More ways Jennifer Rubin is wrong on immigration
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For more examples, see May 25's "How does immigration reform fit into reform conservatism?" ( peekURL.com/zjSKGHd ). I'll briefly take a look at part of it, describe how that's wrong, and then describe something simple you can do about it to reduce whatever little influence she has.
The economic data, to be generous to opponents, is mixed as to immigrants' short-term effect on current workers. But wait. The workers in question are already here. And, in many cases, they are working off the books, undercutting the wages and working conditions of Americans born here. Unless we want to kick all of the illegal immigrants out, the damage, so to speak, has been done at the low end of the wage scale. And reform offers the realistic possibility for establishing border security and visa overstay solutions to control the flow of immigrants. Moreover, reams of data show that all classes benefit over the long term, revenues rise and the economic pie gets bigger - provided other policies are sound. (The great example of this is Texas.)
1. See the immigration wage floor page for how the first part of that is wrong. Once legalized, some or many former illegal aliens will be able to move up in the job market, negatively impacting American workers they mostly hadn't competed with before. For instance, an illegal alien working in the fields would, after being legalized, be able to compete for work on federal construction projects if they're qualified. At the same time, the very same people promoting comprehensive immigration reform now will allow in new illegal aliens to fill the gap at the lowest end of the job market. Immigration reform won't help Americans who compete for jobs in that sector, and it will negatively impact those in the next up job sector.
3. Perhaps Texas isn't such a great example. Second in percentage of uninsured children, seventh in percent of children living in poverty, eighth in percent of their population living under the poverty level, 47th in SAT scores, the list goes on. But at least they balance it out by being first in amount of hazardous waste generated.
But in focusing purely on wage data, conservatives who oppose immigration reform depart, I think, from the spirit of modern conservative movement, exemplified by Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan. Conservatives who argue for limited government postulate that America is a diverse, boisterous place in which communal, nongovernmental action matters a great deal. Whenever possible we should encourage economic growth and vibrant social and cultural institutions, not top-down directives.
By definition, those who came here for a better life are risk-takers, visionaries and go-getters. In other words, they are believers in the American dream. We need immigrants, not simply wage earners. Whether it is food, fashion, design, architecture, popular culture, religiosity, start-up tech companies or innovative consumer products, they bring different perspectives and create new markets or new variations on existing themes. Their enthusiasm for the American experiment is infectious.
On this point, Russell Shorto’s “The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America” is instructive. It documents the diverse polyglot that existed in our largest city from its earliest days. Unlike the Puritan colonies to the North (featuring witch-burning and religious uniformity), New York’s popular ethos was vibrant, tolerant, diverse and busy - and remains so. It was not just geography that made Manhattan the commercial center of the world, but also the people and the mind-set that took root there.
That phenomenon - the X factor, the additional spark and excitement when diverse people get thrown together - can be chaotic, messy and overwhelming...
1. Conservatives who oppose "reform" don't just focus on wage data, they focus on other aspects (which Rubin tends to ignore or put a smiley face on).
3. On the plus side, some number of current immigrants do "bring different perspectives" and so on. However, Rubin is of course ignoring the downside. Some number of immigrants will be terrorist sympathizers, criminals, or supporters of foreign regimes. That will have a negative impact on Americans, but Rubin is ignoring that side of things. Due to massive immigration from Mexico, the Mexican government has political power inside the U.S., something I'm sure Rubin has never mentioned and is probably blissfully unaware of. Unless Rubin wants to be just a cheap used car saleswoman, she'll have to discuss those downsides and describe exactly how she intends to counteract them. I haven't read everything she's written, but I'd doubt that she's actually done that; if she's discussed the downsides she's probably handwaved them away.
4. While many legal immigrants and some illegal aliens might be enthused about "the American experiment", it's very Pollyannaish of Rubin to pretend that's the case for all or almost all. Some or many are just here to make money.
5. The last two paragraphs above are the immigration tradition fallacy; see the link.
6. If Rubin wants her fix of vibrancy, perhaps she can't satisfy her urges through something that doesn't have so many negative side-effects. And, perhaps she should consult the rest of the U.S. on whether they share in her interest in vibrancy for vibrancy's sake.
Want to do something to reduce whatever little influence Jennifer Rubin has? This will just take seconds: visit search.twitter . com, paste @JRubinBlogger into the search box, and then make one or more of the arguments above to anyone who takes her seriously.