Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jobs and Immigration Reform

With the jobless rate at a 25 years high, the debate on immigration reform will turn much on the issue of jobs. Do the undocumented take jobs away from American workers? Especially in these hard times? Immigration advocates argue "not really" because the undocumented and American workers are not competing for the same jobs. There has been not stampede in these hard times of out-of-work Americans to chicken plucking jobs or busing tables. Perhaps on construction sites. Still opponents of reform use the stark total -- over 9% official unemployment -- to shore up an exclusionary argument. But the job market is more nuanced than aggregate numbers. There some jobs that are unattractive to even the jobless. A more credible argument the opponent of reform use is that the very presence of the undocumented in the workforce brings down all workers wages. But advocates argue more persuasively that going after greedy employers looking for cheap labor or bring the undocumented out of shadows to demand fair treatment would be more effective and lasting. Still there is conflicting evidence on the impact of the undocumented on employment. (See Chicago Tribune article.)

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