President Trump has slammed Democrats’ de facto open-borders policies as a “betrayal” of everyday citizens. Unfettered immigration, he warns, “brings in millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs, wages, and opportunities against the most vulnerable Americans.”
His analysis is spot on. But the president should still do more to curtail legal immigration and aggressively confront illegal immigration.
The president’s base cares about immigration more than any other issue. If President Trump doesn’t deliver the cuts his supporters demand, there is the possibility that many may stay home on Election Day this year.
To energize those supporters, the president could endorse Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) mandatory E-Verify bill and Senator David Perdue’s (R-Ga.) RAISE Act. Both proposals are enormously popular with voters in general and Republicans in particular.
As a candidate, Trump vowed to provide Americans with better job opportunities and higher wages. There’s no denying the economy has performed well since his election. November’s official unemployment rate clocked in at 3.5 percent—the lowest in more than five decades.
That figure, however, doesn’t tell the full story. It only counts the roughly 6 million Americans who are seeking employment but can’t find work.
It doesn’t include the 4 million Americans who are working part-time but want full-time positions. Nor does it include the 5 million men and women who want jobs, but aren’t in the labor force—often because they’re discouraged by the lack of opportunities in their areas.
Until the jobs magnet is switched off, illegal aliens will keep coming.
Even workers with steady jobs haven’t seen much real wage growth. Today, Americans take home larger paychecks than they did 40 years ago, but their purchasing power—or how far their money goes—has barely budged. After accounting for inflation, average hourly wages have remained virtually stagnant since the 1970s.
Decades of high immigration have exacerbated this hardship. Immigration has added 43 million people to the U.S. population since 1990, according to a new analysis. Today, immigrants make up roughly 17 percent of the total workforce.
Illegal aliens represent a large chunk of those laborers. At least 7.6 million foreigners work in the United States illegally, accounting for one in every 20 workers.
Companies often prefer to hire foreign-born workers, as they’re less demanding than American born workers. Employers particularly take advantage of illegal aliens, who are unlikely to file complaints or contact law enforcement. Four in 10 illegal workers have earned less than the minimum wage.
Competition from foreign workers depresses wages for all Americans, especially in low-skilled and blue-collar professions. The average native-born high school dropout would earn up to $1,500 more each year without competition from immigrants, according to one Harvard economist.
These Americans need relief. So far, Donald Trump hasn’t provided it. He and his advisors have tried a series of reforms, including new restrictions on asylum petitioners.
These measures are welcome, but they don’t address the biggest driver of illegal immigration.
Impoverished people around the world migrate here to find jobs. Even back-breaking, minimum-wage positions pay more in a day than some migrants could earn in a month in their home countries. For instance, 97 percent of recently deported Salvadorans say they came to work, according to Pew Research.
Until this jobs magnet is switched off, illegal aliens will keep coming.
On the campaign trail, Trump said the federal government should require every employer to use E-Verify, a free online system that checks newly hired workers’ legal status. But the president hasn’t vocally advocated such a policy since taking office.
Chuck Grassley’s “Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act” would require employers to vet all new hires through E-Verify—and strictly punish corporations who don’t comply.
Grassley’s bill would almost single-handedly solve the border crisis. It is enormously popular with voters of all stripes. Midterm exit polls show that 91 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of Independents, and even 55 percent of Democrats support mandatory E-Verify.
President Trump also campaigned on reducing the historically high rate of legal immigration. But as president, he’s pushed policies that don’t go far enough to fulfill that commitment. His latest immigration proposal wouldn’t reduce the overall number of green cards.
David Perdue’s RAISE Act would slash overall legal immigration by about 50 percent, to roughly 500,000 annually. Eight in 10 Republicans favor letting in fewer than half-a-million legal immigrants each year.
Both bills deserve the president’s full-throated endorsement.
In his inaugural address, President Trump declared that the American people “will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action.” The easiest way for him to retain the White House is to get even tougher on immigration—this year and in his second term.