Monday, 19 July 2010

Unemployment and Illegal Immigration

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The biggest issue weighing on the minds of Americans is the economy. Recent decreases in factory orders and consumer confidence, coupled with unemployment/underemployment nearing 16 percent, have many of those fortunate to have a job once again questioning their job security and financial well-being while those who cannot find a job fret over their long-term prospects after more than two years of economic malaise.

Another issue that remains at the forefront of any discussion concerning America’s health is illegal immigration. Thanks to Arizona’s much-needed and much-welcomed approach to self-preservation in the face of the federal government’s failure to secure the border, our citizens debate on a daily basis what needs to be done to address this problem that has haunted us for decades and has, for the second time in the past 25 years, reached its tipping point.

Despite how these two issues dominate the political talk of the day and how different they seem, most people are oblivious to the fact that they are intertwined: High unemployment is not only a result of stressed market factors, but it has also been created — and prolonged — by our illegal immigration problem. Americans are unable to find gainful employment because jobs are being held by non-Americans who have illegally entered our borders unabated and are illegally employed by companies both large and small. The proof for this claim can be found in a simple breakdown of the numbers.

When looking at the details behind the Department of Labor’s June jobs report it can be concluded that there were a total of 17.2 million Americans without a job, that gigantic sum including those identified as “unemployed” by the government as well as those considered to be “marginally attached” to the workforce.

In his July 1 speech about immigration — his first regarding this matter while in office — President Barack Obama said there were 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, numbers comparable to Department of Homeland Security estimations. We know this value is likely very low, as many sources on both sides of the issue (those for open borders, those for regulated borders) peg the number of illegal aliens closer to 20 million. ImmigrationCounters.com — which compiles its statistics using data from numerous public and private sources — puts the population at just under 23 million.

A 2006 report by Catholic Online analyzed the demographics of these transients and noted that 37.5 percent of the then-estimated 12 million illegal immigrants were children, meaning 62.5 percent were adults. If those percentages are accurate to this day, which they likely are, that equates to 14.4 million adult aliens.

Now, consider what brings the illegals to America. It’s the same thing that brought — and brings — countless legal immigrants to our land: jobs. Thanks to opportunity and a quality of life that is unmatched on this planet (a result of the principles of liberty and free markets in action), the USA has become a destination for Latino job-seekers who want to stake a claim and better their lives here or send money back home to Mexico and Central American countries to support their kin. That importance for the dollar and the workers’ assumption of support for their extended families abroad (not to mention the reward for the risk taken to cross the border and live freely in a land in which they don’t belong) probably means that most of the adult illegal immigrants are working within our borders.

If labor and immigration laws were enforced — and amnesty not granted as the Washington establishment would prefer — that would create up to 14.4 million job openings, satisfying a good many of the 17.2 million jobless legal residents of this nation. That would result in an unemployed population as low as 2.8 million Americans, which works out to be an unemployment rate of 1.8 percent, an absurdly-low number far below what many economists consider full-employment (four to five percent). 

Many supporters of amnesty and unchecked immigration will say that such an assumption is unrealistic because the illegals are supposedly doing jobs that Americans won’t do. That exaggeration is grossly incorrect for two reasons: One, statistics show otherwise and, two, Americans will to work if given the chance. According to ImmigrationCounters.com, the aliens aren’t doing only the most menial of chores; 11.7 million of their jobs held are skilled positions (construction, maintenance, and the like). Regarding the remaining jobs (those of the low-skill sort), they would become utilized by the American worker were unemployment insurance to actually follow its pre-determined allotments and not be extended at every chance possible by Congress (which forces dependency on government). The unemployed would chose to take the career path (if only temporarily) that they had not previously considered.

It is obvious that in order to straighten out the economy and get more Americans working, government at all levels — local, state, and federal — must focus on the enforcement of existing laws and responsibilities and address the immigration problem in a timely, legal, and effective manner. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel and create new legislation because good laws are already there. They’re just not being enforced. If state agencies came down hard on the companies that employ illegals and the federal government followed its constitutional obligation to protect the states from invasion, our nation and its economy would get a much-needed boost.