8 Million American Workers Are Unemployed, While 8 Million Illegal Aliens Are Working, Mostly in Nonfarm Jobs

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

September 16, 2015

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2012 illegal immigrants made up about 5.1 percent of the labor force. About 8.1 million aliens had jobs, and contrary to popular opinion, many of them were not in agriculture, but in occupations Americans dominate.

Construction site
Construction is one of the many nonfarm jobs illegal immigrants do.

During the three years since Pew published its report, the percentage and totals may have shifted slightly, but still represent a good overview of illegal immigration’s consequences on unemployed Americans. The Bureau of Labor Statistics September report stated that 8 million Americans are jobless. What an unhappy coincidence! The total of unemployed Americans is more or less equal to the number of working aliens.

If the U.S. had mandatory E-Verify, overwhelmingly supported by Americans, then many if not most of those jobs performed by illegal immigrants would be done by citizens or legal immigrants. A brief review of E-Verify: it provides instant work authorization by comparing employee information taken from an I-9 form, the paper-based employee eligibility verification form used for all new hires, against more than 455 million records in the Social Security Administration’s database and more than 80 million records in DHS immigration databases. E-Verify is free to the employer, quick and accurate. I’m E-Verified and attest to its simplicity and efficiency.

Even the pro-immigration advocates admit that mandatory E-Verify would create jobs for Americans. John Morton, the former Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, said: "It will be a lot harder for people to come here illegally for labor if they know that when they get here there will be an effort to verify whether or not they have employment authorization. And so, if we can create across the country a uniform effort by employers to follow the law and make sure the people that they hire are here lawfully and have work authorization we will greatly reduce the magnet for illegal labor."

A strong E-Verify bill, the Legal Workforce Act, passed the House Judiciary Committee earlier in this Congress. HR 1147 would require major corporations, government agencies, and federal and state contractors to implement E-Verify within six months. Smaller businesses would be phased in over three years. Penalties on employers that refuse to comply with the new E-Verify law would be increased, an important feature since the CATO Institute found that too many businesses brazenly ignore existing law, knowing they will go unpunished by the Obama administration.

Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to fax your representative that you support American workers.

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