The findings in this report are shocking, and represent a dramatic indictment of immigration policy in Washington, D.C. This report also underscores the economic catastrophe that would have ensued had the Gang of Eight’s legislation, passed in the Senate one year ago today, been moved through the House and signed into law. Not only did the Gang of Eight plan provide amnesty to illegal workers (and help entice a new wave of illegal immigration), but it surged the rate of new low-skilled immigration at a time of low wages and high unemployment. Such a proposal would have hollowed out the middle class.
Using government Census data, the CIS report documents that in the beginning of 2000 there were 114.8 million American workers with jobs who were born in the United States. Fourteen years later, that number stood at 114.7 million. Yet, during those same fourteen years, the number of working-age Americans grew by 17 million. Meanwhile, the number of immigrant workers with jobs increased 5.7 million, from 17.1 million in 2000 to 22.8 million in 2014. Therefore, the report establishes that ‘since 2000 all of the net gain in the number of working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job has gone to immigrants.’
There is no doubt that a long, sustained period of high immigration, combined with increased automation and the offshoring of jobs, has produced a loose, low-wage labor market. In spite of this, the President continues to champion legislation that would place further substantial downward pressure on wages.
Each year, the U.S. grants permanent legal admission to 1 million immigrants who can apply for citizenship, along with approximately 700,000 guest workers, 200,000 relatives of guest workers, and 500,000 students. These new workers from abroad are provided to corporations in every sector of the U.S. economy. The White House/Gang of Eight bill would double the rate of future immigration and guest worker admissions. Not discussed enough is the financial harm these employer-centric proposals inflict on recent immigrants who are trying to better their economic condition.
President Obama and congressional Democrats instead remain focused on the demands of activist CEOs who want new labor at the lowest price. Republicans must sever themselves from these demands and present themselves to the American public as the one party focused on everyday working people. The sensible, conservative, fair thing to do after 40 years of record immigration is to slow down a bit, allow assimilation to occur, allow wages to rise, and to help workers of all backgrounds rise together into the middle class.