Trump’s Immigration Plan Would Hurt Economy

By Reuben Seguritan



In his State of the Union address last January 30, President Trump unveiled his latest immigration framework that would ban possibly half a million people from entering the US annually.


The President called on Congress to immediately end the diversity visa lottery program and the fifty thousand (50,000) immigrant visas for the diversity program would be re-allocated to reduce the backlog in the family-based and high-skilled employment categories. The President said that the diversity visa program was fraught with loopholes and subjected to fraud and abuse.


The most objectionable feature of his new framework is ending some family preference categories or what Trump dubbed as “chain migration” to “protect the nuclear family by emphasizing familiar relationships”.


Under the current immigration system, immediate relative immigrant visas are given to the spouse of a U.S. citizen, unmarried children of the citizen under the age of 21 and parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old. Then there is the family preference immigrant visas granted to other relatives such as spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent resident and adult unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, married children of citizens, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.


The plan would end the family sponsored preference categories for parents, sons and daughters over 18 years old and siblings of US citizens and unmarried children over 18 years old of lawful permanent residents. The change would apply prospectively which means that the backlog will be processed. There are currently about 3.7 million applicants abroad and about quarter of a million in the US waiting for visa numbers.


Essentially the allowable age which under current immigration law is 21 years old, would be18. Although spouses of citizens and their minor children would continue to enter in unlimited numbers, the spouses of LPRs and their children will be capped at about 88,000 under the new framework.


About 1.8 million DACA-eligible immigrants would be given legal status with a 10-12 year path to citizenship.


If fully implemented, the White House plan would reduce the number of legal immigrants by more than 490,000 people annually. This would most certainly put pressure to an already aging US population since immigrants undeniably contribute to labor force growth. Reduction by 50% of the labor force being contributed by new immigrants would mean an estimated reduction of about 12.5% of the US economic growth, according to Joel Prakken, senior managing director and co-founder of Macroeconomics Advisers.


The National Academy of Sciences has also lamented the negative impact of this new immigration plan saying that the average immigrant contributes at least $92,000 more in taxes compared to the benefits that they claim from the government over their lifetime. Cutting them completely from the picture would certainly harm the government’s finances.


Aside from cutting legal migration, Trump’s State of the Union address also called on Congress to tighten border security through physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, resources and closing of legal loopholes exploited by smugglers, cartels, criminals and traffickers.