Politics
              FILE -- In this Feb. 11, 2012 fie photo, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. For decades, Norquist vowed to drive Republicans out of office if they didn’t pledge to oppose tax increases. Many signed on, but now, several senior Republican lawmakers are breaking ranks, willing to consider raising more money through taxes as part of a deal with Democrats and the White House to avoid a catastrophic budget meltdown. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

Norquist: Immigration is good for the GOP

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Americans for Tax Reform head Grover Norquist says that large-scale immigration is good for America and the Republican Party — and that critics of easy immigration should get out of the way.

“There are a whole bunch of people who are listening to loud voices, some of whom claim to be Republican … talking about [employers] who didn’t fill out the paperwork, about going after [an immigrant's] aunt,” said Norquist, whose opposition to tax increases has made him popular among Republicans and a hate-figure among progressives.

Once advocates for tighter immigration are sidelined, the GOP will be able to win votes from Hispanics and other recent immigrants, he said.

“Removing that threat [of deportation] from millions of Americans will make it possible to have a conversation with [immigrants] about tax policy and spending, and all the other issues we have with legal Americans.”

But his critics are numerous and equally vehement.

“Grover is an extremely effective lobbyist … [and] the thing about Grover is that he has clients who make big money off of immigration,” said Roy Beck, founder of advocacy group NumbersUSA, a non-partisan group which helped derail previous efforts to expand immigration.

“Grover is going to do everything in his power to prevent America having a middle class … it appears he thinks oligarchy is a better way to go. … You can’t have a Republican Party when you have a voting base that is impoverished and needs government assistance.”

Norquist has been pushing to rewrite immigration policy for many years, and he’s got his arguments down cold.

“We do immigration reform for the same reason we do tax reform: because it is good for the country,” Norquist told The Daily Caller. To Norquist, any reform that allows employers to hire foreigners when they are a better value than Americans will also help advocates of small government.

“All efforts that move towards the free market and fewer government restrictions are good for the party of liberty, because the more people live in liberty, the more people are willing to become Republicans,” he said.

To get there, Norquist wants immigration governed by the free market for labor. He backs few limits on who would arrive from where — Egypt or Ecuador, Bolivia or Bulgaria, Uzbekistan or Uruguay. The inflow “should be market-driven. … There isn’t a fixed number.”

Federal data show that roughly 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, and that the wages of most Americans have been level or declining for decades. (RELATED ANALYSIS: Why immigrants stand to gain in President Barack Obama’s economy)

But the jobs will appear as the immigrants arrive, Norquist insisted, adding that high-tech employers say they already have 80,000 open jobs that could be filled by immigrants with H1-B visas for skilled labor.

“I want them filled tomorrow, not in two years,” he said, noting that Americans will get a first crack at jobs. Even when foreigners fill jobs, such as a chef in a restaurant, they also provide employment for others, according to Norquist.

“When you bring in these H1-B visa jobs, they create jobs for other people — you can’t have chefs if you don’t have guys waiting tables.”

Other countries have different approaches. Canada and the United Kingdom reject unskilled immigrants, while Japan is developing human-like robots to do low-skill jobs. But companies should be allowed to import low-skilled labor as they see fit, Norquist said.

“We need high-skilled and unskilled labors. … We don’t have enough workers in the farms. … Low-wage immigrants are not low-wage all their life. … They start moving up as individuals and by generations.”