December 2017Opinion2017

Haitian Visas and Immigration Fallacies

By Taylor Cain
Staff Writer

Acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced the termination of temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians living in the United States on November 20. More than 59,000 Haitians who legally live and work in the United States have 18 months to self-deport before the July 22, 2019 deadline. At least 27,000 of those Haitians have children who were born in the United States, VOX reports, which leaves families to grapple with the incomprehensible choice between immigration status and keeping families together.

TPS is a unique immigration program in which the United States admits nationals from countries that are experiencing civil war, environmental disaster, epidemic, or other extraordinary conditions, as defined by the United States Customs and Immigration Services. With TPS, individuals cannot be removed from the United States, cannot be deported or detained based on their immigration status, and are eligible for employment.

Nationals from ten countries have TPS designations: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The program is meant to help nationals while their respective countries recover from political, economic, social, and natural disasters. Haiti received TPS on January 21, 2010, nine days after the devastating earthquake which killed more than 316,000 people and displaced 15 million people.

President Donald Trump’s administration justifies anti-immigration policies, such as ending TPS for Haitians, with the lump of labor fallacy and the incorrect narrative that immigrants are “taking our jobs.” Immigration is not a causal mechanism for job loss. TPS nationals, DREAMers, migrant workers, refugees, and asylees are not causing unemployment in the United States.

As outlined by Slate Magazine, job competition is the result of many factors: outsourcing for cheaper labor, workers being replaced by code or programming, legal barrier to entry for job seekers with criminal records, lack of geographical opportunities, lack of demanded skills, shrinkage of industry, and employers unwilling to meet employee wage demands.

Business Insider reported that decades of studies have shown no correlation between immigration and declining employment or wages. The fallacy that labor is a zero-sum game assumes the number of jobs is a fixed, but the economy has risen since 2010 and the number of jobs have increased. Immigration disproportionately impacts low-skill, labor-intensive jobs and high-skilled STEM jobs – the later spurs innovation and creates jobs, according to the New York Times.

Forbes outlines the incorrect assumption that immigration hurts economic growth by pointing to Japan, which is in an economic crisis and a shortage in its labor force with little immigration and a low birth rate. The National Academy of Sciences said, “Immigration supplies workers, which increased GDP and has helped the United States avoid the fate of stagnant economies created by purely demographic forces – in particular, an aging workforce.”

The Small Business Association said “Immigrant business owners make significant contributions to business income, generating $67 billion of the $577 billion in U.S. business income” and generate almost 20 percent of business income in New York and New Jersey. Highly skilled immigrants positively contribute to long-run economic growth.

The New York Times Magazine concludes that “immigrants [represent] long-term benefits at no measureable short-term cost.” The lump of labor fallacy was disproved by a mass migration of 125,000 Cuban immigrants (45,000 were of working age) to Miami in 1980 which increased labor supply by seven percent but “had no measurable impact on wages or employment.”

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