October 22, 2013

Amnesty’s Second Wind

Why conservatives may be more vulnerable than ever to persuasion.

America remains mired in the weakest recovery since WWII. The unemployment rate of 7.4 percent obscures the reality that we have the lowest workforce participation rate since 1978, 75 percent of the jobs created in 2013 are part-time with lower wage levels, and American incomes have declined 4.4 percent since the recovery began in 2009. In short, Americans need jobs. Despite that reality, President Obama is aiming to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, even though it is utterly anathema to the interests of American job-seekers.

A report issued last summer by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) reveals that American job-seekers would get hit with a double whammy of lower wages and higher unemployment levels. "Taking into account all of those flows of new immigrants, CBO and JCT expect that a greater number of immigrants with lower skills than with higher skills would be added to the workforce, slightly pushing down the average wage for the labor force as a whole, other things being equal,“ the report states. "Although the average wage would be lower than under current law over the first dozen years, the minimum wage would keep the wages of some less skilled workers from falling, dampening businesses’ demand for those workers,” the analysis added.

Comprehensive immigration reform supporters cling to the one nugget of good news in the report, noting that the CBO estimates a reduction in the federal budget deficit of $175 billion over the first ten years following reform, along with a decrease in the federal deficit by another $700 billion the decade after that. In other words, the federal deficit would be reduced by an average of $43.75 billion per year over 20 years. In March, the Senate adopted its first formal budget in four years. They want to spend $3.7 trillion for 2014. Thus, assuming the CBO numbers are accurate, America would be shaving a grand total of just under 1.2 percent off 2014’s budget total. Since the federal budget has nearly doubled since 2000, the ongoing savings over the course of two decades would amount to little more than a rounding error.

Furthermore, assuming the CBO’s calculations are accurate is a big “if.” According to a devastating report by the Heritage Foundation, comprehensive immigration would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion in new spending on entitlements and social programs over a 50 year period. Heritage contends that $9.4 trillion in government benefits included in the Gang of Eight bill, namely Social Security, Medicare, social programs like Medicaid and food stamps, and coverage under Obamacare, would be offset by only $3.1 trillion in taxes paid by those who receive de facto amnesty.

The business community isn’t buying Heritage’s contentions. As a result, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with the nation’s leading trade associations, will be backing Republicans who favor immigration reform when they run against Republican candidates who don’t in upcoming primaries. In Michigan, Reps. Justin Amash and Kerry Bentivolio will be targeted. In Alabama, business groups hope to undermine the candidacy of Dean Young, whose grassroots campaign propelled him into a Republican Party runoff with former state Senator Bradley Byrne. Business groups may also support Republican incumbent  Rep. Mike Simpson, who faces a tea party challenger who pushed Simpson to embrace defunding ObamaCare.

The business community’s agenda is largely hypocritical. In September, the chief human resources officers of more than 100 large corporations sent Reps. John Boehner (R-OH) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) a letter, asking them to “enact legislation to fix the broken immigration system and work with the Senate to ensure that a bill is signed by the President this year.” Among the signees were Tracy Keogh, Executive VP for Human Resources at Hewlett-Packard. Hewlett-Packard laid off 29,000 employees in 2012. Cisco Systems’ Senior VP of Chief Human Resources Officer Kathleen Weslock also signed the letter, even as her company has laid off 8,000 workers over the last two years, and has announced a cut of an additional 4,000 this year. American Express’s Chief HR Officer, L. Kevin Cox also signed the letter,  even as his company laid of 5,400 workers in 2013. So did Proctor & Gamble’s Chief HR Officer, Mark F. Biegger, despite a 2012 announcement that P&G would eliminate 5,700 jobs.

Several other companies, including T-Mobile, Archer-Daniels-Midland, Texas Instruments, Cigna, Verizon and General Mills also participated in this undermining of the American labor force, despite the signees insisting that “many of our companies continue to have difficulty finding sufficient American workers to fill certain lesser-skilled positions.” They further contended that comprehensive immigration reform "would be a long overdue step toward aligning our nation’s immigration policies with its workforce needs at all skill levels to ensure U.S. global competitiveness.“

Ensuring "global competitiveness” could severely damage the American middle class, due in large part to the reality that the legalization of 11 million illegals would also legalize an additional 17 million immigrants over the next decade as part of the family reunification process. Yet business leaders remain adamant. “We urge Congress not to miss this opportunity to level the playing field for U.S. employers” the letter states. “We can’t afford to wait.”

Equally impatient are immigration activists ratcheting up the pressure on both political parties. On October 11, protesters in Tucson, AZ chained themselves to three buses, demanding a halt to Operation Streamline, a program that either prosecutes or seeks to deport illegal aliens caught at the border. The following Monday, 250 protesters showed up at ICE headquarters in Phoenix. Last Thursday in San Francisco, protesters shouting, "Undocumented, unafraid!“ surrounded another bus containing illegal aliens in the custody of immigration officials. Ironically, in both Arizona and California, activists have vented their wrath against President Obama, whom they labeled the Deporter-In-Chief.

Frank Sharry, who heads America’s Voice, a Washington D.C.-based organization that favors more flexible immigration laws, made the agenda of the activists clear. "Of course, advocates and activists want Congress to act, but if they don’t, we won’t go away,” he promised. “We’ll get louder, stronger and more confrontational. That’s what movements have always done.  And that’s what our movement is already doing.”

The National Immigration Forum (NIF), an organization funded by leftist heavyweight George Soros, is also lending its weight to the reform push, organizing a “fly in” of ostensible conservatives to lobby House Republicans. This will be the second fly-in organized by the NIF, following one earlier in the year targeting the Senate, which has already passed their version of reform. This one is aimed at House Republicans who believe that securing the border must occur prior to any kind of legalization efforts.

Perhaps fittingly, those efforts could be hampered by what just happened with regard to the government shutdown. Yesterday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of comprehensive immigration reform’s biggest supporters, noted that the exceedingly acrimonious stance taken by Obama and his fellow Democrats during the shutdown may have poisoned the well with regard to a reform bill. "Immigration reform is going to be a lot harder to accomplish than it was three weeks ago,“ he contended, further noting that he agreed with Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) who said Republican leadership would be "crazy” to negotiate with  a president who could be as recalcitrant regarding immigration reform as he was during shutdown negotiations. Labrador also reminded his colleagues that Obama is “trying to destroy” the GOP. Despite this reality, Rubio remains committed to reform. "There’s no argument the immigration system has to be fixed,“ he told Fox News.

At what price? As American Thinker’s Tara Sevatius explains, comprehensive immigration reform serves the left’s interests far more than those of conservative Americans. If 11 million illegals are granted amnesty, "the shift to an America one-party state will accelerate at warp speed,” she writes. She further notes that Republicans are kidding themselves if they think Hispanics will eventually embrace conservative values, citing a 2012 survey taken by the Pew Hispanic Center. It revealed that a staggering 75 percent of Hispanics prefer “bigger government and more services.” That compared to only 41 percent of the American population as whole that wants the same thing.

Furthermore, the Hispanic community’s affinity for Democrats is hardly news. They have consistently supported Democrats by wide margins, going all the way back to 1980.

Regardless, it would appear that immigration reform is moving to the front burner once again. Thus, in the next few months the American public will be bombarded with volumes of  information attempting to convince them that the the legalization of 11 million illegal aliens currently in the country, along with the 17 million immigrants added to that total over the years, is a net plus for the nation.

Yet American workers who will be forced to compete with millions of mostly low-skill workers for jobs – even as job creation remains stagnant – would be wise to remember basic economics. Basic economics explains that more of anything makes each individual unit of that thing worth less. More American workers competing with newly legalized immigrants for scarcer and scarcer well-paying jobs is no exception to that rule.

Originally published at FrontPage Magazine.

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