With Robots Making Inroads, More Immigration is the Last Thing the U.S. Economy Needs

Published on February 18th, 2014

Right here in Pittsburgh, my hometown, robots have been credited with resurrecting the Steel City from its 30-year slump. In 1983, Pittsburgh’s unemployment hit 17.1 percent and people were moving out at the rate of 4,000 a month. The steel industry which had long supported Pittsburgh’s middle-class residents, its museums and even its beloved Steelers gradually dwindled from its once imposing presence.

Today, Pittsburgh has a new and booming economy, thanks in large part to the city’s rapidly growing robotic, artificial intelligence, health technology, advanced manufacturing and software industries. Because of its resurgence, Pittsburgh is routinely included on the lists of best cities to live in.

mechanization, robot
Advanced robots may serve to mitigate disasters while working in environments engineered for people. WIth this goal, CHIMP – the  CMU Highly Intelligent Mobile Platform – was built in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center.

Using robotic technology, Carnegie Mellon University is collaborating with General Motors to build a driverless Cadillac. Startled motorists may have seen the vehicle cruising along Route 19. Pittsburgh’s tech and education sectors account for about 80 percent of the high-wage jobs in the city, of which robotics plays the most prominent role.

While the boom in innovation and the accompanying well-paying jobs are good for Pittsburgh and those who work in high tech, it argues against importing millions more workers, especially the unskilled, since robots may soon eliminate, at least partially, the need for humans.

In his Daily Beast column, David Frum painted a grim picture for not only low-wage workers’ futures but also semi-professionals. Frum wrote that much like the ATMs that replaced bank clerks, the same will soon happen with bookkeepers, accountants, pharmacists and even lawyers. The blanket amnesty that the White House, the Senate and the House keep clamoring for could, according to The Wall Street Journal, expand the numbers of unskilled, non-agricultural workers by as many as 400,000.

Most of these new immigrants will be poor and under-educated with little chance of living meaningful lives unless they get a job. Industry’s growing reliance on robots, however, will make it harder for immigrants to become gainfully employed.

Without jobs, immigrants would be dependent on social services like Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits, Section 8 housing vouchers, and school lunches for their children. Passing immigration legislation that puts immigrants at risk is cruel not only to the immigrants but also to Americans who must eventually subsidize them.

Go the CAPS Action Alert page here to remind your representative that amnesty is bad for all Americans.

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