Since 2000, roughly 14 million new legal and illegal immigrants have entered the country, boosting the foreign-born population to 40 million out of 310 million. Average salaries and the number of jobs in the country declined during this period, leaving the nation with at least 14 million unemployed people in 2011, and an expanding gap between the wealthy and the poor, many of whom are new immigrants reliant on government services.
Immigration is a hot-button issue, despite media coverage that focuses on the new immigration reform laws established in South Carolina, Arizona and Alabama.
For example, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has seen his rating slide from favorite to third-ranking candidate once primary voters responded to his claim that it is “heartless” to oppose free tuition for illegal immigrants, despite growing class sizes and widening deficits among state and local governments.
Perry had been expected to keep his lead in the race, partly because his free-market policies have helped the state create roughly 40 percent of the nation’s new jobs between 2007 and 2011.
But roughly 40 percent of those new Texas jobs have gone to illegal immigrants, and another 40 percent went to legal immigrants, according to an in-depth study by the Center for immigration Studies. The study also showed a decline in the percentage of native-born Texas who were employed. Immigrants gained many of the new jobs, partly because they can relocate to new opportunities much easier than native Americans, who are often reliant on neighbors friends and family for financial and social support.
In South Carolina, the unemployment rate is at least 11 percent.