Saturday, November 28, 2020

Is Illegal Immigration an obstacle to employment for native low skill workers?

Sources: After Mississippi ICE raids, job fair draws hopeful workers, Pew Research Center: 5 Facts about illegal immigration, Associated Press, Pew Hispanic, Out of Prison Out of Jobs: Unemployment among formerly incarcerated people

I should probably preface this by stating that I am not anti-immigrant or anti-immigration. I would not exist without immigration specifically second and third wave immigration from Europe. I am however a firm supporter of mandatory e-verify and immigration enforcement in the workplace in general. It's as logical as requiring criminal background checks on job candidates which is pretty crucial in certain professions (e.g. childcare, seniorcare, finance etc.). Furthermore, I don't think anyone can say without a shadow of a doubt that illegal immigration has no negative externalities. If the only thing that illegal immigration entailed was crossing the border without authorization no reasonable person would find it that objectionable, but that isn't the case.The man who murder University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts had unathorized employment at nearby Yarrabee Farms. Illegal immigration carries with it the crimminal enterprises of drug trafficking, human trafficking, identity theft and benefit fraud. More commonly though illegal aliens or illegal foreign workers engage in document fraud, especially forging social security cards and driver's licenses to secure employment in the U.S. None of these crimes are victimless and more often than not the same people are engaged in multiple criminal enterprises i.e. such as forging official documents and drug trafficking. The detrimental affects of illegal immigration are self-evident to anyone with half a brain, but whether illegal foreign workers cost low skill native workers job opportunties is not obvious, but it makes sense intuitively. As I noted in Tennessee slaughterhouse owner charged for employing illegal aliens the 8 million or so illegal foreign workers in the U.S. only make up 5% of the U.S. labor force but are disproportionately represented in low skilled occupations within agriculture (24%), construction (15%), factory work (8%) and the service sector (8%). In this particular case the employer knowingly hired illegal aliens, paid them $6 per hour under the table, and saved 1.3 million in payroll taxes and probably much more by violating OSHA standards. The corporate media's conventional wisdom is that these are jobs Americans are unwilling to do, but a more recent workplace sting operation that led to the arrest of several hundred illegal foreign workers employed at a poultry processing plant in Morton, Mississippi was immediately accompanied by a career fair in which hundreds of unemployed and low skill local workers applied for employment at the plant. Unsurprisingly, these same illegal aliens were prosecuted for fraudulently using the social security numbers of American citizens and forging immigration documents. Poultry processing plants are notorious for having hazardous work environments and admittedly began recruiting "cheaper and docile" foreign labor in the 1990's perhaps owing to the fact that they wanted to cut down on labor costs (as all good capitalists do). While middle class Americans certainly wouldn't be willing to work in any of the tedious low skilled jobs in agriculture, construction, factory work, or the service sector there are certain underclass segments of our population who desperately need gainful employment. The first group that comes to mind are ex-cons who have an unemployment rate nearly five times greater than the general public (about 27% on average) and experience double digit unemployment four years or more after being released from prison (13.6%). The situation is even more dire for black women and men released from prison as they experience much higher unemployment rates of 43.6% and 35.2% respectively than their white counterparts (23.2% for white women and 18.4% for white women). Most ex-cons have no technical skills and low educational attainment, in fact, most haven't even graduated high school so a low skilled job would probably be their only second chance at life. Chronically homeless persons also experience chronic unemployment and like ex-cons are more likely to be low skilled workers and much less likely to have completed High school than the general population. So instead of employing the underclass of other countries perhaps we should provide those jobs to our own marginalized populations (along with public housing).

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