Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, denounced Republican elites and their high-priced consultants in the permanent political class for pushing amnesty legislation by perpetuating the myth that there are so many jobs that American workers won’t do.
“The next time I hear a Republican strategist or a Republican politician say that there are jobs that Americans won’t do, that person should be shot, he should be hanged, he should be wrapped in a carpet and thrown in the Potomac River,” Lowry said at a Thursday Heritage Foundation panel on immigration.
A recent Center for Immigration Studies report concluded that of the “the 472 civilian occupations defined by the Department of Commerce, only six are majority immigrant (legal and illegal).” In fact, the study found that “51 percent of maids and housekeepers, 63 percent of butchers and meat processors, 64 percent of grounds maintenance workers, 66 percent of construction laborers, and 73 percent of janitors employed are U.S.-born.”
“The idea that immigrants only do jobs American do not want is mistaken,” the report’s authors concluded. “It is simply not the case that there are jobs that Americans do not do.”
Lowry, who stood against the Senate’s massive amnesty bill, said, “The Republican elite and the Republican establishment just doesn’t get” how the illegal immigration issue resonates with American workers. He said the elites have a “simplistic view of the Latino vote” and think that they will become Republicans as soon as the GOP passes a massive amnesty bill. He pointed out, though, that after Ronald Reagan signed an amnesty bill in 1986, the GOP’s share of the Latino vote went down in 1988.
An Eagle Forum analysis determined that massive amnesty now would actually be “suicide” for the conservative movement. A Univision poll found that immigration is not even at the top of concerns among Latino voters.
Lowry also ripped the Republican elite for sharing “the broader elite’s disdain and condescension” toward people who believe we don’t “need ever higher levels of immigration.” Lowry cited a conversation he said he had with a “top Republican who is a conservative in good standing” who told him that the party had to move forward with amnesty legislation so that the nativists don’t win. Lowry said, “apparently, by his definition, most of the Republican Party and most of the country are nativists because survey after survey” show that Americans do not want higher levels of unchecked immigration.
He’s right. A national poll found that a majority of Americans want to hit the pause button on immigration, and an even stronger majority want U.S. employers to prefer American workers over foreigners.
Lowry said that big-business interests “love the idea of cheap labor,” and though big business and financiers are important, “there are also people out there called workers.”
“I believe it is very important for the Republican party to reconnect with its original, founding ideal as a party that believes in the inherent worth of all labor, which means you have equal dignity as a worker, whether you’re sweeping the streets or whether you’re the vice president of the United States,” Lowry said, before quipping that the street sweeper probably has more dignity than the vice president.
He said the Republican Party “cannot truly be the party of work and the party of workers the way it should be if it’s insistent on importing ever higher levels of low-skilled labor to compete with native and immigrant workers down the income scale who are already here.”
Lowry then pointed out that the “fundamental American attitude toward work is captured in a story about Calvin Coolidge’s son,” who was working in a hot field the summer after Coolidge was elected and was approached by a “snotty kid” who said, “If my daddy were president of the United States, I wouldn’t be working in this hot field.” He said that Coolidge’s son then shot back, saying, “You know what, if your daddy was Calvin Coolidge, yes you would.”
Lowry, who has authored a highly regarded book on Abraham Lincoln, told the audience that Lincoln always said: “Whatever is calculated to advance the condition of the honest, struggling, laboring worker, I am for that thing.”
“And it is long past time that the Republican Party realizes that mass, low-skilled immigration, whether it is legal or illegal, is not one of those things,” Lowry concluded.