Amnesty would undermine the integrity of the country’s immigration laws and would depress the wages of its lowest-paid native-born workers. . . . The better course of action is to honor America’s proud tradition by continuing to welcome legal immigrants and find ways to punish employers who refuse to obey the law.
One might reasonably assume that these words were plucked from a recent National Review editorial inveighing against the Gang of Eight’s immigration-reform bill. In fact, the passage comes from a New York Times editorial published in February 2000 in response to the AFL-CIO’s call for the legalization of illegal immigrants, as well as the repeal of penalties for employers who hire them.
The union’s proposal was “unfair to unskilled workers already in the United States,” the Times’ editors argued, while noting the obvious benefits for Big Labor (“a huge new pool of unorganized workers”) and Big Business (access to “cheap labor”). It is an argument that many Democrats echoed when opposing President George W. Bush’s push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2006, specifically in regard to the proposed guest-worker program, which would have provided legal entry to more than half a million low-skilled workers.