So eventheliberal has a new piece out, a #slatepitch by T.A. Frank on why liberals should actually oppose immigration reform — at least as it’s currently designed. The article’s on the longer side, but the essence of Frank’s argument is that illegal immigration is bad for the working class, and the bill moving its way through the Senate does very little to guarantee the influx of undocumented immigrants will decrease (he cites a CBO report indicating the law will reduce illegal immigration by only 25 percent). The studies I’ve read about the impact of immigration on wages runs counter to this theory; but I’ll defer to readers who know more than I about immigration policy as to whether Frank’s concern is justified.
What interests me most about the piece, however, is Frank’s plea for liberals to, basically, stop being so damned self-centered and bourgeois:
If I have a plea to my fellow liberals more broadly, it’s that they focus more of their empathy on fellow Americans being left behind. Because we increasingly live in bubbles, many of us are at best only abstractly aware of how cruelly circumstances of unskilled Americans have deteriorated over the past few decades. Even as these Americans have lost their well-paid manufacturing jobs, Washington has looked the other way while millions of low-skilled unauthorized immigrants have competed with them for low-skilled service jobs. The insouciance of privileged Americans toward the effects of this on life among less-privileged Americans is, in my view, a betrayal of citizenship.
Another way to put Frank’s plea is to ask liberals to pay more attention to class. I’m not on-board with him, overall; I think new immigrants are a good thing and that his ideal number of yearly entrants (50,000) is too low. I also think that these new immigrants represent an opportunity to build a broader liberal coalition. But it is noteworthy that, throughout the process of this bill coming into being, most of the concerns about how it will affect the working class have not come from the Left but rather from the Right.
Anyway, what do y’all think? Is the Left’s enthusiasm for immigration reform a consequence of its retreat from class-based politics? Or are Frank and eventheliberal barking at the moon?