Many Republican 2016 presidential candidates are seeking to outdo each other when it comes to ignorance about the economics of immigration. Claims that immigrants take our jobs may be a recurring parody on South Park but is all too real when it comes to the Republican candidates.
In one presidential primary debate, a candidate claimed that he wished there were more immigrant journalists who would drive down the wages of American-born journalists, so that they would no longer be in favor of immigration. (As if journalists don’t have an insane amount of competition already.)
The economics of immigration is a great example of French economist Frederic Bastiat’s seen vs. unseen. People see immigrants taking jobs or undercutting wages in specific sectors of the economy but do not see the overall, far greater value that immigrants bring to the greater economy through their economic production and consumption.
Think about it: If immigrants were actually bad for the economy, why are New York City and other cities where immigrants constantly move the biggest municipal economies in the world? For that matter, why didn’t women entering the workforce en masse in the 1970s and 1980s drive down men’s wages and take their jobs?
The answer: Immigrants and new entrants to the workforce create jobs, boost the economy, and increase standards of living on net.
In the video below, Texas Tech Professor Benjamin Powell explains that liberalizing immigration would add trillions of dollars to the economy and improve the well-being of millions of others. Unfortunately, this message of hope seems no match this election cycle for the politics of fear.