CHICAGO -- Changing planes here seems an appropriate place to anticipate the results and congratulate Sen. Obama on his victory. As my readers know, I have rated most past immigration actions and campaign promises of both Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain as "bad" to "abysmal."
But I feel mildly optimistic at this moment about the next Presidency.
That is because President-Elect Obama must choose between two contradictory campaign promises. If a small army of committed citizens can force the news media and politicians to look at the contradiction, I think we will be fine.
2 CONTRADICTORY PROMISES
A Pres. Obama can't really do both of these:
- Will he honor the barely whispered perfunctory campaign pledges to offer U.S. citizenship to an estimated 7 million illegal foreign workers, plus their 5-13 million relatives?
- Or will he honor what has appeared to be his loudest shouted priority to put Americans back to work?
We know that Obama -- like McCain -- in his heart of hearts wants to help out the illegal aliens.
But every illegal foreign worker given amnesty permanently ties up a U.S. job that an unemployed U.S.-born worker or long-time legal immigrant is seeking in these hard times.
SOME GOOD OBAMA PROMISES WE CAN SUPPORT
Whatever the Obama campaign may have said about immigration before the stock market crash, his priorities have clearly changed and immigration policy will have to serve his top priority of getting American workers back into jobs that offer decent wages and benefits, especially health insurance.
I certainly hope that every Obama Administration action on immigration -- including enforcement, regulations and proposals to Congress -- will be weighed for its effect on the growing number of American workers out of work.
Here are two great Obama campaign themes that he emphasized a lot more than his support for amnesty:
- He expressed strong support for E-Verify and keeping illegal aliens out of jobs that American workers so desperately need.
- And he stated his commitment to holding employers accountable if they hire illegal workers.
His campaign website, BarackObama.com, says, "To remove incentives to enter the country illegally, we need to crack down on employers that hire undocumented immigrants."
The website also brags about an amendment that Obama cosponsored with Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) to ensure that "employers can verify that their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S." In a Dear Colleague letter sent to all Senators about this amendment, Obama said he "strongly support[s] creating an effective, mandatory employment verification system for all employers to verify the legal status of their workers."
Thus, Obama has shown his support for what ought to be the first, second and third actions of his Presidency:
- Tell Democratic congressional leaders to stop bottling up the E-Verify reauthorization and pass it without the additions of hundreds of thousands of foreign workers sought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Sen. Menendez (D-N.J.).
- Begin working with Democrat Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina to pass his SAVE Act that would provide the phased-in mandatory verification system that Obama supported in his letter to all Senators.
- Open up tens of thousands of jobs for Americans by stating even before he is sworn in that he will continue the new Executive Order requiring all federal contractors to use E-Verify to keep illegal aliens out of those jobs..
If Obama follows his own instincts and past words of support for turning off the jobs magnet for illegal immigration, he potentially will open up millions of jobs for millions of unemployed Americans.
This would be the cheapest, fastest job-creation program he has any chance of achieving.
Or he can choose to favor illegal foreign workers and turn his back on unemployed Americans.
In the current economic climate, it now seems logically inconceivable that Obama would consider proposing an amnesty or any other legalization program that would permanently remove an estimated 7 million jobs from America's legitimate workers while nearly 10 million Americans are actively searching for jobs and can't find them, mostly in the same construction, service and manufacturing fields.
WOULD AMERICANS REALLY TAKE JOBS ILLEGAL ALIENS DO?
Of course, the elitist view is that unemployed Americans wouldn't do the jobs that illegal aliens now fill.
With few exceptions, this demonstrably is not true.
As the Center for Immigration Studies has often shown in analyzing U.S. Department of Labor data, all but one of the several hundred occupations tracked have a majority workforce of native-born Americans.
The only exception is agricultural pickers. Some people estimate that as many as 1 million pickers are illegal aliens. Various government studies have concluded that the U.S. actually has enough legal pickers (mostly foreign-born but legal immigrants) to harvest the crops if they were deployed in a better fashion that allowed them to work a longer part of the year and make more money. But if E-Verify were made mandatory, the likelihood is that growers would fill the illegals' jobs with legal temporary foreign workers.
That would still leave around 6 million jobs in construction, service and manufacturing occupations, all of which are mainly filled with U.S. born citizens.
Not only are nearly 10 million Americans actively searching for jobs but failing to find them, but there are around 25 million American working-age adults with no more than a high school education who do not have a job. (The number is much higher than the 10 million official unemployment figure because that figure only includes people who have actively sought a job in the last month.)
These lesser-educated Americans who are outside of the labor market are precisely the people who would be helped if the 6 million illegal aliens not in agriculture were to be forced to give up their jobs.
Friends, the logic, the practicality, the political viability and the clear morality of this jobs program should prevail if you will join us at NumbersUSA in ensuring that every Member of Congress and the Obama Administration hear about it continuously for the next few months.
Please check your NumbersUSA Action Buffet corkboard regularly for actions you can take easily to help the Obama Administration get started on the correct foot.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Tue, Nov 11th 2008 @ 10:41am EST