Immigration bill hurts unemployed

The Argus Observer
Immigration bill hurts unemployed

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 10:32 am | Updated: 10:37 am, Tue Aug 27, 2013.

Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joining the Gang of Eight in the passage of Senate Bill 744 (S.744), termed comprehensive immigration reform by some, amnesty by others, is unconscionable legislation considering the United States’ July seasonally adjusted number of 12.1 million unemployed citizens; 7.4 percent of the country’s civilian labor force.

According to the “February 1, 2011 Pew Hispanic Center, Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010” there are 8 million unauthorized workers in the U.S.

With so many unemployed American citizens looking for jobs and 8 million unauthorized workers currently holding the jobs many citizens will do, the U.S. Senate’s legislation at best seems oblivious to the plight of the unemployed in this country.

Two of the negative consequences of S. 744 are reveled in a June 2013 Congressional Budget Office report which indicates the legislation will cause unemployment to increase through 2020 and average wages to decline through 2025.

An evaluation of the seasonally adjusted unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, News Release from August 19, 2013 titled “Regional and State Employment and Unemployment — July” reveals unemployment rates in the states represented by the Gang of Eight plus their two Oregonian senatorial sidekicks: Oregon 8.0 percent; Arizona 8.0 percent; Colorado 7.1 percent; Florida 7.1 percent; Illinois 9.2 percent; New Jersey 8.6 percent; New York 7.5 percent; and South Carolina 8.1 percent. Six of the preceding eight states had a higher percentage of unemployed than the national average.

During the summer congressional recess, when Sens. Merkley and Wyden return to Oregon, the Senators should take a look at the number of unemployed in the state and unemployment numbers of the individual counties they choose visit across the state.

The Oregon Department of Employment reported 158,645 citizens were unemployed in July; the state ranked 10th tied with Arizona for the percentage of unemployed.

Locally, Malheur County’s 1,094 unemployed in July equated to 8.7 percent of the county’s work force.

Including Malheur, 28 of 36 Oregon counties (77.8 percent of the states counties) in July had a higher unemployment rate than the national average of 7.4 percent.

According to the Pew report, there are an estimated 110,000 unauthorized workers in Oregon.

If S. 744 is passed by both sides of Congress and signed into law by the president, the addition of 110,000 unauthorized workers into the state’s civilian labor force, if the CBO report is right, will likely increase unemployment in Oregon. This would be a setback for a state still mired and struggling to come out of a severe recession.

Hopefully, the U.S. House of Representatives will take a more incremental approach to any type of immigration reform and first pass standalone legislation requiring a federally mandated national employment verification system like E-Verify, which the federal government currently uses on all its new hires.

During the congressional recess, Oregon’s 158,645 unemployed U.S. citizens should contact Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, and tell them Oregonians should never have to compete for scarce jobs now or in the future with people illegally in the country; and furthermore, the U.S. Congress passing a standalone federally mandated E-Verify system is the best way to get those unemployed in the state and across the country back to full-time employment.

David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime.

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