The Grave Danger of Chain Migration and Amnesties: Basic Immigration and Amnesty Economics

In September, the U.S. Census Bureau released data that showed the U.S. immigrant population had reached 43.7 million in July 2016. This total, including both legal and illegal immigrants, was 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population, the highest proportion since 1910 and roughly double the percentage as recently as 1980. This does not include more than 16 million children born in the U.S. with at least one legal or illegal immigrant parent. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates that the immigrant population in 2016 was higher, about 45.6 million.

Immigration is changing the demographics of the U.S. population dramatically. Politically, it is moving the electorate to a strong Democrat Party and left-liberal advantage. As Rep. Steve King (R, IA) pointed out in 2013, the 1986 Reagan Amnesty resulted in an additional 15 million votes for Barack Obama in 2008. Ironically, Obama could not have won without the 1986 Reagan Amnesty. Reagan was not comfortable with amnesty, but he was told it would only be about 800,000, about the size of the proposed DACA Amnesty. Because of widespread application fraud and loose Federal processing in 1986, it turned out to be 2.75 million amnesties. Congress then gave six supplemental amnesties, bringing the total to 6.0 million. Then the powerful chain migration multiplier for legal immigration and the inevitable increase in illegal immigration encouraged by amnesties kicked in. According to his former Attorney General, Ed Meese, Reagan considered the 1986 amnesty the biggest mistake of his eight years in office.

According to a Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) analysis using National Academy of Sciences data for 2016, this huge increase in immigration has negatively affected the economic status of the American middle class and blue collar workers. Many U.S. businesses have become addicted to cheaper foreign labor by which they have profited immensely, approximately $548 billion per year. However, cheap or cheaper foreign labor costs American workers collectively $494 billion per year, depressing their wages about 5.2 percent or over $3,000 per worker per year. Real income levels for the American middle class have been stagnant for 20 years, and wages for blue collar workers have been stagnant to depressed for over 30 years. The relatively small net increase in the economy from immigration is more than countered by increased fiscal costs necessary to support both illegal and legal immigration.

Since the 1965 Immigration Act that allowed “chain migration,” preference for extended family members such as siblings and in-laws, immigration has not been a net positive to the U.S. economy. According to a 2013 Heritage Foundation study on the potential impact of amnesty on government fiscal measures, using 2010 census data, the average unlawful immigrant household uses over $14,000 in government benefits and services annually in excess of their total income and sales tax contributions. Giving amnesty to illegal households does not improve their net contribution to the U.S. economy. It increases their average deficit to $22,700 annually, because of higher welfare eligibility and, of course, social security, while they still remain in the low tax bracket of unskilled and poorly educated labor. Lawful immigrant households used on average more than $4,000 more government services and benefits annually than taxes paid. Unfortunately, not even non-immigrant households are making a net contribution to the economy, but their average net deficit was only $310 per year. The total for all households is an average net annual deficit of $1,158. Reckless government spending and high immigration unvetted for likely economic contribution has made the U.S. into a welfare state with a $20 trillion national debt.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the net increase in the immigrant population has risen 3.8 million in the last six years alone. Although the largest number of the 43.7 million immigrant population has its origin in Mexico, in the last six years, the immigration pattern has changed drastically. The top immigrant countries from 2010 to 2016 were India (654,000) and China (550,000). Middle Eastern countries contributed a whopping 471,000, the highest percentage increase. Whereas in the past, many Middle Eastern immigrants were Christians fleeing religious persecution, there have recently been only a few Christian immigrants and refugees from the Middle East. The overwhelming majority are now Sunni Muslims.

The reason for deficit economic contributions across all immigrant and non-immigrant households is low education and skill levels. Previous to 1965 and chain migration from third world countries, the average immigrant household made a positive contribution to the economy. This was because of above average education and needed higher skill levels. A positive contribution to the U.S. economy is highly correlated with either education or training beyond high school or high special skill levels.

U.S. immigration policy since 1965 has not served the national interest and especially not the interests of the middle class and American workers. It has served special business interests and political lobbyist interests intent on changing the demography and culture of the U.S. to create a predominantly left-liberal electorate compatible with the rule of a big-government-big-business ruling elite. This is strongly incompatible with most American cultural, economic, political, and constitutional traditions.

The greatest danger to these American traditions is the multiplier effect of both legal and illegal chain migration. A recent CIS report indicated the chain migration multiplier effect for a five year period from 1996 through 2000: Mexico 6.38; China 6.24; India 5.11; Philippines 5.07. Taking Mexico as the example, because the vast majority of DACA applicants are Mexican, for every DACA amnesty, we are likely to see an average of 6.38 additional relatives admitted as legal immigrants to the U.S. in the next five years. CIS has the number of current DACA applicants at 690,000. Thus a DACA amnesty without restrictions against chain migration of relatives other than immediate family would result in another 4.4 million extended family priority legal immigrants in the next five years, bringing the total to over 5.0 million. Judging from the ratios of the 1986 amnesty, for each amnestied illegal immigrant we could expect to have another 2.5 illegal immigrants in the next decade. So we may get another 1.7 million illegal immigrants, who will be lobbying for the next amnesty. We will also have set a suicidal national precedent of giving almost automatic amnesties to children of illegal immigrants.

Although the DACA applicants are routinely described as wonderful, law-abiding young people, few have been properly vetted. Matt O’Brien, a former USCIS official, estimated that the fraud rate for DACA could be 40 to 50 percent.

There are worse amnesties than DACA in Congress: The Graham-Durbin Dreamer Amnesty and the Tillis-Lankford [phony] conservative amnesty, both of which are a betrayal of the American people.

The best policy is no amnesty ever again no matter what the emotional appeal. Even a small amnesty could tip the demographic balance permanently to the Left, eventually undoing all of Trump’s recent achievements and sinking his agenda deeper than the Titanic.

If President Trump is forced to trade an amnesty for immigration enforcement or tax reforms, he should get all the rest of his immigration agenda up front before a single amnesty. At a minimum, he should get every item of the RAISE Act implementing merit based immigration, including a national E-Verify check for immigration status, an end to chain migration, and a maximum ceiling on legal immigration of 500,000 per year. He should also find a way to stop the 300,000 annual “birthright citizenship” outrage and swindle through legislation or the courts. He should get 100 percent border security, including “the Wall.” The Wall by itself, however, would NOT be nearly enough. Almost 50 percent of illegal immigrants come to the U.S. on easy-to-get and poorly controlled legal visas and simply disappear into the illegal immigrant population.

History teaches us that nobody outside of a madhouse can believe the Democrats and globalist Republicans will honor any limitations to full amnesty and open-door immigration for long. Déjà vu 1986!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR   –  Mike Scruggs, Author and Columnist

a.k.a. Leonard M. Scruggs

 Mike Scruggs is the author of two books: The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths; and Lessons from the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You, and over 600 articles on military history, national security, intelligent design, genealogical genetics, immigration, current political affairs, Islam, and the Middle East.

He holds a BS degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Stanford University. A former USAF intelligence officer and Air Commando, he is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal. He is a retired First Vice President for a major national financial services firm and former Chairman of the Board of a classical Christian school.

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