Trump, the R’s, and immigration

August 19th, 2015 at 7:38 am

Every once and a while I feel compelled to collect thoughts about immigration, a difficult and touchy subject, with grains of truth scatter about along with gobs of non-truths. Over at PE.

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One comment in reply to "Trump, the R’s, and immigration"

  1. Smith says:

    Corrections needed.

    a) U.S. citizens never reaps long term benefits of a larger economy because of the exploitation of immigrants, both low and high skill workers, permanently suppressing wages. Ironically it is the required “employer sponsorship” that’s supposed to protect the domestic workforce, doing just the opposite by eliminating labor rights, most at fault. Immigrant workers don’t just have lesser labor rights, they basically have no labor rights. They get deported if the boss lays them off. The defeated and corrupt “reform” bill for example would give H1Bs three months to find a new jobs instead of immediate self-deportation as if that would really create mobility or freedom. The temporary status, employer sponsorship, causing complete lack of bargaining power, combined with significant size, permanently suppresses wages, there is no long term benefit.

    b.) Pointing to education as the source of employment problems for low skilled workers seems somewhat off to say the least. BLS data shows 2/3 of all job openings through 2022 do not require more than a high school diploma, and 47% of those jobs, or close to 1/3 require less than a high school diploma. In fact, that explains why new immigrants are able to compete successfully with the domestic workforce, few skills are required. If the native U.S. workforce had 100% high school diplomas, or even 100% college diplomas, they would still lose jobs to immigrants who accept lower wages. Again, high school graduate skills are not needed for 1/3 of all openings, so says the BLS.

    c) Saying that it is only the lowest skilled, and least educated, who thus have the highest unemployment rates and poverty rates, who are impacted the most by immigration seems a bit disconnected as the goal of labor policy should be to help rather than hurt those most in need. Don’t mean to sound harsh, but am I missing something?

    d) Trump’s arguments are racist and inflammatory. However, any enlightened policy should acknowledge the problems with the Mexican and Central American economies, justice and political system, and address ways to move them towards reform and alleviate conditions on our border (meaning neighboring states) and effect change with such a significant trading partner (which gives us leverage).

    e) David Card’s research looks very flawed and is deeply controversial. He uses wage differentials as a sign of different markets when the differential is most likely an effect of DNWR (downwardly nominal wage rigidities). He says immigrant A isn’t competing with native worker B because A is being paid less. Yeah, that’s the point. He says different rates mean they must have different skills. Nonsense, they just can’t cut B’s wage. (see Krugman and austerity and Europe for how strong DNWR can be)

    It is not immigration per se that is harmful, it is mostly the exploitation that hurts. But sheer numbers are also important too. The defeated bill would have expanded and legalized the exploitation. Allowing certain sectors to become naturally selected targets, like farm workers, construction workers, and high tech, is also harmful. Narrowing diversity by eliminating the diversity lottery also doesn’t seem like an advance.

    End the exploitation of the current system instead of expanding it.

    Does Facebook spend millions lobbying on immigration to improve the welfare of the U.S. or to lower tech labor costs? If your answer is the former, I have a bridge for sale crossing the East River which we should talk about.


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