Biden’s Goal Must be Tight Labor Market

Immigration advocates have a watchful eye on the Southwest border these days, where multiple reports indicate that large migrant groups are headed north.

Bloomberg reports that, encouraged by the Biden administration’s apparent willingness to allow large numbers of aliens into the U.S., two sizable Central American caravans are expected within a few weeks. Other reports indicate that migrants from about 150 areas as remote as Africa, the Middle East and Asia are patiently waiting in Latin America for U.S. border enforcement to ease. Likely eventually, many migrants will be granted amnesty.

A significant percentage of November voters hail President Trump’s pending departure. Many may prefer Biden’s liberal immigration agenda to the sitting president’s restrictive one. For the hardcore left, no commonsense immigration argument will be persuasive. But for the open-minded, the question to ponder before endorsing Biden and his Cabinet nominees’ immigration agenda is: Which direction best serves America, and specifically American workers?

Liberal immigration policies translate into more employment authorization for foreign nationals. Migrants put on a citizenship path will qualify for low and high-skilled jobs they hope to retain for their employable years. Bullish-on-the-American labor market analysts predict that job creation will be strong enough to keep new immigrants employed. Skeptics, however, insist that the economy remains in COVID-19 recovery and jobs are at a premium. As the Capitol Hill clock winds down this session for a second stimulus package, 12 million Americans are on the edge of temporarily losing their unemployment benefits. This includes gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed workers, as well as jobless Americans who will exhaust the maximum number of eligible weeks available.

More work-authorized migrants means greater American job displacement. Read Economics 101, Chapter One: Tight labor markets are a worker’s best friend. Like him or not, President Trump has been, for the most part, an ally for U.S. workers of all ages, races and ethnicities.  Data from multiple nonpartisan institutions, including the U.S. Census Bureau, confirms the link between President Trump and higher wages, achieved in large part through stricter immigration.

In its story, “How the American economy did under President Trump,” The Economist noted that journalists’ intense dislike of the president blinded them to his administration’s “genuine successes.” Wrote the reporter: “A tight labor market also helped raise the wage growth of the lowest-paid Americans, relative to others, to a degree not seen since Bill Clinton was president.”

Among the lowest-paid Americans are Blacks, Hispanics and Asians. In its September 2020 report, recorded in 2019, the Census Bureau found “historically low poverty rates” for these minorities. For Blacks, the 2019 rate of 18.8 percent was the lowest since 1959, the year when Black estimates were first issued. The previous low for Blacks was 20.8 percent in 2018. Poverty rates in 2019 were also the lowest ever seen for Hispanics, 15.7 percent; the prior low was registered in 2018, 17.6 percent. Finally, the 2019 Asian 7.3 percent poverty rate also is the lowest recorded. Both the current and previous low Black, Hispanic and Asian poverty rates were accomplished during Trump’s administration.

The Census Bureau warns, however, that despite these gains, the inequality as compared to other groups is still substantial. Nothing would interrupt minority communities’ advances more abruptly than adding millions more international workers. The Biden administration’s goal, first and foremost, should be to maintain the tight labor market, an objective that will benefit all Americans and lawfully present immigrants. For a successful presidency, Biden must keep Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans on the upward economic path they’ve enjoyed during President Trump’s White House years.