The hope that if we can somehow stop illegal immigrants from obtaining jobs, then unemployed Americans can go back to work, is a false hope. For that and other reasons, I can’t join with Kansas conservatives who support E-verify and other harsh anti-immigrant measures.
The economic reality is that immigrants — legal and not — contribute to our nation’s economy. Those who believe that illegal immigrants “steal” jobs from Americans treat immigrant labor as equal to native-born workers. But that’s not the case: In many situations, if immigrant labor is not available, the jobs simply won’t be done.
As an example, last year Georgia passed a law requiring employers to verify eligibility to work. The result? As described in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Thanks to the resulting labor shortage, Georgia farmers have been forced to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions, melons and other crops unharvested and rotting in the fields. It has also put state officials into something of a panic at the damage they’ve done to Georgia’s largest industry.”
Kansas needs workers, too. Our agriculture secretary is seeking waivers that would allow Kansas farms to hire illegal workers. It’s not just so that farmers can pay these workers low wages. As reported in Farmers push to hire illegal immigrants: “T.J. Curtis back at Forget-Me-Not Farms has jobs available — $32,000 a year, with health care and retirement benefits.” He wants to hire 75 workers.
Other writers have noted the importance of low-skilled laborers to our economy. Writing for the Cato Institute, Daniel Griswold explains:
If our politicians actually did succeed in removing millions of unauthorized immigrants from the workforce, middle-class jobs now held by Americans would be in jeopardy. A shortage of low-skilled workers in the agricultural, tourism, food processing, landscaping and other sectors would mean less investment and less employment for managers, accountants, sales reps and other downstream and upstream workers.
A 2009 study for the Cato Institute found that a 28.6 percent reduction in the number of unauthorized low-skilled immigrants in the United States through increased border and interior enforcement actually would cost U.S. households $80 billion a year. The study found that a resulting decline in immigrant labor would mean less investment, more money diverted to smuggler fees and other unproductive uses, and relatively fewer jobs further up the skills ladder. (E-Verify Threatens American Jobs and Liberties)
Griswold also reports on the problems found in E-verify pilot programs. Half of unauthorized workers were not flagged by the system. Then, there’s the problem of the millions of legal workers who were falsely denied permission to work by E-verify. Wrote the Cato Institute’s Jim Harper: “Deemed ineligible by a database, millions each year would go pleading to the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration for the right to work.”
Griwsold commented “Isn’t this the kind of intrusive government that tea party members oppose?”
An economic case for immigration
Benjamin Powell, in his article An Economic Case for Immigration explains why we ought to welcome immigrants to our country.
To those who believe that immigrants are a “drag” on the economy, Powell explains: “Immigrants boost the overall size of the U.S. economy for the existing native-born population. Free trade in labor, like trade in goods and services, frees existing Americans to do what’s in their comparative advantage. In fact, the basic economic case for free trade in labor really isn’t different than that for trade in goods and services. Economists are in nearly universal agreement that free trade promotes national wealth.”
The benefit is estimated at $36 billion per year — a drop in the bucket given the size of our economy. But it is a benefit, not a drag.
As for the “taking our jobs” claim, Powell counters: “That immigrants ‘take our jobs’ is probably the most repeated and most economically ignorant objection to immigration. It’s a classic example of Bastiat’s ‘what is seen and what is not.’ Everyone can see when an immigrant takes a job that used to be held by a native-born worker. But not everyone sees the secondary consequence of the new jobs that are created because native-born labor has been freed up for more-productive uses. In the market’s process of creative destruction, jobs are created and destroyed all the time.”
As for depressing the wages of native-born workers, Powell writes: “Economists find no evidence for widespread wage decreases. The debate on the effect of immigration on wage rates of native-born workers has, believe it or not, narrowed down to the effect on wages of high-school drop-outs. Estimates range from slightly positive to, at worst, an eight-percent fall. … Those immigrants who increase the supply of labor also demand goods and services, causing the demand for labor to increase.”
There is the problem of illegal immigrants who commit crimes, and it’s a driving factor for many who oppose immigration, illegal or not. But a crime wave fueled by illegal immigrants is an illusion not supported by data. In the paper The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation: Incarceration Rates Among Native and Foreign-Born Men, researchers concluded: “In fact, data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population. What is more, these patterns have been observed consistently over the last three decennial censuses, a period that spans the current era of mass immigration, and recall similar national-level findings reported by three major government commissions during the first three decades of the 20th century.”
A draconian immigration policy, perversely, makes it easier for criminals to enter the U.S., explains Powell: “… Right now terrorists could sneak into the country illegally while hiding among more than a million other illegal immigrants crossing the border in the desert. If a more open immigration policy were established, the legitimate workers could come through check points, freeing existing border-control enforcement to focus on finding the terrorists.”
Right now, those who simply want to work are forced to mix in with criminals — in fact, to become criminals themselves — to enter the U.S.
Finally, American citizens need to be concerned about the potential uses of a national database that would power the E-verify system. Cato’s Jim Harper explains:
“Even if a national employment eligibility verification system were made workable, it is not a system we should want. Once built, this government monitoring system would soon be extended to housing, financial services, and other essentials to try to get at illegal immigrants. It would also be converted to policy goals well beyond immigration control. Direct regulatory power over American citizens would flow to the federal government. Even more information about Americans’ lives would flow into federal government databases. And Americans’ sensitive personal data would be exposed to more security threats.”
Harper’s paper on this topic is Internal Enforcement, E-Verify, and the Road to a National ID.
Sorry Bob I don’t agree with you on this one. I come from western Kansas and 3 decades ago they decided it was a good idea to promote the packing houses. The idea was the same played out even here right now with thw City promoting a new immigration center to help immigrants (some illegal) to take advantage of the “benefits” available from our rich social net. Citys like Dodge City, Garden City Liberal chose growth at any cost. The culture, personality, and quality of life was destroyed.
I would much rather have to pay $3.10 for a gallon of milk because a dairy farmer had to a living wage to an American citizen than pay $2.90 for illegal labor.
In addition your argument does not take into account the hidden costs to the public. If an illegal immigrant takes that $32,000 per year job and has 4 kides, their schooling will cost taxpayers $48,000 per year. In addition all the children will be eligible for free health care coverage on healthwave, the parents if will be eligble for Medicaid (if the dairy farme does no pay for family insurance) at $32k they are eligble for housing assistance, and then after we the taxpayers pay their rent they will be eligble for homestead tax refund so they will receive all the property taxes back that the land lord paid that we the taxpayers gave him. They will be eligible food bank, vission cards for food stamps, and to top it all off the very few taxes that they contribute to the IRS will be refunded at least twice or to them from the earned income credit. So now we are not paying $2.90 for milk we are paying $10.00 per gallon. Thank you illegal immigrant for that gallon of cheap milk, and thank you Mayor Brewer and Sam Brownback for your short sighted view, both of you would destroy Wichita and Kansas njust so you can look good by bring in a bunch of illegals to say look people are moving here and thye economy is growing and oh by the way we need more taxes to pay for all these illegals we brought in to keep your children out of a job.
I have to agree with Craig. I am not anti-immigrant and neither is the tea party. We are anti-*illegal* immigration. The rule of law is paramount in this country–we can’t be a free people without the rule of law–and breaking the law is always going to cost us. In this case, illegal immigration is costing us billions when these illegal immigrants get free health care, free schooling, etc. not to mention hundreds of millions in SRS funds in Kansas alone. I like Craig’s illustration of how our cheap milk isn’t really so cheap, but we don’t see it because the cost is not right there in the price tag.
I agree that our porous borders are a security threat, I’m all for reforming legal immigration processes, but then that would make these immigrants *legal,* which does make a difference! Perhaps you have also noticed that those who go to the trouble and expense of becoming citizens have a lot of pride in being Americans. At the same time, whenever illegal immigrants protest about not being given amnesty, they’re waving around Mexican flags and claiming they own this continent too and are entitled to be here. It’s causing a serious balkanization in parts of this country (not just by the Mexican border–that’s just one example but it’s not only Mexicans), and that’s a problem. It’s great if they value their native culture, but immigrants need to think of themselves as Americans first and foremost and be willing to integrate.
I also don’t think that Georgia lawmakers and their bill to verify eligibility to work are at all the reason millions of dollars worth of crops are left to rot. Why won’t American citizens in Georgia harvest crops? I’m very sure it’s because unemployment–sitting around collecting money while doing nothing–is far preferable to most Americans out of work than going out and doing hard farm labor!! Government benefits, subsidizing non-work, social programs, and the like have created an entitlement mentality in our society where people expect that the world owes them a living. Well actually Uncle Sam owes them a living, which is really the taxpayers. Americans should be utterly ashamed about living at others’ expense, but instead we now think this is the way it should be. If people didn’t get unemployment for 99 weeks, subsidized housing, food stamps, welfare, and on and on and on, and actually had to sink or swim, I’m sure you would not see millions of dollars of crops left to rot!
E-Verify for Kansas! Why do you think they have work visas!!!
Kansas is NOW the number one destination for illegal aliens, forcing we low income out of jobs and affordable ‘decent’ housing! http://www.examiner.com/city-buzz-in-charlotte/kansas-is-number-one-destination-for-illegal-aliens
The cost of illegal aliens to Kansas
Study: Illegal Immigrants Cost Kansas Taxpayers $442 million By Paul Soutar on July 8, 2010 ~ Wonder how much now??
Illegal aliens, illegally drew 4.3 Billion dollars in EITC
many receiving MORE than paid in!
The true cost of illegal aliens? http://www.cis.org
Contact elected officials, send free faxes at http://www.numbersusa.com
Also Bob, I watch them all over Olathe & Overland Park doing those ‘construction’ type jobs Americans won’t do!
Shame on you for supporting illegal crimes!
I have been a strong supporter of yours until I just read your position on Illegal Aliens in Kansas. I couldn’t disagree with you more. So we will part Company
on this matter.
I worked for 50 years in the meat slaughter and processing business. During that time I Managed companies in Kansas, Texas, and Washington State.
The companies I managed employed thousands of minorities of many different races including Mexican. In Texas at a plant I managed that employed some
2,000 employees and 86% were minority and the majority of them were Mexican, I found that a great number of Illegal’s had worked their way into the plant through falsified
papers and stolen S.S. numbers through a crooked hiring Manager I had that was selling jobs to the illegal’s. Once discovered though he was immediately terminated.
I was having a huge amount of theft and found the Mexicans both Illegal and legal were the culprits both as individuals and organized gangs.
I worked with the Sheriffs Department to fight the situation and terminated a great number. I can tell you with certainty that it is in the Mexican Culture to steal.
I could go on and on with stories of individual and organized theft on the part of mostly the Illegal Aliens.
As far as Dale Rodman. our Kansas Secretary of State who is supporting a work permit for Illegal’s I know Dale personally as he and I worked side by side for many
Years. Dale couldn’t be more wrong and he has sold out to the various Ag Special Interest groups
I can tell you through my personal background that if you get rid of the Illegal’s that those jobs will be filled by Legal Citizens. I’ve been through it all.
You are a very intelligent man and I have watched you closely and I even spoke on Channel 12 in support of your petition on the Ambassador Hotel matter
but you are wrong on this one.
My sister lives with an illegal in FL, she told me that is their way, to take! They have cable and electricity hooked up illegally, I called FL electric and the cable co., neither did anything. I also called ICE, they did nothing.
When I moved into this ghetto, I was offered to have my cable hooked up illegally!
We have one more chance with E-Verify, give @SpeakerOneal everything you have or it will be tabled until 2014. By then, will be too lates KS will be CA, Kansans will be leaving and more illegals pouring in!
Per Michelle ~
Let me tell you about my own personal story with illegal immigration. I live in a small town just above Tallahassee Florida; name of the town Cairo Georgia. At one time this town had no Mexican immigrates and now we are flooded with them. I have no problem with people coming to this country, but I do have a problem with those people coming here illegally and then start taking over, and us as Americans start changing our ways. My son who was waiting to go to Marine boot camp was working for an agriculture research company called Pioneer. Here it is my son who is a natural born American citizen working here in America when he went to work for the first day had to watch a new employee safety type video and he was the one getting translated to, not the other way around. The American citizen working in his own country waiting to go fight for this country as a Marine had to be translated to. He would work in the fields and he would miss the call to go to lunch because they would not speak English. Again the born American citizen missing lunch call because he don’t speak spanish. This is when I snapped with all the stupidy of this country and what it is happening right before our eyes. I went to Wal-Mart store and they are showing advertising in Spanish……………What! There is something wrong with this picture. I took my daughter to the emergency room full of immigrates and I know not a one was paying for any of the care they were getting. Signs on the walls in spanish. I go to the grocery store and I watch them pull out there food stamps, and here I am having to watch everything I buy to just get by with and hope it last the whole week and I’m watching them by steaks, and name brand items, carts loaded paying with food stamps and WIC vouchers that me the taxpaying working American citizen is paying for and they are eating better than I am. And they wonder way we start feeling the way we do towards them. I don’t care if you are blue, red, black with pook-a-dots. I am sick of working and paying taxes while they get all the free stuck and I am barley getting by. My son goes to work and has to be translated to……….MY GOD THIS IS AMERICA NOT MEXICO.
Oh and my son tells me how they how they were putting down the American soldier, and America. He told them to take advantiage of the freedoms our soldier faught for and go back to Mexico.