The GOP’s Suicide Pact on Immigration

By many accounts, the
Republican leadership (at least in the House, where Speaker John
Boehner bestrides the chamber like a leather-skinned Colossus), is
working to pull together some sort of “immigration reform” that
will doubtless go poorly. Already one wing of the GOP is clamoring
that “Amnesty=Suicide” and the other is…saying that newcomers are
welcome but only after we finish building a 10,000-foot-tall fence
that stretches along the coast from San Diego to Boston’s Logan

In my latest Daily Beast col
, I suggest that, if the
GOP is actually serious about its limited-government rhetoric, it
should use the immigration issue as a way to talk about reducing
the size, scope, and spending of the federal government –
especially on welfare programs for the native-born folks who have
become increasingly dependent on such handouts since George W. Bush
increased spending on food stamps, disability claims, and unfunded
extensions of long-term unemployment benefits.


Republicans insist that the federal government is too
inefficient and incompetent to deliver the mail or to oversee
health care, but it’s nonetheless qualified to police thousands of
miles of borders and run employment checks on hundreds of millions
of workers? Come on guys, get your story straight.

The simple fact, one that Republicans should embrace, is that
governments don’t really control aggregate immigration flows any
more than they control aggregate consumer demand. Immigration is
the result of far larger forces than even totalitarian governments
can control, including economic opportunity in the destination
country and material conditions in the home country….

In late 2008 and early 2009 – a period in which spending
authority was shared by Presidents Bush and Obama – real federal
outlays shot up to around
$10,000 per capita
 and show no signs of coming down
anytime soon. Indeed, budget deals these days seem to be little
more than bi-partisan raids on proposed spending reductions such as
the sequester.

If Republicans are really the party of free trade and limited
government – and if they really believe in American exceptionalism
and the lure of the Shining City Upon a Hill – they’ll take this
opportunity to welcome immigrants while rolling back the welfare

Read the whole thing.

from Hit & Run

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