Here's David Frum in Canada's National Post:The effectiveness of immigration as a low-wage policy
Some will interpret Perry’s relaxed views on immigration as a rare indication of a more humane side to the otherwise hardline Texas conservative. Maybe.
But here’s another way to understand Perry’s stance:
Texas has pursued a distinctive economic strategy: drive down all costs of doing business, especially including wages.
Texas workers receive some of the lowest wages in the nation; by some metrics, the very lowest. The encouragement of heavy unskilled immigration from Mexico and central America is an integral – even indispensable – element of the Texas low-wage job-creation strategy.
Perry’s views on immigration are not a “liberal” deviation from his views on the minimum wage, on Social Security, on healthcare coverage, etc. His high-immigration views are of a piece with his general preference for a low-cost, low-wage economy.
By contrast, Mitt Romney has begun to articulate a call for a high-wage economy. To get average wages rising again after a dozen years first of stagnation, then of outright decline, will not be easy. The most important step is to control healthcare costs. The rising cost of healthcare benefits devours workers’ cash pay.
But a rethink of immigration policies is also necessary. In the September 7 debate, Romney articulated something almost never said in a Republican primary: much, much, much more important than a fence or “boots on the ground” is tighter enforcement of labor laws inside the country. I’d go further: if the labor laws were effectively enforced, a border fence would be a costly redundance.
Why have labor laws gone so badly enforced? In very large part: because Rick Perry’s donors don’t want them enforced. The National Restaurant Association does not want them enforced. The construction industry does not want them enforced. Meatpackers do not want them enforced. The hotel and landscaping industries do not want them enforced. When you hear Republican candidates complain of “burdensome regulation,” keep in mind that the regulations that many small businesses find most “burdensome” are those intended to reserve American jobs for American legal residents.
On that issue, Gov. Perry has been, is now, and continues to be an advocate of laxer rules to promote more immigration in order to hold Texas and ultimately American wages low.
Whiel we have philosphoical differences with David Frum—I have a feeling that he's not promoting the National Policy Institute conference on FrumForum—there's no doubt he can be amazingly good on policy issues when he wants to. Read How We Got Here: The 70’s: The Decade That Brought You Modern Life–For Better or Worse You'll be impressed. He also gave Alien Nation a fairly good review back in the 90's. See the blurb on page 1 of the PDF.
Critics, however, will wonder where this clear thinking was when Frum was supporting George Bush as president, and Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination.