Crowding out the Middle Class; Reunification for Immigrant Families Needs Scrutiny
Byline: S. Rob Sobhani, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
When people talk about the problem with immigration, they usually are referring to illegals. It is easy to scapegoat the rule-breakers who escape corrupt countries such as El Salvador and Mexico for a better life in America. But the truth is, the 11 million or 12 million illegals in this country represent just a fraction of the problem. Along with globalization, legal - not illegal - immigration threatens to demolish the American middle class.
While illegal immigrants pose a direct challenge to low-wage earners in America, immigration from countries such as Russia, India, China and Venezuela crowds out job opportunities for America's middle class. As I write this, our nation is suffering a severe jobs crisis, with unemployment around 8.2 percent. Nearly 20 million Americans struggle every day to find employment. It seems counterintuitive to allow more people to enter the United States and, by default, fill jobs Americans desperately need, but that is exactly what our government has been doing for a long time. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were 9.1 million immigrant admissions between 2000 and 2009. By law, each of those immigrants is entitled to petition for entry for family members, and the numbers keep skyrocketing, totaling more than 30 million admissions since 1980. Though those immigrants' entry is lawful, understandable and in the spirit of what makes America such a great magnet, it is devastating to jobless citizens who are left feeling disenfranchised and neglected.
In an era when the nature of economic activity in our nation has shifted from manufacturing to the service industry (banking, construction, hospitality, health care, fast-food chains, computers) immigrants crowd out the existing job seekers. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June 2011, the United States had 2.118 million unemployed residents with bachelor's or more advanced degrees. There is no question that a percentage of them are competing with legal immigrants who have similar skill sets.
The threat of unlimited legal immigration to our economy and jobs picture is real and urgent. Consider the example of Russia. According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 22 percent of Russians - or more than 31 million people - want to leave the country. In the 18-to 24 age group, the number is almost 40 percent. The reasons are corruption, lack of economic opportunity and an increasingly stifling political environment. Imagine for a moment if Russia were our neighbor instead of Mexico. We would have at least 31 million people vying for a chance to come over our border for a new beginning. Clearly, that wouldn't be sustainable. Whom would we be helping if we allowed all those Russians who want to leave to immigrate to the United States? …