More Misinformation from the Media:
We’ll stipulate that it’s not in the country’s interests to have 11 million people living here without the blessings of our government. . . . But throwing them out would make things worse than better. . . . The immigration system exists to maintain an orderly flow of workers to meet the nation’s labor needs. That balance has been out of whack for decades. Immigrants break our laws to work here . . . because the system doesn’t allow enough of them to fill the jobs where they are needed most. . . . The solution to illegal immigration is [more] legal immigration. . . . Immigrants here illegally . . . are concentrated in industries that desperately need them now – agriculture, construction, hospitality and caregiving. And no, Americans are not lined up to take these jobs, especially with unemployment less than five percent.
[Illegal immigrants] pay . . . $11.6 billion in state taxes. . . . More than half of them file income tax returns. – Trump’s immigration crackdown is a costly mistake: America Needs These Workers, Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune, 2/24/17 [Link]
Fact Check: So enforcing our laws will “make things worse?” That may be the case for business interests seeking cheap labor. But it would make things better for American workers, particularly those with lower incomes who suffer wage depression because of competition from foreign workers.
The late labor economist Vernon Briggs of Cornell University once observed that high immigration serves business, and low immigration serves workers. As a consequence, he said that our society should allow immigration to rise and fall periodically so that both sides can benefit. But that’s not what we’ve had for the past half century.
It’s strange to claim we need more legal immigrants. Since 1965 we’ve had an unrelentingly high level of legal immigration, and for the past 25 years it has been at the highest sustained level in our history. All the while, illegal immigration has surged too. According to the Tribune, this flow helps to “meet the nation’s labor needs.” But Instead of saying the nation’s needs, the Tribune would be more honest to say the needs of business. But what about the needs of labor? Ignoring the interest of labor in immigration policy is what’s really been out of whack for decades. Since 1965, interestingly enough, wage levels in the U.S. have stagnated.
There will be labor shortages when wages are too low to attract workers. The Tribune mentions construction, which in the past one paid good wages and provide a middle class standard of living. But those wages have declined with the rise of immigration. In effect, lower wages in construction have made it a job that some Americans no longer want to do.
The official low level of unemployment significantly understates the problems faced by working Americans. It does not include people who have either given up looking for work or those who can’t find full-time employment and have to settle for part-time jobs which commonly are low-paying. Native-born Americans are available to work, and there are few jobs they won’t do. They comprise the majority of workers in almost every occupation.
Another reason to doubt the worker shortage myth is that in the very-near future a high percentage of jobs now done by people will be automated. Agriculture is one area where mechanization may eliminate the alleged need for illegal workers.
A recent study estimates that as many a third of working Americans could be displaced by automation by the year 2030. In that situation, we could well face a shortage of jobs for workers rather than a shortage of labor.
The Tribune is correct to state that illegal aliens pay taxes, although half of them are paid under the table and pay no state and federal taxes at all. In any case, what illegal immigrants pay in taxes is only significant in terms of what they receive in tax-paid benefits. And in fact, what they receive is greater than what they pay, which makes them a fiscal liability.
It’s unfortunate that the Tribune’s editorial board members have so little empathy with the needs and concerns of American workers. Perhaps they would if illegal aliens were taking jobs as editorial writers.