Nobel-award winning economist Paul Krugman can't figure it out.
So, I doubt that he or any of the other hot-shot business and academic experts at Pres. Obama's jobs summit Thursday will bring up the fact that hundreds of thousands additional Americans could be working a year from now by changing immigration quotas (FOR FREE).
I'm just an humble former newspaperman, but if Obama had invited me, I would have made the suggestions shown below..
SUPER-SMART ECONOMIST KRUGMAN IS CLUELESS
But first, a word about Paul Krugman's myopia as displayed in his recent New York Times column.
Failure to act on unemployment isn’t just cruel, it’s short-sighted. So it’s time for an emergency jobs program.
-- Paul Krugman
I agree entirely! This is an emergency. In an emergency, you consider suspending even things you love. And I don't care how much the President or Krugman love immigration, they need to set that love aside in favor of their greater love (and concern) for the 16 million Americans actively looking for a job who can't find even a part-time job.
Krugman recommended a number of ways to drive the U-3 unemployment rate well below its current 10.2% level.
All of this would cost money, probably several hundred billion dollars, and raise the budget deficit in the short run.
-- Paul Krugman
But there is no other way, Krugman said.
Well, there ARE other ways. I do not have the expertise to say whether any of Krugman's expensive proposals are a good idea.
But I DO have the expertise to know that there other ways.
I would offer Pres. Obama the same testimony I gave to the House of Representatives before Thanksgiving and tell him that he could make sure that hundreds of thousands of additional Americans could be working a year from now at zero or near-zero cost to the government, the taxpayers or the swelling deficits.
All Congress has to do is cut immigration quotas. My suggestions would be virtually free to implement.
In addition, I would recommend (as found at the beginning of my testimony below) some relatively inexpensive ways to drive millions of illegal aliens out of their jobs over the next few years. If my suggestions were followed, there could easily be yet another half-million or more segment of Americans with jobs a year from -- and far more than that two or three years down the line.
Before Thanksgiving, I blogged about the opening part of my testimony that focused on a few key numbers that demand immigration reduction now.
Today, I give you the rest of the testimony that offered my proposed solutions.
THE SOLUTIONS PART OF MY TESTIMONY TO THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
(Testimony of Roy Beck at "American Jobs in Peril: The Impact of Uncontrolled Immigration" Forum on Nov. 19, 2009.)
Let me offer a broad outline of what Congress could do in the next month to change immigration policy so it would no longer be an enemy of U.S. workers and their families.
There are six easy changes in immigration law, and one that would be a little more complex, that could result in one million additional Americans having a job a year from now.
All of these changes would have broad public support and probably would seem quite reasonable during a good economy and certainly so in a time of an unemployment crisis.
The cost should be nominal, especially in comparison to $350,000 per job (White House estimate of cost per job saved/created under Stimulus and Tax Relief measures this year.)
- 3 Easy Changes to Keep Illegal Foreign Workers Out of U.S. Jobs
An immigration policy that puts unemployed Americans first would immediately begin opening up hundreds of thousands of jobs currently held by illegal foreign workers.
We know from the few major worksite enforcement actions of this year that legal workers will quickly come forward to fill meatpacking, janitorial, service and construction jobs that have been vacated by illegal aliens.12
You can begin reducing unemployment in the first month and accelerate the benefit through the year with just three changes in enforcement law:
No. 1 – Allow all employers to voluntarily run their entire workforce through E-Verify.
Many of the 160,000 employers13 currently using E-Verify chose the program because they learned that they previously had been hiring a lot of illegal aliens and decided to clean up their act. But under current law, they aren’t allowed to use E-Verify to clean up the results of their past hires.
Give companies that want to ensure they have a 100% legal workforce the ability to use E-Verify on the pre-existing workforce. This will open up thousands of jobs quickly for unemployed Americans.
No. 2 – Immediately begin the roll-out of mandatory E-Verify.
The system is in place. It is proven. It already is expanding rapidly because of the new Obama Administration mandate on federal contractors. USCIS has shown itself quite capable of rapid expansion of use of E-Verify.
To ease the number of new businesses signing up in the first few months but to maximize the likelihood of opening up the jobs most likely to be taken by illegal workers, begin the mandate for employers of more than 25 in the top 10 industries with illegal-alien workforces (excluding agriculture). 14
All of those businesses should be mandated to be using E-Verify for their new hires within 6 months.
Because there tends to be rapid turnover in these illegal-alien-prone industries, a lot of extra jobs can be opened up for jobless Americans in a hurry.
Provide the nominal amount of extra funds needed for this expansion.
Thousands of jobs will open up for the less-educated Americans who are suffering the highest rates of unemployment.
Set a 12-month deadline for all other businesses with more than 100 employees, plus all governments.
Establish a deadline schedule for the remaining employers.
Agree to set aside the question of amnesties and legalizations. For now, Congress should just concentrate on moving U.S. citizens and legal immigrants already here to the front of the jobs line.
Are there really many Members of Congress who would look their voters in the eyes and argue that illegal workers should be at the front of the jobs line ahead of unemployed citizens of the District?
And if Congress is really serious about helping unemployed Americans, it will require every business in America to run all existing employees through E-Verify during the next year, or a perhaps a somewhat longer time.
When I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration in 2007, I suggested that it might be best to phase in total E-Verify over a few years to give illegal-alien-dependent companies more time to create channels of recruitment and to transition to a legal workforce. But during this time of huge unemployment, experience is showing that businesses will have no trouble finding legal workers to replace their illegal ones.
No. 3 – Provide full funding so that DHS can quickly train as many local and state police forces as desire to enter into the 287(g) program.
Empower the local governments that desire to assist the federal government to work within the limits of the 287(g) program to deter illegal foreign workers from settling or remaining in their jurisdiction.
Some localities have found that the illegal worker population decreased merely from the announcement that the local government was PLANNING to enter into a 287(g) arrangement.
- 3 More Easy Changes to Reduce LEGAL Foreign Worker Competitors
Reducing the flow of legal permanent foreign workers means that unemployed Americans will have less competition for jobs as they open up during the economic recovery. In general, they will get a job faster with less competition from the foreign workers.
No. 4 -- Suspend issuing Green Cards to visa lottery winners.15
The lottery randomly selects workers from around the world to compete with U.S. workers without any regard to the immigrants’ education, skills or any other criteria, or how any of that matches the needs of our society.
Obviously, Congress would not openly state that these lottery winners are more deserving of U.S. jobs than unemployed U.S. citizens.
No. 5 -- Suspend the chain migration categories of adult siblings and adult children of anchor immigrants.16
They fill up U.S. occupations without any regard for their effect on the U.S. workers competing there. And we have no control over which occupations they affect the most as they are accepted without regard to their education, skills or job preferences.
Anchor immigrants are chosen for their specific qualities. They are allowed to bring in their spouse and minor children but, in accepting the gift of a Green Card, freely make the decision to separate themselves from their extended family and communities in their home country.
Congress must choose to give job priority to U.S. citizens and the legal immigrants already here – rather than to extended families of immigrants.
No. 6 – Suspend issuing work permits to the parents of anchor immigrants.17
You can create renewable one-year Parent-Care Visitor Visas that allow anchor immigrants to care for their parents as long as they choose, if they provide proof of non-taxpayer supported health insurance coverage. Visitor Parents would not be given any kind of work permit and would not be allowed access to any taxpayer-supported social services. The cost of the care for foreign parents would be borne by the immigrants.
- Reduce Employment-Based Green Cards -- A Little More Complex
This one will take a little more thought and some more administrative effort from the Department of Labor. But it should be possible to put the new criteria in place quickly. Until it is in place, perhaps it would be best to just suspend all issuance of employment-based Green Cards to make sure no American workers are hurt in the interim.
No. 7 – Dramatically reduce permanent work permits issued through employment-based categories to take jobs that Americans want.
Last year, 166,000 of these Green Cards were issued.18
Although there can be considerable red tape, there are not a lot of criteria to protect the jobs for U.S. workers.
You will need to wrestle with where to set the numerical cap during the Jobs Depression immigration suspension period.
But I believe that if you set the criteria for issuing these work permits so that they don’t hurt American workers, the number will end up at only a fraction of the current ceiling.
What should be the criteria for these permanent work permits that are sought for specific jobs?
I suggest that you start with the questions to which virtually any business lobbyist or organization would answer, “NO.”
- For example, if you asked if they were seeking foreign workers in order to avoid hiring qualified U.S. workers, they would emphatically answer NO.
- Do they want foreign workers so they can avoid having to recruit and hire from under-represented minorities in their field, such as disabled Americans or Black and Hispanic Americans – or an under-represented majority, women? I imagine businesses would answer NO.
- Do they want foreign workers in order to discourage American high school and college students from pursuing certain careers? NO
- Do they want foreign workers so they can hold down wages, benefits and working conditions? The answer surely would be NO.
- Do they want foreign workers because they will be more compliant if various labor and safety laws are violated? OF COURSE NOT.
Then, create criteria for employment-based permanent work permits that guarantee that all the aforementioned will NOT happen. Everything that follows merely serves this goal.
The criteria should leave room for the persons of truly exceptional world-class skills that peers would say exceed 95% of the Americans in the occupation.
But if our trade schools, colleges and corporations are capable of training Americans to do these jobs, meet temporary shortages with temporary visas until the Americans are ready to take the jobs. In this kind of economy, it surely will be a rare case to find true shortages in any occupations.
Surely during the Jobs Depression, the Labor Department would not want to issue a permanent work permit in any of its categories in which U-3 unemployment is above 5% or real wages have been stagnant or declining.
To give unemployed Americans full opportunities, all applications for foreign workers by an employer must be transparent to the public. That would mean posting of all non-proprietary information about the job on a national website and a record of the American applicants who applied and were rejected.
There you are: 6 easy changes and one a little more complex that very well could save jobs for Americans at the same pace as all the other job creation programs underway and being considered.
Thank you for this opportunity to look at immigration policy, not in terms of how it affects special interests but in terms of how it affects the 16 million Americans who are looking for a job and cannot find one -- and for the millions more Americans and their families who live in daily fear of losing their jobs.
12In October, 2009, approximately 1,200 illegal aliens were fired from a San Francisco-based company hired to clean buildings across Minneapolis-St. Paul. These jobs were quickly filled. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/11/09/immigrants-fired/. After a House of Raeford poultry plant was raided in Columbia, South Carolina, the company quickly began to let illegal aliens go at their plant in Raeford, North Carolina. These jobs were quickly filled by unemployed American workers (mostly Black Americans). http://www.charlotteobserver.com/258/story/884790.html.
13 According to the Department of Homeland Security more than 159,000 employers utilize the E-Verify system (as of October 21, 2009). http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_1185221678150.shtm.
14I would suggest phasing in agriculture later. This is partly because such a high percentage of the workforce is illegal and because this is the one occupation that a legal local workforce might not be immediately available. Movement of illegal aliens out of the agricultural fields is not likely to put large numbers of Americans to work because there are so few lines of recruitment and networking channels into the American laborforce. The most likely short-term result of moving illegal aliens out of agriculture is that the jobs would be filled legally by agribusiness hiring foreign workers through the H-2A system. Thus, E-Verify in agriculture can be phased in over a few years without much loss of opportunity to legal American workers.
15Department of Homeland Security. "Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2008." Green Cards in 2008 were issued to 41,761 persons through the Visa Lottery category. The Department of Homeland Security does not report an age breakdown for the category. However, it does report the age breakdown for all categories combined that gives us a ratio. Of the total Green Cards issued in 2008, 79.5% of them were issued to immigrants aged 15-65 (880,636 out of a total of 1,107,126). Applying the 79.5% ratio to the visa lottery category suggest that about 34,000 of visa lottery winners were of working age. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/yearbook/2008/table08.xls.
16Ibid., 124,305 Green Cards in 2008 were granted to unmarried sons/daughters of U.S. citizens and their children, to married sons/daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children, and to the brothers/sisters of U.S. citizens (at least 21 years of age) and their spouses and children. While DHS does not issue age-specific data for these categories it is reasonable to apply the 79.5% ratio to estimate that around 99,000 of these Green Card recipients are of working age. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/yearbook/2008/table06d.xls.
17Ibid.,In 2008, 121,470 Green Cards went to the parents of U.S. citizens. DHS does not issue age-specific data for this category. Applying the 79.5% ratio would suggest that around 96,000 of these individuals are of working age. All of them are adults, but many are too old or infirm to take jobs. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/yearbook/2008/table06d.xls.
18Ibid., 166,511 aliens received legal permanent resident status in 2008 due to employment-based preferences. DHS doesn’t provide an age breakdown for this category. Applying the 79.50% ratio would suggest that about 133,000 were working age and the rest young dependents. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/yearbook/2008/table06d.xls.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Dec 9th 2009 @ 5:10pm EST