Obama’s Immigration Announcement: Another Loss for the Middle Class

The politics of the Obama administration’s immigration announcement make a certain grim sense: The people who will most intensely oppose are already fiercely hostile to the administration; the people who will most support were indifferently favorable. The decision mobilizes, for the administration, voters who might otherwise have seen little reason to turn out on voting day: economically hard-pressed Latinos who have seen little material improvement over the past three years.

The policy results however make less sense. The decision to grant residency and work rights to young illegal aliens who meet certain conditions is an amnesty in all but name. A conditional amnesty, yes, but amnesty. The trouble with amnesty has always been the incentive effects. It’s possible that amnesty may be a necessary final stage in immigration reform, but to put amnesty in place before effective enforcement measures are in place—and before authorities are certain that as many illegals as possible have voluntarily repatriated—is to invite another wave of illegal migration just as soon as business conditions improve.

That may not seem on the verge of happening soon, but it will happen.

In a time of very high unemployment, it seems simply reckless to invite future waves of migration—and especially of the low-skill, low-wage migration that America has mostly attracted over the past four decades.

Read more here.

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