The perils of anti-immigrant sentiment

By Mitchell Blatt
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 10, 2015
Adjust font size:

Demonstrators jump on a damaged Baltimore police department vehicle during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland, April 27, 2015. [Photo/China Daily]

At a rally in the aftermath of riots that burned down more than a dozen buildings in Baltimore, a man who goes by the name Brother Rose took the stage and said, "When that CVS [pharmacy] got burned down… What we saying was, 'Let's get you out of our communities.'"

The violence against local businesses -- many of which are immigrant-owned -- was motivated in part by economic grievances. The unemployment rate in the Sandtown-Windchester/Harlem Park community is over 20 percent, and the rate of household poverty is over 30 percent.

But while the economy of West Baltimore is much worse than that of the United States as a whole, the same underlying economic fears are causing broader anti-immigrant sentiment throughout the country. While Republicans in Congress aren't holding lighters in front of stores, they are wielding their political power to prevent the loosening of regulations on immigration and trade.

In Republican Senator Jeff Sessions' state of Alabama, unemployment is just 5.8 percent, but he is leading the fight against legal immigration and trade deals. Sessions wrote in the Washington Post that increased immigration will put pressure on "wages, as well as on schools, hospitals and many other community resources."

In addition, Sessions also came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a crucial trade deal that America and many Asian countries need to improve their mutual trade relations. It would be unfair to blame opposition to the trade deal entirely on Republicans, as 22 Democrats sent a letter to Obama opposing the trade deal in 2012 when the agreement was still under negotiation. But the Republican Party has traditionally been the party of free markets, so one would expect its rhetoric to match its actions.

Because many Democrats are skeptical of the deal and because Republicans currently have a majority in Congress, the deal -- which has the support of President Obama -- will need a lot of Republican votes to pass. Republicans seem poised to get it passed.

The protectionist views of Sessions are wrong, both economically and philosophically. Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, rebutted Sessions' claims, noting that, "There is not a fixed supply of jobs to be divided up amongst Americans," and "the stock of capital is dynamic, increasing with population."

In short, more immigrants don't just increase competition for jobs; they also increase economic demand. Immigrants are also consumers, and the money they spend will fuel job growth.

Every immigrant with a job is also a taxpayer, so Sessions should not be too worried about strains on community services. In the long run, communities will adjust to changes in demand, and increased tax revenue will pay for them.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
1   2   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from