Robert Rector, the Heritage Foundation senior research fellow who co-authored the right-wing think tank’s heavily disputed study on immigration reform, admitted Tuesday that he hasn’t actually read the bill in question.
Rector made waves Monday with his report that the Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill would cost taxpayers a minimum of $6.3 trillion. That conclusion was immediately criticized by a wide range of Rector’s fellow conservatives such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the Cato Institute, which called Rector’s methodology “fatally flawed.”
One of Cato’s chief complaints is that Rector ignored the historical evidence suggesting that immigrants’ wages would increase dramatically after they are legalized. Rector responded to that criticism at a Heritage Foundation event — after admitting that “I have not examined the whole bill yet.”
“One of the effects of immigration is to strongly drive down the wages of American workers…and in particular, what is happening with massive waves of illegal immigrants without a high school degree coming into the U.S., they have driven down the wages of the least skilled American workers,” Rector said.
“I have not examined the whole bill yet. I will, and if the bill looks like any other comprehensive bill that we’ve ever had, what this bill will have is a massive influx of even more unskilled immigrants,” he added.
Video of Rector’s comments is below, via Think Progress:
That Rector didn’t even read the bill that he is doing his best to kill sheds light on a broader problem with the Heritage Foundation under the leadership of former South Carolina senator and Tea Party hero Jim DeMint: by arming the right with either incomplete or completely false information, Heritage is actually undermining their ability to successfully argue against reform. As Matthew Yglesias put it in Slate:
As Republican members of Congress ponder what to do about immigration, having accurate information about its fiscal impact would be very useful to them. You actually want to have a team of people “on your side” who you can trust to do good work. Heritage is not that team.
To avoid making Rector’s mistake, you can read the full text of the Senate bill here.
Photo: The Heritage Foundation