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GOP needs to get real on immigration

David Frum

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

KAI RYSSDAL: It's going to be a big night for Republicans tonight in St. Paul. Their vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, will take the podium.

And we'll take the opportunity to look at some GOP policies. While the convention's on, we've asked some Republican thinkers to tell us where they think the party can do better.

Commentator David Frum says they ought to start with immigration.


DAVID FRUM: Since the year 2000, more than 10 million people have migrated to the United States, the majority of them illegally, most of them very poorly skilled. That's on top of the nearly 30 million who arrived between 1970 and 2000, again most of them poorly skilled.

Here's what the National Research Council has to say about the economic effect of such a mass migration:

"If the wages of domestic unskilled workers did not fall, no domestic worker (unskilled or skilled) would gain or lose, and there would be no net domestic gain from immigration."

The fiscal impact -- what immigration does to government spending and taxes -- is even more troubling than the economic impact.

Take, for example, North Carolina, a state that has recently become an immigration magnet. In 1995, the state estimated it spent only about $10 million educating the children of illegals. Ten years later: $210 million.

Illegal immigrants don't qualify for many federal benefits. But they do use schools, they do use roads, they do use hospitals, and they do use jails. And all of these are paid for by state and local property taxes that fall much more heavily on the middle class than does the federal income tax.

Suppose the United States adopted an immigration policy like Canada's or Australia's? One that favored high-skilled immigrants who could earn their way out of poverty and whose families would contribute more in taxes than they consumed in benefits. Immigration would still redistribute wealth. It would just redistribute it from top to bottom. Today's policy redistributes from bottom to top and taxes the middle to pay the adjustment costs.

And what do we Republicans say? Our nominee wants to make the problem worse. He supports a big, new guestworker program to import even more low-skilled workers and an amnesty to legalize those already here.

We've had enough faith-based policy. If our party is to rejoin reality, it's time to start with some reality on immigration.

RYSSDAL: David Frum is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book is called "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again."

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Frum fails to mention the contributions of illegal immigrants. They pay property taxes, sales taxes, and contrary to popular belief, many do pay income taxes. Some do not even make enough money to qualify to pay taxes. Employers profit greatly at the expense of illegal workers because they deny them benefits and have often even denied them pay after a day's work.
I question the statistics given by Frum. Many people who are here illegally came here legally as skilled professionals, but have overstayed their visas. In addition, because the General Census does not ask about legal status, statistics have been gathered by counting Latinos with low education levels.
The U.S. immigration system is deeply flawed because besides the incredible amount of red tape, it grants entry to those who have money or "assets." It discriminates against abject poverty. Why should we only reach out to skilled professionals when it is the poor who need it the most? "Give me your tired, give me your poor" is inscribed on the statue of liberty.
At the turn of the 20th century, the wave of European immigrants constituted the labor force in factories, accelerating the US' development as an industrialized country. Immigrants have created this country.

Without commenting on the accuracy of any statistics quoted or any recommmendation from Mr. Frum, we should all acknowledge that there is a cost to illegal immigration, most obviously in schools and hospitals. To deny this is naive. Because tax money is not unlimited, we must finds ways to reduce these costs.

it's no surprise that david frum takes on this "immigration reform mantra". he fits the- single white male, upper middle class, me-me-me profile. in his world people have to fail or be repressed in order for him to succeed.
this country was formed on the promise and hope of a more perfect union and built on the hard work of immigrants. those same immigrants paved the way for david frum and others. nothing would have come to fruition if we had a National Research Council back then.

it's no surprise that david frum takes on this "immigration reform mantra". he fits the- single white male, upper middle class, me-me-me profile. in his world people have to fail or be repressed in order for him to succeed.
this country was formed on the promise and hope of a more perfect union and built on the hard work of immigrants. those same immigrants paved the way for david frum and others. nothing would have come to fruition if we had a National Research Council back then.

it's no surprise that david frum takes on this "immigration reform mantra". he fits the- single white male, upper middle class, me-me-me profile. in his world people have to fail or be repressed in order for him to succeed.
this country was formed on the promise and hope of a more perfect union and built on the hard work of immigrants. those same immigrants paved the way for david frum and others. nothing would have come to fruition if we had a National Research Council back then.

Do the words etched at the base of the Statue of Liberty have any significance?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
-Emma Lazarus “The New Colossus"

It is always so interesting to me the many take on immigration some of which simply borders on hypocracy. The middle, the upper middle and the wealthy does very well through illegal immigration dynamics as they have made some within these groups wealthier or better off with the services they provide at a fraction of the going rate. So there is no free luch some one has to subsidize these workers and their growing families. Thus everyone unwillingly pays their education, healthcare and other services that is too difficult to seperate who utiliuzes these services or not. As long as we want these employee pay deals then we just have to live with the additional costs. Arizona,Texas and California have been the largest entry way for illegal immigration, I wonder why? We just turn a blind eye when it is convenient for us but reality is a factor that will forever seperate the facts from the mere critics.

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