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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Let us avert our eyes from the president’s display of instability in Phoenix. We knew what to expect. When Donald Trump occasionally goes “presidential,” as he did the day before on Afghanistan, a tantrum is sure to follow. You could set your watch by it.

Many Republicans are quietly planning for a post-Trump era, when public debate may again center on policies and not on wacky politics. Democrats must do so, as well, and a good start would be an issue on which Trump has great traction with the public. That would be immigration.

Republicans oppose illegal immigration. Polls show that Democrats and independents, though not so obsessed over unlawful immigration, are plenty concerned about it, too. The operative word here is “illegal,” but the entire program needs a going-over.

The labor market is a market, and the entry of large numbers of low-skilled workers can’t help but reduce the prospects for low-skilled natives and immigrants here legally. The cheap-labor right and diversity left often go into contortions dismissing the laws of supply and demand — and fail.

George Borjas of Harvard offers the most cleareyed view of mass immigration’s impact. “The influx of immigrants can potentially be a net good for the nation, increasing the total wealth of the population,” he writes. But that wealth is not evenly divided. “Somebody’s lower wage is always somebody else’s higher profit.”

Immigrants admitted in the past two decades have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by 25 percent, according to Borjas’ research. As a result, annual earnings by high-school dropouts have fallen by between $800 and $1,500 a year.

Bernie Sanders gets this. And so did Barack Obama. In fact, federal immigration officials under Trump are removing fewer of the undocumented than they did during the slowest years of Obama’s presidency, Politico reports. Arrests have soared under Trump, but arrests don’t equal deportations.

One reason for this may be that fewer people are trying to sneak across the border in the wake of Trump’s harsh rhetoric. But suffice it to say, Obama was on the case. In addition, Obama faced opposition from diversity advocates in his own party, who attacked him as “deporter in chief.”

Americans across the political spectrum generally support a generous immigration program, as long as it’s orderly. Trump’s disordered responses — from his ethnic smears to plans for wasting colossal sums of taxpayer money on a wall with Mexico — give Democrats a great opportunity to support humane and more intelligent alternatives.

They may start by giving a respectful hearing to a new Senate Republican proposal for immigration reform. A points-based system favoring immigrants with needed skills makes great economic sense. Australia and Canada do it.

That does not preclude admitting a good number of low-skilled people rich in ambition and work ethic. Just adjust the numbers for changing economic conditions.

“Chain migration” now accounts for two-thirds of legal immigration and needs curbing. Of course, immigrants’ spouses and young children should be admitted. But rules prioritizing extended family members reduce opportunities for those from other places and possessing higher skills.

Canadians also have mixed feelings about their large immigration program, but enforcement of the law helps maintain support for it. When more than 3,000 people, mostly Haitian asylum-seekers, crossed into Canada from the United States in July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned against entering the country “irregularly.”

“There are rigorous immigration and customs rules that will be followed,” he said. “Make no mistake.”

Democrats must also make no mistake that immigration rules will be followed. And their politicians need not fear accusations of racism from some on the left (and right). They can thank Trump for giving them space.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at

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4 responses to “Democrats Must Sign On To A More Coherent Immigration Policy”

  1. idamag says:

    Years ago, they did start the immigration reform that might have worked. They were requiring employers to show proof that those working for them had green cards and numbers. Whether it is because INS doesn’t have the staff to enforce it, or powerful people have thwarted it, I do not know. I knew a man, who came here, illegally for years. He finally got a green card. He told me he had his name in to come on a work visa for years. You have to be guaranteed a job. So, if someone like Tyson Foods calls a procurer , AKA coyote and says, “I need 150 workers,” and the coyote gets him 150 illegals, then people like my friend has no other alternative but to come here illegally. We have meat packing plants, farmers and ranchers who use illegals all the time. I know you can probably guess the answer to this question: Why doesn’t the meat packers, farmers, and ranchers get their help from those already legally on the list?

    • Mariajguild says:

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    • Eleanore Whitaker says:

      Ida, employers won’t stop hiring immigrants without proper papers to prove they are here legally. That’s what E-Verify is for. This program was original begun in 1997 by President Clinton. It has undergone upgrades several times to address employer loopholes.

      It takes only a few minutes to check out a new hire’s immigration status. INS doesn’t even need to be involved. But, employers don’t do the background checks for a reason. They need the cheapest labor in the US they can get.

      I’ll give you a perfect example of how these employers break the laws: First, they are not the ones doing the hiring. Here in NJ, several major corporations use recruiters to hire these employers know are not even legal themselves. But these recruiters have ties to Mexican and Central American cheap labor.

      So the recruiters hire for 90 days and then fire. You can guess why. Recruiter commissions from these big time corporations.

      To say these undocumented employees are not exploited is an understatement. I know for a fact 2NJ companies who use these bogus recruiters do so to avoid paying employer taxes. But the recruiters pay none either even though they hire and fire. When they fire these employers as part of their commission “turnover” since these employees are undocumented, they cannot collect unemployment so they go on SS.

      The blame for illegal immigrants lies entirely with these employers who are getting away with not hiring and then paying a straight commission to recruiter they know are undocumented businesses.

      The worst is what these recruiters who hire and fire to make their 90 day commissions do. They inveigle the employers to provide mini van transportation and then tell these employees they are not allowed any time off “for any reason.” That includes a death in the family or of their own child. They get NO benefits beause neither the employer or recruiters are willing to pay for it. Pure profit.

  2. johninPCFL says:

    So Orange is arresting more but deporting fewer. Wow. Can’t pay for secret service, but has no problem wasting money on jail cells.

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