Democrats Need To Talk About Immigrants as Assets, Not Supplicants Needing Handouts

They are letting President Trump's bogus anti-immigration narrative dominate their conversation


At last night's Democratic presidential primary debate in Detroit, the contenders repeatedly excoriated each other for regurgitating Republican talking points on health care, environment, student debt forgiveness, and government spending. But the one issue on which they all seemed content to play on President Donald Trump's turf was immigration.

For all their lip service to implementing humane border policies that don't involve ripping suckling infants from the breasts of migrant moms, not a single candidate thought to systematically stick up for immigrants because they are good for America. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) came the closest when she noted, "Immigrants don't diminish America; they are America." But that was a single throwaway line in a 150-minute gabfest that none of her rivals picked up. They all talked about immigrants as if they were supplicants—debating whether handing them this or that benefit would draw too many of them—rather than producers and contributors who are the source of America's dynamism and strength.

Bernie Sanders insisted that his universal health care designs wouldn't become a magnet for illegal immigration because of "strong border protections." How precisely his border strongness would avoid Trump-style border inhumanity, he didn't explain (unless you count his suggestion of a hemispheric conclave to chatter about the problem of fleeing asylum seekers). Ditto for Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Meanwhile, Beto O'Rourke, the alleged BFF of immigrants who has long sung paeans to the safety of El Paso, the Texas border town where he lives, despite its huge presence of undocumented immigrants, refused to hop on board with plans to decriminalize illegal border crossings. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) did enthusiastically favor decriminalization but beyond that muttered vaguely about "living our values" instead of actually saying something positive about immigrants and what they've done for America.

In other words, Democrats allowed President Trump to control the immigration conversation without him having to get anywhere near the stage.

But if Democrats really want to move the needle on this issue, they will have to change the narrative and talk about immigrants as the assets that they are—rather than the liability that they are not. Democratic candidates ought to be reminding Americans day and night that immigrants don't threaten their jobs and wages. To the contrary, they boost productivity and innovation.

This shouldn't be that hard given that even foes of immigration such as Harvard University's George Borjas (whom I debated here) concede that after accounting for the schooling, health care, and other fiscal costs, immigration still produces a $50 billion annual GDP surplus for the country. One recent study even found that without migration, U.S. economic growth from 1990 to 2014 would have been roughly 15 percentage points lower; and 1.5 percent lower every year from 2011 to 2016, the years after the Great Recession. "This is enough to cancel out the majority of post [financial] crisis gains," the study concluded. In other words, without immigration America would have been in for an even longer recession, which would have hurt native wages.

More immigration boosts productivity by removing crucial labor bottlenecks in the low-skilled and high-skilled industries where there aren't enough Americans able or willing to do the jobs. But it also boosts innovation because new people bring new ideas.

Everyone accepts that an increase in skilled migration directly increases the aggregate level of mental capital, the lifeblood of a knowledge economy. But even more low-skilled immigration ultimately boosts the availability of this capital. How? Low-skilled workers relive high-skilled workers (especially women) from menial chores, allowing them to devote themselves to other pursuits.

It is hardly an exaggeration to suggest that if America's economy has become the innovative hub of the world, dominating virtually every industry in the 21st Century from IT to Media/Entertainment, it is because of immigration.

Indeed, immigrants and their children were responsible for founding 46 percent of all the Fortune 500 companies in America in 2017, including, of course, Apple, which was started by the son of Syrian refugees. Immigrants have started more than half (44 of 87) of America's startup companies valued at $1 billion dollars.

Between 2000 to 2017, immigrants won nearly 40 percent of the Nobel Prizes for America —and we aren't talking about the fake Nobel Peace Prize that President Obama won before he started drone-bombing foreign lands into the stone ages, but those in chemistry, medicine, and physics. About 83 percent (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the leading science competition for U.S. high school students, were the children of immigrants. In fact, 75 percent—30 out of 40—of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas. That compares to seven children who had both parents born in the United States. Heck, a 2006 study by the National Foundation for American Policy even found that the great American sport of baseball would be far less great without immigration:

In the American League in 2006, 7 of the top 9 batting averages belonged to foreign-born players, while the leading home run hitter (David Ortiz) and the two leaders in runs batted in (Ortiz and Justin Morneau) were foreign-born.

In the National League, two of the top three hitters for average (Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera) and home runs (Pujols andAlfonso Soriano) were foreign-born. Dominican-born pitcher Johan Santana led the major leagues in strikeouts, earned run average and wins (tied at 19 with Chien-Ming Wang).

And even as folks like Rep. Steve King (R–Iowa) yammer about saving Western civilization from foreign hordes, said hordes are saving the English language. Indeed, even as natives are forgetting how to spell, foreigners have been dominating the National Spelling Bee competition, including this year, when 7 of the 8 finalists were Indian Americans.

Despite these massive contributions from immigrants, Democrats are allowing President Trump to depict them as moochers and criminals who threaten American culture. Until they wrest the conversation back from him and set the record straight on just how vital immigration is to this country's success, even if one of them wins the White House, he or she won't be able to accomplish zilch on this issue, presuming that they want to.



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  1. Let’s just consider this thread a place of silent reflection…

    1. Just as soon as I let out a silent fart…

      1. That reminds me, some of my new neighbors act like I am the anti-Jesus, but with Israel’s demographics being what they are, “anti-Jesus” can be a compliment here.

        Anyway, India has about as many English speakers as the USA has, and the distance between Israel and both India and the UK is about the same as the distance between NYC and LA. An Israeli based English speaking media firm that allows telecommuting should be able to out compete an American firm relying on the Dems to open up the gates for more immigration.

        Suck it, IRS. 🙂

    2. lol (silently,(lil?))

    3. But if Democrats really want to move the needle on this issue, they will have to change the narrative and talk about LEGAL immigrants as the assets that they are


  2. I love immigrants as much as the next guy, but Trump was right: “Go back to where you came from and teach them to enact peace and dignity like we have in the USA and then come back and tell us all about it.” If we are ever to end the immigration crisis, immigrants and their descendants, many of whom have lived here for decades, must return to their homelands and bestow upon them the blessings of democracy. This is the only way to stem the tide. We must export our values not our aid or arms. Otherwise we will still be talking about this for another generation.

    1. I am working on it one gay man at a time.

    2. By the way, after I praised Tunisia for having an openly gay presidential candidate in a Reason comment, the president of Tunisia died of a heart attack. It’s like some ISIS or neo-Nazi reader didn’t like what I wrote.

  3. “Indeed, even as natives are forgetting how to spell, foreigners have been dominating the National Spelling Bee competition, including this year, when 7 of the 8 finalists were Indian Americans.”

    BOOM! The greatest living libertarian writer hits it out of the park again!

    Next time my conservative brother in law questions whether a completely open border with Mexico is really in the US’s best interests, this awesome statistic will be the ace up my sleeve.


    1. That was so close to a homerun, for a moment I thought you were a Cuban expatriate.

      1. Unfortunately, someone from the Dominican Republic caught the ball by leaping over the fence – – – –

    2. Instead of pulling an ace out of your sleeve, OBL, terrify your b-i-l by pulling the Queen of Diamonds out of your leopard-print, studded bikini bottom.

    3. I’ll bet close to 100% of those foreigners winning spelling bees came here legally!!! And as we all know Trump’s whole beef is with the Trespassers!

    4. Yep, all those tech-savvy Indian immigrants are running across the Rio Grande as we speak.

  4. “”In other words, Democrats allowed President Trump to control the immigration conversation without him having to get anywhere near the stage.””


    This is something Trump seems to be good at. Getting people who hate him, to spend their time thinking and talking about him. The liberals in my FB feed post far more memes and comments about Trump than Trump supporters.

    1. This is something Trump seems to be good at. Getting people who hate him, to spend their time thinking and talking about him.

      ^ This. I spent the weekend with my brother, who listens to nothing but NPR, and holy shit do they never shut up about the man.

      1. He lives in their heads. It is amazing how he can manipulate them and bait them into saying or defending something stupid.

        1. Like getting Bernie to call him “racist” for saying exactly the same thing Bernie said?

      2. And they can’t discuss him without getting angry. Which is typical of progress. Always unable to control themselves.

    2. The title of this article is:

      “Democrats Need To Talk About Immigrants as Assets, Not Supplicants Needing Handouts”

      So Demon-Crats ever talk about any group without advocating that they need handouts?

      1. Corporations and billionaires and white males.




      1. There is no crisis. But kids are in cages. But there is no crisis.


        1. Honestly, there is a source of New Americans inside the home that can weed the lawn and wash laundry. Those new Americans are called kids. I was 8 the first time I did the family’s laundry. How do you think that beached jeans trend started in the 1980’s?

    2. You are, without a doubt, the stupidest motherfucker to post here. And with Kirkland here, that’s a real feat.

  6. “” 2006 study by the National Foundation for American Policy even found that the great American sport of baseball would be far less great without immigration:””

    How many of them immigrated the legal way?

    1. Almost all?

  7. But that’s the way democrats look at immigrants, as future welfare recipients.
    The democrats can’t help it.
    Its in their DNA.

    1. I was going to say something similar – the whole Democrat paradigm is based on finding victims in need of their help. Self-sufficient immigrants who contribute more than they consume are useless to them.

      1. And if they can’t find victims, they’ll have to make them.
        Progressivism is munchausen-by-proxy as political practice

  8. But isn’t finding supplicants needing handouts what the modern Democratic Party all about?

  9. What the last two guys said.

    1. What Democrats want is immigrants to be like the joke about Jews about living like Episcopalians and voting like Puerto Ricans. They can practice all the bourgeois and working-class virtues they want in their private lives so long as they make campaign donations to the Party and turn out for the Party at elections.

      Talk about “pulling up the ladder” – the more progressive policies they enact, the less desirable the U. S. will be as a destination for immigrants, and the quicker the country will abandon the values which enable hard-working immigrants and their families to be able to enrich the Party’s coffers in the first place.

      1. Yeah, but American Jews only became that subservient after years of progressives pushing for restrictions on Jewish immigration to England and the USA, and Russian programs, and the Holocaust, and welfare housing in the Bronx that became fortresses for violent criminals.

        How could they possibly repeat that with another ethnic group?

        Wait a second, didn’t the civil war in Syria start under Obama?

        Shit, I think the next Dem in the White House might nuke China to “save China’s Muslim minority” and “address unfair trade”.

    2. What the last two guys said.

      Ummm . . . fourthed.

  10. I love how deep this article only barely mentions that nearly all the immigration it’s discussing is illegal immigration. Because apparently there’s no difference between that and legal immigration.

    And then it makes the common blind assertion that illegal immigration is a net win, when illegal immigrants are significantly more likely to be felons.

    1. That article gets absolutely destroyed in the comments by some dude named “robert.”

  11. Ms Dalmia is dishonest in claiming that the concerns about uncontrolled, illegal immigration are also about legal immigration. Not even a small minority of those wanting to maintain control of the borders of the US are against legal immigration – even Trump might be aware that his wife is an immigrant.
    We want control over some measure of our lives, and this is an area that probably needs a measure of thoughtful consideration. Presently, about one-third of all Salvadorians live in the US – most on temporary humanitarian visas handed out decades ago. Why would anyone want to stay in any poor country if they were sure of admittance to the US?

    1. Mrs Dalmia is dishonest….full stop. And an unhinged 1-issue radical loon.

      1. Correct. There is an immigration problem that can be addressed by expanding the number of candidates allowed in certain categories.
        Then there is an ILLEGAL immigration problem which requires a different approach.
        But socialists want to talk about them as only one issue so they can dummy up statistics combining both, and not have to actually address either issue.

      2. But wowee, does she like it the naughty way!

    2. “Not even a small minority of those wanting to maintain control of the borders of the US are against legal immigration”

      Including the vast majority of legal immigrants whom I’ve encountered

      1. “Including the vast majority of legal immigrants whom I’ve encountered”

        Legal immigrants? Who are they? Der TrumpfenFuhrer wants to gut-cut them ALL back to ZERO! He wants to send them ALL back to where they, or their ancestors, came from!!! (Except for himself, his slutty babes from many-many serial marriages, and the illegal humans who have worked for him at his real estate projects, and been ripped off of their promised pay… Then there’s 7 bankruptcies, where he ripped off his creditors… But don’t worry!!! Der Donald knows how to rip off others for the benefit of himself and his family, so he’ll SURELY do the same to all the un-Americans, for the benefit of us GOOD Americans who voted for him! Right?)

        1. God, but you’re an idiot.

          1. God, but you’re a moron…

            Does that kind of thing do ANYTHING to move the conversation forward? You’re basically admitting that you have NOTHING to say to rebut what I have to say, other than childish insults! You and Tulpa might want to get together, your mutual mental vacancies might somehow complement each other!

            1. I’m not trying to move the conversation forward. We’ve all long ago staked out our position on this subject, and the argument has been argued to death.
              The fact is that you’ve got a terminal case of TDS, and will argue against anything he supports, out of a knee-jerk “orange man bad” reflex.

              1. And you’ve got “orange man super-hero, grabs goodies for me & all the GOOD folks” knee-jerk reflex.

                If you have an open mind, read this link, and ponder it!


                The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet

                1. I don’t care. I’m not a fan, but all he had to do was keep Her Corrupt Self and her fellow travelers out of office to get my support, which he did. Remaking the Supreme Court for a generation was just icing on the cake.

                  1. Agreed, pick yer poison, Hillary isn’t a saint either… I lost what little faith I might have ever had in her, when she & her hubby spent $7 million on Chelsea’s wedding… Humility? She has NONE!!!

                    But WHY did supposedly sensible folks vote for Trump in the primary? The were far better “red states” candidates!!!

                    1. Meh. It’s Trump. He’s honed his style in WWE, and that’s what his opponents don’t get. They’re talking facts, policy, etc., and Orange Man is yelling “this is my championship belt! You want it? Come take it! ”
                      This style is why many Republicans don’t like him, why he’s considered unsuitable for the job, etc. The Democrats of course, would mount a similar campaign against any republican, like they did against “maverick” McCain, who they loved until he ran against their candidate, and even mormon Mitt Romney, who is as dangerous as a church mouse.

    3. Huh. So on one hand, you say you’re only against illegal immigration, but then on the other hand, you complain about legal immigrants (Salvadorans with TPS status). Huh.

      1. You dont understand what the word temporary means. Huh.

      2. Pedo Jeffy doesn’t get it. What a surprise.

      3. That letter “T” means something, if you did not know. How long is “temporary” to you?

    4. “even Trump might be aware that his wife is an immigrant.”

      Special status for special folks… If you look like Stormy Daniels, and you like Der Dick of Der TrumpfenFuhrer, the sky’s the limit!

      The rest of us wait for 30 or 40 years, or forever, for permission to legally enter the USA…

      1. Moron, hot chicks always get a pass. Pretty much everywhere.

        1. Patriarchy!!!

  12. I actually think this is a parody.

  13. Democrats Need To Talk About Immigrants as Assets, Not Supplicants Needing Handouts

    “need to” in order to do what? Impress open borders libertarians? That’s adorable.

  14. Spelling Bee moderator: “The word is illegal.”
    Indian American: “I don’t understand the word. Can you use it in a sentence?”

    1. How about this? “If Shikha Dalmia hadn’t managed to enter the country on a spousal visa, her only option would have been to enter as an illegal migrant due to her lack of skills.”

      1. This fucking web site sucks. I accidentally flagged your comment for review. Luckily, Reason hardly ever unposts something. Sorry.

  15. How about we start thinking of illegal “immigrants” as nasty, filthy invaders? And start killing them en masse at the border? We don’t need a single one of them, and they aren’t worth crap.

    1. ….or just send them back to Sweden. Even if they’re not from there.

      1. As long as you it once.


        1. Dammit, ruined my Johnny Dangerously reference.

          Wanted to give Last for a nice reference.

  16. Some immigrants are assets, others are looking for handouts. Some immigrants are law abiding, others are criminals. All illegal migrants are lawbreakers, and almost all illegal migrants are criminals.

    As for you, let me say it as a fellow immigrant: crawl back into the hole you came out of, you are a deplorable person.

  17. I will publicly acknowledge that kids of east Indian origin are terrific spellers! The terrified look on a white kid’s face when his seven competitors are all Indian kids brings a tear of sympathy to my eye.

    Full disclosure: I won my fifth grade spelling bee, and I took third place at the school district science fair in sixth grade.

    I had potential. I coulda ben a contenda!

    1. My God, what’s happened to you?

  18. Where does Dalmia live? I am looking for a cheap place to crash for a few days.

    1. That would have it’s advantages. Like being able to urinate and dedicate wherever you want.

  19. Man do I get sick of mixing “all immigrant” data with illegal immigrant data. She’s pathetic.

    1. Illegals aren’t immigrants. Calling them that is an insult to legal immigrants.

  20. Some immigrants are assets with a silent t.

  21. Yet another non-libertarian straw man argument. Trump and conservatives welcome productive immigrants who want to contribute to our society. But to be consistent with both libertarian and capitalist principles, if you are going to join our community you must be ready and able to earn your way. Need medical care? Need housing? Need food? Provide something of comparable greater value to society so the costs of all of those things are covered by the immigrant. Society has no obligation to provide these things. And if you come here and cannot generate adequate value then you don’t get these things. Much more effective than a wall. When the freebie gravy train gets turned off, the self deportations will start immediately.

  22. Yes, Shikha, many legal immigrants are a boost to our nation. 20 million illegal, illiterate, non-English speaking peasants are not. They absolutely are “supplicants looking for a handout.”
    And this drivel: “Democratic candidates ought to be reminding Americans day and night that immigrants don’t threaten their jobs and wages.” ILLEGAL immigrants absofuckinlutey threaten citizens’ jobs and wages, or does the Law of Supply and Demand somehow, magically, not apply to labor?
    You’re a one trick pony. You believe that an open border won’t adversely affect working class Americans, despite our sharing a border with corrupt Mexico, and Mexico being fully supportive of citizens from even more corrupt nations passing through to the USA, as long as the illiterate masses don’t try to stay in Mexico.
    Fuck building the wall; it’s time to lay a minefield.

  23. I admit I had a hard time wading through this bullshit based on her conflating legal immigration with illegal invaders by defining it simply as a migration.

    That is some disingenuous shit, Shikha. Trump is not opposed to legal immigration and the H-1B visas prove that.

    “Low-skilled workers relieve high-skilled workers (especially women) from menial chores, allowing them to devote themselves to other pursuits.”

    By “menial chores” Shikha means child rearing by non-English speaking persons, which might explain why American children do so poorly in spelling bees and a plethora of other societal ills.

    Shikha, try writing about all the remittances “migrants” make to their country of origin and how that benefits Americans. To claim that illegals do not depress wages is just, well, bullshit.

  24. NEWS FLASH Shikha

    Trump is decidedly NOT anti-immigrant. Isn’t he MARRIED to one?

    He IS anti foreign invasion though, and that is precisely why he got hired as president, on a promise to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT PROBLEM.

    And, except for a bunch of rogue two bit federal lower court judges violating their oath of office AND breaking the clear mandate of the Constitution regarding what cases they may/must not take up as lower level Federal judges. Read the Constitutoin Art 3 Sec 2 Par 2………. then look up judge Robart, of Seattle…..

  25. Let’s raise the number of diversity lottery visas to 1 million per year and open the program to people from all nations.

  26. Funny – they “produce” $50Bn in taxes nationwide while costing California $13Bn in taxes more than they produce.

    If shitskin – pardon, Shikha – only had a fucking clue.

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