Would it surprise you that half of illegal households in America rely on some sort of government assistance? But there is some bright news. Because of widely mechanized advances in farming, agriculture now accounts for about 10-20 percent of illegal alien labor.
Crops such as nuts, olives, raisins and delicate Napa Valley wine grates, once considered impossible to automate, have been revolutionized by mechanization. As Victor Davis Hanson notes, computerized and laser calibrated breakthroughs will allow even soft fruit and vegetables to be mechanically picked. The same mechanization will also help to replace weeding and irrigation by laborers.
More important, explains VDH, is that Trump’s tax and deregulatory reforms have fueled economic growth and helped workers wages to rise. At the same time, there also has been a substantial drop in illegal immigration.
In the new psychological climate that’s followed, employers are beginning to believe it is no longer worth the risk to hire illegal aliens, as they scour the economy to find citizen workers (in the inner city, the red state postindustrial swath, and the barrio) and pay them more to reenter the workforce.
When the country has a 63 percent labor participation rate, there are more able-bodied workers than we assume, even as unemployment measured by traditional rubrics is about to fall below 4 percent.
The old Republican idea that illegal immigration is a good thing because noble foreign nationals work hard and cheaply for businesses in a way unemployed Americans “will not do” is not a sustainable factual, ethical, or political position. About half of illegal immigrant households use some sort of government assistance, for example.
Mechanization, automation, and higher wages for labor are the future of the American workforce. If we learned anything from the 2016 election it is that we should reject the calcified idea of corporate importation of inexpensive laborers from impoverished countries, profiting from their peak productive years, and then as they age, tire, and become ill, passing them on to the social welfare industry to rely on taxpayer-subsidized health, legal, and education services—even as firms seek out yet a new, young, and recyclable cohort from Mexico and Latin America.
Read more from VDH here.