I haven’t posted much about immigration for quite some time. Frankly, I’ve been pretty demoralized by the subject. Both Democrats and Republicans have been stumbling over each other in a race to pander to the Hispanic vote. America is evolving into a place where anything goes, everything’s accepted and immigration is no different. Immigration laws are meaningless. Illegals roam the streets of sanctuary cities with impunity and Americans know it’s pointless to protest. No one will listen.
But immigration has suddenly become a hot topic for some rather bizarre reasons. It began with Donald Trump’s bigoted comments about Mexican immigrants. There’s a lot of valid reasons for opposing illegal immigration from Mexico, but claiming that the majority are criminals (aside from the fact that they’ve broken immigration laws), murderers and rapists simply isn’t valid – not even close. So what happens? As if on cue and as if to prove Trump’s point, some illegal Mexican criminal in San Francisco – a “sanctuary city” – randomly guns down some lady. I generally consider Trump a buffoon who revels basking in the limelight and is devoid of any political sense. But I am so disgusted with our immigration situation that I can actually see myself voting for him. Apparently, a lot of others feel the same way since Trump has been surging in the polls since making his immigration statement.
And then comes this piece that appeared on Reuters a couple of days ago and I thought that the earth must have tilted on its axis when I read it. Republicans actually questioning whether legal immigration needs to be scaled back! For decades, both parties have been big proponents of legal immigration, if for no other reason than to placate their deep-pocket corporate benefactors who use immigration to hold down wages and to swell the ranks of consumers for their products. But now it seems that some Republicans see an opportunity to tap into voters’ frustration with immigration policy. Or, as the writer proposes, perhaps they’re getting nervous that the immigrant population – traditionally Democratic voters – has grown to the point that it threatens the continued existence of the Republican party.
There are some statements in this article that I can’t let stand without comment:
“It could also complicate prospects for a comprehensive fix to the nation’s outdated immigration system …”
I want to scream every time I hear this! There is nothing broken or outdated about our immigration system. The problem is that our politicians are unwilling to secure the border and enforce our immigration laws. It makes them look bad in the eyes of Hispanic voters.
Since 1989, the United States has been letting in about 1 million new immigrants per year, a level comparable to the last great wave of European immigration at the turn of the 20th Century. The Census Bureau estimates there are now 43.3 million foreign-born residents in the United States and within 10 years immigrants will account for 15 percent of the population, a record high.
It’s worth noting here that, at the turn of the 20th century, the U.S. population was approximately 76 million people. Since then, it has quadrupled to 320 million. By the end of this century it will be 500 million. Virtually all of this growth has been due to immigration. America – a land of opportunity, amber waves of grain, mountains and fruited plains in 1900 – has been transformed into an overcrowded urban jungle where opportunity is a thing of the past for the majority of middle-class Americans. This isn’t 1900 any more. Where the Statue of Liberty once beckoned the huddled masses of the world, we now have our own huddled masses, stacked like cord wood in the inner cities where the “American Dream” has become a joke.
“… Jeb Bush, the front runner in the Republican race, says more legal immigrants are needed to boost economic growth while South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says they can help care for an aging population.”
Yes, immigration does boost macroeconomic growth, but it grows the labor force even more, and the net result is that, while corporations’ sales volumes grow, Americans are worse off. And the notion that immigrants can care for an aging population is a Ponzi scheme. The result is that those same immigrants will soon become an even larger, and probably poorer, aging population.
“Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has said higher levels of legal immigration would lead to lower levels of illegal immigration …”
Senator Paul gets the prize for stating the obvious.
“Economists have generally found that immigration has little to no effect on wages over the long term. Some argue that immigration has boosted overall wages because immigrants create more demand for goods and services and they generally do not directly compete with U.S.-born workers for the same jobs.”
The breach in logic here is astounding. If immigrants don’t compete with U.S.-born workers for jobs, then who do they compete with? The previous wave of immigrants? That’s the implication. So if those immigrants are then pushed out of their jobs by the new arrivals, then those immigrants now have to compete with U.S.-born workers for their jobs. And the suggestion that immigrants drive up wages by creating more demand is preposterous. That could only be true if they consume more than the average American. Because their wages are low, they obviously consume far less, but still swell the ranks of the labor force, driving down wages. Like everything else, labor responds to the laws of supply and demand. Increase the supply and it puts downward pressure on wages.
In the long run, immigration simply feeds into the inverse relationship between population density and per capita consumption, driving up unemployment and poverty. Isn’t that exactly what we’ve been seeing happen for decades?
Forgive my cynicism, but I don’t trust anything that any political candidate says, especially if it runs counter to the wishes of their corporate benefactors. But it is encouraging to hear some Republicans beginning to question the wisdom of the immigration policy that will assuredly ruin our country over the long run.