Mark Krikorian, National Review, February 21, 2020
The Washington Post has a recording of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney addressing a private gathering in England this week on a variety of issues. The bit on immigration:
“We are desperate — desperate — for more people,” Mulvaney said. “We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we’ve had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants.”
Many readers, and even the WaPo reporter I spoke with, were surprised by this, but they shouldn’t have been; Trump himself has been calling for increased immigration for over a year now. He started his immigration-expansion tour at the 2019 State of the Union, saying “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” (Emphasis added.) The following day he doubled down, saying “I need people coming in because we need people to run the factories and plants and companies that are moving back in. We need people.” He’s brought it up a number of times since.
Mulvaney was simply repeating what his boss had been saying for some time.
The administration’s long-awaited immigration plan, whose release seems forever to be just weeks away, is seen inside the White House as a compromise precisely because it doesn’t increase legal immigration levels. From what we’ve heard about it, the effect would, in fact, be higher admissions, but the ostensibly numbers-neutral nature of the bill is presented as a sop to troglodytic restrictionists. An administration official told me point-blank last year that immigration levels really needed to be increased, but they were throwing the deplorables (my word) a bone by refraining from doing so.
But maybe Mulvaney and the rest of the immigration expansionists in the White House are right, maybe we are “running out of people”. Are we?
The latest Labor Department data shows nearly 49 million working-age, non-disabled people who are not working. Labor force participation is just starting to climb, with last month’s rate four-tenths of a point higher than January 2019 – but this is still way below the pre-recession level of 2007, which was itself lower than the level in 2000 at the peak of that expansion.
Why douse these first glowing embers of progress by pouring a bucket of increased immigration on them?
Trump can either be the pro-worker president, or he can cater to the lobbyists pushing for increased immigration. He can’t be both.