In large part because of the twin problems of inflation and immigration, Democrats are preparing for a difficult election in November. But neither side of the political divide seems to understand how intertwined the two issues are or how raising immigration numbers would help contain inflation. Instead, centrist Democrats are fretting over the Biden administration's proposal to relax Trump-era Title 42 health limitations at the border, which will make it more difficult to deport those who cross the border without authorization. Democrats are concerned that images of thousands of asylum seekers being given temporary entry while their applications are decided upon could rekindle the anti-immigrant raging flame that sparked Trump's campaign in 2015. They may be correct about the Republican base's views on immigration, but that constituency is small, and an influx of migrants who are working-age is exactly what the economy needs right now.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on the American workforce. The number of Americans quitting their jobs increased to over 47 million in 2021, the greatest number in 20 years. Nearly 25% of Hispanic and Asian workers also left their positions. According to a Pew research, the majority of those who left their jobs blamed inadequate compensation and no room for promotion (63 percent) or claimed they were treated disrespectfully at work (57 percent). Most of these people were able to find new employment, and the majority (56 percent) made more money than they had before. While the advantages of such higher pay accrue to specific workers, the costs are borne by businesses and consumers through higher pricing.
Job unhappiness may promote upward mobility, but if ambitious workers leave their employment, who will fill the void? With entry-level positions in the service, food, and construction industries, new immigrants filled the bottom rungs of the economic ladder for decades, gaining the necessary work experience and language proficiency to advance over time. However, curbs on immigration over the previous five years slowed the influx of new workers into the country; further restrictions came from the Trump administration and COVID.
The best solution, of course, would be for Congress to pass legislation allowing additional employees to enter the nation and providing legal status to the millions of illegal workers already here, of whom two-thirds have been in the country for more than ten years. Sens. Thom Tillis and Dick Durbin want to hold bipartisan negotiations after the recess to explore if a 60-vote majority is feasible on some aspects of immigration reform, giving rise to some optimism that a bipartisan solution may be attainable. Asylum reform, border security, DACA, and immigration reform are the four pillars of a discussion that must take place simultaneously, according to Tillis, who made this statement to the Hill last week. "I think asylum reform is pretty important particularly with that's going on with Title 42," he added.
I'm not holding my breath, but the last time the Senate succeeded in adopting immigration reform was in 2013, when it passed with bipartisan support in the Senate but failed in the House due to vehement GOP opposition. In the meanwhile, granting work permits to asylees and allowing more Ukrainian and Afghan refugees to enter the nation could help to address the labor shortfall.
11.3 million job opportunities were published by the Department of Labor last month, a figure that has been at an all-time high for months. We ought to be widening our doors to let individuals looking for safety in the United States to come here and contribute to filling those positions. There won't be enough people who meet the criteria among the crowds that will undoubtedly assemble at the southern border once Title 42 limitations are eased, but there will be plenty, and this could improve work prospects in many sectors. Even with families from Central America, which make up the majority of asylum seekers, adult family members are eager to work if given the opportunity. Many communities would welcome the addition of college graduates among the Ukrainian and Afghan refugee populations as well as truck drivers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, and others with necessary skills. Many of the most intelligent, marketable, and liberally inclined Russians are emigrating to nations with more open cultures and promising futures; surely some of them would be welcomed in the workplaces of American businesses that are having trouble filling positions.
Unauthorized immigration has been a significant factor in the labor market for a number of decades, despite the fact that officials prefer not to discuss it. Americans have a natural understanding of this. During the height of the epidemic when unemployment was soaring, a 2020 Pew poll found that 77 percent of Americans believed that undocumented immigrants fill jobs that Americans don't desire. It would be preferable if Congress worked together to craft a sensible immigration reform measure that featured improved border security to keep out dangerous criminals and narcotics while allowing in needed workers.
The amount of refugees and asylees who will likely be accepted in the upcoming months will assist reduce the inflationary pressures on wages and supply chain backlogs that labor shortages have caused. Accelerating the process so that Americans can begin to experience the economic benefits before to the November elections and talking about those benefits rather than panicking will be the issue for Democrats.