Despite the failure of the House to act on immigration reform last year, there was no doubt that the majority of Americans—and even the majority of Members of Congress—understood that immigration reform was an important component in creating economic opportunity for all. Last Friday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reiterated that support during an exchange on the House floor when he said Republicans were working on an “appropriate path forward” on immigration policies. “Immigration reform could be an economic boon to this country. We’ve got to do it right,” Cantor said.
Unfortunately, a very, very small minority of House Republicans still don’t get it, as demonstrated by a letter sixteen lawmakers, including Lamar Smith and Michelle Bachmann sent to the White House on January 8. Claiming to speak for out of working Americans, they rejected the idea that the House should pass immigration reform, arguing that the Senate’s bill would flood the market with low wage workers and destroy communities. Clearly, they missed their own party’s conversion on the economic argument, but more important, they ignored the significant evidence that points to the positive economic impact of immigration reform, using protection of the American worker as a smokescreen for restrictionist opposition to reform.
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