In 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Wetback, a project that rounded up hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and deported them.
Now policy leader Donald Trump is proposing that we do something similar—on a much larger scale. Think 11 million immigrants deported in two years.
Now, many argue that if immigrants are coming to the United States illegally, they are living here unjustly and deserve to be deported. It’s not an invalid concern.
But The New York Times reports that according to many experts, Trump’s plan is completely unsustainable for a number of reasons. For instance, about 400,000 deportations occur each year, and they’re targeted at immigrants who have a track record of being violent offenders and drug traffickers. Increasing the quantity of deportations would mean targeting many harmless, hardworking individuals—while letting the truly dangerous individuals slip through the cracks.
John Sandweg, former head of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement explains:
If the agents are looking for volume, they won’t spend the time to do the detective work tracking down the high-value bad guy who has fake documents, the hardened criminals in the shadows.”]
So why is Trump loudly advertising this plan—and why are so many Americans buying into it?
It turns out that there are many popular misconceptions about immigrants—both legal and illegal—including fears that they, on net, take American jobs and depress their wages.
But if you look at the statistics, their fears are unfounded. To cut through the politicking on the issue, Learn Liberty hosted a Facebook Live event this week featuring Cato Institute immigration analyst Alex Nowrasteh.
One of the main reasons immigrants don’t hurt American workers, explains Nowratseh, is they usually don’t compete directly with Americans for jobs. Rather, they tend to fill jobs at the top and bottom of the labor market. In other words, immigrants tend to be astrophysicists and gardeners rather than lawyers, teachers, plumbers, and painters. These very high- and very low-skilled jobs are ones where the demand for workers far outstrips the existing American supply.
It’s time to distinguish between myth and fact—to realize that scaremongering has historically had real consequences for individuals and societies.
Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to see that realization occur on the campaign trail.
Check out the Facebook Live event with Alex Nowrasteh here.