America’s media and political class promote the belief that a progressive Left and a business-minded Right take diametrically opposing positions on immigration policy. It’s an entertaining story line that sells.
But the narrative is nowhere near reality, writes a confirmed progressive.
Spoiler alert to liberals: You won’t enjoy where this is going.
“The truth is that mass migration is a tragedy, and [the Left’s]moralizing about it is a farce. Today’s well-intentioned activists have become the useful idiots of big business,” Angela Nagle asserts in her 2018 piece, “The Left Case Against Open Borders.”
If anything, the Left has doubled down since Nagle’s essay appeared midway through the Trump era. Democratic presidential candidates’ pledge last fall to provide free health-care to illegal aliens was a prime example of the leftward lurch into fantasyland.
Nagle, who has written for such staunchly left journals as The Baffler and Jacobin, argues in American Affairs (another progressive publication) that “by embracing the moral arguments of the open-borders Left and the economic arguments of free-market think tanks, the Left has painted itself into a corner.”
With opinion polls showing public support for strengthened border security and immigration policies that protect American workers, the Left’s rationalizations have been reduced to platitudes about diversity and “citizens of the world.”
Meanwhile, as Nagle points out, globalized mass migration “enriches the wealthiest people in the wealthiest countries at the expense of the poorest.”
“Developing countries struggle to retain their skilled and professional citizens because the largest and wealthiest economies that dominate the global market have the wealth to snap them up,” she notes. It’s no coincidence that Mexico ranks as one of the world’s biggest exporters of educated professionals while suffering from a chronic brain drain.
Here at home, Nagle observes that decades of high-level immigration have inflicted “disproportionately negative effects on poor Americans and minorities,” who actually are the majority in this country’s largest states and cities.
That none of this squares with the Left’s proclaimed fealty for the laboring classes is both ironic and farcical.
Instead of duplicitous moralizing, the Left could do two things that would actually help, according to Nagle.
First, stop regurgitating libertarianism from the Cato Institute and other like-minded think tanks that ignore the corrosive, undermining effects of mass immigration on American workers. A sensible step was taken last week with the introduction of a bipartisan bill to reform and restrict foreign work visas.
Second, demand mandatory E-Verify screening of all job applicants, with stiff penalties on employers who fail to comply. Until it embraces a comprehensive E-Verify program, the Left will remain a cheap labor tool.
“Members of the open-borders Left may try to convince themselves they are adopting a radical position. But in practice they are just replacing the pursuit of economic equality with the politics of big business, masquerading as a virtuous identitarianism,” Nagle concludes.