Immigration as a Campaign Issue

The soon-to-be-official presidential nomination of Donald Trump has provoked an outpouring of negative commentary by immigration boosters. It appears that there is likely to be a heated debate around immigration during the campaign. This offers a great learning opportunity for the public if it does not degenerate into emotional sound bites.

Often the discussion of the issue is misleading and, apparently, designed to confuse the public. An example is a July 18 discussion on the CNBC website entitled “The front line in a Trump immigration war: State economies.” ()

As the title implies, the discussion suggests that the economies of the states with the largest numbers of illegal aliens would suffer the greatest impact from a renewed enforcement of the nation’s immigration law by leading to deportations of illegal residents. It quotes a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as saying, “”It’s very difficult to imagine the economy functioning without this workforce.”

That comment suggests that the official believes that the US. economy should be permanently dependent on the exploitation of unskilled, exploitable illegal alien workers. It also ignores the effect of a gradual reduction in the size of the illegal population through deportation and denial of jobs leading to higher wages that would attract unemployed and underemployed legal workers – some of them legal resident immigrants.

The CNBC article also demonstrates the difficulty of conducting a serious debate over the immigration issue. As soon as the prospect of a disruption of the economy from deportations was portrayed, the discussion changed gears to legal immigration. The article continued: “U.S. innovation can also get a boost from immigrant college graduates.” The implication is that the Trump immigration policy’s focus on enforcement would also curtail legal immigration. That is a completely fictitious implication.

It is abundantly clear that a major effort will be needed by FAIR and fair-minded analysts during the campaign to keep the pundits objective and honest in their commentary about the immigration issue in the presidential debate.  

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    I agree with leland our beautiful state has been hurt so badly ! Companys all favor illegals from macdonalds to IBM an Western union they all employ illegals with no fines or restriction our construction is down because of illegals an theyall collect welfare, social security an food stams, medical, an schooling,they alone have bankrupted California BUILD that WALL ! An deport, deport,deport an make all companys that hire them pay $250.000 for illegals found working in these companys

    • avatar
      Sandi McGrath on

      A wall is a band aid remedy. We need to fine and fine heavily those who hire illegals second offences result in confiscation of said business. If there are no jobs…there is no need to come here!

    • avatar

      You are wrong on both cases. That us the corrupt officials in those states N how they mishandle the financial assets….

  2. avatar

    California’s “state economy” is being crushed by the burdens put on it by illegals. Same with Illinois, a total sanctuary state.

    • avatar

      Wrong….not the in Illinois nor in CA…. all about the State officials N the mishandling of management of the state