Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 11:52 pm | Overcast 66º

 
 
 
 

Joe Guzzardi: Jobs Report Shows Big Gains for Foreign-Born Workers

The heralded new Bureau of Labor Statistics report has an interesting, but unreported-on, component in May data. The June 5 headline-making BLS payroll survey showed that the economy created 223,000 new jobs, and reflected wage growth. Average hourly earnings grew eight cents, and pushed the average annual income growth to 2.7 percent.

But other data included in the BLS report indicated that, as part of a well-established trend, foreign-born U.S. resident workers outpaced, by a factor of two, the employment gains native-born Americans made. Between April 2017 and April 2018, foreign-born employment grew about four times faster than the native-born rate.

A quick look at pertinent Homeland Security Department statistics shows that immigrants’ job gains are consistent with the federal government’s immigration policy. The United States admits more than 1 million legal, lifetime work-authorized immigrants annually.

Last year, a White House official released a statement that, between 2005 and 2015, nearly 9.3 million of newly arrived, employment-authorized immigrants came through chain migration. Lee Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, noted that chain migration immigrants represent about 70 percent of all legal immigration.

By design, the mainstream media keep the link between immigration and its damaging effect on American workers as obscure as the moon’s dark side. Take, for example, federal asylum regulations as they relate to employment authorization.

About two months ago, a 1,500-strong group of Central American migrants announced that they would travel to the United States to demand asylum. “The Caravan,” as it became known, created a media firestorm.

But while previous administrations had looked the other way at Central American border crossers, President Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets that discouraged the caravan; it eventually disbanded. In the end, only 145 of the original 1,500 entered the United States.

For those 145, here’s what happens next. They’ll file an asylum petition that, if still pending within 150 days, will allow the petitioner to apply for employment authorization, and receive it a month later.

Given the huge immigration court backlog, formal rulings can take years. Discouraging 10 percent of asylum seekers translates into a big win for American workers.

Over time, asylum admissions have grown into a substantial, if under-the-radar, employment sector. Capitol Hill insiders estimate that between 400,000 and 500,000 asylum seekers could eventually become part of the permanent labor market, and will then compete for low-skill jobs against the poorest Americans. The approximately half-million asylees exceeds the annual combined totals of H-1B, H-2A and H-2B visas.

During asylees’ two-year plus waiting period and as immigration judges evaluate the validity of the claims, they will receive Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses and other affirmative benefits that hinder their removal should the court deny their petition. Currently, judges deny three of every five asylum claims.

In the next several weeks, Congress will engage in heated immigration debates that the news media will cover exhaustively. Let reporters fulfill their professional responsibility to put all the information in their stories — the true annual immigration totals, chain migration’s consequences and the expanded labor pool that immigration creates.

Once and for all, let’s have the open and honest immigration debate that expansionists and restrictionists always promise, but never deliver.

— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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