From the moment he descended that escalator in 2015, President Donald Trump has been a most unconventional politician. After a lifetime in the private sector, he sought big, dramatic results where career politicians would rather “own the issue” than solve the problem. As Trump said in his inaugural address, “Now arrives the hour of action.” Conquering the world of Manhattan real estate was one thing, but few believed he could achieve quick results in the slow-moving swamp in Washington.
On the president’s signature issue of immigration, however, the results have been dramatic. Last week Bloomberg reported that, despite a massive spike in unemployment because of coronavirus, employers are paying higher wages to recruit new hires, particularly blue-collar workers. This would seem to defy the laws of supply and demand, and economists quoted in the report were befuddled as to the cause. That is revealing, because the answer couldn’t be more obvious.
One of the primary reasons working-class jobs are paying more is because President Trump has dramatically reduced the immigration spigot that has brought cheap labor and dragged down wages. For all the criticism the president has received for his support of strict immigration enforcement, one of the results has been a tightening of the labor supply.
When that happens, the outcome is inevitable: companies have no alternative but to offer higher pay to attract the employees they need to operate. That is a win for Americans seeking work, and a sorely needed win for the country given the body blow the pandemic delivered to our economy.
The great hypocrisy in all this comes from those who oppose such immigration controls, yet in the same breath claim to fight for American workers. Those two concepts are incompatible. If you are anti-borders, then you are against higher wages and more jobs for American citizens. Compare the recent good hiring news with the landscape before Trump assumed office. Approximately 8 million illegal aliens 16 or older held jobs in the formal economy. As of 2014, 70 percent of all net job gains since 2000 have gone to foreign-born residents.
The important factor in those pre-Trump years was a permissiveness on both legal and illegal immigration from those steering the ship of government. When the recession of 2008 hit, we should have had a national plan to get Americans back to work that included the kind of immigration controls Trump has since implemented. Instead we got DACA made into law by presidential fiat, increased reliance on foreign skilled workers, and a general preference for cheap overseas labor over American citizens eager for work.
Even with the incontrovertible evidence that immigration enforcement drives up wages, there is relentless opposition from the media, from Congress, and from the courts. Lavishly funded progressive legal groups cherry-pick the most left-leaning courts to obtain injunctions and block Trump’s immigration platform. Radical anti-borders congressmen publicly smear immigration enforcement officials as heartless racists. The agenda-driven media frames the whole issue as simply being mean to foreigners who look different than us.
These activists see themselves as champions of the little guy, the oppressed. In reality, they are serving—either wittingly or unwittingly—as useful stooges for Big Business and entrenched politicians who benefit from unfettered immigration while working class Americans suffer.
Politicians who fight for an America without borders have veered wildly off-course from their intended role as public servants. They have been put in a position of trust and responsibility to safeguard the interests of America and its citizens first, everything else a distant second. These officials too often invert those priorities and address the interests of foreign nationals at the expense of their own constituents.
When America is at or near full employment, our economy is serving the interests of our citizens, and our borders are secure, we will be in a better position to look beyond our borders and help those who seek a better life. Until then, we need to focus on our myriad problems at home and our citizens who are suffering.
President Trump has his priorities organized correctly when it comes to immigration. Secure the border, responsibly manage the labor supply, and American citizens—particularly racial minorities who often occupy lower-income positions—will benefit from more opportunities and higher wages. That is the embodiment of a government of, by, and for the people.
Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.