Sessions wrong about immigration’s impact

Sen. Jeff Sessions wrote a recent op-ed for theWashington Post headlined “America needs to curb immigration flows.” He was not talking about illegalimmigration. He was talking about legal immigration.

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration subcommittee, our senator’s view is significant. If there are good reasons to curb the flow of immigration to America, though, Sen. Sessions does not provide us with any. As a matter of fact, his main argument against immigration is historically flawed and a non sequitur.

I have voted for Sen. Sessions multiple times and am a supporter of his. But I believe that he is wrong to blame legal immigrants for economic stagnation.

Sen. Sessions tells us that legal immigrants are hurting the American economy, are taking jobs from American workers, and are depressing wages. However, he makes his case using false comparisons.

He says that the restrictions placed on immigration from 1930 till the mid-1960s helped usher in a boom for the American middle class where “real median compensation for U.S. workers surged, increasing more than 90 percent from 1948 to 1973, according to the Economic Policy Institute.” He then goes on to say that after the number of legal immigrants began to rise, wages for the American middle class began to stagnate.

His premise is that the more foreign-born workers we have in America, the more stagnant our economy will be, which will hurt the prospects of American-born workers.

However, something else significant happened in America from 1948 to 1973 that caused the American economy to explode and it had nothing to do with immigration controls. America had just won World War II, and for several decades we were the dominant economic power in the world without compare.

Also, we were experiencing the Baby Boom and cities were being expanded, the Interstate Highway system was linking America, and technological advances were accelerating at an astounding rate. We were experiencing a post-war boom that benefited the entire nation.

Tying our economic expansion during this period to an absence of immigrants is poor history and it is a poor way to make a case. By the early 1970s, the labor market was flooded with a massive generation of Baby Boomers going to work in addition to women entering the workforce en masse. There are just too many other factors going on to draw the conclusions that Sen. Sessions does.

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About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…