Monday, January 22, 2018

Merit-Based Immigration Is A Bad Idea That Hurts Workers

(This image of the Statue of Liberty welcoming an immigrant was found at theglobe 

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The words above are on the base of our beacon of freedom -- the Statue of Liberty. And they represent the truth about immigration to this country -- that it represents an opportunity, a second chance, to those who are denied and oppressed in their home country.

Both legal and undocumented immigrants have responded to the promise of freedom and opportunity in the United States. They were not the most educated or skilled, and were willing to earn their opportunity by taking the low-wage dirty and dangerous jobs that Americans didn't want. They helped this country by taking those jobs and doing them well, and used them to give their own children the opportunity to do even better.It was a good deal for both this country and the immigrants.

Donald Trump wants to change that, and Republicans in Congress are going along with him. They want to deny immigration to that "wretched refuse". They want to make legal immigration to be based on a "merit system", that would admit only those who are educated or skilled.

This is a terrible idea. Many Americans, especially Trump supporters, are opposed to immigration because they claim the immigrants take jobs away from American citizens. They don't seem to realize that a merit-based system would make that worse -- not better.

As I said, current immigrants (both legal and undocumented) help the country by taking low-wage jobs that are dangerous and dirty -- jobs that most Americans don't want. That would not be true of the new merit-based immigrants. They would compete with citizens for higher-paying jobs that require skills or education -- the jobs that Americans do want. 

It would be great for corporations though. They could fill those jobs with immigrants who would be willing to work for less to be able to get into the country -- and that would keep those corporations from having to pay the prevailing wage (or raise wages to attract American workers). In short, merit-based immigration would be bad for American workers by increasing competition and depressing wages.

It doesn't surprise me that Republicans think this is a good idea though. They showed us with their recent tax plan that they care far more about corporations than American workers. Merit-based immigration would be just another boon for corporations that would hurt American workers. It's a bad idea!

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