Hurting Our Economy

Trump Is Making It Harder for Immigrants to Get Green Cards — and Hurting Our Economy in the Process

Preventing poorer immigrants from getting green cards could lead to a big drop in fertility rates and population growth

The Trump administration’s crusade against immigrant rights continues. On Monday, Kenneth Cuccinelli, the acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced that under a revised “public charge” rule, green card and visa applicants residing both inside and outside the country will be subject to a strict evaluation of their wealth in order to determine whether they’re likely to receive government benefits. That means poorer immigrants will be far less likely to receive green cards or be admitted to the United States under the new rule, which goes into effect in October.

The changes have the potential to accomplish one of the Trump administration’s (particularly far-right advisor Stephen Miller’s) long-term dreams: reshaping America’s demographic future by reducing immigration. In so doing, the new rule has the potential to transform America’s economy, in ways that few people are talking about.

In the short-term, these changes could have significant economic ramifications. Certain industries will struggle to find low-skill workers (even more so than they already are). The best available evidence suggests that immigrants grow the economy and increase the average wages of native-born Americans; should this rule change reduce total legal immigration, the U.S. will stop benefiting from these economic boons.

“When we have these conversations about immigrants or changes in immigration policy, a lot of what we think about are very short-term implications,” says Lopoo. “But we’re not thinking at all about the long-term. What’s going to happen in 30 or 40 years, as people start to age?”

The answer to that question could be grim. It seems that in its headlong rush to reshape America’s demographic future at all costs, the Trump administration may be subjecting future generations to a bleak economic future.

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