A Familiar Melody

Published on May 14th, 2009

Immigration expansionists whistle past the American workers graveyard

By Mark Cromer

The open border lobby’s manipulative deceptions regarding the corrosive effects of mass illegal immigration reached a new, lysergic acid-like high last week as Tamar Jacoby offered the surreal estimation that out-of-work and economically desperate Americans still don’t want to work the jobs taken by illegal immigrants.

Jacoby, a former fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the current president of ImmigrationWorks USA, has been a reliable shill for big business interests for years, faithfully regurgitated the same malignant distortions of American workers that she’s been serving like a favorite pâtè for years.

There was some familiar irony as Jacoby pondered whether the nation’s political landscape has shifted enough to pass immigration reform this year—while insisting this time around “it’s going to be a different debate.”

It’s hard to see any difference thus far, considering Jacoby is still dealing in the same old mischaracterizations and McCarthyesque smears that have become the immigration lobby’s trademarks. Jacoby asserts it’s going to be a different debate—then promptly claims that the millions of illegal immigrants are working jobs that Americans simply won’t do.

“Journalists and employers report that not even unemployed Americans seem to want to do farm work or day labor jobs,” Jacoby declared in an opinion column. “At least not yet.”

Sound familiar?

This is a twin canard that she skillfully employs; at once a dismissive put-down of the American worker (implying that Americans are lazy lot that consider themselves simply above breaking a sweat) while at the same time it deceitfully limits the scope of illegal immigration’s impact to strawberry pickers and piece work snared at Home Depot labor sites.

That’s a tried and true tactic of Jacoby and her ilk: simply talking past or ignoring all together the millions manufacturing jobs, construction jobs and hospitality service jobs that have been taken from working Americans by greed-driven employers and given to illegal immigrants desperate for any job that pays more than Mexico’s $5-a-day wage. This dynamic has not only left millions of Americans out of work, but it has worsened workplace conditions and suppressed wages for citizens still trying to earn a living as they cling to their jobs.

African-Americans in particular have been driven out of entire industries that once provided reliable incomes and an economic stepladder, replaced wholesale by workers imported at the behest of industries eager not just for cheap labor, but indentured servants.

But Jacoby’s silence on this indisputable impact on blacks is hardly surprising, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its allies like Jacoby have ignored black Americans job losses to illegal immigrants for decades.

With tens of millions of American workers of every racial and ethnic stripe either standing in the unemployment lines or struggling to get by with reduced paychecks and mounting debts, Jacoby sniffs that Americans simply don’t want to get their hands dirty. Of course, she did source her perspective to generic “journalists and employers,” so at least she acknowledged her assessment was not rooted in the reality of any working class universe.

Jacoby also offered the familiar refrain that 12 million illegal immigrants will not leave the U.S., dutifully using a figure that has remained static in the media for five years and is almost certainly a massive underestimate. The actual figure of illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. could well be double that figure or larger, but again, Jacoby is sticking to the script that has been dusted off from amnesty’s run through in 2007.

And she didn’t fail to hit her mark in delivering a signature line for her: the assertion that those opposed to illegal immigration are simply closeted bigots that hate immigrants. Conversely, Jacoby would have readers believe that she and her corporate ilk cherish illegal immigrants—which is so clearly demonstrated by the wages they pay them, the conditions they employ them in, the housing they offer them and the benefits they provide.

There is no question that America is facing another showdown on illegal immigration, but far from any new territory, Jacoby makes it clear we’re in for the same old song and dance.

Mark Cromer is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization.

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