I wrote here about an ignorant New York Times editorial that attacked Senator Jeff Sessions on immigration, and denied that the laws of supply and demand apply to labor. Yesterday the Times published Sessions’ response, in the form of a letter to the editor. Among other things, Sessions points out that just a few years ago, the Times editorial board understood that mass low-skill immigration would inevitably depress the wages of American workers:
In 1970, fewer than 1 in 21 United States residents were born abroad. Five years from today, the Census Bureau estimates that more than one in seven United States residents will have been born abroad. Eight years from today, the share of the population that is foreign-born will rise above any level ever before recorded and keep surging.
It defies reason to argue that the record admission of new foreign workers has no negative effect on the wages of American workers, including the wages of past immigrants hoping to climb into the middle class. Why would many of the largest business groups in the United States spend millions lobbying for the admission of more foreign workers if such policies did not cut labor costs?
The New York Times once plainly acknowledged as much, writing in a 2000 editorial: “Between about 1980 and 1995, the gap between the wages of high school dropouts and all other workers widened substantially. Prof. George Borjas of Harvard estimates that almost half of this trend can be traced to immigration of unskilled workers.”
Since that sentence was published, another 18 million immigrants have arrived in the United States, while the share of Americans in the work force has declined almost five percentage points.
Reuters says Americans, by a nearly 3-to-1 margin, wish to see immigration reduced, not increased.
When it comes to immigration, the Times prefers bullying to honest debate. Come to think of it, that is true of pretty much every other issue, too.