Memorial Day is a good time to consider the ongoing plight of our returning American veterans. While too many of their fellow soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice, those fortunate enough to survive now come home to not only post-war traumatic stress syndrome but also sustained high unemployment.
For these young soldiers who have sacrificed so much, it’s a national disgrace that so little opportunity is afforded to them once home. Congress has knowingly and willingly magnified the tragedy by inviting about one million legal immigrants to the United States annually and immediately issuing work permits to them. Those immigrants then instantly compete in what many economists describe as the worst and most prolonged employment crisis since the Great Depression.
Even the most unskilled, non-English speaking immigrant can vie for employment with veterans (and other unemployed Americans) in the minimum wage sectors like hospitality or food service which, ironically, are among the few opportunities available.
In California, unemployed veterans face a particularly bleak future. California has more returning veterans than any other state, about 2 million, and its unemployment rate among the nation’s highest. Officially, California’s unemployment is 10.9 percent but is much higher in many counties. More important, California’s U-6 unemployment rate which measures total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons plus all marginally attached workers, is America’s highest, 20.8 percent. [There Are Different Ways to Count the Unemployed, by Jim Offner, Cedar Valley Business, May 13, 2012]
To understand the negative impact of more immigrants in the workforce, especially on veterans, consider these facts from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the BLS, in 2011 young male veterans had an unemployment rate of 29 percent, about twice the rate of non-veterans. Young black American male veterans’ unemployment rate exceeded 40 percent.
U.S. Marine Stephen Peck, president of U.S.Vets, listed these chilling facts about veterans’ tribulations: on any given night, more than 75,000 are homeless, more than 1.5 million live in poverty and every day, 18 veterans give in to despair and commit suicide. Read Peck’s complete list of veterans’ plights here.
Congress has exhibited no interest in reducing legal immigration. And, insultingly, with much fanfare Congress has passed token legislation like the Hiring Heroes Act. While the bill gives the appearance that Congress is concerned about veteran unemployment, reducing immigration would be immediately effective which meaningless legislation is not.
To bring greater attention to Congress’ shameful refusal to act in veterans’ best interests by placing a moratorium on legal immigration, Californians for Population Stabilization has released a nationwide ad that will air during the Memorial Day period. See it here.
And please do your share by sending a FAX to your Congressman through the CAPS Action Alert here.