WASHINGTON – The consensus of the political elite is that opposition to immigration, both legal and illegal, is a losing issue for Republicans in 2016 because it would cost them votes.
Many GOP analysts believe presidential candidates need to support immigration to get crucial Hispanic votes.
But evidence shows opposition to immigration may be a winning issue for the GOP.
In fact, it might even help rebuild the Reagan coalition.
That’s because research and polling have shown the negative effects and unpopularity of increased immigration among all races, including Hispanics, and among people in every income level but the very top:
- Union members
- Blue-collar workers
- White-collar workers
- Small business owners
- Business executives
“This is a winning issue,” former U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., asserted to WND.
“Working Americans want to see us hit the pause button on immigration, as we did from the 1920s for decades, as America sought to assimilate decades of immigration, and that was without a welfare state. Stand up for the American worker, wages and jobs, prioritizing our people first. That’s a winning issue every time.”
And the polls bear out her claims.
In fact, polls show it is such a winning issue, it may be hard to fathom why the GOP has not seized upon opposition to increased immigration as one of its top priorities.
- A Reuters poll found Americans, by an almost 3 to 1 margin, wish to see immigration reduced, not increased; 45 percent want to see a reduction, 17 percent want to see an increase and 38 percent think it should stay the same.
- 63 percent said immigrants are a burden on the economy.
- 70 percent believed illegal immigration threatens traditional U.S. beliefs and customs.
- Gallup found 60 percent are dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the country today. That was an increase of six percentage points from 2014.
- A Pew poll showed 69 percent want to restrict and control immigration rates. That included 72 percent of whites, 66 percent of blacks, and, significantly, 59 percent of Hispanics.
- Princeton Survey Research Associates found 61 percent want to restrict the number of highly skilled foreign workers entering the country.
- And, despite the constant refrain from big business that it hires immigrants because there are jobs “Americans won’t do,” the Polling Company found overwhelming support for raising wages rather than filling jobs by recruiting foreigners, by a margin of 75 percent to 8 percent.
- That overwhelming support was found among Hispanics, African-Americans, Republicans and Democrats.
When asked, “If U.S. businesses have trouble finding workers, what should happen?” respondents were given two choices:
Those who agreed with “They should raise wages and improve working conditions to attract Americans”:
- 86 percent of blacks
- 71 percent of Hispanics
- 73 percent of whites
- 74 percent of Republicans
- 79 percent of Democrats
- 74 percent of Independents
Those who agreed with “More immigrant workers should be allowed into the country to fill these jobs”:
- 3 percent of blacks
- 11 percent of Hispanics
- 8 percent of whites
- 6 percent of Republicans
- 8 percent of Democrats
- 8 percent of Independents
But raising wages and improving working conditions to attract Americans to fill jobs is not what is happening.
According to Bureau of Labor statistics, almost all of the new jobs created in the U.S. economy from 2000 to 2014 went to foreign-born workers.
And Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said he knows why.
Writing in the New York Times in response to an editorial, Sessions asked, “Why would many of the largest business groups in the United States spend millions lobbying for the admission of more foreign workers if such policies did not cut labor costs?”
He also observed the Times’ editorial, “like almost all arguments made in favor of large-scale immigration, provides no numbers,” and that since 2000, “Another 18 million immigrants have arrived in the United States, while the share of Americans in the work force has declined almost five percentage points.”
The unpopularity of increased immigration among voters could make it a winning issue, but GOP candidates would have to overcome the narrative among the mainstream media and political leaders of both parties that such opposition is wrong and even bigoted.
When Donald Trump recently spoke up about the negative effects of illegal immigration he was vilified in the press and by several GOP presidential candidates but shot up to the top of the polls in the race for the nomination.
Ann Coulter’s scathing indictment of immigration “Adios Ameica” immediately rocketed to No. 1 on Amazon’s list of political bestsellers, but no one will debate her on the topic, except Geraldo Rivera.
Coulter has consistently pointed out the facts and figures argue against increased immigration, and has called for a moratorium on both legal and illegal immigration for more than a year.
In her most recent column, titled, “Media hide facts, call everyone else a liar,” Coulter wrote, “When Donald Trump said something not exuberantly enthusiastic about Mexican immigrants, the media’s response was to boycott him. One thing they didn’t do was produce any facts showing he was wrong.”
Perhaps the most pertinent fact not often heard in the media narrative that America “has always been a nation of immigrants” is the inaccuracy of the popular belief that current immigration levels are nothing new, and are generally the same as they’ve always been.
In fact, the number of immigrants flooding into the country today dwarfs anything in U.S. history.
- During the peak of the last great wave of immigration between 1920 and 1930, 14.2 million foreigners arrived in America.
- 40 million immigrants arrived between 2000 and 2010.
- 47 million more are expected by the end of this decade.
- That number jumps to 78 million a decade by the year 2060.
As WND has reported, the U.S. is experiencing an immigration explosion never before seen in its history:
- According to U.S. Census numbers, immigration averaged only 195,000 per year from 1921 through 1970.
- With the change in immigration law in 1965, immigration levels skyrocketed from an average of 250,000 to one million a year.
- The number of foreign-born persons in the U.S. has doubled from 1990 to 2010, almost tripled since 1980, and quadrupled since 1970.
A graph of the numbers over the years vividly illustrates just how different today’s astronomical immigration levels are from the historic norm, and where they are heading, on a record-shattering pace.
A large body of evidence shows the glut of immigrants is hurting American workers across the board, except for the most affluent.
And the numbers suggest Republicans might make inroads with many of the workers who once comprised the Reagan coalition, by strongly opposing immigration.
Union leaders support amnesty and massive immigration but union members do not.
The AFL-CIO once opposed amnesty because of the negative effects of illegal immigration upon wages and unemployment rates, but now looks at the onslaught of foreign workers as a way to replenish dwindling membership.
And, suddenly, anyone who opposes that is a racist.
“The voices against immigration reform, if you brush everything else aside, are really colored by bigotry,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in March.
By that standard, an overwhelming majority of the union members Trumka represents are bigots.
A Zogby poll found:
- 63 percent of union households said immigration is too high; 5 percent said too low; 14 percent said just right.
- 58 percent said deportation laws should be enforced; 28 percent supported the legalization of illegal immigrants.
- 10 percent said immigration should be increased to fill unskilled job openings; 72 percent said plenty of Americans are available, employers just need to pay more.
- 13 percent said illegal immigration is caused by strict legal immigration laws; 74 percent said it was because of inadequate enforcement efforts.
A national survey on President Obama’s executive amnesty found:
- 62 percent of blue-collar workers opposed the president’s actions to block the deportation of 5 million immigrants in the country illegally.
- That included 47 percent who strongly opposed it.
- Only about 32 percent supported it.
A study by Professor Eric Gould of Georgetown and Hebrew University found trade policy and uncontrolled immigration have lowered blue-collar wages and increased the wealth gap.
He wrote, “[A]n influx of low-skilled immigrants increases inequality … The overall evidence suggests that the manufacturing and immigration trends have hollowed-out the overall demand for middle-skilled workers in all sectors, while increasing the supply of workers in lower skilled jobs. Both phenomena are producing downward pressure on the relative wages of workers at the low end of the income distribution…”
Gould found increased immigration hurt blue-collar employment.
“A similar interaction is shown to affect the employment rate of non-college graduate native men – an increase in immigration coupled with a decline in manufacturing lowers the employment rate of less-educated men.”
And lower wages plus more foreign workers simply meant more jobless Americans.
“The similarity of the results for inequality and the employment rate of noncollege men reinforce the interpretation that these two phenomena are putting downward pressure on the wages of less skilled men – thus increasing inequality primarily at the bottom half of the wage distribution and encouraging more and more men to drop out of the labor market altogether.”
In his 2006 autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama wrote, “[T]here’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border — a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before.”
“The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century,” he continued.
“If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole — specially by keeping our workforce young, in contrast to an increasingly geriatric Europe and Japan — it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”
Small Business Owners
The Zogby poll found small business owners overwhelmingly oppose massive immigration and support deportation.
- 67 percent said deportation laws should be enforced; 22 percent supported the legalization of illegal immigrants.
- 70 percent said all immigration is too high; 4 percent said too low; 13 percent said just right.
- 13 percent said immigration should be increased to fill unskilled job openings; 65 percent said plenty of Americans are available, employers just need to pay more.
- 10 percent said illegal immigration is caused by strict legal immigration laws; 79 percent said it is because of inadequate enforcement efforts.
Zogby even found overwhelming opposition to massive immigration and support for deportation among CEOs, CFOs, vice presidents and other business executives.
- 59 percent said deportation laws should be enforced; 30 percent supported the legalization of illegal immigrants.
- 63 percent said immigration is too high; 5 percent said too low; 16 percent said just right.
- Significantly, just 16 percent said immigration should be increased to fill unskilled job openings; 61 percent said plenty of Americans are available, employers just need to pay more.
- 13 percent said illegal immigration is caused by strict legal immigration laws; 75 percent said it is because of inadequate enforcement efforts.
Contrary to the assertions of Silicon Valley kingpins, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and political elites (including virtually every conservative senator except Sessions), there is no evidence of a need for increased visas for foreign workers skilled in high-tech occupations.
That is because, also contrary to their assertions, there is no shortage of American STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers. In fact, just the opposite: there is a glut.
According to data from the U.S. Census only one in four Americans with a STEM degree is in a STEM job.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board, asked Obama in a letter opposing amnesty, “[I]f there is a shortage of IT workers, why aren’t wages increasing?”
Instead, he observed, IT wages “now hover around wage levels of the late 1990s.”
Kirsanow said America produces far more science and engineering graduates than there are job openings in their fields.
“The problem,” he continued, “is not that there are insufficient STEM graduates; the problem is that techcompanies do not want to pay the wages American workers would demand absent a continual influx of high-tech visa holders.”
He added, “The tech industry is begging for an increase in foreign STEM workers not because there are not enough American STEM workers, or because they are insufficiently talented, but due to its desire for young, cheap, and immobile labor.”
Recent evidence supports those conclusions.
As WND reported, Disney replaced hundreds of its American IT workers this year with people from India and elsewhere, then forced the Americans to train their replacements or risk losing their severance packages. To add insult to injury, the company then reportedly placed the laid-off Americans on a “black list,” which forbids any Disney contractor from hiring them for up to a year.
Nonetheless, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is one of eight Republicans and four Democrats to co-sponsor the “I-Squared” bill in the U.S. Senate. It would triple the number of temporary guest workers allowed into the U.S. on H1-B visas each year, from 65,000 to 195,000, while also allowing visa holders to bring in family members.
The I-Squared bill has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Software Alliance and heavyweight executives from Oracle, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Google among others.
Even Hispanics see immigration as a threat to their jobs.
71 percent told the Polling Company that businesses should increase wages rather than hire more immigrants.
African-Americans see the threat even more acutely, as 86 percent said businesses should increase wages rather than hire more immigrants.
The numbers back them up.
In 2008, a study for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights determined illegal immigration accounted for about 40 percent of the 18 percentage-point decline [from 1960-2000] in black employment rates. Immigrant workers from 1990 to 2006 reduced the wages of low-skilled workers by 4.7 percent and college graduates by 1.7 percent.
Kirsanow recently wrote, “The briefing witnesses, well-regarded scholars from leading universities and independent groups, were ideologically diverse. All the witnesses acknowledged that illegal immigration has a negative impact on black employment, both in terms of employment opportunities and wages.”
One of those scholars found “illegal immigrants and blacks (who are disproportionately likely to be low-skilled) often find themselves in competition for the same jobs, and the huge number of illegal immigrants ensures that there is a continual surplus of low-skilled labor, thus preventing wages from rising.”
Another scholar “found that illegal immigrants had displaced U.S. citizens in industries that had traditionally employed large numbers of African-Americans, such as meatpacking. There is little or no evidence that these numbers have changed substantially for the better in the intervening years.”
According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, black unemployment is soaring. In March, more than 12.2 million black people of working age were not in the labor force, meaning they had even stopped looking for a job for at least four weeks.
And, as of March, the black unemployment rate of 10.1 percent was more than twice the white unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.
A 2009 study by Harvard professor and economist George Borjas found that a 10 percent increase of immigrants in a given job market would reduce the wages of black men by 2.5 percent, lower their employment by 5.9 percent and increase their incarceration rate by 1.3 percent.
“It is evident that there is a negative correlation between changes in employment propensities and the immigrant share, and that the correlation is stronger for black men,” wrote Borjas.
After Obama announced his executive amnesty in November, Kirsanow wrote , “The president’s edict purporting to grant legal status to up to 5 million illegal aliens will have a devastating effect on the wage and employment levels of all low-skilled American workers, but the competition from (formerly) illegal aliens will be most acute in industries in which blacks traditionally have been highly concentrated — including, but not limited to, construction, hospitality, and service.”
“Moreover, numerous studies unequivocally show that illegal immigration depresses wage rates. In the leisure and hospitality industries alone, the wage suppression due to illegal immigration has decreased annual wage rates by $1,500,” he added.
“Indeed, the edict could hardly come at a worse time for for black workers whose labor-participation rate is an abysmal 61.4 percent,” he continued. “Black teen unemployment is 32.6 percent. The black employment-population ratio is an appalling 54.7 percent. The last thing black workers need right now is more competition from illegal aliens.”
Kirsanow concluded, “The most loyal constituency of the Democratic Party is being thrown under the bus for the shining possibility of an even larger voting bloc. And the members of the Congressional Black Caucus cheer.”
Follow Garth Kant @DCgarth