one is doing anything about it.
So, maybe not so short, but what do you say fellow Ricochetti? Are you happier now – with AG Jeff Sessions, for example – than you were a year ago? Do you hold out hope for the future? Do my two irksome points resonate with you too? Inquiring minds want to know.