Federal Judge Blocks White House Refugee Travel Ban; Hurtful to Marginally Employed U.S Workers?

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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.

October 19, 2017
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WOTC hurts American Workers
Recently, and for the third time, Hawaii Judge Derrick Kahala Watson struck down President Trump’s travel ban just hours before it was to take effect. The ban would have stopped refugee travel into the United States from six Muslim majority nations, North Korea, and some Venezuelans.

In his opinion, Watson wrote that the ban is un-American, “plainly discriminates based on nationality,” and that the White House hasn’t shown that the U.S.’s national interests would suffer by admitting refugees.

The debate about refugees, what countries the administration would be prudent to restrict, and what the United States’ moral obligation might be to resettle them is and will continue to be hotly argued.

But one variable that’s rarely included as pat of the debate is what effect new refugees who receive lifetime employment authorization will have on American workers. Since most newly arrived refugees speak limited English and rarely have professional resumes, they’re likely to compete with American minorities, mostly African American and Hispanics, for low-skill jobs.

Critics maintain that refugee resettlement is as much about cheap labor as it is about humanitarianism. Because of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), employers have a financial incentive to hire refugees ahead of Americans. By hiring a refugee or asylee, a company is eligible to receive the WOTC with a value of up to $2,400 per new adult hire. The WOTC directly lowers a company’s cost of doing business.

Millions of American workers want a full-time job, but can’t find one. Included are the officially unemployed, those involuntarily in part-time jobs and those who recently dropped off the official unemployment list. Unemployed and under-employed Americans are found at all rungs of the job ladder, but disproportionately seek work in the lower skilled jobs that increasingly go to overseas workers.

CAPS supports refugee resettlement at the historical average of about 50,000 annually, a total that the RAISE Act would establish. Go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to tell your Senator to cosponsor the RAISE Act.
 
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