The reality of immigration policy

I gave a talk earlier this week on a Trump presidency and grouped his policy actions into easy, medium, and hard.  I put immigration in “hard” as the GOP itself is clearly so divided on this.  Drum has a nice post getting to the problematic dynamic and how so many Republicans are really  about rhetoric (the wall!) and not the actual changes that would matter (serious crackdown on employers).  Drum:

I don’t personally care all that much about the level of illegal immigration. The chart above, from Pew Research, shows the current numbers, which strike me as reasonable. But obviously a lot of people do care, and most of them are Republicans. They talk tough, they build walls and fences, and they promise to hire lots of border enforcement agents. But this is all a sham. If the economic incentives continue to exist, so will illegal immigration.

The problem is that Republicans can’t come to grips with their two main constituencies. Social conservatives generally hate undocumented workers and want to deport them all. Business conservatives want no such thing. So Republicans thunder on TV that borders are borders, and by God we need to control them. Then they quietly go back to their jobs and do nothing.

 The obvious way to cut down on illegal immigration has always been to go after employers. [emphases mine] Not only does this attack the root of the problem, but it’s practically self-funding. You hire lots of ICE auditors and then pay for them by levying big fines on employers who break the law. As the problem diminishes, you collect less money but you also need fewer auditors.

E-Verify isn’t perfect. Nothing is. But it could be made good enough. And once that’s done, enforcement could be made pretty widespread and the fines could be made pretty high. If you do that, you can forget about the wall. It’s just a distraction.

Bottom line: Anyone who claims to be fiercely opposed to illegal immigration but doesn’t support strong employer sanctions is just lying to you.

Cheap rhetoric for political point-scoring?  Never.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

3 Responses to The reality of immigration policy

  1. rgbact says:

    Why he labeled people that don’t like illegal immigration as “social conservatives”, I have no idea. Is that some liberal smear so you don’t attribute any populism to whats happened in the last year?

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    “Bottom line: Anyone who claims to be fiercely opposed to illegal immigration but doesn’t support strong employer sanctions is just lying to you.”
    Yes. This is the most effective argument for immigration reform and we didn’t hear it in this election’s campaigns.

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