By Joe Guzzardi
January 31, 2014
Even though immigration reform is his top domestic priority, President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address devoted only a few words to the contentious issue. But the little that President Obama said was a misleading collection of half-truths intended to convert reform skeptics into supporters.
Since 20 percent of Americans identify the economy as their major concern, Obama appealed directly to them when he said that if the nation is serious about “economic growth,” it should “heed the call of business leaders, faith leaders and law enforcement, and fix our broken immigration system….” House Speaker John Boehner reiterated Obama’s philosophy when he released his immigration “principles” at the GOP annual retreat earlier this week.
Let’s clarify one thing: the immigration system is “broken” because its laws haven’t been enforced for nearly 30 years. Worse, existing laws have been scotched through various ongoing Obama executive actions that removed certain illegal immigrant youths, parents of minor children and military family members from deportation.
The question before us is whether expanding immigration by legalizing 11 million plus illegal immigrants and adding millions more overseas workers during the next decade would, as Obama pledged, help the economy.
According to the administration’s preferred analysis, anonymously attributed in the SOU to “independent economists,” immigration reform will grow the nation’s economy. Naturally, adding tens of millions new permanent residents would increase gross national product. But the more important per- capita GNP would, predicts the Congressional Budget Office, decline along with American’s average wages. Passing so-called immigration reform would mean a larger number of Americans out of work since they would be competing with and often losing out to newly legalized immigrants for jobs, entering the welfare system and struggling to make ends meet.
Harvard University economist George Borjas acknowledges legal and illegal immigrants have boosted the U.S. economy’s size since 1990 by roughly 11 percent, or $1.6 trillion. But after examining how that extra wealth is distributed, Borjas found that 98.7 percent of the $1.6 trillion is kept by the immigrants themselves. The resulting cost to American-born workers is about $1, 396 in lost wages and immigrant subsidies. Benefiting from the lower cost labor that an immigration bill would create are the wealthy who could then hire cheaper cooks, gardeners, nannies and factory workers.
That immigration redistributes income to the receiving society is well known and undisputed among economists. Although immigration makes the aggregate economy larger, the actual net benefit accruing to natives is small, calculated Borjas, equal to an estimated two-tenths of 1 percent of GDP. There is little evidence indicating that legal or illegal immigration creates significant net gains for native-born Americans. Mass immigration’s biggest winners are businesses that employ immigrant labor as well as the new immigrants who arrive from countries less well developed than the U.S.
The White House and Congress, through their immigration advocacy, have declared open war on American workers and the American middle class. Blanket amnesty hurts all Americans. Few want it; only 4 percent according to a recent Gallup poll. Yet the administration and both congressional chambers ignore the common American good and inexplicably press relentlessly on with their own destructive agenda. Although their political futures may be at stake, House and Senate leadership have inexplicably put amnesty legislation ahead of Americans’ best interests.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]