Even Record Poverty Can’t Derail Immigration Reform

Published on December 5th, 2013

By Joe Guzzardi
December 5, 2013

Not even a stake to the heart could kill Congress’ insatiable lust for comprehensive immigration reform. Just days after Majority House Speaker John Boehner announced that immigration is dead for the year, he hired advocate Rebecca Tallent as his chief immigration aide. Tallent, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s director of immigration policy, worked in a similar capacity for Senator John McCain and former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, both staunchly pro-amnesty.

Tallent, who will start her new job immediately, is well known on Capitol Hill as committed to legalizing illegal immigrants. She co-authored three broad legalization bills, two in the Senate for McCain and one in the House for Kolbe.

As far as Congress is concerned, when the subject is immigration reform, Americans don’t exist. Their stake in the debate is never included even though adding 30 million new workers over the next two decades, a goal to which Tallent will devote her energies, dilutes the labor pool and makes it tougher for 20 million unemployed Americans to find jobs.

Instead of focusing on the harsh reality of stubborn unemployment and the preponderance of lousy, low paying part-time jobs, President Obama, Vice President Biden, the First Lady and several Cabinet secretaries recently visited with fasting immigration advocates on Capitol Hill. A White House press release described Obama’s 40-minute visit as a show of solidarity. The president deceitfully told the demonstrators that: “the country is behind them on immigration reform.” But the truth is that if the nation were “behind them,” legislation would have passed months ago.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Congressional Research Service reported that record U.S. poverty, 15 percent overall, will remain until at least the decade’s end. The CRS does not foresee an economic improvement that could lift 46.5 million Americans, the largest total since 1959, out of poverty.

CRS identified two groups that are particularly susceptible to poverty: families headed by single women and foreign-born individuals who are not citizens (as opposed to naturalized immigrants).

Breaking down those statistics, CRS found that in 2012, among the native-born population, 14.3 percent (38.8 million) qualified as poor while within the foreign-born population, 19.7 percent (7.7 million) were classified as poor.

Neither native-born and nor immigrants can escape poverty without jobs. Legalizing more workers, previously unemployable because of their illegal immigrant status, makes finding a job more challenging for citizens.

The Obama administration and Congress need an immigration wake up call. Every year, the federal government issues an average of 900,000 work permits to newly arrived legal immigrants. Besides the 900,000 who came in 2012, the U.S. also admitted 700,000 guest workers. The pattern of more visas and more legal permanent residents repeats itself every year even though, given current immigration levels, the U.S. needs to create 321,000 job each month to get back to pre-recession employment levels by the end of 2016.

Obama’s schmoozing with immigration lobbyists and Boehner’s hiring immigration activists is exactly the wrong thing to do. Legal immigration needs to be restricted and guest worker programs cancelled until America hits full employment. More immigration means prolonged suffering for unemployed Americans.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]

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