FOOLs, I tell ya

05.08.13

Pro-Amnesty Conservatives are Being Played for Fools

Libertarians, corporatist conservatives, and neoliberals are united in a push for significantly increased immigration.

A word of caution for those on the right side of the political aisle: if you think open borders are great if we just trim back welfare programs such as Social Security, Medicare, etc., you're being played for a fool. The odds of such an outcome are already unlikely, and your push for amnesty will further dimish said prospects.

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The idea makes sense on the front end. Dramatically increasing the churning nature of a society by bringing in a surge of new immigrants will by definition decrease the solidarity required for a strong welfare state. The idea worked in the New Deal era. (Heck, it worked during the formulation of the New Deal).

But pro-amnesty conservatives are endorsing bringing in the wrong voters, and you're playing the politics of the wrong century. As the Heritage Foundation study you've loved to bash mentions (and you have yet to refute), recent arrivals are considerably less educated than they need to be to achieve the American dream. They, their children, and likely their grandchildren will disproportionately rely on the benefits a strong welfare state can provide. In addition, by bringing in these workers, the wage floor for low-skilled labor will remain low, meaning more native born Americans will also need to rely on the welfare state.

Unlike the 20th century, today's workers will need a college degree -- or some other form of advanced training -- to attract the lifetime earnings required to raise a family without strong state assistance. That's not because they're lazy or indolent. It's what the market increasingly deems worthy for someone without advanced skills. By bringing in further low skilled immigrants, we'll only exacerbate an existing problem.

And shockingly, those newly legalized immigrants and their native born low-skilled counterparts are not going to be with you on the crusade to slash the welfare state. These voters, acting on a rational basis (like all other voters), will not be voting to slash benefits they need to counteract the negative outcomes of the labor market you helped unleash.

Mass amnesty now, with the almost certain mass waves of immigration in the future, will certainly increase the size of the economy. But it will just as certainly impose a direct harm on the portion of the population with the least political influence. So I'll ask: is a slight uptick in your standard of living worth condemning a substantial swath of your fellow citizens to significantly diminished life prospects?

And if it is, what does citizenship mean in 21st century America?