Republicans like to pretend they care about the debt and spending, and pretend that the current election is all about the economy, when in reality they’re actively threatening to blow up that economy unless they get their way on Social Security. They want to kill it. But there are also other ways that Republicans are actively hurting our economic outlook, aside from seeking to shove sticks of dynamite in programs that represent a lifeline to millions of Americans.
Republicans have not just ignored, but also impeded efforts to overhaul our unjust immigration system. This has human costs, of course. But it also has costs in dollars, to the tune of billions, and affects all Americans.
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Take legislation affecting farmworkers lacking permanent legal status. Research has shown that bills like the Farm Workforce Modernization Act could help lower both food prices and inflation, issues which Republicans have claimed they care about and have sought to make election year issues. But has there been a push by Senate Republicans to get this bill to the president’s desk after its passage by the U.S. House last year? Of course not, and it’s costing us.
Like previously noted, welcoming immigrants and refugees could also help with labor shortages all over the country. Immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice pointed to a 2022 study from Oxford Review of Economic Policy showing that the previous administration’s intentional decimation of the U.S. refugee system, including historic cuts, has been costing our nation more than $9 billion annually.
“Relative to other immigrants, refugees resettled into the U.S. have traits that tend to confer higher productivity as workers,” the research said. “Refugees are more educated than non-refugee immigrants: They are more likely to have a high school degree, and as likely to have a college degree. U.S. refugees are more likely to be employed than other immigrants, or even native workers.”
Republicans are already trying to deport immigrant workers, through attacks like their lawsuit targeting the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Tens of thousands of DACA recipients are medical frontline workers, and this litigation threatens to rip away their work permits. Republicans have also attacked the Temporary Protected Status program, which allows at least 400,000 immigrants to work legally. They’ve built homes and families here, and they contribute. But Republicans have not championed legislation that would permanently protect either of these groups of immigrants. In fact, Ted Cruz last year single-handedly blocked a vote to protect DACA recipients.
GOP “opposition to legal immigration, including those seeking asylum and refugee status, continues to inflict a cost on all Americans as we struggle to recover from the reductions in immigration caused by COVID-19 and President Trump’s policies, some of which have continued during the Biden administration,” America’s Voice said. “Fewer producers, consumers and taxpayers in the U.S. economy makes growth more difficult and contributes to the problems of inflation, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and offshoring of jobs.”
Of course, immigrants are not their tax dollars and contributions. They deserve permanent relief because they are human beings worthy of dignity. Our nation is enriched by them, quite literally, too.
“Republicans frame immigrants, refugees and those seeking asylum as social and economic threats, but just the opposite is true,” said Douglas Rivlin, America’s Voice communications director. He called immigrants “key for the prosperity of our nation and drive economic growth as consumers, workers and taxpayers. Immigrant and refugee contributions, talents and hard work are necessary ingredients for our economy and our global competitiveness.”
“So Republican policies to make legal immigration more difficult and prevent immigrants and refugees from settling in their states is hurting local, state and national well-being far beyond immigrant communities,” Rivlin continued. “We all pay a price for Republican nativism.”
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