Biden, Biden border crisis, Breitbart.com, budget reconciliation, chain migration, Council of Economic Advisers, demand, economics, Im-Politic, Immigration, Jobs, labor market, labor shortage, migrants, Neil Munro, supply, wages, workers
We’ve just gotten a bright, flashing sign that, despite some recent stopgap steps (like this and this) obviously meant to convey the impression that the Biden administration hasn’t completely and dangerously lost control of America’s southern border, the President is just as determined as ever to open the floodgates to seemingly unlimited numbers of foreigners.
Worse, the development I’m writing about also makes clear that the President cares not a whit about the likely economic harm his policies will inflict on workers legally in the country at present – too many of whom haven’t exactly been killing it economically for decades now.
That sign consists of a post on the White House’s website by the Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and three other government economists touting “The Economic Benefits of Extending Permanent Legal Status to Unauthorized Immigrants.” Just so we’re totally clear on their intent, in plain English, the title would read, “The Economic Benefits of Giving Amnesty to Illegal Aliens.” And the strength of the administration’s Open Borders ambitions is clearest from the utterly threadbare manner in which the authors deal with a central question: whether amnesty would drive down the wages of workers who live in America legally now.
This question of course is especially salient now because, due to the labor market turmoil generated by the CCP Virus pandemic and resulting behavior changes and official responses, U.S. employers are experiencing problems hiring enough workers, and consequently, these workers are enjoying major new leverage in bargaining for higher wages.
As pointed out in the CEA post, “Permanent legal status is likely to increase the effective labor supply of unauthorized immigrants” and that, “Given that providing legal status to unauthorized immigrants would increase their effective labor supply, critics of legalization argue there could be adverse labor market consequences for native and other immigrant workers.”
Here of course is where you’d expect the highly credentialed experts who wrote this post to respond with reams of evidence (or at least citations of scholarly works), decisively proving that, however commonsensical it seems to conclude that increasing the supply of anything (including labor) all else equal will reduce the supply of that thing, it ain’t so in the case of illegal aliens.
But as initially (at least to me) pointed out by Breitbart.com‘s Neil Munro, nothing of the kind happened. Here’s what the CEA said:
“While there is not a large economics literature on the labor market effects of legalization on other workers, in a well-cited National Academies report on the economic and fiscal impact of immigration, a distinguished group of experts concludes that in the longer run, the effect of immigration on wages overall is very small.”
I could write an entire blog post on what’s jaw-droppingly wrong with this sentence’s methodology. Chiefly, it’s not only an appeal to authority – which logically is an implicit confession that the appealers don’t know much themselves about the subject they’re writing about. It’s an appeal to authorities who themselves don’t seem to know much about their subject, or can’t cite any evidence. Therefore they can only offer an evidently unsupported conclusion.
But what’s most important to me about this CEA point is that it never challenges the wages claim made by those “critics of legalization.” All the authors can counter with is a contention that, at some unknown point, the wage depression resulting from amnesty will become “very small.” That’s some comfort to Americans workers today. And for possibly decades.
Also crucial to point out is how narrow and thus misleading the post’s analytical framework is. It clearly assumes that amnesty won’t stimulate ever greater inflows of foreign laborers who compete against the domestic worker cohort that exists at any given time – which would include the millions of amnestied illegals. Yet everything known about the impact of looser immigration policies – and even official announcements thereof – demonstrates that they exert a powerful magnet effect on other foreigners. Nor do you need to take my word for it. That’s what many migrants themselves have said about the Biden administration’s approach. (See, e.g., here and here.)
The so-called magnet effect of the Biden roll-back of its predecessor’s immigration policies isn’t the only reason to expect the White House’s current approach to supercharge the supply of American workers. To mention just one example, his immigration reform bill and budget reconciliation bill would ease Trump-era limits on “chain migration” – a policy that enables immigrants into the country legally if a spouse, parent, child, or sibling already lives here legally. Further, once these chain migrants arrive, their own relatives receive the same easy entry. And so on. Special bonus: The restrictions on chain migration-related visas granted for employment reasons will be eased even further.
If a better way to keep a huge share of American workers underpaid (especially those in low-wage portions of the economy, which heavily rely on the kinds of low-skill employees who dominate the illegal alien population), let me know. And of course in the cruelest irony of all, as the CEA post shows, among the leading advocates of these wage-hammering measures are the very liberals and progressives that have for decades claimed to be champions of Americans left behind.