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Biden Says He Wants To Cut Down On Illegal Immigration — But ‘Bidenomics’ Depends On It

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President Joe Biden’s latest immigration move expressed that he wants to stem illegal immigration, but his economic policies have relied on it to mask the true health of the economy, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Biden signed an executive order Tuesday that pauses new asylum requests at the southern border if the daily average over the span of a week exceeds 2,500, representing a stark departure from the president’s relaxed view on border enforcement amid a massive surge of arrivals. Foreign-born workers have boosted headline economic and job market growth numbers during the president’s tenure, masking the true state of the economy for native-born Americans and contributing to a disconnect between how Americans feel about the economy and what the data says, according to experts who spoke to the DCNF.

“It’s unclear to me that Biden’s actions will do anything to toughen restrictions at the border. Instead, this may be an attempt to make the wide-open border more permanent,” E.J. Antoni, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, told the DCNF. “That being said, a decline in illegal immigration would have a significant impact on headline economic numbers, but that’s very different from saying the average American would be worse off.”

The number of Americans employed as of April was over 161 million, higher than the pre-COVID-19 peak of around 159 million in February 2020. Despite the total increase, the number of native-born workers has only risen by 788,000 from February 2020 to April 2024, while the employment level of foreign-born workers has increased 2.7 million in that same time frame.

“Today, I’m announcing actions to bar migrants who cross our southern border unlawfully from receiving asylum,” Biden said Tuesday when announcing the executive order. “This action will help us to gain control of our border, restore order to the process. This ban will remain in place until the number of people trying to enter illegally is reduced to a level that our system can effectively manage.”

The foreign-born population in the U.S. has surged by 6.6 million since Biden took office, with an estimated 58% being due to illegal immigration, according to research from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which collects most of the government’s data on employment, does not differentiate in its counts whether workers are in the country legally or not, but explicitly states that it does count illegal immigrants.

“The presence of illegal immigrants certainly makes the overall GDP bigger,” Steven Camarota, director of research at CIS, told the DCNF. “Got more people; hundreds of millions of more people — even though they’re relatively poor — they’re still making the economy larger. So if a headline number is GDP growth, the economy is at least $300 billion larger because of the presence of illegal immigrants based on their labor incomes.”

The economy has defied recession predictions over the last year, recording 4.9% and 3.4% gross domestic product growth in the third and fourth quarters of 2023, respectively. The average number of jobs added each month in the last year, ending in April, was 242,000.

“Unfortunately, BLS completely avoids the topic of a worker’s legal status in both the survey of households and the survey of businesses,” Antoni told the DCNF. “That means the category of foreign-born workers contains an unknown number of illegals. Limiting the flow of those illegals into the country would stem the bleeding, but the damage has already been done. Reversing the negative effects of millions of illegals being in the country will require deportations.”

Camarota believes that foreign-born workers receiving a large portion of the economic benefits, like jobs, under Biden could be part of the explanation why voters are currently unsatisfied with the economy, despite the Biden administration and corporate media’s insistence that it is doing well. A poll in May found that 49% of voters believed that Biden’s policies had hurt the economy, and 71% thought that current economic conditions in the U.S. were negative.

“The immigrants somewhat mask the situation because they make the labor force participation look better, but the real issue is the headline number of unemployment,” Camarota told the DCNF. “That headline number of the number of people working misses all of these working-age people not working.”

The labor force participation rate for all workers totaled 62.7% in April 2024, still below pre-COVID-19 levels, while the foreign-born participation rate totaled 66%.

“I think this probably makes the public sour on the economy in ways that those surveys show when they say, ‘Well, is the unemployment rate high?’ and it’s not; it’s very low, but people say it’s high,” Camarota told the DCNF. “And I think what they’re thinking is that all these people that they see are idle.”

Around 49% of Americans surveyed in a poll in May thought that the unemployment rate was at a 50-year high, despite the official rate remaining below 4%. Of those surveyed, 56% thought that the U.S. economy was in a recession.

Antoni also pointed to other contributing factors fueling Americans’ discontent with the economy, including a large share of jobs that have been created under Biden being part-time positions, with many Americans holding multiple jobs at once. Surging immigrant populations have also exacerbated an already several million housing unit shortage that has developed in the U.S., pushing up housing and rent costs across the country.

“From an economic perspective, legal immigration has been a tremendous asset to America,” Antoni told the DCNF. “It has historically attracted the best, brightest, and most industrious people from around the world. That has increased productivity, wages, wealth, income, and even life expectancy in America, all while reducing crime. Conversely, mass illegal immigration under Biden has produced exactly the opposite effects.”

The White House did not respond to a request to comment from the DCNF.

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