The Elephant In the Immigration Room

American Thinker | Lee Cary | Feb. 3, 2008

The ignored elephant in the immigration debate is the negative impact of illegal immigration on job opportunities for unskilled, uneducated, native-born U.S. workers — particularly young African-Americans, but also native-born Hispanics. In their Hollywood debate, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton refused to admit immigration “hits poor and minorities hardest” as the cliché goes.

While some proponents of a liberal immigration policy admit to anecdotal evidence of the elephant’s existence, they typically discount a causal relationship between employed illegal immigrants and unemployed citizens.

Granted, it’s hard to document employers hiring illegal immigrants over legal applicants; after all, it’s against the law. But it’s not necessary to film it happening to know that it is. Statistics tell the story.

First, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, from December 2006 – December 2007 unemployment among Hispanics (legal workers assumed since why would illegals participate in a census?) rose from 5.0 to 6.3%. The number for unemployed African-Americans increased from 7.9 to 9.0%.

Second, the U.S. government may be vastly underestimating the number of illegal laborers in the work force. In January 2005, Bear Sterns Asset Management, Inc. released a report entitled “The Underground Labor Force Is Rising To The Surface,” that states,

“The number of illegal immigrants in the United States may be as high as 20 million people, more than double the official 9 million people estimated by the Census Bureau.

Undocumented immigrants are gaining a larger share of the job market, and hold approximately 12 to 15 million jobs in the United States – 8% of the employed.”

Third, native born Hispanics are not faring as well in the job market as foreign-born Latinos. A report from the Pew Hispanic Center entitled “Latino Labor Report 2006: Strong Gains in Employment,” dated September 27, 2006, statistically separates foreign-born Latinos and native-born Hispanics.


The wide array of statistics available from government and private sector sources leads to this conclusion: Unemployment disproportionately hits unskilled, uneducated blacks and native-born Hispanics. Why? It is simple, business economics: (1) In the unskilled labor market, legal workers offer no greater productivity than comparable illegal ones; (2) legal hiring requires employers to conform to U.S. law; and (3) citizen new hires often expect benefits. In short, more illegal workers cost employers less.

The flood of undocumented workers into the U.S. labor market is a grand national social-engineering project undertaken with the tacit approval of both major political parties. It’s happening without counting the short- or long-term costs to the U.S. labor market and general economy.

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