WSJ: Feds Must Import More Refugee Workers and Consumers for Business

TOPSHOT - Migrants, mostly from Central America, queue to board a van which will take them to a processing center, on May 16, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. - About 1,100 migrants from Central America and other countries are crossing into the El Paso border sector each day. US Customs …
PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump should expand refugee programs because they are good for employers and the economy, says Rick Snyder, former GOP governor of Michigan.

“Employers are keen to hire refugees, who often have a strong work ethic and are eager to work overtime,” Snyder wrote in the Wall Street Journal. He continued:

In 2016, refugees created about 2,000 new jobs and were responsible for at least $229.6 million in new spending in southeast Michigan alone. Employers are keen to hire refugees, who often have a strong work ethic and are eager to work overtime. And skilled refugees can fill critical workforce gaps—nearly 20% of likely refugees entering the U.S. have a four-year college degree or more. That’s why 36 business leaders in western Michigan recently wrote an open letter expressing their support for refugee resettlement.

Snyder’s focus on employers’ demands allows him to slide past the growing pile of evidence that refugees and immigration force down the wages earned by American employees. The employees’ wages are forced down when imported workers prevent the creation of a tight labor market where employers must compete for workers by offering higher pay.

Partly because of the reduced refugee inflow, President Donald Trump’s “Hire American” economy has created the conditions for a tight labor market — and so is raising American’s wages, reducing poverty, and reducing economic inequality.

Trump’s economy is even raising Americans’ hourly productivity — and so their future wages — by forcing companies to invest in more labor-saving automation, robots, and software.

But many business groups prefer to minimize near-term costs, partly by importing consumers and workers via refugee programs. Breitbart News reported October 31:

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) is pushing a new bill that would transport many Muslims from chaotic Syria and Kurdistan into America’s schools and workplaces.

The bill creates a refugee program for Syrians and Kurds who claim to have helped U.S.-funded armed groups, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Risch is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, so his legislation may pass as soon as this week.

The program would import Syria’s chaotically diverse cultures and conflicts back into the United States, the official said, adding, “It is the ‘Invade the World/Invite the World’ attitude.”

States should not be allowed to opt-out of unpopular federal refugee-delivery programs, Snyder said.  The short-term costs of refugees will be offset by refugees’ subsequent spending at groceries, rents, and auto companies, he argues:

Why keep out people who are resilient, hardworking, and just in need of a safe place to live? Though refugees have a median income of only about $22,000 their first five years in the U.S., after that point their income sharply rises and eventually surpasses the general U.S. median household income. Refugees are also more likely to be entrepreneurs. In 2016, refugees created about 2,000 new jobs and were responsible for at least $229.6 million in new spending in southeast Michigan alone.

Snyder’s article is linked to reports by the New American Economy advocacy group, which was founded by Mike Bloomberg to preserve the continued inflow of foreign workers, consumers, and renters into the United States. The group said:

One of the most valuable partners we have identified are local chambers of commerce. Chamber leaders understand that immigration is critical to growth, and they recognize the reliance local businesses have on immigrants as entrepreneurs, employees, and customers.

Even if unskilled refugees cannot earn enough to escape poverty, that’s okay for business groups because taxpayers are forced to subsidize their wages and consumption. Taxpayers provide the tax rebates so refugees can work at low wages, the welfare so that migrants can consume more products, and the rental subsidies so they can rent more apartments. In Colorado, reported:

“Between the high cost of housing and shrinking federal funding for local organizations, many refugees resettled in Colorado find themselves stuck in chronic poverty. That’s according to new research from the University of Colorado Boulder, which studied refugee communities across the Front Range.

In her study, published this fall with support from the University of Colorado Denver, Chen explains that, despite their level of education or English proficiency, refugees in the US tend to have lower incomes compared to American born citizens; 50 percent of the refugees she surveyed said their first job in the US did not match their education level.

According to data from the Colorado Refugee Services Program, refugees in Colorado tend to find low-skill jobs in light manufacturing and hospitality, where they earn a monthly household income of around $700 to $999 in their first year. By their fourth year, their earnings have hardly increased and many said it’s not enough to support their family.

Progressives also support more refugees, partly because the government-dependent refugees can be used to break up stable communities that have little need for government subsidies. The “Nation of Immigrants” alliance between progressives and business groups was spotlighted by an October 30 New York Times article about Africans being airlifted into Montana:

To supporters like [Mayor John] Engen, the Congolese are filling a void of cultural diversity in a town that is nearly 90 percent white. In the 1980s, Hmong refugees from Laos settled in Missoula. The children of immigrant families are usually the few students of color in city classrooms, while their parents work long hours at businesses eager for the help.

But Trump is pushing back. In September, his deputies announced they would invite only 18,000 refugees during 2020 and also allow the public to op-out of refugee settlement programs.

“The president has made no secret of the fact that he believes immigration, first and foremost, is set up to work for America — that means economically and for the people here,” Trump’s citizenship chief Ken Cuccinelli told reporters at an October 16 press breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor.

“There is a lot of pressure in various sectors to utilize more immigrant labor for employment, whether it is for high-tech or low-tech in the economy … [but the president] has also made clear that is is important to protect ordinary American workers and to not displace them,” said Cuccinelli, who runs the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency.

Finding the right balance between helping Americans workers and Americans investors is a constant political dilemma, Cuccinelli said:

Is there some perfect [balanced] target point in every industry? Maybe there is, but we’re never going to be able to know it. So which side do you err on? And he has repeatedly emphasized how important it is to protect U.S. workers. Now’s he been clear with me, as well, and you all have heard him say it: he wants to see economic growth and dynamism. And that means, you know, growing companies needing to fill slots. So we’re just in a constant battle to balance those things.


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