A few days ago, Donald Trump released a new campaign ad, centered on his ideas for dealing with immigration. Not to be outdone, the man who is quickly becoming Trump’s main opposition for the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz, has released an immigration ad of his own.
Like anything Ted Cruz is involved with, his ad is long on flash, but short on substance. The one-minute production, called “Invasion,” opens showing people dressed in professional attire — suit and tie for the men, dress and heels for the women, briefcases and satchels for all — running across what is supposed to be the Rio Grande river, into America.
As we watch, Cruz’s voice is heard:
I understand that when the mainstream media covers immigration, it doesn’t often see it as an economic issue. But I can tell you, it is a very personal economic issue. And I will say the politics of it would be very very different if a bunch of lawyers or bankers were crossing the Rio Grande.
Let that sink in for a minute. Immigration is “an economic issue” according to Cruz. So why would “a bunch of lawyers or bankers” be trying to enter the U.S. illegally? In Mexico and Central America, those are the types of people who are financially well off, and who don’t need to come to the U.S. to try and feed their families. But let’s ignore the fact that Cruz’s image of businesspeople desperately trying to get into America is silly, and talk about his main message: that undocumented immigrants are taking American jobs, and driving down American wages.
First of all, there has been zero net migration from Mexico since 2010. In other words, the number of people coming into the U.S. through the Southern border has been roughly equal to those who are going home for some five years now. Cruz’s ad doesn’t say so explicitly, but it channels a persistent and repeatedly debunked claim that all of the new jobs that are being created are going to immigrants. It’s the 21st-century version of white people being told that if black Americans gained equal rights, they would take jobs from whites.
Here’s the fact that Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and all the others who want to demagogue the immigration issue won’t tell you: the American jobs that are being taken by immigrants are, by and large, jobs that Americans do not want to do.
A prime example of that occurred in Alabama a few years ago. The state had enacted a tough new immigration law, with severe penalties for businesses that hire illegal workers. Bloomberg Business described what happened to one Alabama company the day that law went into effect. Randy Rhodes, president of Harvest Select, a catfish processing plant, arrived at his factory to find his mostly Guatemalan workforce missing. Thanks to the new law, businesses all over Alabama were left shorthanded. Bloomberg explained the situation, as it stood in late 2011:
In Alabama, some 211,000 people are out of work. In rural Perry County, where Harvest Select is located, the unemployment rate is 18.2 percent, twice the national average. One of the big selling points of the immigration law was that it would free up jobs that Republican Governor Robert Bentley said immigrants had stolen from recession-battered Americans. Yet native Alabamians have not come running to fill these newly liberated positions. Many employers think the law is ludicrous and fought to stop it. Immigrants aren’t stealing anything from anyone, they say. Businesses turned to foreign labor only because they couldn’t find enough Americans to take the work they were offering.
Cruz has it exactly backwards: immigrants aren’t coming here and driving wages down. Immigrants are coming here and taking low-wage jobs that Americans won’t take for the wages that they offer.
You would think that Cruz would have a little more understanding about immigration, given that his father is an immigrant (and, since he was born in Canada, you could argue that Cruz himself is also an immigrant). But since he has to “out-Trump” Trump in his play for the votes of the old, stale, pale, frail, Fox-watching GOP base, Cruz is taking the same fact-free line on immigration that The Donald is.
Here’s the new Ted Cruz campaign ad, via YouTube:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-SC1uUiT9s?rel=0]
Featured image via YouTube screen capture