Over the past 5 to 10 years, nationalist groups have been gaining steam across North America and Europe, especially white nationalists. Just a few years ago their views would have been sent to the sidelines of the mainstream media, but today there is undoubtedly a surge of attention they are receiving, thanks to news outlets granting them this attention and bringing their views to the political spotlight. So what are “nationalist” groups and what are their main policies?
Nationalist groups of all races are made up of people who claim immigrants and people of other races are hurting natives to their country and/or people of their own race. They tend to believe multiculturalism and integration was (and is) a failed experiment, and policies should be adopted to isolate people of their race into their own ethnostate. Therefore, they believe it is in their best interest to isolate themselves from foreigners and people of other races.
As you would expect from this kind of rhetoric, the highest priority among nationalist organizations is restrictions on immigration. American and European nationalist groups argue that immigration laws are far too loose and free and migration of people from third-world to first-world countries is placing an unsustainable demand on the country’s resources and the economy. They argue that this excess demand benefits immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, at the expense of the natives, which is blatantly unfair to the natives who were born and raised in their home country. However, once you look past the passionate rhetoric of these nationalist groups, there is overwhelming data suggesting that unnecessary restrictions on immigration will harm native-born citizens more than they will help them.
For example, the World Bank (page 35) estimates that an increase in immigration to reach 3% of the workforce of the high-income countries would produce as much as $356 billion in economic growth. This has the potential to lead to even more mutually beneficial economic exchanges, which leads to more jobs and higher standards of living for both immigrants’ native countries and their new home country. In addition, an analysis in the United States released by the Congressional Budget Office in 2013 found that a proposed bill to increase legal immigration would have increased the average wage of Americans by 0.5% by 2033 and increased GDP by 5% by 2033.
In fact, immigrants not only increase the number of people employed, but also increase general worker productivity. A study released by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that immigrants stimulate investment, which in turn produces efficiency gains and boosts incomes for both immigrants and natives alike.
One of the most popular nationalist organizations in Europe is a group called Britain’s First. As the name of the organization suggests, their platform advocates laws favoring natural-born British citizens for access to employment, housing, education, healthcare, and other goods and services that are largely provided by the government. Since they are convinced immigrants take jobs from natives, their organization aims to curtail immigration and leave jobs and government benefits to natural citizens of Britain. Unfortunately, the logic of nationalist groups is flawed and far too simplistic. It is based on a view that ignores the positive economic impact of immigration, especially in its ability to promote economic growth and indirectly bring widespread benefits to native citizens.
Over the past several decades, first-world countries have found themselves struggling with structural problems that can be healed with a healthy and smart form of immigration. Most of these issues include revenue problems caused by aging populations and, most importantly, the skills gap. As Mike Rowe stated in an interview with MSNBC back in September, “That’s [the skills gap] what we have now. There are 6.2 million jobs are available as you and I speak. The vast majority of them don’t require a four-year degree. So why are we still talking as if the best path for the most people is the most expensive?” An immigration plan which allows much-needed foreigners, especially those without a four-year degree, to enter the country and work these positions can satisfy these structural problems and result in a net gain for the nation.
Now, none of this is to say that immigration comes at no cost. Without a doubt, immigration can harm the job prospects of unskilled workers. The statistics surrounding it are hazy at best, but it’s generally agreed upon that immigration negatively affects the wages of natives with only a high school diploma or lower. Just 11% of Americans between ages 25 and 64 do not have a diploma or GED. For natives above this level of education, loose immigration policies should have little to no negative effect on their wages or job security.
Just as we shouldn’t shun new technologies that increase productivity and prosperity across entire industries, we should not forego the huge benefits of immigration. The core policies of nationalist groups conflict with their stated aims: better outcomes for natives. Ironically, nationalists hold an immense amount of hostility towards policies that could most help their own countries flourish.