Napolitano’s Remarks Ignore Evidence About Immigration’s Economic Impact

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s comments to reporters yesterday that the economic downturn could pose a substantial hurdle to passing immigration reform legislation this year suggests that the Obama administration (and Congress) may be more influenced by politics than economic reality.

“When unemployment is up, anything that looks like you’re taking jobs away from … people who are lawfully here — citizens of the United States — is going to meet a lot of resistance,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters Tuesday morning.

Although acknowledging that anti-illegal immigrant sentiment may have eased due to decreased immigration — also the result of the economic slump — she said that “In balancing those things, I think it makes it more difficult.”

As Politico notes, it was the first time the administration acknowledged the difficulties that any comprehensive immigration reform that includes legalization will face in Congress due to the growing unemployment rate. But the comment also ignored the growing body of evidence suggesting that legalization of undocumented immigrants already here is likely to help rather than hurt the economy.

In late April, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan testified to just that. And in a new study released yesterday based on census bureau data, the Immigration Policy Center showed that there is no relationship between the number of recent immigrants into a particular area and the unemployment rate there among native-born workers.

“We commissioned this report in order to take a serious look at whether or not immigration is in fact impacting unemployment among the native-born and what we have found is that scary rhetoric is no substitute for good data,” said Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Law Foundation, in a statement released yesterday. “These findings are in line with other long-term studies conducted around the world which have shown that immigration has very little impact on native unemployment.”

As I’ve written before, a host of recent studies show that legalization of undocumented workers already in the United States tends to raise wages and working conditions for all workers, increases tax revenues, and puts more cash in the hands of more people who are then able to invest in homes, cars and other things that help stimulate the economy. Although restrictionist groups often cite studies showing that legalizing poorly-educated illegal workers causes the government to spend more on their benefits, they usually ignore findings in the same studies that show immigration brings an overall long-term benefit to the economy.

Immigrant advocacy groups hope the growing number of studies providing hard numbers in their favor will help persuade lawmakers to pass a comprehensive immigration bill that will provide a path to legalization for many of the 11 million or so undocumented workers already living in the United States. (Studies show that while fewer immigrants are coming here now, those already here aren’t going home.) But Napolitano’s statement may reflect the reality that what makes good politics isn’t always the same as what makes good sense.

Comments

7 Comments

24AheadDotCom
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

Daphne Eviatar has completed her transformation from moderately biased reporter into full-on hack.

There's no “growing body of evidence”, simply biased studies and statements from those who have an “interest” in the matter. For instance, one of the groups she hypes above is linked to the AILA, and their members have a direct financial interest in “reform”.

As for Greenspan, he was promoting profiting from illegal activity and, given everything he's done in the past, perhaps we should take his current advice with a huge grain of salt.

It's a simple fact that with millions of Americans unemployed, increasing deportations would have a net economic benefit as those on unemployment can take the jobs formerly held by illegal aliens. That's the American thing to do and the best public policy. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that immigration lawyers and Soros-funded pseudo-papers would turn their backs on American citizens, and the small number of readers of this site should return the favor.


HernandezUSA
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

Big Ditto!!!

The only Evidence we have is that there 14 million unemployed Americans and 30 Million Criminal illegal aliens.

The only reform we need is Actual Enforcement of our Current laws for then next 20 years, then we can decide we need to update the immigration laws.


christopher
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

and send back to bangawhore all the H-1B visa holders being pimped by Tata and Infosys at the TARP WELFARE QUEENS data and call centers for starters.


christopher
Comment posted May 20, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

Greenspan??? didn't he mess enough things up miss eviatar?


Target
Comment posted May 21, 2009 @ 10:35 am

One can always count on reasoned analysis in comments to stories like this.

The issues and the state of the law are complicated and people are fearful, so they lash out. There are a broad variety of studies out there that support legalization/amnesty, and those against. There are also studies that support more skilled immigration, and those against. I would hope that this country's leadership would exercise judgment based upon a complete review of the data, not the voices of the mail a brick crowd.


James1939
Comment posted June 5, 2009 @ 11:58 am

Dear Ms. Eviatar:

These are not “immigrants” at all, undocumented or otherwise. Immigrants show up at the gate with a visa and papers. Your immigrants are actually criminals – approximately 20 million of them. Calling them immigrants does a supreme disservice to those who did follow the law. Our country was built on the hard work, dedication and honesty of immigrants.

Whether these criminals are taking any jobs from citizens or not is quite beside the point. They are in the USA illegally. If they wish to work here, get a work visa.

One supposes that you are a reporter? Instead of plodding along as merely a reporter, try being a journalist, one with an investigative bent. Go back to the two organizations you espoused: the Immigration Policy Center and American Immigration Law Foundation – then follow the money. Please. You will find their funding perhaps tainted or, worse, is tied to an agenda that has amnesty for these 20 million illegals as a goal.

Laws are not a suggestion about behavior. You, Ms. Eviatar, ought to be ashamed of yourself. If you have children and raise them on suggestions, you will get the behavior deserved. But illegal aliens deserve to be ousted.

James Moore


James1939
Comment posted June 5, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

Dear Ms. Eviatar:

These are not “immigrants” at all, undocumented or otherwise. Immigrants show up at the gate with a visa and papers. Your immigrants are actually criminals – approximately 20 million of them. Calling them immigrants does a supreme disservice to those who did follow the law. Our country was built on the hard work, dedication and honesty of immigrants.

Whether these criminals are taking any jobs from citizens or not is quite beside the point. They are in the USA illegally. If they wish to work here, get a work visa.

One supposes that you are a reporter? Instead of plodding along as merely a reporter, try being a journalist, one with an investigative bent. Go back to the two organizations you espoused: the Immigration Policy Center and American Immigration Law Foundation – then follow the money. Please. You will find their funding perhaps tainted or, worse, is tied to an agenda that has amnesty for these 20 million illegals as a goal.

Laws are not a suggestion about behavior. You, Ms. Eviatar, ought to be ashamed of yourself. If you have children and raise them on suggestions, you will get the behavior deserved. But illegal aliens deserve to be ousted.

James Moore


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