“Foes of immigration reform like to position themselves as true-blue patriots acting in the best interests of the country. But it’s hard to square that image with opposition to legislation that, more than any other act, could help rebuild the nation’s middle class.” — Julie Gutman Dickenson, Huffington Post 8/19/13
Fact Check: The legislation Dickenson refers to is the provision in the Senate’s immigration bill that offers amnesty for 11 illegal aliens. Just how legal status for them, and citizenship, would help Americans become middle class is pretty hard to figure, something that Dickenson herself acknowledges. But she goes on to try to do it anyway. The result is not convincing.
She begins with the claim of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the Senate bill would bring economic benefits over the next 20 years. This alleged effect, however, is for the entire bill, not just the portion that provides amnesty. In any case, the CBO is hardly the final word on the matter. The Heritage Foundation calculated the fiscal impact of amnesty over the next 50 years and found that it would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion.
This is not to say, however, that at least some Americans aren’t benefiting economically from immigration, legal and illegal. Some indeed do. But generally they are not average middle-class Americans. According to a recent study by Harvard economics professor George Borjas, foreign-born workers benefit the usually upscale people who employ them, but not those with whom they compete for work.
Contrary to the common claim, illegal aliens generally do jobs that Americans are doing too. With the exception of agriculture and a few other fields, native-born Americans are the majority of workers in every job category. Some blue-collar fields, such as construction, once provided a middle-class income for many Americans. But thanks to competition from illegal aliens, this is not so much the case today.
With amnesty, some illegal aliens will have more opportunity to leave low-paying jobs and compete with Americans for better-paying jobs. Many others, lacking in skills, will remain in low-paying work. But with amnesty, their poverty will allow them to access a greater number of welfare programs. These benefits, in effect, will be a subsidy to the employers who hire them for cheap labor.
Amnesty simply will encourage more illegal immigration, as it has in the past. In this way and others it will harm blue-collar Americans, give little to the middle-class, and further enrich the wealthy. This is an outcome that any “true-blue patriot” should oppose.