Immigration Hurt American Workers the Term Paper

  • Length: 12 pages
  • Subject: American History
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #8867574

Excerpt from Term Paper :

This is a deducted consequence of the inability of the market to absorb all the immigrants coming every year in the country. More precisely, "the number of immigrants -- legal and illegal -- living in the U.S., is growing at an unprecedented rate. U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that 1.6 million legal and illegal immigrants settle in the country each year. In 2006, the immigrant, or foreign-born population, reached about 38 million in the United States" (Camarota, 2007). The ones who manage to find jobs and employment in the United States tend to impact the legal labor market. The ones that do not find proper employment places influence by increasing the number of people working on the black market. These are mostly illegal immigrants and recent analyses have shown that out of the 38 million people that was of foreign origin in 2006 in America, 12 million of them were illegal immigrants. It is clear in this sense that in the conditions in which they do not poses any kind of identification and visa, they are not allowed to work in the United States and they choose the black market to find means for subsistence.

One other major issue concerning the matter of immigration and the degree in which immigrant workers affect the United States and its employment system is the pressures the former make on the welfare system. It is a rather well-known fact the idea that the welfare policy in the United States, as all over the world, represents an essential political and social element. This is due to the fact that it must take into account the political directions of the forces in power at a certain given time and at the same time it must cater for the needs of the population. Therefore, in the case of the United States, the social policy must take into account, aside from the political aspect, the issue of the population which in its case is more complex than in other regions of the world. The presence of an increased number of immigrants represents indeed a struggle for the social security system as it was considered that they are depending on the welfare system. In this sense, "given the low educational levels of most recent immigrants, we would expect them to be a greater drain on public coffers than the immigrants who came before them. (...) in 1997 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) estimated that immigrant households consumed $20 billion more in public services than they paid in taxes each year. Adjusted for inflation, with the current size of the immigrant population today, this figure would be over $40 billion. Immigrants from Latin America place an especially heavy burden on American taxpayers. For example, 57% of household headed by Dominican immigrants in 2004 used at least one major welfare program; 43% of Mexicans took advantage of at least one welfare program; and about a third of the households headed by immigrants from Central America, Cuba and Columbia use the welfare system. In contrast only 18% of native households receive welfare assistance" (Camarota, 2007). Therefore, from this perspective, it can be clearly said that there is a certain pressure in regard to the matter of social welfare and the particular programs that try to help immigrant to integrate in the society.

Finally, studies have been conducted in relation to the eventual harm the continuous flow of immigrants can have on either older immigrants or the minorities. It was concluded that, indeed, there is a certain pressure put on recent immigrants and the African-Americans, the Hispanic, or even the Chinese. In this sense, "virtually all studies of this phenomenon have concluded that the greatest harm is to those American workers who already are the most vulnerable (...) native-born minorities, especially Hispanics and Blacks, and by recent immigrants" (Camarota, 2007). In order to constitute a better image of the situation, the conclusions were placed in figures. Therefore, "the increasing supply of labor, immigration between 1980 and 2000 cost native-born American men an average $1,700 in annual wages by the year 2000. However, the effects of immigration on wages were most profoundly felt by native-born black and Hispanic-Americans who suffered 4.5-5% wage reductions as compared with the 3.5% wage loss felt by native-born white Americans" (Jencks, n.d.).

On the other side of the discussion, those who argue in favor of the immigration of workers inside the U.S. consider part of these arguments and at the same time try to bring new ones that would make their case stronger.

In the first instance, it must be pointed out the fact that indeed, the American nation can be considered to be a nation of immigrants because the number of Europeans that first set foot on the American soli could not have supported the development desires of the 19th century as well as the eventual pressures of the political scene of the century. Therefore, the presence of immigrants in the early decades of the formation of the nation was important and proved to be a benefic element in the overall construction of the United States (Jenkins, 1997). Briggs stresses this point out by arguing the importance of the immigrant population. Thus, "throughout its first 133 years as an independent nation (1788-1921), there were no limits on the number of immigrants who could enter the United States each year. It was the period when the combination of a political and military revolution (from Britain); land purchases (from France, Spain, Mexico, and Russia); boundary negotiations (with Britain); war (with Mexico and Spain); unilateral annexation (of the Hawaiian Islands); and land treaties accompanied by the physical relocation of the native "Indian" population established all of the land boundaries that presently constitute the United States" (Briggs, 1992, 31). Therefore, this comes to show that in the beginning, indeed, the immigrant population represented the founding structure of the labor force.

In trying to debate the issue of immigration, those arguing its negative aspects in regard to the employment rate of the native born workers are responded to with various studies that point out the fact that the decrease in the employment of native born workers would not be the consequence of the employment of immigrant workers. More precisely, "U.S.-born workers did well in some states where the foreign-born population rose rapidly, as well as in other states where growth was below average. They did poorly in places that drew immigrants at a fast rate, but they also did poorly in places that drew few immigrants. Nothing has emerged to conclude that increased immigration helped or hurt the employment prospects for native workers" (the Guardian, 2007). The obvious thing to underline however is the fact that indeed, there is no clear evidence to suggest that the immigrant presence decreased the possibilities of native born workers to find employment. At the same time however, it must also be pointed out that the tone of the arguments is not one sided, in the sense that there is room for interpretation, whereas throughout the arguments of the opposing side, the tone is much more aggressive and the evidence is based strictly on facts and figures which although they cannot be denied, they can be interpreted.

The supporters of a loose immigration policy often argued in support of it that one of the benefits of the import of workers is the accumulation of labor force for posts which do not require high level skills. In this sense, while the opponents of immigration argue that immigrants affect the position of less skilled and less educated workers, the supporters argue the contrary that in fact "foreign workers often take jobs that Americans don't want and won't take" (Associated Press, 2006). Therefore, it can be said that there is not so much the issue of the competition between the immigrants and the native workers. It is more the reluctance of the native workers to take on jobs that in the end are essential to the lives of the Americans. In this sense, one cannot talk about one immigrant worker being better than the native one in the conditions in which the native rarely cares for a job accepted by the immigrant precisely because of the low pay and the somewhat degrading endeavor. Regardless of their actual reasons, it can be concluded that in fact, there is no discussion of a competition, rather than a lack of interest for jobs immigrants are willing to do.

Another argument invoked by the opponents of a loose immigration policy is the idea that immigrants tend to affect the well being of most young workers. However, this category includes precisely the low qualified and not those who had followed their studies and attained a high quality university degree or other high level education diploma. The phenomenon related to the idea that immigrants take away the jobs of the young American workers can be considered somewhat farfetched, taking into account…

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