The Census Bureau’s latest “economic report card” indicates that while there was a slight increase in the overall poverty rate between 2006 and 2007 -- from 12.3 percent to 12.5 percent -- the poverty rate for immigrants in particular jumped from 15.2 percent to 16.5 percent. In response to the Bureau’s economic analysis, Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson suggests that the current high rate of immigration by unskilled workers is responsible for swelling the numbers of those who live in poverty, as well as for dragging down median income and increasing the ranks of those without health insurance. From 2006 to 2007, poverty rates for whites, blacks and Asians were flat, with whites at 8.2 percent, African Americans at 24.5 percent and Asians at 10.2 percent. The Hispanics poverty rate, however, rose from 20.6 percent to 21.5 percent. The number of Americans living under the poverty line reached 37.3 million in 2007, up 800,000 from the previous year. The number of children living in poverty increased by 500,000. While the inflation-adjusted national median income increased by 1.3 percent between 2006 and 2007, African American households and Latino households continued to have lower median incomes than White or Asian households. At $33,916, blacks had the lowest median income in 2007, compared to $38,679 for Latinos, $54,920 for whites, and $66,103 for Asians. The number of uninsured Americans actually fell from 47 million in 2006 to 45.7 million in 2007, but this was due to the fact that more people were covered under federal and state programs such as Medicare. Rising health care spending continued to erode take home pay, however.Samuelson believes that any analysis of our economic well-being -- as viewed through median income, the poverty rate and health insurance coverage -- must take into account how immigration distorts commonly cited statistics. He writes:
Low-skilled immigrants, concentrated among Hispanics, outnumber the high-skilled. They drag down median incomes and raise poverty and the number of uninsured. One way to filter out the effect on income is to examine groups with few immigrants or their American-born children. Consider non-Hispanic white families. From 1997 to 2007, their median incomes rose about $6,000, to $69,937, a gain of about 9 percent. For black families, the increase was also about 9 percent, though only to $40,222. Again, not stagnation. Immigration's effects on poverty and health insurance coverage are greater. Since 1990, Hispanics numerically account for all the increase in the number of officially poor. Similarly, immigrants represented 55 percent of the increase of the uninsured from 1994 to 2006, says the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Many unskilled workers can't get well-paid jobs with insurance… …(I)f the immigration of low-skilled workers continues unabated -- whether they're legal or illegal -- the ranks of the poor will swell, as will the uninsured or the costs of providing government insurance.
It is important to remember that immigration levels can be reduced by Congress if pressure is brought to bear by the American people. The way to accomplish this is to limit family-based immigration to immediate family members and to pass the SAVE Act, which will turn off the jobs magnet that attracts illegal aliens. This is much needed, particularly during an economic downturn.
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Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 3:53pm EDT