“Net gains of roughly 100,000 jobs per month are needed just to absorb new entrants into the labor force.”
-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking on November 16, 2009.1
According to the most recent data, the economy isn’t creating any net new jobs, so why is the government importing 125,000 legal foreign workers per month? The first 125,000 jobs per month we do eventually create will have to go to new foreign arrivals that our government had the choice not to admit. Then we have to work through the backlog of 7.5 million people that have become unemployed since this recession started in December of 2007.
"Governments which serve their own people survive and thrive,” said President Obama in Moscow on July 7. He should heed his own advice.
The Center for Immigration Studies reports that the U.S. government allows in about 1.5 million foreign workers per year, based on 2008 data:2
- About 400,000 of these were Green Cards (which come with permanent work authorization) granted to new arrivals.
- Some 100,000 – 250,000 “adjustments of status” - Green Cards are given every year to formerly illegal aliens who have been legalized.
- 947,000 foreign workers were admitted on temporary work visas.
In a very tough job market, our government need not grant these new Green Cards and temporary work visas. And, the people who were formerly illegal aliens need not be allowed to stay. By allowing in such numbers over the past 2 years of job losses, our government has actually been hurting us.
I understand that some new foreign arrivals are here to start businesses - those people should be allowed in. Others have extraordinary abilities - such as scientists with an IQ of 160 - and such people can be fulcrums of innovation that we need to restart this economy. Those are two types of visas - the E “treaty investor” visa, and the O “persons of extraordinary ability” visa that should continue because they do add to the economy. But for all the other admissions, can’t an American be found to do the job? Even if a couple of months of training is needed before the American gets up to speed, isn’t there any loyalty to your own?
Better enforcement of the laws against illegal immigration would also help American workers. In recent months, I do give the Obama administration credit for some enforcement actions. There was an employment audit of American Apparel in Los Angeles, which resulted in 1,800 illegal aliens being fired. When that enforcement action was made public, the company announced it had already found legal replacement workers. In Minneapolis, an enforcement action against the janitorial company ABM Industries resulted in 1,200 illegal aliens being fired. All the jobs were refilled with legal workers by the time the enforcement action was made public. But those 3,000 illegal aliens were not deported. They were merely fired, and apparently, they are still in the United States competing with Americans for jobs! Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) wrote in Politico:
Administrative arrests (arrests of illegal immigrants who will be placed into deportation proceedings) have fallen 68 percent, criminal arrests are down 60 percent, criminal indictments have fallen 58 percent and criminal convictions are down 63 percent — all in just one year!
It is hard to conceive of a worse time to cut work site enforcement efforts by more than half. But that is exactly what the Obama administration has done.
The government of the United States should serve the citizens and current legal residents of the United States before catering to people who either don’t have to be here, or shouldn’t be here. The government should stop handing out new work authorizations to people from foreign countries, and vigorously enforce the existing immigration laws. My understanding is that it is within Obama’s power to order that no work visa be issued if it is more probable than not that an American worker can do the job. It also is probably within Obama’s power to reduce the number of “adjustments of status” because that activity may be done at the discretion of the agency handling the alien’s case. But it would be up to Congress to pass legislation reducing the number of new Green Cards handed out to new arrivals. Those Green Card numbers are written into the Immigration and Nationality Act.
I’ve talked to people who say they have no preference for an American. They just want the person who can do the job immediately and at the lowest wage. Well, it will be interesting if these people ever lose their jobs. I’d love to hear what tune they are singing after 30 weeks of unemployment.
Many of these people are globalists. They feel no difference in loyalty between an American and a Ugandan, Uzbek or Swede. But they fail to see that the real solution is for people to improve their own countries - and they may have to fight to do it - because otherwise too many countries in the world are essentially specialists in exporting unwanted people. That's not a politically correct thing to say, but somebody has to say it because the population of the world will soon hit 7 billion, and the U.S. population is perfectly on track to exceed 1 billion in the year 2100.
CHARLES BREITERMAN is an attorney/writer/researcher for NumbersUSA
1 Bernanke speech at The Economic Club of New York. Video of Bernanke speech excerpt available on Bloomberg News. Written speech here.
2 See Table 10 (page 18) of Trends in Immigrant and Native Employment, by Steve Camarota and Karen Jensenius, May 2009, Center for Immigration Studies.
Updated: Thu, Dec 10th 2009 @ 4:42pm EST