Over the last few months, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board has been right on immigration. While I don't think the the mammoth bill passed by the Senate, some of the conservatives who oppose it are being wildly inconsistent.
Conservatives that say they support legal immigration really don't. And they are oddly favoring government control of what should be a free market.
By far the most effective policy in reducing illegal immigration in the last 60 years was the Bracero guest-worker program of the 1950s and early '60s. Illegal immigration was almost eliminated for a decade as crossings fell from one million to fewer than 50,000 a year once migrant workers had legal channels to enter.
Yet many of those on the right who claim to favor legal immigration also oppose guest-worker programs and other visa expansions. This betrays that they really want no new immigration.
The WSJ is right: if you support legal immigration, you'd support more visas and guest worker programs. But most conservatives opposing any immigration reform really want a closed border with no new immigrants.
Why? They say it will result in higher wages for Americans.
Why do conservatives want the government to limit the supply of labor to achieve anything, much less a positive economic outcome?
This is the same argument President Obama made against ATMs: more competition for bank teller jobs causes people to suffer. For a movement that claims to favor economic freedom, restricting immigration to bolster the labor market should be laughable, not orthodoxy.