In the midst of a booming U.S. economy, the debate over wages is revving. And immigration policy is one of the drivers.
President Donald Trump on Sunday declared that “wages for the bottom 10 percent are rising faster than for the top 10 percent.” Earlier this month, a FAIR commentary cited the salutatory effect that sensible immigration policies have on pay scales.
By contrast, mass immigration has historically suppressed paychecks by flooding the labor pool with legal and illegal workers. Wages in America have been stagnating since the early 1970s, when U.S. immigration policy was liberalized as well as a host of other phenomena, like automation and economic globalization.
But beyond wages, there’s a better barometer to gauge what’s happening. It’s called prosperity (or lack thereof). Spencer Morrison, writing in American Greatness, neatly summarizes how large-scale immigration diminishes prosperity by undermining the fiscal and social health of the nation.
TAXES: “Immigration reduces prosperity by elevating taxes [because]immigrants are a net burden on the welfare state,” Morrison asserts. “While 15 percent of immigrants are estimated to be net contributors and 35 percent are revenue neutral, the bottom half are a drain on the economy.” This lower cohort will cost Americans $1.9 trillion in higher taxes over the course of their lifetimes. In 2017, FAIR calculated that illegal immigration alone cost federal, state and local taxpayers a net $116 billion annually.
HOUSING COSTS: Immigration hurts American workers by increasing the cost of living, particularly in housing. Since 1973, the cost of housing in America (relative to purchasing power) has increased by 73 percent. One of the drivers of demand is the influx of more than 60 million immigrants — rich and poor — into America’s major cities. The 60 million figure does not include millions of illegal aliens seeking shelter. For a variety of reasons, demand has vastly outpaced supply, making housing far less affordable for everyone.
REMITTANCES: Every time immigrants send funds abroad they siphon money from local economies. Remittances, as of 2015, resulted in more than $56 billion exiting the U.S. economy. This is money that might otherwise have been earned by American workers and spent locally, generating job growth, government revenues, and investment in needed infrastructure.
Whether experts figure wages are up, down or sideways, immigrant-imposed costs are real. They’re eating into workers’ paychecks and making America less prosperous.