The 2014 congressional election campaigns can teach politicians something about the immigration issue: It's not enough merely to oppose "amnesty" or executive end-runs. And it's abject recklessness to promise special interests vastly more of this or that visa or pander to ethnic voting blocs about increasing legal immigration.
Even Bush's open-borders advisor Karl Rove has flip-flopped on his dogmatic pro-amnesty pipe dream for GOP political sustainability, at least as a campaign tactic, for now. His American Crossroads is using amnesty as a hammer against liberal candidates who favor it.
And it's not enough to repeat the talking points; politicians must back up their words with pro-American immigration actions. The political party that wants to attract the vast majority of potential votes across the nation for its candidates in the 2016 presidential and congressional elections and beyond must demonstrate convincingly that it is the party of the would-be working American. That means espousing lower legal immigration as the central means to that end.
This question about who should get the next jobs, Americans and immigrants already here or new immigrants, has forced U.S. Senate candidates in those 10 states, as well as candidates in other states where the question has been raised, to pick sides. Are you with the American people or the post-American plutocrats?
It's a potent question, similar to the one about his business dealings involving off-shoring jobs that Republican David Perdue bungled in the U.S. Senate race in Georgia against Democrat Michelle Nunn, former Sen. Sam Nunn's daughter. A deposition in a bankruptcy case highlighted, in Perdue's own words, how he destroyed 4,800 North Carolina textile jobs and thousands more jobs in the United States and Canada for Pillowtex by shuttering factories, putting Americans out on the street, and opening new plants overseas in countries where the labor is dirt-cheap and exploitable. Perdue had performed similar U.S. job-killing outsourcing arrangements at Haggar, Reebok, and Sara Lee. Nunn has hammered Perdue with this evidence and with his offensive response: "Defend it? I'm proud of it. This is a part of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services to help your business run. People do that all day." Not exactly as appealing to voters as "I fought hard to keep those jobs here and those factories open and those Americans employed. It broke my heart when we ultimately lost and China won out."
The jobs-for-Americans-through-lower-immigration issue is salient because the question NumbersUSA raises stands at the core of the broader economic or jobs issue in most people's minds. After all, the open secret about the "falling" official unemployment rate is that the fall comes mainly from people giving up and dropping out of the "actively looking for work" category. The rose-colored unemployment rate, the U-3, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics each month stands around 6 percent. But the U-6 rate, which includes active job seekers, plus part-time workers, the underemployed, et al., is above 11 percent. A Gallup measure similar to the broader U-6 measure reports real unemployment above 15 percent. Factor in that more and more seniors are working well into their 60s and 70s, and that many Baby Boomers' retirement savings aren't what they need them to be. This issue isn't going away. And people get it because people live it.
Think people tend to vote their paycheck? Think they might really vote their lack of a paycheck? Are Americans who are struggling to find work or hold onto the job they have going to think, "Boy, I'm sure confident in sending that businessman with all that off-shoring experience to straighten out Washington and to decide what's best for us," or maybe instead think, "That guy's out to take away what little we have and give my job away to cheaper foreign workers, either by importing them or exporting my job." They aren't going to vote for the candidate who got rich destroying the humble but honest work that supported thousands of modest American families. That's true for a candidate who kills jobs here and sends them to China and India and Honduras as well as a candidate who revels in importing immigrants to drive down his labor costs or to displace Americans from the jobs they have here or to heat up job competition and tilt it in favor of new arrivals from some other country.
This is about much more than Washington's same-old, same-old non-solutions: inept job retraining programs; putting more Americans on the dole; failed "free trade" agreements that gut American businesses and make it harder for U.S. firms committed to American jobs to compete against stateless multinational corporations, currency manipulators, and trade cheaters; tax cuts for multinationals that perpetrate U.S. job destruction; and Chicago-style crony capitalism for politicians' closest corporate bankrollers. And though it's the responsible thing to do, fights over balancing the federal budget, cutting discretionary spending, and other arcane, impersonal, economic issues don't relate to whether an American who's looking for full-time work has a better chance of landing one today. So what if the Dow's up, "the economy" grew 3.5 percent last quarter, and the Labor Department reports fewer first-time jobless claims last month? Those are just ephemeral news items on the radio at the top of the hour. It doesn't mean a 55-year-old out of work for five years finally secures a new job today.
The American people have heard those songs from politicians' lips before, and there's no magic in the lyrics, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no benefit for the average Joe who's hurting for a full-time job. The only winners already ride in expensive cars and live in gated communities with their rich neighbors. More false promises won't cut it. The denial by "experts" of the harm mass immigration inflicts on regular Americans' job opportunities has worn thin.
No, the real issue is the unbridled legal immigration levels, the chain migration visas, the interconnection between legal and illegal immigration due to promises of a visa some day, and the harmful effect of wave after wave of over a million immigrants each year on Americans' job prospects. Immigration explains a big chunk of the "jobless recovery" characterized by high unemployment and chronic high underemployment among teenagers, recent graduates, minorities, the disabled, and Americans in their 50s and 60s who face what amounts to job and hiring discrimination.
Back to electoral politics: Voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who takes an immigration stance centered on what it does for working and would-be working Americans — that is, someone who's empathetic to their plight and willing to make laws that actually improve their employment possibilities. A recent survey by the polling company, inc. bears this out. Some 73 percent of all voters agree: "The American people are right to be concerned about their jobs and wages, and elected officials should put the needs of American workers first." Seventy percent would vote for a candidate who believes: "The first goal of immigration policy needs to be getting unemployed Americans back to work — not importing more low-wage workers to replace them."
The message — which must be fully understood, genuinely held, and empathetically expressed if it's to win voters' hearts and minds — is simple. It's that our country has an obligation as part of the social contract to give our fellow Americans (native-born and legal permanent immigrants already here) a clear road toward achieving the American dream of a job and the career opportunities, economic stability, and self-reliance that come with it; that current immigration policies don't serve the national interest because far too many of our fellow Americans are hurting economically as a result of post-1965 and post-1990 immigration policies; and that we desperately need to put our own people's best economic interests ahead of those in other countries who'll otherwise be the next wave of new arrivals and job competitors against our most vulnerable and economically hurting people in the depleted middle class.
I believe that this is more than a great political message; this is the truly compassionate, moral, and honorable position. My conviction is that the above paragraph describes what has traditionally been the American ideal with respect to immigration's proper role in our nation. It is the morally right thing to do, the right way to look out for "the least of these" among our own people with appropriate, prudent public policy. It is consistent with our Constitution and our sovereignty and our social contract as a free, self-governing people. It is where the American people already are (and, by the way, pretty much have never strayed from, God bless them). And it also happens to coincide with what's most politically appealing.