Center for American Progress Continues to Dissemble on Economic Benefits of Amnesty

Many proponents of the Gang of Eight amnesty have made the false claim that the 1986 amnesty raised wages for illegal aliens by 15 percent, and the same boost would occur today if the Schumer-Rubio amnesty were passed. This bogus assertion is based upon a 2010 Center for American Progress (CAP) report that misrepresented a 1996 Department of Labor (DOL) report on the economic process of amnestied aliens five years after legalization.

The author of the CAP report, Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, an associate professor of Chicano Studies at UCLA, correctly stated that a survey for DOL found “real hourly wages of immigrants who acquired legal status under IRCA’s general legalization program had increased an average of 15.1 percent by 1992,” but he incorrectly attributes this to amnesty, directly contradicting the conclusions of the researchers whose work he cited.

What the DOL researchers found was that while amnestied aliens wages did increase 15 percent by 1992, this was the exact same amount as the wage increase for non-amnestied workers.  An improving economy, not amnesty, resulted in wage gains for all workers on average.  However, digging a little deeper, the DOL researchers discovered that those 1986 amnesty recipients who were younger, better educated, spoke English well, were earning better than average wages before amnesty, were from Asia and Europe, and were visa overstayers as opposed to illegal border crossers, did much better after amnesty.  As a group, Mexican nationals, who accounted for 70 percent of those amnestied, did the worst.

The researchers found that the “likelihood of unemployment was higher for legalized than for other U.S. men,” and “after five years of legal U.S. residence, a disproportionate share of legalization families were still below the poverty threshold.” Hinojosa failed to report these facts. He also failed to mention that between 1986 and 1992 the minimum wage rose 27 percent, driving up the average hourly wage for workers, another factor unrelated to amnesty.

See the full analysis of the CAP claims here.

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  1. avatar

    Robert Samuelson (Sept. 5, 2007), in his column in the Washington Post, noted that the ENTIRE increase in poverty between 1996 and 2006 was due to the addition of three million Hispanics to the poverty rolls. As I recall, this was based on the American Community Survey.

  2. avatar
    John Winthrop on

    NO differently from the Heritage Foundation like I said take all studies and average them and perhaps we might be += 50% within facts…………….I was personally embarrassed as an American when they claim that all Hispanics had low IQ. They tend to forget they come form on of the most powerful Empires in History: Spain.

    • avatar

      Yes John

      But today’s Hispanic is not Spanish anymore…..the pure breed Spanish came into south and central America and destroyed theoriginal Indian civilizations, then inter-breeded with them to create an non-ethnic [per CIA] group of people called Latino.

    • avatar

      John, Richwine was referring to Hispanic IMMIGRANTS (many of whom are illegal aliens) and he didn’t say “all”. It was Hispanics ON AVERAGE. Just as Asians ON AVERAGE have higher IQs than non Hispanic Whites.

      You really think that an illegal alien from Latin America who has less than a high school education and who couldn’t earn a living even in a 20th century economy is all that bright ON AVERAGE? I work with several White Hispanic professionals with advanced degrees but we also have an Hispanic cleaning crew who, after more than a dozen years in this country, still hasn’t learned English to any great degree and shows no interest in doing so. I’m not all that sure that they’re literate in Spanish, either.

  3. avatar

    Oh no. Another amnesty supporter lied? He relied on data in a report that he knew proved the opposite of what he ended up claiming in his report? But of course, nothing new in that. This administration has constantly touted their “record” deportation numbers, when the president himself, while pandering to a group of Hispanic journalists in 2011, said those numbers were a “little deceptive”. And said that a lot were simply turnarounds at the border, not true deportations. Interior enforcement has all but ceased, as proven by the lawsuit brought by ICE agents who were told not to do their jobs.

    But you never see the media pointing out that he said that, while he, like John McCain, plays the tough guy on enforcement when needed. But they give a wink and a nod to Hispanics to let them know “no worries, we’re just putting on a show for gullible voters”.

    Then you have Senator Diane Feinstein pushing this bill as some economic plus, and on the other hand trying to get federal money because it’s going to place a large benefits burden on her home state of California. Or Marco Rubio saying a couple years ago that an amnesty only encourages more illegal entry and overstaying visas. NOW though, he supports the same amnesty he condemned. Two faced double dealers talking out of both sides of their mouths.