Immigration is hardly a new policy issue in the United States, but it appears to have magnified during President Obama’s second term and the rise of Donald Trump. The debate over immigration generally centers on illegal immigration, but recently backlash against legal immigration has made its way into Congress and the White House.
If Congress and the White House implement any immigration policy, they should be admitting more legal immigrants for the following reasons:
Immigration has historically driven our country.
America has historically been a nation of immigrants. Despite its hostility towards certain immigrants, we’ve always been seen as a safe haven for people fleeing famines, wars, revolutions, or periods of economic devastation. Foreign immigrants have brought over specific labor skills as well as elements of their own cultures that have brought wonders to America, and we need to continue to allow them to be productive and to improve their lives. Critics can try to revise history to argue that immigration has been a trivial factor in our country’s success, but it’s hard to imagine how our nation would be today without several centuries of immigration.
Immigration has significant economic benefits.
Nearly all economists agree that immigration has expansive economic benefits, and the research and data supports this claim. When masses of foreigners bring over their labor skills to our domestic market, they fill up important jobs, apply a diverse set of skills, increase our labor supply and increase our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Immigrants often take jobs that natives traditionally leave, like manual jobs, and they’ve come to serve as the backbone of our agricultural industry, among others. Highly educated immigrants are an increasing demographic, and they have brought numerous innovations and wonders into our country. Additionally, 25% of new businesses in our country are founded and run by immigrants. Immigration restrictions only limit foreign entrepreneurship in our country, which benefits no one and is a detrimental, anti-free market proposal.
During a time with a robust economy, there is no economic incentive to reduce legal immigration or focus on “merit-based” immigration. Our country is far from full— despite what Trump says.
Immigration skeptics focus on criticizing these economic benefits. Sharp rhetoric, such as “cheap labor” and “selling the country out” is far too common, but a common criticism is that more immigration leads to a decrease in domestic wages. However, researchers find that immigration has little to no effect on wages. The theory relies on partial equilibrium, which applies more to restricted economies, rather than general equilibrium, which is far more applicable to the wide breadth of the U.S. economy.
Immigration can prevent projected population decline.
Due to financial and cultural shifts, our country is experiencing unusually slow population growth and declining birth rates, despite a robust economy. Native birth rates decline each year, deaths keep increasing, and international migration is creating new demographic trends. Some researchers attribute this crisis to 2008’s recession, but they haven’t increased since the economy became stable again.
Recent Census research projects that our population will decline with the current migration trends and migration rates. Solving this crisis will be difficult, and increased immigration is not a fix-all solution. Conservative policies can help roll back some of these deep-rooted institutional and cultural factors, but we should not turn a blind eye to legal immigration as part of the solution. More legal immigration would likely prevent our population from declining, in addition to the aforementioned benefits to our economy and culture.
With declining native populations, there is increased room for younger immigrants. Our country is not full, as Trump proclaimed. If legal immigration was limited, we would end up in a scenario where extreme aging leads to population decline, like what’s happening in Japan. Japan is notable for their harsh limits on immigration of all forms for cultural and political reasons, and as a result, its population is declining rapidly. An aging population combined with nativist immigration policies creates a terrible future for any country.
As the leader of the free world, we must be open to immigration.
The U.S. is the land of the free. We are the leader of the free world, and our global hegemony won’t change drastically in the near future. If America is depicted as the land of the free and a place for opportunity and people to improve their lives from overseas, our immigration policy should reflect these depictions.
Our demographic shifts prove that our country isn’t full, so we need to be more open to immigrants and help people flee their warstrucken and impoverished countries for a better life. Expanding visas is a necessary policy, contrary to Trump’s recent policies, to expand our labor supply and bring in genuine talent and brains into our country.
Foreign countries, developed and developing, should follow our lead by adopting lax immigration policies to bolster cooperation and economic prosperity. We also need an active foreign policy that works to solve many of the issues driving immigrants away from their native lands, such as famine and conflict.
For these reasons and others, our country needs to push back against the recent nativist trends and adopt a more expansive and practical approach to immigration.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.