Debunking unions’ “takers” myth of immigration reform.

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I have a bone to pick with some of the emotional hyperbole being thrown around about immigration reform and some of its supposed ill effects.  Union leaders would have us believe that an influx of low skilled workers would take jobs away from “deserving Americans”.

I used to be a postal employee, and was a member of my craft union, mostly to support safety in our workplace.  HoweverI didn’t buy into a lot of the union rhetoric.  Most of it seemed like broad generalizations designed to pit workers against management, whether a conflict actually existed or not.  Several times comments were made about how immigrants flooding the workforce would make it harder for the unions to negotiate because there would be so many more workers to take jobs.

Except that there would not be. To work for the US Postal Service, you have to at minimum be a naturalized citizen.  There is a very thorough background check to even be eligible for a job.  There is also a very involved test taken to be considered for a job that is only given in English.  No exceptions will be made for people who don’t speak the language well.  So with all these hurdles, how exactly would an illegal immigrant who probably speaks very poor English (if any at all) hope to get a job at the Postal Service?  So our union leadership was basically hoping we were scared enough for our jobs and stupid enough to not think the whole thing out for a few seconds to realize they were essentially lying.  Many union leaders in other organizations spout some of the same drivel, and the employees they represent are in a similar situation of having jobs that no new immigrant to the US could possibly hope to get.  Most immigrants, legal or not, don’t take jobs “deserving Americans” are lining up to get.

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers were $625 in 2012, compared with $797 for their native-born counterparts.  Foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations (25.2 percent versus 16.5 percent). Within service occupations, two-thirds of the foreign born were employed in food preparation and serving related occupations and in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations, whereas one-half of native-born service workers were employed in those occupations. Foreign-born workers also were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in production, transportation, and material moving occupations (15.5 percent versus 11.2 percent) and in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (12.7 percent versus 8.3 percent).  Native-born workers were more likely than foreign-born workers to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations (39.5 percent versus 30.0 percent), and in sales and office occupations (24.6 percent versus 16.5 percent).  In addition to foreign born workers earning less and occupying mostly entry level positions, there were 25.0 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force, comprising 16.1 percent of the total.  So the overwhelming surge of immigrants taking jobs just isn’t there.  And since they earn almost $180 less per week on average, immigrants can’t really be accused of taking the “good” jobs.

I grew up spending a lot of my time at my grandfather’s apple orchard in central Washington State.  I don’t remember EVER seeing a native born person do any work in that orchard except our own family. Almost every harvest in our state looks pretty much the same.  It isn’t as if Americans are being turned away in favor of foreign workers; Americans are not turning out for those jobs.

A lot of Americans aren’t even looking for these jobs that immigrants are supposedly stealing.  About a month ago, I saw a man on the side of the street holding up a cardboard sign.  This was a little different than most I see, saying that his hours got cut and he needed extra money to make ends meet.  I was almost livid when I saw this sign.

Three days before my first son was born, I was laid off from the job that I was working at the time.  Later that night I had another job.  Granted, it was only delivering pizza but it was bringing in work.  I also accessed temporary work through Manpower Services to fill in the gaps moneywise.  Did I like working two low paying jobs a day to make ends meet?  Of course not.  But I took the initiative to do what I had to do so my family would be provided for.  I did NOT waste time on the side of the road, begging for money from other working people.  Our country has mired itself with an entitlement mentality, and is afraid of foreigners “taking” what we supposedly “deserve”.  Yeah, these foreigners are taking jobs that no one here seems to want to do.

According to a report just released by the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill – officially, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act – would reduce federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the next decade. The legislation would increase spending while increasing tax revenue even more, thus yielding overall budgetary savings and smaller deficits. The higher spending would largely go toward refundable tax credits and health care for new residents, while the increased revenue would result from a substantially larger workforce. According to the CBO, immigration reform would grow the population by 10.4 million people by 2023, with 6 million of those new residents participating in the labor force. Those new workers would pay Social Security and Medicare taxes as well as contribute to general income taxes.

Immigration reform would reduce budget deficits by still more in the following decade. Between 2024 and 2033, the CBO projected $700 billion in federal budget savings.  The report assumed that immigration reform would take effect this October.

So, help me out.  What exactly is being taken?

 

4 Comments

  1. Alright, backing up your stance with data. Yay! I especially appreciate picking a bone with “emotional hyperbole” and taking the time to think things through. Would that more folks follow your lead.

  2. In the words of George Lopez: “…if an illegal immigrant has your job then it was a pretty f%*^*ed up job to begin with!” Americans don’t want to do the jobs that most immigrants are doing, so to claim they’re “taking these jobs away” is inaccurate.

  3. I’ve been doing stand-up, writing and hosting a radio show and there’s still times I deliver pizza to make ends meet. Damn good article Shane!!!!

    1. Thank you for your input and your support.

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