By Joe Guzzardi
Januray 28, 2015
The White House has launched an aggressive, but deceitful campaign to sell President Obama’s executive action amnesty to a disbelieving and resistant American public.
To support its questionable claims that amnesty will help the economy and boost American workers’ wages, the White House posted a map on its website that breaks down the details for each individual state. The map will be supplemented by vibrant flashcards that make the case for amnesty on a state-by-state basis. Broadly, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors estimates that Obama’s unilateral and unconstitutional amnesty will increase U.S. GDP by 0.4 percent and will also cut the federal deficit by $25 billion during the next decade. White House economists also assert that American workers will not be displaced although obviously if immigrants will be paying taxes, they’ll have to be employed.
Since California is home to the nation’s largest illegal immigrant population, approximately three million, the White House logically kicked off its flashcard series with the Golden State. With graphics that look like they came from Disneyland, the California card alleges that Obama’s amnesty will create a stronger economy with an $11.7 billion GDP increase over the next decade.
Most Americans have only a superficial understanding of economics. Obama is gambling that their limited knowledge will make it easier to convert them from amnesty skeptics to supporters.
Here’s an Economic 101 primer to help expose the deceptions in the White House’s logic. A bigger economy is not necessarily a better economy. Harvard Professor George Borjas’ research found that at current levels of nearly one million immigrants added to the economy each year, the number of legal permanent immigrants admitted annually, does indeed increase GDP. But almost all of the increases accrue to the immigrants themselves in the form of salaries. The beneficiaries then are the immigrants and their employers who profit from lower wages paid out. On the other hand, American workers who are either displaced or remain stuck with flat earnings, lose—especially low-skilled, blue collar laborers. Borjas found little evidence that more immigration, either legal or illegal, creates large net gains for native-born Americans. Illegal immigration reduces Americans’ wages by an estimated $99 to $118 billion a year while it generates corporate gains of $107 to $128 billion.
At least one administration official acknowledges that Borjas is on solid ground—President Obama! In his 2006 autobiography, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Obama wrote that while a large influx of low-skilled workers may provide some advantages to the economy, it also “threatens to depress further the wages of blue collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”
For years, Americans have heard that increased immigration helps them. But since 1965, more than 40 million immigrants have entered the U.S. For the five-decade period, wages have stagnated and America’s working poor have suffered. Jobs have been created but mostly in the low-paying service sectors. Nearly 18 million Americans can’t find full time employment. Expanding the labor pool, as Obama’s amnesty would do, presents another challenge to them, and is inconsistent with the president’s pledge to lift middle class Americans’ fortunes. Hispanic and black Americans lose the most. In short, immigration advocates can’t point to indisputable facts that adding foreign-born workers at the pace of one million annually has helped citizens.
Obama’s executive order is Beltway and Chamber of Commerce-driven. Despite the fanfare surrounding Obama’s amnesty, it presents the average American with another hurdle in his pursuit of economic security.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]