It should be no surprise that the "open letter to President Bush and Congress" referenced in your June 20 editorial "Immigration Consensus," signed mostly by the usual lefty academics, will fail to convince the vast majority of middle-class Americans that they should support open borders and "free movement" of labor.
Mr. Rohrbacher begins with an error: that of "the usual lefty academics". The signatories include N. Gregory Mankiw, of Harvard, most recently seen in the Bush Administration, and many, many other respected economists. What is immediately interesting is that Mr. Rohrbacher does not cite any well-regarded economist arguing with the propositions in the letter. Right at the start, he should be ashamed of himself.
The open letter reads, "While a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to the economy. . . ." Perhaps they should ask the 15% of unemployed workers who have less than a high-school education how they feel about being such a small, trivial group.
Mr. Rohrbacher has evidently not understood what an unemployment rate means, and so is unable to conceive of full employment as anything other than every single person having a job, a position associated with socialists and almost no one else. The fact that our current unemployment rate is absurdly low should cue him to the fact that perhaps those 11 million immigrants are needed by the American economy. It evidently has not occurred to him that the group he is describing, numbering about 897,000, might not be big enough in comparison to that number to have the same policy goal apply to them. I am somewhat appalled to note that I am citing government statistics easily available on the Internet, and that he, a Congressman, appears to be unable to come up with them.
The letter also says, "Legitimate concerns about the impact of immigration on the poorest Americans should not be addressed by penalizing even poorer immigrants." A more honest sentence would have read, "The stupid middle-class yokels should be thrilled to spend oodles of their tax money on importing low wage workers for big business while our poorest citizens continue to suffer under unemployment."
This is called DELIBERATE MISUNDERSTANDING, and is even more shameful than what went before. It is a reasonable point to note that when you have a relatively small group which is incapable of replacing a larger group should their jobs suddenly become vacant you should craft policies for them separately. A reasonable person would note that if people need help, that is what we have the welfare system for, and that this handwaving about immigration is just a distraction from discussing appropriate policies for them, like job-training and adult education programs, and childcare to make it possible for them to attend both the programs and accept employment. Mr. Rohrbacher is here deliberately misdirecting the argument. The key pont here is that no money is spent by the taxpayers "importing low wage workers". There are comprehensive studies on costs of immigrant workers, and one would have to work hard not to notice the extent to which immigrants are barred from public benefits. Mr. Rohrbacher knows better. Now you do, too.
And for its final offense, the open letter says "immigration of low-skilled workers may have lowered the wages of domestic low-skilled workers, but the effect is likely to have been small . . . from eight percent to as little as zero percent." I wonder how many CEOs would ignore an 8% decrease in their bottom line and a decimation of their company's ability to compete.
Mr. Rohrbacher is here making the kind of argument that involves comparing apples and oranges, and expects you to fall for it with an image of greedy CEOs of multinational companies employing cheap immigrant labor. He knows better here, too. No Fortune 500 company takes chances with immigrant labor. Small businesses, the ones that can't afford Human Resource departments, those are the ones that end up hiring people without proper documentation, often under pressure to keep afloat. Are they delibarately hiring illegal immigrants? Not usually. But do they have the money to spend on services to verify documents? No. Will the government provide inexpensive verification for them? No. Should we be surprised that this is how illegals get hired usually?
The heart of this argument asserts that "Overall, immigration has been a net gain for American citizens, though a modest one." This conclusion is probably true for the CEO who cut labor costs and is rewarded with a million-dollar bonus that is used to hire illegal aliens as gardeners, maids and nannies.
Oh, yeah, those rich guys, it's all their fault. see above.
Meanwhile average Americans are forced to watch their schools deteriorate under the burden of educating millions of illegal aliens, their hospital emergency rooms close, and a third of their jails fill with illegal aliens while they are endlessly taxed to sustain these social ills. These average Americans see in their own lives what these economists consistently fail to comprehend from all their "research" and "analysis": Illegal immigration is killing the middle class and overwhelming their communities.
Mr. Rohrbacher is here complaining that providing public services costs something. Sadly, Mr. Rohrbacher, it always will. And the more people you have, the more public services will cost. However, as is well known, public health costs of immigrants are less than public health costs of citizens, so he should be loudly rooting for more immigrants if that cost is a concern. With regard to education, any community benefits by having people get a basic education: how else will you attract enough businesses to keep the tax base going? The heart of Mr. Rohrbacher's arguments involve prejudice, not fact. And, here done in a really silly manner, a prejudice long exploded.
These same common-sense Americans will continue to oppose amnesty and open borders no matter how many free lunches economists say are at the illegal immigration picnic.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.)
If you will not take the advice of people who spend time on these problems, their exacerbation from your ridiculous programs should be held to YOUR account. I'd be really ashamed to call you MY representative, Mr. Rohrbacher.