Georgia Voters Hold the Future of Immigration Policy in Their Hands

Posted: Dec 25, 2020 12:01 AM
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Georgia Voters Hold the Future of Immigration Policy in Their Hands

Source: AP Photo/John Bazemore

Georgia voters will soon determine control of the U.S. Senate -- and with it, the future of America's immigration policy.

Incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue favor reducing immigration to boost wages and open up job opportunities for Georgia workers. Opponents Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff want to expand the number of immigrants America accepts annually and offer amnesty to illegal aliens already here illegally.

Polling data shows that Georgians overwhelmingly side with Loeffler and Perdue's position on immigration policy. But it remains to be seen whether the two Republicans will turn immigration into a wedge issue during the campaign's final weeks.

Immigration policy has always been a top issue for Georgia voters. And the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which produced unparalleled harm to small businesses and killed off numerous jobs, has only raised the stakes in this vital debate. Statewide unemployment soared in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns, reaching a record 12.6 percent in April.

As the national economy steadily recovers, that figure has since fallen to 4.5 percent but remains well above pre-pandemic lows of 3.1 percent. And with the number of new COVID-19 infections soaring across the state, the economic future of millions of Georgia workers is far from secure.

Competition from foreign laborers depresses the income of already struggling Georgians, fostering burdensome competition especially to those who lack a high-school diploma. An analysis by the economist George Borjas of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government concludes, between the years 1990 and 2010 immigration reduced the wages of high-school dropouts by 6.2 percent. College graduates, meanwhile, saw their earnings decline by 3.2 percent as a result of competition from foreign-born workers.

It comes as no surprise that most Georgians aren't too eager to see immigration levels rise anytime soon. A recent poll found that six in 10 voters support reductions to immigration during the economic hardships of the pandemic. Similarly, 56 percent believe that "limiting admission of new immigrants and guest workers will improve the chances of laid-off American workers being rehired." And two in three Georgia voters desire for their political leaders to focus on reducing immigration levels, bolstering border security, and strengthening immigration enforcement through DHS or ICE.

Both incumbent senators have listened to voters' wishes and are ready to sustain these views in the Senate if re-elected in January.

Perdue and Loeffler have both co-sponsored the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act -- a bill that would cut the legal number of admitted migrants by half over the next ten years. It would achieve this, in part, by ending family-based chain migration for relatives other than spouses and young children, and by eliminating the controversial visa lottery, which doles out 50,000 green cards almost at random with no consideration to an individual's merit or work ethic.

The two Democrats vying for Georgia's senate seats do not share voters' concerns. Warnock and Ossoff support Joe Biden's proposed amnesty for America's roughly 11 million illegal aliens and higher green card allotments for cheap foreign workers.

In the eye of the 2020 political storm, Georgia's runoff elections will ultimately determine which party controls the Senate. If Democrats are victorious in the Senate and the White House, Joe Biden will face little resistance in enacting his planned amnesty and immigration expansion. Only by keeping the Senate in Republican hands can Georgia voters stop this disaster -- and safeguard their own jobs.

Stone Washington is a member of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Project 21 black leadership network and holds a Juris Master degree from the Emory University School of Law. The Sandy Springs resident previously served as a journalism fellow at The Daily Caller and is an alumnus of the Heritage Foundation Young Leaders Program.

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