Jeremy Beck's picture


  by  Jeremy Beck

Defunding language in hand, GOP leaders hesitate

Rep. Robert Aderholt introduced a bill this week to prevent the Obama Administration from granting work permits to people in the country illegally. Politico quotes NumbersUSA's Rosemary Jenks:

"Our goal, certainly at Numbers, is to have it attached to the DHS appropriations funding bill," Rosemary Jenks, the director of government relations at Numbers USA, said in an interview Tuesday. "That's the only way it goes anywhere anyway.”

Greg Sargent thinks House Republicans may not attach defunding language to DHS and writes "If Republicans cave on this, it would be a very big deal." Many Republicans who voted for the CRomnibus that fully-funded the executive amnesty defended their vote by pointing to the leverage they would have in 2015 when it came time to pass the DHS appropriations bill. But top House Republicans are now signaling that they prefer not to tie the defund effort to the DHS bill, which would leave them with only symbolic legislative alternatives.

Everyone wins, honest!

David Frum critiques the argument that mass immigration creates only complimentary workers that free up Americans to climb the economic ladder to better-paying jobs. He makes three general points:

(1) Economists arrive at different conclusions depending on which groups they compare:

If you assume that all low-education workers are potential substitutes for each other -- the 23-year-old recent arrival from Guatemala with the 53-year-old who proceeded from high school to the Army -- then your model will show a less dramatic effect of immigration on wages. If, however, you assume that the 23-year-old Guatemalan is competing with 20- and 30-something native-born workers who lack diplomas, then your model will show a very big effect.

(2) Few economists claim immigration does not depress wages. But many claim wage depression and job displacement help U.S.-born workers move up the economic ladder:

When economists minimize the impact of immigration on wages, they aren't denying that immigration pushes wages down in the jobs that immigrants take. They concede that immigration does do that. They celebrate that immigration does that. Instead, they join their celebration of immigration's wage-cutting effects with a prediction about the way that the natives will respond.

But what if the prediction is wrong? What if natives respond to immigrant competition by shifting out of the labor market entirely, by qualifying for disability pensions?

(3) Immigration isn't a natural act. The United States decides which groups will face competition, and which will reap the complimentary benefits:

The ratio of CEO pay to other workers has skyrocketed. Obviously we are suffering from a glut of workers and massive CEO scarcity. We should issue work permits automatically to any executive with a job offer that pays more than $500,000 a year. Americans with organizational skills will be pressed to shift to the public sector, improving the quality and lowering the cost to taxpayers of government services.

But that's not how things are done. In the United States, the hypothesis of native-immigrant complementarity is deployed to justify policies that intensify competition for the lower and middle echelons of the society, rarely near the top. Perhaps it doesn't have to be that way, yet somehow it always is.

Norm Matloff adds that today's mass immigration has a negative effect on high-skilled workers (not just those on the lower rungs of the ladder), but he praises Frum for daring to challenge conventional wisdom and offers his own illustration of the importance of Frum's first point:

Just as weather forecasters need to 'look out the window' once in a while instead of relying on numbers, immigration economists need to take an up-close look at immigrant-enclave labor markets.

Take for instance the Ranch 99 chain of Chinese supermarkets, popular in the Bay Area and southern California. They don't employ many non-Chinese, due to linguistic requirements, and their clientele are largely shopping at Ranch 99 rather than the mainstream stores. Just this one example alone makes it understandable that natives might be losing jobs while immigrants gain them.

You can't be serious.

Jennifer Rubin writes:

No serious person can argue that we don't have a shortage in some high-tech fields or argue against allowing foreign students with advanced degrees to remain in the country.

No one? See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for starters.

A U.S. job for any willing worker?

U.S. voters don't think so, but that hasn't stopped past and present presidents from trying. The Los Angeles Times is running reader reactions to it's editorial, "It's time for Congress to agree on a humane immigration solution." Karina Rodriguez writes that she and her husband deserve U.S. work permits after living in the country illegally for decades because they "came here to work, which is something many Americans don't understand."

If the online comments on most immigration stories are any indication, Rodriguez has a point. Many Americans don't seem to understand that immigrant families (here legally or illegally) are just as likely to consist of workers as U.S.-born families. There is no question that most people who are in the U.S. illegally are here to work. Rodriguez's more provocative claim is that hard workers like her should be exempt from Congressional limits on immigration. The same claim is implied in the Obama Administration's promise to deport "felons, not families." This is the heart of the argument of an immigration movement that Jan Ting describes in his TEDx Talk as "lets keep the limits on the books, but let's not enforcement them...You think anyone will notice?"

Error by omission

President Obama and the White House don't want to talk about work permits. They want to issue them to up to 5 million people who are in the country illegally. But they don't want to talk about it. Not in their speeches. Not on their issues page.

Alicia Caldwell and Erica Werner of the AP were quick to point this out in their November 22 fact check of Obama's speech announcing his executive actions:

OBAMA: "It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive - only Congress can do that. All we're saying is we're not going to deport you."

THE FACTS: He's saying, and doing, more than that. The changes also will make those covered eligible for work permits, allowing them to be employed in the country legally and compete with citizens and legal residents for better-paying jobs.

That hasn't stopped reporters from using the language the White House wants them to use. From this week alone, the evidence comes from this AP wire report:

A bill financing the Department of Homeland Security lapses in late February. Republicans would extend the agency's funding but want language blocking Obama's executive actions shielding from deportation as many as 4 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

And this AP story:

Pena Nieto praised Obama's executive action to shield from deportation some 4 million immigrants -- most of them from his country -- and his "very audacious decision" to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba after a half century of estrangement.

And this Bloomberg story:

Obama announced Nov. 20 he was easing deportation rules to allow as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.

And this National Journal story:

...President Obama has moved forward on executive action to protect 5 million immigrants from deportation.

And this Business Insider story:

...Brat argued that Boehner did not do enough to stop President Barack Obama's executive action last November that shielded millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

And this Wall Street Journal story:

House Republicans prepared Wednesday to reopen a fight with President Barack Obama over immigration as soon as next week as they looked for ways to block his unilateral action shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportations.

And this New York Times story:

Republicans have attacked the president for using executive authority and regulatory interpretations to shield immigrants from deportation and to impose new climate rules on power plants.

And this Arizona Republic story:

Obama's sweeping action on immigration shortly after the election — shielding about 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, among other changes — infuriated Republicans.

Move along. No work permits to see here!

Dreams of the next amnesty

The Associated Press reports that illegal immigration from the Caribbean reached levels not seen in half a decade in FY2014, and the numbers continue to rise:

More than 1,920 migrants -- most of them Cuban or Haitian -- have been intercepted so far in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The Coast Guard worries that number will only increase as news spreads about recent changes to the U.S. immigration system, including fast-tracking visas for some Haitians already approved to join family here and an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that would make millions already illegally in the U.S. eligible for work permits and protection from deportation.

"Any perceived changes to U.S. immigration policy can cause a spike in immigration because it gives a glimmer of hope," even to people not eligible under those changes, said Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard's 7th District.

Worst argument of the week

The editorial board of the Arizona Republic argues that only "comprehensive immigration reform" can provide farmers with the workers they need now that President Obama has granted amnesty to many working illegally:

Seasonal workers, with newly gained legal stability, may leave fields for more steady employment.

"It's possible that because of this action, agriculture will lose workers without any mechanism to bring in new workers," Jason Resnick of the Western Growers Association told The Associated Press.

That "mechanism" he's talking about is a guest-worker progam, an improved, expanded visa system that can provide a pipeline of new workers. It was part of the comprehensive immigration reform package passed by the Senate in 2013 and stonewalled by the House.

There are about 1.5 million crop laborers in the U.S. (including citizens, immigrants, guest workers and illegal workers). The Senate bill would have granted 33 million permanent work permits over a decade in addition to doubling existing guest worker visas. Ironically, there is already a visa program for temporary farm workers, and it has no cap. How the Arizona Republic's editorial board proposes to expand "unlimited" is a mystery for the ages.

The H-2a program could be improved, but Congress doesn't need a 1,000+ page bill to reform a single existing guest worker program.

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Program for NumbersUSA

work permits
High-skilled Americans

Updated: Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 3:24pm EDT

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