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Mark Cromer: Shovel Ready? More Like a Shovelful

Mass immigration quietly continues amid grim unemployment

As Labor Day passed, replete with obligatory headlines heralding the latest grim economic news, one could find a variety of narrative threads running through the major stories that were printed, broadcast and uploaded over the holiday weekend; from the rising misery of America’s working class to the political price Democrats appear likely to pay for it less than two months from now.

Mark Cromer
Mark Cromer

Another common theme could be found in what was dutifully missing in most of the media’s holiday tie-in reportage: immigration.

Even as the real unemployment rate is more than 20 percent in many areas of the country — and pushing 40 percent or more among various race, age, geographic and skill-level demographics — the federal government is still allowing an average of more than 100,000 foreign workers legally into the United States every month.

That number of immigrants — the highest in the world — is matched or exceeded by immigrants illegally crossing the border or overstaying their visas to effectively squat in the United States.

A 5-year-old could connect the dots between rising joblessness and hardship with continued mass immigration and the increased competition for shrinking resources that it brings, but the rank-and-file of the Fourth Estate refuse to even acknowledge the obvious association. While the reasons for the media’s silence are varied, most stem from ideological conditioning.

Newsrooms now tend to reflect the dynamic so prevalent at universities, places where certain truisms are neither explored nor challenged, but rather sung in unison, as if the chorus itself celebrates some self-evident truth.

And few truisms enjoy more certitude in these circles than the axiom that “immigration is good.”

Conversely, to suggest that immigration is perhaps not always good, or that it should be curtailed, or that the United States should consider a moratorium on mass immigration during this economic crisis, is to invite indignant howls of heresy and risk being rebuked with smears of racism, xenophobia or worse.

Thus it’s hardly a surprise that Associated Press business writers Christopher Rugaber and Michael Liedtke can deliver a lengthy deconstruction of how only the highly skilled and highly educated will have ample job opportunities in the near-future, while “others will face a choice ... a job with low pay or none at all” and yet not offer even a solitary line about the more than 24 million foreign workers in the United States — or the million-plus who arrive every year.

This intellectual dishonesty and perverse dereliction of duty throughout much of the media (and the academic institutions that feed it) have allowed Democrats and Republicans to play a cynical double-game without fear of widespread journalistic reproach, at once claiming to be fighting for the American worker and their families, all while demanding massive increases of foreign workers and their families who will compete not only for jobs but critical social services.

Over at The Atlantic, writer Chris Good celebrated the approaching Labor Day weekend by hailing Republican warhorse Haley Barbour’s “straight talk on immigration,” noting that the Mississippi governor was celebrating the American worker by praising the illegal immigrants who poured into the Gulf state following Hurricane Katrina to take construction jobs.

Barbour’s backhanded slap across the face of the American worker was hardly subtle, as the former Republican National Committee chairman declared that it was the “Spanish-speakers ... (who) looked for the work.”

This is classic Republican corporate establishment-speak, of a George W. Bush and Karl Rove vintage. Translated it means: “Jobs Americans don’t want.”

Barbour goes on to demand more H1B visas so millions more foreign workers — yes, millions — can legally come to the United States for work, evidently maintaining a straight face as he declared that it’s better to have Ph.D. graduates from India create jobs for 1,800 people in Des Moines than it is to have them return home and create those jobs there.

Good at The Atlantic did not disappoint, dutifully hitting his mark on cue by not questioning just how many immigrants have created companies with 1,800 employees in Des Moines (or anywhere else in the United States over the past two years for that matter), or exploring just what jobs the vast majority of H1B visa holders end up taking, or why Barbour and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claim there aren’t enough Americans for these jobs?

Not a single word about it.

And, of course, there was President Barack Obama, re-energized from his holiday on Martha’s Vineyard, taking a stump speech to Wisconsin where he vowed to push for a $50 billion defibrillation of the job market.

Obama’s plan to roll some stimulus dice again and the Republican opposition to it has caught fire in the media, of course, but it’s a safe bet there will be precious little ink or airtime devoted to the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who will have entered the country between now and the time one single job is created from that bill if it passes.

While most of the elites in this country may not be talking about it, they are deluding themselves if they believe Main Street isn’t. They know the difference between “shovel-ready” jobs they haven’t seen and the shovelful they are being fed.

Barbour may well be right that immigrants are coming here looking for work.

But American citizens are increasingly looking for their country — and their future.

— Southern California journalist Mark Cromer writes frequently about immigration issues. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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