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How Trump-era Immigration Policies May Contribute to Current Economic Troubles

How Trump-era Immigration Policies May Contribute to Current Economic Troubles.

Whether it was his campaign promise to build a wall, his vulgar references to certain central American countries, or his criticism of legal immigrants taking American jobs, former President Trump maintained a vocal and unrelenting opposition to immigration of all kinds. While the Biden White House seeks to dismantle Trump-era policies, an economic downturn has some suggesting that Trump-era immigration policies continue to hinder American economic progress.

Immigration Policy under the Trump Administration

In just four years, the Trump administration enacted policies and laws which profoundly impacted the immigration landscape in the United States. Of course, former President Trump famously campaigned on “building a wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border – a campaign promise which went undelivered. If that were not enough, the Trump White house restricted asylum protections, proposed travel bans to certain countries, oversaw Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, attempted to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, cancelled Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of people, and, in 2018, called for a suspension of due process rights for those in the country illegally. The list goes on. Without debate, the Trump administration did nearly everything in its power to restrict both lawful and unlawful immigration to the United States. Today, as economic conditions deteriorate, some wonder whether these restrictive policies could be to blame.

Anti-Immigration Policies Contribute to Economic Turmoil

Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell explained in a recent speech that Trump-era restrictions on immigration have contributed to an ongoing worker shortage, a topic previously discussed in this Immigration Matters post. The concept is a simple one. With fewer immigrants entering the United States, there are fewer individuals able and willing to work. Given that immigrants are a more mobile workforce than native-born Americans, acute labor shortages become more likely to go unresolved. As Adam Ozimek, chief economist at the Economic Innovation Group, recently explained, “[t]here is no question: We need more immigration. Immigrants aren’t just workers, they are particularly flexible, mobile workers who help address acute labor shortages wherever they emerge, and that’s particularly important in this constrained economy we’re facing right now.”

Chairman Powell suggested that the American economy needs 3.5 million workers when compared to the pre-pandemic labor force. The factors contributing to this figure are complex. Some workers left the workforce because of the pandemic and others retired. Immigration is a major factor as well, with a substantial portion of the labor shortfall being attributed to a net decline in immigration.

The Efforts of the Biden Administration to Expand Immigration

The Biden administration has made efforts to undo many of the immigration policies of his predecessor. On his first day in office, Biden reversed many of Trump’s key immigration policies, ending construction on the border wall, reaffirming DACA protections, and ending Trump’s travel ban. However, with the current economic conditions appearing to deteriorate, it is necessary for significant action to take place to remedy the labor shortage. Perhaps bearing witness to real-world consequences of restrictive immigration policy will guide policymakers in their future decisions.

To learn more about this topic or if you have any other immigration concerns, please feel free to contact me at or (484) 544-0022.