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Libertarian Author Charles Murray Calls for Pause in Low-Skill Immigration

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Leading libertarian thinker Charles Murray is now urging a halt to the immigration of lower-skilled workers, because the cutoff of extra labor may persuade employers and political leaders to revive declining communities of lower-skilled Americans. 

“I have had to undergo a great deal of rethinking on all of this this year… [now] I want to shut down low-skill immigration for a while,” Charles Murray told a D.C. event hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies.

“The thing that has gotten to me over this year … has been the very simple idea that the citizens of a nation owe something to each other that is over and above our general obligation to other human beings” outside the United States, Murray said Sept. 26.

A temporary end to low-skill immigration will allow a national test of various proposals to help the many Americans at the bottom end of the economic scale, Murray said. For example, amid high immigration, several million Americans “prime age” employable men are not even trying to work, at great long-term cost to themselves and society.

Once low-skilled immigration is ended, society may react in favorable directions to help lower-end Americans workers, he said. For example, the girlfriends of young men will be better able to prod their boyfriends into taking low-skill, low-paid jobs if their employers can’t hire illegals, Murray said.

But Murray says he only wants a temporary moratorium on low-skill immigration in case the new policy proves counterproductive. “I want to shut if down for a while because it may not work … [currently] we will have no good way of knowing how employers will respond until the spigot is cut off,” he said.

Murray is one of the most influential libertarian and conservative intellectuals in Washington D.C. His work helped create momentum for welfare reform in the 1990s, and he’s now focusing attention on the widening gap between poor and wealthy Americans His 2012 book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” has publicized the declining situation of low-skilled white workers. 

American has been exceptional because Americans don’t want to see their society divided by social and economic classes, Murray said Monday. The term “‘American Exceptionalism’ came from Europeans visiting in 1800s [who saw that Americans] all wanting to see themselves as part of the same class,” he said. 

“We need to reconstruct an American society in which people are part of one brotherhood, sisterhood,” he said. In the recent past, the U.S. did have a sense of egalitarian equality, he said. It “was never perfect, but but God, we did get a lot closer than any other society,” he said, adding “I want in to live in [that] America.”

Murray’s call for a halt to low-skill immigration comes as a prestigious think-tank in D.C. admitted that each low-skill migrant costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Immigrants also shift roughly $500 billion wages from white-collar and blue-collar Americans to employers and investors, according to the Sept. 22 report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Each year, four million Americans turn 18 and begin looking for jobs. But the federal government also imports roughly 2 million foreign workers, including legal and illegal immigrants, refugees, temporary guest-workers and asylum seekers. More than 50 percent of the annual inflow of workers are lower-skilled. 

Restrictions on low-skill immigration is an idea whose time has come,” and will be recognized by ambitious Democratic and Republican politicians, he said. “There is a sea-change in the [nation’s] mood,” he said. 


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