Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick have an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal Monday, urging House Republicans to pass the immigration bill – S. 744 – passed by the Senate last Thursday. There are some minor problems with their narrative. Bolick and Bush write:
No Republican would vote for legislation that stifled economic growth, promoted illegal immigration, added to the welfare rolls, and failed to ensure a secure border. Yet they essentially will do just that if they fail to pass comprehensive immigration reform—and leave in place a system that does all of those things.
1. According to the CBO, S. 744 would LOWER per capita Gross National Product by y 0.7 percent in 2023.
2. According to the CBO, S.744 would ENCOURAGE more illegal visa overstays by vastly expanding guest worker programs.
3. According to the CBO, S. 744 would RAISE welfare spending by almost $260 billion.
4. According to the CBO, S.744 would leave 3.5 million illegal immigrants in country in 2013 and 8.3 million illegal immigrants by 2023.
Bolick and Bush continue:
To grow economically, the nation needs more young workers, as the population is aging and its growth is slowing. Yet only 13% of the immigration visas each year are issued for work or special skills. Nearly two-thirds go to relatives of existing residents, under an expansive definition of family preferences that includes not just spouses and minor children but parents, siblings and unmarried adult children.
Family preferences crowd out the work-based immigration this country needs. In particular, America’s educational system produces only a fraction of the high-skilled workers required for technology jobs.
1. To the extent that the nation needs more workers, the conservative response is to identify which government programs create disincentives for starting families, and then eliminate those programs.
2. According to CBO, family-based immigration explodes under S. 744, while high-skill immigration increases just slightly. Through 2023, S. 744 would increases family based immigration by 7.7 million people. Merit-based and high-skilled immigration would only increase by 800,000.
3. There is no shortage of American born high-skill workers.
Bolick and Bush write:
The bill also invites people who came here illegally to come out of the shadows through a provisional resident status. It does not provide an amnesty, that is, a pardon. The Senate bill creates a 13-year probation during which those who came illegally must pay a series of fines and back taxes, undergo background checks, are ineligible for most social services, and must work continuously.
1. If S. 744 is not amnesty because it is not a pardon, then President Reagan’s 1986 immigration bill was not amnesty either. They are functionally identical bills.
2. Both the fine and work requirement provisions of S. 744′s legalization process are completely waiveable by the DHS Secretary if an immigrant can show “hardship.”
3. Only those immigrants already assessed back taxes by the IRS will have to pay. No new back taxes will be assessed.
Bolick and Bush write:
Such reform is commended by both sound policy and principle. And it will also earn goodwill among citizens of Hispanic and Asian descent. In the 2012 presidential election, Republicans received only 27% of Hispanic votes—down from 40% only 12 years earlier.
This is some convenient cherry picking which ignores the last time Republicans passed a bill that legalized illegal immigrants. President George H.W. Bush, got just 30 percent of Hispanic votes, only three points better than Romney just two years after President Reagan signed the last amnesty bill. And just four years after that, Bush’s vote percentage among Hispanics fell to 25 percent, two points lower than Romney.