Column: White House doesn't care about US workers
Another meaningless Labor Day has passed. For most Americans, the holiday represents a day off from work and the unofficial end of summer. Many attended local parades, where they heard November election candidates pledge to create jobs. President Obama, in Wisconsin, said that under his direction, the economy has never been better. Obama pointed to the rigged 6.2 percent July unemployment rate as evidence.
Talk about misleading! The Democratic Party and labor unions, once champions of United States' workers, have joined forces in an attempt to muscle through a comprehensive immigration reform bill or an executive amnesty that would devastate American workers. If Obama and the unions get their way, as many as five million illegal immigrants would be given a reprieve from deportation and granted work permits.
Unions are among the most active amnesty lobbyists, repeatedly advocating for aliens at the expense of struggling Americans. Last week the AFL-CIO traveled to Washington to plead for what it called illegal immigrants' rights. Several aliens testified about what they described as indignities suffered on the job site. Although the federal law prohibits aliens from working and employers from hiring them, more than 8 million illegal immigrants hold jobs. For an unemployed American, that an alien may be performing a job he's capable of doing is the ultimate indignity.
Despite Obama's pontificating about amnesty's perceived benefits, the last thing that the U.S. needs is more workers. Ample, irrefutable evidence shows that too many Americans are unemployed or struggling in low wage jobs to justify expanding the labor force. A recent Wall Street Journal analysis found that more than one in six men ages 25 to 54, prime working years, don't have a job, about 10.5 million. Certain worker groups for whom the White House professes compassion would be the most adversely affected. First, 14 million unemployed, disabled Americans would like to find a job but can't. Second, returning veterans can land security positions that pay from $9-$12 hourly, but can't secure higher-paying jobs with a career path.
Between 1990 and 2010, legal and illegal immigration increased the overall labor supply by 10.6 percent and by 26 percent the number of workers without a high school education. Cuban-born Harvard economist George Borjas estimates that immigration costs working Americans $402 billion annually in lost wages and, in a classic example of wealth redistribution, gives a corresponding gain to U.S. employers of immigrants. According to the latest available Bureau of Labor Statistics data, more than 22 million foreign-born workers are in the labor market. They earned, on average, 23 percent less than their American counterparts, $598 a week versus $771.
Hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans could be working as soon as next year if the administration set reasonable immigration quotas. Since 2000, more legal immigrants have come to the U.S. than at any time in the nation's history including the Great Wave. Currently, the U.S. admits nearly 1 million permanent residents annually and issues about 750,000 guest worker visas, job-killers for unemployed Americans. To accompany reduced immigration totals, Congress should mandate E-Verify to remove aliens from jobs they illegally hold and thereby create openings for Americans.
Reducing immigration would protect Americans' jobs. But Capitol Hill could care less about citizens' best interests. Instead the White House and most of Congress is irrationally determined to promote an agenda that rewards unlawful entrants with work permits.
Joe Guzzardi can be reached at email@example.com.