“We need a bipartisan fix here.” Labor Sec. Marty Walsh
Washington, DC – Republican hostility to legal immigration and their obstruction of immigration policy reform is hurting the fight against inflation and larger efforts to improve the economy for American workers and families. With Republicans ramping up attacks on immigrants, some Democrats are missing an opportunity to call out Republicans on the economic costs of their nativism. That is why Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s clear call for immigration reform on CNBC this week is significant and why it is important to note the mounting evidence that immigration is a tool we are not fully utilizing to address inflation and economic uncertainty.
The economic costs of failing to address immigration are going to come into even sharper relief immediately after the election when, barring urgent action from elected officials, almost three-quarters of million American workers could lose work authorization and be subject to deportation in the coming months. These include more than 600,000 people with DACA whose fate seems sealed by conservative judges and Republican lawsuits to end the program and more than 250,000 TPS holders who are now awaiting action to allow them to continue to work legally in the U.S. – where most have lived for decades – because settlement talks in the Ramos case have ended, leaving their continued TPS status uncertain.
On CNBC, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, the former Mayor of Boston, was clear in making the case that we need to see immigration policy as one tool in our fight against inflation and recession, as captured in the article, “A ‘catastrophe’ is coming for the economy, but it’s not recession or inflation, says Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.” Eric Rosenbaum writes:
“Amid one of the tightest labor markets in history, Walsh said the political parties’ approach to immigration — ‘getting immigration all tied up’ — is among the most consequential mistakes the nation can make in labor policy.
‘One party is showing pictures of the border and meanwhile if you talk to businesses that support those congressional folks, they’re saying we need immigration reform,’ Walsh said. ‘Every place I’ve gone in the country and talked to every major business, every small business, every single one of them is saying we need immigration reform. We need comprehensive immigration reform. They want to create a pathway for citizenship into our country, and they want to create better pathways for visas in our country.’
…’We need a bipartisan fix here,’ Walsh said. ‘I’ll tell you right now if we don’t solve immigration … we’re talking about worrying about recessions, we’re talking about inflation. I think we’re going to have a bigger catastrophe if we don’t get more workers into our society and we do that by immigration.’”
In Forbes, Stuart Anderson, conservative columnist and the head of the National Foundation for American Policy, writes, “Another Study Concludes Immigration Critics Are Wrong,” highlighting the economic damage that results from the GOP’s increasing opposition to immigration in all its forms:
“A new study concludes temporary work visas allow firms to expand and hire more U.S. workers, contrary to the arguments of immigration opponents. Economists find it is the latest in a series of recent studies that demonstrate the key premise of immigration restriction—that there is only a fixed number of jobs in the economy—relies on ignorance of economics.
For more than 100 years, opponents of immigration have promoted the ‘lump of labor fallacy,’ a discredited notion that there is a fixed quantity of labor needed in an economy. The latest research from Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development, and Ethan G. Lewis, an associate professor of economics at Dartmouth College, again shows it is wrong to assume new entrants to the labor market mean fewer jobs for U.S. workers.
…Critics of work visas fail to address the moral dimension of the anti-immigration policy that they favor, note analysts, namely that preventing the use of work visas kills people. Without access to legal visas, individuals attempt to enter illegally—and often die trying. Since 1998, officially, at least 9,000 immigrants have died attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, but the actual number could be twice as high.
Many employers say they could not operate their businesses and serve customers without access to H-2B workers. Jack Brooks, an owner of J.M. Clayton Seafood Co. in Maryland, told the Washington Post, ‘We need a long-term fix to survive.’”
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
“In the long-run and in the short-run, the U.S. economy is starving for more American workers and immigration is a tool we are underutilizing because of Republican opposition to legal immigration and their relentless efforts to use immigrants as a boogeyman in their electoral campaigns. Not only are Republicans hostile to new immigrants coming in – even those coming on work visas – they are actively trying to undocument those who are already working and living here through Republican attacks on DACA and efforts to strip TPS status. The U.S. economy needs more immigrant workers and to ensure continuity for existing DACA and TPS workers. Yet on the campaign trail and in Congress and in the courts, Republicans are pushing the exact opposite message and policy prescriptions – despite the unanimous sentiment of economic experts that immigrant workers are crucial to a vibrant U.S. workforce, growing prosperity and staving off economic calamity.
The economic incentives line up with the moral imperatives: the Biden administration must do its part to resolve TPS holders’ fears and uncertainty, while Congress – and the dwindling number of responsible Republicans – must deliver a bipartisan fix to finally reform outdated immigration laws, resolve the longer term plight of Dreamers and TPS holders, and prevent further economic volatility and harm.
Whatever happens on election day, the American people need politicians in both parties to prioritize clearcut, popular and achievable policy changes regarding immigrant workers to help the U.S. economy move forward and to tamp down inflation and that action is urgently needed this year before the new Congress is even seated.”