By Joe Guzzardi
June 2, 2016
As the months tick down to November, immigration remains at the forefront of the presidential candidates’ campaigns. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have pledged to expand legal immigration, and to support programs that will lead to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Republican Donald Trump promises more controlled immigration, and greater enforcement.
That immigration is center stage in the 2016 presidential race is appropriate given the recently released Census Bureau statistics which the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies analyzed and published in its June report, “New Data: Immigration Surged in 2014 and 2015.”
During 2014 and 2015, sharp increases in new immigration, both legal and illegal, from East and South Asia, and Latin American countries other than Mexico led the way as 3.1 million immigrants came to the United States, a significant spike from the 2012-2013 two-year total of 2.3 million.
Despite President Obama and Department of Security Secretary Jeh Johnson insistence that the U.S. southern border with Mexico is secure, CIS estimates that 1.1 million illegal immigrants entered during 2014 and 2015. The huge increase from earlier two-year total of 700,000 illegal immigrants clearly indicates that DHS hasn’t contained unlawful entries and that the White House hasn’t made a sincere effort to do so.
While unchecked illegal immigration has been on the public’s radar for decades, legal immigration has also increased dramatically, but with scant attention given to it. New permanent legal residence visas and long-term temporary immigrant visas, mostly guest worker and student visas, increased to 2.03 million in 2013 and 2014, compared to 1.6 million in 2012 and 2013.
Each of these visas has had well-documented incidents of fraud associated with them. Guest worker and student visas also have enormous deleterious consequences on the American labor market and reduce the number of available college seats for American kids. The mechanics of how those visas work and how many are issued, however, are a mystery to virtually all but immigration lawyers and advocates.
More than 20 types of visas exist for temporary non-immigrant workers. They include L visas for intra-company transfers, P visas for athletes, entertainers and skilled performers, R visas for religious workers, K visas for overseas fiancées, A visas for diplomatic employees, O visas for workers of extraordinary ability, and a variety of H visas for both highly skilled and lesser-skilled employment.
The collective impact of the multiplicity of visas, which all include employment authorization, is dire for American workers. Recent stories revealed how the H-1B visa displaced Americans at Disney, Abbott Labs and Toys “R” Us, among others. The Economic Policy Institute extensively researches labor conditions, and found that the U.S. has an overage of workers in nearly every employment category. With more than 90 million Americans detached from the labor market, Congress has no need to import workers, be they low skilled or high skilled.
As for the benign sounding F student visa, unscrupulous employers and unprincipled colleges and universities have manipulated it into a tool for their monetary gain. Many international students are allowed to work for up to 29 months after their graduation under the federal Optional Training Program, and many employers prefer to hire F visa holders because the companies are exempt from paying FICA or Medicare taxes. State universities charge international students higher tuition rates, and profit greatly from the additional revenues reaped over lower in-state students’ tuition fees.
These enormous immigration increases are unsustainable and have displaced American workers, overcrowded schools, created urban sprawl and overloaded hospitals. An immigration moratorium is needed now. Otherwise, should immigration accelerate at the same 2014-2015 rate, the Pew Research Center projects that today’s 324 million U.S. population will grow to nearly 50 million people by 2050.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. E-mail at [email protected]; Tweet @joeguzzardi19