The claim by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), the chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee, that he is focused on “illegal” immigration was disabused at his latest hearing. Instead, the Chairman pitted native-born workers against foreign-born workers (plenty of whom are citizens). We also learned something about the GOP’s jobs agenda. After all of that time waiting to hear about something even slightly related to that subject from Republican leaders, we found out that it revolves around Elton Gallegly’s (R-CA) grandchildren.
Yes, at another of his immigrant-bashing hearings last week, Gallegly complained that his teenage grandkids weren’t able to find summer jobs in the fast food industry (tweeted by us here). Apparently, that’s the fault of immigrants. Add that to this list of what immigrants can be blamed for, compiled by other right-wing outfits: the destruction of the Chesapeake Bay, global warming, various flu epidemics, and leprosy.
Gallegly is blinded by his anti-immigrant fervor, and is in cahoots with Representatives Lamar Smith (TX) and Steve King (IA). These “three amigos” are trying to force the mass deportation of immigrants through a cleverly named program called “attrition through enforcement.” But if enforcement-only policies worked as envisioned, then levels of “illegal” immigration would have significantly decreased, since President Obama and DHS have focused its immigration work on securing the border and deporting a record number of immigrants. But as a Pew Hispanic Center study revealed earlier this year: the undocumented population has remained practically the same at 11 million.
To most of us, that is enough of a sign telling us that it’s time to rethink strategy; to the three amigos, it just means that they need to ramp up their game, ignoring the fact that their strategy could have a devastating impact on America’s economy. Noted in Walter Ewing’s (Senior Researcher at the Immigration Policy Center) piece in Alternet:
An economy with more people does not mean lower wages and higher unemployment — it’s simply a bigger economy. New workers actually create more jobs…
In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly (R-24th/CA) wasted no time in sounding the alarm that unemployed native-born workers are being left to twist in the wind as immigrants gobble up the few new jobs which have become available since the end of the Great Recession. Yet the preponderance of the evidence presented during the hearing failed to support that conclusion.
Gallegly should particularly be worried about what his anti-immigration stance is doing to California’s economy.