Should Immigration Reform Be Tearing Apart the Democratic Party?

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Jonah Goldberg says he’s puzzled: immigration reform is tearing apart the Republican Party, but for some reason it’s not doing the same to the Democratic Party. But is he puzzled, or “puzzled”? After noting that Sen. Bernie Sanders registered some discomfort with the bill but was eventually assuaged by a $1.5-billion youth jobs program, Goldberg says this:

Last week, when the Congressional Budget Office issued a report that the immigration bill would increase GNP per capita by 0.2% and slightly reduce the deficit in 20 years, Democrats hailed it as a vindication.

It fell to Republicans to note that the same CBO report assumed the legislation would reduce immigration by a mere 25% and would very modestly reduce average wages in the first decade….Liberal wonks raced to defend the bill on the wage issue by noting that average wages wouldn’t necessarily go down for existing workers (if 10 people make $100 a day, and you add an 11th who makes $50 a day, the average goes down even if everyone’s wages don’t). But arguing about how much wages will or won’t go down is a far cry from claiming wages will go up.

Goldberg says that conservatives are suspicious of the bill because it makes big promises about things like border security and tough citizenship requirements, but “the right is just not in a trusting mood.” A big 10-4 to that, good buddy. But why does that leave him puzzled about liberals? The left is in about as trusting a mood as ever; the economic effects of the bill on native Americans are either tiny or zero (as Goldberg himself points out); and big chunks of the Democratic base are strongly in favor of passage. So why should immigration be tearing Dems apart?

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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