It's not personal, it's just business: A non-partisan solution for our unauthorized immigrants

It's not personal, it's just business: A non-partisan solution for our unauthorized immigrants
© Getty Images

The president’s chief of staff is once again denigrating immigrants. In an interview last week, John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE spouted off a number of bleak characterizations. In the countries they come from, fourth, fifth, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm,” Kelly said. “They don’t speak English; obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills.” Kelly has previously berated unauthorized immigrants that didn’t apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as “too lazy to get off their asses.”   

Where is Kelly getting this from? Certainly not his immigrant roots, as it is well known that Kelly’s maternal grandfather, an Italian immigrant, never spoke a word of English and yet we all see how well his succeeding generations turned out. Even better: A 2015 report from the National Academy of Sciences negates Kelly’s key assertions. It found that today’s immigrants are integrating as smoothly as ever and they are learning English as fast as or faster than they have in the past.

ADVERTISEMENT
Even as Kelly was bashing unauthorized immigrants, President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE was simultaneously excoriating his DHS Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenEx-ICE director responds to Michelle Wolf video comparing agency to ISIS Top Ethics Dem calls for Nielsen to resign Michelle Wolf compares ICE to ISIS in new video MORE for not doing enough to control our southern border — a completely bogus charge as illegal border crossings are at a 46-year low. So the Trump administration’s unauthorized immigrant paranoia is simply not justified.

 

Besides, in purely business terms that Trump should appreciate, these unauthorized immigrants fulfill a basic economic principle — the law of supply and demand. There are over 20 million American homeowners, small businesses, factories and farmers that are in urgent and constant need of the journeyman skills in infrastructure construction, farming and food processing that many of these unauthorized immigrants have. 

More alarmingly, from 2017 to 2027, the nation faces a shortage of 8.2 million workers. So what gives? Trump is stunting economic growth by not actively pushing for an immigration solution that legalizes a readily available supply of skills.

Meanwhile, after Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress Interior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia MORE (R-Wis.) reiterated his commitment to bringing an immigration bill to the floor before the midterm elections, the Wall Street Journal editorial board opined that solving the DACA problem should be a priority. Notwithstanding the various immigration proposals making their rounds in Congress, there is a particular non-partisan solution that is not getting sufficient attention on the Hill. 

It’s a proposal that enables unauthorized immigrants, including DACA beneficiaries, and their employers, to provide a vital revenue stream to the Treasury and become part of an overall immigration solution. More importantly, this is a straightforward third way approach that embraces neither mass citizenship, nor mass deportation. It is a non-partisan solution that is a win-win for both — immigration and our economy — and merits serious debate.

Mark Jason is the founder and CEO of the policy advocacy organization Immigrant Tax Inquiry Group.