Politicians Play Politics With Refugees, But These Workers Are Exactly What America’s Economy Needs

After years of displacement, Venezuelan refugees are finally a national talking point in the United States. Since 2014, nearly 7 million Venezuelans have fled their country due to a humanitarian catastrophe and massive human rights violations, becoming the second largest displacement crisis in the world today, after Ukraine. Their situation is so desperate that, to reach the United States, they must cross seven countries, passing through the very dangerous Darién Gap, the jungle connecting South to Central America between Colombia and Panama. Many simply cannot.

It is sad that despite all of this, it was Republican Governors Greg Abbot, Doug Ducey and Ron DeSantis who brought this topic to national attention by using immigrants arriving in their states – mostly Venezuelans – as their own political tools by busing them, often misleading them, to cities in the northeast of the country. These movements, according to some, are similar to human trafficking. For now, we’re talking about over 10,000 immigrants who have fallen into this shameful practice.

But the truth is that governors should design a smart policy towards these immigrants and refugees who are nothing less than a huge asset to this country’s workforce, if given the right opportunity. opportunity.

Welcoming these immigrants is not a burden, but a blessing, especially now that labor markets are tight and labor shortages are fueling already boiling inflation.

Data based on surveys of hundreds of these immigrants was provided to me by Humanitarian actionan NGO that receives and provides humanitarian aid to thousands of these migrants as they arrive by bus in Washington, DC and New York, shows this enormous potential very clearly.

This immigrant population – mostly men of Venezuelan origin – is particularly young, with an average age of 30 and between 18 and 55 years old. This is evident from the figure below comparing these immigrants to the U.S. workforce based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In particular, almost 80% of these Venezuelan migrants are between 20 and 34 years old, compared to 20.4% of Americans.

Figure 1. Migrants transported by bus are much younger than the American labor force

Moreover, according to this data, immigrants represent a workforce that can contribute to the U.S. economy as much-needed foundational workers or even in more advanced occupations: more than 50% of them have completed their education. high school and nearly 20% have completed advanced technical training. diploma or even a university degree.

In fact, when asked about the last occupation they had before migrating, many said they had worked in the food and construction industries. Others said they had worked in more complex professions, such as nurses, technicians or even engineers. Coincidentally, all the professions that are currently in high demand and will continue to be in the future, according to the latest BLS National Projections.

If governors were really interested in politics, they would have looked at labor demand data from their own states. Short-term employment projections for the state of Texas, for example, show that by 2023 the state will need nearly 26,000 more fast food and counter workers, 27,000 home health and personal care aides, 15,000 customers and 9,000 nurses, among others. Similar trends are expected in Arizona and Florida, with an additional need for servers, cooks, janitors and cleaners, as well as software developers, accountants and general operations managers.

Receiving states, such as New York and Massachusetts, have similar trends in labor demand, and as such, governors of these receiving states should actually be thanks their fellow Republicans for young and resilient new additions to the local workforce.

The reason we see a growing demand for these very different groups of professions – some of them basic and some of them more advanced – is that, quite simply, for every doctor in Arizona doing their job, they have to rely on several fundamental workers who complete it. work, from drivers and cooks to assistants and nurses. And without these occupations, the doctor simply cannot do his job.

So if reason reigned in this country, politicians would have understood by now that welcoming these immigrants is not a burden, but a blessing, especially now with tight labor markets and labor shortages. work are fueling an inflation that is already boiling.

In this sense, there is one thing that President Biden can do immediately to allow these immigrants to join the labor market: expand the eligibility of temporary protected status for Venezuelans to include those who arrived after March 2021, which would immediately give work permits to those thousands of workers. The job of these governors who bus and fly immigrants across the country is not to spend taxpayers’ money to create national controversy for their own political gain, but rather to use this opportunity to come together. and also support this decision. This would ensure that Governors not only act humanely with those in need, but also help them reach their full potential in a new place they want to call home.

This controversy should remind us that the American immigration debate needs more politics and less politics.

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