Democrats Call Trump ‘Xenophobe’ yet Obama, Sanders Have Praised Immigration Reduction to Boost Wages

People recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a Naturalization Ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Photograph by Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Democrats have chastised President Donald Trump as a “xenophobe” for declaring an immigration moratorium during the coronavirus pandemic. In contrast, former President Barack Obama, economist Paul Krugman, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have praised immigration reduction.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” Trump wrote on Monday night, announcing his immigration moratorium.

The federal government has not enacted an immigration moratorium in over four decades. Since 1980, America has not admitted fewer than roughly half a million legal immigrants per year.

Trump’s move to limit immigration was swiftly condemned by Democrats across both chambers of Congress.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the chairman of the House Democrat caucus, slammed Trump as a “xenophobe.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) urged the president to “reread” the Declaration of Independence.

“Pathetic attempt to shift blame from his Visible Incompetence to an Invisible Enemy. The President needs to reread the Declaration of Independence, criticizing King George for restricting immigration to America,” Kaine wrote.

Contrary to Kaine’s argument, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the president’s authority over legal immigration in Trump v. Hawaii.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement on Tuesday that the president’s immigration moratorium will benefit all workers:

President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times. As President Trump has said, ‘Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers.’ At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary.

Further, polls have found that immigration is popular with Americans across the political spectrum.

An Ipsos poll released in April found that 79 percent of Americans support temporarily stopping immigration from all other countries. This is an increase of three points since March.

An April Rasmussen survey found that 70 percent of registered voters favor a ban on immigration into the country. Eighty-two percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Independents, and 64 percent of Democrats back the measure. In contrast, only 15 percent of registered voters oppose a temporary moratorium.

The April Pew Research Center poll found that more than 80 percent of American adults call mass migration to the country a “threat.”

Despite the widespread support for an immigration moratorium, Democrats continue to attack the president as some sort of bigot even though Obama, Krugman, and Sanders have all contended that mass immigration depresses American workers’ wages.

Krugman wrote in March 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.

Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope:

The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century. If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole … it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.

Sen. Bernie Sanders said that immigration reduction would benefit workers in an interview with Vox in 2015. He explained:

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 that 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. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. 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 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.

Sanders even derided open borders as a “Koch brothers proposal.”

Sanders told Fox Business’s Lou Doubs in 2007:

Well, you raise a good point, in that this whole immigration guest worker program is the other side of the trade issue. On one hand you have large multinationals trying to shut down plants in the America, move to China and on the other hand you have the service industry bringing in low wage workers from abroad.

“The result is the same — middle class gets shrunken, and wages go down,” Sanders added.

Trump campaign officials have contended that increasing immigration during the coronavirus pandemic would depress wages and unemployment.

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump 2020 campaign communications director, said in a statement on Tuesday:

At a time when our economy has been artificially interrupted by the virus, introducing more competition for jobs would worsen unemployment and depress wages, especially in Black and Latino communities. Preventing further entrance of people potentially infected with the virus is an additional safety measure for the country. President Trump always puts America first and a huge majority of Americans see this policy as common sense. The usual suspects are sniping from the sidelines, but they have always cared more about scoring political points against the President than they do about anything else.

When President Trump introduced his initial merit-based immigration reform in August 2017, the RAISE Act, Trump touted how the bill’s reduction of immigration would raise wages.

Trump said that reducing immigration “will reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.”

Trump added that limiting immigration “demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first, and that puts America first.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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