President Trump’s executive order Monday temporarily banning most types of work-related immigration does more than intensify the election-year dispute over immigration policy. It presents the Democrats with difficult choices in both the short and long terms.
Trump cast his order as an attempt to help reduce high unemployment that has ensued from the covid-19 pandemic. Critics will cry foul, but he is certainly right about this. The headline unemployment rate is over 13 percent, which dramatically understates the true level because of errors in data collection and people dropping out of the labor force entirely. Youth and black unemployment rates are well above this level.
Critics may claim that Trump’s order bars visas for jobs that Americans can’t fill, but in fact, companies are not required to show there is a labor shortage before hiring a foreign worker. All they must do is sign a statement that the immigrant will not displace a U.S. citizen for 90 days after their arrival. Stories abound of companies abusing this rule. In any case, it is surely political folly to bring foreigners in to work when so many Americans are out of work.
Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.