Herald Journal Columns
April 10, 2006, Herald Journal

Illegal immigration hurts jobs


It’s not true that immigrants do jobs that Americans will not do. It depends on how much the job pays. If employers lower wages because they know there are plenty of illegal immigrants willing to take those jobs, that’s where those wages will stay, down in the basement.

Consider these statistics from Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies as of March 22. Immigration is powerfully correlated with declining job prospects for the least educated native born, most who are African American.

Between 2000 to 2005, 4 million illegal immigrants entered the United States.

During those same five years, unemployment among the least educated native born rose by 1 million. Only 9 percent of the net adult new jobs created during the same five years went to the native born although the native born accounted for 61 percent of the increase in the adult population.

Yes, illegal immigrants contribute to our society. But they also take from our society. The net benefit to the US economy from all immigrants, not counting the gain to the immigrants themselves, is tiny. According to Paul Krugman of the New York Times in the March 29 Star Tribune, “Immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.”

Immigrants from Mexico have much less education than the average US worker. They increase the supply of less skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst paid native born, such as African Americans identified by Camarota.

Another study by George Borja and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, “estimates that US high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren’t for Mexican immigrants,” Krugman said.

We have a problem. I’m weary of politicians pointing at the huge numbers of illegal immigrants already here and saying, “We can’t deport all these people, so we can’t do anything at all.”

There’s a saying. If the bathtub is overflowing, what do you do first? Grab a mop and sop up the water on the floor, or turn off the flow of water from the faucet?

Only a fool would swish a mop around on the floor and leave the water running.

We must turn off the flow of illegal immigration now.

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