April 22, 2020

Immigration Suspended

“President Donald Trump announced what he described as a ‘temporary suspension of immigration into the United States’ on Tuesday… Trump said he would be placing a 60-day pause on the issuance of green cards in an effort to limit competition for jobs in a U.S. economy wrecked by the coronavirus.” AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left opposes the ban, arguing that immigration is beneficial to the economy and does not harm American workers.

The coronavirus crisis is proving just how much we depend on immigrants… while immigrants constitute 17 percent of the U.S. workforce, they are ‘more than one in four doctors, nearly half the nation’s taxi drivers and chauffeurs and a clear majority of farm workers.’ Roughly a third of all nurses in California, New York and New Jersey — three of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus — are immigrants. In all… we rely on nearly 1.7 million foreign‐​born workers to provide medical and health care, 900,000 to grow our food, and 1.5 million more to deliver and distribute food and supplies…

“We are in desperate need of immigrants to fill both high-end and low-end jobs. The National Science Foundation reports that more than half of the United States’ doctorate holders in engineering, computer science and mathematics are foreign-born. These are the brainiacs whose innovations are powering our information economy… there is no justification for stopping the immigration process.”
Max Boot, Washington Post

“If there is something that will be needed more than ever to return unemployment to normal levels after the covid-19 pandemic ends, it is more, not less, immigration. Immigrants, roughly 15 percent of the U.S. population, are responsible for about a quarter of U.S. start-ups and patents each year, and that percentage has been increasing for decades. Moreover, through a number of different measures, we now know, too, that employment growth is faster for businesses started by immigrant entrepreneurs as opposed to those launched by the native-born over three- and six-year horizons…

“In the midst of an economic collapse that will more significantly affect small and medium enterprises (SMEs) than established large firms with enough cash flow and resources to survive, the policy prescription should go in line with creating an environment to boost the creation of productive SMEs that would foster competition within industries. Halting immigration, and with it business investment and creation, is doing exactly the opposite.”
Dany Bahar, Washington Post

“Is it reasonable to declare a short-term hiatus? Perhaps. But that has already been put into effect by the shuttering of government offices that process visa applications, by the restrictions on travel, and by the collapse of the labor market (economic migrants tend not to travel for jobs that don’t exist)… It’s no coincidence that his call for a ban on new immigrants dovetails with one of his signature campaign issues at a time when the vibrant economy he had planned to campaign on has cratered. This is about saving one job — the president’s.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

“Travel bans and closed consulates mean immigration is already at historic lows. Even if this wasn’t the case, the US has the most coronavirus cases in the world, and the job market is in ruins because a pandemic has shuttered many people inside their homes — not because of immigrants. So Trump’s immigration ban announcement was widely seen as an effort to toss some red meat to his base.”
Aaron Rupar, Vox

“A pandemic was bound to strengthen the hand of nationalists around the world, with every country but China seeking to protect itself from a deadly contagion that has arrived from abroad. With severe economic consequences (including massive spikes in unemployment) following from efforts to contain the spread, nationalist arguments gain even further. Shouldn't the few remaining jobs go to Americans desperate for work? Those who wish to combat these arguments are bound to find themselves in a politically weakened position, sounding like they're siding with foreigners against their fellow countrymen in a time of a severe national crisis…

“Trump is forcing Biden and other Democrats to stake out a contrasting position on immigration. That would be fine were it not for the fact that the Democratic Party, including the Biden campaign, has been drifting left on the issue. That tracks with the views of very liberal white voters. But it clashes with the views of more culturally conservative white voters in the Midwest whom Biden needs to win in November. As always, Trump's strategy is to divide and conquer. He wants to force Biden to stake out a position on immigration that puts him implicitly on the side of open borders. That could give Trump an added edge with those same Midwestern swing voters.”
Damon Linker, The Week

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of the ban, and calls for a re-examination of immigration going forward.

The right is generally supportive of the ban, and calls for a re-examination of immigration going forward.

“When America was near full employment just a few months ago, one could at least make a case for a steady immigration flow. If there are more jobs than workers, then more workers are needed. That is no longer the case. There are about 22 million American citizens in desperate need of steady work. They need to be our first priority right now…

“When America faced similar hyper-unemployment during the Great Depression, the federal government drastically reduced legal immigration levels by almost 90 percent. Just as important, there is significant popular support for the president’s action. A recent Harvard-Harris poll found that 83 percent of Americans favor ending all immigration from Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic. These are not people who fear others who do not look like them. They are fearful that they will not be able to provide for their families, and they rightfully expect their government to protect our citizens first.”
Dale Wilcox, Fox News

“The emergency measures the Trump administration has put in place to restrict international travel and close the border have already effectively suspended immigration… Maybe suspending immigration temporarily won’t change much in the short term, given the emergency measures already in place. But it might help to reset the immigration discussion so that when this is all over we can really grapple with immigration reform and devise a system that serves American interests and is accountable to American voters…

“A re-vamped immigration system is long overdue—our current system of family-based immigration dates from 1965—and should be configured to serve the interests of Americans above all, which means basing immigration on skills, not family ties.”
John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

Some argue that “Nearly all of the economic evidence shows that immigrants enhance American growth and jobs. Former Federal Reserve economist Madeline Zavodny, now at the University of North Florida, examined state employment levels and immigration for the National Foundation for American Policy in 2018. States with surges of immigration like Texas and Iowa had low jobless rates. ‘Having more immigrants reduces the unemployment rate and raises the labor force participation rate of U.S. natives within the same sex and education group,’ she found…

“Beyond the damage to life and livelihood, the greatest threat from the coronavirus are policy mistakes that prolong the economic pain. Democrats want to use the pandemic as an excuse to put government in charge of much more of the private economy. Now Mr. Trump wants to limit America’s supply of human talent. If they succeed, we will wake up in 2021 having defeated Covid-19 but at the high cost of a diminished economic future.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“I think the longer-term question we’ll need to consider is when we should open the doors back up to normal, legal immigration. Even assuming that we finally get this thing mostly whipped by the end of the summer, other countries with fewer facilities and resources will still be dealing with new cases. Rather than simply ‘turning on’ normal immigration again, it should probably be done in stages, the same way we’ll be reopening businesses. Countries that have knocked down the virus at least as much as the United States could go first, with immigration from nations with active hot spots waiting until the disease is more under control.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“With unemployment skyrocketing, the major rationale for increased immigration — too few workers to fill all U.S. jobs — has dissipated… This rationale allows Trump to maintain a ban for a long time. Economic forecasts developed since the novel coronavirus’s onset show unemployment at 8 percent or more by the end of the year. That level of extended pain will justify Trump maintaining his ban well into 2021…

“Trump’s order foreshadows a fall campaign that he will seek to make a referendum on American nationalism. Biden has always supported the multilateral, open global order that arguably helped spread the coronavirus. Trump has defined himself as a critic, if not a foe, of that order, and hence stands on strong ground as he will likely argue that the crisis validates his critiques. This gives Trump his best chance to reframe the 2020 campaign from one that’s a referendum on him to one on preserving U.S. sovereignty in the face of ever-expanding multilateralism.”
Henry Olson, Washington Post

A libertarian's take

“Even before President Donald Trump announced that he intends to temporarily suspend immigration to the U.S. because of Covid-19, it was becoming clear that the effect of the virus on migration would be powerful, long-lasting and unfortunate

“It is easy to imagine the public being fearful about the potential of immigration to contribute to a pandemic resurgence. It does seem that regions able to restrict in-migration relatively easily — such as New Zealand, Iceland and Hawaii — have had less severe Covid-19 problems. New York City, which takes in people from around the world, has had America’s most severe outbreak. And the recent appearance of a second wave of Covid-19 in Singapore has been connected to ongoing migration there… Even if a vaccine comes along in a few years, restrictions on immigrants will have become the legal status quo — and in a democracy with a lot of checks and balances, status-quo bias can be very strong. Those restrictions are not likely to be reversed very quickly.”
Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

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