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NBC Had a ‘Debate’ Between Two Politicians Who Agree on Expanding Immigration

Sunday’s program of Meet The Press purported to feature an immigration “debate,” but the two politicians representing the opposite sides both want to expand immigration.

The segment was posted on NBC’s website with the headline: “Members of Congress Debate U.S. Immigration Policy.”

Featured in the “debate” were Congressman Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, and Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho, a Republican–both of whom favor expansive immigration policies.

Castro, for instance, cosponsored the House’s version of the Senate immigration bill, fronted by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), which would massively expand United States immigration levels. Similarly, Labrador was an original member of the House’s Gang of Eight, which sought to craft companion legislation to the Senate’s immigration bill.

Labrador, who had been described at that time as the House’s version of Marco Rubio–i.e. a Tea Party favorite who could be used to convince conservatives lawmakers to vote for expansive immigration policies–eventually withdrew from the gang under public pressure but continued to support the principles of mass immigration favored by corporate lobbyists and big business groups.

“While I will no longer be part of the bipartisan ‘Group of Eight’ House negotiators,” Labrador wrote at the time, “I will not abandon my efforts to modernize our broken immigration system by securing our borders and creating a workable guest worker program.  I remain hopeful that the House can pass a bill around these principles and I will keep fighting to make it happen.”

In fact, evidence suggests that Labrador may be one of the biggest immigration expansionists in Congress.  The Rubio-Schumer Senate immigration bill would have doubled the number of foreign workers visas issued to corporations and tripled the number of green cards. Labrador later complained, however, that the “guest worker numbers were small”–even though Rubio’s plan added four times more new guest workers than Ted Kennedy’s 2007 plan.

Yet, beyond the blunder of moderating a “debate” between two politicians who agree on the policy being discussed, Chuck Todd made matters worse with his segment introducing the “debate.”  Todd led into the segment with a set of “facts” about immigration policy–but somehow failed to mention any of the facts recently provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, which would seem to provide necessary context for any immigration debate:

–The foreign-born population stands at a record 41.3 million, the highest total number of immigrants in U.S. history and more than four times more immigrants than in 1970.

–The percentage of Americans that are foreign-born will exceed in eight years the highest level ever known before in all American history.

–The last time the foreign-born population percentage hit its high point, in 1910, Congress slashed immigration quotas for half a century to bring down the immigrant-to-population ratio

–Today, the Census Bureau estimates, the foreign-born population share will only get higher, higher and higher – breaking new records every month for as many decades as the Census Bureau can project out.  This will not change unless Congress passes a bill to lower immigration quotas.

In fact, Mr. Todd did not even mention what current United States immigration policy is: each year we issue 1 million-plus green cards to foreigners from mostly poor countries, joined by about 1 million foreign workers, refugees and dependents, and another half million foreigners sought by university admission boards.

Yet at no point in the debate did it apparently even occur to Mr. Todd to ask either of the participants whether they felt we should raise or lower immigration rates in light of the Census projections.

Nor did Todd present polls showing that most Americans want dramatically fewer immigrants to be given admissions visas into the United States.

The irony of his guest selection became clear when Todd noted the two Congressmen’s agreement on foreign tech visas: “One of the things you do agree on is actually this H-1B visa expansion program,” Todd said.

The H-1B visa is a visa popular with corporations that allows companies to replace Americans workers with lower-paid foreign workers flown in from overseas. This recently happened at Disney in Florida. In fact, the CEO of Disney is part of the CEO group lobbying for Rubio’s plan to triple the controversial visa program.

When asked about politicians who want to issue fewer visas, Castro resorted to a common refrain from supporters of unlimited immigration, decrying that such politicians are “against legal immigration.” This formulation is like saying politicians who want lower taxes are against “legal taxation.” Of course the forced confiscation of wages via taxation is “legal,” but people want less of it. Similarly, the immigration levels set by Congress are necessarily “legal”–since Congress sets them–but voters want the intake to be substantially lower or paused until assimilation and wages have improved.

In most Western countries, a phrase like “against legal immigration” would not be regarded as coherent. In Britain, for instance, everyone assumes the target number for illegal immigration is zero, so whenever they talk about reducing or lowering immigration it’s understood by all parties involved that this is “legal”–or the levels set by legislators. The same was true earlier in American history: Calvin Coolidge’s famous addresses on reducing immigration don’t need to use the word “legal” since it would have been universally understood that a plan to lower immigration quotas–like a plan to lower taxes–was referring to something “legal.”

When Labrador was asked about the use of the H-1B visa as a substitute for American citizens, he replied by saying the solution was to increase the number of H-1Bs given to corporations: “There is some abuse of the H-1B process and that’s one of the things we [Republicans] tried to do three years ago, we tried to fix the H-1B problem by increasing the caps and increasing the ways to increase for people to come to us on H-1B visa, but also clamping down on a lot of the fraud. We’re trying to fix the H-1B process.”

Professor Hal Salzman of Rutgers testified recently before the Senate Judiciary Committee that corporations are filling roughly two-thirds of entry-level tech jobs with foreign workers and, with expansions like those envisioned by Labrador, the number would rise to 100 percent. At the same time, Labrador’s plan would provide substantially more opportunities for Muslim immigrants from India and the Middle East to enter the United States with visas.

Labrador’s call comes after it was revealed that Chattanooga killer Mohammad Abdulazeez was the latest in a long line of terrorists whom the federal government approved for immigration into the United States, prompting several lawmakers to call for restrictions in immigration from this region–rather than the expansion envisioned by Labrador.

Ironically, data from Phyllis Schlafly suggests that the political outcomes for the issues Labrador and Castro care about will be radically divergent based upon the expansive immigration policy they both favor. Issuing millions of immigrant visas, Schlafly documents, will expand political support for bigger government, higher taxation and other programs favored by Castro. By contrast, data from Schafly reveals, large-scale immigration from poor, under-developed nations with no history of constitutional governance will continue making it harder for Mr. Labrador to sell his agenda of tax cuts and limited government. In other words, the visa policies supported by both Castro and Labrador will make America politically more akin to Castro’s liberal San Antonia and less akin to Labrador’s conservative Idaho.

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