If the phrase had not come out of the mouth of one of the highest-ranking officials in today’s anti-immigrant administration, it would have seemed like a slogan for the pro-immigrant opposition in the general election. But Mick Mulvaney, Chief of Staff to Donald Trump, saying in England during a recent work trip, desperately, that the United States “needs more immigrants” since the country is “running out of people to fuel economic growth” is frankly symptomatic of a government confused and in crisis on the immigration question.
Mulvaney’s words, obtained in audio by the Washington Post, the same ones that absolutely contradict the entire war Trump has waged against immigrants through a series of public policies that have trampled on human dignity since the beginning of his term, carry at least two meanings and a cry of desperation.
Now they come to realize the imperious need for workers that not only help to strengthen the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but also ensure that local, state, and the national economies do not go down.
On one hand, that all of these anti-immigrant measures —from the separation of families at the border to the recent creation of the “Office of Denaturalization,” passing through the implementation of the “public charge” rule and the denial of federal funds to sanctuary cities— have had the clear objective of causing damage to hundreds of thousands of human beings. Migrant children have been the most punished victims of this presidential conduct, subjected to practices that the organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) equates with torture.
On the other hand, that to each and every one of said measures are motivated by racism, xenophobia, and discrimination, categories uncovered in the application of laws to supposedly maintain national security.
And in the midst of these two examples, now they come to realize the imperious need for workers that not only help to strengthen the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but also ensure that local, state, and the national economies do not go down. It is a cry like the one made by someone who “shoots himself in the foot” by making wrong decisions. If you add to this the effect that COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had on Wall Street, accelerating losses out of fear of the disease spreading, the picture becomes clear and desperately requires more immigrant labor to help sustain the economy, in the case of a major decline.
It turns out to be no secret that for societies that reproduce little, such as the United States, the waves of immigration, independent of the way in which they come —refugees, undocumented, with documents, with special skills or without, with a high or low level of education, due to wars, poverty, political, religious, or sexual persecution, or even the effects of climate change, et cetera— in the long run constitute the generation of relief that this nation needs.
That is how it has been throughout history, although in this instance the new waves of immigrants —poorer and not white— are not to the liking of those who now direct this country.
All that, of course, guarantees at the same time the demographic equilibrium that any system needs in order to survive. And it turns out that in the system in which this nation is immersed, both producers and consumers are inevitably necessary. But the data is not so encouraging for the reproduction of capital: in 2018, the United States registered 2% fewer births compared to 2017, some 3.7 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marking the fourth consecutive year of declining births since 2014. And Mulvaney surely knows this fact.
It is unknown whether the official will remain much longer in his job after what he said contradicting his boss —who has also employed immigrants in his many businesses— but for now, he has exposed a reality that was previously unseen in the administration that he represents, which it seems has only dictated and put in place anti-immigrant measures in order to keep its voting base energized in the short term, without concern for the consequences in the economic and demographic orbits in the long term. Its purpose is clearly, and with deceit, only to remain in power.
But another concrete fact also contradicts the anti-immigrant sentiment that continues to emanate from the White House. According to an investigation from Stanford University in 2018, in the last decade, the number of businesses owned by Latinos has grown 34%, compared to the 1% growth in the number of entrepreneurs generally in the United States.
And not only that but more and more often people from this community are taking out loans to open a business or expand one that they already have. Other facts? They also employ 3 million people and report more than $700 billion in sales each year, according to the Stanford study.
It is unknown how far this government’s war against immigrants will go. But what is clear is that the bad image that they have wanted to impose in the national conscience since almost four years ago crashes all the time into the reality, with the totality of the contributions made by this generation of foreign-born people in various aspects, who have only wanted to open up new opportunities for their respective life experiences.
Was the United States their best option? That quarter is still up in the air. At least until November.
David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at America’s Voice.
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