The Forgotten Victims of Cheap Foreign Labor



We need an immigration policy that benefits all Americans, especially American workers, small businesses, families, and taxpayers. Yet what we have suffered for the last half century is immigration policy that benefits illegal immigrants, businesses that use cheap foreign labor, big political donors, and corrupt politicians. The problem is not just illegal immigration, but also excessive legal immigration that displaces American workers and drives down their wages and living standards. It also puts honest and patriotic small businesses at a serious disadvantage in competing against cheap illegal labor. The ever-abused taxpayers pick up the tab that is essentially a subsidy for businesses to hire cheap foreign labor rather than American labor.

Since economic and political power have been on the side of those who make huge profits from cheap labor, both legal and illegal, the voice of American workers does not get heard much in Congress or in State Legislatures. The U.S. Chamber, the Wall Street Journal, big business and big media generally help to bury their issues and drown out their voices. Even the labor unions have betrayed them for the lure of millions of new dues paying members from illegal or legal foreign workers. Even many of their churches are more into looking compassionate to illegal immigrants and the public than acknowledging that their own members are being downtrodden and wronged. The leaders of both the Republican and Democrat parties ignore their suffering and cries for justice. Political correctness pins a racist tag on them, if they complain.

I was hoping that the Fox News debates would begin to shed light on the plight of American workers, but the effort to dump Trump took precedence. Trump is not my first choice for president, but I thought the focus on defaming him was detestable. While the moderators lobbed soft balls to Marco Rubio, co-author of the Schumer-Rubio amnesty and legal immigration surge bill tripling auhorized legal immigration, they were substantially tougher on Walker and others.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the wages of American workers have been stagnant for the last 15 years despite productivity increases. AFL-CIO records indicate this has actually been true for the last 35 years.

The June 2015 official unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, but this rate, called the U-3 rate, has become so politicized that it is regarded as near worthless for determining the health of the labor market. The more appropriate U-6 rate for June was 10.5 percent, indicating there are 16.4 million Americans who want a full time job and cannot find one. Yet there are 8.1 million illegal immigrant workers employed in the U.S.

For every U.S. job created since 2000, the U.S. has taken in almost two immigrants of working age. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) found that ALL NET new jobs since 2007 have gone to immigrants. Edwin Rubenstein, President of ESR Research Economic Consultants, prepares a monthly comparison of native-born employment with foreign-born employment. It has painted a grim picture for native-born Americans since Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. It confirms the CIS studies but also presents some alarming shorter term trends. The Year-to-date (YTD) 2015 employment growth for foreign and native-born employment were both about 3.3 million. But the growth rate of foreign-born workers is more than five times that of native-born workers. Since Obama took office in 2009, the percentage of foreign-born workers has grown from 15.0 percent to 16.8 percent.

According to Rubenstein’s calculations, the Obama Administration’s open door immigration and administrative amnesties as of May had displaced 2.7 million native-born American workers onto the unemployment rolls. Moreover, according to the BLS, the U.S. is experiencing the lowest labor participation rate of persons 16 to 64 years of age in 35 years, 62.9 percent. Approximately 55 million Americans of that age are not employed. A more telling figure is that the number of Americans not employed has increased 16.8 million in the last ten years. Many have dropped out of the work force in despair. Too many employers prefer younger immigrants, whether legal or illegal.

About two-thirds of Americans believe legal immigration levels should be reduced. Before the 1986 amnesty, which started a surge of new legal and illegal immigration, legal immigration averaged 250,000 to 300,000 per year. Now it is running well over 1.0 million per year. Amnesties do not stop illegal immigration. They multiply it. They even beget more amnesties. Six more follow-up amnesties were passed to expand the original 1986 amnesty. Reagan reluctantly agreed to an amnesty of what he thought was only about one million. By the year 2000, a total of 6.0 million amnesties had been given, many based on fraudulent documentation. At the end of his two terms, Reagan told his Attorney General, Edwin Meese, that signing the 1986 amnesty was his greatest and most regretted mistake.

In addition, the number of illegal immigrants in the country expanded by about five million during the lax immigration enforcement terms of Clinton and G.W. Bush. We now have approximately 12.0 million illegal immigrants here. Based on the 1986 experience, giving 12 million amnesties will result in another 24 to 30 million illegal immigrants within 10 to 20 years. Yet several Republican presidential candidates for 2016 want to give another big amnesty—Bush, Rubio, and Graham. Several others have amnesty plans that have not fully unfolded. They won’t call them amnesty, but they are effective amnesty and will have the same multiplier effect experienced after 1986. Why would Republicans do such a thing? Their big donors want amnesty and as much new legal immigration as they can get. There is no labor shortage, although Senator Graham has had the audacity to make such a ridiculous claim. It is all about big campaign contributions from the U.S. Chamber and allied cheap-labor associations.

As Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL) has frequently pointed out, the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties and most of the national media try to keep the whole disastrous devotion to cheap labor out of the news and the ears of voters, marginalizing any whistle-blowers.

In last week’s Republican presidential debates, only Santorum and Walker were able to bring the problem of excessive legal immigration and its punishing impact on American workers to the floor. Cruz, however, added some straight-shooting criticism of the cheap-labor cabal that is almost totally corrupting our immigration policies.

As Harvard labor economist George Borjas has explained in his studies, the users of cheap foreign labor profit 437 billion per year at a $402 billion expense to American workers, suppressing the income of 148 million workers by close to $2,800 per year. In addition, illegal immigration alone costs taxpayers $113 billion per year, or $996 per native-born household.

Furthermore, if conservatives lose on immigration, all conservative issues will be forfeited—swept away by a new electorate.

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