We asked Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer if immigrants are stealing US jobs. Bremmer says that most jobs are just disappearing they are not being taken by immigrants or being moved overseas. Following is a transcript of the video.
IAN BREMMER: Immigrants do take jobs of course, from Americans. Most of the jobs that immigrants come and take in the United States are jobs that either corporations can’t otherwise find people with the skill set to do. So you look at Microsoft or Google and they say, “look we just can’t get enough talented AI types and engineers in the United States, we need them from India, we need them from Pakistan, we need them from Saudi Arabia.” They come in, they get those jobs.
Or, much larger numbers, jobs that the average Americans wouldn’t do for that wage, and even wouldn’t do for a slightly higher wage, right? Wouldn’t do with benefits. A lot of the agricultural work and a lot of the sort of dishwashing service sector work in the United States is back-breaking work that sounds pretty good if you are from Central America but if you grew up in the United States, it’s just like “you know what? Life is comfortable enough, I’m not doing that. I’m not doing that for long.”
Certainly some jobs are taken but on balance, that’s not the case. There are two issues here. First is that most manufacturing jobs in the United States twenty years ago were leaving the country, going to places like China – that’s not true anymore. Today, most manufacturing jobs and service sector jobs in the US that are leaving are leaving because they are getting automated. They are going to robots, they are going to automated processes, they are going to AI code. And you know, that is something that walls won’t stop. That’s something an effective immigration policy won’t stop.
The other point is that the Americans no longer need a lot of the jobs that they are accepting immigrants for. I mean, if you think back to the Reagan era, the number of jobs that were required to come over and be involved in agriculture was enormous. And I mean literally, prices of food would just go up if you didn’t have these people. That was unacceptable to the American consumer. That’s changing very quickly.
The lower end jobs in the United States are just going away. And over time, you can make a very strong argument that the United States should have a relatively open immigration policy for humanitarian reasons because people need opportunities and America is rich. But you’re going to have a much harder time arguing that we need them from an economic perspective. And I suspect that’s going to tighten immigration quite a bit. Wealthy people that can buy a visa, can invest in the United States in apartment or business, they are always going to be preferred. It’s been easy for them before, it’s easy for them now. Certainly people with very high level skill sets – H1Bs. I suspect that the importance of the corporate lobbying in the US will be more than sufficient to ensure those policies continue. But I think that the baseline immigration of people that otherwise don’t have opportunities at all in their home countries, that want to come to the US because it’s the land of opportunity, I think it’s going to be much more challenging for them.
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