Mike Scruggs

The Forgotten Americans: Does Congress Care about American Workers?


By Mike Scruggs –

For the last 40 years, the U.S. immigration system has favored narrow special interests seeking cheap labor and increased political influence. It has hurt most American workers and most taxpayers. Although our immigration policies have increased the size of the economy, they have been a net drag on American prosperity and most Americans. Politically, these policies have been moving the country steadily to the left. They have also gravely damaged the Rule of Law, without which no republic can long survive.

We certainly need immigration reform, but the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” recently passed by the U.S. Senate and sent to the House is not reform. It would make things far worse—severely damaging current and future job prospects for American workers, driving down their wages, increasing their taxes, running up huge fiscal deficits, and undermining national security and public safety. It would also accelerate the left wing of American politics to permanent overwhelming dominance.

Permanent political dominance by the far left—now the mainstream of the Democrat Party, often assisted by a witless minority of short-sighted jellyfish Republicans—would mean almost every issue on the conservative agenda would be swept into the dustbin of history with little chance of resurrection. Right-to-life, a market driven economy, freedom of political and religious speech, and anything supporting a Biblical Judeo-Christian worldview would all be dead history if not political crimes. The immigration debate will determine the outcome of almost every economic, social, and cultural issue and will significantly influence national security, public safety, foreign policy, and military preparedness.

There are approximately 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the United States, of which about 8 million are employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) first quarter 2013 report, there were 12.1 million unemployed American workers. There were a total of 21 million Americans who want a full time job but cannot find one. Another disturbing statistic is that the number of native-born Americans in the potential workforce aged 16-65 dropped by 12.9 million from first quarter 2000 to first quarter 2013. The total of Americans who are either unemployed or not in the workforce is at a record 70 million. Native-born workforce participation has dropped dramatically since 2000, from 73.7 to 65.9 percent, the lowest in 34 years. Unemployment figures run extremely high in groups competing with low-paid foreign labor. Compared to the overall U.S. rate of 7.6 percent, the unemployment rate for blacks is 13.6 percent and that of black teenagers a whopping 42.6 percent.

Illegal immigrant workers commit identity fraud, identity theft, or tax fraud to get and keep their jobs. These felonies would not seem to make them good prospects for law-abiding citizenship. However, under the proposed Schumer-Rubio Senate amnesty, they would have to pay fines of only about $1,000 over several years. In contrast, a U.S. citizen would spend 3-7 years in prison and pay fines as high as $100,000 for the same conduct. Yet the loudest voices in the media and Congress reserve their sympathy for illegal immigrants,

Here is an iron law of economics applied to jobs and wages: A shortage of labor drives wages up, but an oversupply of labor drives wages down.

Lower wages are exactly what importing cheap foreign labor, both legal and illegal, has inflicted upon the forgotten American worker. Harvard labor economist George Borjas has calculated that the pressure on American wages from the 40 million immigrants coming into the country since 1980 is now driving the wages of the average American worker down by over $2,800 per year. This impacts 136 million American workers, reducing their annual national spending power by about $402 billion per year.

American blue-collar wages have been stagnant since the 1970s. Construction wages, highly impacted by illegal immigrant labor, have actually declined by 14 percent. Wage losses are occurring among all workers, including college graduates. The wage decline impact on professions is highly correlated with the number of foreign workers.

Corporate and business association lobbyists with a shallow and special interest biased knowledge of economics continuously point out that legal and illegal immigrants make the U.S. economy bigger by $1.6 trillion per year (11 percent of total GDP), as if GDP were a measure of prosperity. This is like saying a company with $100 million in sales is in good shape without looking at its costs and expenses. A company that sells $100 million in widgets is not in good shape, if its product costs and expenses run to $120 million. If Widget Inc. continues without change, it will sell itself right out of business. This is somewhat analogous to how U.S. immigration policy operates with $300 million spent annually by cheap labor lobbies to influence Congress. We have an immigration policy that is good for illegal immigrants and the businesses that hire them and other imported labor but hurts American workers, taxpayers, and the broad national interest.

A recent report by Borjas indicated that the national economic surplus due to immigration is only $35 billion per year, and this relatively tiny economic gain, is overcome by fiscal costs running over $100 billion per year for a net loss of about $65 billion, which does not include many large but hard to estimate items, like the cost of dual-language education in schools. The internal division of the components of this small economic benefit is that cheap-labor users profit $437 billion per year at the expense of $402 billion to American workers. This is not only a financial injury to American workers; it is a moral injury to American conscience and justice.

Congress must NOT increase injury to American workers by passing ANY amnesty, including Boehner’s deceptive and highly expandable “Children’s Amnesty,” or by authorizing millions of additional legal immigrant workers. It must secure the borders and the workplace and reduce legal immigration to a selective 500,000 per year. The question is whether Congress will have the courage to stand up for American workers in the face of cheap-labor lobbyists campaign finance bribery or fury.

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