Comprehensive Immigration Bill is a Disaster for American Workers

America has a problem, a big problem.  We have a Congress who will only act when powerful lobbyists throw enough money at them.  Such is the result of the new Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.  This bill will be an unmitigated disaster for working America.  The bill increases the U.S. legal labor supply by at least 14 million by giving not just those here illegally legal status but also those who were previously deported who still have family members in the U.S. the legal status to work.  Yet the massive increase in the U.S. labor supply caused by legalizing those here unauthorized isn't even half of the labor disaster story this bill will bring.

The bill title is S.744 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, and is simply unlimited immigration and migration defacto.  A summary of the 844 page bill is here.  Hit particularly hard will be American Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians (STEM).  Not only will the bill increase H-1B Visas from 85,000 to 135,000, they are allowing the limit to go to 180,000 per year.  That is basically all of the jobs created each year in these occupations.  That means every single STEM job would end up being foreigners preferred, forcing U.S. workers out of their careers as the faux pas worker protections are clearly written to be vague and loophole ridden.  Just as lobbyists wrote this turkey in actuality, big business will also make sure any U.S. workers protections will be removed before actual legislation passage.

We have shown many times, there is no labor shortage at any skill level in the United States  In particular there is no labor shortage in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics occupational areas.   Yet in this bill there would be no limits or instant green cards for the below occupational categories.  Bear in mind many STEM PhDs currently cannot find a job as there is already such oversupply of workers at this educational level.  

On the employment green card categories, the bill exempts the following categories from the annual numerical limits on employment-based immigrants: derivative beneficiaries of employment-based immigrants; aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; multinational executives and managers; doctoral degree holders in STEM field; and physicians who have completed the foreign residency requirements or have received a waiver.

Then, as if every person in the world wasn't already covered to freely enter the United States in this bill, there are even more new Visas created.   Most of the new Visas focus on STEM jobs, so clearly the U.S. engineer is going to be wiped out, turned into a dinosaur by flooding the U.S. labor market with anyone who claims they can write a couple of lines of C# code.  The Bill seems to allow the many other employment based Visas to be used for skilled workers as well, up to 40%.  Then the bill creates a nebulously defined startup Visa with no restrictions of type of business, jobs created or employees hired from the summary.  Just to make sure Congress crowds out every American professional possible, they even replace the 55,000 diversity Visas, with even more Visas.  Another 250,000 Visas to be specific, all based on merit scoring, and that merit score is really defined by lobbyists, of course. Quotas for green cards has also been increased by removing the family members of those holding employment based Visas.  That is at least a two fold increase, if not a four-fold backdoor increase in legal permanent residents per year.

Clearly there is absolutely no worker shortage in unskilled labor if anyone looked at the unemployment statistics.  That reality sure doesn't stop Congress.  Once again, this bill wants to issue yet another Visa, the W Visa, for unskilled foreign workers.  Anyone recall how foreign guest workers were hired instead of unemployment Americans using Stimulus money?  Yet another visa will enable U.S. worker displacement even more than is currently the practice.  The W Visa quota starts watered down to 20,000 a year, yet the Visa is clearly designed to be expanded later.  The bill also replaces the H-2A Visa with two new guest worker programs, all to ensure big corporate Agriculture has all of the slave labor they could ever need.

A portable, at-will employment based visa (W-3 visa) and a contract-based visa (W-2 visa) would replace the current H-2A program.

We also have clear security issues with guest workers generally.  To date, DHS does not track on how many foreign guest workers are even in the country.  The Department of Homeland Security literally does not know, for example, how many H-1B Visa workers are in the country at any point in time.  Even after it was clear the 9/11 hijackers entered the country on student Visas, there are no background checks before issuing most of these Visas.  Now Congress wants to hand PhD foreigners a green card, legal permanent residency, with many of the rights of citizenship, as if many of the 9/11 hijackers were not actually PhD students and somehow educated people are exempt from being national security threats.  The Boston Marathon terrorists came on refugee status Visas and in spite of the Russian government wanting to interview one of them, not much happened state side.  In spite of the obvious national security risks involved with immigration waivers from terrorist prove regions, and the issues with student and employer based Visas generally, during the press conference introducing the bill, Senators removed a law officer for daring to ask a national security question.

Today there was a hearing on immigration in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Peter Kirsanow, a labor and employment attorney for the U.S. commissioner Civil Rights, gave testimony and called cash on how illegal and low skilled immigration is crowding out blacks for jobs.  Flooding the U.S. labor market with unskilled foreign labor is perpetuating U.S. domestic diversity employer discrimination and re-enabling the economic injustices that were thought to be outlawed in 1965.

Illegal immigration has a disproportionately negative effect on the wages and employment levels of blacks, particularly black males.

Immigration . . . accounts for about 40 percent of the 18 percentage point decline [from 1960-2000] in black employment rates.

The obvious question is whether there are sufficient jobs in the low-skilled labor market for both African-Americans and illegal immigrants. The answer is no.

During 2007, Black American adult workers without a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 12.0 percent, and those with only a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. These statistics suggest both that there is an overall surplus of workers in the low-skilled labor market, and that African-Americans are particularly disfavored by employers.

The testimony also cited Harvard Labor Economist George Borjas' research results on the connection between immigration, wages and labor supply in unskilled occupations:

Classifying workers by education level and age and comparing differences across groups over time shows that a 10 percent increase in the size of an education/age group due to the entry of immigrants (both legal and illegal) reduces the wage of native-born men in that group by 3.7 percent and the wage of all native-born workers by 2.5 percent. . . . The same type of education/age comparison used to measure the wage impact shows that a 10 percent increase in the size of a skill group reduced the fraction of native-born blacks in that group holding a job by 5.1 percentage points.

Illegal immigration reduces the wages of native workers by an estimated $99 to $118 billion a year . . . . A theory-based framework predicts that the immigrants who entered the country from 1990 to 2010 reduced the average annual earnings of American workers by $1,396 in the short run. Because immigration (legal and illegal) increased the supply of workers unevenly, the impact varies across skill groups, with high school dropouts being the most negatively affected group.

Kirsanow also quoted labor economics research on unskilled immigration's wage impact and it's huge!  Think about the typical unskilled labor jobs paying minimum wage.  As it is these jobs can't pay the rent in many regions in the nation.  Now look at how badly flooding the labor market with unskilled labor through legal and illegal immigration as well as foreign guest workers represses wages.

Julie Hotchkiss, a research economist and policy advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, estimated that “as a result of this growth in the share of undocumented workers, the annual earnings of the average documented worker in Georgia in 2007 were 2.9 percent ($960) lower than they were in 2000. . . . Annual earnings for the average documented worker in the leisure and hospitality sector in 2007 were 9.1 percent ($1,520) lower than they were in 2000.”

Kirsanow also cites his organization's own research and it's just shocking.  Black men are not only being forced out of a job, but due to poverty and the resulting ghetto culture, then are forced into crime which eventually lands them in jail.  Yes, there is a strong correlation to poverty and ending up in jail.  Howz that for the great American dream?

Our study suggests that a 10% immigrant-induced increase in the supply of a particular skill group is associated with a reduction in the black wage of 2.5%, a reduction in the black employment rate of 5.9 percentage points, and an increase in the black institutionalization rate of 1.3%. Among white men, the same 10% increase in supply reduces the wage by 3.2%, but has much weaker employment and incarceration effects: a 2.1 percentage-point reduction in the employment rate and a 0.2 percentage-point increase in the incarceration rate. It seems, therefore, that black employment and incarceration rates are more sensitive to immigration rates than those of whites.

Unfortunately the rest of the testimony from this hearing is pure economic fiction.  The negative economic impact on U.S. workers is always ignored, accompanied by fantastical economic impact claims which have no basis in historical statistical reality.  CBO cost scoring of this bill will come later, but there is a problem regardless of who performs cost estimates.  Always ignored are the lost wages and jobs of Americans who will surely be displaced by foreigners due to the scarcity of jobs in America and the resulting labor oversupply.

What a disastrous piece of legislation this is.  Whether one believes those here illegally deserve legal status, those here on foreign guest worker Visas for years deserve permanent legal residency or not, one cannot deny the massive negative impact this bill will have on U.S. workers.  We already have 12 million official unemployed, in reality 24 million needing a good job, the professional occupations unemployment rates are double what they should be, yet Congress, per the demands of corporations and special interests, are out to flood the labor market to the point of economic disaster.

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Comments

So political whores are screwing us over again for $? Shocking

So, the traitors/criminals/asshats are collecting more bribes and destroying my country still? Damn, color me shocked. F'ing traitors, that's all they are.

In other news, IBM, a company I thought was based on computers, but apparently couldn't handle that, so it switched to consulting, then servers, then something or other, is getting even more clueless and decides that layoffs are the way to make profits. And JC Penney, a store, that, well, as a store, probably should keep retail space, is looking to unload real estate (not sure how that works for retail stores that actually need real estate, but I'm guessing it won't work out too well). I think JC Penney needs to hire Bain or McKinsey or Deloitte or KPMG to investigate whether or not a retailer should sell retail space. And after a few million in consulting fees, the consulting company can come up with the answer the CEO wants, whether or not it would make sense to anyone but the CEO and board (isn't that what big consultants do)?

So this is the USA in 2013. More people from overseas when American citizens can't find jobs, and corporate boardrooms that can't figure out what they do or sell looking to self-cannibalize and fire everyone in sight (outside the boardrooms of course) because this is what the "job creators" that can't create or sell or do anything themselves do when they need to seek immediate quarterly profits but haven't had an original thought themselves ever. But hey, never blame CEOs or boards or politicians. Job creators, baby, job creators. If they only received more tax subsidies, wrote more laws themselves, and received even bigger bonuses, all would be good! Corporate America 2013, it can't find its ass from its elbow, but damn it would make George Orwell scream in fear of its hate of privacy and average citizens. Now all those folks that warned IBM and JC Penney years ago about issues are surely unemployed and "overqualified" now. As far as politicians and HR and the MSM are concerned, they are dirt and unworthy of being called Americans. Oh, but the boardrooms and politicians, those geniuses are destroying companies and the country as we speak - congrats.

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Thank you

Your excellent reporting on this serious issue and the resulting lack of jobs in the US for American citizens has been consistent and important. Sadly the power structure ignores the facts for their personal profit. We destroy our best and brightest on the alter of their greed. Watch this part of the "immigration" bill and the new horrible trade bill sail through Congress unobstructed.
On these issues President Obama is the wolf in sheep's clothing.

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wasting U.S. talent as well

The seemingly bias against U.S. citizens these days for jobs makes me wonder how much innovation is going to waste. It's just disgusting as if Americans did not build up the entire tech sector in the first place, send a man to the moon and that is not because Americans are superior. they were supported, had stable careers, cheap education, opportunity to innovate. Nowadays Americans are being just labor arbitraged to the point assuredly that next "killer app" is sitting at the Starbucks making coffee instead of having a stable career in R&D STEM.

Just like Russia, when they collapsed and now Russia is a hotbed of hackers instead of the great Scientific society they were during USSR days, they were supported, think what you like about the Soviet Union itself.

Throwing away American talent, supporting U.S. citizens to create businesses, patent, build the next great technological shift is what these lobbyists and Congress are doing and one can bet that won't be scored into any "bill cost" by the CBO.

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Gang of Eight Show their true corrupt colors

Over the weekend, they claim one must act to pass this terrible bill due to the Boston Marathon terrorists. That is ridiculous. First, in the summary and as far as I have gotten in their lobbyist written 844 page disaster, this bill enables more potential terrorists getting into the country.

They are hell bent on passing this by claiming GOP lost not on their terrible, upside down super rich, corporate welfare agenda, trying to say black is white in economics, but because of the "Hispanic vote". They ignore how all of America knows GOP overall policies are an economic disaster for working America.

The claim is the "Hispanic vote" will be lost. I doubt U.S. citizens of Hispanic ethnicity are one issue voters, although corporate media pounds on the airwaves they should be. More Hispanics are economic voters and I sincerely doubt they want to be pushed out of their jobs further, receive lower wages further, anymore than any other American does.

Be aware, this is a lobbyist cheap labor hog fest, target technical workers #1. They are simply using "pathway to citizenship" tacked onto the cheap labor agenda in order to pass their global labor arbitrage agenda.

Also, in terms of overall labor supply, economics, two things which probably wouldn't hurt much for U.S. workers are legalization and giving people stuck on foreign guest worker Visas green cards (there is a backlog).

Now this would have to be done on a restrictive basis, but the reality is these workers are already here, already part of the current labor supply. In other words, changing their status, if restrictive and do not let the numbers swell, would not be a sudden influx to the labor supply and so the same terrible jobs crisis, status quo, wouldn't be as affected as the overall increases in imported workers that is in this bill.

That said, the opposite is true, if the labor supply was reduced by denying these people American jobs, that would force those jobs to be re-opened to American workers (unless of course the business can offshore outsource those jobs, but businesses have already offshore outsourced as many jobs as they could).

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Ah yes, using terrorism to speed law passage - seen that before

Whatever. Not sure how a terrorist attack that has foreign/immigration issues should speed up massive bills that weaken immigration controls, but hey, trying to think like morons only hurts my head. Anyway, I'm sure the terrorist attack will somehow increase budget requests by all alphabet agencies, even though it seems the feds' actions basically came down to using public videotapes, freezing frames, and then asking that the public figure out who the suspects were and tell the Feds who they were. In essence, the budgets could be cut to $0 and the crime would be solved by the public. If any law enforcement agency demands more $ as a result of this, it's time to vomit en masse. The public solved it, not the Feds. Not sure how much training or $ is needed to set up a tip line, but pretty sure it doesn't take thousands of Special Agents, months of "training" at Quantico, and tens of thousands of administrators and SESs and GS-15s to do it making six figures while working under 40 hours/week. Also doesn't take me being groped by TSA Agents on every single flight ever or my bags being searched at bus stations to stop.

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So what do you do?

I only wander through this site from time to time, so I'm really only looking at this one article, but what it's lacking is an alternative. Just for people who aren't regular readers you might throw in a link to your "solution" post. I mean, are you disagreeing that the system is broken? Do you favor the Herman Cain electrified fence approach?

I did find this blog post to be an interesting mix of data and completely unsupported assertions presented as fact.

"Most of the new Visas focus on STEM jobs, so clearly the U.S. engineer is going to be wiped out, turned into a dinosaur by flooding the U.S. labor market with anyone who claims they can write a couple of lines of C# code."

[citation needed] and in any event any company that would in that manner en masse offload its domestic programming workforce to save on personnel costs could already do so by just offshoring the whole thing. Besides, foreign workers in the US still have to grapple with cost of living in the same geography as US workers . . . is the wage disparity that great between US programmers and foreign programmers (factoring in variables like experience) that we're really talking about "wiping out" US programmers? That seems like a bit of a stretch.

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There have to be tight laws, which put U.S. citizens first

There needs to be extremely tight and enforced laws to make sure all Americans are preferred, first for any job within the borders of the United States.

There has to be acknowledgement flooding labor markets will hurt U.S. workers, even at the highest levels of skill.

Alternatively, one can place fees on guest worker Visas that are so high, a business really must have that worker and cannot find a U.S. citizen worker.

i.e. if it is an engineering position, a 50k fee for a Visa or a 50k fee to hire that person would stop U.S. worker displacement for a company is only going to pay that large of a sum if they really need the talent and really cannot find a U.S. engineer to do the job.

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But that's more or less the status quo isn't it?

at least with respect to low-wage positions, anyway. I'm not up to speed on the details of white collar immigration policy, and in any event you spent a lot of time focusing (rightly) on impacts to low income and minority communities in your post.

But the status quo exemplifies the rub, doesn't it. A legal system so completely sideways to reality on the ground that pouring money into enforcement you might as well torch mountains of cash in the town square to better results . . . at least you could roast marshmallows. A permanent grey market of untaxed, unregulated activity.

I dunno, I'm not claiming answers, myself. I just struggle with how you swim upstream against issues like this that have proven historically resistant to enforcement efforts, even in this case the political reality is even more intractable against strong enforcement mechanisms that would be seen as targeting the political demographic-du-jour. Like marijuana, except politically no one's historically been afraid of stoners :)

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Not at all workers displaced

No, not at all, workers are displaced by foreign guest workers and there are many cases where workers had to train their replacements before being fired.

There is a whole "industry" processing foreign guest workers and overall they are cheaper so business can labor arbitrage. They also commit age discrimination, race discrimination (against U.S. domestic diversity) and sex discrimination.

Age is most common because they believe older people are not so submissive and it is perceived they are more expensive, although neither is true.

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