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Saturday, January 15, 2011

40% of HS Grads (18-29) Don't Have A Job, But Immigration Continues -- Is That Language Too Harsh?

Roy Beck, NumbersUSA: My church's denominational website is after me again for my and NumbersUSA's efforts to dramatically reduce both legal and illegal immigration. (The errors of fact and context in that posting about my meeting with the author two years ago are so numerous that you should not trust any part of it without checking with me.)

The national religious leadership is especially concerned about the supposed harshness of my language as I continue to use the word "illegal" as an adjective when referring to citizens of other countries who illegally reside in the U.S. and illegally take jobs.

But the alleged harshness of my language (which I deny) pales in comparison to the harshness of the conditions imposed on impoverished Americans by the mass immigration policies promoted by national leaders, of my denomination and many others.

During my interview with a PBS show this afternoon, I talked about the harshness of importing huge numbers of foreign workers while 40% of American young adults with high school degrees don't have a job.

The show was on U.S. poverty and whether our immigration policies contribute to it.
DO IMMIGRATION POLICIES CONTRIBUTE TO U.S. POVERTY
Well, consider these facts about young American adults aged 18-29 who have only a high school degree:
  • 40% of all these young adults don't have a job.
  • 43% of the Hispanic-American young adults don't have a job.
  • 50% of Black Americans of this group don't have a job.
Don't those statistics offend you? They do me. A huge proportion of immigrants work in the same occupations where these jobless Americans are most likely to be employed.

Nothing causes poverty faster than the lack of a job. Here these Americans are in the prime years when people learn the work habits and gain the experience that establishes the course for most of them for the rest of their lives. And our federal government's response while bad economic times dries up millions of jobs is to give out a million permanent work permits a year to foreign citizens!

Somehow the morality of a government doing that to its most vulnerable citizens seems a lot more important than the supposed immorality of calling immigration lawbreakers "illegal aliens" instead of "undocumented workers." But my United Methodist denomination not only wants to stop the use of the terms "illegal aliens" and "illegal immigrants" but has been on the forefront of lobbying for the mass foreign-labor importation, as well as making sure that all "undocumented workers" get to keep their jobs.

And YOUR national church leaders are doing the same thing to impoverished Americans, if you are an Episcopalian, Catholic, ELCA Lutheran, Presbyterian USA, Unitarian, Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, Disciples, UCC, Nazarene, Christian Reformed, Wesleyan or Jew.

The PBS interviewer asked why our government would do this to impoverished Americans. "Do this," as in giving out a million work permits each year so foreign workers can compete with those 40% of young less-educated American adults who don't have a job.

I would also ask why our national religious leaders refuse to consider the harm their immigration lobbying does to poor Americans.
I think the answer is the same for politicians and religious leaders.  They are so sentimentally wedded to the idea of high immigration as an intrinsic part of their own identity that they simply refuse to believe that it is possible that immigration could ever be harmful to other people they care about.

All of these national religious leaders profess -- I think sincerely -- that they are especially concerned about the disproportionate poverty among Black and Hispanic Americans. But they deny that their promotion of mass immigration could contribute to that poverty. Thus, they continue to promote immigration during our jobs depression.

I think they are wrong, both intellectually and morally. They think I am wrong, both intellectually and morally. I have tried for years to obtain a real discussion with them, to almost no avail at all. The meeting described in the United Methodist blog was the only encounter achieved in my own denomination. And once I declined to stop using the term "illegal immigrants," the meeting was ended. I was able in very brief form to raise the issue of immigration's impact on poverty and low-income workers. I was told that my the sincerity of my concern for jobless Americans and low-income workers was doubtful since NumbersUSA was not lobbying for a number of legislative priorities of unions. I explained that NumbersUSA did not oppose any of those priorities (or work for them either). We are like thousands of other SILO groups in Washington that limit ourselves to a single issue (hence the name, Single Issue Legislative Organization). We have a compact with our members to work on only one issue -- immigration. I was told that makes all of our claims of concern for poor Americans suspect.

Meanwhile, the religious leaders and the leaders of our federal government stick to their belief that adding a million foreign workers a year (primarily less educated ones) doesn't have any effect on the millions of Americans who work or look for work in the same occupations. They act on the faith that mass immigration doesn't, for example, affect those Americans of all ages who didn't have the the family support or the natural inclinations or intellect to finish high school.
  • 60% of all American high school dropouts and 60% of Hispanic-American dropouts don't have a job
  • 75% of Black Americans who don't have a high school degree also don't have a job.
Can you imagine any possibility of success in tackling poverty in communities with that rate of joblessness?

Pres. Clinton was known for repeating the old mantra that the best anti-poverty program is a job. I agree with him. And the surest way to keep our most vulnerable fellow citizens in poverty is to make it more difficult for them to get a job and to make it easier for employers to avoid recruiting these impoverished fellow citizens by providing the employers with a never-ending supply of immigrant workers.
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