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The biggest anti-immigration lie of them all

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Evan Vucci/AP

Originally published by The Washington Post

Anti-immigration activists, whether deliberately or inadvertently, use a great deal of misinformation (on wages, competition against native-born workers, etc.) and shoddy economic analysis (e.g., the “lump of labor fallacy“) while ignoring well-established data on immigrants’ homeownership, participation in the workforce, entrepreneurialism, contribution to growth, etc. Welcome to the Fox News/Trumpian world, where facts are no longer facts.

There is one giant untruth that outweighs all others — and it is easily debunked. Will Wilkinson of the libertarian-leaning Niskanen Center writes:

Between 2000 and 2015, 109 countries saw their immigrant population grow at a faster rate than that of the United States. Among countries with any net international in-migration, the U.S. is resolutely on the closed side of the continuum. … It is very easy to say is that the U.S. status quo is much closer to “completely closed” than “completely open” under even the most modest estimates of movement under the “completely open” counterfactual. If we move out of the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] into the broader world, the current world champ in immigrant population is Qatar, which makes extensive use of guest workers, with about 22 migrants per 1000 people. If we use Qatar as the open end of the closed-to-open continuum, the United States’ 4 migrants per 1000 people is in comparison very, very close to “completely closed.” …

Nevertheless, the immigration restrictionists who warn of swamping under open borders tend to be the same people who characterize the status quo as an “open borders” system. It’s obvious why they traffic in this sort of rank dishonesty. They want to further harden our already very hardened borders, and this is easier to justify if you can systematically mislead people about the fact that the American immigration system is relatively closed even when compared to other wealthy liberal democracies.

In other words, by scaring Americans that our borders are “open” (or that immigration reformers want “open borders”), opponents of immigration are pulling the wool over the eyes of the public and policymakers, just as they do when falsely accusing illegal immigrants of causing a crime wave.

Moreover, there is some powerful evidence that we need more immigration, not less. Ron Brownstein points out that Trump’s aging, mostly white base will need more immigrants to pay into entitlement programs because “the 2020 Census will find that non-white kids represent a majority of all Americans younger than 18; kids of color are already a majority of all K-12 public school students.” He explains: “What these numbers make clear is that, whatever Trump does to restrict immigration, there is no cavalry of white kids coming to fill the jobs that the mostly white baby boom is vacating. Non-white young people — reinforced by future immigrants — will drive almost all of the workforce’s future growth, according to widely respected projections by the non-partisan Pew Research Center.” Without that population growth, Brownstein explains, “each worker will be required to fund 80% more seniors than they do now. That demographic imbalance represents a political tourniquet that will inexorably increase pressure for cuts in Social Security and Medicare.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/01/17/the-biggest-anti-immigration-lie-of-them-all/?utm_term=.5001402190cf

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