A cynic, says a character in one of Oscar Wilde’s novels, is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. If that’s true, then the debate over the state of labor in the United States these days is awash in cynicism — or maybe it could just be called plain old hypocrisy. And in truth, it’s not so much a debate as a shouting match, largely over the inflamed issue of immigration.

Most of the noise comes from restrictionists, encouraged and shamelessly egged on, for the first time in memory, by a president of the United States. Such people recite figures they have assembled regarding the costs of immigration: its effects on wages, government spending and, of course, our “culture,” which some might take as a cover word for race or ethnicity or religion.

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