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The Wall Street Journal makes an excellent point about immigration today.
Yesterday, before Janet Napolitano was to face a number of bullying Republicans at an Oversight Hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) wrote an op-ed in Politico calling Obama’s record deportation numbers “a trick.”
He wrote, “Fourteen million Americans are now looking for work. Meanwhile, 7 million illegal immigrants have jobs in the U.S. We could free up millions of those jobs for citizens and legal immigrants if we simply enforced our immigration laws.”
“What kind of jobs would those be?,” asked the Wall Street Journal.
According to federal labor statistics, carpet mills, garment cutting and sewing, landcaping, car washes, and laundries are among the sectors most dominated by Hispanic workers (the numbers don’t break out documented versus undocumented workers). What kind of jobs wouldn’t they be? Professional careers such as management, law, architecture and the like: Among foreign-born workers, Hispanics have the lowest participation rates in professional sectors.
Word. Sadly, Rep. Lamar Smith’s motivations are not about jobs. His “solution” to the immigration problem is to enact legislation that makes it impossible for undocumented immigrants to live and work here. His plan entails mass-deporting immigrants back to Mexico (or wherever), not because he’s overly concerned about “jobs” for American citizens. A strong statement, but not unfounded. Here’s some more proof of how much Lamar Smith does not care about American jobs – from the New York Times:
Mr. Smith, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has a bill to require every employer in the country to use E-Verify, the federal hiring database, and fire the workers it flags as unauthorized.
He says it will give American jobs back to Americans. But it has angered small-business owners, who know a job-killing regulation when they see one. And it has enraged the farm industry, where more than half of the work force is undocumented. Thus the need for Mr. Smith’s second bill, the American Specialty Agriculture Act.
A well-designed agricultural guest worker program is not a bad idea. Even when unemployment is above 9 percent, Americans don’t want to stoop in the fields anymore.
But this is an awful guest worker bill. It would create a system that is far worse than the current cumbersome guest worker program. It would let growers pay even lower wages and weaken the rules on providing workers with housing and reimbursing their travel expenses. Growers would get a break on having to certify that they tried to hire Americans first. Oversight would shift from the Labor Department, with its pesky insistence on wage-and-hour protections, to the Department of Agriculture, which has never run a program like this before.
The growers’ rebellion against E-Verify, and Mr. Smith’s contortions to buy them off, is further proof that the country cannot live without immigrant labor — no matter what the nativists may claim. That is why, even as Congress has abdicated its duty to fix immigration and left the states to run amok on enforcement, there is still an abundance of visa-related bills on Capitol Hill…
There’s one group that badly needs and deserves visas that no one seems to want to go to bat for. They are the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already living here and helping make things work. If they had a deal — pay fines, learn English, get to the back of the immigration line and, meanwhile, get back to work — the economic benefits would be enormous. We don’t expect Mr. Smith to admit that.