Obama’s State of the Union, Governor Haley’s Rebuttal All In on Immigration

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

January 13, 2016

Last night, I made the difficult decision to tune into President Obama’s State of the Union address. Frankly, watching Obama who has done more damage in less time that anyone could have imagined to bypass Congress, gut immigration laws and increase population by opening the borders to Central Americans and others is tough. CAPS has been fighting for sensible immigration and population stabilization for three decades.

The evening was more difficult than I anticipated because House Speaker Paul Ryan’s presence sitting behind Obama reminded me that he negotiated the bipartisan $1.1 trillion Omnibus bill that will fund sanctuary cities and Obama’s refugee resettlement program, both of which CAPS opposes. As if Obama’s hour-long speech wasn’t long and painful enough, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s GOP retort disappointingly endorsed much of the president’s immigration agenda.

First, let’s go to the SOU, and focus on one of Obama’s few worthwhile and achievable proposals: “a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers who don’t have children,” a policy that if enacted might help stabilize population by deterring couples that can’t immediately afford children from starting families until they’re more financially stable.

Empty speeches from Obama, Haley disappoint nation.

On jobs and wages, however, Obama blatantly defied the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau when he said that “immigrants aren’t the principal reason wages haven’t gone up...,” and then went on to blame corporate board room decisions. A wealth of research debunks Obama’s downplay of the deleterious effect of immigrant labor on wages, but I’ll cite the Congressional Research Service report which found that wages and income share for the bottom 90 percent of American workers declined over the past 40 years, while the work-authorized foreign-born population rose to more than 42 million during the same period, a 325 percent increase.

It’s Economics 101: the larger the labor market, the more downward pressure on wages. Unless sensible immigration restrictions are imposed quickly, American workers’ challenges will increase. The Census Bureau projects that by 2060 the foreign-born population will hit 78 million.

While Obama’s denial of the relationship between an ever-increasing immigrant labor pool and stagnant American wages was predictable, Haley’s response echoed the President’s pro-immigration agenda, a dumbfounding speech since she allegedly represents the opposition party. Whenever I hear politicians talk about fixing a “broken immigration system,” as Obama and Haley did, I know we’re headed into cold and murky water. While Haley unoriginally denounced illegal immigration and questioned the administration’s ill-advised refugee program, she also advocated open borders: “No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.”

By the end of the evening, I wondered why neither Obama nor Haley could do simple math. As long as the United States keeps admitting anyone “who is willing to work hard,” as rumored vice-presidential candidate Haley suggested, or the President won’t acknowledge that a multimillion increase in employment-authorized immigrants is the real reason that wages are stagnant and endorse immigration limits to protect struggling U.S. citizens, then American workers’ futures remain at risk.

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