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Will the GOP Keep Choosing to Demonize Immigrants Instead of Strengthen Our Economy?

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Immigration Reform Is Key to Economic Strength, Yet GOP Blocking Legislative Fixes, Attacking DACA, and Running Hard on Ugly Nativism

Washington, DC – Economists agree that pro-immigrant policies and new avenues for legal workers would directly benefit the trouble spots of our economy, from rising prices to worker shortages to long-term need for young and skilled working people. As U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh stated on Fox Business ahead of Labor Day (starting at 2:20): 

“We have so many jobs open … we need to have a really serious conversation at some point in this country about immigration. When I talk to CEOs from companies all across America, they’re all in favor of immigration reform, they’re all in favor of pathways, of visas for people coming to the United States working … we certainly don’t have enough people to fill those jobs [listed as open] … at some point, the issue of workers has to be addressed and the only way you can do it is through immigration.”

Currently, a number of relevant legislative reforms are on the table and ready to be implemented. For example, an NBC News story, “Farmers push for immigration reform to counter labor shortages and rising food prices” notes: 

“Farmers across the U.S. are joining a push for national immigration reform that they say could ease labor shortages and lower food prices as surging production costs continue to rock the agriculture industry. The farm operators say the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, already passed by the House and pending in the Senate, will provide them with a stable reliable workforce by creating a path to citizenship for undocumented agricultural workers and reforming the seasonal farmworker visa program, among other things.

The current labor shortage, while not new, has been exacerbated by the pandemic and resulted in higher prices or empty store shelves for consumers. Food costs are now 10% higher than they were at this time last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

But despite the vocal support from many in the business community across a range of sectors and some of their own GOP colleagues, Republicans are thus far choosing to obstruct needed legislative fixes like the Farm Workforce Modernization Act while doubling down on the ugly demonization of immigrants to engage the MAGA political base, as our recent political report makes clear.

Simultaneously, Republicans are seeking to end existing immigration policies that strengthen our economy, such as the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. A legal challenge against DACA led by Texas and other red states is pending at the conservative Fifth Circuit. The coming DACA ruling could mean the end of work permits for tens of thousands of Dreamers at a time when there are more than 340,000 “essential” workers with DACA across the country, including 15,000 K-12 teachers during a time of existing teacher shortages.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

Republicans cannot claim to be the party of economic growth and opportunity while embracing nativism, attacking DACA, and blocking legislative reforms. Their relentless nativism is not just ugly politics designed to engage the MAGA base, but also incredibly damaging for the U.S. economy in the short and long term.

Economists, labor experts, and many business leaders agree that immigrant workers and related legislative reforms are sorely needed to grow our economy and address inflation, including in the food and agricultural sectors. And schools, hospitals, Fortune 50 companies, and small businesses can attest to the incredible contributions of DACA employees. Yet GOP obstruction means that the farm workforce legislation and a permanent legislative fix to address Dreamers’ plight are uncertain this year.”