For four decades, the United States has admitted between 525,000 to 1.8 million legal immigrants annually — the majority of which immediately enter the workforce to compete against Americans for working-class jobs.
In the last four weeks, due to closures spurred by the Chinese coronavirus crisis, roughly 22 million Americans have been forced into unemployment. The number of Americans provided with unemployment benefits in a single week, 12 million, is a record high.
Periods of mass unemployment have previously been eased by immigration pauses, as occurred during the Great Depression.
Prominent voices such as former Sen. Jeff Sessions and Fox News’s Laura Ingraham have called for a pause on immigration to the U.S. while millions of Americans remain out of work. Such a pause would be the first of its kind in about 55 years and likely the first time in 40 years that annual legal immigration levels would drop below 500,000.
“Importing workers from abroad to take the few jobs being created makes no sense whatsoever,” Sessions wrote in an op-ed for Breitbart News. “We need an immediate end to the importation of more foreign workers. This pandemic may have knocked America on its back, but we will get back up and be stronger than ever. In the meantime, we need to give struggling Americans a fighting chance.”
“All immigration to the US should be halted due to this national emergency—we sure as heck don’t need any foreign workers with millions of Americans on verge of losing their jobs,” Ingraham wrote on Twitter on March 18.
Since 1980 — 15 years after former President Lyndon B. Johnson expanded immigration — the U.S. has not admitted fewer than 525,000 legal immigrants in a single year. For 40 years, annual legal immigration admissions have hovered around one million.
The U.S., at current legal immigration levels, imports more foreign nationals than any other country in the world and has done so for more than two decades.
Since at least 1999, the U.S. legal immigration system has predominately delivered green cards to Mexican nationals, Chinese nationals, and Indian nationals. Over a single two-year period, 2000 and 2001 for example, the U.S. delivered green cards to more than 100,000 Chinese nationals.
From 2016 to 2018, the U.S. delivered green cards to nearly 220,000 Chinese nationals and more than 184,000 Indian nationals — the overwhelming majority of which join the U.S. workforce to compete for jobs against Americans.
Thanks to former President George H.W. Bush’s Immigration Act of 1990, all of these new arrivals can immediately begin sponsoring their foreign relatives for green cards under the process known as “chain migration.”
There is no limit to chain migration, allowing entire villages in India to permanently resettle across the U.S. The policy keeps a backlog in the legal immigration system so that annual admission rates are never allowed to stabilize around historical levels of 250,000 to 500,000.
As Breitbart News reported, the latest Ipsos Poll shows sweeping, nearly unanimous, support among American adults for an immigration pause. Nearly eight-in-ten Americans want a halt on all immigration to the U.S. Similarly, about seven-in-ten Americans said they would like to see President Donald Trump ground all international flights to stop foreign travel into the U.S.
Trump’s authority over immigration, like all other presidents, is vast and broad.
In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the president’s control over legal immigration. In Trump v. Hawaii, the court stated that presidents have extraordinarily broad discretion to admit or exclude foreign nationals from the U.S. when they believe doing so is in the national interest.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.