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What Trump could have said about illegal immigration and the middle class

July 16, 2015

                                                           Published on


Donald Trump could have made a more powerful case about illegal immigration, if only one of his interns had had the stamina to wade through the mind-numbing data readily available from federal and private sources.

What the data makes startlingly clear is that unfettered immigration of any origin not only endangers us all because of porous security controls, it dilutes the existing labor force and displaces native Blacks, Whites, and Hispanic-Latinos. Because illegals are willing to work at lower wage rates, low-skilled Americans are pushed into unemployment and eventually, welfare and a lifetime of certain poverty.

Supervisors and support personnel for “unauthorized” immigrants (as DHS calls them) receive lower salaries, as do occupants of several layers of above and around them. How do I know this? Nearly fifty years ago when I was a college freshman working a summer job in the Ford Lorain plant and complaining to my father (who despite the lack of a college education had worked his way up several management layers) about how the UAW controlled the plants, he said, “But son, when they get a raise, we do, too.” Because that principle works in reverse, the bottom rungs of the American Middle Class have fallen away, and a permanent underclass of low and semi-skilled workers and their supervisors now struggle to give their families what used to be modest life needs only a generation ago.

Consider these siftings:

·       Something that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have in common is that of the 11.5 million “unauthorized immigrants” in the US as of January 2011, each administration permitted over three million to enter during the periods 1995-1999 and 2000-2004, respectively (Department of Homeland Security).

·       As of 2000, “unauthorized” immigrants amounted to 8.5 million, and is just under 12 million today (DHS).

·       The annual cost “in outlays for services and benefits to illegal aliens and their families” is about $113 billion (Federation for American Immigration Reform).

·       Meanwhile, private employer costs for employee compensation averaged $31.65 per hour in March 2015, but for state and local government employees, it was $44.25 (BLS).

·       Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees rose, cumulatively, 24% from 2001 to 2008, but only 17% from 2008 to 2015 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

·       As of 2012, foreign-born persons with less than a high school diploma earned $75-100 less per week than native peers and those with a HS diploma but no college (at all) earned about $100 less than their peers (BLS).

·       Black unemployment was at a low of 7.7% in February 2001, then went to 16.8% in March 2010, and was 9.5% in June 2015. The low for Hispanic-Latinos in the same 15-year period was 5% in December 2006, the high was 12.9% for several months in 2010, and 6.6% in June (BLS).

·       According to Chapman & Bernstein in 2003, “poverty rates fell faster for immigrants than for natives.” In fact, the national poverty rates for immigrants in the 1994-2000 period fell 4 times as fast than for natives. Median family incomes for that same group rose over 26% in that same timeframe (Economic Policy Institute).

·       An ICE “Key Finding” for 2014 was that of the 486,651 apprehensions nationwide—nearly all of them along the southwest border—468,407 were from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, while state and local law enforcement agencies refused to honor 10,182 ICE detainers (as in San Francisco’s Lopez-Sanchez).

This data should begin to convince everyone but the sanctuary-minded that Blacks, Latinos (legitimate and undocumented), and Middle Class persons of all origins have a dog in this fight: secure the borders to control and manage illegal immigration, thus uplifting and the lives of the majority of U.S. residents, no matter their origin, ethnicity, or birthright.

Warren is a commentator as well as author of Turnover and TurnAround, political thrillers about presidential politics.

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