On CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” on Friday night, conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter faced off against founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist over the issue of immigration reform.
Norquist supported the reported outline of the proposal that is being negotiated in secret by a group of senators dubbed the “Gang of Eight.” Norquist said the these efforts will bring substantial benefits for Americans.
“I think the American people are looking to move towards immigration reform,” Norquist said. “We have [Republican] senators like Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, Rand Paul, all moving in that direction. The business community — small businesses, independent businesses — have been silent for too long on the need for immigration reform, guest worker programs, high-tech immigration, [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] STEM immigration. They have been silent — they’re now coming out strongly for it.”
“And the various communities of faith, evangelical Protestants, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormon church, all of the so-called religious right are coming out strongly now for immigration reform,” he continued. “So the base of the modern conservative party, the base of the modern Republican Party, Ronald Reagan Republicans, are going home to their base, which has also been welcoming to recognize immigrants are an asset to the country and they help make us stronger, they make us grow faster. Some great studies have come out on the economic benefits as well.”
Coulter, author of “Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama,” said the current bill shouldn’t be defined as pro- or anti-immigration, but instead shoudl be judged on the merits of the proposal.
“It isn’t pro-immigration or anti-immigration — it’s changing the current immigration policy,” Coulter said. “I think we ought to be trying to get immigrants who are better than us, not worse than us. And 85 percent of legal immigrants come from the Third World since [former Sen.] Teddy Kennedy changed immigration law in this country. Sixty-five percent of them need some sort of government assistance. I mean, when I hear that — you know, ‘Don’t worry, immigrants are only on welfare 15 percent higher than native Americans,’ it shouldn’t be any immigrants.”
“We ought to be getting — we can’t get the surgeons, the businessmen, the people who would be competing with everybody who is talking about immigration — it is the servant class that is coming in who taxpayers need to support,” she added. “And of course, the business community has always been for immigration. Some elements of the evangelicals always have, but the point is: Is it a good policy or bad policy? It is bad for America. It is good for people who want cheap labor, while the rest of us subsidize cheap labor.”
Later in the segment, Norquist challenged Coulter’s argument that a reform like the Gang of Eight’s will expand the number of those on government assistance. He said that the country’s immigration policy shouldn’t center on a bad American welfare system.
“Ann has said a couple times what I’ve heard from other people in other areas, and that is, ‘Gee, we have a welfare system and that makes some people dependent,’” Norquist said. “For the most part, we do. Most of the people who go on to welfare — Aid To Families with Dependent Children — over decades and decades were born in this country. We should fix the welfare system. We shouldn’t organize our immigration policy around a failed welfare system. The Republicans have already passed through the House the [Rep. Paul] Ryan plan, which does for all 185 welfare programs what [former President Bill] Clinton signed — the Republican plan to do for Aid for Families with Dependent Children. Let’s reform welfare because it needs to be reformed.”
Coulter said she would be for immigration reform but only under the condition that the welfare state is eliminated, something she openly dismissed as a possibility. She also rejected the idea that low-skill helps the economy, by saying that cheap labor stymies innovation.
“[I] asked one of my friends, [PayPal co-founder] Peter Thiel, about this idea, especially the agribusiness. They keep saying we really need the guest workers, and Peter made a very interesting point to me, which was when he was creating PayPal, they tried to do — have the phone service in India, he said that didn’t work. When that didn’t work, we just fixed the problems. When one solution doesn’t work something is created because I had asked him, ‘Look, you guys are inventing everything. You can’t invent a machine cabbage picker? We have to bring in hordes of Mexicans collecting welfare?’ And he said, ‘No, they will invent it. They have invented it.’”