“Immigrants are working jobs that Americans won’t touch” is one of the anti-borders syndicate’s favorite rallying cries. First of all, that assumption is disrespectful to immigrants, as it insinuates they occupy a class below American citizens. But more importantly, it’s a false statement.

Both legal and illegal aliens are often manipulated into working jobs that pay less than market value because of their limited options and skill sets. Even so, the industries where immigrants are most often employed still consist of mostly native workers.

A study conducted by Pew Research found that the top ten industries and occupational groups for immigrants (including illegal immigrants) consist mostly of American natives. For example, the farming, fishing and forestry industries are increasingly occupied by immigrants, but 54 percent of those working these jobs are American citizens.

This doesn’t mean that immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, aren’t increasingly competing with American workers for jobs at a time when the U-6 unemployment rate – which includes discouraged workers and those who are working part time for economic reasons –  remains unacceptably high. In fact, according to the same Pew study, between 1995 and 2014, the share of jobs held by immigrants in the United States rose at least 5 percent. And immigrants, along with their U.S.-born children, are projected to be the leading driver of the working-age population growth through at least 2035. This means American citizens will face even more intense competition for employment.

What these numbers do show is that Americans are still willing to work just about any job despite the fact that the anti-border enforcement camp has deemed them fit only for illegal aliens. With the U-6 unemployment rate at nearly 10 percent, millions of Americans are looking for jobs, and they don’t mind honest hard work or getting their hands dirty. In fact, the Federation for American Immigration Reform found that the unemployment rates in states that require use of E-Verify, thereby forcing employers to hire legal U.S. workers, are recovering fastest from the 2008 recession.

Placing American workers first means ensuring they only have to compete with those who are authorized to be employed here. It also means that our immigration system must consider the economic interests of U.S. citizens first. Americans want to work, so new and existing immigration policies must not stifle citizen employment opportunities.