Saturday, October 24, 2009

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY of LA RAZA - simply endless hispandering

“In Mexico, a recent Zogby poll declared that the vast majority of Mexican citizens hate Americans. [22.2] Mexico is a country saturated with racism, yet in denial, having never endured the social development of a Civil Rights movement like in the US--Blacks are harshly treated while foreign Whites are often seen as the enemy. [22.3] In fact, racism as workplace discrimination can be seen across the US anywhere the illegal alien Latino works--the vast majority of the workforce is usually strictly Latino, excluding Blacks, Whites, Asians, and others.”

JUDICIAL WATCH … get on their email news letters
Democrats' Compassionate Immigration Law In Works
Last Updated: Mon, 10/19/2009 - 12:55pm
The chairman of a key congressional immigration task force has offered a sneak preview of the “compassionate” and “comprehensive” legislation he’s crafting to legalize the nation’s estimated 12 million undocumented aliens.
The measure will be introduced in the House of Representatives in the next few months and includes a citizenship pathway for undocumented immigrants, strict rules for humane treatment of illegal aliens in U.S. prisons and a plan to adjust (increase) foreign visa quotas for American employers.
Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, proudly announced his bill’s highlights at a recent Capitol Hill rally attended by thousands of immigration advocates. Committed to highlighting the vital contributions that Latino immigrants make to communities and the economy, the task force claims that the only practical and humane solution to the nation’s illegal immigration crisis is to give individuals a chance to come out of the shadows.
That means passing a law that recognizes the vast contributions of immigrants in this country by giving them an opportunity to earn U.S. citizenship, Gutierrez announced at the rally. This, in turn, will honor the American Dream, assures the eight-term Democrat who frequently boasts about being the Midwest’s first Latino elected to Congress.
The soon-to-be-introduced Gutierrez bill will also protect the labor rights of illegal immigrant workers who are exploited, allow families to remain together in the U.S. even when several members are in the country illegally and include guidelines for “humane interior enforcement” that creates policies that respect the tenets of community policing.
Additionally, it will include a controversial and previously defeated measure that grants illegal aliens discounted tuition at public colleges and universities nationwide. In the absence of a federal law, states currently determine whether or not to give illegal immigrants the coveted taxpayer-funded perk but the proposed immigration overhaul will assure all undocumented students get it.
Currently ten states—including California, New York and Texas—offer illegal immigrants discounted college tuition at public institutions of higher education and Gutierrez believes denying the benefit unjustly punishes innocent immigrant children that instead should be fully integrated into society as the “Americans they truly are.”
How to Destroy America
1.) Make sure that you have left-wing socialist teachers brain-washing your children so that they will vote Democratic when they grow up

2.) Make sure you have millions of non-assimilating illegals flood your country, give them lots of free stuff, and make sure they vote Democratic

3.) Make sure that you promise "free health care" (what a joke) knowing that the biggest users of health care are the elderly, who use up the majority of funds for serious health problems, then ration their care so that they sort of die off quietly ( they don't contribute anything to the
work force anyway, so why spend money to keep them alive?) Make sure their family members thought that Public-Option Health Care was a great idea, and that they voted Democratic

4.) Make sure that you keep your school systems as dumb as possible, keep telling people that they are "owed" things that they shouldn't have to work for, that it's totally okay to have lots of illegitimate children with no fathers around, and then give these people welfare, WIC, food
stamps, etc., and make sure they vote Democratic (if you can even get them to vote at all)

5.) Make sure you elect a President who has ties to whack-job agencies like Acorn, who will not release personal information, who has a questionable place of birth, and then villify and insult anyone who bring these issues up - hey, who cares if a President is not eligible based on
an out-dated Constitution? Make sure that the people who blindly defend such a President have a history of voting Democratic

6.) Make sure you use tax-payer money to bail out those poor banker-type millionaires, who then turn around and refuse to give out loan to qualified folks but have no trouble giving out loans to deadbeats (thanks, Freddie and Fannie!) Aren't they Democrat-supported organizations?

7.) Make sure that before you implement any of these plans, that you subject a once-great country to 8 years of the most inept, bumbling 'cowboy' ever to occupy a position of authority, whose job it was to demoralize and "Mexicanize" the country, so all his buddies could get rich
from the cheap labor, and from lucrative contracts rebuilding a foreign country destroyed by a pointless war

8.) Make sure to continue to encourage the concept of racism, to encourage people to fight amongst themselves over perceived "rascist" issues, because all this infighting will deflect and distract them from the real issues, which consist of a government take- over to turn a Capitalist
society into a Socialist society, which will eventually result in the "elites" and the "drones", who will then be intellectually anesthetized through the media with things like "American Idol", professional sports, and car-repo reality shows. It makes drones easier to control, and their sole
function is to just work, pay taxes, and die in a timely, cost-cutting fashion anyway.

Welcome to the New America, where bilingualism, massive government entitlement programs, open borders, and the total removal of any incentive to accept responsibility for ones' own actions and consequences are the new values to uphold.

AMNESTY TALK surge over the borders 2004 and 2009

While the La Raza Dems work tirelessly for new and endless amnesty devices, in reality they have exactly the AMNESTY they want. EVERY YEAR THERE ARE 1.5 MILLION ILLEGALS THAT WALK OVER OUR BORDERS WITH NOTHING N THEIR POCKETS BUT A MEXICAN FLAG. EVERY YEAR THERE ARE 1.5 MILLION AMERICANS THAT FALL INTO POVERTY.


Thursday , February 19, 2004
By Matt Hayes
On Jan. 27, the Copley News Service reported that shortly after President Bush announced his plans to amnesty millions of illegal aliens in the U.S., more than half of the Mexicans trying to sneak into the U.S. through San Ysidro (search) told authorities they were doing so to position themselves for the amnesty.
As one member of the U.S. Border Patrol (search) told me, “They believe that they are only responding to an invitation.”
The percentage suggested by Copley probably does not come close to the actual number of people who are running for the American border as word of Bush’s immigration plan (search) spreads through Mexico -- and indeed throughout the world. Mexico, it seems, is now regarded the world over as the doorway to the United States.
In the last several weeks, a staggering 90 percent of all illegal aliens intercepted in one sector in southern Texas claim they’ve come for the amnesty.
Officers of the Border Patrol have now been directed to ask a set of questions of the illegal aliens they apprehend running across the border. One of those questions is: Is the person attempting to illegally enter the U.S. in response to the Bush amnesty proposal? To make arrests, Border Patrol officers often must dodge rocks being thrown at them by aliens as they cross. They then are told by all but 10 percent of the illegals they apprehend that it is the Bush amnesty (search) they've come for.
“The agents were soon told to stop collecting this information, presumably because it appeared as if the proposal was acting as a lure,” says my source within the Border Patrol.
Word of the 2000-mile wide open door between Mexico and the U.S. has spread far beyond Mexico. It is not just Mexicans who are flooding into our border states anymore. Along with the Nicaraguans, Brazilians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, and Chileans, agents of the Border Patrol now encounter Chinese, Pakistanis, and Indians. Nationals of countries other than Mexico are known, in Border Patrol parlance, as “OTMs.” (search) Because they cannot easily be returned to their home country (whereas a Mexican national might be driven right back across the border), OTMs are permitted to enter the U.S. and given a Notice to Appear, which is a piece of paper demanding their appearance before an Immigration Judge.
“I’m an OTM and I want my NTA,” some have been known to declare to the Border Patrol. Rules require that most be given their NTA, upon which the OTM departs forever for some unknown location in America.
“A lot of OTMs want to be caught so they can get their "papers," which makes them legal enough to get past our checkpoint without having to ride in the back of an 18-wheeler or crammed into the trunk of a car,” says one agent.
This is what the Bush amnesty proposal has caused to happen at our border with Mexico. Foreign nationals walk nearly unimpeded into our country -- fully aware of ways in which our immigration laws can be used to their advantage and even the nomenclature of immigration law enforcement-- and demand that our federal officers take a certain action that gives them the greatest likelihood of disappearing within the U.S.
Like a loss-making business that is kept alive by its corporate parent so it can be used as a tax write-off, the Border Patrol remains deliberately undermanned and hogtied while the administration tries to keep up the appearance that the borders of the United States actually mean something.
At a Democratic rally in Tennessee, Al Gore dumbfounded observers when, in criticizing President Bush's invasion of Iraq, he baroquely claimed the president had "betrayed his country." Right now, thousands of registered Republicans -- particularly those in border states -- are experiencing a tangible sense of betrayal. Some things are sacrosanct to the modern Republican, and along with such values as a strong national defense and limited government, one is a secure national border. That disappeared with President Bush’s amnesty proposal, just as if he had announced that the GOP is no longer interested in reducing taxes.
I doubt that most principled Republicans will forget it.
Judicial Watch
Mexicans Say Amnesty Will Boost Illegal Immigration
last Updated: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:02pm
If President Obama keeps his promise of giving the nation’s 12 million illegal aliens amnesty it will encourage more Mexicans to enter the United States, according to residents of the struggling Latin American country who are undoubtedly rooting for the commander-in-chief’s plan.
The majority of illegal immigrants in the U.S. are from Mexico therefore the president’s reprieve project will greatly affect that nation. Two-thirds of Mexicans say they know someone living in the United States and around one-third have an immediate member of their household or close relative living in the U.S.
A majority of those residing south of the border say legalizing their undocumented countrymen will inspire more Mexicans to head north, according to a recent survey conducted by an internationally known polling and market research company. A vast majority of Mexicans with a relative in the United States said a legalization program would make people they know more likely to go to America illegally.
The results of the survey were made public this week by a research organization dedicated to studying the economic, social, fiscal and demographic impacts of immigration in the U.S. It reveals that nearly one-third of Mexican residents (nearly 40 million people) would like to live in the U.S. and if there was an amnesty a large number would come illegally with the hope of qualifying for a future exoneration.
An amnesty, therefore, would stimulate more illegal immigration which is the last thing this country needs. Furthermore, rewarding those who have violated our nation’s laws with coveted U.S. residency and possibly citizenship demeans the system, especially for those who follow the appropriate steps to come lawfully.
It’s bad enough that U.S. taxpayers annually dish out billions of dollars to educate, medically treat and incarcerate illegal aliens who are, in many cases, depleting local governments. Los Angeles County alone spends more than $1 billion a year, including $48 million a month in welfare costs, to provide services for illegal aliens. The crisis is hardly limited to border states, which have traditionally been the most impacted. Georgia’s skyrocketing illegal population costs taxpayers nearly $2 billion a year.
Study: Illegal alien population may be as high as 38 million A new report finds the Homeland Security Department "grossly underestimates" the number of illegal aliens living in the U.S. Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Studies released a report August 31 that estimates the number of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. is between 8 and 12 million. But the group Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAPS, has unveiled a report estimating the illegal population is actually between 20 and 38 million. Four experts, all of whom contributed to the study prepared by CAPS, discussed their findings at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday. James Walsh, a former associate general counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said he is "appalled" that the Bush administration, lawyers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and every Democratic presidential candidate, with the exception of Joe Biden, have no problem with sanctuary cities for illegal aliens. "Ladies and gentlemen, the sanctuary cities and the people that support them are violating the laws of the United States of America. They're violating 8 USC section 1324 and 1325, which is a felony -- [it's] a felony to aid, support, transport, shield, harbor illegal aliens," Walsh stated. Walsh said his analysis indicating there are 38 million illegal aliens in the U.S. was calculated using the conservative estimate of three illegal immigrants entering the U.S. for each one apprehended. According to Walsh, "In the United States, immigration is in a state of anarchy -- not chaos, but anarchy."

How Unskilled Immigrants Hurt Our Economy 2006

City Journal
How Unskilled Immigrants Hurt Our Economy

A handful of industries get low-cost labor, and the taxpayers foot the bill.
Steven Malanga
Summer 2006

The day after Librado Velasquez arrived on Staten Island after a long, surreptitious journey from his Chiapas, Mexico, home, he headed out to a street corner to wait with other illegal immigrants looking for work. Velasquez, who had supported his wife, seven kids, and his in-laws as a campesino, or peasant farmer, until a 1998 hurricane devastated his farm, eventually got work, off the books, loading trucks at a small New Jersey factory, which hired illegals for jobs that required few special skills. The arrangement suited both, until a work injury sent Velasquez to the local emergency room, where federal law required that he be treated, though he could not afford to pay for his care. After five operations, he is now permanently disabled and has remained in the United States to pursue compensation claims.
“I do not have the use of my leg without walking with a cane, and I do not have strength in my arm in order to lift things,” Velasquez said through an interpreter at New York City Council hearings. “I have no other way to live except if I receive some other type of compensation. I need help, and I thought maybe my son could come and work here and support me here in the United States.”
Velasquez’s story illustrates some of the fault lines in the nation’s current, highly charged, debate on immigration. Since the mid-1960s, America has welcomed nearly 30 million legal immigrants and received perhaps another 15 million illegals, numbers unprecedented in our history. These immigrants have picked our fruit, cleaned our homes, cut our grass, worked in our factories, and washed our cars. But they have also crowded into our hospital emergency rooms, schools, and government-subsidized aid programs, sparking a fierce debate about their contributions to our society and the costs they impose on it.
Advocates of open immigration argue that welcoming the Librado Velasquezes of the world is essential for our American economy: our businesses need workers like him, because we have a shortage of people willing to do low-wage work. Moreover, the free movement of labor in a global economy pays off for the United States, because immigrants bring skills and capital that expand our economy and offset immigration’s costs. Like tax cuts, supporters argue, immigration pays for itself.
But the tale of Librado Velasquez helps show why supporters are wrong about today’s immigration, as many Americans sense and so much research has demonstrated. America does not have a vast labor shortage that requires waves of low-wage immigrants to alleviate; in fact, unemployment among unskilled workers is high—about 30 percent. Moreover, many of the unskilled, uneducated workers now journeying here labor, like Velasquez, in shrinking industries, where they force out native workers, and many others work in industries where the availability of cheap workers has led businesses to suspend investment in new technologies that would make them less labor-intensive.
Yet while these workers add little to our economy, they come at great cost, because they are not economic abstractions but human beings, with their own culture and ideas—often at odds with our own. Increasing numbers of them arrive with little education and none of the skills necessary to succeed in a modern economy. Many may wind up stuck on our lowest economic rungs, where they will rely on something that immigrants of other generations didn’t have: a vast U.S. welfare and social-services apparatus that has enormously amplified the cost of immigration. Just as welfare reform and other policies are helping to shrink America’s underclass by weaning people off such social programs, we are importing a new, foreign-born underclass. As famed free-market economist Milton Friedman puts it: “It’s just obvious that you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.”
Immigration can only pay off again for America if we reshape our policy, organizing it around what’s good for the economy by welcoming workers we truly need and excluding those who, because they have so little to offer, are likely to cost us more than they contribute, and who will struggle for years to find their place here.
Hampering today’s immigration debate are our misconceptions about the so-called first great migration some 100 years ago, with which today’s immigration is often compared. We envision that first great migration as a time when multitudes of Emma Lazarus’s “tired,” “poor,” and “wretched refuse” of Europe’s shores made their way from destitution to American opportunity. Subsequent studies of American immigration with titles like The Uprooted convey the same impression of the dispossessed and displaced swarming here to find a new life. If America could assimilate 24 million mostly desperate immigrants from that great migration—people one unsympathetic economist at the turn of the twentieth century described as “the unlucky, the thriftless, the worthless”—surely, so the story goes, today’s much bigger and richer country can absorb the millions of Librado Velasquezes now venturing here.
But that argument distorts the realities of the first great migration. Though fleeing persecution or economic stagnation in their homelands, that era’s immigrants—Jewish tailors and seamstresses who helped create New York’s garment industry, Italian stonemasons and bricklayers who helped build some of our greatest buildings, German merchants, shopkeepers, and artisans—all brought important skills with them that fit easily into the American economy. Those waves of immigrants—many of them urban dwellers who crossed a continent and an ocean to get here—helped supercharge the workforce at a time when the country was going through a transformative economic expansion that craved new workers, especially in its cities. A 1998 National Research Council report noted “that the newly arriving immigrant nonagricultural work force . . . was (slightly) more skilled than the resident American labor force”: 27 percent of them were skilled laborers, compared with only 17 percent of that era’s native-born workforce.
Many of these immigrants quickly found a place in our economy, participating in the workforce at a higher rate even than the native population. Their success at finding work sent many of them quickly up the economic ladder: those who stayed in America for at least 15 years, for instance, were just as likely to own their own business as native-born workers of the same age, one study found. Another study found that their American-born children were just as likely to be accountants, engineers, or lawyers as Americans whose families had been here for generations.
What the newcomers of the great migration did not find here was a vast social-services and welfare state. They had to rely on their own resources or those of friends, relatives, or private, often ethnic, charities if things did not go well. That’s why about 70 percent of those who came were men in their prime. It’s also why many of them left when the economy sputtered several times during the period. For though one often hears that restrictive anti-immigration legislation starting with the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 ended the first great migration, what really killed it was the crash of the American economy. Even with the 1920s quotas, America welcomed some 4.1 million immigrants, but in the Depression of the 1930s, the number of foreign immigrants tumbled far below quota levels, to 500,000. With America’s streets no longer paved with gold, and without access to the New Deal programs for native-born Americans, immigrants not only stopped coming, but some 60 percent of those already here left in a great remigration home.
Today’s immigration has turned out so differently in part because it emerged out of the 1960s civil rights and Great Society mentality. In 1965, a new immigration act eliminated the old system of national quotas, which critics saw as racist because it greatly favored European nations. Lawmakers created a set of broader immigration quotas for each hemisphere, and they added a new visa preference category for family members to join their relatives here. Senate immigration subcommittee chairman Edward Kennedy reassured the country that, “contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants,” and “it will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.”
But, in fact, the law had an immediate, dramatic effect, increasing immigration by 60 percent in its first ten years. Sojourners from poorer countries around the rest of the world arrived in ever-greater numbers, so that whereas half of immigrants in the 1950s had originated from Europe, 75 percent by the 1970s were from Asia and Latin America. And as the influx of immigrants grew, the special-preferences rule for family unification intensified it further, as the pool of eligible family members around the world also increased. Legal immigration to the U.S. soared from 2.5 million in the 1950s to 4.5 million in the 1970s to 7.3 million in the 1980s to about 10 million in the 1990s.
As the floodgates of legal immigration opened, the widening economic gap between the United States and many of its neighbors also pushed illegal immigration to levels that America had never seen. In particular, when Mexico’s move to a more centralized, state-run economy in the 1970s produced hyperinflation, the disparity between its stagnant economy and U.S. prosperity yawned wide. Mexico’s per-capita gross domestic product, 37 percent of the United States’ in the early 1980s, was only 27 percent of it by the end of the decade—and is now just 25 percent of it. With Mexican farmworkers able to earn seven to ten times as much in the United States as at home, by the 1980s illegals were pouring across our border at the rate of about 225,000 a year, and U.S. sentiment rose for slowing the flow.
But an unusual coalition of business groups, unions, civil rights activists, and church leaders thwarted the call for restrictions with passage of the inaptly named 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which legalized some 2.7 million unauthorized aliens already here, supposedly in exchange for tougher penalties and controls against employers who hired illegals. The law proved no deterrent, however, because supporters, in subsequent legislation and court cases argued on civil rights grounds, weakened the employer sanctions. Meanwhile, more illegals flooded here in the hope of future amnesties from Congress, while the newly legalized sneaked their wives and children into the country rather than have them wait for family-preference visas. The flow of illegals into the country rose to between 300,000 and 500,000 per year in the 1990s, so that a decade after the legislation that had supposedly solved the undocumented alien problem by reclassifying them as legal, the number of illegals living in the United States was back up to about 5 million, while today it’s estimated at between 9 million and 13 million.
The flood of immigrants, both legal and illegal, from countries with poor, ill-educated populations, has yielded a mismatch between today’s immigrants and the American economy and has left many workers poorly positioned to succeed for the long term. Unlike the immigrants of 100 years ago, whose skills reflected or surpassed those of the native workforce at the time, many of today’s arrivals, particularly the more than half who now come from Central and South America, are farmworkers in their home countries who come here with little education or even basic training in blue-collar occupations like carpentry or machinery. (A century ago, farmworkers made up 35 percent of the U.S. labor force, compared with the under 2 percent who produce a surplus of food today.) Nearly two-thirds of Mexican immigrants, for instance, are high school dropouts, and most wind up doing either unskilled factory work or small-scale construction projects, or they work in service industries, where they compete for entry-level jobs against one another, against the adult children of other immigrants, and against native-born high school dropouts. Of the 15 industries employing the greatest percentage of foreign-born workers, half are low-wage service industries, including gardening, domestic household work, car washes, shoe repair, and janitorial work. To take one stark example: whereas 100 years ago, immigrants were half as likely as native-born workers to be employed in household service, today immigrants account for 27 percent of all domestic workers in the United States.
Although open-borders advocates say that these workers are simply taking jobs Americans don’t want, studies show that the immigrants drive down wages of native-born workers and squeeze them out of certain industries. Harvard economists George Borjas and Lawrence Katz, for instance, estimate that low-wage immigration cuts the wages for the average native-born high school dropout by some 8 percent, or more than $1,200 a year. Other economists find that the new workers also push down wages significantly for immigrants already here and native-born Hispanics.
Consequently, as the waves of immigration continue, the sheer number of those competing for low-skilled service jobs makes economic progress difficult. A study of the impact of immigration on New York City’s restaurant business, for instance, found that 60 percent of immigrant workers do not receive regular raises, while 70 percent had never been promoted. One Mexican dishwasher aptly captured the downward pressure that all these arriving workers put on wages by telling the study’s authors about his frustrating search for a 50-cent raise after working for $6.50 an hour: “I visited a few restaurants asking for $7 an hour, but they only offered me $5.50 or $6,” he said. “I had to beg [for a job].”
Similarly, immigration is also pushing some native-born workers out of jobs, as Kenyon College economists showed in the California nail-salon workforce. Over a 16-year period starting in the late 1980s, some 35,600 mostly Vietnamese immigrant women flooded into the industry, a mass migration that equaled the total number of jobs in the industry before the immigrants arrived. Though the new workers created a labor surplus that led to lower prices, new services, and somewhat more demand, the economists estimate that as a result, 10,000 native-born workers either left the industry or never bothered entering it.
In many American industries, waves of low-wage workers have also retarded investments that might lead to modernization and efficiency. Farming, which employs a million immigrant laborers in California alone, is the prime case in point. Faced with a labor shortage in the early 1960s, when President Kennedy ended a 22-year-old guest-worker program that allowed 45,000 Mexican farmhands to cross over the border and harvest 2.2 million tons of California tomatoes for processed foods, farmers complained but swiftly automated, adopting a mechanical tomato-picking technology created more than a decade earlier. Today, just 5,000 better-paid workers—one-ninth the original workforce—harvest 12 million tons of tomatoes using the machines.
The savings prompted by low-wage migrants may even be minimal in crops not easily mechanized. Agricultural economists Wallace Huffman and Alan McCunn of Iowa State University have estimated that without illegal workers, the retail cost of fresh produce would increase only about 3 percent in the summer-fall season and less than 2 percent in the winter-spring season, because labor represents only a tiny percent of the retail price of produce and because without migrant workers, America would probably import more foreign fruits and vegetables. “The question is whether we want to import more produce from abroad, or more workers from abroad to pick our produce,” Huffman remarks.
For American farmers, the answer has been to keep importing workers—which has now made the farmers more vulnerable to foreign competition, since even minimum-wage immigrant workers can’t compete with produce picked on farms in China, Chile, or Turkey and shipped here cheaply. A flood of low-priced Turkish raisins several years ago produced a glut in the United States that sharply drove down prices and knocked some farms out of business, shrinking total acreage in California devoted to the crop by one-fifth, or some 50,000 acres. The farms that survived are now moving to mechanize swiftly, realizing that no amount of cheap immigrant labor will make them competitive.
As foreign competition and mechanization shrink manufacturing and farmworker jobs, low-skilled immigrants are likely to wind up farther on the margins of our economy, where many already operate. For example, although only about 12 percent of construction workers are foreign-born, 100,000 to 300,000 illegal immigrants have carved a place for themselves as temporary workers on the fringes of the industry. In urban areas like New York and Los Angeles, these mostly male illegal immigrants gather on street corners, in empty lots, or in Home Depot parking lots to sell their labor by the hour or the day, for $7 to $11 an hour.
That’s far below what full-time construction workers earn, and for good reason. Unlike the previous generations of immigrants who built America’s railroads or great infrastructure projects like New York’s bridges and tunnels, these day laborers mostly do home-improvement projects. A New York study, for instance, found that four in ten employers who hire day laborers are private homeowners or renters wanting help with cleanup chores, moving, or landscaping. Another 56 percent were contractors, mostly small, nonunion shops, some owned by immigrants themselves, doing short-term, mostly residential work. The day laborer’s market, in other words, has turned out to be a boon for homeowners and small contractors offering their residential clients a rock-bottom price, but a big chunk of the savings comes because low-wage immigration has produced such a labor surplus that many of these workers are willing to take jobs without benefits and with salaries far below industry norms.
Because so much of our legal and illegal immigrant labor is concentrated in such fringe, low-wage employment, its overall impact on our economy is extremely small. A 1997 National Academy of Sciences study estimated that immigration’s net benefit to the American economy raises the average income of the native-born by only some $10 billion a year—about $120 per household. And that meager contribution is not the result of immigrants helping to build our essential industries or making us more competitive globally but instead merely delivering our pizzas and cutting our grass. Estimates by pro-immigration forces that foreign workers contribute much more to the economy, boosting annual gross domestic product by hundreds of billions of dollars, generally just tally what immigrants earn here, while ignoring the offsetting effect they have on the wages of native-born workers.
If the benefits of the current generation of migrants are small, the costs are large and growing because of America’s vast range of social programs and the wide advocacy network that strives to hook low-earning legal and illegal immigrants into these programs. A 1998 National Academy of Sciences study found that more than 30 percent of California’s foreign-born were on Medicaid—including 37 percent of all Hispanic households—compared with 14 percent of native-born households. The foreign-born were more than twice as likely as the native-born to be on welfare, and their children were nearly five times as likely to be in means-tested government lunch programs. Native-born households pay for much of this, the study found, because they earn more and pay higher taxes—and are more likely to comply with tax laws. Recent immigrants, by contrast, have much lower levels of income and tax compliance (another study estimated that only 56 percent of illegals in California have taxes deducted from their earnings, for instance). The study’s conclusion: immigrant families cost each native-born household in California an additional $1,200 a year in taxes.
Immigration’s bottom line has shifted so sharply that in a high-immigration state like California, native-born residents are paying up to ten times more in state and local taxes than immigrants generate in economic benefits. Moreover, the cost is only likely to grow as the foreign-born population—which has already mushroomed from about 9 percent of the U.S. population when the NAS studies were done in the late 1990s to about 12 percent today—keeps growing. And citizens in more and more places will feel the bite, as immigrants move beyond their traditional settling places. From 1990 to 2005, the number of states in which immigrants make up at least 5 percent of the population nearly doubled from 17 to 29, with states like Arkansas, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Georgia seeing the most growth. This sharp turnaround since the 1970s, when immigrants were less likely to be using the social programs of the Great Society than the native-born population, says Harvard economist Borjas, suggests that welfare and other social programs are a magnet drawing certain types of immigrants—nonworking women, children, and the elderly—and keeping them here when they run into difficulty.
Not only have the formal and informal networks helping immigrants tap into our social spending grown, but they also get plenty of assistance from advocacy groups financed by tax dollars, working to ensure that immigrants get their share of social spending. Thus, the Newark-based New Jersey Immigration Policy Network receives several hundred thousand government dollars annually to help doctors and hospitals increase immigrant enrollment in Jersey’s subsidized health-care programs. Casa Maryland, operating in the greater Washington area, gets funding from nearly 20 federal, state, and local government agencies to run programs that “empower” immigrants to demand benefits and care from government and to “refer clients to government and private social service programs for which they and their families may be eligible.”
Pols around the country, intent on currying favor with ethnic voting blocs by appearing immigrant-friendly, have jumped on the benefits-for-immigrants bandwagon, endorsing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies toward immigrants who register for benefits, giving tax dollars to centers that find immigrants work and aid illegals, and enacting legislation prohibiting local authorities from cooperating with federal immigration officials. In New York, for instance, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered city agencies to ignore an immigrant’s status in providing services. “This policy’s critical to encourage immigrant day laborers to access . . . children’s health insurance, a full range of preventive primary and acute medical care, domestic violence counseling, emergency shelters, police protection, consumer fraud protections, and protection against discrimination through the Human Rights Commission,” the city’s Immigrant Affairs Commissioner, Guillermo Linares, explains.
Almost certainly, immigrants’ participation in our social welfare programs will increase over time, because so many are destined to struggle in our workforce. Despite our cherished view of immigrants as rapidly climbing the economic ladder, more and more of the new arrivals and their children face a lifetime of economic disadvantage, because they arrive here with low levels of education and with few work skills—shortcomings not easily overcome. Mexican immigrants, who are up to six times more likely to be high school dropouts than native-born Americans, not only earn substantially less than the native-born median, but the wage gap persists for decades after they’ve arrived. A study of the 2000 census data, for instance, shows that the cohort of Mexican immigrants between 25 and 34 who entered the United States in the late 1970s were earning 40 to 50 percent less than similarly aged native-born Americans in 1980, but 20 years later they had fallen even further behind their native-born counterparts. Today’s Mexican immigrants between 25 and 34 have an even larger wage gap relative to the native-born population. Adjusting for other socioeconomic factors, Harvard’s Borjas and Katz estimate that virtually this entire wage gap is attributable to low levels of education.
Meanwhile, because their parents start off so far behind, the American-born children of Mexican immigrants also make slow progress. First-generation adult Americans of Mexican descent studied in the 2000 census, for instance, earned 14 percent less than native-born Americans. By contrast, first-generation Portuguese Americans earned slightly more than the average native-born worker—a reminder of how quickly immigrants once succeeded in America and how some still do. But Mexico increasingly dominates our immigration flows, accounting for 43 percent of the growth of our foreign-born population in the 1990s.
One reason some ethnic groups make up so little ground concerns the transmission of what economists call “ethnic capital,” or what we might call the influence of culture. More than previous generations, immigrants today tend to live concentrated in ethnic enclaves, and their children find their role models among their own group. Thus the children of today’s Mexican immigrants are likely to live in a neighborhood where about 60 percent of men dropped out of high school and now do low-wage work, and where less than half of the population speak English fluently, which might explain why high school dropout rates among Americans of Mexican ancestry are two and a half times higher than dropout rates for all other native-born Americans, and why first-generation Mexican Americans do not move up the economic ladder nearly as quickly as the children of other immigrant groups.
In sharp contrast is the cultural capital transmitted by Asian immigrants to children growing up in predominantly Asian-American neighborhoods. More than 75 percent of Chinese immigrants and 98 percent of South Asian immigrants to the U.S. speak English fluently, while a mid-1990s study of immigrant households in California found that 37 percent of Asian immigrants were college graduates, compared with only 3.4 percent of Mexican immigrants. Thus, even an Asian-American child whose parents are high school dropouts is more likely to grow up in an environment that encourages him to stay in school and learn to speak English well, attributes that will serve him well in the job market. Not surprisingly, several studies have shown that Asian immigrants and their children earn substantially more than Mexican immigrants and their children.
Given these realities, several of the major immigration reforms now under consideration simply don’t make economic sense—especially the guest-worker program favored by President Bush and the U.S. Senate. Careful economic research tells us that there is no significant shortfall of workers in essential American industries, desperately needing supplement from a massive guest-worker program. Those few industries now relying on cheap labor must focus more quickly on mechanization where possible. Meanwhile, the cost of paying legal workers already here a bit more to entice them to do such low-wage work as is needed will have a minimal impact on our economy.
The potential woes of a guest-worker program, moreover, far overshadow any economic benefit, given what we know about the long, troubled history of temporary-worker programs in developed countries. They have never stemmed illegal immigration, and the guest workers inevitably become permanent residents, competing with the native-born and forcing down wages. Our last guest-worker program with Mexico, begun during World War II to boost wartime manpower, grew larger in the postwar era, because employers who liked the cheap labor lobbied hard to keep it. By the mid-1950s, the number of guest workers reached seven times the annual limit during the war itself, while illegal immigration doubled, as the availability of cheap labor prompted employers to search for ever more of it rather than invest in mechanization or other productivity gains.
The economic and cultural consequences of guest-worker programs have been devastating in Europe, and we risk similar problems. When post–World War II Germany permitted its manufacturers to import workers from Turkey to man the assembly lines, industry’s investment in productivity declined relative to such countries as Japan, which lacked ready access to cheap labor. When Germany finally ended the guest-worker program once it became economically unviable, most of the guest workers stayed on, having attained permanent-resident status. Since then, the descendants of these workers have been chronically underemployed and now have a crime rate double that of German youth.
France has suffered similar consequences. In the post–World War II boom, when French unemployment was under 2 percent, the country imported an industrial labor force from its colonies; by the time France’s industrial jobs began evaporating in the 1980s, these guest workers and their children numbered in the millions, and most had made little economic progress. They now inhabit the vast housing projects, or cit├ęs, that ring Paris—and that have recently been the scene of chronic rioting. Like Germany, France thought it was importing a labor force, but it wound up introducing a new underclass.
“Importing labor is far more complicated than importing other factors of production, such as commodities,” write University of California at Davis prof Philip Martin, an expert on guest-worker programs, and Michael Teitelbaum, a former member of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. “Migration involves human beings, with their own beliefs, politics, cultures, languages, loves, hates, histories, and families.”
If low-wage immigration doesn’t pay off for the United States, legalizing illegals already here makes as little sense as importing new rounds of guest workers. The Senate and President Bush, however, aim to start two-thirds of the 11 million undocumented aliens already in the country on a path to legalization, on the grounds that only thus can America assimilate them, and only through assimilation can they hope for economic success in the United States. But such arguments ignore the already poor economic performance of increasingly large segments of the legal immigrant population in the United States. Merely granting illegal aliens legal status won’t suddenly catapult them up our mobility ladder, because it won’t give them the skills and education to compete.
At the same time, legalization will only spur new problems, as our experience with the 1986 immigration act should remind us. At the time, then-congressman Charles Schumer, who worked on the legislation, acknowledged that it was “a riverboat gamble,” with no certainty that it would slow down the waves of illegals. Now, of course, we know that the legislation had the opposite effect, creating the bigger problem we now have (which hasn’t stopped Senator Schumer from supporting the current legalization proposals). The legislation also swamped the Immigration and Naturalization Service with masses of fraudulent, black-market documents, so that it eventually rubber-stamped tens of thousands of dubious applications.
If we do not legalize them, what can we do with 11 million illegals? Ship them back home? Their presence here is a fait accompli, the argument goes, and only legalization can bring them above ground, where they can assimilate. But that argument assumes that we have only two choices: to decriminalize or deport. But what happened after the first great migration suggests a third way: to end the economic incentives that keep them here. We could prompt a great remigration home if, first off, state and local governments in jurisdictions like New York and California would stop using their vast resources to aid illegal immigrants. Second, the federal government can take the tougher approach that it failed to take after the 1986 act. It can require employers to verify Social Security numbers and immigration status before hiring, so that we bar illegals from many jobs. It can deport those caught here. And it can refuse to give those who remain the same benefits as U.S. citizens. Such tough measures do work: as a recent Center for Immigration Studies report points out, when the federal government began deporting illegal Muslims after 9/11, many more illegals who knew they were likely to face more scrutiny voluntarily returned home.
If America is ever to make immigration work for our economy again, it must reject policies shaped by advocacy groups trying to turn immigration into the next civil rights cause or by a tiny minority of businesses seeking cheap labor subsidized by the taxpayers. Instead, we must look to other developed nations that have focused on luring workers who have skills that are in demand and who have the best chance of assimilating. Australia, for instance, gives preferences to workers grouped into four skilled categories: managers, professionals, associates of professionals, and skilled laborers. Using a straightforward “points calculator” to determine who gets in, Australia favors immigrants between the ages of 18 and 45 who speak English, have a post–high school degree or training in a trade, and have at least six months’ work experience as everything from laboratory technicians to architects and surveyors to information-technology workers. Such an immigration policy goes far beyond America’s employment-based immigration categories, like the H1-B visas, which account for about 10 percent of our legal immigration and essentially serve the needs of a few Silicon Valley industries.
Immigration reform must also tackle our family-preference visa program, which today accounts for two-thirds of all legal immigration and has helped create a 40-year waiting list. Lawmakers should narrow the family-preference visa program down to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and should exclude adult siblings and parents.
America benefits even today from many of its immigrants, from the Asian entrepreneurs who have helped revive inner-city Los Angeles business districts to Haitians and Jamaicans who have stabilized neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn to Indian programmers who have spurred so much innovation in places like Silicon Valley and Boston’s Route 128. But increasingly over the last 25 years, such immigration has become the exception. It needs once again to become the rule.


“CHEAP” Mexican labor did not make this once great Nation! We only need look south of the border to see what that “cheap” labor did to their own country! There is a reason why 38 million Mexicans have walked over our borders, and it isn’t only because the Wall St. owned administrations in D.C. invited them!

A Response to the New York Sun
Steven Malanga
27 September 2006
The issue of immigration has prompted great soul-searching and re-evaluation among economists across the political spectrum. For years, mainstream thought in the field, based on numerous studies, held that immigration’s benefits largely outweighed its drawbacks and that in general newcomers were strong contributors to the growth and development of the American economy.
But over the last 30 years, as the nature of immigration has shifted to include more low-wage, low-skilled workers, opinion within the field has slowly changed, too, based on mounting evidence that the benefits of such immigration are small, while the costs are growing. On the right, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman has perhaps best expressed that change: “It’s just obvious that you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” On the left, New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman recently wrote that although he is “instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration,” “a review of serious, non-partisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration,” and that, eventually, “we’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.”
It was the weight of this evidence and the shift in thinking that I chronicled in a piece that appeared in the summer issue of City Journal (“How Unskilled Immigrants Hurt Our Economy”). Needless to say, I was surprised to read at the end of the New York Sun’s critique of that piece (“The Case for Immigration,” September 22) that the author, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, placed me within the line of a group of “small but influential thinkers” whose ideas on immigration have, over the decades, spawned such disreputable movements in American society as the Know-Nothing party. In nearly 20 years of engaging in public policy debates, I’ve always felt great satisfaction when my opponents resort to implying that my arguments help underpin racism or nativism or some other despicable “ism.” It’s generally a sign that they find their own arguments weak.
The irony here is that it’s Furchtgott-Roth who stands with a small (and shrinking, though still influential) circle of thinkers—that is, open-borders advocates, who have clung tenaciously to the notion that all immigration is ultimately good for our economy, despite growing evidence to the contrary, and despite a significant shift of opinion within academic circles. Presented with a series of studies on modern immigration by the most authoritative economists in the field, a bipartisan congressional commission on immigration reform wrote in the mid-1990s, “It is not in the national interest to admit unskilled workers.”
In my piece, I recounted studies that explained that the first great immigration, from 1880 to the mid-1920s, brought economic benefits to the country largely because the newcomers of that era brought much-needed skills with them; indeed, a 1998 study by the National Academy of Sciences reported that those earlier immigrants were on average more skilled than native workers, more than a third of whom still toiled on farms. Those skills are a key reason why many of those immigrants and their children succeeded so well. One research report cited by the academy noted that the American-born children of those immigrants were just as likely to be accountants, engineers, and lawyers as were other native-born Americans.
Today’s immigration, the so-called second great wave, began roughly 50 years ago and has come increasingly to feature low-skilled, uneducated workers and their families at a time when succeeding in our economy demands ever-more education and skills. Throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, illegal immigrants alone—consisting almost entirely of unskilled workers—have crossed our borders at the rate of between 225,000 and 300,000 a year. Legal immigration has also turned sharply toward the low-skilled, thanks to 1965 legislation that changed our national quota system so that the vast majority of legal immigration now hails from poorer countries.
Not surprisingly, as low-skilled workers have arrived in ever-greater numbers, their fortunes have fallen. Today, for instance, Mexican immigrants, who overwhelmingly dominate the ranks of our low-skilled migrants, typically begin work in America with a 40 percent wage gap compared with native-born workers. Rather than disappearing over time, moreover, that wage gap persists and may even be growing larger, according to work by the Harvard economist George Borjas. Equally unsurprisingly, the advantage of such low-wage immigration to America’s broader economy is limited. An authoritative study by the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 found that immigration contributed a mere $10 billion to our (at the time) $8 trillion economy, an inconsequential amount, all the more so in that the cost of immigration was increasing.
Furchtgott-Roth begins her response to my piece with a singularly inappropriate example of the supposed benefits of low-wage immigration: immigrant entrepreneurs plying the streets of Washington, D.C., during a rainstorm to sell umbrellas to stranded pedestrians. She fails to note that such “entrepreneurs” rarely pay taxes and business fees, and that legitimate retailers often complain that these street-corner merchants undercut their prices precisely because they don’t play by the rules. If this is the best example we can find of how immigrants complement native workers and invigorate our economy, we’re in trouble.
From this anecdote Furchtgott-Roth proceeds to the old saw that immigrants are here to work (though the percentage of nonworking women, children, and the elderly among immigrants is much higher than in the past), and they do jobs that Americans won’t. To buttress this claim, she cites unemployment rates among high-school dropouts, noting approvingly that among immigrants, the rate is only 5.7 percent, while among the native born, it is 9.1 percent (or double the nation’s overall unemployment rate). But rather than providing cause to celebrate the immigrant work ethic, the gap in the unemployment rate among high-school dropouts is more likely evidence that native-born workers are finding themselves crowded out of labor markets by immigrants taking jobs for lower pay and fewer benefits.
Borjas and his colleague Lawrence Katz have authored the most important study of immigration’s effect on native-born workers. In their 2005 National Bureau of Economic Research paper, they found that immigrants depress the wages of low-skilled native workers by 5 percent, even when one adjusts for the additional investment that businesses make when they have access to a large pool of cheap labor. Moreover, two new papers, one published by the National Bureau of Economic Research this month by Borjas and two colleagues and another by researchers from Northeastern University published by the Center for Immigration Studies, show that the impact of low-wage immigration falls especially heavily on native-born blacks and Hispanics, not merely depressing wages but increasing unemployment levels.
In contrast, Furchtgott-Roth cites the work of economist Giovanni Peri, who argues that low-wage immigrants bring a net benefit to higher income Americans and depress the wages of all low-skilled Americans by just 1 percent. But an important component of Peri’s work (and that of others who follow him) is the claim that immigration has a muted impact on native-born Americans because immigrants largely compete with one another and hold down one another’s wages. In Furchtgott-Roth’s world, this wage impact on immigrants is unimportant because she notes that we don’t see immigrants calling for less immigration. If they don’t care about the competition from other immigrants, why should the rest of us?
The first answer to this question is that immigrants don’t protest our current policy because many of them have relatives on the list of those awaiting visas; indeed, the principal source of legal immigration in America today is family reunification, and nearly two-thirds of everyone who comes here legally does so because a family member is already here.
But in this case, what immigrants think isn’t the point. What’s troubling about the wage effect of immigrants on unskilled workers—whomever it falls on—is that it is in danger of slowing economic mobility at the bottom rungs of our society. In my City Journal piece, I devote much attention to the growing research showing how continued low-wage immigration is making it increasingly tougher on migrants themselves. This is not inconsequential; in fact, it is decisive. Americans have welcomed immigrants when we believed they could pull their own weight. Now we see signs that the economic success of immigrants is slowing. Even more disturbingly, their children are also finding it harder to make it in America, research shows, in part because of what economists describe as the “transmission of ethnic capital,” by which they mean cultural influences on children. As the children of today’s immigrants grow up in ethnic enclaves where most adults don’t speak English or value education and haven’t graduated from high school, many kids adopt those unfortunate characteristics, one reason why high-school dropout rates among native-born Hispanic children are far higher than among American-born children in general.
The danger, as Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson argues, is that of “importing poverty” in the form of a new underclass—a permanent group of working poor. As Borjas recently observed, “If these historical trends continue . . . the next few decades can lead to a somewhat pessimistic forecast for the economic performance of the children of the current (i.e., circa 2000) wave of immigrants.”
This poor economic performance has significant consequences in a society that now offers substantial transfers of income through government social programs. The National Academy of Sciences in 1998 studied the trade-off between taxes paid and government services received for both the native born and immigrants in California. It found that the average native-born household paid nearly $1,200 more in taxes to support services to immigrants. Furchtgott-Roth minimizes this substantial burden by quoting only the section of the report that discusses the additional local government cost for the education of immigrant children in public schools. She ignores, however, the section about the dollars that the state and federal governments spend on immigrants for social programs. According to the study, immigrants in California received in total an average of $5,067 in benefits per household, compared with $1,983 for native-born households. Behind those costs, the study notes, was substantially greater immigrant participation in many programs.
Occasionally, Furchtgott-Roth resorts to hyperbole. In my piece, I refer to a study by two noted agricultural economists, Wallace Huffman and Alan McCunn, who find that without low-wage immigrant workers, the price of produce in America would rise only modestly. The authors offer three reasons: labor is a small part of the cost of produce, many farms would make greater user of mechanization to become more productive, and America would import more produce. To this, Furchtgott-Roth retorts, “It makes little sense to send a whole economic sector to other countries.” Of course, this isn’t remotely what Huffman and McCunn suggest would happen, nor how I characterize their study. In fact, as I point out, agricultural economists have been urging American farmers to forsake cheap labor and invest more heavily in mechanization to save their farms from competition from countries where workers earn just a few cents an hour—a rate that we’ll never compete with, no matter how many migrant workers we import. Following the path of guest-worker programs and cheap labor advocated by Furchtgott-Roth is far more likely to result in our agricultural output moving offshore.
This and other discomfiting evidence about today’s immigration has prompted considerable soul searching, as I’ve said, and not just by economists. City Journal editor Myron Magnet noted in a piece accompanying mine that most of us at the magazine are the children and grandchildren of immigrants ourselves. Over the years, the magazine has published any number of stories about the contribution of immigrants to America and especially New York. But as Magnet is fond of quoting, everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts, and increasingly the discomfiting evidence was becoming undeniable.
Such soul-searching seems to be going on everywhere except among open-borders advocates on the left and the right. On the left, advocacy for open borders is not about what’s good for our economy but about immigration as an extension of the civil rights battles of the 1960s. But on the right it’s hard to understand what’s behind the increasingly strident advocacy other than ideology—to be defended at all costs and by any rhetorical technique available, including branding its opponents as enablers of Know Nothingness or other disreputable movements.





THE IMPACT OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION 2006 – (Now with unemployment double digits to you think it’s any better? In Mexican occupied Los Angeles, 47% of those employed are ILLEGALS using “borrowed” social security numbers)

Illegal immigration into the United States has sparked heated debate in Congress, roiled the two main political parties and prompted hundreds of thousands of immigrant supporters to take to the streets recently in peaceful demonstrations nationwide.

The controversy picked up new momentum on May 15 when President George W. Bush, in a televised address to the nation, called for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. He said he would send 6,000 National Guard troops to four states along the U.S.-Mexican border beginning in June to provide intelligence and logistical support--but not armed law enforcement--to civilian border patrol agents. In addition to securing the border, Bush also said it was necessary for the House and Senate to pass legislation that would allow illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for a long time to remain and be able to undergo a process to become citizens.

"There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation," the president said. "That middle ground recognizes that there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently and someone who has worked here for many years and has a home, a family and an otherwise clean record." Meanwhile, Congressional leaders have said that they would like to send immigration-reform legislation to the president for his signature before the end of May.

At stake in the debate are the lives and livelihoods of as many as 12 million undocumented workers, the companies they work for, respect for the rule of law, and the job opportunities of millions of low-skill American citizens--both native-born and immigrants who became naturalized by going through the proper channels. The large number of illegal immigrants raises key economic questions: Do illegal immigrants depress wages paid to low-skill workers? Do they take jobs away from Americans? How dependent on undocumented workers is the U.S. economy? Should illegal immigrants be compelled by law to return to their native countries? Or should Democrats and Republicans hammer out legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to pay some type of penalty yet remain in the United States and continue working?

Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli and Vernon M. Briggs Jr., professor in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., are firm in their conviction that illegal workers exert downward pressure on wages and reduce job opportunities for low-skill U.S. citizens. Briggs believes that the negative impact of undocumented workers on American low-skill workers and on labor standards is so great that immigration authorities should clamp down on employers who hire illegals so that a clear message is sent to current and potential illegal workers: Illegal immigration will not be tolerated.

However, Bernard Anderson, practice professor in Wharton's management department and an assistant secretary of labor for employment standards during the administration of President Bill Clinton, says that while illegal workers do have some effect on wages and displace some American workers, their impact is far less onerous than Cappelli and Briggs assert. In addition, Anderson says, illegal immigrants work hard, do not come to the United States to receive welfare and should be allowed to remain in the U.S. after paying penalties.

Jeffrey S. Passel, a demographer and senior research associate with the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C., says Pew, which bills itself as a nonpartisan "fact tank," has taken no formal position on the immigration issue. But he does say that the data on the broad economic impact of undocumented workers does not lend particularly strong support to either side of the argument.

Portrait Of Illegal Immigrants

A study released in March by the Pew Hispanic Center, which is supported by the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, contains extensive information on the nature and extent of illegal immigration. The study uses the term "unauthorized migrant," which it defines as a person who resides in the United States, but who is not a U.S. citizen, has not been admitted for permanent residence and has no temporary status permitting longer-term residence and work.

The report, which uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau's March 2005 Current Population Survey, estimates that the U.S. is home to between 11.5 million and 12 million illegal immigrants, up sharply from 8.4 million in 2000. Unauthorized migrants accounted for 30% of all foreign-born people in the U.S. as of 2005. Most unauthorized migrants--6.2 million, or 56%--come from Mexico. About 2.5 million, or 22%, come from the rest of Latin America.

In 2005, illegal migrants accounted for about 5% of the civilian labor force, or 7.2 million workers out of a labor force of 148 million. Approximately 19% of illegal workers were employed in construction jobs, 15% in production, installation and repair, and 4% in farming. The Pew report also shows that illegal immigrants comprise 24% of all workers in farming, 17% in cleaning, 14% in construction and 12% in food preparation. Within those categories, unauthorized migrants tend to be concentrated in specific jobs: They represent 36% of all insulation workers, 29% of all roofers and drywall installers, and 27% of all butchers and other food-processing workers.

It is often said by supporters of illegal, low-skill immigrants that the U.S. economy needs such laborers because they do the kinds of work that Americans will not do. But Cappelli calls that assertion a "complete myth." Immigrants have been hired to do such jobs in such large numbers not because Americans refuse them, but because Americans are not willing to perform such tasks where the wages are lower than they would otherwise be, where work rules may not exist and where the working conditions may be hazardous. Many employers seek illegal workers for the simple reason that it keeps costs down and means the companies do not have to invest in equipment and other capital improvements. Relative wage levels for low-skill and unskilled American workers, according to Cappelli, have plummeted over the past generation and show no signs of rising.

Cappelli says he has witnessed the effects of immigrant workers on wages and working conditions in other parts of the world, including the Middle East. In Bahrain, for instance, where guest workers from Bangladesh are frequently used on construction sites, a visitor can see them using picks and shovels instead of machinery.

Why do illegal immigrants force down wages? "That's how markets work," responds Cappelli. "It's hard for the average person to understand that these are markets. If illegal workers left the U.S. tomorrow, what would happen? Some people think nobody would do those jobs. If that were to happen, companies would change those jobs, and wages would go up. Yes, companies would hire the people who are not necessarily doing those jobs now. This goes on in every labor market. There are no jobs that we can think of where, over time, work doesn't get done. It doesn't happen."

While it is true that low-skill workers who enter the United States legally also exert downward pressure on wages, there is a significant difference between them and their undocumented counterparts. "The difference is legal immigrants are let in, at least in part, on economic judgments about where the needs are for their skills," Cappelli notes. "That's one of the criteria for being allowed to come in."

Cappelli says the United States needs legislation that "faces up to the real economic issues. If you allow more unskilled workers into the U.S., it will lower costs for employers. It will also lower wages for people who do those jobs. It's clearly a political question. If you want to benefit low-skill American workers, you reduce illegal immigration. It's important to have a very clear conversation on the choice we want to make. And we are ducking that by saying these are jobs no one wants to do."

Briggs, the Cornell professor, says turning a blind eye to illegal workers, as U.S. immigration authorities have done, can end up harming U.S. citizens and the illegal employees themselves. Undocumented workers can "displace," to use the term of labor economists, African-Americans and other minorities who are young and seeking their first jobs or older minority workers with few skills. Moreover, even if the illegal workers are earning the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour--and most are, according to Briggs--the conditions under which they work can be dangerous. Yet these people have no way to seek legal remedies because they are in the U.S. illegally.

Democracy's 'Seamier Side'

"Many [illegal immigrants] are working under conditions that are appalling," Briggs says. "Some are paid in violations of hours laws; some are children working in jobs they shouldn't be. It's one of the seamier sides of democracies. ... Some are working basically as slaves." Illegal immigrants are typically males ages 18 to 30 who are very ambitious, Briggs adds, and they will take any job, including those that make them vulnerable to abuse.

"Illegal immigration is an issue that takes everything down to its crudest level and makes it vile to discuss," he says. "The illegal immigrants will always win in jobs competition with U.S. citizens. This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with U.S. citizens; it just means there is a contrast" between the U.S. and the illegal immigrants' countries of origin. "No matter how bad things are in the U.S., it's better than the country [these workers] are coming from. If it means crowding into apartments or working weekends, they will do it, and they won't complain about sexual discrimination or racial discrimination. Tragically, many employers, if given a choice between illegal immigrants or U.S. citizens, will always take the illegal immigrant."

Briggs acknowledges that there is scant data to support his concerns about the plight of many illegal workers. But he is firm in his belief that "if we don't get serious about enforcing [immigration laws], people are going to continue to be hurt. These are the most vulnerable members of society."

In Briggs' view, the only effective way to reduce illegal immigration is to take employer sanctions seriously and actively enforce them at work sites. "That means [instituting] heavy penalties on employers who hire immigrants and making it clear that illegal immigrants are not going to work. They are not supposed to be here; they are not supposed to be working. You have to make it impossible for them to work. They will gradually get the idea they have to go back, that there's not much hope they are going to get legalized status."

Briggs says it may be useful to require immigrant workers to carry a "job identification" card that they would have to present to prospective employers in order to obtain work and to apply for government services. Briggs opposes building "massive walls" along the U.S.-Mexico border, but adds that "physical barriers" of some kind in strategic locations along the border may help. "We could possibly build more electronic fences that give signals when people cross them and tell [authorities] where they are."

Anderson, the Wharton labor economist, disagrees with Briggs' view of illegal immigration, saying the situation "is not as bad as Briggs says it is. ... One line of argument as to why it's necessary to protect the borders is that the failure to do so subjects the United States to an intolerable risk of terrorism, not that there's been any evidence at all that terrorists have come through the southern border. The other question is what impact there is on wages, economic status and employment for American workers. That's where you get a clear divide in the economic literature. The evidence produced by economists who have studied this question is mixed."

Anderson says there is indeed much anecdotal evidence that Hispanics now do many of the jobs once performed by African-Americans, such as service jobs in the hotel industry. Anderson says he himself has witnessed such changes across the American South during his travels over the past 30 years. "No one will convince me that there has not been labor displacement," he says. Nonetheless, there also is evidence that many African-Americans no longer perform low-skill service jobs--not because illegal immigrants have taken those jobs from them, but because they have moved on to take better-paying jobs or have grown older and retired from the labor force.

"There has been substantial [improvement] in the economic status of minorities in this country as a result of the civil rights movement," Anderson says. "There is no question that African-Americans have benefited in their occupational status as a result of that." He says that 70% of black workers today hold white-collar and service-sector jobs, while others are working in the many auto-manufacturing plants that have sprung up across the South.

Weighing all the available evidence, and noting that the data are mixed, Anderson concludes that "there has been some displacement and some depression of wages" among U.S. citizens as a result of illegal immigration. "But it has not, in the main, had a significant effect in reducing the earnings and employment opportunities of American workers, including minority-group workers. Immigration, including illegal immigration, has not been terribly detrimental to employment opportunities for African-Americans. I firmly believe this. It is for that reason that you don't find African-American political leaders lining up with the opponents of immigration."

When you look at opponents of illegal immigration, Anderson adds, "you find the same right-wing, reactionary scoundrels who have opposed progressive legislation, who have opposed the minimum wage and efforts to improve the economic opportunities of minorities."

What kind of an immigration bill would Anderson like to see emerge from Congress? "We must secure the borders. That has to be part of any legislation. We have to recognize that the huge numbers [of undocumented workers in the U.S.] are not here to receive welfare; they are here to work. If there were no employment opportunities for them, they wouldn't be coming. But we should not have an immigration system that allows immigrant workers to reduce the wages and diminish the working conditions of American workers. Therefore, I say protect the borders to significantly reduce the inflow. We should then move toward the legalization of those who are already here. If we legalize them [after requiring them to pay a penalty], then we let them out of the box they are imprisoned in and set in motion a process for improving wages and working conditions."

On the broad question of the effects, positive or negative, of illegal immigration, Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center, says: "I don't know if there's anything in the data that clearly points one way or the other. At one level, it's a lot of people: 11.5 million to 12 million. But it's about one in 20 workers, so it's not a huge share of the labor market. It is, of course, a much higher share of the low-education labor market, maybe as much as 15% or 20%."

Passel adds, however, that he has seen no evidence in the economic literature proving that illegal immigrants have displaced American citizens in low-skill jobs. "The presence of illegals is not associated with higher unemployment among natives, and it seems to me you would have to see that kind of thing for there to be true displacement in any sense. Geographically, it tends to be the reverse: Places with large numbers of illegals tend to have lower unemployment than places without illegals. Illegals go where the economies are strong, and as a result, there's no impact."

An Ineffective Policy

Although the Pew Hispanic Center takes no position on the immigration issue, Passel says it is clear from the demographic evidence that U.S. immigration policy is not working in its attempt to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States and reducing the number already here.

"At least for the last decade, and even longer than that, we have focused on two different approaches," Passel says. "One is we have made it harder for [illegal immigrants] to get in and have even tried to block people from coming in. That's clearly not working. There's some evidence from some of my work, and more directly from the work of others, that it's actually been counterproductive. What we have really done is, instead of keeping people out, we have kept people in."

The reason: Many illegal immigrants would actually prefer to move back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico, taking employment when it is needed and returning home to visit family. But by making it more dangerous and expensive to come into the United States over and over again, the immigrants decide to bring their wives and children and stay put once they arrive. Indeed, Passel says that some 1.8 million illegal immigrants in the United States are under 18. About 3.1 million more are children who were born here to illegal immigrants and thus are U.S. citizens. Whatever policy decisions are made in Washington, they will have to take into account the fate of nearly 5 million children.

The second approach U.S. immigration officials have followed in recent years is to make it hard for undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States once they have arrived by refusing to give them drivers' licenses, making them ineligible for government benefits or cracking down on day-labor sites. "But that doesn't seem to have had much impact either," Passel says. "It's probably because no matter what is done to make life difficult, life is still easier than it was back home."

A European Perspective

Rafael Puyol, executive vice president of the Instituto de Empresa Foundation Madrid and an expert on demography and immigration, suggests that immigrants are almost always active in the same kinds of activities. "In the U.S., they are largely involved in agriculture, especially harvesting crops. They move throughout the country, following the calendar. In Europe, agriculture--particularly in eastern Spain--always [offers] entry-level [jobs], although many immigrants want to leave these jobs as soon as they can" and move into other industries. In Spain, in addition to agriculture, immigrants work in construction, hotels, restaurants and as domestics. Lately, however, Puyol has observed a greater diversification of activity into specialized services such as plumbing and home repair.

Two factors determine the arrival of immigrants in any particular place, Puyol says. "The first factor is the availability of jobs in the high-priority areas. In a country such as Spain, immigrants come from the Mediterranean region, where there is a combination of agriculture, construction and services." They also flock to large tertiary cities, "because there is a multitude of activities in both services and construction."

The main issue, he notes, is whether jobs are available. But there is also another very important consideration: "The impact of earlier immigrants to the same country, from the same geographical region. The people from the first wave of immigration usually greet, orient and assist those immigrants who come from the same place of origin. They help them get settled and find a job until they can be somewhat independent," he says. As a result, "relatives, friends and acquaintances play an important role when it comes time for new immigrants to locate."

Puyol believes that the two main focal points of immigration are the United States and "old Europe." The U.S., the primary focal point, "is a country of immigrants, and you cannot understand the demographic history of the United States without understanding its history of immigration. First, there was the European immigration, and lately it has diversified into other [regions] of origin--Latin America above all, but also Asia. The second focus of immigration is "old Europe"--the 25-member states of the European Union, which was the first region in Europe that had immigrants, and which now has an increasing number of them, from Eastern Europe. "Next are the smaller focal points in Asia, the Near East and, of course, Australia," he says.

Regarding immigration laws, he says: "You have to establish a regular process for dealing with arriving immigrants. In this day and age, you cannot pursue a policy of completely open doors. The results are economically inappropriate and socially complicated. You must arrange things so that the incoming migration is regulated. Second, the legal system must contribute to immigrants' progressive integration. Give immigrants the same legal rights as other citizens. Immigrants also have to accept the basic laws that regulate social life, [particularly with regard to] the constitution. Immigrants in the U.S. and Europe must enter the country in a legal way, and they must have access to arrangements that permit their gradual integration.

Laws that arrange for temporary legal status almost never provide good results, Puyol says. "You must let free-market forces determine whether people who enter the country want to stay there permanently or return to their country of origin," he says. "In addition, you must assist legal immigration by making arrangements with the countries of origin that help immigrants from those countries arrive at their destination through regularly established channels. That means you have to support a legal immigration policy that is sufficiently generous that immigrants arrive under favorable conditions. You also need a parallel, generous policy for integrating those people. Those generally applied laws must not have any special exceptions; they must be laws that are accepted by all countries that welcome immigrants."

Finally, Puyol makes a distinction between Europe and the U.S. "America has a better demographic situation than Europe. In America, immigrants come predominantly because of work-related reasons. In Europe, you have to add a certain demographic factor to the economic ones. Population growth in European Union countries is at rock bottom. Fertility rates are much lower than those in the U.S., and aging people constitute a much larger percentage [of the population] than in the U.S.," he says. "In Europe, we are going to require more immigrants or our labor market is not going to function; it will not be possible to finance pensions and social costs for those people who have already retired. In Europe, there are going to be a lot more immigrants in the future than there are now. Perhaps this the key difference between the situation in the U.S., on one hand, and old Europe on the other."