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Kevin McCarthy and the GOP Choose Nativism Over Our Economy

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Washington, DC – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the Trumpified GOP is making it crystal clear that the Republican Party is on the side of nativism, defeatism and fear – even when it hurts our nation’s economy. Axios reports today

“McCarthy reiterated to Axios his recent pledge to Breitbart’s Matt Boyle — that he’ll not consider any legislation offering legal status to undocumented immigrants, preemptively ruling out comprehensive immigration reform.

– Republican leaders toyed with bipartisan reforms earlier in the 2000s and came close in 2013 with the so-called Gang of Eight plan.

– But since then, amenable Republicans have either been driven out of the party (see: Jeff Flake) or atoned with the base for their perceived sins and seem unlikely to go there again (see: Marco Rubio).”

McCarthy’s pledge stands in stark contrast to the views of leading economists and leading business group – not to mention the American people. Legalizing undocumented workers would help unleash an economic boon, increasing U.S. GDP by an estimated $1.7 trillion and raising wages for all Americans. Meanwhile, the efforts by Trump and Stephen Miller to slash legal immigration levels by executive fiat are contributing to labor shortages and inflation. As NBC News reported earlier this week, net immigration to the U.S. last year was one-quarter what it had been in 2016, and is emerging as an often overlooked factor in the challenges of today’s economy.  

Earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO stated that more immigrant workers and a doubling of legal immigration would help combat labor shortages and inflation. Today, additional experts are weighing in to support the argument that immigration reform would strengthen our economy:

In MarketWatch, labor economists Giovanni Peri (a leading voice in analyzing the economic boosts gleaned from immigration) and Reem Zaiour write “U.S. labor shortages tied to low immigration in past two years and note:

“The shortfall of immigrants over the past two years has had immediate adverse consequences for filling jobs and also harms the long-run prospects for the U.S. economy. The drop in the number of foreign students and high-skilled immigrants is particularly concerning for the long-run effects on productivity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The drop in the number of less-skilled immigrants can be contributing to the current shortages in several industries in which they had been highly represented. In light of this, the government should make an effort this year to facilitate the processing of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to avoid further reducing the number of immigrants and the resulting negative economic consequences.”

In the Chicago Tribune, immigration attorney and former U.S. diplomat Christopher Richardson writes an op-ed, “Biden must lead on legal immigration to overcome our labor crisis that notes:

“The Trump administration, via its over 400 changes, decreased immigration to the United States by close to 50%. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has killed some 835,000 Americans, many of them working age, and it also has forced millions of baby boomers into early retirement. All the while, the birthrate in the United States has fallen to its lowest rate ever.

… For all of Trump’s failings, he and his people understood the levers of immigration better than any administration before. Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon and Trump worked hourly and aggressively on a daily basis to keep legal immigrants out. The breadth and scope of our current labor crisis will require Biden to have the same energy in strengthening the legal immigration system.

…Biden must realize that on immigration, waiting for Congress to do what it hasn’t done in 20 years of attempts simply will not be enough for U.S. employers, nor will it save our country from the prospect of inflation, stagnated growth and decline.”

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

At a time when economists and business leaders are highlighting the need for more immigrants to grow our economy, address worker shortages and combat inflation, Kevin McCarthy and the Trumpified GOP are going in the opposite direction. Instead of modernizing our immigration system to help spur the traditional can-do optimism that drives the American economy, McCarthy is choosing retreat, defeat and nativism. Evidently, riling up the base with hate and fear is more important to the Republican project than growing our economy.