Neil Irwin of the NY Times 'Upshot' hews to the party line on immigration, aka "That Which Must Not be Named". His topic is poverty and the puzzle is why the poverty rate has not fallen since 1979, despite decent economic growth over that period. he has lots of ideas but no mention whatsoever of the possible impact of legal and illegal immigration on the wages of the unskilled. You can only imagine my surprise.
For a brief deviation from the party line we can flash back to a Paul Krugman column from 2006. He opens with a bit of groveling to establish is prog-cred:
''Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,'' wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I'm proud of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia.
In other words, I'm instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration.
Then, the throat-punch:
But a review of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular. If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.
First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.
Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration -- especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration.
A bit of gratuitous Bush-bashing is meant to ease the reader's pain:
That's why it's intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do ''jobs that Americans will not do.'' The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays -- and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.
Finally, modern America is a welfare state, even if our social safety net has more holes in it than it should -- and low-skill immigrants threaten to unravel that safety net.
Right, as if no lib has ever made the "jobs Americans won't do" argument. That argument is generally offered by immigration advocates, like Bush, not its demagogic opponents.
But in TimesWorld immigration is never a problem and Bush is always a pinata.