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Mark Krikorian Recognizes Need for Migrant Farmworkers, but Doesn’t Want to Legalize Them

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Mark KrikorianToday in National Review, Mark Krikorian published his response to our long list of criticisms about the mandatory E-Verify bill that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are pushing.  After realizing that the government-forced mass deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants and their families would cost $300 billion dollars to carry out, Krikorian and his allies at the Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform have come up with a new plan they call “attrition through enforcement.”  The idea is that if you make life so hard for immigrants in this country, they will lose their jobs, give up, and deport themselves.

Of course, this is a restrictionist’s fantasy from an alternate universe.  For one, E-Verify is so broken, it only flags about 50% of the undocumented workers run through the system.  Out of those who are identified, most will simply head into the underground economy rather than move their families to another country with even fewer job prospects.  Krikorian has no idea how resilient immigrant families are.   

Don’t laugh because the restrictionists are serious.  Mandatory E-Verify is the central plank of their Mass Expulsion 2.0 strategy, and they can barely contain their excitement that it may be advancing.   

Mark Krikorian may be happy today, but American farmers are not.  On a conference call with reporters, the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform laid out all of the reasons why they oppose mandatory E-Verify without broader immigration reform: it will gut the industry and American farms, send jobs and food production overseas, and eliminate related jobs—many of which are held by Americans—in processing, transportation, marketing, and other industries.

In fact, even Lamar Smith and Mark Krikorian have basically acknowledged that the farmers are right.  The Smith legislation gives agriculture employers an extra year to implement E-Verify, and they don’t have to screen their returning workers.  Krikorian writes:

Given the degree of dependence on illegal labor in certain ag sectors, this seems reasonable, and if it makes it easier for farm-state congressmen to support it, so much the better.

Smith and Krikorian are pretty sneaky – they think that growers can be bought off with delayed implementation of E-Verify, the specter of a more captive workforce, and possibly some H-2A guest worker reforms down the line.  But they are equally hypocritical, recognizing U.S. farms’ dependence on immigrant labor without actually making it legal.