The Blog

Letter Warns: Immigration Bill Will Collapse Middle Class and Increase Unemployment, Poverty

6:26 AM, Jan 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

A group of House Republicans has written a letter to Barack Obama to warn that the immigration bill he supports will have an adverse effect on American workers. The immigration bill will, the letter writers say, lead to an increase in unemployment and poverty, help collapse the middle class, and decrease wages for American citizens.

"[W]e reject your call for the House to get an immigration bill to your desk that would permanently displace American workers," the House Republicans write. "The Senate immigration bill, which the White House helped craft and which you personally endorse, would double the number of guest workers brought into this country at a time of crippling joblessness and falling incomes.  On top of that, the Senate immigration bill would also add millions more permanent immigrant workers through green cards – handing out permanent residency to more than 30 million immigrants over the next decade.  This represents a tripling of the normal green card rate. 

CBO confirms that these immigrants will be mostly lower-skilled, and that wages for American citizens would fall while American unemployment would rise.  Per-capita GNP would sink as well. 

According to research from Harvard Professor Dr. George Borjas, low-skilled immigration has, between the years 1980 and 2000, resulted in nearly an 8% wage reduction for US-born workers without a high school degree.  Rapidly expanding unskilled immigration – at time when factory work and blue collar jobs are disappearing – would represent the final economic blow for millions of workers who have been struggling to gain an economic foothold.

This group of House Republicans, who say that are writing the president "on behalf of the 21 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job" and "on behalf of the 90 million Americans over 16 – including early retirees, college grads living at home, and those living on welfare – who are not part of our nation’s workforce," warn that things will get worse if this immigration bill becomes law.

"According to research from Harvard Professor Dr. George Borjas, low-skilled immigration has, between the years 1980 and 2000, resulted in nearly an 8% wage reduction for US-born workers without a high school degree.  Rapidly expanding unskilled immigration – at time when factory work and blue collar jobs are disappearing – would represent the final economic blow for millions of workers who have been struggling to gain an economic foothold," the letter writers say.

And it concludes: "Job number one for Congress should be to reduce the unemployment rolls, get families and communities out of poverty and government dependency, rebuild our deteriorating communities and collapsing middle class, and increase wages for American citizens. Your immigration proposals do the exact opposite on every count."

The letter has been signed by 16 Republican members of Congress: Mo Brooks of Alabama, Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, Kerry Bentivolio of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Phil Gingrey of Georgia, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, John Fleming of Louisiana, Steve King of Iowa, Ted Yoho of Florida, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Steve Stockman of Texas, Lamar Smith also of Texas, Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, Mike Rogers of Alabama, and Jeff Duncan of South Carolina.

Here's the entire letter, which is dated today:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you today on behalf of the 21 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job.  We write to you on behalf of the 6 million young Americans who are neither working nor in school.  We write on behalf of the countless American workers whose wages today are lower than they were more than a decade ago.  We write on behalf of the 90 million Americans over 16 – including early retirees, college grads living at home, and those living on welfare – who are not part of our nation’s workforce.

That is why we reject your call for the House to get an immigration bill to your desk that would permanently displace American workers.  The Senate immigration bill, which the White House helped craft and which you personally endorse, would double the number of guest workers brought into this country at a time of crippling joblessness and falling incomes.  On top of that, the Senate immigration bill would also add millions more permanent immigrant workers through green cards – handing out permanent residency to more than 30 million immigrants over the next decade.  This represents a tripling of the normal green card rate. 

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 15 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers