Finally, the Left Protests the Gang of 8

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Where are my pincers? Finally, some timely howls from the left against the wage-depressing effects of the Schumer-Rubio immigration legalization bill.  First it was Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Senate’s only avowed socialist, denouncing the bill’s now-expanded guest worker programs as “a massive effort to attract cheap labor” which will result in “more unemployment and lower wages for American workers.” 

Now comes John Judis, of Even the Obamaphilic New Republic, who criticizes the effect of not just the guest worker plans but also the bill’s central provision, granting 11 million illegal immigrants near-immediate legal “registered provisional” (RPI) status. Judis cites Investors Business Daily, arguing that employers will actually have an incentive to hire these newly-legalized immigrants over Americans because the immigrants won’t come with either Obamacare or its attendant employer mandates and fines:

Some might downplay the Obamacare loophole by arguing that RPIs and farm workers take jobs that American citizens aren’t willing to do in the first place. A story in National Journal was headlined, “Left and Right Agree: Immigrants Don’t Take American Jobs.” When a Judiciary Committee witness warned that the bill could affect native jobs and wages, particularly among African Americans, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the Gang of Eight, responded that “there are certain parts of this economy [where] you’re not going to find an American worker.” 

But this argument is wrong. As a Center for Immigration Studies report has shown, most jobs thought to be filled only by immigrants are, in fact, filled by a majority of native-born Americans. That includes 64 percent of grounds-maintenance workers, 66 percent of construction laborers, 73 percent of janitors, 51 percent of maids and housekeepers, and 63 percent of butchers and meat processors. Even on farms, the native-born constitute at least a third of the workforce. What seems to have misled people like Graham is that many of the workers in these occupations are Hispanic—Graham has reported finding only “Hispanics” at some South Carolina workplaces—but Hispanic citizens make up a growing percentage of the American working class … [E.A.]

Significantly, Judis seems to assume that the bill’s border controls will work–he’s arguing, as he has in the past,  that even if they do the effect on wages of simply legalizing the current 11 million will be negative:

Of course, the 11 million undocumented workers are already here, and will no longer be subject to the most egregious kind of exploitation, but they will also no longer be segregated into specialized parts of the labor force and will instead be thrust into the mainstream labor market, where they will compete with native-born workers. [E.A.]

Of course, there are grave doubts Schumer-Rubio’s border controls will work, or ever be implemented. Even Rubio seems to now be sharing them, or at least pretending to. … And that’s before you consider all the new legal immigrants the bill would bring in, in part as legalized illegals import their relatives. …

P.S.: Judis has now written this basic piece twice. I urge him to follow the advice of the late Richard Strout, New Republic’s long time TRB columnist, and “write every piece three times”–a not-very-challenging standard this blog surpassed months ago. (Strout was also both a liberal and a consistent immigration skeptic.)

Mickey Kaus