Ted Cruz has a new ad online and running in New Hampshire; it’s a riff on a point he made in a November debate when he suggested that wealthy Americans would care more about the issue of undocumented immigration if the immigrants were bankers and lawyers who were out to take rich peoples’ jobs:
Said Cruz at the debate (the clip is used as a voice over in the ad):
The politics of it would be very, very different if a bunch of lawyers or bankers were coming across the Rio Grande, or if a bunch of people with journalism degrees were coming over and driving down the wages in the press. Then we would see stories about the economic calamity that is befalling our nation.
Cruz follows it up by saying that as president he’d triple the number of border patrol agents so as to stop the illegal immigrants who are creating the economic calamity.
It’s a compelling piece of political rhetoric. A few facts are worth noting, though:
- There’s a pretty widespread consensus that immigrants of all kinds are good for the economy overall; they do compete with native-born individuals for jobs and have been found to flatten wages for low-income workers, but they also contribute to growth by spending money, providing labor for new and expanding businesses, starting their own new businesses, etc.
- Wealthy, suit-wearing rich-person types of the sort seen in the commercial actually often bemoan the limited number of H-1B visas available for high-skill immigrants. (Although other suit-wearing types complain that these visas can be abused by companies that bring skilled immigrants here to train them, but then send them back home to work at lower wages while laying off their high-skill U.S. employees.)
- The U.S. has been continuously increasing its border patrol resources for decades; the number of agents rose by something like 700 percent in the 30 years from 1977 and 2007 (see info here and here). But undocumented immigrants still make it here in massive numbers: In that same 30-year period the number of undocumented immigrants in the country rose from about 1 million to about 12 million. That number has since fallen slightly, but researchers believe that’s because of the economic crash rather than anything to do with border enforcement.
Cruz is currently polling in first place in Iowa, third place in New Hampshire, and second nationally.
*Correction, Jan. 5, 2016: This post originally misspelled the name of the Rio Grande.