Trump’s Immigration Restrictions Could Bring an End to the American Century

MAGA doesn’t make America great, it betrays everything that made us great

The “Make America Great Again” slogan implies that America, ‘is not now, but had been “great” in the past. Therefore, it follows, that making America “great again” requires restoring policies to how they once were. That’s why the MAGA immigration stance is nonsensical. The Trump administration has been hostile to immigration, yet, it was that steady flow of immigrants that built the wealthiest, most powerful, and most innovative country on Earth. In their efforts to curb immigration, MAGA ideology lays the groundwork for an end of American hegemony.

A False Premise

The notion that immigration results in a net loss of jobs, opportunity, wages, and growth for the receiving nation is nonsensical, arrogant, and downright stupid. Think about it, if this notion were at all true, the United States would be the poorest country on the planet as we have been welcoming immigrants since before we even existed as a country.

MAGA types will insist that their President only targets illegal immigration, but this is demonstrably false. Remember the multiple “travel bans” that arbitrarily targeted people immigrating from Muslim-majority countries? Those were legal immigrants.

The Trump administration has sought to eliminate the visa lottery program, gutted the refugee program, decimated asylum procedures and even has made it more difficult to obtain H-1B visas (professional work visas that often are pathway to a green card), keeping hundreds of thousands of would-be American professions in a constant state of limbo. These are legal immigrants.

Trump has even sought to undermine family based immigration, falsely misrepresenting it as “chain migration.” Indeed, that was his first target, under the guise of “protecting American jobs” when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. These are legal immigrants.

All are legal pathways to immigrate to the United States, and all have been under constant assault by a President who claims to welcome legal immigration.

Why Immigration is So Important

Immigration has been one of the key ingredients that has kept the US economy growing while many other “would be” superpowers floundered. Japan was once the world’s second-largest economy, nearly as large as the US, and outpaced the US in economic growth from the 1950s through the 1980s. Many predicted that Japan would overtake the US in the 90s. Yet that never happened.

In fact, the opposite happened. Japan’s economy has not grown at all since its peak in 1990. Japanese companies, once dominant in their industries, are often outflanked by better and cheaper competitors in the USA, Korea, and China.

Why? Unlike the US, Japan’s restrictive immigration policies held it back. Japan’s age dependency ratio skyrocketed as too few workers entered the workforce relative to those who retired, driven by low birth rates and little inward immigration. With this rising age-dependency ratio, Japan’s economic productivity and its ability to innovate has waned.

Innovation and Growth

Immigration is unquestionably a net positive. In the US, a staggering 45% of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or their children. Together, these companies brought in $6.1 trillion of revenue in 2018 alone. Immigrants overall have founded 20% of all American businesses.

In STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), non-Americans account for an astonishing 54% of master’s degrees and 44% of doctorate degrees issued by American universities. Many of these degree recipients choose to stay in the US after they graduate and work for American tech companies like Google, Microsoft, or Tesla.

Increasingly, however, due to Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, visa delays, higher visa fees, and the risks posed by a volatile and anti-immigrant administration, foreign students are choosing not to study in the US. After over a decade of rapid growth, the number of students coming to the US for education plunged by 9.6% in the school years immediately after Trump took office.

Those numbers are deeply troubling. Not only is the US finding it harder to attract foreign talent, its growing hostility is also making it harder to keep that talent. Engineers, scientists, and other professionals from China and India are increasingly returning to their home countries, building companies and products that compete with American ones…to the detriment of American jobs, wealth, and power. This is a reversal of the “brain drain” that has sustained American hegemony since WW2.

Despite its MAGA rhetoric, the Trump administration is undermining the very thing that made America great. Their continued assault on immigrants and immigration will mark the end of the American century. It may already be too late to reverse the damage.

About The Lianeon Project |

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