As Capitol Hill Republicans attempt for — what, the eighth? ninth? — time in the past two decades to jam through an amnesty that their voters have explicitly, loudly and repeatedly said they do not want, it’s worth asking a question that is rarely raised:
Does the United States — population 320 million and rising — need more people? If so, why?
To most ears, the question sounds blasphemous, which illustrates the rottenness of our immigration debate. Actually, “debate” is far too generous. One side has made sure that there is no debate. Good people want more immigration, and bad people object or raise questions. An inherently political issue has been effectively rendered religious, with the righteous on one side, sinners on the other.
The basic question remains. The pat answer over the past 20 years — “to do the jobs Americans just won’t do” — may seem to have some salience with a 3.9 percent unemployment rate. But that only further begs the question. After at least two decades of wage stagnation and even decline, now that we’ve finally reached the nirvana of full employment (and who knows how long it will last), why not take advantage of this tight labor market to raise wages across the board?