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We Need More Immigrants

Don Rose 27 June 2018 One Comment

It’s clear after last week that Donald Trump does not really want comprehensive immigration legislation. After he was forced to cave on his inhumane policy of separating children from parents, the House came up with two bills–one conservative, the other “moderate.” He endorsed both, causing great confusion among his disciples. The conservative bill failed, as expected, and Speaker Paul Ryan delayed a vote on the other.

   Recognizing immigration as his best issue, Trump then proclaimed that Congress should “waste” no more time on immigration before the November mid-term elections when he would summon up a “red wave” of anti-immigrant sentiment and save the GOP from losing the House.

   It was becoming obvious that he never really wanted a bill, despite his mantra that we have the worst immigration program in history–maybe even prehistory. He made several disastrous attempts to stymie immigration, such as his Muslim/travel ban and rescinding DACA, Obama’s popular path to citizenship for “dreamers,” but never offered his own comprehensive bill. One wonders whether his administration is competent enough to draft complex legislation.

    It’s easier to rage about illegal immigration, gaining applause by spewing misinformation and outright lies, than to work at fixing problems in the system. Just build that wall, stupid, and have Mexico pay for it.

    From the start he ranted about Mexico “sending us” rapists, murderers and drugs–despite government statistics showing that violent crime by both legal and undocumented immigrants is substantially lower than native-born citizens. But he always manages to find a heinous crime committed by an undocumented Latino and tars all immigrants with it.


   He keeps lying about “millions swarming past our borders” and “infesting” the nation–blaming Democrats for encouraging it, even accusing Nancy Pelosi of supporting the notorious MS-13 gang. Will enough people believe those libels and let Republicans keep control of the House?

    The fact is we need more–not less–immigration to keep this nation thriving and sustain essential programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Our national birth- and fertility-rates are declining at the same time that SS has begun paying out more than it takes in. Medicare will become insolvent–not bankrupt–in 2026 and SS in 2034 when it may pay only 77 percent of benefits.

   Social Security actuaries estimated back in 2007 that about two-thirds of undocumented workers paid into the system but received no benefits. If more were citizens they would receive more benefits but pay in even more, thus aiding solvency. The Congressional Budget Office estimated if all undocumented workers became citizens they would pay $48 billion more in overall taxes while increasing the cost of public services by $23 billion, for a net gain of $25 billion–even more in today’s economy.

   The obvious solution is more workers paying taxes as boomers retire and live longer, but we will have fewer, not more, because our fertility rate has been below the “replacement” rate since 1971 and is now at an all-time low. The answer is increasing immigration. The net economic effect would be positive.

   Trump’s inflaming xenophobia and racism, however, could eventually bankrupt our system and make America broke again.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

Matewan Commemorative Plaque, from an immigrant labor issue in West Virginia

One Comment »

  • John Powers said:

    Completely disingenuous Don. Chuck Schumer guaranteed a filibuster, and Trump took him at his word. Here is Chuck shirking responsibility for making good law

    “There are so many obstacles to legislation and when the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense,” Schumer told reporters. “Legislation is not the way to go here when it’s so easy for the president to sign it.”

    Complete irresponsible. Schumer could help make law, but wants to score political points rather than helping immigrants. Terrible.

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