Some 2 million work permits to immigrants on tentative legal status are distorting, even swamping, the U.S. labor market.
EADs are work permits the Department of Homeland Security grants to asylum seekers, refugees, certain foreign students and DACA recipients who are in the country under something other than the traditional employment-based visa system.
EAD holders are additional workers almost entirely outside of legal immigration channels and the legal guest-worker system. The majority go to people who entered the country illegally.
The rising number of EADs flies in the face of President Donald Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order.
On Jan. 23, Trump directed then-DHS Secretary John Kelly (now White House chief of staff) to review all regulations that allow foreign nationals to work in the United States and to determine which of those regulations are not in the national interest. The president’s order – whose 90-day deadline for review has long passed — stated, “Regulations not in the national interest should be rescinded.”
While 4 million young Americans join the workforce annually, labor participation rates among U.S.-born workers continue to slide as the use of EADs increases.
In 1980, 94 percent of native-born men were working, according to Federal Reserve Bank data. The number fell to 91 percent in 2000, down to 89 percent in 2010, and down to 88.4 percent in the spring of this year.
In 2016, foreign-born workers comprised 16.9 percent of the U.S. labor force, up from 13.3 percent in 2000. Their unemployment rate was 4.3 percent versus 5 percent for native-born workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time workers were $715 compared with $860 for their native-born counterparts, BLS reported.