Free Marketeers Push Immigration

Rep. Jeb Hensarling [R-TX] proposes a “vibrant guest-worker program” for low-skilled workers and more H-1B visas for high-tech workers. Commenting on Hensarling’s statement, James Freeman of The Wall Street Journal wrote, “This focus on immigration’s economic benefits is consistent with his free market principles, though it puts him at odds with the drift of many Republicans who are falling for the fantasy that there are a finite number of jobs in the country. – What if Republicans Win? By James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal, 10/17/14

Fact Check: Whatever one might say about mass immigration, it is not consistent with free market principles. Unending mass immigration is a policy of government intervention, sought by business interests, to keep wages as low as possible in the U.S. labor market. It prevents the natural tendency of our free enterprise system to allow wages to rise, as well as fall. It is an intervention that gives capital an uninterrupted long-term advantage over labor.

Mass immigration also benefits capital as a form of government subsidy. Immigrants on average are less skilled and educated than native-born Americans, and as a consequence they are more likely to be poor and receive public assistance. That assistance, in turn, amounts to a subsidy from taxpayers to the employers who hire the immigrants for cheap labor. No free enterprise here.

Freeman is correct to say that there are not a finite number of jobs. Job openings indeed rise and fall due to a number of factors. But he misses the point that we now have a significant oversupply of workers for the available job openings. The official unemployment rate (designated U-3) is 5.9 percent, but this is a significant understatement of the problem.

The official rate doesn’t count people who have given up looking for work and those who want full-time employment but can only find part-time jobs. If these people are counted, the unemployment rate (designated U-6) is 11.8 percent. As Americans struggle to find work they have to compete with an endless flow of immigrants who are taking newly created jobs at a greater rate than Americans.

The free marketeers who promote mass immigration want an economy free of all restraints to profiteering. One of those restraints, it seems, is any concern for the wellbeing of American workers.


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