By Joe Guzzardi
October 14, 2015
Tuesday night’s Democratic debate largely ignored one of the most contentious issues that concern Americans: whether one million legal, work authorized immigrants coming to the United States every year is a policy that should be indefinitely continued?
The candidates made supportive immigration-related comments during the brief time CNN host Anderson Cooper allotted for the topic. Specifically, candidates favor more illegal immigrant entitlements including Dream Act tuition for university students, Obamacare subsidies, and a path to citizenship. They criticized Republicans as xenophobic and anti-immigrant. But compared to the prominent role immigration played in the GOP debates, it was a non-starter in Las Vegas, at least as a subject for in depth discussion.
Indirectly, however, immigration was front and center. The candidates talked about ending income inequality, but avoided mentioning one of the biggest contributors to the growing, four-decade long gap between the wealthy and the lower echelons of earners: the rapidly rising legal and illegal immigrant population as well as the thousands of work-related visas that create American job displacement which contributes to this growing injustice. Census Bureau data shows that the still-increasing income gap rose by 22 percentage points between 1970 and 2010, from 14.5 percent to 36.8 percent.
Legal immigration adversely effects the American middle class while illegal immigration hurts low-income workers. Since legal immigration adds both high and low-wage earners, the middle class has gradually but irreversibly shrunken. Illegal immigration, however, adds low-wage earners and thereby depresses incomes for those who toil in low-skill jobs. Illegal immigration is disproportionately more harmful to minorities including recently arrived immigrants that already have large shares of their populations living in poverty.
The candidates, President Obama and most other Democrats maintain that increased immigration improves the economy and helps individual Americans prosper. But the evidence argues overwhelmingly against that theory. In general, all workers and especially less-educated, native-born Americans have fared poorly over the last forty years, not what would have happened if immigration actually improved employment opportunities and increased wages as advocates assert.
Instead, the opposite has happened. Since 2000, most new jobs have gone to legal and illegal immigrants, the inevitable outcome of a 17 million immigrant increase during the period. Fewer native-born Americans held a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in the same period in 2000 even though today more than 92 million Americans are detached from the labor force.
The pro-immigration lobby says that immigrants and natives never compete for the same jobs. But a majority of workers in virtually every Bureau of Labor Statistics-recognized occupation are native-born Americans, so employment competition is inescapable.
The BLS’ facts which prove that the new phenomena of job growth among immigrants and job loss among Americans are so overwhelming that they’re grudgingly reported in the mainstream financial media, not normally a venue for immigration news.
The Democratic Convention is still eight months away. Plenty of time remains for a candidate to distance himself from the pack of contenders to explain that maintaining immigration at its current one million plus annual level harms everyone, but mostly the minorities in the party’s base.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]