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Permanent Second-Class Status for Immigrants, Endorsed by Raúl Labrador, Bad for Economy and Just Un-American

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raul labradorAs we noted earlier, that immigration reform legislation should include a path to citizenship for the 11 million is a view shared by the American people and key players across the political spectrum. The holdouts are some House Republicans. Rep. Raúl Labrador made that clear today, via Elise Foley:

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) warned on Thursday that he won’t vote for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and neither will his fellow House Republicans, a bad sign from someone who is considered one of the more pro-reform Republicans in the chamber.

“The people that came here illegally knowingly — I don’t think they should have a path to citizenship,” he said on NPR, according to Talking Points Memo. “If you knowingly violated our law, you violated our sovereignty, I think we should normalize your status but we should not give you a pathway to citizenship.”

As Elise noted, according to a new  poll, 10% of Americans share that view:

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday found that 56 percent of voters think undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the United States and eventually apply for citizenship, while only 10 percent say they should be able to stay but not become citizens.

So, that’s another poll showing strong support for a path to citizenship. The American people want a permanent fix, not a scheme that will create a permanent underclass.

As Igor Volsky explains at Think Progress,  Labrador’s proposal is bad for the economy and just bad for the country. It’s not the American way:

They would truly have to earn the status and once they did, the economic benefits of naturalization for the nation will be far more substantial than any work visa Labrador can propose. A naturalized immigrant will earn “between 5.6 percent and 7.2 percent more within two years of becoming a citizen,” boosting consumer spending and overall economic growth. Researchers “found that even if only half of those eligible to become citizens do so, it would add $21 billion to $45 billion to the U.S. economy over 10 years.”

Naturalized immigrants can help stimulate the economy, contribute to our communities and become part of the great American melting pot: equal to everyone around them. As the Washington Post observes, “it makes no sense, nor is it morally right, for the United States to create a permanent underclass of workers, numbering in the millions, who have no prospect of citizenship even as we expect them to continue mowing our lawns, caring for our children, painting our houses and manning our processing plants — as many have done for a decade or more already.”

It makes no sense and it’s not morally right.

And, let’s not forget what our colleague, Maribel Hastings, wrote about Labrador:

As Labrador, a former immigration lawyer, explains it, undocumented immigrants would receive “non-immigrant visas” protecting them from deportation, and would then be able to get in one of the existing lines for citizenship: through work, being sponsored by children once they have reached the age of 21, etc. But if it were so easy, why haven’t the 11 million undocumented already done that? In our broken and overwhelmed immigration system, the “line to get into”, for all intents and purposes, does not exist. So it’s ironic that Labrador, who is himself only a citizen thanks to an act of Congress—the Jones Act of 1917, which granted United States citizenship to Puerto Ricans—is now objecting to a so-called “special” path to citizenship for the undocumented.