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The Southern Border Invasion

Will the Biden Administration’s border policy replace Americans with immigrants?” – The Lonely Realist

A majority of Americans view the influx of immigrants at America’s southern border as an invasion. That influx of migrants, some in caravans from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Colombia and Haiti, will result in the arrest by American law enforcement of more than 2 million illegal immigrants in 2022 (leading to their expulsion to their home countries). It follows hard on the arrest and deportation of 1.66 million illegals in 2021 (surpassing the previous record of 1.64 million immigrant arrests in each of 2000 and 2020). Almost half of Americans blame the Democratic Party for purposefully opening America’s borders to third-world immigrants, some believing that it is doing so to replace American voters with far left, criminal aliens as part of a Democrat plot of Great Replacement. Illegal immigration accordingly is a divisive political issue, one that was largely ignored in the early 2000s when an annual average of 1.5 million illegals successfully entered the U.S., as compared to this year’s estimated success rate of 500,000 (389,000 entered illegally in 2021). 13.7% of the U.S. population today was born in another country, 77% of whom are in America legally. More want in. What should America be doing?

Because of culture warfare and political polarization, America wallows in bitter national division over immigration and visa entry policy, the result being that America is ceding economic, educational and strategic advantage to its international competitors and stunting its own economic growth. Immigration policies advocated by both Political Parties are incoherent. America has no comprehensive 21st Century immigration policy – targeted or otherwise – and is failing to keep up with both supply and demand.

Last week TLR addressed “King Dollar!”, highlighting a currency trend that impacts on American jobs and, consequently, immigration policy. It led one reader to observe that the increasing value of the Dollar is driving American employers in technology industries (where employees often work remotely) to shed their highly-paid American workers for less expensive labor in India and Eastern Europe. A dominant Dollar indeed is detrimental to a portion of the American workforce, but a strong Dollar benefits the American economy as a whole as well as a majority of Americans. That’s the very definition of capitalist efficiency, focusing growth on those industries, and those jobs, that provide an internationally competitive advantage. The resulting productivity gains increase national profits and wealth. Is there any doubt that highly-skilled foreign workers would welcome the opportunity to work in or emigrate to the U.S. …, an outcome that would drive down corporate overhead to the benefit of a majority of Americans (as well as increasing the number of technically-proficient American-based workers)? The attraction of America’s economy has been a core reason for American Exceptionalism, one of the key differentiators of American economic success.

Immigration owes its historical importance to America’s Founders. They were not born “Americans.” They were immigrants or the children of immigrants or the children of children of immigrants. American Exceptionalism derives from their competitive vitality and that of the hungry and ambitious immigrants who followed, whether they were the early Pilgrims, Puritans or Quakers, 19th Century Irish fleeing famine or French, Italians or Germans fleeing revolution, 20th Century Jews fleeing religious persecution, Chinese and Japanese seeking employment, or Russians, Cubans and Vietnamese fleeing communism, or 21st Century South Americans fleeing poverty, persecution or COVID-19. It’s no coincidence that more than 45% of today’s Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.

Which highlights the national need for bipartisan action on immigration reform that simultaneously ensures the sanctity of America’s borders: The decision of Texas to bus >8,000 immigrants to Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago isn’t progress; it’s conflict. America needs coherent immigration policies and a targeted visa program that addresses America’s labor needs. That can be achieved only through a viable Administration policy endorsed by Congressional legislation. Although the invitation to immigrants engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty is laudable, it sidesteps the critical questions of national goals. By all means “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” but only if doing so is of benefit to America and Americans. Immigration in 21st Century America isn’t about being the most beneficent nation on earth. It’s about ensuring prosperity and growth for the future. Continuing to ignore the reality of America’s aging workforce (and mounting Social Security and Medicare obligations) is a stark reminder of the consequences of division. So is ignoring illegal immigration on America’s southern border. The assertion that fewer than 500,000 illegal immigrants are entering the country does not excuse the failure to take steps to seal America’s borders against undesirable illegals. (Nor do assertions that recent measures to prohibit abortion will increase births and, over time, inflate the working-age population.)

Today’s “Immigration Culture War” is a distraction that highlights the economic consequences of America’s declining demographics. “Demographics is destiny” has greater meaning for America today than ever before. America’s birth rate has been below the replacement level since before the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. Since America’s founding, increases in its population have been the result of immigration, both legal and illegal. Today America finds itself with far too many job openings and too few workers. That’s true for both low-paying service jobs and high-paying technical ones. America’s below-replacement birth rate and aging population will trend population downward and, therefore, America’s workforce will be unable to support its spending, its debt load or its entitlement obligations. An inadequate (and under-educated) workforce will lead to declining productivity and economic contraction. Demographics denied will result in a declining standard of living. It used to be that America was the Mecca for higher education. America annually issued 300,000 visas and hosted 1,100,000 foreign students at American universities, many of whom remained and flourished, starting new businesses and rising to prominence in America industry. A significant number are CEOs of America’s most successful companies. Numbers now are dropping. There is resistance to issuing visas that allow foreign graduates to work in the U.S., visas that benefit American industry and that should be incentivized and targeted. Unless America adopts appropriate immigration and visa programs to fill widening gaps in its workforce, demographic decline indeed will determine America’s future.

Can bipartisan support be found to satisfy America’s demographic needs? Various proposals for immigration reform have been put forward by both political Parties over the years. Neither Party can create a solution on its own. A threshold question for America’s future is what to do about immigrants and immigration.

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