U.S. Senate’s immigration legislation hurts Arizona’s unemployed
September 20, 2013
By David Olen Cross
Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both know as members of the “Gang of Eight,” voting for the passage of Senate Bill 744 (S.744), termed comprehensive immigration reform by some, amnesty by others, is unconscionable 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 8.0 million unauthorized workers in the U.S.
With so many unemployed American citizens looking for jobs and 8.0 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 revealed in a June 2013 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 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 (BLS), 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”: 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. Five of the preceding seven gang member states had a higher percentage of unemployed than the national average.
Apparently, when Senators McCain and Flake have returned home from Washington D.C. to Arizona over the last five years they have failed to take a look at the number of unemployed in the state.
The BLS reported 241,700 citizens were unemployed in July; the state ranked 10th tied with Oregon for the percentage of unemployed.
Back to the Pew Hispanic Center report: according to the Pew report, there are an estimated 230,000 unauthorized workers in Arizona; 7.4 percent of the state’s total labor force.
If S.744 is passed by both sides of congress and signed into law by the president, the addition of 230,000 unauthorized workers into the state’s civilian labor force, if the CBO report is right, will likely increase unemployment in Arizona. This would be a setback for a state still mired and struggling to come out of a severe recession.
The U.S. House of Representatives will hopefully 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.
As Congress returns from its recess, Arizona’s 241,700 unemployed U.S. citizens should contact Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, along with all the state’s Reps., Ron Barber, Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Ed Pastor, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert and Kyrsten Sinema, and tell them Arizonians should never have to compete for scarce jobs now or in the future with persons illegally in the country; and furthermore, the U.S. Congress passing a standalone federally mandated E-Verify system is best way to get those unemployed in the state and across the country back to fulltime work.
David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues (firstname.lastname@example.org).