Yielding to business demands for greater access to foreign labor would only further undermine the interests of embattled American workers. Such policies would also create powerful disincentives for cheap labor-intensive industries, like agriculture, to invest in mechanization. Many jobs now performed by heavily subsidized immigrant labor in the U.S. are being done in other countries more efficiently and cost effectively by machines.
As Bill Gates predicted in a recent panel discussion, technology “will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of the skill set,” and will do so in the very near future. In essence, however, what agricultural and other business interests are demanding is that the United States double down on an economic model that’s doomed to extinction.
A smarter immigration policy would allow us to select a limited numbers of new immigrants who can best help the country succeed in the economy of the future, in place of our current family chain migration system. We need effective laws to discourage illegal immigration and the political will to enforce them. Instead of flooding our labor markets, we need immigration policies that allow us to integrate the millions of idle workersalready here into productive jobs.
Unfortunately, that is not the sort of immigration reform being pushed by the business lobby or what is under consideration in Washington.
Dan Stein is executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.