As our nation slowly begins the process of opening back up from the quarantine, the grim economic reality of shuttering millions of businesses for months is settling in. Combined with the health crisis associated with the pandemic, our country now faces another national crisis: unemployment.
According to recent statistics from the Department of Labor, U.S. payrolls fell by 22 million jobs last month, which is a decade’s worth of job gains vanishing only months into 2020. The unemployment rate for April is likely to spike to 16%, by far the highest number since the Great Depression.
While our economic recovery will not happen overnight, the government can ensure millions of Americans have the best chance at finding jobs for years to come by significantly lowering immigration numbers.
President Trump announced a 60-day freeze in April on issuing green cards to immigrants who want to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. It was a necessary action, in part to curb the spread of COVID-19, but a longer freeze and eventual reduction in immigration numbers will help Americans find badly needed jobs for years to come.
It appears extending the freeze already has some advocates in Congress. As reported by Fox News:
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is set to introduce legislation that would codify and extend President Trump’s executive order to restrict some immigrants from entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News has learned.
Daines’ bill would temporarily extend the immigration ban until 60 days after the coronavirus national emergency order is lifted, with the goal of giving U.S. workers an advantage to fill necessary jobs before immigration restarts. Trump’s executive order is currently slated to expire in mid-June — although Trump has previously hinted the ban could potentially go for a “lot longer” than that.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our job market is fragile, and periods of relatively low unemployment do not justify importing millions of foreign workers. Decisions we make now that will determine how Americans recover from the coronavirus pandemic for years to come.
Senator Daines’ proposal to extend the immigration freeze is a step in the right direction, but Congress should take up the task of permanently reducing immigration levels to stabilize the U.S. population and ensure that Americans are first in line for badly needed jobs.