A Legal Immigrant Against Amnesty

A Legal Immigrant Against Amnesty
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Congressional leaders are planning to grant citizenship and work privileges to millions of illegal aliens in the upcoming budget reconciliation package.

That's a slap in the face for legal immigrants like me. Lawmakers are effectively saying that tens of millions of us — who followed all the rules for the privilege of coming to this great nation — are a bunch of dopes. That we'd have been better wading the Rio Grande or overstaying our tourist visas.

Amnesty isn't merely an insult, of course. It poses a tangible, dire economic threat to American workers, native-born and naturalized citizens alike.

The $3.5 trillion budget package will reportedly include amnesty for up to 6 million illegal aliens — about half of those in this country without permission. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state Democrat, speaks blithely of a pathway to citizenship for "Dreamers, TPS, essential workers, and farm workers."

TPS refers to those with Temporary Protected Status, a government program that deferred deportation for illegal aliens experiencing turmoil in their homelands due to natural disasters, like earthquakes, or civil war. Like so many other federal programs, it has been greatly abused. Many recipients have been here for decades — hardly the intent of a "temporary" program.

It's unrealistic for the United States to offer permanent residence to everyone from a troubled country. My native Bangladesh, population 163 million, faces extreme poverty and dire threats from climate change. Does that mean every Bangladeshi deserves a "get out of deportation free" card if they manage to sneak into this country?

White House officials, meanwhile, claim amnesty will help "rebuild and strengthen our immigration system." Hang on a minute! How does lavishing rewards on people who flagrantly disobeyed the law "strengthen" the system? It certainly won't convince people to wait patiently for a visa. Many people will conclude — understandably — that they're better off coming illegally and hoping for future amnesties. It'll make the current crisis at the border worse, not better. It's particularly unfair to upstanding would-be immigrants from around the world who refuse to break the law.

Higher immigration levels will also increase competition for jobs at a moment when millions of Americans are still struggling. About 8.7 million Americans are currently unemployed — over 50% more than before the pandemic. The 1 million illegal aliens who've crossed the southern border in the first half of this year are largely coming because they can earn much more here than in their home countries — even if that means working under the table for minimum or sub-minimum wages. They'll face off against blue-collar American landscapers, drywallers, home health aides, construction workers of all races, creeds, and national origins.

That competition will depress wages. A recent analysis by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that a 1% increase in immigration decreased the wages of low-skill native-born workers by as much as 1.7%.

It's not difficult to see why: When the supply of available labor increases, competition for work grows fiercer. This, in turn, allows employers to pay workers less with little consequence.

This is particularly bad for legal immigrants — not all of whom are high-fliers at Silicon Valley or Wall Street. Most people in this demographic — honest men and women who've played by the rules — compete directly in the workplace with those who enter this country in breach of our laws.

The budget reconciliation bill isn't subject to the filibuster. So the only ones who can stop this shameful proposal are moderate Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. On behalf of the tens of millions of proud, naturalized citizens who came to this country the right way, I implore them to not debase our laws, and harm our workers, by rubberstamping this amnesty.

Shakil Hamid, an immigrant from Bangladesh, lives in Gaithersburg, MD.

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