On Wednesday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush reiterated that immigration reform is “hugely important” for America even though the country’s middle class, as Bush acknowledged, is getting more squeezed.
“Immigration reform for our country is so hugely important. Race is not a national identifier in this country. We’re 34 flavors. We’re as diverse as diverse can get,” Bush said during a question-and-answer session after his foreign policy address at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “And that is a huge strength looking over the horizon right now, where multiculturalism kind of creates pockets of despair in Europe in many cases.”
Bush, who has been praised by top GOP 2016 donors for leading on the amnesty issue, said “the United States has this potential of being young and dynamic again” and, “if Europe embraced that similar kind of approach, I think that they could see some economic growth as well.”
But his response to an audience member’s question on the “permanency of poverty” displayed that his support for massive comprehensive amnesty legislation may make it tougher for Americans to move up the economic ladder.
Bush addressed the “stickiness of poverty” and the dramatic increases in innovation and “exponential increases in automation” that are making many more jobs obsolete. Senators like Alabama’s Jeff Sessions (R-AL) have also addressed how automation increasingly threatens American workers. Bush said the increase in automation “is a huge challenge” for policymakers, especially since America’s policies “have worked to provide material benefits to people in poverty,” but “they haven’t worked to lift them out” of poverty and allow Americans in poverty to have “the capacity to achieve earned success.”
Bush spoke about the “permanency of poverty,” and how an American who is born poor today is more likely to stay poor than at any point in the country’s history while it is the “greatest time to live” for those who are born rich. Like Jim Webb, who speaks about three Americas, Bush said that America is “sticky at the ends” while the “middle is getting squeezed.”
Perhaps because working Americans realize that they are getting squeezed and the ties between unchecked immigration and wages, a strong majority of Americans, including a majority of Hispanics, want tougher laws against businesses illegally hiring illegal immigrants, according to a Paragon Insights poll. All of the net job growth since 2000 went to legal and illegal immigrants, and the Congressional Budget Office last year determined that the Senate’s massive amnesty bill would lower the wages of American workers. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow has repeatedly warned President Barack Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus that massive amnesty legislation will only hurt black workers at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Massive immigration impacts white-collar workers as well. While Southern California Edison is laying off hundreds of American IT workers, tech companies have been clamoring for massive increases in guest-worker visas that would further lower the wages of American workers and make it tougher for them to find good-paying IT jobs.
America, as Temple University Prof. Jan Ting emphasizes, already has the world’s most generous immigration policy, but a recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans were dissatisfied with current immigration levels–and only seven percent of Americans wanted an increase in immigration.