In a July 28 statement posted on Medium, former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden asserted that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and other foreign nationals living in the United States illegally are “enriching our country.” He further promised mass amnesty and “a roadmap to citizenship for Dreamers and all 11 million undocumented immigrants.”
Mr. Biden’s statement comes in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to extend DACA while blocking any new applications – itself a walk-back from the president’s stated intention to re-rescind his predecessor’s unconstitutional executive quasi-amnesty after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the original decision to end the program was “arbitrary and capricious.” The Biden statement also called what was already a de facto concession a “cruel step” in a “misguided crusade,” further charging that President Trump – who, by the way, is married to an actual immigrant – “will stop at nothing to push his anti-immigrant political agenda.”
Of course, neither “Dreamers” in particular – nor other unauthorized foreign nationals in general – are actually “immigrants” in the proper sense of the term. Immigrants are foreign citizens who come to the United States permanently and – here comes the key part – do so by following the legal process. Those who either overstay their visas or simply sneak across the border, regardless of whether they were brought here as children, are by definition illegal aliens. Rewarding them with blanket amnesty, and eventual citizenship to boot, is unfair to legal immigrants who followed the rules – people whom Joe Biden seems much less concerned about.
Admittedly, this isn’t the first time candidate Biden has promised mass amnesty plus a “path to citizenship.” It was a plank of his original immigration plan, and remains a key part of the even more radical Biden-Sanders Democratic “unity” platform. (For a succinct summary and analysis, see a recent FAIR blog.) However, the fact that the supposed “moderate” Joe Biden speaks the same language on amnesty as does the radical socialist Bernie Sanders demonstrates how central the idea is to the modern-day Democratic Party and the degree to which open-borders extremists are calling the shots within it, not to mention Mr. Biden’s unwillingness to stand up to them.
The Democratic candidate’s assertion about illegal aliens “enriching” the United States may be pandering to the above mentioned pro-illegal-alien radicals. It is also undoubtedly an attempt to court Hispanic voters (true, not all illegal aliens are from Latin America, but a large majority are, and not all Hispanic voters support amnesty). But it is nevertheless important to address because it is also the narrative that is consistently pushed by the mainstream media, many politicians, influential business interests, and vociferous “immigrant rights” groups on the left.
Was Mr. Biden referring to “enrichment” in a broader, socio-cultural sense, or in a more monetary-economic context? We do not know, because he did not specify, but let us address both possible interpretations.
From the cultural point of view, the former vice president is likely alluding to the leftist notion of cultural, ethnic, and/or linguistic (but, ironically, not political) diversity as an absolute and unadulterated good, one that there can never be too much of.
However, as author Douglas Murray reminds us, “the knowledge or benefit or a culture does not increase incrementally with the number of people from that culture.” Moreover, the U.S. already has sufficiently plentiful numbers of legal immigrants from diverse corners of the world to more than satisfy our need for cultural enrichment and diversity. Finally, the left’s unquenchable desire for ever more diversity should not negate the common-sense necessity of a modicum of national cohesion, or a sovereign nation’s right to have its border and laws respected.
In an economic sense, illegal migration certainly helps enrich some people, mainly certain employers who benefit from cheaper and more exploitable labor. Illegal alien workers also admittedly earn more money in the U.S. than they would in their homelands. But that is not the whole story, because many disadvantaged, lower-income Americans are economically harmed by mass illegal migration through either depressed wages or losing work to cheaper unlawful alien competitors.
Then there are additional, more tangible costs. Based on research, FAIR estimates that the approximately 14.3 million illegal aliens in the U.S. – plus their U.S.-born children – cost the American taxpayer roughly $132 billion annually, a figure that is likely to rise to $200 billion by 2025. But that pales in comparison to the estimated $6.3 TRILLION (yes, you read that right – trillion!) cost of amnesty, according to a 2013 report by the Heritage Foundation. (For the sake of comparison, keep in mind that the U.S. national debt currently stands at $26.6 trillion.) From the perspective of the average American, that surely sounds much more like massive-scale highway robbery than any sort of “enrichment.” And, considering that mass amnesty will very likely trigger further illegal migration, the potential future fiscal burden may be even higher.