Impending Disaster and the Need for Real, Not Phony, Reform
According to a January Report by the investment firm of Bear Stearns there may now be as many as twenty million illegal immigrants in the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) had estimates of ten to twelve million illegals in the country in late 2004.
As illegal immigration is, of course, illegal and kept as quiet as possible, it is hard to get a handle on how many illegal immigrants are here. The three sources agree, however, that the numbers are growing rapidly. The CIS and FAIR both believe the number of illegals is increasing at the rate of 500 thousand per year. Some believe this may now be closer to 800 thousand per year. That figure will increase enormously, if there is any kind of amnesty, by whatever name. Such a plan is now before Congress in the form of the Kennedy-McCain Immigration “Reform” Bill.
The situation is already bad without the disingenuous “reform” bill of Senators Kennedy and McCain. The present, massive invasion of illegal immigrants plus the unprecedented increase in the number of legal immigrants in the last few decades is already heading the nation towards a demographic disaster that will turn America into an unrecognizable distortion of the noble ideals of the Founding Fathers and seriously threaten the freedom, prosperity, security, social cohesion, and even the civic virtues of her people.
The effects of the immigration tidal wave are already tremendous and are going to get worse, much worse. Americans are losing their jobs to illegal immigrants and American wages are being driven down because of increased availability of illegal cheap labor. Americans are in a double bind with jobs leaving and massive numbers of new immigrants coming in to take the jobs that are left. Recent studies show that the impact of illegal immigration is affecting not only low-skill jobs, but professional jobs.
Even new college graduates are being affected by increased competition from foreign graduates. The college graduate market is now suffering from a supply shock of foreign immigrants, decreasing opportunities and lowering salaries for the sons and daughters of American taxpayers who have struggled so hard and saved so dearly to educate their children. According to figures released by the Economic Policy Institute in May, real (inflation adjusted) wages for new college graduates dropped 2.7% from 2001 to 2004. The 2004 job market for young college graduates was the worst in 20 years. In addition, U. S. colleges are spending more and more money on educating foreign students, especially at the graduate level.
Nearly 35% of Ph. D. degrees given in the U. S. are to foreign students.
According to Harvard professor George Borjas, writing in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the impact of immigration reduced the real wages of native-born Americans by 3.2 % from 1980 to 2000. It is getting worse. Since 2000, according to figures compiled by the Economic Policy Institute in May, the real wages of unskilled labor (high school drop-outs) declined 8.9%, and income for college educated Americans dropped 4.9%. College graduates with 11 to 15 years work experience, just at the age when many are raising small children, declined by 5.9% over the four-year period.
According to a recent study by ESR Research Economic Consultants, the economic recovery of the Bush administration from 2001 to January 2005 increased Hispanic employment by nearly 2.1million or 13%. Non-Hispanic employment rose by a paltry 385,000, less than one half of one percent over four years.
This is strong indication that Americans are being displaced in the workforce by illegal immigrants.
Our federal taxes, state taxes, and especially local taxes are going up and will continue going up to pay for services and expenses made necessary by this huge influx of people, who are in violation of U. S. laws and taking American jobs, but who will get a free ride. According to a FAIR study, in the border state of Texas alone, the cost of education, medical care, and incarceration for illegal immigrants is $4.7 billion dollars annually. This is a burden of $725 per year to non-immigrant Texas households. Even allowing generously for the economic contribution of illegals, the net cost to Texas is $3.7 billion dollars per year.
The impact of such a massive increase in immigration, especially illegal immigration, is so wide and vast that a comprehensive estimate of its human and economic costs is difficult. The CIS estimated that illegal immigration was a net $10 billion loss to the federal government in 2002, when each illegal immigrant cost the federal government a net loss of $2750 per year. But this is a drop in the bucket to the total costs. Most illegal immigration losses fall on state and local governments, especially in states that border Mexico. The costs to other Southern states such as Georgia and North Carolina are also rising at an alarming rate. Texas is probably the hardest hit with an estimated $3.7 billion net lost to state budgets, but California is high on the list with from $3.0 to $4.0 billion in net state government deficits. Local data is more difficult to obtain.
Hospitals in Border States are being severely affected. To all this must be added the cost of job displacements and lower wages for non-immigrant households. Whatever the total and comprehensive cost of illegal immigration is in the United States, it is an immense and scandalous number. Cheap labor turns out to be very expensive for most people. It is just that the people who actually pay the price are not nearly as politically powerful as those that benefit.
Medical insurance and hospital costs are going up to cover the unpaid bills of illegals. Many hospitals, especially where there are large numbers of illegal immigrants simply cannot cope with the losses from unpaid services and are going broke, leaving many communities without hospitals. A February 2004 report by FAIR indicated hospitals in states bordering Mexico lost $190 million in a twelve month period due to unpaid hospital bills of illegal immigrants. Another $113 million was lost on ambulance and follow-up services. The Florida Hospital Association found that unpaid bills of illegal immigrants amounted to $40 million for twenty-eight hospitals in 2002. It is becoming a problem for hospitals everywhere there are large numbers of illegal immigrants. Healthcare is the second leading cost to states in services to illegal immigrants. In the state of Arizona, for instance, it amounted to nearly 31% of the budget cost for illegal immigration. Few illegals have immunization records, and probably many have no immunizations at all. Thus native born Americans are also being exposed to greater health risks and costs by illegal immigrants.
Schools are being crowded with children, who speak little English and require much more attention.
The great majority of Mexican and Central American immigrants are low-skilled, high school drop outs. A recent study released by the Pew Hispanic Center and quoted in the June 13th issue of Newsweek noted that “the more poor immigrants, the harder it is to improve the skills of their children. The schools will be overwhelmed; the same for social services.” A 2004 study released by FAIR indicated there are 1.5 million illegal immigrant children in U. S. public school grades K-12. These and their 2.0 million siblings, who were born in the U. S. to illegal immigrants, cost the states $28.6 billion annually. Education for K-12 students tops the categories of state services to illegal aliens and their children. Does anyone seriously believe that this will not also have an enormous impact on the quality of education and discipline in the class room?
Besides higher taxes, lower wages, fewer job opportunities, higher insurance and health risks, and impediments to quality education, there are public safety concerns and with them increased law enforcement costs. There are other costs, and these are actually more sinister and potentially devastating to American society. The massive immigration wave we are now experiencing will in all probability very soon change the balance of political power in the country. This will change the political equation for every political and social issue. That political change will favor liberals and bury conservatives.
Mike Scruggs is a retired financial consultant and corporate business executive. He holds an MBA from Stanford University and a BS from the University of Georgia. He is a USAF combat veteran of the Vietnam War, holding a Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart. He was recently Chairman of the Board of a Classical Christian School and is a former Republican County Chairman. He writes and lives in Hendersonville, NC.