I have been pleasantly surprised that immigration issues have frequently made their way into recent presidential debates. For many years, there was a tendency to suppress even the mention of immigration issues in political debates. I have been disappointed, however, on the overall quality of the debate. Candidate responses to immigration questions have often been shallow and evasive. The shallowness reflects a serious failure to acknowledge and study the mounting problems of out-of-control immigration. The evasiveness reflects a disquieting avoidance of the candor necessary to fix the problem with prudent solutions. It is disappointing to see that several candidates do not seem to grasp the extraordinary imprudence of amnesty (by whatever name) and its likely impact on the economy, jobs, government spending, and the credibility of U.S. laws. Many do not seem to understand that amnesty invariably causes more illegal immigration. Judging by the 1987 amnesty, a new amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants will bring another 30 million illegals within a decade, and the eventual cost could run into trillions of dollars.
Immigration is such a politically sensitive topic that many voters are intimidated from even asking questions about it. They may even falsely disclaim much interest in the subject. I have often heard people say that they are more interested in jobs, the economy, and taxes than immigration issues. This reflects an astonishing ignorance of the role that misguided immigration policies and blatant refusal to enforce our immigration laws have played in reducing job opportunities and wages for American workers. The economics of it are simple—flooding the labor market with cheap foreign labor displaces American workers and drives down their wages and standard of living. This is not very visible to the media and the business and governing elite, who do not have to bear the pain, but it is costing the economy several hundred billion dollars per year. In human terms, it is hurting millions of American families and destroying their hope for the future. The fiscal costs of providing education, healthcare, welfare, and other public services associated with illegal immigration alone are costing taxpayers more than $100 billion per year.
It is disappointing to hear candidates wax on about balancing law and compassion in immigration policies without a hint of understanding that besides an absolute necessity to preserve the credibility of lawful government, sound immigration policy must primarily be about protecting American jobs and incomes as well as providing for national security and public safety. To some, compassion for illegal immigrants seems to far outweigh compassion for American workers, families, and taxpayers.
One of the demagogueries applauded by the audience at a recent debate was a proposal to give automatic work visas to all foreign science graduates! It is widely believed that there is a shortage of science and technology workers in the US. For years, well-funded industry associations and lobbyists have been selling this falsehood to a compliant media eager to pass on their propaganda to the public. Yet more than 300,000 American computer scientists and engineers are unemployed. Just before the 2008 recession, the Sloan Foundation testified to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation that industry lobbyists’ claims of shortages in science and engineering personnel blatantly ignored a substantial body of evidence to the contrary. They have not ceased in this claim despite a recent Rand Corporation study that showed a crisis of surplus in science and technology workers—as 300,000 unemployed engineers surely indicate. But the Rand Corporation and the Sloan Foundation do not fund Congressional election campaigns, while industry associations and lobbyists do.
The American people, however, are beginning to catch on. A recent Washington Post poll indicated that 59 percent of American adults disagree that work visas should be increased for foreign workers with advanced degrees in math science and engineering. Only 32 percent agreed.
At the lower end of the employment scale, the self-serving propaganda that “illegal immigrants are only doing the work Americans won’t do” has also been discredited. Candidates should be asked how we can justify giving legal status to 8.1 million illegal workers when 13.9 million American workers are unemployed and another 8.9 million are on involuntary part-time work status. The country needs more jobs—not more foreign workers.
In the last debate, one candidate claimed that giving illegal immigrants permanent legal status was not amnesty unless they received a path to citizenship. Tell that to unemployed Americans! Here is a rule of thumb to cut through the deception on amnesty: if they don’t have to go home, it is amnesty.
One candidate believes making most illegal immigrants legal can solve the problem of illegal immigration. Just hand them a Red Card as a permanent work visa. The so- called “Red Card” plan allows U.S. employers to order whatever employees they need from foreign employment agencies that screen the applicants and issue them a Red Card.
This would be an unconscionable disregard for American workers and their families.
Another debate trick to justify amnesty was an emotional appeal using an unrepresentative and theoretical anecdotal case to illicit sympathy from the viewing public—like an illegal immigrant who has been here 25 years, has obeyed all laws (except for immigration laws), and “goes to church every Sunday.” Well, I suppose going to church every Sunday does qualify anyone for amnesty, but I just wonder whose social security number they were using all that time.A common immigration debate trick is the false dilemma—insisting that the choice is between amnesty and rounding up millions of immigrants and shipping them home. Nobody outside of madhouse is proposing the latter. Simply enforcing immigration laws at the workplace causes illegal immigrants to self-deport. It is working in Alabama, where the unemployment rate dropped 0.5 percent after only one month.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Fooling the People: Putting Americans Last in the Job Line