The fatal protectionist flaw in Trump’s immigration plan

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Well, we finally have a bit of substance from the Donald, Save Jerseyans, in the form of an immigration plan. Click here to check it out.

Border wall brownsvile illegal immigrationIt’s a mixed bag but I think it fails both the policy test and the political test. There’s a lot we could (and probably will) discuss in subsequent posts, including that whole 14th Amendment thing.

Here’s the section that immediately caught my eye:

Increase prevailing wage for H-1Bs. We graduate two times more Americans with STEM degrees each year than find STEM jobs, yet as much as two-thirds of entry-level hiring for IT jobs is accomplished through the H-1B program. More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.

So the theory here is simple, folks: make foreign-imported labor more expensive to make American labor more attractive. This is the same basic underlying theory behind tariffs. It’s called “protectionism.”

And it rarely works. The New Jersey prevailing wage law hasn’t exactly helped the Garden State’s economic engine turn over, has it?

I doubt this time would pan out any differently.

Look at who the plan is penalizing. Limousine liberals like Bill Gates love these visas (half of a million were here on them as of 2010) and liberal politicians like President Obama have reciprocated by passing them off as a way to keep tech jobs in the U.S. However, contrary to popular belief, the companies that are biggest users of the H-IB program are consulting firms, not Microsoft-esque giants, who use temporary workers to, as an NPR report put it, “smooth the transfer of American jobs to information-technology centers overseas.”

Not to be a buzzkill for all your Trumpies out there, but one would imagine that making this type of labor more expensive would achieve the opposite desired effect, encouraging more rapid outsourcing. Right?

trumpNow, Trump wants to limit the total number of visas, too, which in theory makes sense, since uncontrolled migration across a border (either directly or in the form of over-stayed visas, which is the primary root of our current problem) is not a healthy thing for anyone involved, but as with all protectionist-oriented immigration fixes, the desire to prove one is “doing something” to fix the problem results in a plan that is woefully narrow and unsuited to a HUGE task that calls for a holistic solution.

I’m not going to debate the current emphasis on STEM jobs here but we do need to point out that the biggest reason companies are looking to transition overseas in the first place – and hire these cheap H-IB workers to help do it – is the American workforce’s growing skills gap.

Anyone who’s seen Waiting for Superman knows it, as do unemployed graduating Art History majors and the tech/manufacturing employers who aren’t interested in them. Employers would happily pay a premium for domestic help, notwithstanding punishing corporate taxes/regulations/healthcare laws, if the employees could do the job.

Fact is, too many Americans cannot.

Bottom line? Any immigration reform discussion that doesn’t include a discussion of comprehensive education reform is useless, Save Jerseyans, at least insofar as your goal is to stop outsourcing. And without such a plan, which for all I know could be forthcoming from Trump, tinkering with the H-IB program will succeed only in catalyzing faster outsourcing.

Fair enough?


5 thoughts on “The fatal protectionist flaw in Trump’s immigration plan

  1. 35 Years Ago, Trump Was Using Illegal Immigrants & His Excuses Are Flaccid At Best – Yes, Yes, I know, it’s a liberal source, but THE FACTS are true and his excuses are flaccid at best. The moral of the Think Progress story is that the LEFT will use things like this to demonize Trump and his Trumpkins if he gets the nomination. And, they would be true. If Donald didn’t know this was going on (and still is on one of his projects at least) he’s not smart enough to be President.

  2. I have a friend who headhunts for IT workers. She said they try very hard to find and hire Americans but they lack a lot of the skills needed. The foreign workers are more advanced.Seems to me a huge education problem. And what do you think Common Core is going to do? Common Core is deliberately dumming kids down and preparing them for community colleges. Now so far I have heard Trump, Cruz, Rand Paul, and Bobby Jindal, on numerous occasions say that Common Core “has to go”. No other candidate has gone this far when it comes to CC. Many of the establishment candidates are in bed with this crony education scheme, with maybe the exception of Ben Carson, not sure his stance. Christie, Walker, and Kasich have not done a thing in their states to stop it and they are all responsible for allowing it to be implemented in their states.And we all know where Bush stands on CC and it ain’t pretty.

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