Trump Really Doesn’t Understand Immigration

One of the primary driving forces behind economic growth in the United States over the past 200+ years has been legal immigrants. They have filled in the gaps in employment and taken jobs Americans can’t or won’t do (like now with agricultural work). They have been the driving force around many small local businesses (like the neighborhood stores, ethnic restaurants and food manufacturers, and trades). They have been driven technological advances at our college and universities and spun off those advances as growth tech giants (look at the leaders in Silicon Valley or around MIT). And they have filled holes in employment when growth could no longer be sustained by the local population (about where we are now with our continued growth and low unemployment).

So for our president to suggest we lower the number of green cards now is incredibly behind the curve in our growth cycle. We are going to need additional people to fill the jobs that are being created. And yes we’ll need a lot of educated people to fill those jobs and those people will certainly want to emigrate to the US. But so do thousands of others who can take on the labor jobs in construction and agriculture where we are obviously short handed.

“This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens,” Mr. Trump said at a White House event alongside two Republican senators sponsoring the bill.

I think just the opposite will happen…we still stunt our competitive edge. This is in fact the 21st century but the president is still stuck in an early 20th century paradigm (and by the way the early 20th century industrial engine was often fueled by immigrants as well).

Oh, and they have to speak English. I think he will be surprised at how many people he thinks he can prevent from coming to the US do in fact speak English. From the Middle East, from Asia, From Africa. It isn’t the limiting factor that he thinks it is. But it is a ludicrous requirement anyway. One hundred years ago there were more German newspapers in Milwaukee than English ones. Polish and Irish were spoken through out the city. My paternal grandfather spoke nothing but German when he came here…my maternal great grandparents Irish. It didn’t stop them from becoming part of America. It didn’t prevent America from being great.

No doubt immigration laws as well as all other laws should be examined from time to time and tweaked as needed. But not everybody is buying his plan:

But Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, noted that agriculture and tourism were his state’s top two industries. “If this proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state’s economy, which relies on this immigrant work force,” he said. “Hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers,” he added, “will tell you this proposal to cut legal immigration in half would put their business in peril.”

And certainly he is putting economic growth at risk…if he wants to bring more manufacturing back to the US, he’d better have people to work on the shop floor.

Cutting legal immigration would make it harder for Mr. Trump to reach the stronger economic growth that he has promised. Bringing in more workers, especially during a time of low unemployment, increases the size of an economy. Critics said the plan would result in labor shortages, especially in lower-wage jobs that many Americans do not want.

The National Immigration Forum, an advocacy group, said the country was already facing a work force gap of 7.5 million jobs by 2020. “Cutting legal immigration for the sake of cutting immigration would cause irreparable harm to the American worker and their family,” said Ali Noorani, the group’s executive director.

btw: if we were concerned about speaking the local language from day one, you’d be reading this in Ojibwa.


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