Senate Hearing Engages in ‘The Most Productive Discussion We Have Had’ About the Impact of Immigration on American Jobs

Jeff_Sessions_official_portraitSen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and The National Interest, presided over a hearing on Wednesday, March 16, that his colleague Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) referred to as “one of the most enjoyable committees I’ve ever been a part of.”

One reason why the two senators had such a productive time is because they were the only two to attend the majority of the hearing, allowing them time to ask substantive questions that engaged the five panelists.

In his opening remarks, Sen. Sessions outlined the numbers of legal and illegal immigrants, refugees and asylees that come to the United States each year and asked whether or not this created a detrimental environment for American workers and wages. “What are the facts?” he asked. “It’s time to abandon old thinking and ask what is a sustainable rate of immigration – one that will protect the economic well-being of immigrants and native-born alike?”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) made the most of his five minutes at the hearing, lobbying hard for the failed Gang of Eight bill, defeated in 2013. Noting that the United States is a “nation of immigrants,” he said that in New York City, immigrants who love America and embody the country’s mobility worked two and three jobs just to provide a decent way of life for their families.

New immigrants are the “best and brightest” people their countries have to offer, he said, but added that a border crackdown is in order and that time is running out to pass a bill that benefits American workers. Raising incomes is his top goal as a senator, he said, before excoriating the Tea Party for the Gang of Eight bill’s failure.

The first witness, Dr. George J. Borjas, an economics professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, asked a hypothetical question: If the country imported 50,000 lawyers, would the lot of lawyers nationwide be better or worse off? Lawyers would dislike such a situation, but those who employ lawyers would revel at the opportunity to pay less for highly skilled work. For every ten percent rise in new workers, he said, wages drop 3 percent. He also argued that even though the “pie gets bigger” – by about $50 billion – wealth is redistributed from people who compete with immigrant labor to those who employ immigrant labor.

Peter N. Kirsanow, Commissioner of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, claimed that a large inflow of immigrants exerts a deleterious effect on the income and labor prospects of African-American males, in particular. He cited a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta concluding that the immigrant presence in Georgia depressed wages by $960 per year for all workers statewide.

Benjamin E. Johnson, executive director at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, touted the positive attributes of immigrants as innovators creators who revitalize the American Dream. Calling for a new, modernized immigration system, he implored Congress not to squander, what he described as a historic opportunity to grant permanent status to illegal aliens and pass legislation that includes amnesty and the continuance of large numbers of immigrants Another immigrant apologist, David D. Kallick, senior fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute, promoted the allegedly robust contribution newcomers make to the economy, trotting out the old trope that they do the jobs Americans will not do. Yet he admitted that African-Americans are adversely affected by rampant immigration, though, the impact could be mitigated with improved educational opportunities, job-training programs and reforming the criminal justice system.

Dr. Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, stated that while adding workers certainly makes the economy larger, the gains go to the immigrants themselves due to their labor. Per capita income, which is the important marker, remains stagnant. Workers in competition with immigrant laborers will lose, he said, and while there is no labor shortage in the United States, job growth is stalled.

After the initial testimony, the senators and panelists engaged in a spirited dialogue. Sessions asked about reconciling conflicting data-based conclusions and Borjas claimed that while no immigration law can make everyone happy, he asked lawmakers to focus on “who do you care about” the most? Sessions said that the goal is to devise a policy that creates the most winners and the fewest losers, reminding the attendees that the goal of any legislation should be to promote “what’s good for the American people” and “keep the American worker in the center” of the debate, though he did not outline any specific policy directives.

This repartee prompted Tillis to reiterate his take on the quality of the session: “Just when I thought I couldn’t enjoy a meeting any more, I enjoy this meeting more.” Sessions agreed that the hearing represented “the most productive discussion we have had to set the landscape to keep American workers in the center” of the debate.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    At one period of time, immigrants were instrumental in building this nation. However, the US is in more of a maintenance period where those unlawfully present and unlawfully working are destroying the middle class that relies on work for their lifestyle. Unlawful entry into this country takes resources and opportunities away from legal residents of this country. The cost of educating unlawfully present is taking taxpayer money and any small remissions by the unlawfully present is a smidgeon compared to the overall outlays for services. And don’t forget the visa overstayers primarily from Canada and Mexico that are taking jobs most likely that legal residents would accept. Democrat motives are clearly obvious as it is essentially pandering for votes to perpetuate the Democratic Party.

    • avatar

      I’ve been around a long time, have kids and grandkids. The story the politicians tell about “jobs that Americans won’t do” is total BS. There are millions out there who would take about any job if they had a chance. Most of those jobs used to be known as entry level jobs. Most likely the politicians’ kids and their big campaign donors’ kids went to private schools and Ivy League colleges and can get excellent jobs, especially with their influential parents backing. On the other hand, kids that grew up in poor or even middle class families many times cannot afford to go to college. Many of the entry level jobs for these people are going to illegals who will work for less than minimum wage. It may be ‘kind and considerate’ to give poor folks a job, to bring in the poor and needy from all over the world, but is it kind and considerate to put our future citizens into poverty, to burden our kids and grandkids with trillions of dollars in debt?

  2. avatar
    Asteroid Miner on

    We are headed for a human population crash from 7.5 Billion to 70 thousand or zero people some time between 2022 and 2040. We don’t have time for research or fooling around with renewables. Causes of a population crash:

    1. Global Warming [GW] will cause civilization to collapse within 13 years give or take 6 years because GW will cause the rain to move and the rain move will force agriculture to collapse. Famine has been the cause of many dozens of previous population crashes.

    2. Reference “Overshoot” by William Catton, 1980 and “Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse” by William Catton, 2009. Catton says that we humans are about to experience a population crash. Population biologist William Catton says that the US is the most overcrowded country. Collapse from overpopulation could happen any time now.
    The Earth has 4.5 Billion too many people. An overshoot in population requires an equal undershoot. We overshot by 4.5 billion, and the consequence is an undershoot by 4.5 billion. The carrying capacity is 3 billion. 3 billion minus 4.5 billion is zero because there can’t be minus 1.5 billion people. This can happen even if there is enough food.

    Catton tells the story of an island with deer but no wolves. The deer population increased to ~3500. There was still plenty of food, but the population crashed to 35. The reason was overcrowding.
    Sharing kills everybody because you can’t survive on half of the required calories. 7 billion people is 4 billion too many no matter how you slice it. “We” didn’t make “Them” have too many children.

    3. Aquifers running dry No irrigation, no wheat. No wheat, no bread. The “Green Revolution” was a bad idea. It caused India to double her population rather than get out of poverty. Now Indian farmers have “discovered” that water is a limiting resource. Water is a limiting resource in the US as well. When, not if, the aquifer under the high plains runs dry, there will be no bread and no pasta in the US.
    We didn’t “cause” third world poverty. They were never “unpoor” in the first place. They were stone age, not poor. We invented science. They didn’t. Their failure to invent science is not our fault.

    4. Resource depletion
    4A oil
    4B minerals

    War will kill a lot of people. Famine will kill 8 billion out of 7.5 billion. 7.5-8=-0.5, but with population, the crash ends at zero.

    Will there be survivors? Nobody knows. Nor does anybody have any idea who or where the survivors might be, if any.

    NATURE has lots of other ways to kill humans. Don’t provoke her.

  3. avatar

    In recent debates about immigration, I haven’t heard anyone talk about E-Verify. It’s already in place, is apparently reliable, and vastly cheaper than building a wall across our entire southern border. Since, I believe, most immigrants (legal and illegal) come here for a job, why the silence about E-Verify?

    Admittedly, we would still have the problem of legal immigrants: the family reunification people, and H1B and similar programs, both of which seem out of control.

    • avatar

      E verify is not required for all work including contractor and for all current employees. We also need a way to use a verifiable photo id to match it with the SSN and for SSA to work with the IRS to combat Id theft.

      Once this is in place; we can weed out all illegals from working. If every state also passes a law that requires all business in the state to have a license and to only give them to people here legally; we further stop illegals from working. SCOTUS has allowed this since 2012

  4. avatar

    Coming to America for a better life is exactly what the illegal aliens get from our welfare system: free housing, food, medical, education, etc. I’d consider that a better life too.

    • avatar

      Only legal immigrants are legally allowed to get welfare and Medicaid after living in the USA for two years. Our immigration system is the worst in the world as we are importing poverty, disease and Jihad every year.

      • avatar
        Barbara Ortega on

        Agree.. and they lie, and cheat to get more and more of our rights and benefits…
        does ANYONE at all realize what our politicians have done to our Citizenship in this country??? think about it a moment.. When an illegal alien enters this country illegally, they are given more and more of our rights and benefits.. WHY bother assimilating into the American Culture and Work hard to become citizens when they are just handed it all without being a citizen…
        this is complete stupidity on the part of our government

    • avatar
      Barbara Ortega on

      They don’t want to tell you that… they lie to you that these people come for a better life.. gets a job and works hard.. ask the illegals why they come and a lot of them will tell you it is for all the freebies we hand them.. and when they do work, majority work and get paid UNDER the table so while WE hand them freebies with OUR tax dollars, they send their money back to Mexico…. ANYONE WITH A BRAIN KNOWS THIS….. YOU HAVE TO BE SOME KIND OF STUPID NOT TO KNOW… There is NO way that these illegal aliens contribute more to the country than they TAKE

    • avatar

      Nan you watch too much TV and live blindly……..illegals are not allowed to get Welfare…..people like you drives our country ignorant……

  5. avatar

    Chuck Schumer lying through his teeth again. He claims that immigrants are the “best and brightest” their countries have to offer. Not even close. With illegals there is no question they are undereducated, but even among legal immigrants most are admitted on family ties and a very large percentage have little advanced education. That was exactly the conclusion of the Jordan Commission on Immigration in the 90s, appointed by Clinton. Same old story with Schumer. If his lips are moving he’s lying.

    • avatar

      One reason this was so productive, aside from the quality of many of the panelists, was Sen. Schumer was there for only five minutes. He uses the line that’s always used to shut down any intelligent discussion about immigration, that we are a “nation of immigrants”. Actually most Americans were born here, so we aren’t a nation of immigrants, but a nation of people descended from immigrants.

      And of course immigration has been a big part of our history, because we had a big empty continent to fill up. Hello? This isn’t 1850. Our population today is over 300 million people and has surpassed the ability of our natural resources to sustainably support it.

        • avatar
          Barbara Ortega on

          Kurt, we are supposed to be a nation of Americans.. but with all the illegal aliens flooding this country.. not so much anymore… ask a lot of these illegals and they will tell you they want no part of being American.. they only came to take what they can from our government.. they want the free handouts, make enough money to set themselves up with a better life (NOT IN USA) in Mexico or other country they came from…
          and yes.. I saw Dennis Michael *****’s interview of Illegals and they stated this… and some of them think Americans are Stupid…

          • avatar

            Exactly and look at the Cubans who have special status. They are coming to improve their lives; not fleeing persecution so why isn’t the readjustment act being repealed?

      • avatar

        Back then we attracted the toughest and most adventuresome, because it was a long difficult journey here and there were no government handouts if times got rough. I also wonder what bill Schumer wants to pass “that benefits American workers”.

        Certainly not his gang of eight bill, nor the various bills he has proposed to increase H1B visas while American workers get laid off. And that’s something he surely knows because it was only a few days ago that one of the workers let go by Disney testified to this same committee that he had to train his replacement. And Schumer blamed his job loss on failure to pass the gang of eight bill, which contained increases in those visas.

        There is no shortage of American STEM workers. I have often seen the statement that their unemployment rates are “low”. Not surprising because the college educated generally can get some kind of job, but it’s not necessarily in their field and that happens to be the case with American STEM workers. And Schumer is set to take Harry Reid’s place as Democratic leader in the Senate. Some party of the working man.

        • avatar

          Here are some real numbers – after our IT jobs were given to non-US citizens.
          I struggled not for months but for over 4 years to get a job, taking every
          free online computer course I could find to keep my skills updated.
          My 401K was depleted during this time to pay mortgage, previous college loan
          and monthly bills, My old company’s Web SIte has 1000’s (YES 1000’s !) of jobs listed,
          many I am qualified for and I applied for over 100 of them. No luck there or for
          any other IT job I applied for. Recently I was “lucky” enough to get a job
          (a very low-paying job) in the Healthcare Industry. I now make in ONE MONTH
          what I used to make in ONE WEEK. SO my thought is, if you are going to reduce
          my pay by 75%, what about reducing my debts by the same amount ? shouldn’t the
          government help me out here like they did for Wall Street ? I just finished a 56
          hour work week this week and even if I am “lucky” enough to get 2 over-time shifts
          a week every week I will still not quite be able to make ends meet. I took a student
          loan out in the 1990’s (Sallie Mae – recently renamed NAVIENT)
          in order to get my Master’s degree – I’ve been paying on it for
          17 years and in that time have paid back what I borrowed PLUS $30,000 in interest AND
          I STILL have 9 years to go at $393 a month ! My “affordable” Healthcare payment
          is $707 a month and I am HEALTHY – have not been to a Dr. since 2008 and am on
          no prescriptions. I am begging my Credit Union to PLEASE combine my Mortgage and
          small Home Equity Loan and reduce the monthly payment as the $1762 currently
          required per month is out of reach. I have always thought Credit Unions the
          nicer choice (Remember Jimmy Stewart’s Bailey Bros.Building and Loan in
          “It’s a Wonderful LIfe ?”) , but seems to me that maybe they have been
          hiring some Wall St. types in recent years and are now tending to the “Pottersville”
          (again from the movie) type of banking, SO I may end up like one of those wretched
          people from the movie “99 Homes” and soon be living in a motel with as much of
          my “stuff” as I can fit into my 2007 car in 20 minutes – WATCH this movie if you haven’t
          seen it. I watched it and could not believe it really happened, watched it a second
          time with commentary on and apparently the banks and the realtors really did get away
          with the horrible illegal scams presented AND our government let them do it.
          Anyway these are some REAL numbers. Maybe Sen. Sessions and Thom TIllis think
          this situation is “enjoyable” but I certainly do not.

          • avatar

            I think they meant that as a little joke, but Sessions is absolutely on your side and has been for a long time. He wants to put a stop to H1B visas.

          • avatar

            Jay Kay something I usually see is people getting used to their office jobs and not willing to move out of State and instead spending their saving……that is no way to re-invent oneself……and on top of it they are citizens not illegals that cannot find a job…..just a comment

          • avatar

            Jay Kay something I usually see is people getting used to their office jobs and not willing to move out of State and instead spending their saving……that is no way to re-invent oneself……and on top of it they are citizens not illegals that cannot find a job…..just a comment

            I am sympathetic to your situation…….hopefully you are ok by now

        • avatar

          When is back then Leland that took the toughest? I think you meant the 1600s…..anythimg after that not too tough…

      • avatar

        Best retort I’ve read. This in now and that was then. Frankly our legal immigration problem could be stopped with a few signatures – zero. No more legal immigration.Problem solved. Now, or at the same time fence, e-verify, etc.

      • avatar
        Barbara Ortega on

        @SecBorders agree.. but we used to be a melting pot of LEGAL immigrants who came here to work hard to become Americans, Learned English, took NO handouts from the government, followed the laws and eventually became citizens and were proud to be Americans.. Today, that is not the case anymore… (YES, there are immigrants who still work hard to come here legally..but they are being stabbed in the back by the government when they allow illegal aliens to remain illegally and reward them for it)… We are now a CESSPOOL that is contaminated by illegal aliens who refuse to follow the laws, refuse to learn English, take as much as they can from our government, demand our rights, steal SS#s, Create Fake documents, etc… we are a country of the lawless created by our government… a country without borders is NOT a country.. we are losing our country to the illegal aliens .. the government gives them priority over the American Citizens…

        does ANYONE at all realize what our politicians have done to our Citizenship in this country??? think about it a moment.. When an illegal alien enters this country illegally, they are given more and more of our rights and benefits.. WHY bother assimilating into the American Culture and Work hard to become citizens when they are just handed it all without being a citizen…
        this is complete stupidity on the part of our government

        • avatar

          One good book on this subject that FAIR recommends is Mexifornia: A State of Becoming by Victor Davis Hanson. In it he mentions how 58 percent of Mexicans believe the Southwestern US belongs to Mexico, according to a 2002 poll. Yet we are allowing millions of Mexicans who are not assimilating to settle in the Southwestern US. This is known, as you are probably aware, as the reconquista.

      • avatar

        SecBorders you are the most idiotic American I have seen so far………the reason this country was born has nothing to do with an empty land….YOUR HEAD IS EMTY!!!

    • avatar

      If I know some service worker with whom I am interacting, be he taxi driver, gardener, nurse, barber, security guard, etc. was working two and three jobs, I don’t want to have him coming near me. No worker can do an adequate safe job without a decent amount of sleep. Working 3 jobs is insane. No, Chuck, it is not admirable.

      • avatar


        I know a Latina CNA who was working two jobs to get by in Seattle’s high rent…..she’s disabled now, with a recent stroke at 43 and a brain operation.

      • avatar
        Barbara Ortega on

        Kurt, and I’m sick of the politicians saying they do such a great job… I don’t hear them saying anything about the many American citizens who work more than one job because the government has created such a mess in our economy… and many cannot get more than a parttime job…
        we should NOT be allowing illegal aliens to remain in this country sucking our tax dollars, our resources, our jobs.. it’s beyond insane…
        does ANYONE at all realize what our politicians have done to our Citizenship in this country??? think about it a moment.. When an illegal alien enters this country illegally, they are given more and more of our rights and benefits.. WHY bother assimilating into the American Culture and Work hard to become citizens when they are just handed it all without being a citizen…
        this is complete stupidity on the part of our government

    • avatar
      Barbara Ortega on

      Leland.. agree.. once again our government lies … trying to shove these illegals down our throats….makes me sick .. I’m fed up with supporting them on OUR tax dollars and there is NO WAY they contribute more than they TAKE