In this weeks Burst Your Bubble column, Jason Wilson looks into conservative thinking on Stephen Millers clash with Jim Acosta
When Trumps aide Stephen Miller rounded on CNNs Jim Acosta in a press conference on Wednesday, the alt-right and the nationalist wing of conservatism came alive.
Millers turn at the podium combined an announcement of White House support for the Raise bill which will halve legal immigration and open disrespect for legacy media. Miller managed to embody a kind of soft white nationalism; his performance was just the thing ardent nationalist Trump supporters had been clamoring for while the president got lost in the weeds of healthcare and tax reform.
Trumps style, his countless errors, and his scattergun agenda have, from time to time, alienated sections of the right, including some of his core supporters. But immigration restriction is a broadly unifying issue on the right, binding everyone from outright white nationalists to Fox News. It is the one thing that most US conservatives can agree upon, and many are thrilled to finally put the dog whistle away.
The positive reception for this initiative in so many quarters is making the relatively small number of pro-immigration business conservatives once pillars of the Republican establishment look more and more isolated.
Publication The Federalist
Author David Harsanyi, a columnist at the Federalist, is billed as a libertarian, though much of his publishing career seems to have been taken up with screeds against Barack Obama.
Why you should read it People on the right have worked hard to make this all about the heated press conference interaction between Miller and Acosta, the CNN reporter. Mostly, thats because they sense Miller had the best of that encounter. They may be right the Statue of Liberty may not have been the best entry point to a conversation about policy. But writers like Harsanyi are happy to misuse that conversation, in turn, as proof that the Raise bill is the only sane alternative.
Extract:Open immigration has become a rite on the left, as American as anything in the constitution. Reporters generally reflect this attitude. So these exchanges become debates rather than journalistic encounters. Maybe thats more constructive, I dont know. But it is just another reason half the country doesnt trust most major media outlets anymore. And if thats the kind of programming CNN and others are interested in, they should do us a favor and send someone to the White House who has policy chops and a far better grasp of history.
Author Rich Lowrys perch atop National Review gives him ex officio access to middle-of-the-road outlets such as Politico, even though its not clear whether his publication has meaningful traction on the post-Trump right.
Why you should read it Watch as the confused movement conservative pivots from Trump hate to admitting he may have a point, and invoking the struggling working class as reason enough to enhance immigration controls.
Extract The Cotton-Perdue merit system for green cards is hardly know-nothingism. It could, in fact, be described with that cliched banal phrase a worthwhile Canadian initiative. The bill cribs from the points systems in both Canada and Australia, neither of which are considered benighted countries. And an emphasis on skills will take some of the pressure of immigration off of the countrys low-skilled workers.
Employers may complain about losing access to immigrant labor, but it is simply not true that there are jobs that Americans wont do. Almost every single occupational category in the country has a majority of native-born workers. If there is really such a dearth of low-skilled labor in this county, wages should be rising smartly for these workers, and they arent.
Publication National Review
Author Mark Krikorian is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. This thinktank might be more accurately described as the Center for Anti-Immigration Studies, but it was inaugurated in an earlier, more fastidious period in American conservatism.
Why you should read itLike every legislative initiative in recent memory, the Raise bill is going to have trouble passing through both houses of Congress. In a sense, that doesnt matter as much to the anti-immigration right as making immigrants, and by extension the politics of race, a key item on the national agenda. In genteel, National Review fashion, Krikorian, a long time advocate of restriction, fesses up.
Extract: So the question that may divide critics of current immigration policy: are the numbers too high, or is it just that the skill levels are too low? Im for lower numbers, as such the skill question is a serious problem, but even continuing to admit less-skilled immigrants would be less harmful if the numbers were lower. Maybe the best thing about the Cotton-Perdue bill is that it will force us to debate the central questions of immigration policy how many and who? in a way that we havent for a long time.
Publication The Daily Caller
Author Will Racke writes for a range of rightwing publications. His output suggests someone who thinks that he can square the circle, and combine immigration restriction with free market, low-wage capitalism.
Why you should read it Flailing at liberals isnt the whole job for restrictionists its also important to try to whip any Republicans who might stand in their way. The article accuses Senator Lindsay Graham a Raise sceptic of not knowing what hes talking about. Under normal circumstances, this would be a wise assumption. But Grahams eyes arent painted on he can see, as well as the left can, where this is going.
Extract Contrary to Grahams characterization, the Raise Act addresses a separate flow of immigrants who come to the US as legal permanent residents, commonly known as green card holders. The bill aims to reduce current legal immigration levels about 1.1m new green cards annually to historic norms somewhere near 500,000 per year.
Senators Cotton and Perdues Bill to Cut Legal Immigration Wont Work and Isnt an Effective Bargaining Chip
Publication Cato Institute
Author Alex Nowratsch
Why you should read it If you want to understand how isolated principled libertarians have become in the Trump era, start here. A lot of this article defending immigration makes sense on its own terms, and it wont make a whit of difference.
Extract Cotton-Perdue is not a good political bargaining chip for at least two reasons. First, virtually zero Democrats would support a cut to green cards and at least half of Republicans would join them. Cotton-Perdue will die on its own due to lack of support like the Raise Act did a few months ago or be stripped out of any immigration bill in which it was included. The bill has no chance so it cannot be credibly used as a bargaining chip to gain concessions elsewhere despite what President Trump says today.
Second, the public is more supportive of immigration than it was in the mid-1990s when Congress last seriously considered cuts in the legal system. In 1995, 65% of Americans wanted less immigration while only 38% do today. Cotton-Perdue would not be popular on Capitol Hill or with the American electorate so it is not a credible bargaining chip.