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Amnesty would be political disaster for Dems

Democrats’ chances of retaining their slim majorities in the 2022 elections hinge on Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema. They can save their party from a midterm drubbing by rejecting the wildly unpopular immigration amnesty their leaders have been promoting.

Party leaders desperately wanted to include amnesty for over six million people living here illegally in the Build Back Better Act. But that bill is now all but dead, thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition.

Dr. Gregory Grant

Nevertheless, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is under pressure to bring piecemeal amnesty measures to the Senate floor. That’d be a political disaster for his party – and particularly for Arizona’s Democratic congressional delegation. Nearly three-quarters of Arizona’s likely voters oppose the amnesty included in the Build Back Better Act, according to a recent survey from Rasmussen Reports. And nearly 60% say they would be inclined to vote against any member of Congress who supports it.

Arizona voters are also fed up with the Biden administration’s overall approach to border security: 60% were “very concerned” with the high monthly levels of illegal border crossings. And 65% believe the government should “adopt stricter policies to reduce the flow of illegal crossings.”

In fact, Arizonans of color are especially vexed by lax immigration enforcement. Among Blacks, 66% said they were “very concerned” with current levels of illegal border crossings, and 55% of Hispanics said the same. Support from these demographic groups was key to Democrats winning Arizona in 2020 – and will be critical this November.

Opposition to illegal immigration is truly bipartisan. Almost 40% of Democratic respondents believe the government should adopt stricter immigration policies.

Voters worry about an amnesty not out of xenophobia, but because of the real negative impacts that illegal immigration has on Arizonans’ wages and job prospects. A leading Harvard economist has shown that for native-born American workers without a high-school diploma, a 25% increase in the size of the workforce from immigration over a two-decade period depressed wages by $1,500 annually.

This is because people living here illegally will work for less and enjoy no legal protections to bargain for better wages and working conditions. Greedy employers exploit them while the government turns a blind eye.

Proponents of amnesty argue that immigrants fill jobs Americans won’t do. That simply isn’t true. Americans will work even the dirtiest jobs for fair wages. One Georgia poultry plant, for instance, famously lost 60% of its workforce overnight after a federal immigration raid in 2006. Needing to fill open positions, the company raised wages from $6 to $9. American workers – many of them minorities – stepped in to fill them.

Arizonans of all political affiliations want to prevent new waves of illegal immigration. Senators Kelly and Sinema can do their fellow Democrats a favor by standing against amnesty.

Dr. Gregory Grant is chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Honor Healthcare Shea campus, chief of staff of Tempe St Luke’s Medical Center, and medical director at Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Center of Paradise Valley. 

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