And Now, Back to Immigration

Let’s put aside the Obama administration’s scandals for a moment, and return to an issue that will have a great deal more to do with America’s future: immigration. The proposed Gang of Eight bill will result in somewhere between 30 million and 57 million new immigrants over the next ten years. This is, in a nutshell, why the bill is so bad. The impact of such a mass influx of immigrants, the vast majority unskilled, on America’s existing pool of unskilled and semi-skilled labor will be catastrophic.

Peter Kirsanow is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board. Writing in the New Journal & Guide, he explains why the immigration bill will be a “disaster” for low-skilled workers, especially African-Americans:

[T]he employment picture for low-skilled workers is abysmal. The employment rate has been above 7.5 percent for more than four years and millions have dropped out of the workforce entirely. Among those without a high school diploma, the unemployment rate in April reached 11.4 percent, and for blacks without a high school diploma, it is more than 24 percent. The labor-force participation rate is at historic lows and long-term unemployment is the worst since the Great Depression. The workweek is shrinking, as well as wage rates. Barely one in two adult black males has a full time job. A record 47 million people are on food stamps.

The immigration reform bill has the potential to make things even worse. Not only will the bill grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants, it will act as a magnet for future illegal immigration and substantially increase the number of legal immigrants. It is conservatively estimated that the bill will result in 30 – 33 million additional immigrants over the next 10 years.

The bill is structured so that most of the immigrants will be low-skilled. These immigrants will compete with Americans in the low-skilled labor markets. The competition is most fierce in some of the industries in which blacks historically have been highly concentrated, such as construction, agriculture and service. Since the supply of low-skilled workers already exceeds the demand, the massive influx in low-skilled immigrants bodes ill for all such workers, but particularly black males.

This is an issue, as Mr. Kirsanow points out, that has already been studied. The effects of mass, unskilled immigration on the existing labor pool are known:

Evidence adduced before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights shows that immigration accounts for 40 percent of the 18 point percentage decline in black employment rates over the last several decades – the bulk of the decline occurring among black males. That’s hundreds of thousands of blacks thrown out of work; hundreds of thousands that can’t support their families without taxpayer assistance.

The evidence adduced by the Commission shows that not only does illegal immigration depress the employment levels of low-skilled Americans, it drives down the wages for available jobs. For example, an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta estimated that as a result of the growth of undocumented workers, the annual earnings of actual documented workers in Georgia in 2007 were $960 lower than they were in 2000. In the leisure hospitality sectors of the economy, the wages were $1,520 lower.

Mr. Kirsanow concludes:

Before the federal government grants legal status to illegal immigrants, serious deliberation must be given to the effect such grant will have on the employment and earnings prospects of low-skilled Americans. History shows that granting such legal status is not without profound and substantial costs to American workers.

Does Congress care?

Well, Jeff Sessions certainly does. But hardly any Democrats in Congress–those same Democrats who insist that they are on the side of the working man–care how the immigration bill will impact existing low-wage workers. Unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t care, either. But it is the duty of Congress (unlike the Chamber of Commerce) to look out only for the interests of American citizens. We owe absolutely nothing to illegal immigrants, but we–Congressmen, that is–owe a duty of loyalty to American citizens who are already having a hard time making ends meet.