Politicians are talking incessantly about job creation but what the American people are not hearing is a discussion of the critical connection between economic and immigration policies. While immigration is supposed to respond to economic conditions, at least in theory, the solution from members on both sides of the aisle in the face of a crippling recession and the highest unemployment rate in thirty years is to bring in even more foreign workers. U.S. immigration policy is harming native workers in both skilled and unskilled occupations, and requires taxpayers to subsidize “cheap” labor that turns out to cost the American people a fortune. Recently, FAIR has produced research that examines the economic consequences that result from a “broken” immigration system
“Immigration, Poverty, and Low-Wage Earners: The Harmful Effect of the U.S. Immigration System on Native Workers” supplies evidence that Americans are willing to work in so-called “immigrant” jobs and that native-born workers without a college degree, including teens hoping to enter the job market, are suffering adverse effects from low-skilled immigration, both legal and illegal. The agricultural sector provides a good example of how employers have intentionally created a labor market that is dependent on cheap foreign labor not out of necessity but from a policy designed to keep wages suppressed. (See Illegal Immigration and Agribusiness: The Effect on the Agriculture Industry of Converting to a Legal Workforce.)
An upcoming report, “Jobs Americans Can’t Do?: The Myth of a Skilled Worker Shortage,” looks at the claims by tech companies that there is a shortage of qualified native workers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, and their call for expanded skilled guest worker programs. Not surprisingly, it turns out there is plenty of home-grown STEM talent, but many of these workers are being pushed aside in favor of foreign workers who offer no special benefit to the employer other than a willingness to work for lower wages. While tech companies cry wolf over America losing its competitive edge in science and engineering, their hiring practices and reliance on guest worker programs are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.