Post-Romney Agenda for Jewish Conservatives

Immigration Reform Is a Worthy New Focus

New Agenda: Jewish conservatives should grab the initiative on immigration reform.
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New Agenda: Jewish conservatives should grab the initiative on immigration reform.

By Noam Neusner

Published January 03, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
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A new goal is needed: immigration reform.

in a growing and prosperous nation. Liberals are very good at offering new and bigger benefits directly from the state; conservatives shouldn’t compete to offer bigger giveaways. We should compete to knock down the hurdles to economic opportunity and independence. The state and its various enablers frequently establish those hurdles. Conservatives know what to do with those.

Third, we must point out that the biggest abuse of immigrants is not at the hands of the police or polling worker, but in our labor laws, often written with good intentions but leading to terrible results. Various restrictions requiring minimum or living wages, union membership and health benefits have raised the cost of hiring untrained or unskilled workers significantly. It is easier and cheaper for many employers to hire immigrants (and others) off the books. And immigrants are willing to participate in the black market for labor, precisely because it is the only way to get a job in the first place. The solution to these problems isn’t more labor protections, but more labor freedoms: If someone wants to work, let him set the price for his own time.

Finally, we must remind all Americans that there is potential in every immigrant, not just the well-credentialed ones. Today’s immigration reformers include high-tech companies eager to hire more foreign engineers. Maybe we need more foreign engineers, but how can we know that some bedraggled and unschooled family off a plane from Lagos or Quito or Odessa isn’t going to include a great scientist or entertainer or businessman? We can’t know, and we should be careful not to skew immigration policy to favor only those who can help us today. We might need people who can help us tomorrow — we just don’t know who those people are yet. Do you trust the government to know whether the child of an immigrant would become a great American or not? I wouldn’t.

Jewish conservatives make the case that nothing is predetermined by birth. The unschooled can raise geniuses. The untalented can nurture artists. And Jewish liberals can see their children become conservatives. That’s our gift to America, and to our own people as well.

Noam Neusner is a principal with the communications firm 30 Point Strategies. He was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.


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