Robert Reich chimes in on immigration debate

New-ImageAs the presidential election cycle continues to ramp up, and Donald Trump maintains his well-known positions to tighten immigration policies, the former Bill Clinton Administration’s secretary of labor, Robert Reich, publishes his reply to Trump’s rhetoric in a Salon article entitled “Demagogues are brazenly lying to you about U.S. immigrants.” In the article, Reich breaks down both perceptions and numbers around immigrants to the United States in response to the “floodgates to lies about immigration” opened by Trump.

Calling Trump’s immigration positions “myths,” Reich counters several points with a discussion about national employment rates, demographics, public budgets and general immigration trends. At the crux of these arguments, he writes, is an attempt to “blame the economic problems of the middle class and poor on new immigrants, whether here legally or illegally.”

On the point of American jobs going to immigrants, Reich says the general paradigm is simply wrong—and is actually opposite of the truth.

“Immigrants add to economicdemand, and thereby push firms to create more jobs,” he writes.

On the shear number of immigrants living in the United States, essentaily that “we don’t need any more immigrants,” Reich points to the aging native population in the country. In order to cover social benefit costs allocated to older, nonworking Americans, the number of workers needs to increase.

Here, Reich makes the point that in 1990, the worker to retiree ratio was at five to one. In 2015, the ratio is down to three to one. It’s a trend that’s projected to continue for the foreseeable future, he argues.

“Without more immigration, in 15 years the ratio will fall to two workers for every retiree, not nearly enough to sustain our retiree population,” he writes.

Where public money is concerned, Reich again takes an opposing view to anti-reform rhetoric, pulling no punches in the process. Framing the argument as a myth that says “immigrants are a drain on public budgets,” Reich writes in his response, “Bull. Immigrants pay taxes!”

The former secretary points to a report from The Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy” from earlier this year. According to institute numbers, he writes, “immigrants paid $11.8 billion in state and local taxes in 2012 and their combined nationwide state and local tax contributions would increase by $2.2 billion under comprehensive immigration reform.”

The last point Reich argues is that an increase in legal and illegal immigration is a myth. He points to numbers from the Pew Research center that show a decline of undocumented immigrants from 12.2 million in 2007 to a current rate of 11.3 million.

“The net rate of illegal immigration into the U.S. is less than zero,” he writes.

Reich and others working to diffuse arguments for tightening immigration regulations and practices face an uphill battle. While many in the Republican had insisted that the party must back immigration reform in order to secure election victory, Trump’s popularity has some walking back the position.

Tom Donohoe, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, in 2014 agued that the failure to pass reform measures would “doom” the GOP in the presidential race. Now he’s revised his postion, according to a Bloomberg.com report.

“I still think they’d be stronger if they hadn’t [blocked immigration reform,] but I suppose they probably ought to run a candidate anyway,” he said.

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