Three U.S. Immigration Issues: (1) Visa Overstayers Are As Big An Illegal Issue As Mexicans; (2) Black Workers Suffer The Most From Illegal Immigration; (3) The Tech Industry’s Claims Are False

Three U.S. Immigration Issues: (1) Visa Overstayers Are As Big An Illegal Issue As Mexicans; (2) Black Workers Suffer the Most From Illegal Immigration; (3) The Tech Industry's Claims Are False

Our intent is to show the strong similarities between immigration issues in Canada and those in other countries.

(1) “No Coyote Needed” notes that visa overstayers are probably just as big a source of illegal immigration as are Mexicans and others who cross over the southern border of the U.S. Ministers Finley and Day, who should be overseeing the illegal immigrant issue, should take special note.

(2) “Immigration's Impact On The Employment and Wages Of Black Workers” points out that Black workers are the most negatively affected by illegal immigration. Canadian social advocates for Canada's aboriginals and other groups suffering from high unemployment should take special note.

(3) “H-1Bs: Still Not The Brightest And The Best” says that the tech industry now claims that “continued U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) hinges on our ability to import the worlds best engineers and scientists”. However, according to a University of California Professor's study, the so-called “brightest and the best” from outside the country's borders are very average. All Canadians who continue to be duped by claims similar to those of the U.S. tech industry should read this carefully.

Below, we are providing excerpts from the original studies. The complete reports are available at the Center for Immigration Studies web site:



Mention the words illegal immigrant and most Americans conjure up images of desperate migrants sneaking across the Mexican border. There is another side to Americas immigration problem, however, that most know very little about those who come with valid, temporary visas and do not return home. According to a 2006 Pew Hispanic Center study,1 nearly half of the 12 million-plus illegal aliens in America arrived legally with temporary, non-immigrant visas. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that a substantial percentage of Americas illegal population is made up of visa overstays their estimates range from 27 to 57 percent. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted in a 2004 report2 on visa overstays that DHS may be significantly underestimating the magnitude of the visa overstay problem noting that the DHS study only quantified the number of visa overstays in the illegal population whereas many who overstay visas are later able to legalize their status.

A DHS survey of 1,000 legal permanent residents (green card holders) revealed that 30 percent had previously been illegal and that 31 percent of that group had overstayed non-immigrant visas.3 These statistics drive home the point that huge numbers of foreign nationals are succeeding in convincing American consular officers that they are bona fide tourists, when in fact they are intending immigrants. Despite the importance of visas to our immigration problem, all of the major American presidential candidates still frame the illegal immigration crisis solely in the context of securing the border with Mexico, and no candidate has mentioned the need to tighten our visa regulations.

Despite that fact that the law is written broadly enough that most foreigners from the developing world could be refused for a visitors visa as intending immigrants, non-immigrant visa issuance rates are still shockingly high. In 2007, 74 percent of the more than five million foreign nationals who applied for visitors visas were approved. (See Table 1.) This figure is particularly startling when one considers that citizens from the worlds most prosperous countries including most of Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand do not need visitors visas to enter the United States. Two-thirds of Mexican applicants were issued visitors (B1/B2) visas (or border crossing cards), four-fifths of Chinese applicants were issued visas, 88 percent of Russians were granted visas, and more than half of Haitian and Dominican applicants were successful.4 (See Table 2.)

In this Backgrounder, the author, a former State Department official with experience interviewing tens of thousands of visa applicants from all over the world, explores some of the reasons why it remains relatively easy for all but the most destitute applicants to obtain non-immigrant visas, despite the public perception that visa regulations have tightened since 9/11.



Black Employment in the Low Skilled Labor Market

Of the 50 million low skilled adults (those 25 years of age and over) in the civilian labor force in 2007, black Americans accounted for about 5.6 million of such workers (or about 10 percent of the total). These black American workers, however, had the highest unemployment rates of any of the four racial and ethnic groups for which the data was collected. Black American adult workers without a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 12.0 percent and those with only a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent in 2007. These 5.6 million low skilled black workers accounted for one-third of the entire black labor force of slightly over 17 million workers.

Black youth (16-19 years old) also had the highest unemployment rate of any of the racial groups for whom data is collected. Their unemployment rate for February 2008 was an astounding 31.7 percent. These data are, of course, only for those still actively seeking employment and who are not institutionalized. They do not include those who have been discouraged from seeking employment because they feel it would not be worthwhile even to try to find a job under these conditions of high unemployment among their peers. Nor do they include any of the more than one million black youth and adults who are incarcerated in the nations penal system (often because on the inability to find regular employment).

Clearly, black American workers who are poorly skilled have the greatest difficulty finding jobs of all such workers similarly situated in the U.S. labor force.
As for wage suppression, all studies show that the large infusion of immigrants has depressed the wages of low skilled workers. It is the illegal immigrant component of the immigration flow that has most certainly caused the most damage but there is no way to isolate their singular harm. But even these studies most likely underestimate the true adverse impact because there is a floor on legal wages set by minimum wage laws that do not allow the market to set the actual wage level. What is known is that wages in the low wage labor market have tended to stagnate for some time. It is not just that the availability of massive numbers of illegal immigrants depress wages, it is the fact that their shear numbers keep wages from rising over time and that is the real harm experienced by citizen workers in the low skilled labor market.

What is apparent is that the unemployment rates in the low skilled labor market are the highest in the entire national labor force. This means that the low skilled labor market is in a surplus condition. Willing workers are available at existing wage rates. By definition, therefore, illegal immigrants who are overwhelmingly present in that same labor market sector adversely affect the economic opportunities of legal citizen workers because the illegal workers are preferred workers. No group pays a higher penalty for this unfair competition than do low skilled black Americans given their inordinately high unemployment levels

The willingness of policy makers to tolerate the presence of illegal immigrants in the nations labor force exposes a seamy side of the nations collective consciousness. Illegal immigrants who themselves are often exploited even though they may not think so are allowed to cause harm in the form of unemployment and depressed wages to the most vulnerable workers in the American work force. The continued reluctance by our national government to get illegal immigrants out of the labor force– and to keep them out–by enforcing the existing sanctions at the work site against employers of illegal immigrants is itself a massive violation of the civil rights of all low skilled workers in the United States and of low skilled black American workers in particular. Illegal immigrants have no right to work in the United States. In fact, they have no right to even be in the country. Enforcing our nations labor laws including the protection of the legal labor force from the presence of illegal immigrant workers is the civil rights issue of this generation of American workers.

It is time, therefore, to make our immigration laws credible. The way to do this is to adhere to the findings of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform chaired by the late Barbara Jordan who boldly stated what should be the goal of public policy: The credibility of immigration policy can be measured by a simple yardstick: people who should get in, do get in; people who should not get in, are kept out; and people who are judged deportable, are required to leave.

No one would benefit more by the adherence to that standard than would low skilled black American workers and their families.


(3) H-1Bs: STILL NOT THE BRIGHTEST AND THE BEST–NORMAN MATLOFF, Professor of Computer Science, University of California, Davis–May, 2008

In pressuring Congress to expand the H-1B work visa and employment-based green card programs, industry lobbyists have recently adopted a new tack. Seeing that their past cries of a tech labor shortage are contradicted by stagnant or declining wages, their new buzzword is innovation. Building on their perennial assertion that the foreign workers are the best and the brightest, they now say that continued U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) hinges on our ability to import the worlds best engineers and scientists. Yet, this Backgrounder will present new data analysis showing that the vast majority of the foreign workers including those at most major tech firms are people of just ordinary talent, doing ordinary work. They are not the innovators the industry lobbyists portray them to be.

I presented some initial analyses along these lines in an earlier Backgrounder,1 showing for instance that STEM foreign students at U.S. universities tend to be at the less-selective universities. Here I present a much more direct analysis, making use of a simple but powerful idea: If the foreign workers are indeed outstanding talents, they would be paid accordingly. We can thus easily determine whether a foreign worker is among the best and the brightest by computing the ratio of his salary to the prevailing wage figure stated by the employer. Lets call this the Talent Measure (TM). Keep in mind that a TM value of 1.0 means that the worker is merely average, not of outstanding talent.

I computed median TM values for various subgroups of interest. A summary of the results is:

The median TM value over all foreign workers studied was just a hair over 1.0.
The median TM value was also essentially 1.0 in each of the tech professions studied.
Median TM was near 1.0 for almost all prominent tech firms that were analyzed.
Contrary to the constant hyperbole in the press that Johnnie cant do math in comparison with kids in Asia, TM values for workers from Western European countries tend to be much higher than those of their Asian counterparts.

Again noting that a TM value of 1.0 means just average, the data show dramatically that most foreign workers, the vast majority of whom are from Asia, are in fact not the best and the brightest.

This article also presents further data showing an equally important point:

Most foreign workers work at or near entry level, described by the Department of Labor in terms akin to apprenticeship. This counters the industrys claim that they hire the workers as key innovators, and again we will see a stark difference between the Asians and Europeans.