Sanity on immigration policy, near at last


Two good things came out of the 2012 election cycle: we don’t have Mitt Romney as president and the Republicans figured out that they could not survive as the last redoubt of white rule in American life. The most immediate effect of the latter — as I wrote a few days after Obama’s win — was going to be some sanity in US policy on immigration.  In the months since, a bipartisan Gang of Eight in the Senate has tried to hammer out a deal that both sides can live with, a process Ryan Lizza describes in a leaked-by-the-participants blow by blow in the New Yorker (subscription only) that is notable for the praise given to the young presidential aspirant Marco Rubio.  Today, the bill that resulted from this — chock full of ‘tough enforcement’ riders to make it palatable to the right — cleared the Senate by a wide margin: with 68 Senators, including 14 Republicans, voting in favor.  Now it goes to the House, where the crazies live.

The last time the US took a stab at this, in 2007, the unions derailed it because (they claimed) it would hurt low-level American labor.  Now, if something goes wrong it will be on the right: business (the Republicans’ paymaster) is all for a more open and reasonable immigration policy because, after all, it is the one employing these hitherto illegal workers.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office looked at the net effect on the budget of the Senate’s immigration bill and found it adds nearly $200 billion in net revenue over the next ten years, which the New York Times helpfully graphed:

Business may be for it but the white nativists hate it: they’re the ones pushing to make English the official language of the US, etc.  To them, a path to citizenship ‘rewards breaking the law’ but they never address how it can possibly be good for the US to leave 11 million people who want to work in the twilight of of illegal status.  Anyway, what they really mean is that immigration increases the Hispanic (and, generally, non-white) population and loosens the grip of rural whites as the dominant cultural force in the US.  In my book, that’s another reason to be for it.


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