In a recent statement President Donald Trump effectively endorsed the immigration reform plan being put together by House Republicans. The statement read: “President Donald J. Trump is grateful to Chairman [Bob] Goodlatte, Chairman [Mike] McCaul, Congressman [Raul] Labrador, and Congresswoman [Martha] McSally for introducing immigration legislation that would accomplish the President’s core priorities for the American people. The President looks forward to advancing legislation that secures the border, ends chain migration, cancels the visa lottery, and addresses the status of the DACA population in a responsible fashion.”
The plan, however, has many of President Trump’s most ardent supporters disappointed.
One of the most worrisome aspects of the immigration plan being put together by the House of Representatives is the H-2C guest worker program, which would allow the food industry to employ about one million guest workers in place of American citizens and legal immigrants.
The “guest workers” coming to the United States on this program could very well stay here permanently – and if they have children while here, those children would automatically be granted birthright citizenship.
The problem with such a guest-worker program is that the United States does not need more low-skilled and low-wage workers due to the rapid rise of automation. Between 39 and 73 million jobs will be automated in the United States by 2030 – or about a third of all jobs. American workers displaced by this automation will have a difficult time retraining and learning new skills to become useful on the labor market – let alone the one million guest workers who will be relatively uneducated, low skilled, and many of whom will have a poor command of the English language. This very well could prove to be disastrous for the American labor market.
In addition to this, goods produced by labor-intensive industries not subject to automation could be produced overseas and imported into America, making such massive numbers of culturally alien “guest workers” unnecessary.
Instead of caving to big business lobbies interested in bringing in huge amounts of unskilled labor into the United States, Republicans focus on ways to modernize our economy and help the current workforce adapt to automation.
This compromise is supposedly done in exchange for the E-Verify program – a massive federal database which employers would have to use in order to make sure that their employees are here legally. E-Verify requires that employers transmit sensitive information such as social security numbers and passport information electronically – making it a massive invasion of privacy and a disaster waiting to happen.
Also, in addition to bringing in one million guest workers per year, the House GOP immigration plan would make DACA – or the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program – permanent. The plan would grant amnesty to the nearly 800,000 illegal aliens who are currently part of the DACA program by granting them work visas.
Those currently on DACA would be unable to become citizens, but of course their children would automatically become birthright citizens.
Once finalized, the immigration plan would supposedly include a wall and put an end to chain migration – but overall these measures would accomplish little, all things considered. Instead of shrinking legal immigration from 1 million to 500,000 per year, as the Trump-endorsed RAISE Act would have accomplished, this compromise is estimated to shrink legal immigration to around 800,000 per year.
This type of one-sided deal-making, where the big business lobby and open borders enthusiasts get most of what they want, is not what Trump supporters voted for in 2016. If Trump does not intervene to demand more in exchange for these compromises, including reduced significantly legal immigration, he could erode his base of support and face serious trouble in the 2020 election.