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Lamar Smith Responds With Yet Another Misleading Letter to the Editor on Immigration

by Frank Sharry on 07/21/2011 at 3:47pm

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has really, really thin skin.

The leading anti-immigrant voice in the US House just can’t help himself. He has to respond to any article that mentions him and/or his egregious immigration policy.  The criticisms of Smith’s agenda are not baseless allegations. Even well-known news columnist, Ruben Navarrette, called him out on it, writing that Lamar Smith “creates his own reality on immigration.” Navarrette didn’t have to wait long before Rep. Smith had drafted and published a response in the Ventura County Star.  

We might have let it slide, if it wasn’t for the fact that Smith’s Letters to the Editor are full of lies.  In his latest Letter to the Editor, Smith attempts to rebut arguments made in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) about the economic benefits of turning unauthorized workers into documented taxpayers.  And though he probably doesn’t know it, Smith, in his argument, actually proved the central point that Polis was making. 

It’s hard to believe Smith could get so much wrong in so few words. 

For example, Smith writes: “Rep. Polis cites a questionable figure by a liberal nonprofit” about the economic benefits of immigration reform. 

Polis did cite a statistic from the Center for American Progress (CAP) study which noted that comprehensive immigration reform would generate $5.4 billion of new revenue. But CAP’s analysis is also supported by the government and another right-leaning organization.  Polis also cited them.  The Congressional Budget Office estimate that the 2007 Senate immigration bill “would have boosted revenues by $15 billion by 2012 and by $48 billion by 2017” and the libertarian Cato Institute’s analysis that “forcing undocumented immigrants to get right with the law would boost their productivity and thus the incomes of U.S. households $180 billion a year by 2019, thereby further increasing tax revenues” were both included in Polis’ piece in the Wall Street Journal.  

Smith also wrote that there is consensus among “nonpartisan economists” that undocumented immigrants are a fiscal drain on American taxpayers.

Wrong.  Estimates such as the 1997 National Research Council study that Smith cites describes the immigration status quo  — namely, that things aren’t changing. It helps bolster the entire point of the Polis op-ed: that passing comprehensive immigration reform will be an economic boon to our nation and will turn the dysfunctional system into one that benefits all Americans.

Lamar Smith hates to be challenged. But, he’s making stuff up. And, with the growing chorus of criticism against his E-Verify bill, we’ll be hearing a lot more from Smith.

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