When President Trump was still the Republican presidential nominee, much of his campaign rhetoric centered around bringing jobs that immigrants hold “back to America.” Now, as president, he continues to make a concerted effort to demonize immigrants by blaming them for the unemployment rate in America. However President Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric is a centuries old slogan that previous presidents have used to scapegoat immigrants during economic downturn. For instance, in 1976 President Gerald Ford used undocumented immigrants as an excuse for the oil recession that caused high rates of unemployment. He publicly questioned how to “get rid of those six to eight million aliens who are interfering with our economic prosperity.”
While still a candidate, Donald Trump said in July 2015, “They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.” It doesn’t surprise me that President Trump’s information is inaccurate, but it does sadden me that he is exacerbating and encouraging racial discrimination. President Trump has used his anti-immigration rhetoric to garner support to repeal the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Republican House is also using President Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric as a golden opportunity for re-election in 2018. In addition, Trump’s administration is drafting a new policy to deport 150,000 children who are undocumented immigrants from Central America. These children ed from countries such as Guatemala, Columbia and Honduras, leaving their homes due to the violence and bloodshed they were subjected to, only to be rejected by the United States. According to CNN, The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has made over 75,000 administrative arrests between January and June of 2017. Of these arrests, 26 percent are undocumented immigrants who are classified as non-criminals. In addition, President Trump wants to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the United States for the year 2017 to 50,000 refugees, half of what former President Obama recommended.
It is disheartening to watch the President of the United States abandon immigrant families who have spent their lives in America, refugees in search of homes and children who have survived unspeakable violence. However, it is infuriating that President Trump does not pay attention to the research and statistics presented to him. According to a Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) study, there was a record high number of job openings in July at 6.17 million against 7.132 million unemployed Americans. Additionally, the MUFG analysis shows that the unemployment rate in the United States as of July 2017 is 4.4 percent. According to most economists, that is the natural rate of unemployment—a rate at which the inflation rate and unemployment rate balance in away that benefits the economy. This data reveals that the Trump administration does not need to focus on anti-immigration policies or on lowering corporate taxes to create more jobs. The administration instead needs to come up with a sustainable plan to train unskilled American laborers. However, the part of President Trump’s base that consists of white middle class Americans who are dissatisfied with their jobs prefer to hear the anti-immigration rhetoric. For instance, President Trump’s base was furious when he met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to find a solution for DACA.
In fact, to avoid an even worse economic downturn, President Trump should welcome immigration. It seems odd, but consider what happened to Arizona in 2007—a Moody’s analysis illustrates how the crackdown of illegal immigrants caused the economy to shrink by 2 percent. Dany Bahar, a Brookings Senior Fellow, also shows a positive link between immigration and economic growth in America. Bahar explains that immigrants bring opportunities, investments and ventures that will generate jobs. Her data shows that while immigrants only account for 15 percent of the workforce, they represent about a quarter of entrepreneurs and investors in the U.S. Another Brookings Senior Fellow, Vanda Felbab-Brown, explains that undocumented immigrants aren’t stealing jobs that Americans want. They often work unpleasant hours and have back-breaking jobs—“jobs,” she says, “that native- born workers are not willing to do.”
Therefore, President Trump’s policy to cut immigration will only lead to missed opportunities for America. It will increase the existing rate of unemployment by reducing the number of entrepreneurs, venture capitalist, and investors who come to and want to invest in America. President Trump has not felt the economy working against him thus far. Nonetheless, if his anti-immigration policies persist, even skilled and educated immigrants will want to leave the United States. The Trump Administration needs to realize that by encouraging racial and immigration status based discrimination they are telling so many of America’s investors and entrepreneurs they are no longer welcome here. Perhaps President Trump and his administration will realize they need to help train unskilled or under-skilled Americans to ll the existing job openings.