Out of the Shadows (2013)

Shining a Light on Immigration and the Plight of the American Worker


The full report is available in pdf format.


It is one thing to acknowledge that immigrants have made and can continue to make contributions to the U.S. economy. It is quite another to argue that mass immigration has no economic downside. Of course, immigration has helped grow the U.S. economy, however, that growth has almost exclusively benefitted immigrants (both legal and illegal) and those who employ them. The U.S. immigration system functions in such a way that there is no economic benefit for most American citizens. Instead, there is increased unemployment and wage depression for workers, and huge fiscal costs borne by taxpayers. 

Business lobbyists are constantly calling for an increase in immigration and guest worker programs because increasing the number of job seekers benefits employers by creating an endless pool of cheap labor. It is not that there is a lack of American workers, but rather, that there are few Americans who will work for what some employers want to offer. Led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, powerful lobbying groups have been able to stymie any real effort to secure the borders and enforce immigration laws on the interior. Accordingly, the balance of economic power has tilted overwhelmingly in favor of employers. Wages have not kept pace with worker productivity, and have not increased in line with soaring corporate profits.

Americans with lower levels of education and job skills have been hardest hit. Many workers in the construction, landscaping, and service industries have been pushed out of the labor force. The H-1B and L visa programs have also suppressed wages in the tech industry, and caused many Americans with degrees in those fields to seek employment in non-related occupations. Economic indicators show little promise for substantial recovery in the foreseeable future.

"Comprehensive Immigration Reform" as understood by those pushing for it on Capitol Hill means passing legislation that exacerbates this situation, effectively creating barriers for American workers in their own country. Very few politicians are speaking out on behalf of their constituents, and media reports on immigration policy virtually ignore the interests of American workers.

This is the ongoing plight of the American worker; relegated to stand in the shadows when it comes to the debate about immigration reform.