Politics

Home-state unemployment higher for ‘gang of eight’ immigration senators

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The pending Senate immigration bill is expected to let American companies hire many foreign workers, even though roughly 6.5 million low-skill American workers are already unemployed in the home-states of the bill’s eight co-sponsors.

The states’ unemployment “averaged 21.7 percent for less-educated citizens … [and is] even higher than the 18.3 percent average in the other 43 states,” said the March 21 report by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Nationally, 27.6 million Americans who never attended a day of college were still unemployed or had given up looking for jobs in 2012, said the study’s author, Steve Camarota, the research director at the center.

“It is a huge number,” even though it excludes millions of additional teenagers, college students and college dropouts, said Camarota, whose center wants to cut in half today’s annual immigration flow of 1 million people.

The bill’s contents are still secret, although Democratic senators have suggested the bill will be quickly debated once the senators return from Easter recess.

Advocates for large-scale immigration, however, say that the immigration bill will help Americans by spurring the economy.

Several of the senators drafting the bill have said it will alleviate business’ complaints about a shortage of workers by providing work permits to many new guest workers. In February, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham reportedly told a South Carolina audience that he was “trying to save our nation from, I think, a shortage of labor and a catastrophic broken system.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing the senators to approve an additional inflow of 400,000 skilled and unskilled workers.

The bill would eventually create at least 159,000 new jobs per year by giving residency — and eventually citizenship — to the 11 million unauthorized migrants already in the country, predicted Robert Lynch, an economist at the Center for American Progress, which advocates policies that help professionals.

The migrants would gradually get a wage boost of roughly 15 percent after they’re legalized, because they would be protected by workplace regulations and could be more productive, Lynch said.

In turn, their extra wages would spur additional spending, investment and hiring, he told The Daily Caller.