Illegal immigration is usually presented as a win-win situation: Undocumented foreigners earn far more than they could back home. Consumers get a bargain.
Nowhere to be seen are America's working poor who get stomped on 13 different ways.
I say this partly because of her unusual targets:
Who doesn't suffer from illegal immigration? For starters, the people who write about it. I speak of the journalism profession, which has the habit of covering the issue by anecdotes. Reporters thrive on sympathetic stories about illegal immigrants who work hard and go to church.
But, were a busload of illegals from Australia to turn up at their newspaper and offer reportage at 10 percent below the going rate, the writers would call the authorities so fast that your head would spin…
No vocation keeps a tighter lid on immigration than the medical profession. "If we let in 100,000 immigrant doctors," Richard Freeman, another Harvard economist, recently told a group of journalists, "everyone in this room would benefit." Except the American doctors.
Harrop is usually seen as a Democrat. She grasps what an intelligent stance on immigration could do for the Democrats. In her September 12 2006 column The Democrats Can Win on Immigration (Real Clear Politics) she pointed out that the (ultimately successful) Democratic challenger in the Missouri Senate race actually had a more plausible restrictionist stance than the Republican. And she knew why:
It's the Democrats' good fortune that they don't have a cheap-labor wing of their party. The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans in big business, including the construction industry, are threatening to withhold contributions to candidates who seem earnest about cutting off the supply of illegal workers…even though the issue is a top public concern, Republican strategists have put it on the back burner until after the Nov. 7 election. Once the voters are off their backs, they can resume providing business interests with their cheap-labor fix.
Quite possibly, Froma Harrop’s optimism about the Democrats will prove misplaced. The fact is, the immigration issue has the potential to shatter the American Party system. She may find herself with surprising allies in a few years time.
Applaud Froma Harrop.