Trump Wants to Stop Certain Immigrants From Working — But Will That Really Save American Jobs?

trump scowls at the christmas tree lighting

President Trump wants to end work authorization programs for the spouses of certain legal immigrants. | Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

In an effort to continue paving the way for President Trump‘s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, the Trump administration is proposing to end work authorization for people with H-4 dependent visas. This means that the spouses of highly-skilled legal immigrants would be unable to legally work in the country. Between this new proposal and the goals surrounding the RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) act, the overarching question is: Does reducing immigration actually save American jobs?

While the general train of logic suggests reducing immigration would increase jobs for American workers, you may be surprised to find that research suggests otherwise. Here’s why stopping certain immigrants from working in the United States may not improve the job market for native workers. 

1. Immigration is good for the economy

Despite President Trump saying otherwise, immigration has been proven to benefit the economy. In fact, it’s immigrants that help grow the labor force and bolster entrepreneurship to grow the U.S. economy. According to the National Academy of Sciences, “In short, the prospects for long-run economic growth in the United States would be considerably dimmed without the contributions of high-skilled immigrants.”

NextImmigrants aren’t stealing jobs from native workers.

2. Immigrant and native workers with low education levels aren’t actually competing against one another

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Immigrants and native workers aren’t always competing for the same jobs. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Through a study of 16 million American employees not holding a high school diploma, Urban’s Maria E. Enchautegui’s findings were illuminating. Native and immigrant workers with a low education level aren’t likely to compete for the same jobs. You see, immigrant workers typically have limited English language and technical skills. This allows American workers to take advantage of jobs like cashiers, truck drivers, and home-health workers. On the other hand, immigrant workers take advantage of manual labor-intensive positions that don’t require heavy communication skills.

NextImmigrant workers help create opportunities for other Americans.

3. Highly-skilled immigrants propel innovations that create jobs for American workers

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Some immigrants work at innovative companies like Apple. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sixty-six percent of the high-skilled immigrants working on H-1B visas are employed in Silicon Valley. While some American workers have been displaced from their jobs due to the H-1B visas, evidence proves that the overall economic impact remains positive. Generally speaking, the innovations developed by highly-skilled immigrants continue to create jobs for working-class Americans.

NextImmigrants are needed to fill many jobs.

4. By 2022, there will be 4 million new jobs for  individuals not holding high school diplomas

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A man looks through the want ads for a job. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The number of Americans not holding a high school diploma is decreasing. All the while, the number of immigrants without high school diplomas is increasing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15.6 million jobs are expected to be added to the labor force by 2022. Of that number, 4 million of those new jobs will need to be filled by workers not holding a high school diploma.

Next: Companies can be more profitable when they hire immigrants.

5. Immigrants actually strengthen the profitability of American companies

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Hiring immigrant workers can increase the profitability of American companies | iStock.com/dpproductions

In terms of the economy as a whole, immigrants tend to strengthen the overall profitability of American companies. Many businesses would not be able to stay afloat if it weren’t for the low-wages they manage to pay immigrant workers. For example, let’s consider a general contractor. When a general contractor bids to take on jobs, the company hires an American supervisor to oversee the project and the immigrant workers. Furthermore, considering the low-wage cost of immigrant workers, contractors are able to take on more projects.

NextImmigrants aren’t pushing down wages for American workers.

6. The impact of immigrants on wages hasn’t been negative

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Immigrants workers don’t depress wages. | iStock.com/TheaDesign

Because immigration’s overall impact on the economy is positive, there is no surprise that the impact on wages is similar. According to research conducted by Gianmarco Ottaviano and UC Davis’s Giovanni Peri, it is because of immigration that high school dropouts here in the United States have seen a 0.6 percent increase in their wages.

Next: Immigrants help make the U.S. economy more productive.

7. Immigration contributes to productivity growth

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People attend a rally for immigration reform in New York City in 2016. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Productivity growth here in the United States is directly linked to the low wages employers manage to pay immigrant workers. Consider the restaurant business. Many servers and bartenders wouldn’t have jobs if it wasn’t for the low-wages paid to immigrants working in the kitchens. Immigrants are the reason many American companies are able to experience continued growth.

NextThe drawbacks to immigration.

8. There are drawbacks

man wearing American flag looks toward statue of liberty

Immigration can help the U.S. economy, but there can also be drawbacks. | John Moore/Getty Images

It would be ludicrous to suggest that immigrant workers aren’t taking any jobs from American workers. Certainly, there are times when natives receive the short end of the stick in the job market. For example, when the economy takes a turn for the worse, older high school dropouts face the worst odds of re-entering the labor market. This is mostly due to lower-paid immigrants swooping in, for say, a janitorial position. However, by and large, the economy sees more growth because immigrants than it ever would without them.

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