One of the classic lines against immigration–besides quips about drug smuggling–is that immigrants are taking jobs that “rightfully belong” to American workers. Mexican workers have faced the brunt of the backlash, beginning in the 1940s during World War II, when the Bracero Program was introduced (Kwong 301). More conservative Americans believe that undocumented immigrants who work in the United States are driving down wages and leaving fewer employment opportunities for citizens. These are fallacies, as evidenced in the EPI Briefing Paper on Immigrants and Wages.
According to this report, illegal immigration was detrimental to other immigrant workers, not workers who were born in the United States. U.S. workers with less than a high school education saw an increase in wages, while foreign-born workers with less than a high school education had decreased wages (Shierholz 2). Nevertheless, Hispanic immigrants are still simultaneously blamed for Americans being unable to find work, while being depicted as lazy individuals who use the government to avoid getting a job.
That is not to say that America’s immigration policy is perfect, but reform policies should not be based on racism and discrimination. Americans fear what they do not understand, and instead of educating ourselves, we try to remove any source of discomfort. Language is an example of this. There is a joke that goes, “What do you call people who speak two languages? Bilingual. What do you call people who speak three languages? Trilingual. What do you call people who speak one language? American.” There are plenty of viral videos of white Americans telling those speaking another language to “speak American.” And while President Trump did not create or exacerbate racism, he has made it acceptable to vocalize discriminative ideals and refer to Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers.
There needs to be a happy medium between bleeding-heart liberal policies and conservative “build the wall” ideologies. One thing is for certain: loss of jobs cannot be attributed to immigrants.