Why CAPS' Ad Calling for Lower Level of Legal Immigration Is the Common Sense Approach to Help Unemployed Americans

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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.

March 4, 2011
The recently released Californians for Population Stabilization ad that calls for lower levels of legal immigration is an urgent message to everyone concerned about the nation’s economic fate. For too many years, at least since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, legal immigration has been considered a sacred cow. Over and over, Americans have heard misleading platitudes like "ours is a nation of immigrants" without ever stopping to consider the long-term consequences of unchecked legal immigration. The more important fact that almost never enters into public debate is that America already has the world’s most generous immigration policy and accepts roughly 1 million new immigrants and so-called temporary workers annually and has done so for decades. The cumulative effect of 1 million new legal immigrants each year, year after year, is crushing. Over-immigration devastates American workers. To understand why, simply substitute the word "worker" for "immigrant." As long as the federal government allows 1 million new immigrants each year, it is also opening the door to potentially 1 million new workers. That’s not sustainable and is certainly not in Americans' best interests. Supporting a policy of legally allowing more foreign-born workers into the United States is morally indefensible. Consider that my native California has, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 12.5 percent unemployment rate; Los Angeles, where I was born, 13 percent, and the San Joaquin Valley, where I most recently lived, 18 percent. Eight California counties have unemployment rates higher than 20 percent. Yet the federal government foolishly and incomprehensibly continues to invite more legal workers to America on a myriad of work-related visas. CAPS' ad is a painful reminder of Washington’s failure to protect its citizens. Despite costly bailouts and wasteful stimulus plans, 13.7 Americans are jobless, 4 million more than in 2008 when President Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of creating 3-5 million new jobs. Perhaps the most damning statistic, again from the BLS, is that in 2008 and 2009 2.4 million immigrants arrived in the U.S., while during the same period, 8.2 million jobs disappeared. Adding to the hurtfulness of federal immigration policy is that America currently needs 100,000 new jobs each month to keep up with population growth which, ironically, is fueled by new immigrants and their children. When people learn of my commitment to reduce immigration, they often ask me how long I’ve been involved. Sometimes I reply, "Twenty-five years." More recently, my response is "About 50 million immigrants ago."
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