Coasting to victory on promises to reign in rampant corruption, Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has sent shock waves through the Americas. Few realize that his election is likely to increase the number of low-income, low-skill illegal aliens coming to the United States.
Obrador admires Cuba and former Chilean socialist leader Salvador Allende. Venezuela’s socialist dictator Hugo Chávez helped with previous presidential campaigns by providing advisors and Venezuelan ambassador reportedly attended meetings with Obrador supporters.
Obrador’s party, The National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), has won solid majorities in both the lower and upper houses of Congress. Now, there may be no stopping this party’s radical left-wing agenda.
Just the threat of nationalizing companies will scare away foreign and domestic investment. While Obrador has promised not to increase taxes, there will surely be an increase in business regulations. Since President TrumpDonald TrumpJury in Jussie Smollett trial begins deliberations Pence says he'll 'evaluate' any requests from Jan. 6 panel Biden's drug overdose strategy pushes treatment for some, prison for others MORE took office, Americans have seen that attracting foreign investment increases the number of jobs, which in turn leads to higher salaries. Even before Obrador’s victory, some companies — such as Ford Motors — engaged in an about-face on planned car plants.
When the Mexican economy is faltering and the U.S. economy is booming, people get more determined to illegally cross the border. In recent decades, Cuban refugees have been desperate enough to brave shark-infested waters. Let’s hope that Mexico doesn't become yet another socialist dystopia.
President Trump is concerned that countries such as Mexico are already sending people who are “not their best,” but that is only going to get worse. Obrador’s promised 140 percent increase in the minimum wage will encourage more illegal immigration. Employers won't offer as many jobs if they are paying a higher minimum wage, and in the face of a job shortage less skilled workers will have trouble competing with more skilled ones.
Yet, unskilled illegal immigrants who can’t get jobs in Mexico, will find work in the United States. With few enforcement officers, the government depends on workers to alert them when employers pay them less than the minimum wage. Workers can sue for twice however much they are paid below that wage. It is hard for American citizens to work for less than the minimum wage, because they can’t credibly promise employers that they won’t be suing for twice the amount that they were underpaid. The longer they work for the company, the more they get from suing. Illegal aliens risk being identified and deported if they sue.
Mexicans are going to become disillusioned with Obrador, whose most powerful campaign theme was to eliminate rampant corruption. Eliminating corruption will supposedly pay for all his new government programs. Unfortunately, Obrador doesn’t seem to realize that more government means more corruption. Everything else equal, the more favors that government has to give out, the more corruption. With massive, promised increases in government spending, Obrador isn’t going to have the money to do things that might decrease corruption, such as increasing government workers’ salaries.
Mexico is already a not a wealthy country. After adjusting for differences in cost of living, per capita income in the United States is 3.3 times greater than Mexico. With Obrador, that gap is going to only get bigger and more Mexicans will soon be trying to illegally enter the United States.
John R. Lott Jr., Ph.D., is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author more recently of “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies.”