It's astounding that Jennifer Rubin can write an article attacking the lack of "coherent arguments" from immigration skeptics without once mentioning those skeptics' primary argument, but she pulled off just that in a blog post this morning at the Washington Post.
What Rubin misses is that what unites liberals like Mickey Kaus with conservatives like my boss David Frum on this issue is a skepticism that dramatically increased low-skilled immigration will be a net positive for American society, particularly for Americans with the least political influence.
Spin it as you will, but what this reform will do is legalize millions of unskilled laborers and condemn the native born working class to dimished career prospects at the same time fiscal realities necessitate a drawback of the American welfare state.
For instance, let's toss aside the Heritage study that caught so much flak because of the racial interests of coauthor Jason Richwine. Drop the disputed findings and concentrate on what wasn't: a high school degree is quickly ceasing to be sufficient to achieve the American dream. That applies to both native born Americans and immigrants, and it's a social issue to which we're devoting billions of dollars in resources.
Why then would we import more unskilled workers? Why would we aggressively seek to allow the wages of the working poor, particularly in the difficult to outsource service industry, to be depressed by competition with millions of new immigrants?
We owe more to our citizens, and Rubin fails to confront that fact, instead choosing to demolish far less cogent arguments like concerns about border security and partisan politics. Those aren't the best arguments against this immigration reform, and Rubin knows it.
This bill will legalize between 11 and 13 million people, allow the creation of massive new guest worker programs that will eventually chip away at the wage floor for American laborers, and set another 1986-esque precedent that if you come here without authorization, you're quite likely to eventually become a legal resident. That's a very high price for conservatives to pay, and while I think it's worth the cost, I don't blame skeptics for daring to disagree.
Rubin ought to confront this argument. I hope she'll revisit this subject.