By Joe Guzzardi
May 12, 2017
When the average American is asked about immigration, his default reply is that the illegal kind must be immediately ended, but the legal type is fine. Not only is legal immigration acceptable to most Americans, some refer to it as essential to the nation’s vitality.
Too few know that the United States has accepted an average of more than one million legal, work-authorized immigrants for the last quarter century – that’s 25 million people that have entered a shrinking job market and added to a soaring population.
Although U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t an average American, he’s as clueless about immigration reality as the man in the street.
In his recent interview with The Economist, President Trump displayed a shocking lack of understanding about the short- and long-term effects of adding one million plus immigrants every year. Asked directly twice if he wanted to reduce legal immigration, President Trump gave these responses, “No, no, no,” and, for emphasis, “no, no, no, no.” President Trump then proceeded to compound his misunderstanding when he said that – in a cave to the agriculture lobby – he supports more ag visas, and a vaguely defined merit-based immigration system.
For immigration hawks, President Trump’s interview confirmed their worst fears which first cropped up during his campaign. Specifically worrisome was President Trump’s statement on the stump that he envisioned a “big beautiful door” in the middle of his proposed Southwest border wall – indirectly confirming that he wants more legal immigration.
More immigration is indefensible on economic and environmental fronts. On the economy, a 2016 White House report, titled “The Long-Term Decline in Prime-Age Male Employment,” found that foreign-born prime-age men continue to participate in the labor force at higher rates than the native-born. A separate analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2007 and November 2014 showed that during the period studied all net employment gains went to immigrants.
Immigrant employment exceeded pre-recession levels, but American-born employment didn’t return to pre-recession levels. During a comparable period, December 2007 to June 2015, women were as hard hit as men: all the net employment gains went to foreign-born females.
Looking at immigration through the environmental prism is equally alarming. U.S. population growth matches that of Third World countries. The Census Bureau predicts that by 2050 U.S. population will hit 429 million, an unsustainable increase from today’s 325 million. President Bill Clinton’s 1996 Council on Sustainable Development acknowledged immigration’s adverse impact on the ecology when it concluded that “reducing immigration levels is a necessary part of population stabilization and the drive toward sustainability.”
Two decades have passed since President Clinton’s council rang the warning bell about immigration’s role in environmental degradation, yet Congress remains on autopilot. No substantive changes to the incoming one million plus annual total are on the horizon.
In what now looks like campaign malarkey, then-candidate Trump promised to “reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers.” Such a policy would, Trump continued, put “American workers first.”
More people exacerbate the social challenges America faces – unemployment, poverty, income inequality, crime. President Trump was right about immigration on the campaign trail, but wrong since he entered the White House.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]. Find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.