The 2020 Election Gives Pause to an Immigration Enthusiast



The former leader of an immigration advocacy group suggested this week that mass migration might not be such a glorious blessing to the U.S. after all.

Instead of jumping on Joe Biden’s open-borders bandwagon, Demetrios Papademetriou, president emeritus of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), cautioned America to “be careful about how much immigration we need.”

“There are people who have not participated in the largess of immigration,” Papademetriou observed during a forum titled, “The Role of Migration in Emerging from the Economic and Labor Market Turmoil.”

Pointing to electoral maps that showed President Donald Trump carried 2,497 suburban and rural counties, versus 477 densely populated counties won by Biden, he said proponents of mass immigration “cannot wish away” red state voters or their concerns.

Looking beyond the short-term effects of the COVID pandemic, Papademetriou forecast that “by the end of 2021 we’re still going to be in trouble. There is going to be structural unemployment [in the U.S.]for a long time.”

Papademetriou has not transmogrified himself into Deporter-in-Chief. He speaks hopefully about “immigrant integration” and a “grand bargain” to convert temporary work permits into permanent residency (though not citizenship). But Papademetriou’s heightened attention to the plight of American workers indicates his belief that there ought to be some limits to immigration enthusiasm.

FAIR research has long proven that “too many people, driven by too much immigration … looking for too few jobs has resulted in periods of high unemployment and a long-term, downward spiral of wages.”

“Through the process of admitting millions of low-skilled legal immigrants each year, we are mathematically reducing our middle class and swelling the ranks of those living at or below the poverty level. The middle class is disappearing, resulting in more income inequality and more societal friction.”

Papademetriou picked up on that inequality and friction. “Much more attention needs to be paid to people who have not benefited from immigration and globalization,” he offered. “If you cannot address the real concerns of people, that’s not the way to move forward.”

As MPI’s president emeritus, he may not have the clout he once did. Indeed, on the day Papademetriou spoke, his organization released yet another sweeping critique of Trump’s policies.

But while Papademetriou’s voice sounds like one crying in the wilderness, it’s a voice of reason that is essential to any honest immigration debate.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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