The case for an immigration moratorium
By Virgil Goode
When Barack Obama completely ignored the problem of uncontrolled immigration during his Jobs Summit, my former colleague Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued the following statement that was signed by 21 conservative Republican congressmen:
With a 10 percent unemployment rate, now is the time for the Obama administration to stand up for citizens and legal immigrant workers. Now is the time for the President to enforce immigration laws. When the jobs stolen by illegal immigrants are recovered for citizens and legal workers, American workers will benefit. President Obama could create eight million jobs for citizens and legal workers simply by enforcing immigration laws.
I applaud Cngressman Smith for standing up against illegal immigration, but we need to go a step further to protect displaced American workers. The first priority of our government needs to be the interests of American citizens—both native born and naturalized—not “legal immigrant workers.” And the 25 million American citizens out of work are not only pushed out by illegal aliens, but also by certain legal immigrants.
Even if we completely stopped illegal immigration tomorrow, the government still issues 75,000 permanent work visas and approximately 50,000 temporary work visas every month. These 125,000 jobs should go to Americans first.
The Census Bureau has released an analysis on the immigrant make up of the American workforce. They found that nearly one out of every six workers is foreign born. This is the highest number since the early 1920s, at which point Congress significantly reduced immigration levels that continued until Ted Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act. Immigrants only accounted for five percent of the workforce when Kennedy’s bill passed.
Since the economic crisis began over a year ago, there’s been no discussion about reducing total immigration levels and we’ve allowed over 1.5 million new legal foreign workers in the country.
As Pat Buchanan recently wrote, “probably twice as many jobs have been taken by these folks as the 650,000 the Obamaites claim were saved or created by their $787 billion stimulus package.”
What should we do? Roy Beck of the non-partisan Numbers USA testified at a Congressional Forum where he recommended we “cut the 75,000 each month as close to zero as possible as long as the overall U-3 unemployment rate remains above, say, 5%. … The numbers demand the introduction of legislation to suspend the issuance of as many permanent work visas as possible during this Jobs Depression.”
This policy is a no-brainer. It is pure madness to continue to keep flooding our country with millions of foreign workers when our own citizens cannot find jobs. It is time for a moratorium.
An immigration moratorium does not mean we will not allow a single immigrant into this country. We would still welcome spouses of U.S. citizens, people of extraordinary ability, and few other immigration categories. However, we should cut off employment based work permits until Americans are back on their feet.
Once that happens—and it never will if we continue our failed immigration policies—then we can have a discussion about what the proper levels of immigration should be. We should have had that in 1965, but did not because Ted Kennedy and his friends wrongly stated the effects of the 1965 Immigration Act.
At the time, Kennedy claimed that his bill would not “cause American workers to lose their jobs” and that “our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually.”
45 years later, over a million of immigrants come into our country every year causing millions of American workers to lose their jobs. With unemployment above 10%, no one can say with a straight face that “immigrants are doing the jobs Americans won’t do.” Without that justification, a moratorium is just plain old common sense.
Virgil Goode represented Virginia’s 5th Congressional District from 1997 until 2009.