That Jobs Argument is Weird, Misinformed, and Nasty


In order to justify the sweeping, round-up of immigrants for deportation —
In order to justify ending DACA and potentially upending lives of young people, some say,

“But they’re taking our jobs.”

Well, this is a weird argument. It’s misinformed and flat out wrong. And frankly, it’s really nasty.

It’s kind of an odd thing to say, really. In this argument, there’s a sense that American citizens, who have papers to that effect (after all, isn’t this really about race and paper status?) are being shut out of the economy because immigrants have jobs.

But that’s not how an economy works. It’s not a zero sum kind of thing. We have 800,000 young people who are enrolled in DACA, and approximately 11.2 undocumented immigrants in this country. Do we not realize that immigrants buy things? That provides jobs for the larger economy. Do we not realize that immigrants pay taxes? This provides for the economic safety net in this country, including social security. Do we not realize that highly educated DACA immigrants provide ingenuity, creativity, and generativity to their workplaces, thus likely creating jobs for others too?

This argument just doesn’t hold up. If you want to watch a good, short video that addresses some of the myths in this rhetoric, watch what economist Robert Reich has to say.

But beyond the argument being mistaken (and this is most important) it’s just nasty. This argument views immigrants as consistent, undeserving takers rather than viewing immigrants human beings who are our neighbors. It’s morally wrong to separate families and endanger the economic future of fellow human beings. It is morally wrong to sacrifice their lives to the altar of our own mythical superiority. This is xenophobia and white supremacy.

Immigrants — young DACA immigrants and their wider families — should never have to prove their capitalistic value in order to stay in the United States, as if that’s what makes them worthwhile. Immigrants are fully human. Immigrants are our neighbors. They have intrinsic worth, and when we partner together, we can build better communities.

Let’s start there, and let’s build a vision that brings this home.

Renee Roederer

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