WASHINGTON - The House Immigration Policy and Enforcement Subcommittee held a hearing today entitled "Making Immigration Work for American Minorities." Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, some are still trying to make the claim that deporting millions of unauthorized immigrants would free up jobs for unemployed American workers, and minority workers specifically. However, the best available evidence suggests that there is no correlation between high levels of immigration and high unemployment among native-born workers.
Immigration is not the cause of poor employment prospects for American minorities. According to noted scholar, Gerald Jaynes, the impact on less-educated native-born workers of competition with immigrant workers "is swamped by a constellation of other factors (such as declining factory jobs and other blue-collar employment)." Moreover, the most recent economic research indicates that immigration produces a slight increase in wages for the majority of native-born workers. A recent report estimates that, from 1994 to 2007, immigration increased the wages of native-born workers - including African American workers - by 0.4 percent.
After the hearing, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith had this to say:
With unemployment at or over 9% for 21 months, jobs are scarce. And that is especially true in minority communities across the U.S.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in January the unemployment rate for blacks was 16% and for Hispanics was 12%. These unemployment rates are well above the national average.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, seven million people are working in the U.S. illegally. These jobs should go to legal workers, many of whom would be minorities.
Virtually all credible studies show that competition from cheap foreign labor displaces American workers, including legal immigrants, or depresses their wages.
The Center for Immigration Studies found that low-skilled workers lose an average of $1,800 a year because of competition from illegal immigrants for their jobs. That’s a significant economic hit.
A study by Harvard Economist George Borjas shows that cheap immigrant labor has reduced the wages of American workers performing low-skilled jobs by 7.4%. That’s a huge wage cut!
But research is not the only proof. After illegal workers are arrested and detained during Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worksite enforcement actions, many businesses replace them with American minorities.
The same was true when Georgia’s Crider Inc. lost over 600 illegal workers after an ICE worksite enforcement action. The company increased wages a dollar an hour and attracted legal workers, primarily black Americans.
There are stories like these all over the United States. Enforce immigration laws and unemployed Americans will be back on the payroll and earning a living for themselves and their families.
Unfortunately the Administration has almost stopped conducting worksite enforcement actions and prosecuting illegal workers.
Instead, they conduct I-9 audits and release the illegal workers so that they can walk down the street and take another job from an American worker.
Each time ICE arrests, detains or deports an illegal worker, it creates a job opportunity for an American worker. Each time the Department of Justice brings a criminal action against an employer who knowingly hired illegal workers, it sends a powerful message that their illegal employment will not be tolerated.
Unfortunately, worksite enforcement has plummeted under the Obama Administration. Administrative arrests have fallen 77% from 2008 to 2010. Criminal arrests have fallen 60%. Criminal indictments have fallen 57% and criminal convictions have fallen 66%.
With millions of Americans unemployed, it is hard to imagine a worse time to cut worksite enforcement efforts by more than half.
Not only could the Administration enforce immigration laws to help protect jobs for Americans, but they should also expand the use of the E-Verify system. It is the easiest way to help an employer know that their workforce is legal.
The Administration needs to be held accountable for not doing more for American workers.