Since the Gang of 8 released their proposal, the desperation from those who want to see this bill die -- and any hope of immigration reform die with it -- can be heard throughout DC. Its opponents are spreading everything from the inaccurate to the absurd about the bill and its probable consequences.
1. Rubio’s “Phone for Illegals”: The blog “Shark Tank” is promoting the idea that the immigration bill could grant phones to unauthorized immigrants. The myth comes from a provision in the bill that would authorize DHS to give “satellite telephone communications systems” to an individual who “regularly resides or works in the Southwest Border region” or “is at greater risk of border violence due to the lack of cellular service at his or her residence or business.” This provision actually improves border safety by empowering citizens -- it’s a good idea that decentralizes and enhances security.
2. Border security provisions “do nothing”: The Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll writes that “if DHS fails to catch 90 percent of border-crossers, all that happens is the creation of a Border Commission that must produce a report. That’s it. A report. No report has ever stopped anyone from crossing a border.” But that’s false. If they fail, then no legalized immigrant can get a green card. The whole point of the reform is to eliminate the current black market in labor, but to create a strong political incentive to enforce border security. The fact that the White House and almost every immigrant rights blog in America is upset about making citizenship dependent on border security means that there will be a strong political incentive to make it work.
3. You have to trust Obama to enforce the border: Mark Krikorian, executive director the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies, asks, “Do [Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan] trust President Obama to enforce the immigration laws in the future, after today’s illegals have been legalized?” But by the time the enforcement levels need to be measured, President Obama will no longer be in office, so this whole argument is completely spurious. Moreover, the whole point of the reform is to make the next Republican candidate for president actually competitive -- rather than getting blown out 80 to 20 by Hispanics in swing states.
4. They’re taking our jobs (jerbs): This argument never gets old, no matter how economically ignorant it is. The Daily Caller’s Mickey Klaus exclaims sarcastically, “Yes, the undocumented will be able to legally steal your job–but, hey, they won’t get to vote!” The Washington Times’ Joe Cotto writes, “The economy is bad enough as it is; can one imagine what it will be like with millions of additional low-skilled laborers flooding the job market? Twenty years from now, becoming a fry cook might be a competitive career path in the same way that white-collar professions are today. This is sheer madness.”
Really? This hysterical argument barely passes the coherency test. First of all, the bill doesn’t flood the economy with “millions of additional low-skilled laborers” -- these people are already here! How many times must Rubio remind these people of this fact before they remember it? Their economic status quo is unaffected by this bill. It has a small guest worker program, starting at 20,000, but this represents 0.01 percent of the workforce -- quite “the flood.”
Second, Mr. Cotto might be competing with a low-skilled Spanish-speaking immigrant, but the vast, vast majority of Americans are not, and given income mobility in the United States, those who are, aren’t for long. Economic research shows that even among the lowest skilled Americans, wages increase as a result of low-skilled immigration. This is because these immigrants allow for greater specialization of labor, which increases productivity and wages. The economy grows when we let people in.