The Corner

Immigration

Lockdown Good, Border Control Bad II

Last night, President Trump announced a temporary moratorium on immigration due to coronavirus. As with several Twitter policy announcements, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from the substance of the policy change.

But what we can expect is that a lot of people will defend mass migration during a global pandemic, and an unemployment rate galloping upward to levels unseen in our lives.

Catherine Rampell responded to the president with a thread defending the contributions of immigrants to the labor force.

All of the above is true, but not particularly germane. Restricting future immigration is a policy choice, not an expression of moral approval or disapproval of current immigrants and their contributions to the labor force. The immigrants currently living in the United States, particularly the ones working on the front line of the health-care industry, may have a much more pressing interest in the restoration of a tight labor market than in continuous mass migration. Hospitals and other health-care facilities are likely to shed staff in the coming months. Immigration is a policy and it boils down to two questions: How many? Who? Those questions have to be weighed against other conditions and facts, such as an unemployment crisis, or a public-health crisis. That we would slow down or halt economic migration into the United States during a public-health crisis makes sense.

Though, again, with any Trump Twitter announcement, there is the obvious question: Will this amount to anything at all?