Immigration exclusionists like to imagine they are pristine conservatives. But in fact their anti-immigration stance has displaced their fidelity to conservative goals, even aside from the fact that immigration reform is pro-growth, will end de facto amnesty and improves national security.
Today the conservative American Action Forum has came out with a study finding that “benchmark immigration reform would increase GDP by nearly 1 percentage point, increase per capita income by $1,700, and reduce the federal deficit by $2.7 trillion.”
Contrast that with the rhetoric of the anti-immigration reform advocates. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is the poster boy for immigration opposition. Yesterday, he was shooting his mouth off again, claiming proponents of reform aren’t “true conservatives.” And — get this — he said, “I would take Obamacare” over the Gang of Eight plan. This is, quite simply, nuts from a conservative perspective and entirely at odds with the wishes of conservative voters.
For starters, the Heritage Foundation — the Holy Grail of conservatism for these folks — gives King an 84 percent conservative rating, while the senator who wants to limit legal immigration, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), gets only 76 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) clocks in with a 96 percent.
As for Obamacare, there is no objective among elected Republicans and GOP voters more dearly held than repealing Obamacare. But that enormous expansion of government, its intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship, its expansion of the corruption-ridden and inefficient Medicaid and all those taxes are fine with King, so long as he keeps Hispanics here from becoming citizens. That is many things, but it does not reflect conservative values.
Immigration reformers shouldn’t be cowed by the screeching from figures like King. The Gang of Eight reflects a majority viewpoint in the country at large and garners support from over half of Republicans. It is the rare time when good conservative policy coincides with good politics. If the Senate can tune out the nonsense coming from characters like King, immigration reform has a real shot.