Mark Krikorian, Executive Director for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) told an NPR Tell Me More audience “… we have something like 20 million Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed – and it’s especially a problem among young workers, less-educated workers – that we are now adding, you know, what, maybe 800,000, maybe a million or more workers, legal workers who will now be able to compete for jobs normally into that labor market. And they’re not farm workers. I mean, even though they’re not all Einstein’s, these are, generally speaking, they have to be people who finished high school. So this is going to have a serious effect both in the lower-skill and kind of the mid-level of the job market.”
I contrast the above position with that of local farmers in Alabama. If many recall, Alabama legislature passed a very aggressive illegal immigration bill. Accordingly, as migrants moved out of state, Alabama farmers have had a tough time. The Associated Press wrote an article outlining the basic premise:
“…farmers must look beyond the nation’s borders for labor because many Americans simply don’t want the backbreaking, low-paying jobs immigrants are willing to take. Politicians who support the law say over time more unemployed Americans will fill these jobs. They insist it’s too early to consider the law a failure, yet numbers from the governor’s office show only nominal interest.”
Additionally, In February 2012, WKRG News in Mobile, Alabama recently reported:
“Many farmers continue to tell us they can’t find Americans to replace migrant workers left the state when the immigration law went into effect.”
History tells us that significant resources will be spent fighting Obama’s temporary suspension of deportation and / or the Dream Act, i.e., for those low-paying positions to which maybe … just maybe … a million or so immigrants will compete. Think about that for a moment. I mean really think about that.
What the argument misses is the estimated two-million or so manufacturing jobs offshored since 1983. By 2015, another 3.3 million service jobs will move offshore, including 1.7 million “back office” jobs such as payroll processing and accounting along with another 473,000 jobs in the information technology industry. And let’s not even think about the 7.9 million positions lost during the ‘Great Recession’ that will never come back. But ‘Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead’ on those million or so immagrants.
Some experts claim seventy percent of the U.S. economy is not vulnerable to offshoring because it is comprised of services such as retail, restaurants and hotels, health care and other services. But having worked in these industries, retail, restaurants and hotels employ vast numbers of workers who earn a smidge better than minimum wage. For most American’s, these positions will do little to provide a foundation for retirement. To those who think otherwise, I suggest reading author Barbara Ehrenreich’s work ‘Nickel and Dimed,’ detailing employement at poverty-level wages.
Moving on, we should not forget those immigrants who received little, if any fanfare: Asians. According to Pew Research, the number of Asian immigrants has held steady or increased slightly. Pew’s analysis of census data estimated that 430,000 Asian immigrants came to the United States in 2010, making up 36 percent of all new immigrants, compared with 31 percent who were Hispanic. The typically high education levels of Asians have often fit U.S. immigration policy goals.
Let’s face it, undereducated citizens do not have a rosy employment picture. The International Labour Organisation estimates that as many as 1 in 10 young people are not working. The real number of young people without worthwhile jobs is likely to be much higher, as many of the most vulnerable are forced into low-paid, informal, insecure work. Young people who already face disadvantages – because of where they live, their gender, poverty or ethnicity – have been hit the worst, largely because they lack the skills or education needed to compete for available jobs.
The true sadness of the current immigration argument is mostly all political posturing. In a very diverse, very connected world, education is critical and is no longer a United States, Republican, Democratic or Tea Party problem. It’s a world-wide crisis. Everyone, rich or poor, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, etc., will need continual access to higher education. Educational requirements are required for survival, yet the availability of education required cannot be achieved.
As a Buddhist, education is the principal tool of human growth. It is essential for transforming the unlettered child into a mature responsible adult. Yet everywhere today, both in the developed and developing world, formal education is in serious trouble. Classroom instruction has become so routinized that children often consider school an exercise in patience rather than an adventure in learning. School budgets and the number of good teachers are conitually cut by budgetary concerns.
The Buddha taught that all beings possess the same ability within to reach Complete Understanding of themselves and their environment, and free themselves from all sufferings to attain utmost happiness. We must strive to give everyone a solid competitive education. Education is the cure, but so little money and attention is given.