Latino Immigrants Among Hardest Hit by Recession
In reporting on my story today about the behind-the-scenes battle over requiring employers receiving stimulus money to weed out undocumented workers by using E-Verify, I heard lots of complaints about all the illegal immigrants that have flooded the country and taken the jobs that ought to be going to hardworking Americans.
“We have millions of people in this country working illegally,” says Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Far more people will lose their jobs due to illegal aliens than could lose [them] due to an error in the [computer] system,” he said, referring to the E-Verify system. “The employers got up one day and said, ‘why retain them if we can hire illegal aliens cheaper?’ ”
Well, this study released today by the Pew Research Center at least raises some serious questions about those claims. Turns out, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, that Latino immigrants — legal and illegal — are losing their jobs more rapidly than just about anyone else.
While U.S.-born Latinos and blacks have also been hit hard by the recession, according to the Pew Study, it’s the foreign-born that are the worst off. From Pew:
The unemployment rate for foreign-born Hispanics increased from 5.1% to 8.0%, or by 2.9 percentage points, from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008. During this same time period, the unemployment rate for all persons in the labor market increased from 4.6% to 6.6%, or by 2.0 percentage points.
This may be due in part to the sharp decline in construction work, where Latino immigrants play a large role. Still, the stimulus bill has got major anti-illegal immigration groups worried that money for new construction work means more work for all those illegal immigrants.
“If there is a job creation program that succeeds,” says Mehlman, “it will create a magnet for illegal aliens. They come if they believe that they’re going to benefit. If you are creating jobs and not taking any steps to ensure they only go to legal U.S. workers, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Of course, as I explained in my story today, the solution he’s advocating – the use of a flawed government-run computer system called E-Verify – wouldn’t do much to ensure that those illegal workers don’t just steal a Social Security number and get a fake ID card. And, it would accidentally exclude millions of legal workers, especially the foreign-born.
There must be a better way.