A May Day Reality Check: High Immigration Hurts U.S. Workers

America’s open-borders crowd piled into this year’s May Day labor demonstrations to agitate for “immigrant rights.” It was surreal.

Without distinguishing between legal and illegal, the migrant lobby bootstrapped itself onto International Workers’ Day to demand the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, drivers’ licenses for all and sanctuary policies from sea to shining sea.

In fact, historically high levels of immigration are the enemy of U.S. workers. According to the Pew Research Center, “Today’s average hourly wage has just about the same purchasing power it did in 1978,” when the current immigration wave started to build.

In an article titled “Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers,” Harvard economist George Borjas reported that real wages have slumped as migration levels soared.

“Because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, have suffered most,” Borjas wrote.

Citing census data, Borjas found that legal immigrants lacking a high school diploma have swelled the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent during the past two decades. “As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year,” the economist said.

Borjas did not account for illegal immigrants, whose educational and skill levels are generally well below those of legal immigrants.

None of this helps America’s working classes. Still, immigration enthusiasts, including fellow travelers at the libertarian Cato Institute, persist in peddling the fiction that ever more foreign labor must be imported and accommodated to keep the U.S. economy going.

The Center for Immigration Studies this month found no empirical evidence of a “labor shortage” in which employers need immigration to fill jobs because they are unable to find American workers. Jason Richwine, an independent policy analyst and the author of the report, said, “When employers tell us that they cannot find workers, what they really mean is that they cannot find workers willing to work for the low wage they’d like to pay.”

“The percentage of working-age Americans not in the labor force remains significantly below the level from the year 2000,” Richwine noted. To honor labor, he suggested that “employers should try to bring those Americans back first before they look to immigration.”

As for the May Day street rabble, may we recommend fewer stanzas of “The International” and a bit more compassion for the toiling classes here at home?

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  1. avatar

    Diversity Has Replaced Experience and Skills in America. Period.

    Its not Racist, its fact. Our FAA [and all government agencies for that matter] is falling into decrepit, since EEO was essentially defunded and eliminated by Obama about a decade ago. Ya know, EEO, that mandates skills and experience are prioritized, not diversity. Obama is just another political hack, another mealy mouthed attorney dragging this country in the mud.

  2. avatar

    Supply and demand. Business wants to control both sides. The CATO link is about construction workers and notes the very high number who were unemployed in 2009. Yes, building slowed greatly but a lot of construction companies have always been more than ready to use illegal workers, paid under the table, since it is hard to keep track of them since most of those job sites are temporary. In the absence of those illegal workers it’s likely that the pay and hours of legal workers would have stagnated or been slightly reduced but most still would have been employed.

    What in fact happened is that many of the legal workers decided that they would go into other jobs that had a more steady work availability. And there are legions of companies like drywallers and painters who say they cannot compete pricewise with the companies that use illegals. Same with gardeners/lawn care. Many guys, including many blacks, used to make a decent living with a one truck business and their own tools. Now they are underbid by the large companies who employ illegals for next to nothing.

    Lots of calls in Congress for “military intervention” in Venezuela and “temporary protected status” for their citizens. Lots of support for those two things from Florida politicians who are pandering to the sizable Venezuelan community in that state. How many times do we have to learn the lesson that we only lose when we intervene in other countries and that there is never ever anything “temporary” about TPS. Meanwhile we cannot, check that, we WON’T, even secure our own southern border.