October 31, 2011 at 8:53 pm
An editorial / By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service
While the Republican presidential candidates are still trying to outbid each other on how tough they’ll be on illegal immigration — moats, fences that electrocute, U.S. soldiers on the border — GOP back-benchers in Congress, without conceding error, are trying to walk back from some of their party’s more extreme positions.
Or as The New York Times gently put it, “the view among some Republicans has become more nuanced and measured.” Getting in political hot water with small business, farmers, major research universities and Hispanics, the nation’s fastest-growing minority, will do that for you.
These lawmakers are beginning to dig in their heels against a proposed law requiring employers to verify the legal status of not only new hires but existing employees as well. GOP dogma calls for putting a greater burden for enforcement on employers.
“We Republicans are hearing more and more from businesses and the agricultural community that this system isn’t working,” Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho told the Times. It’s somewhat distressing that the lawmakers had to “hear” about this rather than figure it out for themselves.
Something about immigration has caused Republicans to act, well, un-Republican. Their party’s proposed Legal Workforce Act would be a large regulatory burden on business, and administering E-Verify, the huge database behind it, would require greater federal bureaucracy.
The GOP tactic of scaring off immigrants, legal and illegal, isn’t working; indeed, it is hurting our economy. The Wall Street Journal says that when Georgia implemented a state E-Verify law this summer, 11,000 agricultural jobs went unfilled. Crops rotted in the fields as a result.
Foreign math and science students, detecting a whiff of anti-immigrant bias behind the whole business generally, are heading back to their homelands or other, more welcoming countries, when they finish their U.S. education.
In another sign of the GOP trying to ease its hard line on immigration, Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., is pushing a bill to make it easier for foreign math and science professionals to obtain legal residency. To most people, hanging on to the best and brightest foreign students is only common sense.
Common sense would be a refreshing change in the immigration debate, and it would get the GOP out of the political and economic minefield it wandered into when it began to demonize immigrants.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)