With the release of the report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) last week, Director of Research Steven Camarota drove the final nail into the coffin of immigration reform for this year, saying:
Government data show that since 2000 all of the net gain in the number of working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal).
This is remarkable given that native-born Americans accounted for two-thirds of the growth in the total working-age population.… There were still fewer working-age natives holding a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job was 5.7 million above the 2000 level.
All of the net increase in employment went to immigrants in the last 14 years.
This effectively obliterates the assumptions underlying the immigration reform bill SB 744, which was promoted by a bipartisan group of Democrats and Republicans (called by some observers the “Gang of Eight”) and passed by the Senate, 68-32, a year ago last week. That bill was based on several key assumptions: 1) that there is a labor shortage in the country, 2) that there are some jobs only immigrants want, and 3) that higher levels of immigration would stimulate the economy so that everyone, native-born or immigrant, would find more work.
According to the Social Security Administration at the time, passage of S.744 would add nearly $300 billion in revenues over the next 10 years while costing (in welfare) only $33 billion over the same period.
The bill would have given present illegal immigrants a tortuous “path to citizenship” while doubling the number of new immigrants allowed into the country over the next decade to 20 million. It also promised greater protection of the country’s southern borders from illegals entering the country. Critics called it amnesty now in exchange for promises later.
If the present trends continue, even without passage of the Senate bill into law, there are economic forces and pressures at work to exacerbate the inequity. Over the next decade, the population of native-born Americans will continue to grow while legal immigration will add another 10 million to that number. According to Camarota, writing in National Review, “That means we will need something like 20 million new jobs in the next ten years if we want to come close to the employment and labor-force participation rates of 2007, let alone 2000.” Passing the bill now and allowing the doubling of future immigration, he said, “would not just be grossly irresponsible, it would be profoundly negligent.”
Camarota needn’t worry: The last flame of support for Senate Bill 744 flickered out last week as its biggest supporter, House member Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), gave it up, declaring that the prospects for immigration reform in the House are dead for the rest of the year.
This likely was reflective of the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by Dave Brat, who used the immigration issue as a hammer to beat the hapless Cantor into submission and early retirement from his position.
It was also likely reflective of the results of two separate polls released last week, one by Rasmussen showing only 31 percent of American adults support an increase in immigration, and the other by Gallup showing just 22 percent favor higher immigration.
As noted by Camarota in his report,
With a near record 58 million natives of working age (16 to 65) not working and 10.5 million working-age immigrants [also] not working, there would seem to be an enormous supply of potential workers already in the country.
Add to that the flood of unaccompanied minors over the country’s southern border, and the chances of anything happening over immigration reform in the present Congress are nil.
A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at