“They’re taking our jobs . . . They’re taking our money. They’re killing us,” is how then-candidate Donald Trumpcharacterized immigrants in July 2015. For nearly two and a half years, the man who practically founded his campaign on anti-immigrant sentiment—“when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” was his first attempt at a presidential address—has warned his fellow Americans that immigrants and refugees, regardless of their status, are undermining the economy, driving down wages, and mooching off government benefits at every level. Based on this argument, a man who’s sourced two-thirds of his spouses from Eastern Europe has vowed to increase border control to unprecedented levels; repeatedly demanded a multi-billion-dollar wall that even his chief of staff has called “uninformed”; proffered legislation that would slash legal immigration by 50 percent over the next decade; and made the case that the U.S. should reducethe number of refugees that will be allowed into the country to the lowest level since the Refugee Act of 1980 was created. But one needn’t look further than Trump’s own family business to see that the president’s logic is completely bunk.
Amidst the slew of anti-immigrant rhetoric that spews from the White House on a daily basis, BuzzFeed News reports Trump Winery—an establishment that trades in “Welch’s grape jelly with alcohol” and is owned by Eric Trump—has sought permission to hire 23 more foreign guest workers, according to a Department of Labor petition. The workers were requested under the H-2 visa program, which allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers on temporary work visas, as long as no qualified U.S. workers want the jobs they’ll be hired to fill. BuzzFeed also reports that companies bearing the Trump name are perennial users of the program, having requested more than 400 H-2 visas since the ex-real-estate developer announced his candidacy. (Neither the White House nor the winery responded to BuzzFeed’s request for comment.)
All of which, ironically, highlights the critical role immigrant labor plays in the U.S. economy—in fact, there is a large amount of evidence that a number of industries (and Mar-a-Lago) wouldn’t survive without it. In April, more than a thousand economists wrote an open letter to the president to give him a refresher on the importance of immigration to the U.S. economy. Separately, experts have estimated that given that as much as 70 percent of the U.S. agricultural workforce doesn’t have valid immigration papers, a wide-scale crackdown could essentially demolish the farming industry. (As Bank of America’s Ethan Harris noted in February, “There’s no way to get people out of the city and into the country to pick crops on short notice without a very dramatic increase in wages”; such an increase would represent a death blow to an industry where profits are already tanking, and which would struggle to afford the spike without passing on massive costs to consumers.) Oh, and remember Trump’s big infrastructure plan—coming any day now!—? Without immigrant labor, it’s basically dead on arrival.
Trump’s White House, of course, has done its best to bury these facts. Back in September, The New York Timesrevealed that after the Department of Health and Human Services found that refugees generated $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost over the past decade, Trump officials, lead by Lady Liberty nemesisStephen Miller, simply rejected the draft. Instead, the three-page report that was ultimately submitted “[used] government data to compare the costs of refugees to Americans and [made] no mention of revenues contributed by refugees.” Presumably, Team Trump will rely on that “data” when it sets the number of refugees the U.S. will take in for the fiscal year, the deadline for which is October 1.”
Of course we don’t need cuts in legal immigration. And, contrary to what the Trumpsters would have you believe, most adult “family immigrants” work in jobs that are important to our economy. Also, because they have family here, it’s actually easier for them to “adjust and fit in” — something the White Nationalists are always fretting about.