By Joe Guzzardi
July 3, 2014
The Bureau of Labor Statistics June report was encouraging, at least superficially. BLS announced that last month 288,000 jobs were created, about 100,000 of them in part-time and temporary retail or service industry positions. Unemployment dropped from 6.3 to 6.1 percent. More damning, the all inclusive U-6 unemployment remained static at 12.1 percent as did the dismal labor participation rate, 62.8 percent.
If President Obama gets his way, American workers will soon face more jobs competition. During his petulant June 30 White House speech that chided House Republicans for their inaction on immigration reform, Obama promised that before summer’s end, he’d resume his unconstitutional immigration-related executive actions. Capitol Hill insiders have indicated that “work is moving forward” on granting amnesty to the parents of so called DREAMers. In addition to giving the parents an official two-year reprieve from possible deportation, they would be granted work permits.
Because few illegal immigrants are sent home, the deportation stay is a joke. In fact, the reverse process is well underway. Tens of thousands of aliens are pouring across the wide open southwest border. But more work permits represent a major challenge to unemployed Americans desperately seeking jobs. In the two years since Obama, through executive fiat, gave what’s known as deferred action to childhood arrivals, more than 560,000 of them have received work authorization and are now legally able to compete with Americans for increasingly scarce jobs. If their parents also get work permits, roughly the same number or more will enter the labor force.
While Obama likes to hammer Republicans for the failure to advance last June’s Senate bill, there are three uncomfortable truths that he’s willfully overlooking. First, the Gang of Eight-led Senate unanimously rejected every proposed enforcement amendment Republicans tried to attach. As a result, when S. 744’s final version reached the House, Republicans, knowing how unpopular the legislation was back in their home districts, balked. Had the Democrats thrown a bone or two in the GOPs direction, the bill might have sailed through.
Second, as the months wore on, more ugly details about the legislation surfaced and Americans’ resistance stiffened. Eleven million illegal immigrants would be granted amnesty and legal immigration would have more than doubled, adding millions more workers into a shrinking jobs market. More cheap labor is good for the Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Valley, but bad for struggling Americans from all ethnic and educational backgrounds.
Third, Americans don’t trust the political class to deliver on any of its promises regarding future enforcement. The White House and the corporate elite showed shocking disregard for unemployed Americans’ plights. Instead they tried, unsuccessfully, to convince a rightfully skeptical public that more immigration would benefit them.
In truth, higher immigration rates hurt Americans, especially when it comes to jobs. New Center for Immigration Studies research based on the federal government’s Current Population Survey found that although native Americans have made up two-thirds of the total 16-65 working age population growth since 2000, 100 percent of new employment during that period has gone to legal and illegal immigrants. There were 17 million more unemployed working-age natives in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000. During the last 14 years, employment growth has been well below the aggregate of natural population increases plus the number of legal and illegal immigrants.
In Obama’s speech, he insisted that comprehensive immigration reform would create jobs, an argument that’s inconsistent with the facts and which Americans correctly reject. The U.S. needs an immigration moratorium; at least until full employment is restored which many economists predict will not happen before 2025.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]