Immigration Reform or Immigration Timeout?
Tom Tancredo recently wrote an article about his plan to get Immigration under control. The last, and apparently most important part of his plan, is an immigration moratorium:
Every month our government lets in 75,000 permanent foreign workers via “green cards” and 50,000 temporary workers through numerous guest worker programs. That’s 1.5 million new foreign workers each year. Then add all the illegal aliens flooding across our open borders. Every one of those new arrivals is competing with American citizens for jobs – and contrary to the propaganda of the open borders lobby, they are not taking only “jobs Americans won’t do.”
Among the many problems with this plan, not the least of which includes the extraordinary harm to America’s economy, innovation, and world wide stature as the “Shining City on a Hill,” if immigrants were not allowed into America, is the fact that the numbers that Tancredo throws around are misleading at best, and an outright lie at worst. It appears that the lying by the anti-immigration movement is beginning to be properly understood by the media in the US, which for too long has been trying to view organizations like FAIR and CIS as not what they really are–fronts for a troubling ideology.
So, what is “wrong” with Tancredo’s numbers? First, in 2009, the USCIS admitted 1,130,818 people as lawful permanent residents of the United States. Of that number, over 667,000 of these people were already in the United States. We did NOT add them to the population or workforce. Further, only 144,000 of the larger total were actually employment based immigrants. 747,000 people were family based immigrants, following our countries long and storied commitment to family based immigration. There is no evidence that all these people are “foreign workers.” In fact, to the contrary many of these folks are parents, spouses and minor children who are not “foreign workers.” Of those 144,000 employment based immigrants, more than half of those people are actually the spouses and minor children of the actually employed immigrant. The reality of the numbers, ignored by Tancredo, is the simple fact that only 77,000 people immigrated permanently to the United States in 2009 through the immigration system.
The unfortunate part of these numbers is that they generally do not reflect immigrants who come to the United States to do jobs Americans “will not do.” Those immigrants, lesser skilled workers, are limited to only 10,000 people a year, and after taking in account family members, fewer than 5,000 lesser skilled employed workers actually immigrated to the US in 2009.
As to the 50,000 nonimmigrant workers allowed into the U.S., well, that number is simply not based in any reality that I am aware of. The numbers of H-1B visas submitted (not even approved) since April 1, 2010 is less than 20,000, and that goes toward the YEARLY total of 85,000 allowed into the U.S. Other nonimigrant categories, such as H-2B (65,000 a year), L-1 visas (less than 30,000 a year), E-2 Visas (less than 20,000 a year), an
The bottom line is this. The numbers are no overwhelming in a country of 300,000,000 people. In an economy of more than 140,000,000 jobs, adding fewer than 75,000 employment based workers to the economy each year is drop in the bucket of our economic engine. Yes, I understand the family based immigrants are going to seek work once they have legal status in the United States, but I also understand that even if half of the new 2009 immigrants (not counting those immigrants who were already in the United States and adjusted status–many if not most of those folks are already part of the economy), that means 230,000 new potential workers in the U.S. economy each year, or about 20,000 a month–in an economy of 134,000,000 jobs! And, that does not account for the fact that immigrants are far more entrepreneurial than native born citizens, and are more likely not seek employment, but rather, to create employment. so each month, there is a .00014 increase in new immigrant seeking employment each month. That is the crisis that Tancredo is warning about? Come on Tom, tell the truth.
The scare tactics of Tom Tancredo, when examined in the light of day are simply not supported by the facts and the numbers. An Immigration timeout? To the contrary, we need a better immigration system to encourage the employment based immigration that creates jobs and maintains American hegemony in technology, science, research, development, banking, and virtually every area in which America leads the world. We want immigrants, we need immigrants, and America is better off for our long history of encouraging immigration to our land of promise and hope.
Tags: anti-immigration, CIR, immigration, Restrictionists, Tancredo