Immigration’s Effect on Blue Collar Jobs

The current government administration recently advocated for a proposal designed to curtail legal immigration in the United States by half. Over the next decade, the plan aims to reduce the number of immigrants significantly in an effort to free up low-wage jobs for American workers. The new proposal would be a merit-based system, prioritizing English-speaking applicants and highly educated and skilled workers. If these stringent requirements are not met, it could prevent family members of citizens from obtaining green cards, posing a moral concern.

Since taking office, the president has attempted to ban visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, proposed building a wall along the Mexican border, and ramped up the number of immigration arrests. His supporters have argued that low-skilled immigrant workers are dominating American jobs and wages. However, economists disagree, and assert there is no clear data to support this claim.

The Economic Policy Institute says wages for low-wage workers dropped 5 percent between 1979 and 2013. Meanwhile, the wage gap widened as high-skilled workers’ hourly rate grew by 41 percent in the same time period. Economists say this wage gap cannot necessarily be attributed to an influx of immigrant workers.

Similarly, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine also did an analysis and found that immigration levels did not affect employment opportunities for native citizens. The study, called the Inflow of Foreign-Born People, claims that immigrants have an insignificant effect on the overall economy. The study concluded there was a small decline in the overall number of work hours for teenagers, but no significant findings that would make immigration wholly responsible for economic decline. Numerous other factors such as globalization, automation, and declining unionization could also be blamed for the blue-collar wage depression.

The president’s senior policy advisor has said the new bill will protect blue-collar American workers by limiting immigration and therefore freeing up jobs. Part of the problem is that newer immigrants often settle for lower wages, thus causing a displacement of their former counterparts. He further claims there have been massive displacements of African American and Hispanic workers.

His claims are based on Harvard Labor Economist George Borjas, who authored a study asserting that in 1980, an influx of immigrants arrived in Miami and evidence supports that there was a wage decline for the immigrant’s predecessors. A decade later, Princeton economist David Card did similar research to examine wages of low-skilled workers. His results showed immigration was not responsible for unemployment rates for skilled workers. Wage levels remained even, even among prior immigrants. Despite these findings, immigration’s effect on small-town Miami is not comparable to what would happen to an entire country.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Are Dedicated to Protecting Your Rights

For more than 15 years, attorneys at the law offices of Surin & Griffin, P.C. have been handling immigration issues for those seeking employment and work visas and non-immigrant visas. We handle all types of immigration issues. Call a Philadelphia immigration lawyer today at 215-925-4435 or submit an online inquiry to schedule a consultation.