Immigration reform will be one of the most significant out-of-the-gate issues for the Trump Administration and the options available to the administration to navigate the shark infested political waters of what to do with the undocumented-among-us will play out in the early days as Congress discusses actions and effects of stricter border enforcement.
The initial objectives of the Trump administration will be to provide strict enforcement of immigration laws and provide border closure to undocumented immigration. The effects will be multifaceted. Fewer potential immigrants will want to make the dangerous trek through the Southern Americas as higher risk of success of entre will prove a deterrent. With increased risk comes increased fees imposed by an edgy underground network that facilitates transport of undocumented immigrants.
Fearful of a stronger deportation policy many will self-deport (as Mitt Romney phrased it) and return to the families that they have been supplementing financially from the US side of the border. Those choosing to leave will do so sooner than later as they would realize a strong border restricts movement to and from the US. They may choose a known destination in their home country as opposed to casting their fate to new policies governing employment and the shadow economy that may involve detention and removal.
To compliment an aggressive growth-strategy for the US economy President Trump would likely make more H-1B work visas available, allowing highly educated and high-wage talent to come into the country, which would create jobs and could even boost creation of Intellectual Property and technology enhancements. But he would restrict immigration for lower-wage, blue-collar jobs, satisfying a significant segment of the people that voted for Trump to drive change. With this, Trump would fulfill his commitment to his constituents while creating jobs in technology and other IP-based industries.
To ensure stronger enforcement of immigration laws on those businesses that employ undocumented immigrants, adoption of e-verify would serve as a firewall. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. E-Verify's most impressive features are its speed and accuracy. E-Verify is the only free, fast, online service of its kind that verifies employees' data against millions of government records and provides results within as little as three to five seconds. The effect of enactment of e-verify with its enforcement ‘teeth’ would change behavior of businesses that hire undocumented immigrants almost immediately.
Will fewer immigrants affect the US economy? To any informed observer, the answer seems an obvious “yes”. Illegal immigrants do pay state and local sales taxes. Some even pay social security taxes through their employers. Some estimates place the value of these disappearing revenues to be $12 Billion. Fewer immigrants also translates to fewer expenditures for social services. The offset of revenue to expenditures is left for government budget offices and think tanks. Another positive effect will be wage increase for mid-level skilled workers. Economists of opposing political views agree the Arizona’s economy took a hit when large numbers of illegal immigrants left for Mexico and other border states, following a broad crackdown. But they also say the reduced competition for low-skilled jobs was a boon for some native-born construction and agricultural workers who got jobs or raises, and that the departures also saved the state money on education and health care. Whether those gains are worth the economic pain is the crux of the debate.
These considerations, and may others, will be front-and-center as the debate of dealing with immigration heats up. As Trump's strategy and tactics of his policy will be broadcast in 140 characters and on a variety of talking head shows, the interested public will be able to join the debate and energize the positive solutions that benefit the most.