‘Hispanics are displacing blacks in the low-wage labor market…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Unlimited immigration is hurting American workers, jobs and wages, according to immigration experts.
Although immigration has benefited the U.S. in many ways, the federal government’s refusal to gradually introduce migrant laborers into the economic system and instead allow thousands to flood U.S. jobs has resulted in profound economic effects, said Jason Richwine, an independent public policy analyst for the Center of Immigration Studies.
“If there are zero negative effects of immigration, then you are out of touch with reality,” Richwine said in a panel discussion on Thursday.
One of these negative effects is the gradual displacement of minority U.S. workers in exchange for low-paid minority immigrants.
To put it bluntly, Richwine said, Hispanics are being preferred to blacks. This preference has hurt the African–American community more than most people realize, said Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
“Hispanics are displacing blacks in the low-wage labor market,” Kirsanow said. “This isn’t a small displacement either.”
Kirsanow said the Commission on Civil Rights found that 40 percent of labor participation rates among blacks have been displaced by illegal and legal immigrants over the past few years. That’s about 1 million jobs for African–American workers, he said.
“Illegal immigration to the United States in recent decades has tended to depress both wages and employment rates for low-skilled American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are black men,” a recent study by the Commission on Civil Rights reads.
“To be sure, factors other than illegal immigration contribute to black unemployment. The problem cannot be solved without solving the problems of the high school dropout rate, high rates of family instability, and low job-retention rates,” said the study. “… Still, the effect of illegal immigration on the wages of low-skilled workers, who are disproportionately minority members, is a piece of the puzzle that must be considered by policymakers in formulating sound immigration policy.”
All of the witnesses who testified during the commission’s investigation agreed that this was a serious problem, Kirsanow said. But when the commission tried to bring this to the attention of the Congressional Black Caucus, “all we heard was crickets.”
This preference for immigrants is legal through our foreign hiring visa system, said Kevin Lynn, executive director of Progressives for Immigration Reform. And it’s not just present in the low wage market, either. Silicon Valley has recently experienced an influx of migrant workers who are displacing Americans, especially in the STEM field.
“Four out of five software developers were born in the U.S. in 1984. Today that’s just at one in four,” Lynn said. “Twelve percent of women earn degrees in computer science; in 1984 it was 37 percent.”
Lynn added that 70 percent of U.S. visas for STEM jobs go to Asian, specifically Indian, migrants.
In low-wage jobs, employers tend to use the excuse that Americans “don’t want to do the jobs immigrants do.” But Richwine and Kirsanow said this isn’t true at all. The real reason employers look to migrant labor is because they know migrants won’t complain about poor working conditions and lower wages.
“It’s not true that immigrant laborers are willing to do the work Americans aren’t. Americans will do any work as long as they’re paid the right amount,” Kirsanow said. “But employers prefer them because they understand that illegal immigrants are far less likely to complain about the working conditions.”
A recent study by CIS found that there are 65 occupation sin which 25 percent or more of the workers are immigrants, legal or illegal. Still, there’s no occupation in the U.S. in which a majority of workers are illegal immigrants, the study noted.
“Because the American economy is so dynamic, with many factors impacting employment and wages, it would be a mistake to believe that every job taken by an immigrant is a job lost by a native,” the study reads. “It would also be a mistake, however, to assume that dramatically increasing the number of available workers in high-immigrant occupations has no impact on the employment prospects or wages of natives.”
One of the most important negative effects is the conditions these migrant workers tend to live in, Richwine said.
“There’s a lot of truth to the stereotypes,” Richwine explained. “Immigrants are more likely to suffer from drug addiction and welfare dependency.”
But many are willing to turn a blind eye if it means saving on workforce overhead in unskilled labor, he added.
“If immigrant labor was cut off, employers would have to start looking at these conditions,” Richwine said. “We must stop using immigration as a crutch if we want to avoid these problems.”