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Democrats Have Lost Their Way on Immigration

4 minute read

One of President Donald J. Trump’s priorities for immigration reform is moving to a merit-based system and reducing low-skilled immigration to the United States. President Trump recognizes that low-skilled immigration harms our economy and above all, it harms American workers.

In the past, Democratic leaders have expressed support for the policy elements of President Trump’s common-sense immigration reform. Now their far-left base has commandeered the debate, moving the Democratic Party from reasonable centrists, to liberal activists.

Democrats in their own words:

  • Senator Chuck Schumer in 2009: “We must create a system that converts the current flow of primarily low-skilled illegal immigrants into the United States, into a more manageable and controlled flow of legal immigrants who can be absorbed by our economy. Let me elaborate, the first of these seven principles is that illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple. Until the American people are convinced that we will stop future flows of illegal immigration, we will make no progress on dealing with the millions of illegal immigrants who are here now, and on rationalizing our system of legal immigration. That’s plain and simple and unavoidable.”
    • Also here’s then-Representative Chuck Schumer in 1990 before Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1990:
      • “For the first time we’re saying it should not simply be family relationships that determine who comes here,” Schumer said. “This bill says if you have a skill that America needs we’re going to accept you. In the past that was very very very difficult, less than 4% of all immigrants came because or were admitted to this country because we needed their help in the job market. And now that percentage will increase significantly. And so it’s the first time that we’ve really recognized that economic competition, the need for new skills and new ideas, that for whatever reason aren’t be supplied by our own workers, will happen.”
  • Senator Bernie Sanders in an interview in 2015: “Open borders […] that’s a Koch brothers proposal… That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States… It would make everybody in America poorer —you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world which believes in that. If you believe in a nation state or in a country called the United States or UK or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation in my view to do everything we can to help poor people.
    • …You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those [American] kids? I think from a moral responsibility we’ve got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.”
  • Economist Paul Krugman in 2006: “Immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That’s just supply and demand: we’re talking about large increases in the number of low-skill workers relative to other inputs into production, so it’s inevitable that this means a fall in wages… the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.”
    • Krugman separately notes that “a review of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration… many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration… Finally, modern America is a welfare state, even if our social safety net has more holes in it than it should — and low-skill immigrants threaten to unravel that safety net… Realistically, we’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.”
  • Then-Senator Barack Obama in 2006: “The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,” Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope. “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole—especially by keeping our workforce young, in contrast to an increasingly geriatric Europe and Japan—it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”