BOWEN: Amnesty Doesn’t Belong In The National Defense Authorization Act

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James Bowen Contributor
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Congress will soon vote on the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that funds the military.

In recent years, lawmakers have used this “must-pass” bill as an opportunity to advance other policy priorities that have nothing to do with national security. And this year, unfortunately, is no different.

Included among the over 1,200 amendments lawmakers submitted to this year’s bill are several immigration-related provisions that threaten to worsen America’s border crisis and hurt U.S. workers.

One such proposal, Amendment #923, concerns the adult children of foreigners who came to the United States on temporary guest-worker visas. Until their 21st birthday, these individuals can typically stay in the United States as dependents of their parents. But once they reach full adulthood, these so-called “documented Dreamers” must either apply for a visa of their own, or return to their home countries.

Amendment #923 would effectively allow them to stay in the United States indefinitely. That might sound like a relatively harmless proposition. But the consequences would be severe.

For starters, while the lawmakers behind the amendment refer to the grown sons and daughters of guest workers as “children,” they are, by definition, fully fledged adults. If Congress decides to grant them the same legal protections offered to minors, legislators will have scrapped decades of legal precedent and opened the doors to ignoring immigration and visa restrictions in other areas of the law.

More tangibly, allowing hundreds of thousands of folks to stay in the United States — and granting them work privileges outside the normal immigration and guestworker quotas — will harm American workers who are already battling the steepest real-wage declines in living memory. Economic modeling suggests that a 10% immigration-driven increase in the size of a labor pool can reduce wages anywhere between 2% and 4%.

These foreign young adults would compete against their American peers who are just starting their careers. The unemployment rate for people aged 20 to 24 stood at 6.9% in August — nearly double the national average. And the labor market, though still relatively tight, is cooling fast. Hiring dropped considerably in August compared to previous months, and many economic metrics suggest we’ve either already entered a recession or are about to do so.

Adding more people to the labor force will put downward pressure on wages, which already lag far behind the 8.5% rate of inflation recorded in July.

Granting a preemptive amnesty to “documented Dreamers” will incentivize yet more illegal immigration. Folks in other countries will notice that Congress balked at enforcing immigration restrictions and will conclude that America’s political leaders won’t enforce the laws on the books for them, either. It’s a terrible message to send, especially now, as border crossing figures reach an all-time annual record.

The National Defense Authorization Act is supposed to make our nation more secure. Adding an amnesty to the bill would make it weaker instead, to the cost of Americans workers.

James Bowen, Ph.D., is a high energy nuclear physicist from Kansas City, Kansas. He is an avid outdoorsman who is concerned about the upward trajectory of U.S. population, driven by immigration, and its consequences — such as increased urban sprawl, traffic congestion, and destruction of wildlife habitat.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.