President Trump’s common-sense order to restrict new immigration at a time when a pandemic has tens of millions of Americans out of work is undoubtedly pro-worker, but that doesn’t make it “anti-business.”
There’s absolutely no risk of a labor shortage — quite the opposite — so there’s no need to import foreigners who would compete with Americans for jobs once the economy gets going again.
More or less unprompted, journalists have begun using this “anti-business” canard to promote the idea that we need to keep importing new foreign workers at a time when more than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
The facts, however, show that this is one case where the interests of workers and business owners are completely aligned.
For one thing, the President’s order does not apply to categories of immigration that are designed to address specific business needs. Temporary farm workers, highly skilled “O” visas, the vaunted H-1B visa that the tech industry uses to bring in tens of thousands of workers every year, and even the J-1 visa for seasonal academic exchange programs are all unaffected. Businesses have gotten every exemption they need to carry on as normal.
To the extent that immigration is restricted by the order, it mainly affects the issuance of green cards, which grant permanent residency status. In a normal year, America takes in hundreds of thousands of foreigners, the overwhelming majority of whom qualify solely because they have a relative already living here. Although they aren’t coming here on a work visa, most of them are still going to need jobs in order to meet the Trump administration’s enhanced self-sufficiency standards.
Temporary immigration restrictions will undoubtedly benefit American workers as our country emerges from the economic shutdowns necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The opposing case is so flimsy that The New York Times resorted to citing fringe libertarian economic theory to claim that increasing the labor supply actually increases wages.
It’s amazing how far The Times will go to attack a Trump policy. In less topsy-turvy times, the newspaper’s own Trump-hating economist, Paul Krugman, stated emphatically that “Immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That’s just supply and demand.”
In an economy with 26 million people looking for work, the case for pausing the issuance of new green cards is so obvious and common-sense that liberals have had to twist themselves into knots to come up with criticisms. They did the same thing when President Trump declared that he had “total authority” over the pace of re-opening, suddenly becoming strident defenders of states’ rights after spending the better part of the last century concentrating power in the federal government.
Come on — when’s the last time you heard a liberal complain about anything being “anti-business?” It’s so far outside their comfort zone that they clearly don’t comprehend their own arguments, because there’s nothing “anti-business” about the President’s temporary immigration restrictions.
There are 26 million freshly out-of-work Americans in the labor pool right now, all of whom have recent on-the-job experience somewhere. Of all the problems business owners face right now, a labor shortage is not one of them.
What businesses are going to need most as coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted is a ready supply of customers eager to spend — and that means getting those 26 million Americans back to their jobs as quickly as possible so they’ll have their regular incomes restored and start buying consumer goods that they haven’t been able to buy during the lockdown.
When we do reopen the economy, workers and businesses will have to work cooperatively to get the economy back to full health. President Trump is making sure that they have the right incentives to do that.