By James Bouffard
In his State of the Union address given on Tuesday, Jan. 30, President Trump outlined several of his proposed changes to America’s immigration policy—he capitulated to Democrats on DACA and now supports a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants.
Additionally, he proposed replacing chain migration and the visa lottery system with a merit-based approach. He still wants a wall, too. There hasn’t been any action taken on these issues since. In fact, there hasn’t been very much immigration reform within the Trump administration altogether, despite the rhetoric.
Although unsurprising, Trump’s inaction on immigration is detrimental to the American people. We have had a disastrous immigration policy since the 1960s that has given rise to the myth of America being a ‘Nation of Immigrants.’
Most people aren’t aware of the fact that some of the first laws ever passed by Congress were intended to restrict immigration, and the country had very little immigration until the mid-19th century.
The waves of immigrants that began around the 1850s abruptly ended in 1924 with the Johnson-Reed Act. A new approach was instituted in 1965 through the Hart-Cellar Act, opening up the doors to immigrants and creating the modern problem of chain migration.
The immigrant population in the U.S. has steadily increased since then, rising from 4.7 percent in 1970 to 13.4 percent in 2010.
It may not be obvious to many why this is problematic. We have been drilled with the idea that immigration and diversity are inherently good. This view overlooks history and human nature.
When large numbers of people from different groups have to share the same space, they do not live in peace and harmony. They generally tend to self-segregate and form enclaves. At the very least, this leads to intergroup tensions, if not violent conflict, and ultimately threatens social stability.
50 years of mass immigration of people from various cultures has contributed to the breakdown of the shared values which held America together prior to the 1960s.
There are more immediate economic problems created by immigration. For one, 51 percent of households headed by immigrants are on some kind of welfare program, compared to 30 percent of native households.
The relatively low incomes of immigrants subsequently means they are contributing little to America’s economy in the way of spending, investing and paying taxes. An increase in low-skilled workers also drives down wages, much to the detriment of American workers.
Maybe the government should give priority to existing citizens instead of instituting policies that lower their wages and waste their tax dollars.
Of course, this problem could be largely avoided if we adopted a merit-based approach that only permitted highly skilled workers to immigrate, something that is far more pragmatic than selecting people by chance for the visa lottery or permitting an immigrant’s family members to join them.
Another helpful solution in resolving this issue is the wall. It’s a solution that has worked for other countries. Following an influx of migrants in 2015, Hungary constructed a border fence that reduced the number of people entering the country illegally.
America may want to try the same thing if we are serious about curtailing illegal immigration. All of these reforms together have the potential to be greatly beneficial for Americans.