President Donald Trump and certain members of the U.S. Senate are now going after legal immigration. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton tells Politico he and Georgia Senator David Perdue are going to propose legislation to make it harder for foreigners to get a visa:
“Donald Trump was the only one who saw that most Americans don’t like our current immigration system,” Cotton said in an interview with POLITICO on Monday. “This is just the area of politics where I think leaders and elites are most disconnected from the people. Not just Republicans but in both parties, in business, in the media, in the academy, culture and so forth.”
The Arkansas senator has already spoken with Trump and key White House officials about his immigration proposals, and says the administration has been receptive. And Cotton dismisses research that shows the economic boon of immigrants, including low-skilled workers, by paraphrasing George Orwell: “Only an intellectual could believe something so stupid.”
I’ve written about immigration here at Hot Air for a while, including pointing out just how restrictive current U.S. policy on the issue is. The State Department reported in 2015 only 185K immediate relatives visas and about 198K family sponsored preference visas were handed out the year before. The employment-based preference was just over 21K. This doesn’t even count the fact immigration from each country was limited to about 26K total.
But this doesn’t stop Cotton and Perdue from saying foreigners need to face even more immigration restrictions. Via Politico.
The bill also dumps the diversity visa lottery, which allots about 50,000 visas per year for citizens of countries that traditionally have low rates of immigration to the United States. And it would limit refugees to 50,000 annually — in line with levels outlined in Trump’s controversial executive order.
“Sen. Cotton and I are taking action to fix the shortcomings in our legal immigration system,” Perdue said. “Returning to our historically normal levels of legal immigration will help improve the quality of American jobs and wages.”
All told, the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States under the bill — named the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act — would plummet by 40 percent in the first year and by 50 percent over a decade, according to analysis by Cotton’s aides.
Cotton’s desire to limit immigration is supported AEI’s Ramesh Ponnuru, who guesses it could help people looking for lower wage jobs.
Raising the minimum wage risks depressing job growth. Reducing low-skilled immigration would harm the life prospects of many foreigners who won’t get to come here, and very modestly reduce our living standards on average. But it would probably also help low-wage workers and promote assimilation and social cohesion.
The key word is is “probably” because we don’t really know whether it will or not. Ponnuru’s comments also go against an AEI Political Report from this month, which shows 63% of people believe immigrants make the U.S. stronger. It should also be pointed out almost 14% of people living in the U.S. were born in another country, and Pew Research guesses it will hit a “whopping” (note sarcasm) 15% in…2025. That would be the highest it’s ever been since 1890, which was also around 15%.
But The Week columnist Shihka Dalmia opines immigrants really have helped the U.S. become a better nation.
There isn’t an economy in the world — now or ever — that could have endured such massive blows without a major hit to its people. But the worst that has happened in America is stagnant wages. Remarkably, our quality of life has continued to improve.
One big reason is that globalization has given America foreign-born tech workers without whom the Information Revolution is unimaginable. They run almost half of Silicon Valley’s startups, transforming the way Americans live, play, work, and conduct business. Some years back, Reason.tv interviewed random people on the street and asked them if they’d give up the internet for a million dollars. It was hardly a scientific poll, but there were no takers. And with good reason.
The internet has not only put free music, social media, and entertainment at everyone’s finger tips, but free e-platforms that have radically lowered the costs of doing all kinds of business. Over two million independent merchants sell their wares on Amazon without any major marketing expenditure of their own. Over 6 percent of retail in America is conducted via e-commerce and is projected to touch 20 percent by the end of the decade. AirBnB, the homesharing service, and Uber, the car service, have allowed people to turn their personal effects into money-generating assets, boosting middle-class incomes. The vast majority of AirBnB hosts in Chicago have household incomes of less than $100,000. And the typical Uber driver is married with kids, with a bachelors degree and a car that he uses to supplement a full- or part-time job with a gig that rakes in, on average, $400 a week from 15 hours of driving. Over the last two years, Uber drivers in Chicago have earned more than $250 million.
So yes, wages are stagnant, but there are plenty of ways for people to earn extra money. As things become more and more decentralized, the options will only increase. If the workers don’t exist (because of immigration limits) innovation will stagnate, and another country will take over as the “global leader” of innovation. This is what immigration hawks, like Perdue and Cotton, fail to realize.