So Much for the Nativists
Don’t miss the meaty middle, right here.
Here’s a Capitol riddle for you: Representative Lamar Smith, one of the most reflexively anti-immigrant hard-liners in Congress, is sponsoring a bill to flood the agriculture sector with up to half-a-million visas for guest workers. Understand why and you’re well on your way to unpacking the nation’s dysfunctional relationship with undocumented immigrants.
Mr. Smith, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has a bill to require every employer in the country to use E-Verify, the federal hiring database, and fire the workers it flags as unauthorized.
He says it will give American jobs back to Americans. But it has angered small-business owners, who know a job-killing regulation when they see one. And it has enraged the farm industry, where more than half of the work force is undocumented. Thus the need for Mr. Smith’s second bill, the American Specialty Agriculture Act.
There’s one group that badly needs and deserves visas that no one seems to want to go to bat for. They are the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already living here and helping make things work. If they had a deal — pay fines, learn English, get to the back of the immigration line and, meanwhile, get back to work — the economic benefits would be enormous. We don’t expect Mr. Smith to admit that. But we would like to hear a lot more from President Obama, and others, about why real immigration reform is so important for America.