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Tyler Cowen

Democrats Are the Anti-Immigrant Party

On the state and local level, they often favor policies that make it harder for new arrivals to the U.S.

What a pro-immigration policy looks like.

What a pro-immigration policy looks like.

Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled immigration plan is going nowhere with members of both parties. But while this policy gridlock is nothing new on the federal level, the situation is quite different outside Washington. State and local governments are making immigration policy all the time, mostly for the worse, and often Democrats are more restrictionist than Republicans.

Obviously the law can deter potential illegal migrants from entering the U.S. But so can the high cost of living. Even though there are much higher wages in the U.S. than in its neighbors to the South, a lot of those higher wages are eaten up by much higher rents — especially if the immigrant moves to a major city, as is often the case. I once wrote a book based on fieldwork in rural Mexico, and I found that, for those who had migrated temporarily to the U.S., high rent was typically their biggest complaint. It therefore follows that policies which raise rents tend to discourage immigrants, particularly poorer immigrants.