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On Immigration, David Brat And The Tea Party Stray From Their Own Principles

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Whether it’s correct or not, David Brat’s victory last week over Eric Cantor in the Republican Primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District has been widely interpreted as a victory for opponents of immigration reform specifically, and immigration more generally. What’s interesting about that, of course, is the fact that Brat, like the Tea Party that was apparently the base of his support, claims to believe strongly in free markets and limited government at the same time that he opposes immigration reform and, at various points during the campaign and beforehand, has spoken out against immigration in general as something that hurts Americans looking for jobs. These are, of course, positions that are widely held among Tea Party members, as evidenced by the fact that they have been the groups speaking out most vocally against any kind of immigration reform and, in many cases suggesting that immigration itself is harmful to the country.

As the Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh notes, however, there are obvious contradictions between Brat’s, and the Tea Party’s, position on economic issues and the size and scope of government, and their position on immigration:

Brat considers himself a free-market conservative, claiming on MSNBC following his unexpected win that he’s against “any distortion to free markets.” Brat also campaigned against immigration reform, saying that “It’s the most symbolic issue that captures the difference between myself and Eric Cantor in this race.” But it’s impossible to square Brat’s laudable support for free markets and his opposition to immigration reform.

Immigration is an economic issue. Fundamentally, it is about the movement of workers, entrepreneurs and consumers to locations where they can maximize the value of their labor, businesses and purchasing power.

But America’s current immigration system is highly protectionist and restrictive. In contrast to the first 131 years of American history, there is currently no green card for lower-skilled workers. Some highly skilled workers, families and refugees can get green cards, but there is no category for lower-skilled workers unless they are closely related to an American. That severe prohibition on the movement of lower-skilled workers is a deep and destructive intervention into the market economy.

Similarly, the paltry number of highly regulated temporary guest-worker visas allowed for migrants cannot compensate for the lack of green cards. For example, four federal agencies regulate the H-2A visa for temporary farmworkers. Firms have to sponsor migrants, limiting the ability of the migrant to move to better opportunities and the ability of American firms to hire away the best workers from their sclerotic competitors. Minimum wages for guest workers and other rules limit worker and employer flexibility.

These are some of the issues that might have gotten fleshed out in the immigration reform bill that Congress was expected to vote on after the midterm elections. But with Brat’s campaign victory over Cantor, which focused on blasting the prominent Virginia Republican for working with the Obama administration on immigration reform, many are predicting it won’t happen.

Only a lightly regulated economy can determine efficient wages and the optimal allocation of workers to variously demanded tasks, but the government intercedes at every step of the immigration process. Expensive labor certification requirements that seek to protect American workers from migrant competition make a mockery of free markets.

And yet Republicans are somehow able to claim the mantle of free-market advocacy while making draconian immigration restrictions a touchstone of their political platform. Brat fancies himself a free-market economist, but he can’t seem to comprehend this glaring contradiction.

Nowrasteh is completely right on the economics of immigration. In the end, there would not be immigration, legal or illegal, in the numbers that we see if there were not sufficient demand for labor here in the United States. The best evidence we can see for this happened just a few years ago when the housing market before then. For years before then, mostly young men from Mexico and Central America were drawn to the United States by a booming construction market that provided easy to find jobs in carpentry and other fields that required at beast a minimal level of skill to start out, and more importantly didn’t require obtaining any kind of government license. Anyone who lived in areas like Northern Virginia, Florida, Las Vegas, or elsewhere during the housing boom can attest to the fact that the facts majority of the laborers on these construction projects were Hispanic, and it doesn’t take much guessing to figure out that many if not most of them were here illegally. Interestingly, though, when the housing market collapsed many of those who were here illegally ended up returning home, largely because the labor market had dried up. That’s how supply and demand works, and the simple truth is that immigration exists in no small part because there is a demand for the labor that immigrants, legal and illegal, are willing to do and a lack of Americans who are willing to do it, as the experiences of Georgia and Alabama when they cracked down on immigration several years ago can demonstrate.

In addition to the economic arguments in favor of immigration, there are also arguments based on individual liberty and limited government that one would think that a consistent conservative such as Brat and the Tea Party claim to be would be sympathetic to. In its most radical form, of course, the libertarian argument on immigration would be that there shouldn’t be any restrictions at all. However, that’s a utopian argument that’s unlikely to have much public appeal. A more reasonable argument would be that people who want to come to the United States shouldn’t be unreasonably barred from doing so, and since there are no good arguments against more immigration, there’s no real justification for restricting immigration. If people want to come here, who are we to tell them they can’t?

Additionally, immigration seems to be one of the few areas where conservatives argue in favor of bigger and more intrusive government. Rather than dealing rationally with the roughly 11 million people who are here illegally, they argue that we need to more vigorously enforce existing laws, something that would necessarily involve giving increased powers to law enforcement and breaking up families based solely on whether or not someone has the proper paperwork. They also argue in favor of militarizing the border, although that interestingly typically only seems to apply to the southern border, and giving greater power to Border Patrol Agents to engage in activity beyond the border that quite honestly borders on harassment most of the time.  Finally, these same small government conservatives that want businesses to have the freedom to operate without government regulation want to regulate who they can hire and require nearly all businesses in the United States to clear employees with the state before hiring them. That’s not a small government philosophy at all.

Many opponents of immigration reform have moved away from the argument that immigrants take American jobs, an argument which as I noted above simply doesn’t square with logic or the evidence, and now assert that immigration must be restricted because of the increased costs of immigrants using the welfare state. As it turns out, though, there is simply no evidence that immigrants are more likely to use public service than citizens, and plenty of evidence from both Europe and the United States to show that poor immigrants are less likely to use public benefits than citizens. Moreover, it’s important to note that undocumented immigrants are legally barred from receiving nearly all forms of public assistance. The only notable exceptions would be their ability to receive emergency medical care, but unless one wants to make the argument that a sick person should be allowed to die because they don’t have the right paperwork that doesn’t seem like a very big deal to me. If such people are receiving benefits, it would be because they are committing some kind of illegal act such as submitting false documents, which is a crime in itself. I’m not denying that such things happen, but there’s simply no evidence that they happen on the scale that immigration opponents argue that they do.  In other words, the existence of a welfare state is not, by itself, an argument against immigration.

Brat and the Tea Partiers who have rallied to his cause can claim that they are acting on principle when it comes to immigration, but when you actually look at those principles and compare them to their positions the contradiction becomes so apparent that one can only conclude that there are other motivations for their anti-immigration rhetoric.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I had to laugh when I read that title Doug. You seem to be operating under the delusion that they have principles. ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  2. They think they do, which I’d suggest is important in understanding what motivates them

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  3. CSK says:

    In response to a question about his position on the minimum wage, Brat said that he hadn’t yet “crafted” one. It strikes me as bizarre that an economist wouldn’t already have a position on the minimum wage.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  4. Mu says:

    Additionally, immigration seems to be one of the few areas where conservatives argue in favor of bigger and more intrusive government.

    The other ones being the pro-life movement, the surveillance to give us security from terrorists, the need for voter ID, the need to protect our children from sex-ed and evolution in school – I stop here, the idea that conservatives like small government is ridiculous.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 1

  5. Chris says:

    Ah, libertarians on immigration. You can’t beat the foolishness of wanting to take care of your fellow citizens when PRINCIPLES are at stake. It’s almost as if libertarians don’t care about the idea of being a citizen of a country! Go figure! Borders – for the little people! The principle of open borders is to be upholded! We are all one big economic family! Give me GDP or give me death!

    And we wonder why libertarians can’t get elected anywhere, at any time.

    “Immigration is an economic issue.”

    Yes, private profits and public shared costs are part of the issue, especially when the immigrants we are talking about average IQ of 88 (or less). You’d fit right in with Alex, collecting money from the Kochs and other members of the cheap labor lobby to help keep their costs down while insuring that taxpayers handle the runoff in emergency rooms and schools in their local communities. Good deal.

    Immigrants not collecting on benefits is laughable, CIS blew that claim out of the water.
    http://cis.org/immigrant-welfare-use-2011

    I do appreciate CATO buying the top spot in the google search, though. LOL.

    The cultural part of the issue, of citizens bequeathing to their progeny this fine country to live in and not having it overrun with citizens of other countries, well, that’s not addressed. Why? Why is wanting to leave your kids a better place then when you got it such a terrible thing to be mocked? And how does inviting 30M Central Americans into the US since 1990 helped or hindered that? I know Mexican innovation is changing our very lives every minute of every day, but come on.

    “In the end, there would not be immigration, legal or illegal, in the numbers that we see if there were not sufficient demand for labor here in the United States.”

    Key word missing in your argument here: “price”. It rules our lives sir. And w/o it, your argument is nothing. Nice try Doug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

  6. Jim Henley says:

    Doug, this is silly. The Tea Party isn’t straying from their principles on immigration. Immigration restrictionism is a bedrock principle of the Tea Party. You’re misleading yourself by imagining that particular rhetorical terms – “economic liberty”; “small government”; “freedom” etc. – have a real meaning, which is the meaning assigned to those terms by the relatively cosmopolitan strain of libertarianism; that anyone who uses those terms at least aspires to the Real Meaning of them as principles, and that any other commitments the users hold count as confusions or deviations or hypocrisy, because the Real Meaning Of The Terms as RCS libertarians understand them is the authentic core.

    But no. Those terms don’t have an official meaning. Tea Partiers aren’t failed or stunted libertarians. They are Tea Partiers. They are what they are.

    If you remember libertarian and paleoconservative media before blogs, and I think you do, then you recognize these people have always been with us. You could see them in the letters columns of Liberty, in the body copy of Paulite publications, all over things like Sobran’s Journal and Chronicles. They spoke – and speak – for some or all of “Christian civilization”, “race realism”, national integrity and so on as prerequisites for “economic liberty”, “free markets” and so on.

    They haven’t strayed from your principles. They’ve considered RCS Libertarianism and rejected it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  7. Chris says:

    @Mu: A central role of any government would be determining just who gets to be a citizen. When the value of that right exceeds, say, well, a lot of money, then it is something that citizens may decide to vote to protect – for themselves and their families. One might say its something that could be passed down from generation to generation to ensure they take care of what they were given.

    The citizens of this country passed laws enforcing their wishes to that effect and are willing to pay for them. This is a good thing, yet you stand there cackling. Pathetic.

    Let’s see you advocate a small government position based on eliminating our national borders and see how many votes you get. People wonder why libertarians are so ridiculous. I just point to comments such as these and it’s easily explainable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  8. anjin-san says:

    It strikes me as bizarre

    Welcome to Tea Land…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  9. CSK says:

    I’m far from the first person to point this out, but when analyzing Brat’s positions, and how they may coincide with or diverge from Tea Party positions, it’s important to keep in mind that Brat has married theology to economics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  10. KM says:

    @CSK:

    It strikes me as bizarre that an economist wouldn’t already have a position on the minimum wage

    Trust me, he has one. Somebody was smart enough to get to him early and point out his Randian aspirations might not play well with Bob Between-Paychecks and he should probably keep his mouth shut right now. The word “craft” is telling – artisans craft and he’s probably whipping up some designer-BS to go with his “Princeton” degree. Gotta get it focus-group approved, dontcha know…..

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  11. Jim Henley says:

    CSK: That just is Tea Party-ism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  12. CSK says:

    @KM:

    I agree completely with you. His use of the word “crafted” was a major tip-off; it’s redolent of spin.

    His Princeton degree is from the Princeton Theological Seminary, which has no affiliation (as far as I know) with Princeton University.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  13. Mu says:

    @Chris: I’m neither an advocate for a particularly small government nor a free immigration/amnesty supporter. I just made fun of people who claim they are when they’re not, like the Tea Party and the Christian wing of the libertarian movement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  14. Another Mike says:

    The Tea Party is for immigration reform. The Tea Party is opposed to illegal immigration. That is simple. Too simple to get a blog post out of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  15. CSK says:

    @Another Mike:

    From what I’ve read, the Tea Party equates “immigration reform” with amnesty, which is why they have such visceral hatred for Cantor, Romney, McConnell, Ryan, Boehner, Ayotte, and the rest of those left-wingers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  16. Rafer Janders says:

    That’s how supply and demand works, and the simple truth is that immigration exists in no small part because there is a demand for the labor that immigrants, legal and illegal, are willing to do and a lack of Americans who are willing to do it, as the experiences of Georgia and Alabama when they cracked down on immigration several years ago can demonstrate.

    Um, not quite. There’s not a lack of Americans willing to do that work. There is, however, a lack of Americans willing to do that work (a) for the often sub-standard, below legal minimum wage and (b) in the poor working and safety conditions that those employers offer.

    A lot of employers use cheap illegal immigrant labor not because they work harder, but because they work cheaper and can be exploited.

    Americans will do the work — if you pay them a living wage. Don’t blame the American worker for the American bosses’ rapaciousness.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    @Another Mike:

    The Tea Party is for immigration reform. The Tea Party is opposed to illegal immigration. That is simple. Too simple to get a blog post out of it.

    First, I thought there was no such thing as an “organized” Tea Party view on anything as there is no such thing as the Tea Party as a political entity. Isn’t that the usual line?

    But beyond that “The Tea Party is for immigration reform” doesn’t mean anything because it fails to specify *what* said reform is. Everyone’s “for reform.” It’s the details of reform that no one agrees on.

    Next “The Tea Party is opposed to illegal immigration” – great! Can you point out anyone who is actually *for* illegal immigration?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  18. rudderpedals says:

    “Reform” means as much as the incoherent shout it probably is but if it isn’t, just what are the tea’s policy proposals implementing immigration reform?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Rafer Janders says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Can you point out anyone who is actually *for* illegal immigration?

    Well, there are some people, largely but not entirely on the left, who are for open borders and unrestricted immigration. But it’s certainly not a position held by the Democratic party itself or by Democratic leaders.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  20. rudderpedals says:

    Should have refreshed before posting

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. wr says:

    @Rafer Janders: “Well, there are some people, largely but not entirely on the left, who are for open borders and unrestricted immigration.”

    Could you name one of them who has more influence in this country than, say, Jenos? I keep hearing about these stupid leftists who are for open borders, and that’s why we have to punish immigrants, but I’ve sure never met one. Or read one. Or even heard of one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  22. Another Mike says:

    @Matt Bernius: I do not know of a single politician who is on the record as being “for illegal immigration.” Likewise I do not know of a single politician who will put a gun to his head, metaphorically speaking, and blow his brains out. Actions, that’s how people will have to judge, because everyone lies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  23. grumpy realist says:

    I feel I want to pat CATO on the head, hand it a lollipop, and say “there,there, everything will be all right.”

    Tea Party have principles? HAH! the only principle I’ve seen them stick to is IGMFY and Old White People Deserve Everything So Bugger Off The Rest Of You.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  24. Another Mike says:

    @CSK: @Rafer Janders: I am opposed to illegal immigration and would close it off, if that were possible, but I do not doubt the sincerity of the Chamber of Commerce. It is a paradox that there are so many out of work and yet we need immigrants to take jobs. There are employers who just cannot hire workers who will work. If you find someone, they might stop showing up after a few days, or even disappear during the first day on the job. I have a relative who worked in payroll for a factory, and the stories this person told were appalling. I know a contractor and just shake my head at his stories of trying hire people who will work.
    My guess is that immigrants’ children will have the same attitude toward work that the natives do. Everyone is looking for the perfect job that pays big money and you don’t really have to do much. My advise is to try the government.
    I will say that it is imprudent of the Chamber of Commerce to fill the country with immigrants who will probably only be good for one generation. After that they just join the growing mass of discontents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  25. David M says:

    @Another Mike:

    The Tea Party is opposed to illegal immigration.

    I do not know of a single politician who is on the record as being “for illegal immigration.”

    That doesn’t really clear things up.

    I am opposed to illegal immigration and would close it off, if that were possible

    Seems to me that ending illegal immigration is pretty easy…just make it legal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  26. stonetools says:

    Doug has the real Tea Party mixed up with the classical libertarian party in his head. The real Tea Party is made up largely of old white men shouting at clouds, being angry at the passing of “their ” America, and being fearful of the future and above all that the black man in the White House will take away “their “benefits and privileges and give it to “those” people.
    THAT Tea Party is perfectly happy with a drive to erect a wall on the border and to send all the alien brown people “back where they came from.” That Tea Party doesn’t give a damn about libertarian principles of limited government and open borders.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  27. @Rafer Janders:

    Well, there are some people, largely but not entirely on the left, who are for open borders and unrestricted immigration.

    If we had open borders and unrestricted immigration, then they would all be legal immigrants. The Tea Party should be happy then, but somehow they’re not. Because it’s not actually just illegal immigration they’re against.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  28. Eric Florack says:

    ….Nowrasteh is completely right on the economics of immigration. In the end, there would not be immigration, legal or illegal, in the numbers that we see if there were not sufficient demand for labor here in the United States.

    Were that so, there would not be the huge disparity there is between the E3 and E6 numbers.
    And what of the numbers of “undocumented immigrants” showing up for the federal handouts? That, I suppose doesn’t calculate into why so many are here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  29. Eric Florack says:

    @Stormy Dragon: so the law was set up for what reason, then?

    Oh, yeah, its because were all racists. Right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  30. rudderpedals says:

    @Another Mike:

    There are employers who just cannot hire workers who will work. If you find someone, they might stop showing up after a few days, or even disappear during the first day on the job.

    Did they try paying more money? I know, a radical idea. Improving the job otherwise? What’s wrong with the employer?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  31. Rafer Janders says:

    @wr:

    Could you name one of them who has more influence in this country than, say, Jenos? I keep hearing about these stupid leftists who are for open borders, and that’s why we have to punish immigrants, but I’ve sure never met one. Or read one. Or even heard of one.

    Well, like I said, it’s not at all a Democratic Party position, but there are some pundits etc. who advocate for it. Matt Yglesias, formerly of Slate and now of oh who cares, is one, and he’s written on the issue quite frequently. Here’s a sample:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/01/25/what_would_happen_if_we_let_all_the_immigrants_in.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @Another Mike:

    There are employers who just cannot hire workers who will work.

    Usually because those employers expect (a) to pay below market wage for the work they want done, (b) don’t want to offer good working conditions, and/or (c ) expect the workers to train themselves and have ridiculously overbroad ideas of what the job requires.

    Pay a fair wage for a fair job, and you’ll find workers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  33. Another Mike says:

    @Stormy Dragon: What a way to reason, huh? If rape were legal, the Tea Party would still be opposed. This proves that it is not really a matter of being legal or illegal. Some people are just opposed to rape.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  34. Another Mike says:

    @Rafer Janders: That sounds good, but I think you will find that in practice those factors are really not what is behind the problem. Talk to those who hire people and see what they say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  35. Rafer Janders says:

    @Another Mike:

    Talk to those who hire people and see what they say.

    I am a person who hires people. In practice, those factors are usually the problem.

    Funny how supposed free-market conservatives suddenly don’t believe in free-market economic incentives when it comes to hiring workers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  36. DrDaveT says:

    @Chris:

    The cultural part of the issue, of citizens bequeathing to their progeny this fine country to live in and not having it overrun with citizens of other countries

    And which of those other countries did YOUR ancestors come from?

    America was “overrun with citizens of other countries” 300 years ago, and the overrunning never stopped. If you want to convince me you’re not just a bigot*, you need to explain to me why it was great then but terrible now.

    *I say ‘bigot’ rather than ‘racist’ because sometimes we irrationally wanted to keep out Irishmen and European Jews, even though they’re as white as we are. I get that it’s not necessarily about race, despite the rhetoric of some posters here. It is about language and culture, though. And American culture has always been made better and stronger by those immigrants, even when they were Not Like Me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  37. superdestroyer says:

    Maybe the understanding of free markets means that is the U.S. allows the free movement of people between Mexico and the U.S., that eventually the standard of living for the two countries would become equal (equally bad).

    Instead of analyzing immigration through the lens of the irrelevant Repubican Party, why not analyze immigration as seen by Democrats. Democrats want to move redistribute wealth to poorer people. How does that work when an unlimited number of people are allowed to come to the U.S. How does the Democrats reconcile their support for higher real wages with comprehensive immigration reform doubling the number of legal immigrats. How do the Democrats reconcile their support for the free movement of people into and out of the U.S. with their deisre to lower the greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S.?

    What Brat seems to understand is the simple law of supply and demand. If the government increases the supply of labor by not enforcing immigration laws and amnesty, the the price of labor will go down. What is amazing is that Democrats want to increase the supply of labor while driving up the price through a much higher minimum wage which will just create a larger black market for cheap immigrant labor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  38. superdestroyer says:

    @Mu:

    Social conservatives reconcile their positions of evolution by pushing for school vouchers and home schooling. How do Democrats reconcile their claims of wanting people to have control over their lives while pushing for nationalized education standards, a one size fits all public schools, and the inability of parents and voters to affect school policy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  39. wr says:

    @Another Mike: “If rape were legal, the Tea Party would still be opposed. This proves that it is not really a matter of being legal or illegal. Some people are just opposed to rape.”

    Funny you should mention that. One hard core Republican legislator — clearly a Tea Partier in his views if nothing else, just said that rape should be legal. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/28/lawrence-lockman-rape-_n_4874586.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  40. Tyrell says:

    I certainly feel that a great majority of these people have come here for opportunity and a better life. No one can blame them for that. Years ago Congress started fussing, hollaring, and generally making a lot of opportunist talk about doing something about the immigration problem; this after years of ignoring these people who were coming on in. So they came up with a bunch of ideas for laws, among them penalties for hiring, even punishments for helping these people. Among these ill-conceived notions was to even make churches check and report any people suspected of being illegal. So certain House members basically wanted Sunday school teachers and pastors to do the government’s job for them. No way. The government got themselves into that mess, they can get themselves out. If they want people checked, they can do it themselves.
    One thing that I and others did get perturbed about was some years back when some of these (not all, most behaved themselves) people got riled up and started demonstrating for their supposed rights. If they are here in this country illegally, they have no rights.
    I have found these people to be hard working, honest, well behaved Christian people who have a strong family structure. They have come here for opportunity, not some government hand out.
    “Every time that flag’s unfurled, they’re coming to America” (Neil Diamond)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. ratufa says:

    If a low-skilled person is unemployed or worried about keeping their job, it’s perfectly understandable that they might wonder how increasing the supply of low-skilled workers will help them. Arguments about the overall, long-term benefits to the economy of “efficient wages and the optimal allocation of workers to variously demanded tasks” don’t persuade those who are worried that it is their wages that will be made more efficient and their jobs that will be re-allocated. This is especially true in the current economic climate.

    Politicians who want to win elections understand the above concerns. Being elected beats being “consistent”. The Nowrasteh piece that Doug cited is mendacious bullpoop in its faux outrage about consistency (“faux” because I’m assuming he’s not really that stupid). Also, the author’s use of the line, “In contrast to the first 131 years of American history, there is currently no green card for lower-skilled workers”, tells you a lot about his intentions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  42. Andre Kenji says:

    The crux of the matter is that enforcing immigration laws requires bureaucracy. I don´t see illegal immigrants here in Brazil precisely because the country is internationally known for it´s red tape. If you are an employer you must register your workers with the government and with the unions, and yes, the worker can sue you if you don´t register him.. And you must carry all kinds of ID Cards.

    Some weeks there was national commotion with some Haitians that emigrated to São Paulo. Since they still had no documentation they did not manage to get jobs, so, they were housed in a church. When people are complaining about enforcing immigration laws they are demanding more bureaucracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  43. Jim Henley says:

    It remains hilarious to me that right-wing populists focus on immigration constantly and offshoring never. Offshoring is responsible for the loss of all the jobs they’d like to get; immigration mostly fills up occupations they wouldn’t do on a dare. So the white conservative base hitches itself to the political party of the rich white men who really took their jobs, because down is the only direction it can see to kick.

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  44. DrDaveT says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Democrats want to move redistribute wealth to poorer people. How does that work when an unlimited number of people are allowed to come to the U.S.

    Sorry, you’ve already bought the Republican propaganda when you assume that this is a zero-sum game. The US did not become the most prosperous nation on earth by redistributing the wealth of Europe to the new world. We became the most prosperous nation on earth by taking in the unwanted of Europe and having them generate wealth through industry, entrepreneurship, innovation, and trade. And we made Europe more prosperous in the process.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  45. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “If they are here in this country illegally, they have no rights.”

    Really? You mean we can just kill them? Or lock them up for no reason? Torture them? Tell them which religions they can and can’t belong to?

    Who knew?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    This is for you

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  47. anjin-san says:

    @Another Mike: “If rape were legal, the Tea Party would still be opposed. This proves that it is not really a matter of being legal or illegal. Some people are just opposed to rape.”

    Really?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  48. Another Mike says:

    @wr: It was a state legislator and he was not seriously advocating that rape be legal. He was trying to make some screwball argument and made himself look like a crackpot, which he probably is. I agree that he should resign as he seems to be too big of a dope to hold public office. Of course, we could rid ourselves of a lot of people using that standard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  49. Another Mike says:

    @DrDaveT: You are misrepresenting the Republican philosophy on free markets as the Democrat belief, and falsely attributing the Democrats zero-sum idea to Republicans. There is a good bit of sophistry here.

    As the economy increases and as wealth is created more workers will be required. When a new factory opens, it will hire workers. We import workers to fill needs. As the country grew in the 1800s it imported workers to settle the new lands. My ancestors came from Germany in the 1840s. It was easy to immigrate. The ship master turned in a list of passenger names with ages and country of origin. That was all that was required.

    Immigration was allowed because it benefited the country. That is the only reason to allow immigration. Legal immigration is a system to allow into the country the numbers and types of people the country needs. Illegal immigration overturns the system and creates a burden on the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  50. Matt Bernius says:

    @Another Mike:

    do not know of a single politician who is on the record as being “for illegal immigration.” [...] Actions, that’s how people will have to judge, because everyone lies.

    So which Politician’s actions, from your perspective, suggest that they are for illegal immigration? And what actions suggest that?

    I am opposed to illegal immigration and would close it off

    The problem is, if one makes immigration reform contingent upon the complete stoppage of illegal immigration, then it’s akin to saying that they are against immigration reform. The cold fact is we are never going to be able to completely eradicate illegal immigration any more than we can eradicate crime.

    That’s part of the problem with all the people who say “we *must* secure the border” before taking any further steps. None of them ever seem to want to actually articulate what a secure border is and how it will be judged.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  51. Mu says:

    @superdestroyer: Socons want the right to teach “truth” instead of facts, the worst kind of child abuse possible as it destroys the child’s future. And while I can’t stand the “one high school for all” system, the only thing worse is home schooling and “teach what you want”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  52. Barry says:

    @Jim Henley: “Offshoring is responsible for the loss of all the jobs they’d like to get; immigration mostly fills up occupations they wouldn’t do on a dare.”

    In general yes, but I imagine in construction work, many of the jobs are undesirable because the wages, working conditions, etc. have been lowered. Over on Lawyers, Guns and Money, there was a post on the salaries for meatpacking plants; they’ve been lowered by a factor of ~4 or more over the past thirty years, in part due to a strategy of employing illegal workers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  53. Barry says:

    @Jim Henley: ” So the white conservative base hitches itself to the political party of the rich white men who really took their jobs, because down is the only direction it can see to kick. ”

    Frankly, if the Tea Party (and Right in general) have *any* principles, it’s ‘kiss up, kick down’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  54. Barry says:

    @Another Mike: “Legal immigration is a system to allow into the country the numbers and types of people the country needs.”

    Wrong; it allows into the country those who people with influence want. For example, for decades Ireland had very high quotas, because of the Kennedys.

    ” Illegal immigration overturns the system and creates a burden on the country. ”

    Some proof would be nice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  55. Matt Bernius says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Usually because those employers expect (a) to pay below market wage for the work they want done, (b) don’t want to offer good working conditions, and/or (c ) expect the workers to train themselves and have ridiculously overbroad ideas of what the job requires.

    There’s a (d) that’s related to (a) — that the “Market” has come to undervalue the worth of a given item due to a variety of pressures, the net result being that there’s no way to pay a “fair” wage *and* be profitable.

    It’s the “Walmart” problem. This has been the problem facing agriculture and other low-margin industries for quite some time. Even if farmers want to pay better, they can’t afford to raise the price of their goods. It’s a subtly different issue than (A) though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  56. wr says:

    @Another Mike: ” It was a state legislator and he was not seriously advocating that rape be legal”

    He said that if women are allowed to have abortions, men should be allowed to rape them.

    Women are allowed to have abortions.

    But of course this elected Republican official didn’t mean that. He didn’t mean men should be able to rape any woman they want, because that’s not the official Republican platform.

    He meant that men should be allowed to rape all the sluts they want, because they deserve it. Right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  57. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “They think they do, which I’d suggest is important in understanding what motivates them ”

    One would think that as a lawyer, you’ve learned that just because somebody says that they do,………………

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  58. Jack says:

    The Tea Party is against LEGAL immigration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. Chris says:

    @Mu: the worst kind of child abuse possible as it destroys the child’s future

    LOL. I don’t buy SOCONs teaching methods, but I am not buying your ridiculous hyperbole either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0