The fact is that Congress has already grappled with the question of immigration’s impact on the employment of native-born U.S. workers. While the Proclamation claims “There is no way … to direct those new residents to particular economic sectors with a demonstrated need not met by the existing labor supply,” that is precisely why Congress established the labor certification process in the first place. Congress deliberately did not impose a labor certification for all immigrants entering the U.S. Though President Trump may not like the limits that Congress has imposed, he cannot simply dismiss them.
It’s particularly difficult to see, without any explanation, how the relatively limited scope of the order could have a meaningful impact on employment levels. Policy experts project this order would bar about 56,000 individuals from getting green cards over the order’s first 60 days; if extended for a whole year, it could bar upwards of 315,000 people, a mere .002% of the nearly 163 million Americans who make up the current civilian labor force.
By contrast, if the measure were extended for a year, it would shrink the arrival of new immigrants arriving through legal immigration channels by 60%. And senior leaders in the Administration are already signaling plans to extend and expand the restrictions imposed in the order. That is a lot of pain for American families and employers hoping to sponsor immigrants, for no discernible gain.
These long-term effects mirror the policy objectives of the Administration’s previous failed proposals to severely limit legal immigration, like the RAISE Act. Those bills paired cuts with a proposed (though heavily flawed) “merit-based” scheme; but when the White House tried to push massive cuts through Congress, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected them.
Elected leaders in Congress must take action to ensure immigrants can continue to make critical contributions to the economy, particularly in this moment of national crisis. This includes ensuring the President’s ban is not extended, ensuring immigrants currently in the U.S. can continue working and maintaining status as government offices remain closed, and taking up meaningful legislation to modernize the legal immigration system.