Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle frequently tout the “labor shortage” line when pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. Some of these same lawmakers actually hold job fairs, knowing well that their state or district has unemployment problems. While others may not hold their own job fairs, they continue to say that “jobs” is their number one priority in Congress. Why then, are these politicians focused on making the unemployment and wage depression problems even worse in this county by passing amnesty and further increasing the flow of foreign workers into our labor market?
There is a huge disconnect between the Washington talking heads and real America. Americans know there is no wide spread “labor shortage” in any industry. Rather, they see and feel an economic environment that is brutal to minorities, young people, and less educated workers.
The unemployment number for Americans with only a high school diploma for the first quarter of 2013 was 10.3%. If you broaden this rate to include those forced to work part time and those who would like to work but have not looked recently, the figure jumps to 18.4% according to the Center for Immigration Studies' latest report.
For recent college graduates in America, the picture is bleak. Over half of recent grads are either unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. With so many college graduates now working in the “no degree required” labor market, prospects for people without a college degree are further deteriorated.
Minority groups in this country are also struggling. The broad unemployment rate for African Americans is 23% and 19.5% for Hispanic Americans.
The U.S. Senate passed S 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, back in June. This bill will add 33 million foriegn workers to our already struggling labor force in the next 10 years. According to the Congressional Budget Office report, it will increase unemployment for people already in this county and reduce wages for American workers.
The authrors of this bill worker very hard to help a lot of people - just not American workers. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who is a member of the Gang of 8 that crafted the bill said it best at a Senate hearing earlier in the year: "I want it to be a win-win when somebody overseas can come here temporarily and improve their life and help our employers." Sen. Graham continues to justify his bill with the labor shortage argument, even though his home state's braod unemployment rate is 15.6%.
So, let’s talk about those “jobs Americans won’t do”….
August 2013 - "Large turnout at Utica career fair"
Six hundred job seekers and 19 employers showed up for a job fair in Utica, New York. People applied for jobs in manufacturing and customer service. One employer at the fair was WalMart.
“People want to stay here but they really can't if you can't find a job. It's hard to stay and raise a family" said one attendee. - WKTV news report
The city of Utica is Represented by Congressman Richard Hanna, who wrote an op-ed for Roll Call back in April pushing for more foreign workers, claiming they will "help rebuild the economy."
May 2013 - "Hundreds Turn Out for Corona Job Fair"
Four hundred job seekers attended the job fair in a Queens neighborhood. Thirty-five left with a job.
“The economy is improving, but many families are still struggling to make ends meet.” - NY State Senator and job fair host Jose Peralta
Congressman Joseph Crowely represents Corona in Washington. He "applauded" the passage of the Senate bill that would add 33 million new foriegn job seekers to the workforce in 10 years.
Both of New York's U.S. Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, voted for the Senate amnesty bill. Sen. Schumer was the main author of the bill. On his website, he claims "we continue to see shortages in much needed occupations." He has voted to increase foreign worker visas dozens of times since he was elected. Today, New York state has 1.8 million people living there who want a full time job but cannot find one.
August 2013 - "Hundreds apply for Big Fresno Fair jobs"
1,800 job seekers flock to job fair for 500 temporary, minimum wage jobs in Fresno, California. Some job openings included ticket takers, parking attendants, barn crew attendants and janitorial staff.
One attendee said "my unemployment ran out and my wife passed away last year. I'm going to lose everything if I don't find a job soon." - Fresno Bee news report
The city of Fresno is represented by Congressman Jim Costa, who issued a press release that said the House should be ashamed of itself if it doesn’t pass the Senate’s bill - a bill that would double the annual flow of temporary guest workers.
August 2013 - "Hard Rock Palm Springs draws 4,000 to 5,000 job seekers"
There were only 100 open positions at the Hard Rock hotel in California. - PE Bloggers news report
Congressman Raul Ruiz, who represents Palm Springs in Congress, supports a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal aliens, allowing millions of illegal aliens in California to also compete for these hotel jobs.
Both of California's US Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, voted for S 744. California has the 7th highest unemployment rate in the country. There are almost 4.3 million people in California who want a full time job but cannot find one.
July 2013 - "Record Turnout at IDOC Career Fair"
A record numer of job seekers attended the fair in Idaho looking for jobs in local prisons.
"More than 100 applicants were already cued up when the doors opened." - Boise Weekly news report
May 2013 - "Hundreds turn out at job fair for call-center jobs with six firms"
In Idaho, 320 people showed up during first hour of a job fair for call center jobs.
One job seeker reported "I was eager to find work but I didn't expect this many people." - Idaho Statesman news report
Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador is front and center in the national debate about immigration. Right now, he is working on legislation that could double the number of
low-skilled worker visas offered in
S.744. Call center jobs and some prison jobs are in this low-skilled category.
August 2013 - "Big turnout for Mishawaka job fair"
People lined up in this Wisconsin town to find jobs in seasonal retail.
"Organizers say in the first hour they had over 100 people show up." - WQOW news report
March 2013 - "MPS job fair sees outstanding turnout"
Thousands of job seekers came out for job fair in Milwakee, Wisconsin for public school jobs.
"So many people showed up to apply for a job with Milwaukee public schools in fact, the district ran out of job applications." - TMJ4 news report
Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has been the most vocal supporter of immigration reform from the Republican side of the aisle in the House. He has recently said that we must pass immigration reform now, because if not, "we're going to have labor shortages." Wisconsin's broad unemployment rate is 12.9%.
July 2013 - "St. Vincent’s Clay County job fair lures 1,000 plus jobseekers"
1,300 job seekers showed up in hopes of landing one of the 180 open jobs at this Florida hospital.
“It’s kind of scary. People are out of work. I mean look at the lines, it’s crazy" said one attendee. - MyClayHospital.com news report
June 2013 - "Thousands Fill MDC Campus for Job Fair"
Thousands of job seekers in the Miami, Florida area attended job fair with 91 employers.
“You can hardly move in here,” said Bell. “When you look at the people out here looking for work, it is everybody. It is all ages.” - South Dade News Leader report
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Gang of 8 member, led the charge for amnesty and legal immigration increases back in the Spring. When speaking of the S 744 final product, he said it would "modernize the legal immigration system to meet America’s 21st century economic needs for both highly skilled talent and guest workers to fill labor shortages." There are nearly 1.8 million people in Florida who want a full time job but cannot find one today.
Sen. Rubio's intentions were further confused when a close aide to him said that “there are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it."
President Barack Obama continues to say "we should not bet against the American worker" but that is exactly what 68 US Senators did back in June and what many House Members are looking to do this coming Fall.
No matter if it's denial, naïveté, or something worse, no lawmaker should get away with using the "labor shortage" argument while trying to pass a horrible peice of legislation that would harm American workers for generations to come.
Melanie Oubre is the Local Activism Coordinator for NumbersUSA.