Morici: Trump gets tough with immigrants on welfare

Peter Morici

Liberals have stonewalled President Donald Trump on immigration reform and encouraged an illegal migrant invasion from the south. This leaves him little choice but to deny green cards or extensions of temporary visas to immigrants that access federal entitlements programs.

About 44 million immigrants reside in the United States. About 65 percent of visas are granted based on family ties, 15 percent to those possessing skills in short supply and the remainder mostly through a lottery for under-represented countries and refugees.

Thanks to the abuses of chain immigration – naturalized citizens and green card holders sponsoring relatives who in turn pull in other relatives – the immigrant population tends to be considerably older, less educated and less employable than the native born population.

Liberals are fond to tell us that immigrants add to economic growth. They take service jobs that make the lives of better educated Americans more comfortable.

Many work in STEM disciplines and start new businesses, but about half come with only basic skills, do not easily assimilate and drive down wages in semi-skilled occupations. Visit Dulles Airport and observe how many airport and airline personnel speak English with a foreign accent.

Thanks to affirmative action their children jump to the head of the line – at the expense of many native-born Americans – when competing for government jobs and places at selective universities.

Those are significant reasons why Donald Trump was elected. If liberals want to paint him as racist and illegitimate, then they tar many of their own countrymen bigots and traitors. To resist everything he proposes only serves to raise resentment and anti-immigrant fervor.

It is difficult for well-educated Americans, especially those who work and live harmoniously alongside highly trained immigrants, to appreciate how important the language spoken on Main Street and prevalence of local foods and traditions are to folks who do not have the same advantages. If blue-collar Americans cannot get a remedy by electing a president who promises a more reasonable, less threatening immigration policy, then democracy has failed.

America needs more skilled immigrants to grow rapidly and compete internationally. Mr. Trump and members of both parties in Congress have proposed reforms that would significantly curtail the lottery and limit family reunification visas to immediate relatives – spouses and minor children. Those would make U.S. rules similar to Canadian and Australian policy.

These reforms would permit American employers to recruit more skilled immigrants in areas where Americans are not available. And would reduce pressures on communities where wages are pushed down and local cultures are threatened by globalization.

Sadly, in the spirit of “Resist Trump” and crassly seeking Hispanic and Asian votes, Democrats are blocking reform legislation.

Democrats in Congress incite anarchy by encouraging states and cities to violate the constitutional supremacy of federal law and forbid local police from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Some flirt with shutting down Immigration and Customs Enforcement altogether.

In recent years, immigration from Mexico has subsided but endemic violence in Central America and further south is pushing poorly educated migrants to head north.

Mexico offers many asylum and, with Spanish the prevalent language, a more hospitable climate to work. However, migrants continue their journey to access generous U.S. social welfare benefits – as do many folks who obtain visas from Africa and Asia through chain immigration.

About half of all immigrants qualify for means-tested programs. Under Mr. Trump’s new proposed regulation, a green card or other changes in status – such as extending temporary visas – would be denied immigrants that in the past, now or in the future are likely to access food stamps, federal housing subsidies, Medicaid and similar programs. Exceptions are provided for legitimate refugees and children.

A blunt tool, this policy would alter the composition of immigration in the direction advocated by both Democratic and Republican reformers in Congress but denied thanks to the obstructionist Democrats disappointed that Hillary Clinton is not president.

Liberals protest that legal immigrants would be reluctant to access benefits for elderly dependents and their children. That is likely, however, they might cast an eye on the recent circus they created around the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and then look into the mirror.

Want more of the same – nominate for president another distasteful candidate who calls hard-pressed blue-collar workers deplorable or an anarchist on the socialist left of the Democratic Party.

Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist. © 2018, The Washington Times, LLC.