White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller spoke Wednesday about sweeping changes the president hopes to make to dramatically decrease the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country each year. The remarks came shortly after President Trump expressed his support for a GOP-led immigration bill that would overhaul the country’s immigration system to accomplish those goals.
Miller claimed the current level of immigration hurts American workers and leads to wage stagnation. On that point, several economists flatly disagree. He also said that recent polling showed “immense” public support for stricter, more limited immigration policies and a switch to a so-called merit-based system. The polling on the issue is in fact complicated and shows a wide range of opinions on the topic.
Here are a few more of Miller’s claims and how they stand up to the facts:
Claim: Net migration rates are increasing at a “record pace.”
Fact-check: The most recent numbers from the Department of Homeland Security show legal immigration was higher in 2015 than the previous two years and has been increasing each year since 2013. In 2015, 1,051,031 citizens were granted new legal permanent resident status, an increase of 34,513 people over the previous year. But this is not a record pace and does not stack up to previous fluctuations. The number of migrants to the U.S. spiked from 1.09 million in 1989 to 1.5 million in 1990, an increase of over 400,000.
Claim: “Every year, we issue a million more green cards.”
Fact-check: This is half-true. It does not reflect the number of people coming into the U.S. each year. In 2015, the Department of Homeland Security reported issuing 1,051,031 new green cards. That being said, only about half of them, or 508,716, were issued to new residents. The rest of the green cards were given to people already living in the U.S.
Claim: “The reason why some companies want to bring in more unskilled labor is because they know that it drives down wages.”
Fact-check: Both the left-leaning Brookings Institution and the right-leaning Cato Institute have found in recent studies that immigrants do not cause any sizable decrease in wages. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reaffirmed the finding that immigration does not impact wages for U.S. residents.