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EDITORIAL: Half an amnesty is still all bad

Making jobs scarcer is not an immigration ‘reform’

- - Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jobs are scarce, and Congress is cooking up a scheme to make them scarcer. The Labor Department reported Friday that the economy created only 74,000 jobs in December, the lowest comparable number in three years, and half of those were part-time jobs. It's bad out there, and getting worse. President Obama's "recovery" is recovery with no jobs.

When Shenandoah Family Farms recently announced it would hire 35 workers on reopening a vacant milk and ice cream plant in Hagerstown, Md., 1,600 people applied — about 46 job seekers for every opening. Similar scenes are repeated in every state, but some congressmen are determined to flood the market with millions more job seekers, intensifying competition for scarcer jobs.

The latest immigration "reform" making the rounds under the Capitol dome is a tactical retreat from the White House goal of establishing a "path to citizenship" (i.e., amnesty) for illegal aliens. Mr. Obama says he'll accept nothing less, but he's never paid much attention to lines he draws in the sand, red or otherwise.

Several Republicans are intoxicated with the idea of granting legal residency without citizenship. Democrats who would like more nevertheless correctly see this as the camel's nose under the tent. "If we do not get citizenship this year," says Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, "we will be back next year and the year after that." It's only a matter of time before these millions of illegals would register to vote, which is exactly the point.

Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, a Republican, isn't fooled. He rounded up 15 colleagues last week to send a letter to the White House opposing thinly disguised amnesty schemes. "We write on behalf of the 90 million Americans over 16," they said, "including early retirees, college grads living at home, and those living on welfare — who are not part of the nation's workforce." These are the people forgotten in the push for amnesty.

The letter further notes that the scheme comes "at a time of crippling joblessness and falling incomes," and cites research from Harvard that found low-skilled immigration between the years 1980 and 2000 resulted in an 8 percent wage reduction for U.S.-born workers without a high school diploma. "Rapidly expanding unskilled immigration, at [a] time when factory work and blue-collar jobs are disappearing would represent the final economic blow for millions of workers who have been struggling to gain an economic foothold."

When Congress is wrangling over how to pay for yet another extension of "emergency" unemployment-compensation benefits for the long-term jobless, it makes no sense to flood the market with cheap labor. One of the better cures for employment ills is firm and fair enforcement of the immigration laws we already have.